Saturday, August 23, 2008

The ride continues

The wonderful trail was soon to end. We arrived at the highway 94 crossing...crossed over and found a big tank of water. I hopped off in to the mud and quickly sponged both horses.

Shana worried because Red refused to drink...soon we went up the trail again. Here it turned Rocky and steep in places. The footing of Rocks intermixed with sand made for some treacherous footing for our "un-padded" horses feet.

Falcon took the word "ROCKS" to the extreme and would slow to a walk everytime I said it...which was frequent, but I wanted our horses to come out of this ride UNINJURED!

There were more water stops...still Red would not drink, while Falcon slurped every chance that he got.

Soon we topped the ridge and were able to trot and canter again. Prior to 94 we had made very good time, but now I was worried...But we made it into the vet check around 1120. We were a little confused as to where the vet check was and we wasted some time figuring out what to do at that point.

But Shana had me grab our bag from the side of the road and we yanked the horses saddles off and walked down to P & R. Falcon was at 60....yeahhhhhhh!

So then I went to vet him in. He did not want to trot out and he did NOT want the vet to listen to his gut sounds. He kept charging around and being a BAD BOY!
They told me that he was earning a trailer ride back to base camp.

I almost cried! They felt sorry for me I guess, gave him a C and told me to come back 10 min before our 40 min hold time was up. This time he trotted out better and a nice person fed him horsey snacks while they finally gave him an A- for gut sounds.

Usually I can tack up in no time flat. Now, after 14 miles, my arms felt like lead as I hoisted the saddle up on Falcon then helped Shana with hers while she held the horses.

I crawled up on Falcons back and wished that the PB & J sandwhich and fresh cold gatorade would give me some energy.

Out of camp we went at a walk. The horses thought that they were done for the day and just plodded along. In several places we werent sure whether we were going the right way or not, but decided to follow the numerous horse tracks.

It was difficult to motivate the horses to move on down the trail. It seemed like the hills were longer and more frequent and when we arrived at the base of the "mile long hill" both of the horses STOPPED dead in their tracks along with another gal and her horse.

It was redicules, none of them wanted to budge, but finally Falcon took on the hill and the other two horses followed. That was the longest hill in my mind of the day.

Wonderful water tanks were at the top and Falcon slurped...I don't know if Red did or not. I was too tired to care. After that hill remained more ups and downs and ups and downs and when we reached the narrow switchback trail, I was encouraged that we were close to home...but still worried that we wouldnt make it back in time.

I stopped at the creek to let Falcon slurp again, but then urged him onward. We then heard voices, 2 55 milers were blowing down the trail and took off at a canter past us on the jeep road.

Red pulled out and took off behind them leaving billows of dust....Falcon picked up the pace and we zoomed after them. I yelled at Shana to slow down, but only because I couldnt see or breath from all of the dust...but we cantered most of the way until I suggested that we walk. the FINISH line was in sight! YEAHHHHHHHHHH

I choked up again, not from the dust, but with the emotion of it all. We had made it!

Well not really, we had 20 min left to vet in the horses and have a pules of 60. We walked the horses to the trailer and ripped off their saddles, then walked back to the P&R.

Red the "wild card, no good pony clubber, non gaiting Missouri Fox Trotter" went straight through P&R with a pulse of like 48 or something crazy like that and vetted right through.

Falcon on the other hand was 86 and all excited with the commotion of the 55 milers racing in, diesal trucks and golf carts motoring about. P&R checked him again and said NO WAY he is 74. Then he told me to keep his head up, sponge him and not let him eat....This time he gave him a pulse of 60 with ONE MINUTE to spare....sheesh that was CLOSE!

Then to the vets, Trot Out, then pulse again, 64. Then cripes, they pulled US AGAIN for the second time that day for the CRI....trot out again, pulse at 60....YEAHHHHH! and THANK YOU FALCON for standing STILL for the GUT SOUNDS....I LOVE YOU HORSEY!

WE FINISHED-if there had been a turtle award, we would have won it for sure!

Suddenly I felt hungry....


6 a.m.! FINALLY the night was OVER! Time for another long walk to the porta-potty...
The horses had consumed a good bit of hay in the night and Shana had gotten them fresh water, lugging it from the water tank a good bit away, I think, not realizing that I had a 25 gallon tank and hose in the tack room on the trailer.

We had a healthy breakfast of cereal with blueberries, strawberries and banana's.
Truthfully, I was not hungry, but knew I HAD to eat. Suddenly it seemed like it was 7 and time to start tacking up.

