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.