Sunday afternoon proved to be tailor-made for a romp in the woods. Jodi & Rana, Gesa & Paco, and me & Rhio gathered at the new trail to enjoy the day and put some miles on our ponies. Mostly Rana led the pack, giving Rhio the snarky mare face to keep him in his place, and Paco brought up the rear. We travelled along easily together, letting the horses move out and talking horse talk as we went. We crossed the bridge this time and continued on, hoping to be able to do at least 10 miles, but were foiled by a swampy section and turned back. Gesa & Paco were now in the lead, and they jumped a small (8" or so) downed tree handily, so I let Rhio continue toward it at a canter just to see if he would jump it, too. He did! Oh, that was fun!
We decided to continue across the gravel road that we parked the trailer on and see how much trail we had going in the other direction before running into swamp - and got a little hill workout in that direction! Nice! The trail goes through residential areas for this section, and has been kept mowed and manicured by the locals - so the footing was awesome.
The "manicured" section of trail. The top of this hill sounded hollow beneath the horses' hooves.
Looking out over the fields where the trail turns and follows a fenceline - right into a swamp! So this was our turn-around point.
Heading back down the hill toward the trailer - the drivers in the cars zooming past seemed completely oblivious to our presence.
Oops! Gesa & Paco had a little saddle malfunction, which was quickly remedied and no one was hurt.
Relaxing at the trailer post-ride (and wishing we'd brought some adult beverages with us!).
We ended up doing about 10 miles in an hour and 20 minutes, seeing a little new terrain, and thoroughly enjoying the fall colors. Unfortunately, most of my attempts to photograph the beauty of this trail didn't really capture it at all! I think part of the appeal of fall is not only the actual colors of the leaves changing, especially as they're accented by the dark green of pines and the white of the birch trunks, but the feel of the light filtered through and bouncing off those colors, and the smell of the leaves being crushed underfoot (under hoof!), and the sound of the breeze rattling in the dried foliage. So I am rarely satisfied with my photos of fall - it is a sensory experience more than just visual.
Rhio was a sweaty, frothy, muddy mess after this ride, and I decided it was a good day for his once-a-year bath with shampoo. His nickname is "Pig Pen" for a reason, and I often bemoan the fact that I own a grey horse. But on bath day, when his underlying magnificence is revealed (briefly) - he is gorgeous. I like to gaze at him for awhile before I put him back in the pasture, since I know the first thing he'll do is roll.
Brilliant, shining Rhio