I grabbed icy bottles of water and gatorade and stuffed them in to my saddle last nervous trip to the port-a-potty and it was time to mount up.

MAN that time went way too fast. Falcon was feeling frisky and did not want to wait for Shana to mount Red. He was difficult to control as he started backing or getting light on his front way buddy....WALK~!

We walked the horses down to the Trot Out, but they werent ready for us to go. I could feel Falcon getting nervous under me and he refused to stand still. I asked Shana to move on and get out of the gathering crowd of horses.

So we walked the horses toward the base camp check in. When we turned around, I peered over the trucks and cars and saw helmets bobbing up the trail and knew that the trail was open.

I approached the Trot Out and called out my letters. ALL of the other horses were GONE! The vet motioned me on and said that the trail was open! YEAHHHHHHH!

Shana and Red were close behind and I let them pass us at some point. They took off at a very fast trot and the emotion welled up within me. WE HAD STARTED! WE HAD STARTED OUR VERY FIRST RIDE!

We were close behind a pair of other riders, trotting and cantering along the cool shady jeep trail above the New River. Soon one of the riders moved on ahead, while the other pulled off and let us pass.

Oh what a RIDE! and fairly fast. Soon we crossed a creek and headed up up up a narrow trail with sharp switchbacks. But the horses charged up that while we tried to avoid having our knees whacked.

The trail turned into double track again and flew by. We came to a meadow and paused for a breather and to let the horses munch on some grass. Then we were off again, cantering, cantering....oh what a wonderful ride.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Virginia Highlands, our first LD

Aug 22nd, 1030 a.m. found me impatiently waiting for my neice to arrive so that we could load the horses and GO!

I felt like I had the trailer all packed and ready...nothing else to do but wait...

It turns out that I could have done a few more things to organize myself, but oh well, lessons learned.

Shana arrived and we went to the barn so that she could meet "Red". I was in a hurry to get going and so I grabbed Falcon and we all tromped up the hill to the trailer.

The horses loaded nicely and we were on our way lickety split. I opted to take the country roads to avoid crossing the Masanutten Mountain and also to avoid all of the truck traffic on 81.

The 4.5 hour drive went quickly for me. I was in good company and good thoughts about the ride. I think we pulled in to Ride Camp around 4:30 or 5. We had been told that someone would park us, but "someone" was no where to be found.

We followed a sign to overflow parking and Shana hopped out and walked almost 2/10 of a mile to see if there was a space for us. Yeahhh, way at the end, nice and quiet.

We unloaded the horses and Shana held them, while I finished parking. I felt disorganized and distracted and didnt know what to do first, wasting time before I decided that I better get the portable corral set up.

This went fairly quickly and Shana suggested that we use the truck and trailer as a wall to make the corral bigger, thus both horses could hang out in it. We used a goat halter/leash compination, bungee cords and a lead rope to attach it all to the trailer and truck.

Then we tromped almost .38 mile to the ride camp desk. The nice ladies there found our packets...there wasnt much to look through, we were almost the last ones to check in. UGggggggggh, They then said that they needed our AERC cards. OH BOTHER!

Tromp tromp back to the truck, get our cards, tromp tromp, back to the table....tromp tromp, back for the horses, tromp tromp to Vet in the horses and tromp tromp back to the trailer....good grief...we were getting some exercise!

I was exhausted by then, all of that driving and then all of that walking and setting up camp, and then ALAS I couldnt find the "STUFF" for my new porta-potty that neutralizes odors.

Also, I decided, that since it was getting dark by now and the horses corral was attached to the truck, that the Truck Tent would not work out and Shana HAD volunteered to sleep IN the back seat of the truck, so I blew up a mattress for the tack room of the trailer and made my bed there.

I had my tack room PACKED with STUFF and we had to haul ALL of it out, including the spare tire, so that the mattress would fit. Our camp looked like a JUNK YARD!

I started to pack my saddle bag for the next day, but then got distracted doing something else, Oh, we had to mark our own Horses because there didn't seem to be anyone around doing THAT after the vet check. So Shana, dutifully took on that difficult task.

Then Shana said "I don't see ANYONE, it is too quiet, EVERYONE MUST be at the ride meeting! Oh good grief, I still had a TON of stuff to do. So we tromped off 30 min early to the meeting, but everyone was just eating.

I was SOOOO tired and remembered our chairs AFTER we had walked all the way to base camp again. So Shana, being SO much younger than I volunteered to go back and get the chairs and managed to hitch a ride back in a truck with a friendly lady.

