I SHOULD have been cleaning and cooking.....but Betsy phoned and said "lets ride".
I called Karen to see if she wanted to go. She did, but didn't know if her new horse "Slick" had ever been on a horse trailer. So we agreed that I would come an hour early and we would attempt to load Slick.
At 3 pm, I headed to her place about 15 min. away. She brought Slick out and let him meet Falcon through the trailer window. (a neighbor down the road had given Slick to her, Slick is a quarter horse/arab)
Then, around to the back and attempted to load. Slick was pretty calm, but refused to load. Karen encouraged him with snacks and soon he had one foot on the trailer. After the 4th try of stepping on and rushing back off, he walked right on and stood there quietly.
More snacks and then we were off. Up the road about 3 miles to park property. We unloaded and walked the horses around and let them munch on some grass and did some "trotting in hand" work with them.
By then Betsy and Christa had arrived with Tristana and Sashshey. Tris is 10 and Shey is 20+
Slick 8 and Falcon 5. So we had quite the range of horses.
Falcon was a gem for saddling and mounting, then up the trail we went. "Red Gate Road" is a well maintained fire road that heads up out of Lucas Hollow (er I think it was Lucas, there are a ton of "Hollows" in this area) out of Stanley, VA and up to Skyline Drive to Big Meadows.
There are few level areas, mostly uphill and lots of switchbacks. We had a marvelous time walking and trotting.
Then we decided to canter. Falcon and Tris were in the lead cantering nicely when there appeared a very sharp switchback.
Falcon did marvelous and made the turn on a dime (I even STAYED ON!) Tris wasn't as lucky and headed straight for the trees. Betsy had to pull her up to a walk.
The grade was steeper then anyway and Falcon was happy to walk again.
Along the way, creeks were flowing and Mountain laurel was blooming, just a perfect 70 degree day.
The other horses spooked at rocks, but once again, Falcon showed them all up and continued merrily up the trail.
At the top, we got off and walked due to numerous tourists parking off of skyline drive for the views at the lookouts.
Several were saying "oooooooh loook HORSES" and snapping pictures. Christa pulled out her camera and snapped a couple of the 3 of us, then asked a tourist to take a picture of all 4.
It was 62 and breezy on top of the mountain and the VIEWS.....WOWWWWWWWW!
The air was fairly fresh, other than the other 3 girls were smoking. All of the horses except Falcon peeed. He needs to learn that on the trail.
We relaxed on top of the world for about 20 min while the horses munched grass and then we headed back for home.
On the way down a Black Bear scampered across the road in front of us. I don't think Falcon even saw it. We stopped to make sure there wasn't another bear around.
Betsy, in all of her YEARS of riding had never seen a bear while out on the trail, so it was a first for her. Karen never did see it because she was fiddling with a cigarette.
We trotted a good part of the way down, maybe 2 miles worth at least. I HATE trotting downhill and Falcon tends to go sideways since he hasn't built up a lot of muscle yet. It was difficult keeping him straight.
It was a WONDERFUL afternoon/evening. We had started the ride around 4:30 and ended back at the trailers around 7:30 in the eve. WHAT fun...and so much better than cooking and cleaning!