Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sunset Ride

Let me tell you, I am just bound and determined to get in all the riding I can before the early darkness takes away all my fun.  So is Terry.  At 4:00 p.m. when I arrived home and flew in the house to change, she was already up in the pasture, collecting our ponies . As I walked out to the pasture to help her, I passed my Significant Other, picking up giant rocks and loading them into the tractor bucket.  He didn't look too happy...oh well, we each have our own past times.  Not that his is loading rocks. I shook off my guilt as Terry and I tacked up.  I was chewing her ear off about Sea G Rhydr arriving in Minot (next town over) in ten days after riding her pony Jesse James all the way from California.  Sea is duplicating Messanie Wilkins' (Jackass Annie) cross country ride in reverse, ending up on Jackass Annie Road in Minot on November 9th, which is exactly the time of year Messanie  left for California 59 years ago. If you don't know about this gal, you should read her book The Last of the Riding Tramps.  What an amazing story! There is going to be a big hullabaloo in Minot, with a parade, a big meal and celebration at the Grange, and Sea is going to be inducted into the League of Long Riders Hall of Fame.  AhD and I will be there...but I digress.

I asked Terry, "Where to?" and when she mentioned the trail to Sanatorium Hill, I was all over it like stink on sh** because that is a beautiful trail, and I wanted to show it to her  - all the way to the top if we could make it before dark! 

We set off.  The sun was slanting hard and casting long shadows.  The air was brisk and fresh.  What an evening!


Terry wanted to document AhD and I crossing a stream, so here is the documentation.  I hope there are enough pictures here for Donna and Harold.  I don't think AhD has ever crossed a stream more slowly in his entire life, so Terry had plenty of opportunity.

The wooded trails were beautiful, and when we reached the sandpit we spied moose tracks!  I thought you guys would be interested, so I took a couple of close-up pictures while AhD waited patiently.  I kick myself for not putting my hand into the photos, but at least one picture shows a moose  track and a deer track for size comparison.

We crossed the sandpit and started winding up, up, up on the incredible trail that leads to the top of Sanatorium Hill.  AhD had been jumpy  at the get-go, but settled in quickly for him.  Ten minutes instead of the usual 45, which made me extremely happy.  That lookiness and jumpiness is unnerving! (and annoying)
We reached the field on Sanatorium Hill at the right time to see the beginning of sunset.  I let AhD have some of that gorgeous juicy rich green grass, and we had a photo shoot..
  My camera didn't do the beauty justice, but you get the general idea.

We didn't dally at the top much.  I knew we would have to hoof it right along (pun intended) to get back to my house before dark.  I remembered almost before it was too late (too dark) to snap a picture of a stone wall for Harold.

My final pictures are blurry because my camera shutter speed slowed down to take in enough light, and I am not a skilled enough photographer to figure out all of its settings.  Oh, maybe I can use the excuse that I was riding a spunky Curly at the time.  Yes, l'll  use that as a reason!  We walked fast (I love that gait!!!!) and trotted all the way home because  I thought it would be too much for Terry to canter on Nike for the first time in the dusk after being in the saddle for two hours. (Terry, are you reading this?  Next time....) We arrived  home just in the nick of time, before night really fell.

 An invigorating and joyful ride!  Satisfyingly tired, hungry and happy with endorphins flowing like a river; boy am I enjoying these rides with Terry and Nike accompanying us!   Can we sneak in just ONE more before rifle hunting limits our woods (bush for you Canadians) riding to Sundays?  Stay tuned!
 Happy Trails from Susan and Ah-D with friends Terry and Nike in Maine


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Determined OR Just Plain Stupid?

We've had such an amazing fall of riding, I really hate to see it end!! This past week the weather had turned drastically.....rain, cold and even a touch of snow and frost. Winter is fast approaching and so is deer season. With just 1 ride in last week late in the day, I was determined to get out this past weekend, rain or shine. The weather man promised me it was going to clear up, so Rocky, Bear and I set out at about 2:30 on Sunday afternoon with what my husband says is "Misty wet with rain" conditions. I thought to myself...."ah, it's just a little mist....I'm not sugar after all....I'm going!" =] I also thought, hummm...Harold won't let a little rain get in his way of a good afternoon ride, right? And SURELY, I'm as tough as Harold!! ?????

