Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Squishy Squishy Ride Day

The ride manager invited all to come and ride the Fort Valley-describing beautiful fall foliage, etc.....

October 25, 2008

I didnt want to crawl out of my nice warm sleeping bag. I didn't even want to ride. I was having pre-ride jitters.
This would be my second LD ride if I managed to get on my horse.

My friend Karen had fed the horses at 6 a.m. and so I all had to do was decide what to wear and to saddle my horse.
The fine misting rain made everything all drippy, including the horses and I told Karen that 'we don't HAVE to do this' and she retorted 'we didnt do all of that conditioning for nothing, we are going to do this ride!'

I took in a long slow deep breath and turned my focus on getting Falcon ready. The darkness quickly turned into daylight with omnious clouds hovering overhead. By 7:30 we were mounted and warming the horses up. Falcon, a 5 y/o arab/paint cross was fairly relaxed/if not sleepy.

At 7:55 we checked in and waited for the start. A "controlled" start?!!!! NOT what I considered controlled. We started out in the middle of the pack. Horses were prancing and cantering and trotting along behind the lead vehicle and I had a major panic attack as I saw some horses slipping on the sleek wet pavement. We crossed a cement bridge and thankfully Falcon was more focused on the other horses.

Falcon, by this time was almost out of control, prancing and dancing sideways like a dressage horse as we all swept up the pavement...then aaah, a right turn onto a gravel road, much safer footing...and we cantered and trotted and moved our way towards the front of the pack.

Soon Karen and Red caught up to us and we went single file up a rocky trail over Milford Gap. The trail down the other side was rocky, wet and narrow. A rock ledge bordered the right with a sharp incline. Falcon maneuvered the trail well, head down, looking for rocks. Several times he stumbled and I flew up out of the saddle, losing my right stirrup and noted to myself that I needed to shorten that stirrup at the next water stop.

The rain began to deluge us now and water squished out of my moisture wicking tights everytime I hit the saddle. Yeeee Hah!
We came apon a wonderful grassy road and Falcon took off at a canter, on and on we went taking the lead for a while. He wanted to gallop, but we had miles to go and so I tugged on him to slow down (with little success) When we reached the gravel road along the Shenandoah river he set in to a more steady pace.

Soon we reached the ascent back up the mountain on another narrow and rocky trail. We climbed slowly and were soon overtaken by 5 other riders who we let pass. The warmth and steam rising from the passing horses made a great cloud to settle in over us. I thought we would never reach the top.

It was on this trail that we saw the BEAUTIFUL FALL FOLIAGE that ride management had spoken of. It was absolutely breathtaking. Then as we crested the top, the view of the Shenandoah valley once again took my breath away.

Once again a downpour enveloped us then lightened as we crossed back in to Fort Valley. We sped back down the trail and ended up at the first Vet Check in 7th place and all A's.

Karens daughter brought us hot Chicken Noodle Soup while friends took care of the horses for us. Karen's time out was about 4 min. later than mine, but since she was riding my horse and she is my friend, I waited for her. Karen needed some motivation to get going again, but soon we were back out on the trail at 1201.

Up the road we went, trot, trot, trot, squish, squish, squish. And DARN we missed the first turn and had to backtrack what seemed to be a mile. After that we stayed on trail. But I hated that loop for the most part. All winding through the woods and taking so many turns that my mind was in a whirl and I couldnt place what direction we were going in my head.

Up steep hills, down hills, more rain, trotting, galloping, squish, squish, squish. At a creek, Falcon stopped to drink and drink, then led 3 other horses up the rock creekbed, surefooted as ever. Man, I am glad he takes care of himself.

Finally Red took the lead with some urging from Karen. When we reached the hayfields Falcon decided it was time for a good buck or two, but I quickly caught on and yanked his head up. From there we had a belly deep water crossing. We LOVED that. Falcon didnt want to get out of the if we werent wet enough already.

One more short steep climb, then good trails to home. YEAHHH!. We had done the 12 miles in less than 2 hours. I walked Falcon in to the Vet, but he was too excited to be back 'home' and whinnied at anyone who would talk to him...not getting his heart rate down to 60.

Judy Ricci, his trainer was close by and came over to help...stuffing some electrolytes in his begrudging mouth and sponging him down for me. Then time for the vet. I was so excited, since we had come in next to last in the Virginia Highlands ride. We finished in the middle of the pack this time and could have placed a little higher had we not left 6 min. late and then gotten lost. And to think that I wanted to quit just because of a little rain!

