One of my challenges for this summer is getting Royal used to stuff on a cross-country course, namely funky decorations and water. I can take care of the decorations part, but the water part is a real worrier for me. Mostly because I don't have a readily accessible water hazard, and I'm not sure if any of the barns that do will let me practice with it. I'll try calling around to see if anyone is willing to let me ride on their cross-country course, but I'm not optimistic.
In these difficult times, we turn, as we always do, to Renee's Poor Lady's Substitute. I can make and paint my own jumps, build my own gymnastics, and use a saddle blanket as a liverpool. But the water hazard is a bit tougher. There are some areas in the back paddocks that can fill with water and are big enough to be similar to a water obstacle, but that's inconsistent.
Yesterday it was nice enough for me to wander out back to see what condition the pond would be in. With all the melting that's been going on lately, I thought it would be HUGE. Imagine my surprise (and panic) when I saw the pond was not very big, only ~30 feet across at its widest point. I realized my time window was shrinking, so I ran to get Royal. I brought him out to the pond and first asked him to go through it with me on the ground.
The first two attempts did not go well. He did not want to step into the water and was snorting at it like it was full of crocodiles. The third time, he sniffed at it, stuck his nose part way in, and started playing with the water. I backed him up and asked him to try again. This time he walked right in and started splashing himself. He got all four feet in, and started pawing. He got his legs, belly, and head all wet just splashing around. We went through twice, then I tried to get him to trot through the water. Well, he thought it would be more fun to canter, which made me very glad I was on the ground. One more try, and he trotted straight through.
At this point I was feeling confident enough to get on. I tied the lead rope into reins, lead Royal over to a stump, and hopped on. We walked over to the pond, I grabbed some mane just in case, he hesitated for a second in front of the pond, and walked in. Halfway through, he stopped and started splashing again, which was cute but I didn't want him to do it while I was riding. I asked him to go and we walked right out.
I was ecstatic. I kept rubbing his neck and saying "Good boy! Good boy! Good boy!" He munched on a bit of grass, and we walked through the water again. By now I was so over the moon with joy, I squealed, hopped off, and gave him a big hug. We went out to the road to see if there was any good grass. Alas, there was only little nubs and we were both disappointed. But I was still so happy! I rode my horse through the water! Bareback! In a halter! How cool is that?!
Royal trying to get the tiny bits of grass after his swim.