As I unloaded Bear, it felt promising.....still a very dark and dreary day, but I thought it was certainly better than being stuck indoors. It was almost empowering....refreshing. "This will be fun!" I convinced myself. I stuffed 2 extra pair of gloves in my pocket, snapped on my water "resistant" pants and blaze orange gear...and away we went.  

We started out down the road to a foot path leading to the back of our bay, where there is a marsh crossing. (yes, it's still sprinkling...I thought you would be able to see it on the water...but guess not.) It didn't occur to me that my poor dog will have to swim across this frigid cold creek when I chose this route. But his tongue was hanging out of his mouth, so I figured he wouldn't mind a little cool down. =] He leaped acrossed it like a champ..only getting his under belly wet. No worries!

This shows the bay where the creek meets it. 
We headed to the deep woods, hoping to get some protection from the rain by the cover of leaves over us.....yeah....what WAS I thinking??! All the leaves were on the ground! Due to high winds the past week....there wasn't hardly a leaf left in the trees. DARN IT. Oh well...quit your whining Denise...Harold will hear you.

I was a little worried about my saddle getting wet, but thought...oh well, Harold wouldn't worry about  such nonsense, so quit being a girly-girl and get on with it. RIDE!

I took some video, so you could hear the rain, but it didn't show up very well. 

We live in Cedarville and it got it's name for a reason. =] Lots of Cedar, Pine etc. 

I love this creek. Usually this time of year, you'll see random people stop here to see
if there are salmon coming to spawn. But by now,
they are pretty much done.

Heading home.......looks pretty dreary here, but honestly, I was having a pretty good time.
I must admit to looking for the cloud with the silver lining. =]

I ran into two cars on this stretch (1 hunter and 1 lady heading home from work) - I am sure they thought I was a crazy lady! If I had been a man, they would have thought I was just TOUGH, right? =] I visited with the one gal in her car who stopped because she wanted to see Bear. I was able to promote the breed - pretty just never know when an opportunity will come up...even on a day like this!

I was about 90 min into my ride and starting to feel a touch chilled.....but toughin' it out! =] I always say the sun is always shining when you are on the back of a horse. 

We are now within 10 min of the trailer and guess what? The rain stopped. What a great ending!

Before loading Bear in the trailer, I just had to let him eat some grass for a job well done and putting up with my insanity...I mean cowgirl toughness. =] 

What was really neat about this ride, and many others when I ride alone like in taking pics and thinking about sharing it all with you, I feel like I have company on my ride. Makes it really fun!

So thank you for going on this ride with me, Rocky and Bear! Hope you enjoyed a ride in the rain...ok, the sprinkling rain! =] Geesh!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lesson Horse

I actually have two Curly Tales to tell from over the weekend, but this one will be short but sweet.  AhD was a lesson horse!  Yep, my 8-year-old niece Layla rode him on Saturday in the winter paddock.  Saturday was Youth Day, the day when Maine youth come out of the woodwork and head into the bush I mean woods Donna to hunt deer with all manner of loud shooting devices.  Needless to say, it is not a day for our customary trails.
Anyways, Layla was not impressed with either Nike or AhD (she tried both) because they were "too hard!!!!!" AhD is too sensitive and Nike too green to fill in the gaps for her like Allie does.  Allie ignores a lot of her mixed signals and just keeps plodding on his Eeyore way.  AhD does NOT.  He did humor Layla and was nice, but this experience did point out to her to be more careful in her cues.  :)
Layla is standing on the muck bucket to reach AhD's throat latch.  I just love the look of concentration on her face.  And look at AhD's expression!  Priceless!

Learning to turn.  Avoid the Haflinger obstacles in the paddock!.

Nice heel cue! Offside rein allowing room for the turn! Gentle tug on the inside rein!  You go, Girl! And, again, look at my sweet boy. :)

Layla uses the Li'l Dude stirrups left over from my kids. Oh, and Harold - please note - you went along for this ride, too, pinned right on your favorite color saddle blanket.

