Wednesday, June 25, 2008

4H/Skyline Drive ride

Betsy called today. Hallaleujia! Did I want to ride? Well I kinda didnt want to due to emotional upset over my "man" wanting to break up with me or something to that affect.

But regardless, Falcon was on the trailer by 4:30 pm and I was on my way to Front Royal to meet Betsy and Christie.

Then Betsy called and said they were running 20 min behind due to realizing that there were wasps in the their trailer with the horses and they had to stop and rememdy that situation.

The 4H center was alive and buzzing with campers, ponies, horses etc. Falcon was interested, but well behaved and more concerned with munching on clover. The boy sure does like to EAT!

Betsy and Chris arrived and were saddled up lickety split. But then Betsy couldnt find her helmet. I had an extra on with cobwebs in the trailer. It fit her, so We took off at a walk and a van pulled through the gate. A little girl hopped out and partially closed the gate, but left it wide enough for us to get through....NICE, except that Falcon decided to SPOOK when he got to the van and hopped sideways which landed us in a BIG ditch with a metal culvert.

Wow, How did either of us survive that one?

Ok, on up the road, to the trail which leads to the top of the ridge. It was slower going because Christies horse is 20+ and not in that good of shape.

At the top, through a subdivision and then the ridge trail that I love. Falcon and I were in the lead and took off at a fast flying trot, then a canter. It was GREATTTTTT!

Then Falcon came to a jarring stop, head up, ears pricked. hhhhhhmmm, I didnt have my glasses on, but then saw a "form" walking towards us. It was a black man with a back pack and he was really hoofing it up the trail towards us. I said hello and when he caught his breath he said that there was a "big ass bear" right around the corner.

So we talked to him for a few min. then took off up the trail and never once saw a bear. But we did see plenty of bear scat.

As we headed down the trail, we all got off and walked to stretch our legs some. Falcon put his head down to grab some grass and stepped on his rein. He yanked his head up and snapped the brass snap in half. GREAT! LESSON LEARNED. Always carry extra snaps!

Not only that the rein was stuck between his SHOE and his HOOF. Now, HOW did THAT happen? So I dug that out and before remounting at the creek, Betsy rooted around in her pack and found an xtra snap so I wouldnt have to tie the rein on.

As we reached the backside of the 4H Center the sun was setting and there was a herd of 25 deer in the soccer field. Quite a sight to be hold as their white tails flashed up and off they took.

My GPS stated that we had gone 7.86 miles with our fastest speed at 12.6 mph and an average of 4.6mph. Not a bad ride. And the only reason we had gone that slow was due to Old Sashshey.

Falcon is back on vacation because his shoes are getting loose and since I am heading for Montana. Falcon will be reshod on July 10 and then we will be putting in the miles getting ready for the Virginia Highlands ride in August.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another ride through the gauntlet

Back to Karens tonight. Sam wasn't home and so Karen had to fix her own wine. I had Falcon saddled up in a jiffy because we were starting much later tonight. Not so with Karen. Grrr, I like her, but this is driving me crazy. Too much wine going on.

I waited for 45 min for her to saddle up and eventually get on Slick. Same ride this time as last only it was hotter with more humidity. The horses were poking along, not interested at all in stepping out.

No wet noodling from Falcon tonight. He had "been there and done that" two nights ago. But the Stallion caused excitement for a few min. and then we were on the mountain trail again.

This time we decided to keep going. The trail was one track with lots of briars and thorny trees along the way. Karen and SLick were in the lead as the path became steeper and rockeier.

Halfway up to the top, Karen stopped, trying to decide whether to turn around or keep going. I yelled, "I dont know, make up YOUR MIND, Im sliding off Falcons back!"
I nudged Falcon and he charged past Slick. I grabbed a branch to prevent it from smacking me in the face-it turned out to have thorns that drove into my hand and stuck there. OUCH!

We reached the top and found that the trail continued to worsen. I hopped off and led Falcon as we started down the other side. It was a great relief when we reached a large level,grassy area. This is where we had started initially and had come full circle.

I hopped off to fix my stirrup because my leg was cramping. Karen had a "smoke" which actually is great for keeping the knats away, while the horses munched grass.