It was an AWESOME ride.

And the sun came out just as the Vet called out 'overall A'! What an AWESOME AWSOME DAY!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lunch Time

After setting up camp, we walked over and checked in. No waiting, we were early for the Saturday ride and todays riders were still out on the trail.

Walking back we mosied around at the two Vendors that were there and I hungrily eyed some black stirrups with cages. The other stirrups on my black plantation saddle creak with every move and the pads are quite worn out.

The plantation saddle had been basically a last minute decision when I found that my tree was broken on my Tucker Cheyenne and a pad was missing from my Tucker Endurance saddle and my stirrups were not interchangeable.

But, by then Betsy and "her" Ed had arrived at camp with lunch...Yummy turkey wraps with chipolte mayonaise, Cilantro potato salad and cranberry bars along with a selection of sodas, beer or water.

Betsy used to run Jordon Hollow Farm Inn and now just Inn sits, so she has a multitude of yummy recipes up her sleeve.

After lunch we wandered around camp. Betsy is also a past endurance rider and so she knew lots of people at the camp. I took this time to head back to the Vendor to splurge on the stirrups.

Taking that back to the saddle, it seemed that the bars were too wide for the leathers, so Betsy, Ed and I went back to see if they had a narrower bar, but alas, I already had the smallest one. The vendor said "They will work, I sold some to a friend with REALLY NARROW leathers and she didnt have ANY problems. I garantee that they will be fine"

Betsy mumbled...mmmmmmm, I don't know, I don't know about THAT!. Well, I decided to go with the vendors words and trudged back to the trailer to put them on.

Karen also bought a pair of endurance stirrups with out cages for her Aussie. She had been riding in english irons....not good for 30 miles in the mountains and expected rain.

Then it was time to vet the horses in. They had had plenty of time to eat and drink and Falcon vetted through with an overall of A- due to relaxed skin, but I believe he is just like that, he just isnt really tight skinned.

Then we relaxed around camp. Betsy had talked to the first place finisher on the 30 mile ride and got the scoop on the trail conditions...not that it would totally help us since he rode on dry trails and we were expecting wet ones. But at least he told us where we could really move out and make up some time if necessary.

By then it was almost 5 and I decided that I better head 10 miles back down the road to check in at Fort Valley Stables where I had reserved a cabin for two nights.

Just then "my" Ed drove up, so I hopped in his car and we took our stuff to the cabin which turned out to be cozy with a tiny t.v. and a GIANT microwave oven. I think it must have been the first one ever made!

We threw our sleeping bags out on the bunk beds and then headed back to camp for a supper of baked ziti, rolls and salad and then pumpkin bread pudding for dessert. I had the vegetarian baked ziti. Man it was good, but I harrassed the man for serving me with the same spoon that he had dished the meat version with...hheeee heee.

I told him that I didnt mind since I wasn't even a vegetarian, but liked the plain version better.

The young girl that took our meal tickets was quite creepy, very straight faced and quiet until the guy in front of us tried to get his meal with out his ticket, she frowned and said "no ticket, no meal"! he dropped out and ran to his truck for his meal ticket. Turns out that they had like 5 big pans left over and could have fed like 50 more people!

A fine misting rain started to settle in as the ride meeting started. A great indicator of the day to come!

The ride meeting over, we went and blanket the horses even though it was around 60 degrees. Most horses were blanket and we figured the temperature would drop with the rain.

From there Karen opted to sleep in her truck to be close to the horses and Ed and I drove back to the cabin where we both crawled in to our bunks.

I didnt sleep well...pondering the next days ride, the weather, and the fact that I just didnt even want to do this ride at all. Pre-ride jitters for sure.

Time to Set Up Camp

I slept past 7 a.m. because I had not set my alarm. I always wake up at 5!

So, I had to scurry around filling the water tank on the horse trailer, grabbing my saddle pads from the dryer and putting my bags and food baskets in the truck.

Then it was time to feed the goats and pen them so that Jay could drive through the pasture without the goats escaping. By then, Karen had arrived with a big light weight roundpen on the back of her truck for Red.

We walked down to the lower barn and watered the cows while waiting for Jay. Jay arrived at 9:15 and tightened up Falcon and Reds shoes, then yakked to Karen about the arrest of our local sheriff.