After the ride meeting we went to the "newbies" meeting with Stagg Newman. It was good, but mostly repetitive info for me. Then we trudged back to camp.

I was so tired that I told Shana good night and crashed onto my bed. My sleep was short lived. Red kept chasing Falcon around in the corral, so I got up and gave them big piles of hay to munch on and more water.

This allowed me some sleep, but then I was awakened again by the noisy horses and the need to go visit the porta I wished I had found my STUFF for mine.

The night seemed to never end and my body craved rest.

Time to Go

Friday-the truck and trailer are packed to the hilt. I think I have overpacked.

Oh well, better to have more than less! Now I just have to put the cooler, the horses and myself in the vehicle and go.

I have to pick up Alison from volleyball practice at 10, Shana is scheduled to arrive between 10 & 11...and then down the road we goooooo..

yikes! my chest is tight! I better go make myself busy to distract the jutters!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Trot Outs

I was happily surprised today, when Red quickly took off at a trot when I asked.

It was short lived....As we reached the gate out of the barn lot, he veered to the left at full speed and then immediately put his head down and started ripping up some lovely green grass and clover....

Ok now, NONE OF THAT! I yanked on his lead and put him back on the path to the goat pasture. That completed, we turned with him attempting to yank at more grass, but he then came along very willing and at a steady fast trot to the barn. YEAHHH!

Falcon was next and at first he balked and lifted his head high, but with in a few steps he was trotting nicely to the gate, turn and back to the barn at a steady slow trot. YEAHHHHHHH!

With three more days of practice under their cinches, both boys should be in good shape for their "trot outs" on Friday.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Wow, too much time to relax! The kids are at work or at their papa's house and I am enjoying a wonderful peace and quiet.

Feeling a little creative, I decided to add some BLING to the bridles. I hope that I don't regret it.

I also put my blue helmet cover on the helmet, but you will have to wait for ride photos to see that I suppose, since I am too lazy to tromp out to my horse trailer with the camera!

The picture is not really accurate. I am concerned that all of the beads will start unraveling off of their little string. Any ideas?

Gettin' Ready!

The days are disappearing quickly! Only 6 more days until my first Limited Distance ride in the Virginia Highlands.

I have slight anxiety. Not really for myself or Falcon, but more for Red. He is just such a wild card...

Red is not very comfortable in the woods, but one thing is for sure, that if he makes it through the initial Vet Check and then also through the Vet stop, he will take off for "home" at a LOVELY pace. I am hoping that I will be pleasantly surprised with both Red and Falcon.

Falcon's longest distance was a grueling 12 miles to Kennedy's peak. He finished bright eyed and ears perked...That has been months ago now and I feel like he is in better condition both mentally and physically now.

Oh so anyway....gettin ready!

The last of the WATER BOTTLES are in the dishwasher...

The saddle pads are washed and on their 3rd rinse cycle....

Red carried his saddle and both bridles and breast collars and two helmets up to the horse trailer for me, and patiently waited while I punched some extra holes in his latigo.....

Still a lot left to do, but will have to wait until Wed. night and Thurs.

The weather is so lovely...but it is rest time now, conserve our energy. I am plagued at present with inflammed hip, elbow and knee joints for some reason....hhhhmmmmm must be all of the ice cream or tomatoes I have been eating.

I plan on deleting both items from my menu for the next few days to see if there is any improvement.

The plan is to practice trot outs with Falcon and Red every day this week. Both did fairly well on their second try, but Red can WALK faster then I can RUN!

I expect to see marked improvement by Friday a.m.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Change of Pace

Quite a change of pace tonight after last nights slow adventure with Red.

Falcon was sleepy during saddling, but as soon as I mounted him, he began briskly walking down the trail. No balking from him and we reached the top of the ridge trail in good time...with Falcon trotting or cantering nicely.

We turned to the East and headed down in to the hollow. Sundays rain storm had left the "tire track" puddles full. Falcon never wants to walk in these puddles. It must be the oily film on them, but regardless, there wasn't much room on the "shoulder" for us to pass by them to the right today.

We then headed up out of the hollow. The trail is rocky with steep embankment upwards to the left and steep drop off to the right. At this point, a pheasant fluttered noisly up and out to the left.

Falcon made a giant leap to the right...but I hung on and nudged him hard with my right leg to get back over. He quickly did and continued on up the trail. I was thankfull for the trees in that area which discouraged him from going down over the side.

