Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Friday, August 26, 2011

Geocaching on Horseback

Carmen came to visit, adopting barn kitties Max and Maggie for her barn.  She happened to introduce me to geocaching (there's a cache at the town hall, 0.17 miles from me! Who knew?!) and now I'm hooked!  Being a fellow endurance rider, of course we made time for a ride.  What better to do than to combine riding and geocaching?

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear!  See Red in the mirror?  Yep, we "ponied" him from his barn to mine. 

Red is thoroughly unimpressed with this mode of transportation. 
We plotted out several potential caches to ride to, loaded up the coordinates into our GPS units, and got the horses ready to ride.  Carmen had brought her Specialized saddle along for me to try, meaning she was going to get to try my Synergist.  I am still trying to sell my second Synergist, the one that no longer fits Rhio, and I'd like to replace it with a Specialized when I do.  This was a great opportunity to ride enough miles in a Specialized to really get the feel for it.  To sum up briefly - I loved it!  Of course it took the first mile or two to get used to it, but after that I just felt comfortable and no longer was conscious of it being "different" than my saddle.  I was very secure in it, and best yet Rhio seemed to like it also.  We moved out, especially on the way home, using all three gaits, and he & I felt good in every gait.  I hadn't done any shimming or adjusting of the saddle, and I did have a little bit of dry area on either side of the spine behind the withers - it was just a teensy bit too wide for him - but that would be easily adjusted with the saddle fitting system Specialized uses.  Best of all, Carmen liked my Synergist as well!

Carmen and Red made a great team!
Now to the riding and the caching.  Carmen rode Red, and they spent a little time getting used to each other in the outdoor arena.  That was successful, so we headed out down the road.  I hadn't realized that a major road nearby was closed, and so the route we rode had a lot more traffic than normal. It also has pretty narrow shoulders and the ditch is swampy - so probably not the best choice of places to ride, but we survived.  Luckily my boys are traffic safe, but with the excitement of a fast ride going home, both horses got a little goosey with the big trucks whizzing past.  Carmen is a great rider and handled Red's excessive enthusiasm very well.  It was NOT a ride for the faint of heart, that's for sure.

We did make it to the normally quiet gravel road which had 2 geocaches along it we could hunt for.  The gravel road wasn't quiet at all, with many vehicles passing us.  Geez!  Talk about bad karma in the traffic department!  The horses were both happy to move out, and Red can out-trot Rhio by a mile, so I spent some time eating Red's & Carmen's dust.  Rhio didn't seem to care, though he usually much prefers to lead.

Our GPS units told us we were getting close to the first cache, and the description had said it was back in the woods, so we dismounted and led the horses into the woods, then tied them to trees and set off on foot.  I love having horses that I can tie to the trees in the woods and walk away from!  They would have preferred a grassy meadow to eat in, but they patiently waited for us to return and didn't get into any trouble.
That fly mask kind of makes him look like he has mule ears, don't you think?

I love this look as he peeks around the tree at me.
Finding the cache didn't turn out to be the successful portion of our ride, unfortunately.  Number one rule of geocaching in northern Minnesota in the summer - bring bug spray!!!  It was a bit difficult to concentrate with all the slapping and hopping around (oops).  We found the indicator marker and decrypted the clue to finding the cache, but were ultimately unsuccessful.  Boo!  You'd better bet I'll be going back there later in the season, hopefully with fewer bugs and more time, and finding that darn thing!

Looking at our timeline, we realized we didn't have any more time to spend searching, headed back to the ponies, led them out of the woods, mounted up, and headed home.  It was such a fun ride, despite its challenges, and I was so happy with the saddle.  I wish Carmen lived closer so we could ride together more often!!

Best of luck to Max & Maggie in their new home, and thank you Carmen for coming to visit me :)
Even Cricket got in on the action, see him half in the corner of the shot? I love that Carmen & I are both kind of cocking our heads the same direction, obviously responding to Becca who took our photo, while the horses are all focused on each other.

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