I grabbed the grooming box and an extra bucket and headed for the Trailer. Karen got the hint and shut the gates after Jay drove through. Then we brought the horses to the trailer.

Falcon was a pain and would not load, but after some coaxing he finally walked on.
Red loaded without issue.

At exactly 10 we motored out of the driveway with Karen in the lead, through town and on to Mechanic Street, heading for the Massanutten Mountains a few miles away.
The road up the mountain is curvy and narrow and at one point, I passed a van going in the opposite direction and there must have been only 4 inches clearance between us....yikes, but if I got over to the right, I would have rolled down the mountain side.

The down side is just as steep and curvy with a sharp hairpin bend thrown in for good measure. Then, reaching the floor of Fort Valley, the road widens and is more level, but still curvy.

12 miles later we arrived at Base Camp-Fitchetts Field. There was plenty of parking and we found a spot not too far from the Vet-In and Check In.

Quickly we set up the round pen and the porta corral, unloaded the horses (Falcon had to be coaxed off of the trailer) and put them in their corrals to munch grass.

Then we set up two canopys that Karen had that belonged to the Old Dominion...Set down our chairs, propped our feet up and each had a beer. Then we set about getting grain and stuff ready for the next day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rose River Ride

Wow what a gorgeous day! Only 48 this a.m. Quite a change from Hot and Humid Wednesday.

Betsy and Tristana were supposed to go with us on this ride, but alas, Tris had the worst case of "scratches" on her front fetlock and some on the back as well, that I had ever seen. Betsy and Ed had come over the night before to look at it and she trotted out extremely lame. So Betsy's plan for the day was to get Tristanas, sores cleaned up and bandaged.

Karen's friend Sarah met us at Red Gate Road. Sarah doesn't ride but she is going to Pit Crew for us at the Fort Valley Ride next week and she wanted to meet my horses prior to the ride.

Red refused to back off of the trailer and so Karen put a long lead line on is right side and the shorter one on his left. She used the long right line to guide his butt to the left and with that he stepped off quickly.

We were saddled up in no time flat, but then my GPS screen went gray. I handed it down to Sarah, who is a geology major and lives by GPS. She fiddled with it awhile, but it still wouldnt work. I suggested turnining it off and waiting 10 seconds. That did the trick and we took off up the trail by 10:45

We walked the horses for 15 min and then trotted/cantered for 2 miles, walked for a breather and then trotted the remaining 1.5 miles to Skyline Drive.

At Fishers Gap overlook we crossed over Skyline Drive and Picked up the Rose River Fire Trail.

There were a lot of tourists on this trail. One little girl wanted to pet the horses so Karen let her pet Red since Falcon was a little freaked out about the "little" people.

The first mile of this trail is small gravel and we made good time at the trot. Along the way is a grave yard to the right with a flag flying and many people were taking a look at that. A little further down is a waterfall and a wide metal bridge.

Many people were lined up on the bridge taking pictures. We dismounted and handwalked the horses over it. Falcon was a little freaked by the people and also by the clanking ove the bridge as his metal shoes hit the metal bridge.

But we crossed without mishap and remounted. At this point the trail sported many rocks and the going was slow as the horses picked their way through them. It just wasn't very safe to trot.

Down down down the mountain we went. Our goal was Graves Mountain Lodge and an Apple Fest, but it turned out that we would not make it due to the slowness of the trail and the distance was further than Karen had figured. She had figured another 4-5 miles from Skyline Drive....NOT, it was more like 10 miles!

The fall foliage was beautiful and the temps cool. I wore my 3 season jacket without the liner and also a flannel shirt with a t-shirt under that. Most of the ride we also wore gloves.

In a few places my nose was cold, but no complaining....IT was GORGEOUS! Part of the way we followed the Rose River that is really nothing more than a big creek.
After 8.5 miles of riding we decided we better turn around and head back towards home. (now, looking at the map, we were less than half a mile from the end of the fire road)

Anyway, we crossed another metal bridge and this time, Falcon put his head down and gingerly walked across it, again without mishap.

Here we chose a potty break/snack time before turning to head back for home.

We made better time going UP the mountain since the horses seemed to be able to trot easier going up. We passed the Man with his black Tennesse Walkers, although this day he was with his wife, but the man was walking, saying that his horse had lost a shoe. Well, we never saw a shoe, but there were so many fallen leaves...that I wish them luck in finding it.