We then galloped full speed for the radio tower. Usually, I dismount before we reach the top and I then lead Falcon down over the East side of Piney Mt., but tonight I took him on up to the top to the radio tower, which is really, only about 1 tenth of a mile further.

Here, I dismounted, checked my girth, had some water, and remounted. Falcon was "ready to roll", so I circled and backed him before allowing him to go forward.

He almost seemed puzzled when we went by the trail to the East. He hesitated and flicked his ear as he looked in that direction, but it didn't take much cajoling to keep him going south and then back East towards home.

Half way down the ridge trail, he had a major "dipping" spook at a "HORSE EATING STUMP", but other than that we arrived back at the barn with out further ado.

We only did 3.5 miles, but I was tired and my knees screamed "pain" when my feet hit the ground. Too much time in the kitchen canning and freezing.

Mental note to self "NO CANNING or FREEZING fruits and Vegies after Sunday" I plan on resting for a full week (other than my job) before the ride and taking a stash of Advil with me in my saddle pack.

The weather was hotter and sticker than yesterday too...thank goodness for a horse that likes to GOOOOOOOOO!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Ok, I bet you don't know how SLOW a horse can WALK!

Red, my "Missouri Fox Trotter" showed me just how SLOW he could walk tonight! MFT's are known for their high powered walk....HAH!

Any bets? Alright then, I will tell ya...1.3 mph! Now that is SLOW, HECK, EVEN I can walk 4 miles an hour!

But let's be positive! At least he was MOVING! This was going to be a longggggggg ride!

We took the usual trail throught the woods and down to the Piney Mountain tonight, it was late and it would be too dark in the woods and too risky as far as bear and mountain lion go.

At the mail boxes, we turned left and headed down Brookstone. Clip Clop, Clip Clop, clip clop...geeezzz I was tired of trying to make him go faster.

Might as well relax and settle in and keep on truckin! We are sure to get the
"turtle award" at some Endurance Ride!

1.5 miles later and we make it to the end of the gravel road...after that the road is paved and there isn't any shoulder. I turned him around and YAHOOOO, Red decides to trot, but it is fun at all and he refused to stretch out and go faster. BLAH! but hey, at least we weren't WALKING!

Into the field we went, more choppy trotting and even worse cantering alternating with some sort of choppy jig and a hop or is he LAME?

Half way around we frightened a doe with her twins. The does tail flagged and she took off to the right as the twins went left. Red dipped a little at this occurance, but no major shy.

I kept him moving at what ever gait he was doing...hopping, that is what is was, yea, hopping.

To the gate and in to the big cow pasture. Here, Red really took off, but still he did not have his usual smooth canter. Around the field we went giving wide Berth to Mr Bull who was off in a corner to himself.

On to the other side of the field...oh boo hiss the WHOLE HERD is grazing right on the hill that I love to run Red up. So we walk some more, Red warily eyeing cows and calves on either side of him.

The cows are starting to get used to us and don't run crazy anymore when they see us. Maybe I will be able to bring Falcon out here again soon.

Soon we are wide open again and choppy cantering. UGH what a gait. What has happened to my smooth gaited it his shoes?

We reached another gate on the South End of Brookstone. Here I turn Red to the right since he has been bad everytime that I try and mount. All 5 of my attempted remounts tonight had been met with him trying to run for home. Harumph, I will FIX him!

Yep, so south we went, all the way to the other end of Brookstone. Red hadn't a clue where he was, musta thought he was heading for home because FINALLY he settled in to a nice steady trot.

Once again, we reached paved road and I turned Red around in the Turners driveway and waited for a vehicle to pass. Then off we went at a steady gait for home.
Red trotted the whole mile home and almost trotted right past our driveway...boy he WAS lost.

But he realized it quickly and tried to balk, but I made him go a few steps further to Ruth's drive and headed him that way so we could go through the woods and end up at the back side of the barn. That would add another mile to the ride.

Man did Red fly for the next half of a mile...he was flying at a 14mph trot and he was so smooth. Gone was all of the choppiness....hhhhhm, and I thought Falcon was the trickster...turns out Red is more of a trickster then Falcon!

Unfortunately, when I pulled Red's saddle off there was a big dry spot over one shoulder. This is the first that I have noticed this. I had just put on a new Roper Cinch and am thinking that is why Red bucked Peg on Saturday and then also had the choppy gaits for most of tonights 6.3 mile ride.

