Saturday, November 1, 2008

White Oak Canyon ride.

Wow, a week gone already since the LD. Where does the time fly!

Last night I hooked up the horse trailer and took Falcon to it. He stopped 6 ft from the trailer and wouldnt budge. I climbed on and put steady pressure on his lead rope and asked him to "load up" or "step" Finally he stepped and nosed the trailer.

More rebellion, more pressure, then step, step, one foot on the trailer. Finally, up he came. I made him stand there for about 5 min. then backed him off. He was tenative and hung balancing on the edge of the trailer before finally stepping off.

I repeated the process 5 more times until he was loading without hesitation again...YEAHHHHHHHHH!

So today, when Karen came, I asked her to keep her distance with Red and not to crowd us. Falcon loaded right up. Then Red.

We drove up to Skyline Drive and looked for parking....Were we crazy? It was a weekend during PEAK LEAF season! Finally we found parking at Skyland in front of some of their cabins.

We hadnt checked the horses feet before we left and Karen promptly found that Red was missing his right front shoe and pad! DARN! Ok, well, coban and duct tape it is. His foot was too wide for the Easy Boot.

That done, we wandered around looking for the trail that our map showed to no avail.
Finally we headed down Skyline Drive towards the stables where we knew the White Oak Canyon trail was.

The Trail started out on a fire road down crossed three creeks that paralleled each other and then turned on to a leaf strewn rocky trail down into the canyon to the creek. Unfortunately I dont have any pictures of us CROSSING this creek because it was quite tricky and narrow underwater with large slippery rocks.

Falcon and Red crossed like champs and we continued for a short distance up the otherside. Then decided that the day was short and we better head back since we couldnt make time with Red's lack of a shoe.

This time, Red crossed the creek first. The creek became muddy and Falcon managed to step up onto the large slippery rock under water. He kind of lept foward to regain his balance, only to freak out at a tiny waterfall on the left and two barking dogs on the right.

Mid stream he whirled around and lunged out. Oh great. No amount of coaxing would get him to reenter. I dismounted and tried to walk on dry rocks while leading him through the water...He chose to attempt to follow me on the rocks and promptly slid hither and yon.

Quite a crowd of tourists were gathering to see the outcome....most of them had seem him cross initially.

Karen attempted to get Red to come back across so she could lead Falcon, but Red wouldnt budge from the opposite side!

Finally a young man pointed west and said "hey, there is a foot bridge up there"

I said, "that is for people, big sign says, horses not allowed"

He said, "I won't tell if you wont tell!" yee hahhh...

So I walked Falcon up a narrow foot path, up 4 narrow steps onto a NARROW metal bridge. Falcon put one foot on the bridge, CLANK! another foot on the bridge CLANK!
foot 3 on CLANK, foot 4 on CLANK! Ok, this is going to take a LONG TIME!

Then CLANK CLANK CLANK CLANK....right across he scurried and then tackled 10 semi-wide steps down the other side and back on the trail.

Shooooo weeee and clapping and exclamations were heard how amazing it was for such a big horse to walk on such little steps....yeeee hahhhh.

Back up the trail we went, completing just under 6 miles in all quite uneventfully after the creek crossing...until we arrived at the trailer....DUMB PEOPLE parked a CAR RIGHT BEHIND the trailer.

Thankfully, the car ahead of me was just leaving and I was able to pull forward to board the horses. Falcon clambored right on, with Red close behind and we headed home having had a great day.

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!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eatin' DIRT

7:30 a.m.! I decided to ride early, weather forcast was for a 90 degree hot & humid day. Fog blanketed the front fields and the air felt close and damp. Falcon was sleepy when I mounted him and moved off slowly down the fence line trail.

Red and Dakota slowly walked along to the corner and didn't even bother to whinny good bye.

As we continued on, I heard a loud crashing in the woods behind us. I turned to look, but didn't see anything. Gemma and Cola barked and ran, but soon came back. It must have been a startled deer.