Then I saw a good place to canter and urged Falcon on, he took off and I soon heard Karen yell....Red was bucking bucking bucking. 4 times! BAD BOY. This was the third time of the day that he had done this...hhhhmmm, I had asked Karen to change her girth from the nylon string one to a felt one since I didnt have a neoprene one for her aussie saddle....wonder if it was the girth.

Well, she can use the nylon string one for the LD I guess.
At one point, Falcon's right hind end went down as his foot got stuck in some rocks, but he kept moving and didn't show any signs of lameness.

We reached the upper waterfall and metal bridge, dismounted and walked across. Still many sightseers here. As we mounted, Falcon's head came up and he whirled around like something was scaring him.

Two men on Tennessee Walkers were seemingly racing down the trail. I managed to settle Falcon slightly and kept him in the middle of the trail hoping to force the men to slow down.

They barely slowed and raced on past, making a horrific noise as they raced over the metal bridge.

What in the WORLD, I wanted to report their bad behavior....but ya know, a horse does not sport a license plate. They should have been moving slowly through that area with all of the people/children milling about.

Soon after a group of about 10 people on TW's came through, albeit at a more moderate pace. After they passed we took off at a trot/canter for the remaing mile up to Skyline Drive. I would have taken pictures, but I needed both hands on the reins.

At Fishers Gap, Falcon freaked slightly at a big tour bus that screeched in to the overlook with two noisy motorcycles close behind. But soon both horses were munching on the lush grass.

The day was growing short, so after allowing the horses to graze for 15 min. or so we mounted back up and took off at a trot down Red Gate Road. One mile from the trailer I dismounted and started jogging down the trail with Falcon at my side.

Karen had taken off with Red to see if he would go off by himself. She said he did but he started spooking at ever rock, leaf and stump. Silly boy.

I felt warm jogging so I stripped off my swishy coat and tied it to the saddle. Falcon was not bothered by this at all and we continued onward. The horses were obviously tired at the end and their butt muscles were tight. I massaged Falcons haunches and he seemed to really enjoy it and started to doze.

When I checked his right hind heel there was a tear in it and he seemed tender to touch. Hope that heals up well before the ride. Other than that both horses had come through without other issues.

Time to load up. Falcon, for the first time ever, refused to get on the trailer. I don't know what ailed him. We tried and tried to no avail.

The sun was getting lower in the sky and temps were falling again. So we loaded Red up and then tried Falcon in the rear stall. Again, he would not load, so I passed the rope through the window to Karen, got off the trailer and behind Falcon and FINALLY he loaded up.

I guess he thought that I was going to take him for another long ride! Well, it was either load up or I would have to ride him another 8 miles home!

At home, Falcon then would not get off of the trailer. When he is in the front stall, he knows how to swing his butt over and backs right off. Being in the back stall, he was afraid and stood with his hind hooves on the edge of the trailer but would not step down.

Finally, after much coaxing and pushing, he got up his nerve and stepped off. Sheesh! Red thankfully got off without much ado.

Falcon was happy to see Tristana and both horses were happy to chow down and head out for a much needed drink of water.

A GREAT 21 mile ride....hope the weather is this perfect at the FVLD next week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Today was HOT HOT HOT! Come ON it is OCTOBER for Pete's SAKE!
Both Karen and I had headaches. Sweat was pouring off of me just saddling the horse and Karen said that Red's neck was wet under his mane just from standing still! BLA!

I told Karen, well we don't HAVE to ride...but she said nah, lets go. The horses were sleepy, not motivated at all. So basically we walked up Piney Hill and around to Summers Road, did a little trotting and called it a day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Playing Hooky

There was a staff meeting at work at 8 am that lasted an hour. However, there werent any surgeries scheduled for the day and the weather promised to be lovely again. So I decided to use my last remaining paid leave day and play hooky.

Karen did not have to work either and by High Noon we were mounted up and head for Skyline Drive via Red Gate Road. (reminder to self, get a picture of the red gate and the road sign next time out)

Temps were in the low 70's but the horses have already accumulated some "fur" and Falcon was sweating behind the ears one mile into the ride.

Basically we sauntered, some trotting, but mostly sauntering. At the top (4.2 miles into the ride) we crossed through the Fishers Gap overlook to the south, hand walked the horses about 1/10 of a mile on Skyline Drive then picked up another trail that circles around behind Big Meadows and heads for Tanners Ridge.