So, out with the new and back in with the old staight cinch. I am glad I figured this out before the ride! I will flip back to the old cinch on Thursdays ride and look for an improvement in the saddle fit.

The weather, by the way, was GORGEOUS 72 at the start of the ride and had probably dropped in to the 60's by the end. The sky was clear and the sun was setting as we sauntered in to the barn lot. What a LOVELY way to end the day....

BUT...oh shoot, I have 6 dozen ears of corn to get in the freezer....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Water Bottles

The story goes like this...

Two years ago, I sent my beloved Sinwaan to my neice Shana, to have and to "hold on to". In the midst of divorce, I decided to sell my other horses and was so happy when Shana said that she would take Sinwaan.

I sent along a big trunk with him-various tack, an english saddle, and above all else, apparently at least one WATER BOTTLE...maybe there were more, I don't know.

Other than many Thanks, I didn't hear anything at all about the water bottle(s).!

Shana is planning on flying East in a week and a half and will be attempting to get a barely conditioned Red through a 31 mile Limited Distance ride.

Off and on, we have discussed various necessities for the of them being THE WATER BOTTLE. Shana emailed me a comment about the fact that she hoped the water bottles were "clean"...and then I heard the story of the nasty water bottle that I had sent in the tack trunk.

My retort was "AH, now you REALLY ARE looking that gift horse in the mouth"!

It is all in good humor of course...but today, it made me think that it was about time I took a close look at MY water bottles for the ride.

I went out to the horse trailer and pulled two water bottles out of my saddle pack.
One just had some dust on it and the other....well, the other, was er, uh, well, uhm, green mold or something growing out drops of left over Gatorade!

Needless to say (SHANA) all 5 water bottles are soaking in a bleach solution and then will be promptly put in the dishwasher! NO WORRIES GIRLIE and a lesson learned!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Saturday Ride

Today was absolutely BEAUTIFLY. Clear, breezy, little humidity. A WONDERFUL day for a ride...but alas, Karen couldnt go with me, so I rang up Peggy and she was willing, but had to finish up some chores at home first.

Around noon, I got Falcon and Red brushed and fly sprayed and even took time to comb their ratty manes today. Poor Dakota is really getting neglected these days. Maybe I will take him for a spin tomorrow.

Peggy arrived as I was saddling the horses. So, after minor adjustments to the stirrups, we were mounted and heading down the trail.

When we reached the small hill, I asked Peg if she wanted to move out. She said she was ready. Falcon started cantering and Red started BUCKING BUCKING BUCKING....oh my goodness.

Peg was hollering and fearful since she rarely rides and has already broken her tailbone when an "X" horse of hers dumped her off.

I slowed Falcon and Red stopped bucking. Peg was quite shaken, but said to "go on".

Ok Shana-first warning....Red likes to give a buck or two, so be ready!

From there we walked to Ruths, where Red had to PEE!

Ok Shana-second warning-Red likes to stop and pee alot!

Up Piney Moutain we went, trotting and cantering and Red did not buck anymore. We made our way to the radio tower. Hopped off, had our water and proceeded to walk down the loose shale on the east side.

Then we turned right because I wanted to canter up the sandy road to get the horses butts in shape a little. We tried, but the rain had washed out the road, so we didn't go as fast as I wanted to. So back down we went over to Valleyburg Road then on to Summers Road.

The horse were lazy and there was a nice breeze, so we sauntered along at an easy pace of about 2.8 miles an hour. We alternated that with some trotting until we reached the old church and cut through the Moyers pasture.

Peg was not too impressed with this part of the ride, especially when we turned back on to the mountain trail. I was hoping to find another 4-wheeler short cut home but all of them ended up being too steep and we did a lot of back tracking since Peg was wearing some mules that WEREN'T made for walking.

Back to the Moyers pasture. As we started up the hill, far off in the distance, a HUGE piece of equipment barreled in our direction and dumped some stumps on a big pile.

Now this equip. was at a good distance, but it freaked Falcon out and he tore up that steep hillside. Red followed suit and both of them were trying to be "RUNAWAYS"!

Peggy got really scared and was saying..."OHHHHHHHHHHH, OHHHHHHHHH!"
We reached the top and the boys settled down. Peg wanted to get off, but I told her not to since the grass was tall and it would be hard to walk in.

She was NOT very happy after that occurance and just wanted to get home...Well, from there, we were less than a mile from home since I decided to cut through the neighbors property.