Suddenly Falcon woke up and took off at a flying trot. We rounded the corner and headed up the trail towards Ruth's house at a canter. At Ruth's place, I pulled him up to a walk until we reached the ridge trail.

We a slight nudge Falcon took off again at a flying trot then started to gallop. I didn't like this and tried to pull him in to at least a canter, but for some reason he kept galloping on the right side of the trail avoiding some rocks.

Then it all happened so fast....a tree limb of some sort caught him on the right. He bucked to get away from it...but one buck was not enough and straight up in the air he went again.

With that massive buck, I went off of his left side. I saw his body very close to me and had a fleeting thought of him trampling me. But that is all I remembered.

I must have been knocked out just momentarily because when I opened my eyes I felt very dizzy and my vision was limited. I saw Falcon trotting on up the trail.
I hollered for him, but on he went around the bend and out of site.

Dragging myself up and still feeling dizzy, I yelled for him again...then took stock of my injuries. RIGHT SIDE AGAIN! Now HOW did THAT HAPPEN? I went off of him from the LEFT?

My right elbow was killing me, had a gouge in it and was swelling. The right side of my head felt all tingly (THANK GOODNESS for HELMETS!) And my lower neck and all across the top of my shoulders really HURT! (Now that I am home, I have noticed that my whole inner right arm is bruised)

Well maybe he did come down on me...I don't know, I never FELT a thing! Must have hit my HEAD first!

Ok, so anyway, I hollered for Falcon again, then heard thundering hooves. He screeched to a stop when he saw me and I walked up to him and rubbed his neck for coming when called.

He was all twitter-pated. I calmed him some, then tried to remount. He wasn't interested, so Back, BACK, Back! Then he let me mount and up the trail we went. Some trotting and more walking. I wasn't feeling too good. I thought, I wasn't even a mile from home. Maybe I should turn around and go back home.

Naaah, can't reward him for bucking, even if it was because that nasty branch grabbed him.

On to the radio tower and down the east side of Piney Mt, walk the paved road, remount on Summers. Same old thing, but Falcon kept spooking at everything. He would dance sideways whenever Cola or Gemma came panting up beside him. This he did numerous times.

His respirations were up after the climb to the radio tower and he was soaking wet from the humidity. By the time we reached Summers, his respirs had dropped and we started trotting again...but spook, spook, spook. GRRRRR. I pulled him up to a walk.

I didn't have the where-with-all to stay on if he dumped me again. But he didn't want to walk and finally I let him out and he trotted right on past Moyers Lot with all of the big trucks.

Over the bridge and a gallop up the hill where we met up with a noisy diesal truck. Falcon danced. I put up my hand to stop the truck, he obliged and we noodled past without mishap.

We reached the Jacobsons driveway and I let him out again until we reached their grassy path. As we dropped back down on to the woods trail, Falcon finally relaxed and gave up on the spooking nonsense.

Back at the barn I hosed him and noticed a big scratch down his hind let where the branch must have gotten him. He was happy to have his electrolytes and grub and I was happy to be WALKING!

I can't say that I enjoyed the ride, Being bumped off in rocks doesn't feel very good, I am just thankful that I have hard bones that don't crack easily. The heat was miserable and I wish the humidity would let up...but I better hush, WINTER is on its way, and then I will be whining about the COLD!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Alone Again

The morning dawned cool and bright...not that I was all that excited to be awake at 7a.m. (Betsy had invited me over to celebrate my LD completion and I had celebrated a little too much and didn't get home until 12:30 a.m.!)

I savored my coffee and emailed Karen to see if she would go riding with me. We haven't been riding together in several months.

She emailed back and said that she was having back issues from too much cleaning/moving furniture around and the Doc had told her no hard, she always has some excuse....

Ok, well forget that, Betsy was leaving for another Inn Sitting Job and Peg goes to church and spends time with her family on Sundays...ALONE AGAIN! SIGHHH.