At Tanners Ridge we headed back west on a gravel road for a short distance, just to look at the Tanners Ridge cemetary and to let the horses munch on some grass.

I munched on an apple and then gave Falcon the remains which he seemed to swallow whole.
We passed a man and his son on Black Tennessee walkers and then boogied down the trail that we had come up on.

The sun was hot and Falcon fleered at the only water that we found along the trail.
Back down Red Gate we went to the trailer and called it a wonderful day. A good 11 miles or so.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More trail riding

I was away for the weekend, so Betsy and her friend Christie and also Karen came over and took the horses out for a pleasant 4 mile ride around the home trails.

Christie reported that Falcon was a GEM and very well behaved.

Good! He is getting back in to the habit of behaving himself!

All 4 horses were together in the pasture when I arrived home, so that was a relief too, seeing that everyone was getting along nicely. Maybe I can get some pictures to post this week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Riding

At 10 a.m., I received a call at work that my horses were out roaming in the road and could I please come round them up.

I tried to call Betsy, since she lives closer, then I am at the hospital. But she didnt answer her cell phone, so I ran out and sped homeward. I stopped at the Turners place and Emily was closing a gate to one of their fields. There were hoof prints, but no horses.

Emily said that she is afraid of cows and horses and didnt know what to do, but had run across the street and told Mr. Moyer that there were horses out.

I had passed Mr Moyer in his dump truck while speeding up the road and he waved and smiled and certainly hadnt flagged me down....

Then I asked Emily if she had seen where the horses had gone...welllll, she said, the gray one went THAT way, pointing across the road.

I breathed a sigh of relief....I dont have a gray horse couldnt be mine. So I stood on my tiptoes and peered across the fields to my pastures and there stood all of my horses, swishing tails and munching grass....shooowheeeeeeeee.

So apparently, they were Moyers horses and he had caught them and had gone on his merry way. Back to work I went and was happy to head home again at 3 pm, knowing that my horses would be where they belonged.

Karen was basically on time today...yeahhhhh, but hhhmmm smelled a bit like beer?

Well, I would keep an eye on her and Red. She actually was ready to go before I was.
I pondered taking her on a different trail and then opted not to, deciding to do the regular trail once again to familiarize her more with it in case she went riding without me.

We sauntered along, all of us needing a quiet ride without any mishaps. I did decide to do the side trails on the east side of Piney Mt and that added an extra mile to the ride as well.

We trotted along Summers until we reached Rosedale. I asked Karen if she wanted to do it...she was undecided and I kept Falcon trotting, but at the last min. as we were just about to pass Rosedale, I turned Falcon up it and we continued with our nice steady trot to the end, said hello to Mr. Black Stallion, let our ponies munch some green grass while a car passed and then we turned and headed back to Summers.

Temps were once again about 70. Very sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I told Karen that the next time we ride Summers Road in the afternoon that we will have to come from the opposite direction so that we arent blinded by the afternoon sun.

We had a lovely, uneventful ride and put in 7.2 miles in about an hour and 10 min.

Dakota was hollering for us when we returned, but he is still to be alone until Betsy decides that Tristana can be with him. So far introductions and living in a pasture with Red and Falcon have been uneventful for her.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Another Ride

Temps were about 64. Breezy, and threatening to rain.
Betsy arrived around 3:45 and Karen arrived at about 4:15. We saddled up and headed out. This time for a much shorter ride.

I took them up my usual trail to the radio tower and then over the east side of Piney Mt. We didnt take any of the side trails that dead end. I kind of wanted to because they add and extra mile or two to the ride.

But Betsy and Karen were both still very sore from trudging down the mountain on Sunday. I guess I am in better shape since I don't smoke and I have been working out on the Elliptical at the gym several days a week.

When we reached Valleyburg Road, there were HUGE rocks across the trail and also some wooden thing and some metal.

The Rocks had been there on Friday and Falcon had jumped over them, but Betsy moved the metal that was now there and we were able to walk to the left of the rocks under some branches of a tree to access the road.

At this point, Gemma the Maremma came dashing around the corner, happy that she had caught up with us. She must be a glutton for punishment, but she loves to go with the horses.

