JASPER NAILED IT!
He was ridden by my friend Joanna, a grower at Slack Hollow Farm. who is built much slighter than I, and her 110lbs was a perfect fit for the gelding. She was game to give him a try, so we made plans and today we headed out together — Merlin and Me, Jasper and Joanna.
We started Jasper with some groundwork and Natural Horsemanship and then worked on the front lawn. Joanna was a natural with him, even with the clunky second-hand tack (notice the huge Merlin-sized saddle pad!), but we found gear that fit his back and head well, and when Joanna was ready I tacked up Merlin and we headed down the road and across the street to the trails my amazing neighbor lets us use.
We rode for over three miles through the forest, fields, wildflowers, streams, and mountaintop. Jasper was calm and gentle, and Joanna (a novice rider who has only taken lessons a few months and been lead on trail rides) was content on the back of the little grey devil. We never moved faster than a trot, but speed wasn't the point. The point was to enjoy horses, sunshine, conversation, and the time we have. I am just so proud of them both, and thrilled for more rides together!
I think Joanna and I will make it a regular habit, and I think Joanna might be in love, too. Her previous experiences with horses has been touch and go, and she has some healthy fear about being out in the wilderness (note the bike helmet!) But Jasper was a great fit for her and she was beaming the whole time. And I felt a bit of the glow Patty must have felt when helping me get started trail riding with Merlin. In her honor, soon as we got home, I said what Patty always said to me when we dismounted and were back at the farm with our feet safe on the ground. "We both stayed on! Another successful Ride!"
Be proud of that little pony, man was Jasper great. And he was great on his first ride in years! With a novice rider! I'm just pleased as can be and feel like cracking open a cider in his honor. The little pony that might, just became the little engine that could!