Yep, way behind on blogging again! You may think I haven't been riding, but that's not it. Luckily, I have been riding and enjoying my ponies - so these next few posts will be "catch up" posts about rides over the last few months, and I will try yet again to get back on track and keep up in more "real time." Do forgive me, gentle readers.
Several weeks ago Gesa & I had the opportunity to head back to one of our favorite riding spots up in Brimson, about a 45 minute drive from the farm. This was only our second time to ride up there this season. Last time we rode here, in May, we followed an old logging road that petered into a well-travelled ATV path. It was so well-travelled that we assumed it went *somewhere*, but we didn't have the time to explore, so we vowed to come back and find out where that trail went.
Deer flies were still in full force, and our boys sported their fly masks for the entirety of the ride. Even with the masks, we also needed rider-applied fly control to keep our mounts happy. Rhio & I employed several leafy branches (it took me three tries to find a good one!), and Gesa found her crop to be an excellent fly swatter. The flies swarmed the lead horse, and switching off leading was a welcome relief for the following horse.
For those of you who don't ride ATV trails horseback, here's something to note: humans on horses are much taller than humans on ATVs. That translates into lots of ducking and dodging for us riders! Our helmets & sunglasses are employed as branch-control devices, and we must stay alert for the next face-slapping twig. This trail was much like other user-created ATV trails I've ridden in that you must be loose & limber in your saddle and your horse must be instantly responsive to leg & rein. Rhio and Paco were very good all day, and we emerged after our 15 mile ride with only a few superficial scratches and no major mishaps. We did have one large tree crosswise across the trail which was too short to ride under, but our little horses were able to walk under it once we dismounted. Whew!
We kept following the trail, eventually emerging at a minimum maintenance road and a set of railroad tracks. To my knowledge, Rhio has never crossed tracks before, and he did very well. The minimum maintenance road was smooth, level, and relatively soft - begging for a long, easy canter. We took advantage and cantered the boys quite a ways, with a few scoots to the side when we crossed a large cement culvert and passed by a monster pile of logs. Eventually the road ended at the county highway, and we crossed it briefly to explore further ATV trails, which were clearly on private property (though it wasn't signed as such) and led only to deer stands. We made the turn for home, retracing our steps, and the boys were, as always, very motivated to head back to the trailer.
Both boys wore boots for this ride, Paco on his fronts only and Rhio on all four hooves. Paco's boots only lasted the first few miles however, as one of the gaiters finally bit the dust (it had been on its last legs anyway) and Gesa had to carry the boots on her saddle the remainder of the ride. Paco seemed to do well barefoot, though he did seek the side of the trail on some of the rockier sections. Rhio's boots worked well, as usual, though he has been battling scratches (a skin infection) on both his hind pasterns, and one front pastern (all his lower legs with pink skin instead of pigmented skin). I was concerned about the gaiters rubbing on this raw skin, so I outfitted him with some old socks from my sock drawer; it turns out his feet are a bit bigger than mine! It was a little bit of a struggle to get them over his hooves. The socks stayed in place, and because I used non-cotton they seemed to perform well even when wet. Upon removal of the boots & socks, his pasterns looked just the same as they had pre-ride - no rubs! I was dismayed to discover about 15 minutes returning to the trailer and removing his foot & leg wear, that all of his affected legs swelled! His right front is especially prone to swelling, and I can only presume it was due to using the socks & boots over already compromised skin. He didn't seem sensitive, sore, or lame at all - he didn't seem to notice he was swollen at all. After the trailer ride home, the swelling was reduced and he remained completely sound. How frustrating!
It was a great ride, though - one I wish I could repeat more often. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures as my camera has died the true death - have no fear, however, the new hand-me-down camera is working well and future posts will be adorned with my usual assortment of photos.
And, as a side note, Rhio's trailer loading was very good this time - walking onto the trailer instead of leaping, and only having to consider the big scary box for a moment or two. I hope this trend continues!