I heard Dakota hollering and told Peg to take a deep breath, relax and get a good hold on Red in case Dakota came tearing through the woods. Dakota came fast, but I kept Falcon under control and we made it back to the barn at a walk.

Both of us were very stiff when we got off. The ride had been too slow for one thing, plus stressful for me worrying about Peg and stressful for Peg to have that tough of a ride.

7.53 miles in all we had gone. We had been out for 2 hours, but total time stopped was 50 min, so actual moving time was an hour and ten min. Really, not too bad I suppose.

I will have to do speed work alone or when I am riding with Karen or Betsy...but it was good LSD conditioning with all of the hills that we had to maneuver. Also, Red is getting better about paying attention to those ROCKS, ROCKS, ROCKS!

The horses enjoyed their hosing and bucket of grain with electrolytes. As soon as Falcon was done eating, he nickered for his treats. He is such a SWEET boy.

It was 4 pm by the time we got to the house and Peg was a nervous wreck, because she thought her husband would be mad at her, but it turned out that he was still at work, so all was well....hhhhhhhhmmmmm, wonder if she will EVER ride with me again!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ready to GO

No Riding tonight. OH but the weather is BEAUTIFUL! 82, breezy, no humidity...but I had work to do to start getting ready for the LD ride in 2 weeks.

First I hauled all of the STUFF out of the tack room part of the horse trailer.
I was hoping to limit what I put back IN there....hhhmmm, no such luck. I felt like I was going to NEED everything.

Spare Tire 25 gallon water tank, 2- 10 gallon water tanks, 2 folding chairs, jumper cables
Potty Chair!!!! (oh and toilet paper)
Buckets and scoops
Tool Box
Engine coolant-two jugs of that...

Truck Tent
Truck Mattress
Sleeping Bag
Queen mattress

Oh, and so I decided that now would be a good time to try and set up that dumb tent again on my truck. I couldnt quite figure it out, so I set it up on the pavement then lifted it on to the truck and adjusted the tie downs. That worked out ok.
Just hope there arent any strong winds....OR SHANA, I'm gonna be crawling into the tack room with you!

Then I blew up the Truck mattress and checked that out...seems to be pretty comfy. Then I blew up the queen mattress...uh, it is TOO BIG for the tack room, so I squashed it up some on one side and rolled on to it....Well...Shana, let me know how it does for ya!

Ok, everything checked out, so I deflated the mattresses and the tent and got everything rolled up and back in to the tack room.

Yikes, I still need to make room for feed and a cooler of grub for me and Shana.

Ok so I am countin' down the days to the ride now. I need to get air in the truck tires, but other than that I am READY to GO!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Red Takes Piney Mountain!

The day was warm and somewhat humid. My energy level was waning due to being up until 1 a.m.

I had only had 4 hours of sleep. The previous evening the farmers came to bale the hay....4 bales later and the baler broke. They struggled to fix it and then finally drove away....presumably to have some supper.

My two boys decided to make their escape and took off with their friends. By 7:30 pm the farmers were back with a working baler...which actually was working too well as it was shooting the bales clear over the back of the tow wagon and they were landing on the ground and breaking apart again...but they soon reset the shooter and all was well.

I phoned my boys to come home, they brought 2 friends and the 5 of us spent two hours getting the hay in to the barn. I should have taken pictures...what is wrong with me! boys were actually WORKING!

Eric is the bug magnet and promptly got stung by a bee after only unloading 2 bales of hay, and so he had to go get ice and spray etc.....while we unloaded 50...

Then at 10 pm I got in to the house and realized that my spaghetti sauce was still simmering on the I stayed up half the night canning the 11 quarts....

Ok, back to riding eh?

So Today, Thursday, I wasn't very motivated to ride. But at 5:30, I dutifully pulled on my riding boots, tromped to the barn, fed the "boys" and then saddled Red up.

I was happy to see that Falcon's hock was looking MUCH better...not so swollen.

I hand walked Red down the trail to the corner and mounted. He made one attempt to turn for home, but one snap with the crop and he turned and took off at a nice fast walk.

He walked and trotted slowly up the hill, spooking at every log again. I was having to put out a lot of energy to keep him moving, but at least he WAS moving.

At the entrance to the Radio Tower trail, he balked for the first time. Then acted as if he had to pee...and then did pee. I am finding that he always has to stop and pee shortly after leaving home. Maybe it is his nerves. I don't know.

Soon I had him moving though very slowly. It took us 20 min to go 1.4 miles. Falcon can do it in under 10 min. I tried willing him with my mind, but that didn't work very well.

