Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Setting Sights on the Fort Valley LD

Time has really flown by...the heat and humidity returned to Virginia...and no more time for RESTING!

The "boys" have had more than a week off since the Virginia Highlands LD and it was time to get back on the trail regardless of the heat! It was only 92 degrees with heat index around 98, but I had already grown accustomed to cooler weather and was not excited about the heat.

Arriving home from work, I waited until almost 6 pm, hoping that it would cool down a didnt, but I dutifully grabbed a bottle of frozen Gatorade, topped it off with water (I have learned to ALWAYS take drinking fluids with me!)and headed to the barn.

DARN, the chest plate and tack box was still in the horse trailer on the hill. So, after giving the boys a snack of grain to keep them busy, I trudged back to the trailer and grabbed some more supplies...

Falcon stood well for tacking up, but really blew out his stomach and I couldnt get that darn endurance rigging buckled tight enough...note to self: change rigging to latigo!

Oh and DARN, I had forgotten that this saddle was missing the pad in the left stirrup...oh bother, I would deal with it for 4 miles! another note to self: GET ANOTHER PAD FOR STIRRUP!

I hand walked Falcon down the trail to the corner post of the pasture and there, was able to finally cinch him up properly and mount.

Falcon took off at a lovely extended trot and zoomed on to Ruth's house .5 mile away.
Then up the mile long ridge trail at a canter/extended trot/canter. I always thought this ridge trail had a good grade to it, but after the VH LD's MILE LONG hill, my hill was in comparison, NOTHING!

We made the turn to the East and then North to the radio tower. Falcon decided to be spooky at this point and "noodled" slowly down the trail. At the next turn to the East to go down the other side of Piney Mt, Falcon balked.

I had seen numerous sign of bear....scat, overturned stumps and at one point in the trail, a HUGE rock had been dug out of the earth and moved aside leaving a large gaping horse leg eating hole.

With minimal urging, Falcon started down the slippery rocky road, stumbling now and again, not being used to my weight in this area since I usually hand walk him...but as his saddle slid up on his neck, I hopped off and led him to a more level area and remounted.

I decided that if a bear happened along, I would rather be on his back then on the ground if he decided to whirl around and take off.

But when we reached the paved road, I hopped off again and walked him to the gravel Summers, I readjusted his saddle, but he was so lathered up from the heat and the the leather was so slippery, I had a time regirthing him....

Another mental note to self: SELL THIS STUPID SADDLE!

Back on top, we flew down the road, Falcon noodling some from side to side. Almost a mile down the road, I noticed a huge tractor trailer barreling up the road towards us...OH CRAP! NO WHERE TO GO! Falcon jammed on the breaks....hhhhmmmm. if I could get him going forward we could go in to the Moyers farm off the road....but where we were....NOT, no place to go...barb wire fencing on both sides.

Falcon remained stock still in the middle of the road. So I took in some deep breaths and sat back.

The truck slowed, dust billowing up behind it for half a mile...then he put on his blinker and turned in to the Moyers lot. OH praise be! Only problem was, he pulled up parrellel to the rode and we still had to pass him.

We did so at sideways walk, then out of the lot pulled 2 men in a pickup truck. They were courteous and moved slowly....sssshhhh, that obstacle passed then suddenly Falcon started dashing to the left away from the Moyers lot.

He was out of control and all I could see was that barb wire fence getting closer and closer. I pulled firmly on the right rein and kicked hard with my left heel.

Falcons butt swung to the left and his left hind leg landed in a ditch that was hidden by the tall grass. He took a flying leap out of it and terrorized he tried to race down the road.

Somehow, I managed a hard turn to the right to make him face his PREDATOR! The Predator turned out to be a STATIONARY, HORSE EATING, BULLDOZER! OH for PETES SAKE!

Sheeesh! But hey, I am still in the saddle, so we headed at a trot on down the road and I prayed that we would not encounter anymore gigantic horse eating trucks or bulldozers.

Today, the Maremmas had not come along....they have figured out that when it is hot, they better stay home.

I took this opportunity to expose Falcon to more horse eating boogers. I hopped off of him at the end of Summers Road and turned right on to Stony Man Road. This is a busy paved road with very little shoulder.

Thankfully, at first in this area, there was NOT any traffic at all. Amazing, so we walked and then I jogged along while he trotted.

As we neared the old Peach Canning Factory, the traffic suddenly appeared and cars and trucks zoomed by. At this area there is a large gravel lot and also grass and so it was safe for me to take some swigs of my gatorade.

I dumped some gatorade in my hand for Falcon to slurp. Up until this point, ever since the bulldozer event, his head had been extremely high in the air and from the ground, I could not even reach up to the top of him to make him drop his head.

Man, he was stressed! But seeing my outstretched hand, he thought I had a snack and dropped his head....He was delighted with the gatorade and ended up drinking almost half of it.

From the lot we could cross the road and go right on to Brookstone Road, the gravel road home.

Mounted up, we took off flying for home and he was VERY happy to see Dakota and Red waiting for him.

I was drenched with sweat as was Falcon and the cool hosing benefited both of us.

It was a great ride (except for the heat and "boogers"), but all in all a great learning experience/exposure for for Falcon.

1 comment:

Shana said...

Fun ride story - I am amused that he loved the gatorade! :)