One concentrating, one listening
Oh, and I almost forgot, when Layla and AhD were just setting out, AhD shook all over - you know that bone chilling shake which rattles your brains inside your head - and Layla almost fell off.  The horn smacked into her chest (she called it her heart) and kept her from flooping off the side.  Much to my glee, I got a full view of it because I was in front of them walking backwards.  Layla was in shock but I was laughing my ass off. (Marion has given me permission to use that term)  I think Layla got over her scare quickly because 1. I was laughing so hard and 2. I commiserated with her because I've been there done that, and 3. I told her AhD only did it because he felt dusty. Layla is a Drama Queen and acted out the story for her mom when I brought her home.  The second telling was almost as funny as the first.  Almost. :)  ~Signed Bad Auntie Sue and "Hard" Boy AhD in Maine~

A Last Hurrah

Here in Maine we are on the brink of rifle hunting season, so Terry and I decided to take full advantage of the woods while we can.  Friday I left work really early.  The weather was not balmy, but did we care?  Not one whit!  We talked about how wonderful the fall weather is for riding.  Horses don't get overheated, there are no bugs, the air is crisp and fresh and not heavy; it is just wonderful.

Decked out in orange for the occasion (bow and bird hunting), we trekked past Hebron Academy on our way to their cross country trails,
because that is one of Terry's favorite rides. She had been going to take Allie, but I asked, "Why not Nike?" and she responded, "Oh....why NOT Nike!" with a smile.  He was great for her!
Part of the old county road

AhD and I were quite surprised to find the ball fields FUL L of students having fun, playing football, rugby, running, and even archery (and shooting in our direction!).  The archery coach noticed us stopped on the dirt road ahead of the students and indicated for us to go forward.  I knew the students had put their bows down and I WAS indicating AhD to go forward, but he was frozen in that spot.  WAY too much unexpected and noisy stuff going on!  I knew better than to push him hard, so I let him think about it for another moment.  The coach indicated again for us to move forward with "You can go!" but I was thinking, "No, you don't get it... I can't!" but I didn't say anything, just nodded my head a bit at him while I was communicating to AhD that everything was A-Ok.  Finally AhD was good to go, although tight as a wire.  He settled in once we were past all the ruckus. And, no, I don't have any pictures of that episode!

We were prevented from going on the cross country trails to Marshall Pond by big bright orange ropes tied right across the way, but since the old county road also goes to the pond, I didn't care.  Besides, it was soooo wonderful being out on my Curly, and it was equally wonderful to have Nike as the 'other' horse instead of Al, because Nike is a speed walker.  I didn't have to worry one whit about Terry being able to keep up, and plus my heart was bursting with pride because Nike was being so good for Terry! What a team we all made!  I HAD SUCH A WONDERFUL TIME!

We never did actually make it to the shores of Marshall Pond, but it didn't matter because our ride was fabulous.  I looked at one trail off to the side and mentioned to Terry, "I'm pretty sure that would take us to the pond," but I didn't want to risk getting lost out there in the woods because it gets dark early. Better safe than sorry.

We came back through past the Hebron Academy kids with time to spare, so we decided to take the long way home down through the sandpit.  We quickly crossed busy Route 119 and headed down, down, down on a dirt road.  We got to the bottom to find the road to the sandpit was gaited off! We went ahead to check out the old bridge to see if we could cross there, but after assessment I did not want to risk it.  Frig it, we'll just go back up the hill to the road...but as we passed the gate I thought hmmmm maybe we could squeeze by on one side.  YEP!  We were golden! Both ponies were comfortable with The Squeeze Game. On through the sandpit, and then at the choice of two trails home, Terry chose the longer, more beautiful one.  We were in seventh heaven.

Small pond across from the academy
There are still some hardwoods with color
A view from a rise overlooking part of the sandpit
Definitely another ride to be held in the memory banks for a long time.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Trail Ride!!

Oh boy, what a day we had!! We manage to have 4 of us come together for the Halloween Ride and Becky, who we rode with last weekend had use of their farm truck and big stock trailer so all 4 horses trailered together. Linus jumped right in it when he saw his girlfriend from last weekend. I was holding him back at the door while they sorted where they wanted him!