Betsy and Tris are really good at going at a "sitting trot" pace. It is a nice relaxed slow jog that covers ground without using up tons of energy. Falcon eventually relaxed, lowered his head and settled in as well, but his legs are so much longer that his sitting trot is a lot faster than Tris's.

We were able to keep up that pace for about 1.3 miles after which we walked another
.3 mile to the Jacobsons driveway, then trotted again until we reached our woods trail.

IT was a nice 4.7 mile ride. I actually felt like I could do more at the time, but now that I am in the stiff neck returns to my conscience...I am scheduled for a MRI tomorrow of my head and neck.

We turned Red out with Falcon and Tris. No excitement occurred to speak of and in a few days, Dakota will be added to the mix and if all goes well we will open the gates and let them all have access to the barn again.

Betsy and Ed also fixed my electical sockets that were filled with Mud Daubers nests.

Karen is taking my twisted and ripped up Western saddle to a saddle repair shop in Warrenton on her way to work tomorrow....

So making these new friends has helped me it is good to have someone to ride with again!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Girl in Town!

This morn came all too soon it seemed. I didn't rest well during the night.

But Betsy and I had planned on driving an hour north to pick up her horse Tristana.
A friend was supposed to be conditioning Tristana for an endurance ride, but she works for FEMA and with all of the hurricaine mess, she just didnt have time to ride.

So Betsy had said "I don't know what to do with Tristana! I would LIKE to bring her to your place and then we could RIDE!

Well you have to know Betsy, can't help but like her, raspy smokers voice, and at times bad language and gruff, but yeah, ya just have to like her.

I said SURE, lets go get Tristana.

The FOG was thick as pea soup. Pea soup like my mom used to make when I was a child. NASTY STUFF, thick, had to CHOKE it down. Yeah, it was that kind of FOG!

3/4th's of the drive is along the Shenandoah fog, fog and more fog. I was glad to reach the farm.

Tristana is a sweet little arab mare and we rounded her up and loaded without issues. Betsy drove home...and of COURSE there WASN't ANY fog when SHE was driving!

On the way, I called Karen W. and she met us at the house. It took me a bit to get motivated/ready, but still Falcon was saddled before Karen had Red Dog ready to go.

Then I tried to capture the Maremma's but they caught on and took off. Finally I rounded them up and got them in to the pasture, but we hadn't even ridden off the property before they escaped and caught up with us.

Oh well! They were gonna be SORRY!

At the neighbors place Cola went off to visit their dogs and we never saw him again until we returned home.

Gemma trotted right along with us as we struck out, albeit very slowly towards Skyline drive. The last time I had been there was about 6 years ago on Sinwaan, and we questioned ourselves a few times as to whether we were taking the right road to lead us to the Fire trail up the Mountain.

I wished I had had a camera AGAIN! I tried to take my little one (which now belongs to Alison) but she needed to use it so alas, some other time I spose.

In our travels we had to walk about 3/10th of a mile on a paved road along which was pastured the most beautiful black quarter horse stallion I have ever seen. He raced up and down the fence line...which was barely a fence. He could have STEPPED over it at one, I am glad Tristana wasn't in heat.

Soon after we arrived on the Fire Trail to Skyline Drive. The shady woods were a welcome respite from the hot sun. Up up up we climbed, mostly walking, some trotting. Up, up, and up.

This was a HARD trail. The history on the trail is that Tourists would come by train and stay at the Luray Hotel (which later burned) Then they would take a horse drawn carriage ride up to Skyland at the top of Skyline Drive.

It just boggles my mind that they did this. The trail climbs 2500-3000 feet out of the valley from Luray. There are very few switchbacks and very few level areas for a reprieve from the climb.

The trail is rarely used now and the rain has washed much of the topsoil down and thus we have our FAMOUS ROCKS! ROCKS ROCKS ROCKS. But we did come upon several mossy/grassy areas where we had a good gallop or two.

But even at a walk, the horses were huffing and puffing and dripping buckets of sweat by the time we came within a third of a mile from Skyland.

Betsy decided to use Gemma as a reason not to go all the way to the top. Gemma does not wear a collar, thus no tags and no method for with which to control her.

But the park is also sticky about having coggins papers with you or even a park pass while on park property...of course we didnt have any documents with us and I keep telling myself that I need to have some identification on me and the horse in the event that someone questions us or a mishap occurs.

So we rested a spell and I pulled out a granola bar for each of us and some carrot snacks for the horses.

