we did it!!!
Over four miles of roads, hillsides, horses, tractors, birds, steep inclines, walking and trotting. I was nervous about it all morning, worried how he (how WE!) would do as a pair out in the farm field wilds. Merlin did amazing. I felt amazing. He and I were a team, and our first trail ride with Patty and Steele was a total success. Merlin had four Haflingers run by him, a 4 ton tractor harrowing a field, a strange new horse, cars zipping by him on the road.... nothing phased him (not much, anyway). It was such a thrill to be moving across farmlands on your own horse. We rode to a vast overlook Patty called "top of the world" and it felt like it was. Team Cold Antler pulled it off!
Thank you Patty and Mark Wesner of Livingston Brook Farm!