We were slightly iffy about whether the ride was going to take place since the weather had been sketchy and Saturday was down right miserable! We had a little bit of drizzle in the morning but by the time we tacked up the sun was shining! We stopped on the way for breakfast and had a nice bbq after the ride! There was supposed to be between 25-30 riders and we were the only 4 brave enough to show up!! The hosts (2 of what were meant to be 4) came out but one was riding with her young son and turned back partway. 

We won the costume prize!! Atta boy Ironhorse!! My son and husband were SO helpful with this! The hosting stable had a Rother horsemanship clinic and he donated a rope halter for the prize!

I almost chickened out from asking my husband to help with my costume but I went ahead and asked. He did a FANTASTIC job painting an old pair of jeans for me!


The above pic WAS Owen's Ironman crazy glued to fleece and attached to a breast collar...yes I owe him a new one!! A friend replaced the batteries in it a party a few weeks so it actually made noise. So first thing this morning I let Linus sniff it and get used to the noise.

Here we all ready to be tacked up. Becky's horse is still a bit tender so she used my neighbour's horse. From left to right the Canadian mare Sady, Bernie's boy Lucas, the famous Linus : )  and Roxy the QH

We were so close to the Ottawa Airport we had planes taking off right over us!! Linus was cool with it!

Off we go

I hope this video loads properly!! I thought it may be kinda boring but it actually came out ok. It's just a short one but you can hear and then see a plane taking off right over us! 

Owen made me practice the Ironman pose!!

I passed the camera around so that I am actually in some of the pics this time!

We decided to try a group photo! We had to lineup carefully because Sady was not fond of Linus. She knows Lucas because Bernie's Aunt owns her and they have ridden together several time. Linus was insulted that he finally met a horse who didn't like him!

Bring her round Megan!

beep, beep, beep, back her up

We did it!!!!! What a super fun bunch of ladies to ride with!

This is Alice, she toughed out the ride with us and even helped guide the way! She took our group pictures! Her horse is 5 and called BananaMan

Bernie wanted to try a shot in the corn! I love it!

We came across a beaver dam!

Linus and BananaMan became fast friends. Linus is so eager when new people or horses come around. One fella today asked me if he had "personal space" issues....I was like "oh gosh no, he loves being in everyone's face" ha ha ha, I don't think he expected that answer. We always make sure its ok first and I take him away if there are signs of "go away" from horse or human!!

Linus was too funny at the other side of this hill. It was kind of a V shape with a steep down and then a not as steep up. Here we are the top after climbing up. This was the biggest hill he ever met and before the descent he had a big "what the heck" look on his face. But, I gave him his head, leaned back to help him balance and told him to pick his path and he did!

Bernie does a lot of hill work with Lucas so they really enjoyed the hill. 

All in all, we had an incredible day! Linus settled almost instantly. He is really taking to this trailering out thing. He was like an old pro for much of the day. No refusals at anything. Best of all, we came to an open field but the trail was still clearly marked. Bernie took the opportunity to let Lucas gallop to the end of it. Alice hasn't reached that point in her lessons yet so didn't want to. Megan isn't up to cantering yet either and Becky didn't want to because she isn't used to Sady and Sady wanted to GO!!! I said, well we are learning and have done it at home. Linus was behaving like a gentleman so I clicked and he moved into a trot, I gave him more rein and clicked again and we cantered the whole length of the field!!! I gave a whoop at the other side and gave him a huge hug too!!! He wanted to move into a canter almost every time we trotted after that. He really had it figured out that we were doing it together and I wasn't fighting against him. I was super proud of him today. The hosts from the Equestrian Centre were very taken with him. He caught attention even being a smooth Curly. They thought he was pretty big though. Their horses were all at least a hand smaller...and we won't say how many pounds lighter!!! Ha ha, but on that note, Linus is now in a smaller cinch! He is really getting in shape (he needed to!)

Sorry for all of the photos, I hope there isn't too many!! I wanted to take you all along!!
Donna & Linus
Lunenburg, ON