Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Oh What Fun It Is To Ride
With just a few days to go until Christmas it seems like excellent planning that I could just check out of the holiday madness and head for the trails on the Sunday before. Not that I had all my gifts wrapped...or even purchased, for that matter...but our friend Kathleen decided to organize a ride with some of us gals connected to SAFE & I was way on board for some trail fun.
The planing started weeks ago and we all watched as the weather forecast went from rainy to snowy and back to rainy. We decided that it could take all the way until that morning to decide NOT to do it but went ahead and planned that it would happen. Friday was a lovely day and the weekend still looked to be pretty miserable. I kept wishing that Friday could have been held over for Sunday but wouldn't you know it, the sun was out and the sky was blue Sunday morning as I headed to the barn to hook up the trailer, load up Coconut and her gear and head out.
One small problem; there was a horrible patch of black ice on the road in front of the barn. In fact, someone from our barn skidded off the road and her family was all parked out on the main road trying to help her out as I drove up at 9am. I wasn't going fast at all but even when I breaked to make the turn, the back end of the truck started to slide and so took my foot off the break and just coasted to the next intersection where I could make a U-turn and head back to the driveway. I hoped that the 2 hours before I needed to be on my way would give enough time for the sun to melt the roadway down enough for me to get out to Taylor Mountain.
Thankfully, the road was driveable and I was able to get out there safely. I actually had no road problems until I actually hit the Hobart/Issaqua exit where it was still shady and there was still ice, but thankfully I had the good sense to slow way down for the exit and we made it fine.
When I got to the trailer parking lot, Everyone was already there, which made my decision to back into the one remaining space a little stressful. I not only had to fit in but had to do it in front of my friends! Kathleen did offer to back it in for me but I managed (albeit slightly crooked) to get myself respectfully in.
Kathleen brought her horse Apollo & offered up her three other horses, Captain, Fancy & Dallas as mounts for Monica, Sara & Allison while Lynn brought Kitty. Once we were all saddled up, we headed up for our adventure.
Coconut does "OK" late in the pack, but not necessarily THE back horse. Sara &Fancy initially brought up the back but Fancy wasn't liking that position too well either and ended up moving up towards the front with her friend, Captain, with Monica aboard. Apollo & Dallas pretty much stayed in the middle for most of the trip and about the time we picked up a spare dog (much to the dismay of his owner) Dallas was not a happy camper and gave Allison quite a ride, testing all of her riding skills but thankfully she had the balance to ride it out and stayed on. Once the dog left and Dallas settled down Allison's ride became much more enjoyable for her.
Eventually Lynn & Kitty fell back and rode with Coconut and I and for the rest of the trip we had 3 very well matched riding pairs, horse & human wise, I believe!
The scenery was absolutely lovely. We had the sun shining in the blue skies, some beautiful trails and in some places we still had snow on the ground so it made for a very enjoyable and diverse experience. Coconut had to cross water and although she did tense up a little, she followed her new horse friends pretty well. Not bad for her first time...at least it wasn't very long or deep. At one point I saw Kathleen entering what looked like a lake and my inner alarm went right off....I don't think the teeny tiny creek victory in any way prepared us for something of that size...but I watched as Monica & Sara both entered while Allison seemed to be staying back. As Lynn & I caught up I saw what I thought was Fancy sinking into water. I was starting to panic a bit thinking we were going to have to rescue this horse from some soft mud or something. Sara bailed off into the icy cold water, thankfully landing on her feet so only her boots, half chaps & the lower legs of her breeches were wet (about knee deep) and that's when it hit me that she was standing next to Fancy who was now in up to her belly...about then Kathleen came back over saying "I forgot to warn you...." it turns out that Fancy likes to LAY IN WATER....even icy water wearing a saddle & a rider!!!! Fancy got back up and had muddy legs but thankfully no one had to be rescued and Sara, a great sport, hopped back on and rode the rest of the ride with wet legs & feet. What a trooper!!
Coconut was "pretty good"....she spooked when we were the last horse in line and a tree snapped. She started to refuse me when I discovered that I had dropped my crop (obviously I hadn't needed it & couldn't even remember when I last had it in my hand) but got herself pulled together and proceeded on within a few moments. HOWEVER....the only time Coconut has kicked another horse was on a ride with Kim and Mercedes, a lovely black Tennessee Walking Horse mare about a year and a half ago....until yesterday...She took aim and made contact with Apollo, who also happens to be a black Tennessee Walking Horse. Do we see a pattern here? What's up with that??? I was completely embarrassed because normally she's a pretty docile mare unless someone gets in her face....she doesn't like horses to touch her face (except Sugar, of course!) but after her kick, the war was on.... She kept giving little "warning" bucks his way & Apollo gave a few pseudo attitude moves at her but at one of the switch backs Lynn & I were in the middle with Kathleen & Allison behind us. As we made the turn, Coconut flashed a look of hatred at Apollo and it made Kathleen and Allison both gasp and laugh at her...good grief!!
The rest of the ride was actually pretty calm, although I clearly need to get out and do this more. The loop took about 3 hours and I was pretty well DONE at the end. Between the cold air and the climbing and descending, my knees were toast. Today my whole body ached but it was a *Happy Hurt* and I'd do it all again in a heart beat. In fact, this is almost a tradition. It was the Sunday before Christmas last year as well that we went out and did the SAFE Poker ride at Bridle Trails. I'm all for making it a yearly ride!