I went and got Falcon and brought him up to the horse trailer. Today we would use the saddle that FITS him and DOESNT give me knee pain. All I had to do was adjust one of the stirrups that had given me a fit on the LD....easily done.

Saddled up, I went to the house to get my water, I came out to the sound of thundering hooves....WHATTTTTTTTTT?????

It wasnt Falcon, it was Red and Dakota who had escaped through a stall door that I hadnt latched securely.

Falcon was surprised, but didnt act too crazy. Red and Dakota trotted over to him and started munching grass, but as soon as I arrived they went tearing all around the yard and then tore down to the barn lot and in to the barn.

I raced down there and shut the barn lot gate as they came charging back out of the barn. This time I opened the gate to the pasture, and out they went, snorting and tossing their held high heads....silly boys. I secured all doors/gates and went back to Falcon.

Once I was mounted, he was happy to take off down the trail at a speedy pace...He was frisky in the cool weather and zipped up the 1.3 mile trail to the radio tower at a canter. I think we made it in 7 min.

After that, we had to walk slowly down the other side on the slippery loose shale, but Falcon did a little better today.
At the paved road,(where he handled the traffic very well without spooking at all) I hand walked him to Summers Rd, tightened the girth while the Maremmas laid in the creek gulping water, remounted and took off again.

Falcon wanted to canter, but I kept pulling him back to the extended trot as we zoomed down towards Moyers Farm. No big trucks moving today. All were parked and the scary BULLDOZER was parked further from the road.

Onward we went and zipped around to Phil and Bob's (my neighbors)driveway. (instead of cutting through the field which was wet and full of tall unmown grasses.)

Falcon cantered up their driveway before I turned him onto one of their mown trails at the edge of their woods that skirts their garden and orchard. At the top of the hill, we turned right, down through the woods, back up to Ruth's house and then back home from the north side of my property, adding almost another mile to the ride.

It was a WONDERFUL ride 4.7 miles in 33 min.

Then I listened to Falcons heart rate and gut sounds with a stethascope. He stood stock still for me...what a TURKEY! But I will keep practicing with him, so that hopefully he will behave himself at the Fort Valley Ride in Oct.

After a good hosing, I trotted him out for more education for the ride, Electrolyted him and put him back out with his buddies.

What a great way to start the day! Yeahhhhhh!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Swollen Knees


I woke up the morning after my ride on Falcon, brushed my teeth and headed downstairs to let Griffin the labradoodle out.

ERRRRRRRR well, I TRIED to head downstairs. My knees were stiff and painful, but I managed to hobble on down, and seeminly worked out the kinks.

But going back upstairs, produced pain again...I proceeded on to work, but by the end of the day, I was really hobbling and favoring my right knee.

My right knee is the one that has nerve damage from my fall from Sinwaan many years ago...and by the end of my work day it was swollen quite a bit.

Friend Peg had asked me to go to the fitness center with her, so I went, thinking that the Elliptical would be easy on my joints, but still provide exercices.

My knee did not bother me at all during the exercises, but I found that I could not go up and down steps without grimacing.

Ok, ADVIL for dessert again!

Then today, the same occurance with the right knee, only instead of being swollen over the knee cap, I just had pain, and then swelling in the BACK of my knee and also my left knee.

So, home I limped. Fed my critters, and propped my feet up for half an hour, but then I had to work the Concession stand during the JV volleyball game...TWO HOURS on my FEET.

Oh that should do WONDERS for my knees.

This is redicules. I might have to give up doing LD's and I certainly may never make it through a 50 mile ride at this rate.

Then the STRANGEST thing occurred. I worked the concession stand and did NOT have ANY knee pain or swelling. In fact the swelling behind my knee had subsided. HOW WEIRD!

Well, stormy cool weather is on its way to Luray tomorrow, so I won't be able to ride anyway and the boys get ANOTHER break.....sheessh...

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.

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!