Then darn, my cushion in my stirrup had come unglued! It just wouldnt stick, so I stuck in in my saddle bag and hiked the stirrup up two notches to match my other one with the pad.

The ride down was a pain, with my foot that kept sticking to the remaining glue that wasnt enough to hold the pad but enough to throw my balance off.

Back through the gauntlet, where we stopped to talk to the Stallion's owner. A nice man, but a definite junk collector.
This time we just head to the trailer since it was almost dark. I was glad to be home and decided that I am not making much conditioning progress riding with Karen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

spooks and bucks

Karen called while I was at work and asked if I wanted to go for a ride that evening. I was game and arrived in Stanley at 5:30 pm.
Sam, Karen's daughter came out to say hi and to see if I needed help with Falcon-NOT He is a good boy about loading and unloading.

Karen had just arrived home from work and wasn't ready to ride, so Falcon munched on grass for a spell. Sam brought her mother a glass of wine and the two of them walked off to the barn to get Slick ready.

Two glasses of wine later, Karen was trying to mount Slick, who doesnt stand still and they twirl around in circles until finally Sam grabbed a hold on him and Karen was on and we were off down the road at a walk.

There was a crossroad 0.5 mile away and when we reached that area there road turned to gravel and stated that the state road ended 1.0 mile.

Karen warned, "ok, we are going to trot ok? the whole mile ok? are you ready?" Slick was still walking, Falcon KNOW's what the word "TROT" means and he took off and we soon left them in the dust.

I don't know what Karen was thinking. She must think that I don't ride much, when in reality I ride much more AND longer than she does. Ok, musta been the wine talking!

Falcon was like a wet noodle going down the road. Spooking at every rock and black stump, sign and fence. I gave him stiff nudges with my heels and kept him going at his fast trot.

Karen then hollered, "THERE IS A STALLION at the the end of this road" A Stallion was an understatement.
The residence at the end of the road had JUNK, JUNK, and MORE JUNK on BOTH sides of the road.
The Stallion was hollering on one side and running up and down the sagging fence line.

On the other side of the road the Donkeys brayed and trotted up their sagging fence line, all three animals were dodging rusting trailers and farm equipment.

The Stallion is 29 and a GORGEOUS gray arabian. Falcon wanted to visit and slowed down despite my prompting to keep him moving. Slick and Karen moved ahead and Falcon soon followed.

From there we were on a fire road up the mountain. We went about halfway up (maybe another half of a mile) and Karen decided that Slick was tired (uhhhhmmm not! Karen was tired!)

So we turned around and came back down, back through the rusted animal gauntlet towards Karens place. But then she gained her second wind and took me on another gravel road in her subdivision.

It was a gradual climb up a long hill and Slick took off at a canter (yeah he was tired! haha!) Falcon bunched up and Buck, Buck Bucked! What in the heck???? Took me by surprise. I yanked his head up and yelled. After that we trotted to the top and I hopped off and readjusted his girth. I think the saddle had slipped back and he is sensitive to THAT! grrrr.

Then we faced another hill and this time, Falcon was a good boy and did a nice canter, but then acted up again and attempted to rear a little and buck some more.
We were in a FLOCK of big deer flies and they were really messing with him. No amount of shaking and tossing got rid of them, so we took off cantering for the horse trailer and thankfully arrived unscathed.

Sam met Karen with another glass of wine, while I unsaddled and loaded Falcon and took off for home.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Vacation time

Falcon is on vacation! We have had turbulent weather here in the East and a tornado of sorts ripped a path through the valley. Berrystone Farm (Falcons home) sustained some damage. A beautiful Young maple tree was snapped at its base, the top landing on my car.

The miracle was: only minor scratches to the car, and IF the Truck and horse trailer HAD been parked in their USUAL spot, they would have been SMASHED. But it so happened that I had scheduled for them to be serviced that day and had driven them to work.

Needless to say, I had to cancel my appointment for them in Harrisonburg due to the storms.
Thunderstorms have been frequenting the afternoons and evenings. For the next FOUR days, Temps are to be in the high 90's with a heat index of 110.

The horses are sweating just standing around in the shade. I need to get some electrolytes soon and plan on giving Falcon a vacation until late next week.