Rhio is here! And our first ride was Sunday, August 18, only a day and a half after he arrived in Colorado. My honey aspires to be an ultra runner, a sport oh-so-similar to endurance riding. He has gotten me jazzed about running, and as we run together, I find great joy in it (amazing, but true). However, I am not yet (or perhaps ever) ready for his caliber of "long runs," but now that Rhio is here, we can still train together - albeit me on horseback and he on foot. This was our first attempt at co-training, and it was so fun!
|This is about the widest shoulder we've got along a paved road - luxury!|
C. left the house a bit before Rhio and I were ready, knowing that we would catch him, as our trotting pace is faster than his long-run pace (though our walking is slower). As this was Rhio's first venture out in a new environment, I gave him plenty of time to look at things as we went. We began along the bike trail (paved) which runs in front of our house. This requires us to traverse three wooden bridges with tall steel railed sides. The first is quite short and Rhio readily crossed it. He was reluctant to cross the other two, both much longer, and so I hopped off to lead him. We then had to traverse the very narrow shoulder of a two-lane paved road, and he was his normal unflappable self. Strangely, our road has quite a lot of truck traffic (where are they all going? the road heads up a mountain canyon, without an significant population center at its head), as well as copious bike traffic. He was completely unconcerned. In Colorado, most drivers seem cognizant of horses on the roadways, and both slow down and move over. It is much appreciated! We continued up the canyon road (complete with several stop-and-stares at alpacas and various spots with horses in fields, and a standoff with a pair of big white fluffy dogs which came charging out from a hobby farm), until turning off onto a gravel road. We had to walk slowly, and stare intently, at a donkey pastured with a herd of horses (and obviously an intact jack, as he was making a very good effort at breeding one of him companions, who was, alas, several inches too tall for him to succeed) - but finally saw C. running along the road back toward us. Due to several miles of necessary walking, it took much longer to catch up with him than anticipated.
We continued along the gravel road, leapfrogging with C. as our paces did not match perfectly. This allowed Rhio to walk as needed for scary, or potentially scary, things. At the end of the road, a dairy facility loomed large on the corner and as a massive herd of Holsteins swarmed to the fence, Rhio freaked out. I dismounted, and handled a heart-thumping, giraffe-necked Arab from the ground as we made our way past the very scary cows. We had about another mile of gravel road (lovely for trotting!) before we once again had a narrow shoulder to utilize. Luckily, this part of the route was quiet on the traffic front, and Rhio even grabbed a drink along the roadside drainage ditch (flowing water, so it seemed clean enough for horsey refreshment). We had to cross a two-lane divided highway, and travel along the ditch about a half mile to hit another stretch of gravel road. This was completely uneventful, as Rhio snatched grass and even had a nice pee while semi's roared past.
|Three of these four horses were completely freaked out by Rhio and wouldn't stop running around. Perhaps they've never seen a grey before?|
The gravel road along the other side of the highway wound along the river for a bit, with some much-welcomed shade, before heading off for several miles of unrelenting sun. Rhio and I, along with being companions for C. on his long run, were also a "mobile aid station," carrying human water/electrolytes and snacks for everyone. After several refueling stops, and retracing our steps back to the highway, we were only a little over a mile from home. All three of us were hot, sweaty, sun-exhausted, and ready to get home. Our total route was about 14 miles, and it was fun to see Rhio "figure it out," and realize that we were traveling with C. as part of our herd, although we didn't travel in step together very much. On the way home, Rhio would trot ahead, then slow and wait for C. to catch up, then start to trot again as soon as we were abreast.
We three have our sights set on two future team endeavors - trying out the sport of Ride and Tie, involving two runners and one horse, and riding/running the Vermont 100, a 100 mile race with ultramarathoners and endurance riders sharing the trail together.