As I returned to the barn after a short ride on Lady, my husband called out, "how did she do?" I smiled and replied, "She couldn't have done better."
It was one of those rare very special days--early September in the low 70's, a soft breeze, a definite sense of Fall in the air, and Lady in a calm mood. I rode her behind the pasture on the trail a bit further than usual, past the edge of the woods, maybe half a mile from the barn. Then I asked her to go into the woods, and even though she often hesitates and acts nervous when ridden alone, this time she seemed calm enough. We didn't go far, just a circle around some trees, the same circle I've asked of her the last three rides. Next time, I plan to go further on the wooded trail--one more step in our game of learning to go alone together, just Lady and me. I feel our baby steps are paying off in greater confidence for both of us after years of trying to recover from a scary spin when passed by a large truck on the road.
After we came back on the trail, we ventured out onto that same road, not far enough to stretch our comfort zone, but enough to reclaim the easy territory we knew already. We will deal with the road another day. Today it was a longer section of the trail not taken before when alone, and into the woods for a small portion of the wooded trail that is becoming easy. I try to do what is easy several times, until I feel foolish not going further. And as we find that added step becoming easy, then I add something new, or go a bit further.
I see Lady's confidence growing as my own confidence grows. Could it be that one influences the other? A question I ask with a smile, because I know the answer.