Amazingly though, we made it to the Radio Tower, which is where I hop off and handwalk down the East side of Piney Mountain. This was the furthest I had ever been with Red alone.

Also when I jumped off, I felt so close to the ground and realized that Falcon is so much bigger than Red.

The east side road was worse than when I had taken Falcon down it on Sunday. The shale type rock was very loose and slippery and I about fell at least 3 times.
Red was not impressed with the unstable footing and balked several times.

Gemma and Cola trotted happily along with us as we made the turn on to the paved Valleyburg Road. Red was very steady with all of the zooming cars and barely flicked an ear at a motorcycle...and I was glad it was Red and not Falcon tonight.

When we reached Summers Road, I tightened Reds girth and stepped in to the stirrup, he took off trotting as I swung up on in...What a nice fast trot for home! I wished that I had brought my GPS to check his speed.

He trotted nicely for 1.5 miles until I slowed him down due to Gemma and Cola, who's tongues were dragging the ground!

Then we trotted some more to my neighbors property. I didn't want to ride through their back yard and looked for a way through the woods. I dismounted and led Red under some branches, but there were just too many briars and we couldnt get through.

I brought him back to their mown trail at the bottom of a short steep hill. As I started to mount, he took off at a canter up the hill and I hung on to his mane and saddle and managed to get my butt in the saddle as he reached the top of the hill.

Good gracious, he sounds like Sinwaan, pokey mokey leaving home and a burst of energy when headed back.

Anyway, I made him walk on their trail, so we wouldnt tear it up and when we reached our woods trail I let him have his final canter for home.

As I have said before, I don't like letting my boys RUN home, but he is so much fun at the canter, I let him go...bad me!

I guess it was about a 4 mile ride. One of this days I might check that mileage too.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

No Excuses!

No Excuses:

#1 No Excuse NOT to RIDE!

Beautiful 80 degree day and very low humidity. After the past month, this is a wonderful change. So at 11 a.m. I headed down to the barn and whistled for the boys who were out munching grass.

They came at a happy canter to the barn, wondering why I was there so early calling them for grain. I pulled Falcon out and after a quick brushing, had him saddled up and ready to go.

I turned on my GPS and we were off at a fine rate of speed of about 6.5 mph trot and a 12mph canter. Falcon kept the pace all the way to the top of the ridge, making sharp turns around fallen trees and hopping over a few others. I slowed him as we neared the fire trail, only because the footing is very rocky and I havent trimmed the trees yet.

Unfortunately, Gemma and Cola, the Maremmas had taken some short cuts through the woods and caught up with us. I didn't want them along today, because I had "plans". The dogs sensed this and refused to be caught and penned up, instead slinking off in to the high grass and pretending to be disinterested until Falcon and I were out of sight.

Ok, on the fire trail, Falcon decided to plod along and I let him since he had made record time coming up the mile long grade to the top of the ridge.

At the Radio Tower, as I have done before, I dismounted and led Falcon down the East side of Piney Mt. The road was worse than ever and was washed out in several places, causing both Falcon and I to slip and slide.

Towards the bottom, I chose a trail to the left. Earlier in the a.m. Alison and I had driven the car around to the east side of Piney Mt via paved road and found a sign that said "Lot 13" There was a dirt road, so we turned up it and followed it up and "WAH LAH" YEAHHHHH it ended on the fire trail. FINALLY, I had found road access that was not blocked by a LOCKED GATE!

So Falcon and I and the Maremmas turned right on to the paved road. A noisy truck came along and Falcon spooked slightly and Gemma dashed back up on to the dirt road.

We continued on, Gemma caught up, only to have another noisy truck zoom by....back to the woods she ran. Silly dog.

The next truck slowed for us, but just as he passed us he sped up and Falcon zoomed ahead and sideways on that move and almost knocked me over....dumb people!

Thankfully we had reached Summers Road to the right which is gravel and has little traffic. As a matter of fact we didnt see ANY traffic today...YEAH! At one corner, a little dog ran out from a house and Falcon spooked a little, but Gemma, 10 times the size of the little dog was frightened to death and ran back to the woods.

It was the last time I saw her.

#2 No excuse NOT to have brought a WATER BOTTLE!

The sun was getting warm on Summers Road, and I was getting VERY thirsty, Well, only 2.5 miles or so to home. Falcon was trotting right along at that 6.5-7 mph trot. Very nice.

We made another right hand turn up a steep gravel drive to an OLD church that is no longer in use, but is kept neatly mowed and they also have a paddock for when people used to ride their horses to church.