Then we turned and headed down the mountain. Handwalking the horses. Man I was tired. I had only had water and 2 granola bars all day.

Down down down we went. Down, down, down. After dropping 2500 feet we attempted to remount.
Karen did ok getting on Red, but Falcon decided to act up after his saddle slipped.
And poor Betsy tried to haul herself up on Tris. but she was so sore and weak since she is on some new diet...I thought she was going to pass out when I saw her leaning on Tris with her head down.

Finally after snugging up Falcon's girth, I managed to drag myself up on him. Then Betsy found a root to climb up on and from there managed to board Tris.

Onward we went at a slow trot. At the paved Valleyburg Road, Karen and I hopped off and handwalked the boys until we reached Rosedale, a gravel road that takes us to Summers. Betsy said no way was she getting off again, because she just knew she wouldnt be able to get back on later.

Summers Road was a wonderful sight and we knew we were less than two miles from home.

But, what we had forgotten to do was to find and fill a water tank in the front pasture for Tris and Falcon....ohhhhhhh man we were tired when we did that. Then I took one of the cows 50lb salt blocks and threw that over the gate in to the pasture for the horses as well since they would be separated from Red and Dakota for a spell.

Red and Dakota were not happy to be separated from Falcon, but too bad for now.

After filling the water tanks for the cows and the two separate horse pastures, we drug ourselves up the hill. Karen and Betsy headed to their homes and I flopped in a chair with a Corona and a heating pad on my neck.

I think we over did it! AND I have no idea how far we went. Maybe 10 difficult miles!

Friday, October 3, 2008

back in the saddle

It seems like forever since I landed in a heap on the rocks...

The first week was filled with misery-aching head, stiff neck, bruises everywhere. But soon the bruises and aches and pains subsided, all but my stiff neck and bruised elbow and bruised base of skull.

My vacation arrived just in time and the Saturday following my fall, I was headed to the beach to be with family and significant other. The Sea Air is enough to take my thoughts off of my aches and pains.

I walked 5 miles every other day down the beach and enjoyed several massages to lessen the pains.

But once I arrived home, the aches and pains returned and I realized that along with the distractions at the beach I had also been enjoying alchohic drinks each day which certainly had provided medicinal values!

So on Monday, I took Falcon and then Red to the small round pen and exercised them for about 20 min. each. They are fatter then ever and out of shape for a Limited Distance Ride.

On Tuesday, Karen and I were supposed to ride, but my neck was killing me after being on the computer at work all day long entering data from the inventory...I am a RN for petes sake in an OPERATING ROOM! But when you work in a small place like I do, you get to do anything necessary!

Anyway, I canceled our ride and instead drove 70 miles to go to my daughters Varsity Volleyball game, which thankfully they WON!

Wed. came and went, then Thur. I felt like I was losing my nerve to get back on to ride again.

Jay came and put pads and shoes on Falcon and Red in anticipation for the ROCKS on the Fort Valley LD Ride.

Ok, that BROKE me! Shoes AND pads! I better get on and get my moneys worth!

So today, FINALLY, Karen came over. The day was PERFECT! 71 degrees.

I had Falcon already saddled and Red brushed when she arrived. She used her Aussie saddle on Red which fit him perfectly according to her.

Yeah, whatever, let's get on and ride! We took my usual trail and I showed off where I got BUCKED off and she said "ooooohhhh ouch, nuthin but ROCKS!"

Basically we walked and trotted the FAT boys with very little cantering up the mountain...even that had them breathing heavy...yikes, I don't have a good feeling about finishing the FV ride.

The boys picked their way down the east side of Piney Mountain without any issues, the pads doing a good job. Then we trotted some down Summers road, but Falcon was spooking a good bit. There were plenty of deer out that kept crashing into the woods.

Karen was totally disoriented as to where she was, so I gave her a quick idea of where we were and then we headed up the Jacobsons driveway towards home. As we topped their hill, the sun streamed across the valley as it set over the Massanutten Range.

Both Karen and I wished that we had brought our cameras along.

It was a lesiurely ride. It took us one and half hours to complete a ride that normally takes me 30 min. But it was a good introduction for Karen to get a handle on Red and for me to fight some of my fear demons.

I never felt one ache or pain in my neck while riding. AMAZING what the outside of a horse can do for the inside of a woman!

We just make it through that FV LD after all!