Through the grassy church yard we went, to a gate. The Joe Pye Weeds were taller than both me AND Falcon. I was able to open the gate enough for us to squeeze through and Cola was close on our heels.

In amongst the weeds was a ramshackle
outhouse....hhhhhmmmm....nahhhhhhhhh....probably snakes and blackwidow spiders in THERE!

After we waded through the weeds we followed the fenceline which borders my neighbors property and also mine. There USED to be a gate at the corner boundry...but alas, the fencing had been recently "fixed" and the gate did not exist...So we walked the fence line and we walked and walked for about .6 mile. I knew that there was another makeshift gate at the bottom of the steep hill, down in a meadow. But I hadn't been there in about 6 years after a mini tornado ripped up trees on our property and blocked the trail...then we sold that section of land.

(I really need to call the neighbors and make sure that is ok that I ride in their cow pasture. Most of the farmers don't care as long as I make sure the gates are closed tight)

We found the gate and passed through that without trouble. At this point Falcon balked a little because the briars were 5 feet tall. I broke down some and then mounted and he plowed on through. Also, we were now heading AWAY from home and my "2 miles to home" was now unknown distance.

We traveled north on a nice 4 wheeler trail. Several trails led west towards home, but didnt look very I urged Falcon on and he took off trotting and cantering again, but the trail was somewhat overgrown and I have plenty of briar scratches to show for the effort.

The trail started climbing again. I had NO CLUE where I was, but I know that Piney Mt is ONLY so big and I could always turn back around. Falcon saw the HILL and started cantering, only to suddenly come to a stop, HEAVING< HEAVING< HEAVING.
We were almost vertical. YIKES. I hopped off and let him rest and then saw a slightly level place and encouraged him to stop there instead.

Man, those 4 wheelin people sure to like the "STRAIGHT DROPS".

#3 and have I said it yet? NO REASON not to have BROUGHT WATER!

Man, I was dying for some liquid. No breeze, 10 steps rest, 10 steps rest, 10 steps rest. I started getting sick, dizzy, nauseated. I found a tree and leaned on it.
Cola found a cool shady spot and plopped down, his tongue hanging out 5 feet. Poor pup.

Falcon was heaving still. Oh shoot, I couldnt close my eyes without getting all swimmy headed. So rest and rest we did. I looked up, "how much further UP" can this trail GO?!

I could see a break in the trees, we MUST be almost THERE! Sure enough, 10 more steps and we were. OH, but there was a BIG CABLE ACROSS THE TRAIL. OH SURELY NOT, NO, WE WERE NOT going to TURN AROUND and go back DOWN that rocky mountain!

Thankfully, I could see a way around the cable and we plowed through fallen logs and rocks and holes and YEAHHHHH we were on the trail to the Radio Tower again! OH YEAHHHHHH.....I could barely crawl up on to Falcons back and he took off as soon as my butt hit the saddle.

I slowed him to a walk, I was so weak, I could barely hang on...But by the time we reached OUR ridge trail I felt better and let him go trotting and cantering down....Wow I am getting brave doing THAT! We both just wanted to get home.

It was a great feeling to reach the bottom and turn onto the trail for the barn.

#4-No REASON NOT to turn the hose on and spray both of us down.
Cola had headed for the swampy pond and returned to the barn with his bottom half all black and stinky!

Falcon got a serving of soaked grain with a dose of electrolytes. The poor boy probably needed some ADVIL! But as soon as he joined up with the other two horses, he took off at a canter for the front field and some nice green grass.

#5 NO REASON NOT to have a big glass of iced TANG....I don't like tang much, but it was cold and it was GOOD! I sat and pondered what we had just done....Me, Falcon and Cola-6.4 miles in about 50 min on a highly technical trail.

I never would have dreamed a year ago, that Falcon and I would have come this far. He was sent to be trained last Aug. and he REARED everytime he was introduced to anything new. Also, after 3 months of training, he promptly bucked me off twice. I was already struggling with fear after a previous riding accident with Sinwaan, the rearing and bucking didnt help.

#6 NO REASON NOT to be THANKFUL for finding Judie Ricci of Meadow Spring Training Center and working miracles with Falcon. Now Falcon is working miracles with me, helping me to regain my trust and love of horses.

#7 No REASON NOT to END this long epistle before I get all sappy....and for a post note, Gemma arrived home several hours later and was last seen sacked out under the truck! Happy TRAILS!