Tour de Conway

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July has always been known for speed. It's been two weeks since I have made a blog post and I can honestly say it feels like I just made my last post a few days ago. How time flies! Maybe one day, after I have invented my Time Slower Downer, I will blog more often.

A lot has been happening! Last weekend Brandon and I went to Boston to visit  friends. My brumby was not invited. She got to stay home and have her nails done. With an alpaca looking on.

On a hot day, who isn't happy to be in the barn, in front of a fan with no bugs and lots of attention? It has been buggy and muggy around here lately. Sometimes even with bug spray, the flies still buzz around us on the trail. Now that's obnoxious!

Most people (aside from Bill maybe) aren't always snapping photos like I am. Perhaps that is why this swimming suit (spotted in Vanity Fair) appeals to me. I would wear it! Maybe on a hot day I would even wear it in the saddle.

If the weather is decent and I don't have anything else going on, I have been trying to get to see Lilly mid-week. I don't even plan to tack her up. I take her down in the round pen and get her walking, trotting and cantering upon command, just like Julie Goodnight. Maybe using the phrase "just like" is an exaggeration. First my brumby ignores me and nibbles the clover along the rail. And then she throws a double barrelled kick in my direction when I ask her to trot. Is that before or after she pins her ears to her head? I can't remember.

Here's the problem: It's late and she wants to eat. And horses are like toddlers who like to test boundaries. And I'm probably not as good as Julie Goodnight either (probably, heh heh, that's a good one). And Lilly has never liked the ring. Here's the bottom line: Ringwork  is something we both need to get better at.

What to do when ringwork gets you down? Head out on the trail! This Saturday was extra nice because Jackie K showed up! I have not ridden with Jackie K in forever! Wait, where did she go?

There she is!

I was on Lilly, Jackie was on Pokey, and there is Bill on Ruby, tinkering with his GoPro.

Trail rides do not get any better. Even though there were a few aggressive flies (grrrr), the trail was so beautiful and the horses were kind and mellow. Even Pokey was super sweet, and sometimes he can be a handful!

Pictures in the winter pasture always look so nice.

In the middle of January I will look at these pictures and give a little sigh. This is July at its best!

After passing through the winter pasture, Jackie and I carried on to Trollwood, but Bill turned left onto the road and headed back to the BP to drop Ruby off there.

To see Bill's GoPro record of his trail ride both with Jackie & me and after, Just Click here! He's labeled in August 26, but it truly is  from yesterday.

Jackie and I traveled through Trollwood, down the nave of the "Chapel,"  through the In-Between, across Carrot Bridge, and then back toward the barn via the Upper and Lower Trails. One day, when I finish my map, all of these trail names will make perfect sense!

The great thing about a weekend is that when Saturday is history, Sunday still remains! Today I was back on the trail again. It was like the Tour de Conway! No other riders this time though. Just me and Lilly. Our own break away! This colorful Amanita caesarea caught my eye immediately on Sunset Trail. I had to get out of the saddle and snap it's photo.

Here's a grown up version of the same. Don't you love it's little skirt?

We also discovered these remains! Actually, to be completely honest, I would have to say that my brumby could not have cared one bit about these discoveries. I do know that she loves my frequent  stops to take pictures though, because it means she can snack on all of her favorite leaves.

These are from a pignut hickory tree.

A  nosy somebody thought they were little green apples and tried to gobble them up.

After feeling very sure we heard a bear crashing around in the woods to the right of us, we popped out of Trollwood and into the Blueberry pasture where Bill is working on harvesting some hay. I thought maybe we would run into him out there but he must have called it a day by then. Lilly sees this field the exact same way I would see a giant dish of ice cream. DELICIOUS!!!

I love how someone in the Road Department thought that just in case you couldn't read the sign on the left, they set up the exact same sign on the right.

One final discovery out on the trail!

 Look what Mother Nature provided for entertainment on my way home!

Good grief, the next time I post it will be August. Open letter to July: Stay a while! Don't hurry off!

If Only Weekends Were Longer

Sunday, July 13, 2014

This weekend Yogi was on the road!

Yogi is CC's favorite horse. Saturday Bill trailered them to a benefit ride at a small equestrian center 30 minutes away. CC has not ridden as much lately since she just had a baby (a very round, cute baby) so this was a re-launch of sorts for her. She and Yogi had a great ride.

As we were leaving, Yogi went right in the trailer. Nearby there was an Arab kicking up quite a fuss about being loaded into his trailer. Back at the BP, Yogi came back out of the trailer as quietly as  he went in.

There are few things as satisfying as an excellent day spent with a horse you love and who loves you back.

There goes Yogi back to where all of his buddies at the BP were waiting for him.

Then it was time to get out on the trail. But the bugs were frightful. They were biting me right through my shirt! And poor brumby! Even with bug spray they were relentless. It was getting late in the day so we bounded up the short trail, turned around and bounded back and returned to the barn where carrots were waiting.

The next day I reapplied an ample dose of bug spray and out we went. Lilly continued her obsession with the striped maple's tulip leaves. She will grab a mouthful every chance she gets.

But look! We also happened upon this nice arrangement of oyster mushrooms!

I really thought we were going to get rained on. I should check the weather more often. But a little rain never hurt anyone. In any event, it did not actually rain until I was already back home, and I was glad that my flowers and veggie garden got a nice big drink. Although in the pasture I imagined all of Lilly's big spray being rained right off of her. Her fly mask has already gone missing.

While out on the trail, I gave Lilly a tree lesson. This one, I told her, is cherry.

And this one is oak.

This pair I am not sure about. I had to leave my brumby in the dark.

You know how when people get older they worry more about dying? Well I recently had a birthday and this means that I am getting older. On today's ride I observed a million trees just waiting to come crashing down on me. This one is a mild example!

Oh well!

Sour Patch Kid

Sunday, July 6, 2014

There she is. The sour patch kid. Innocently nibbling hay in the morning sun. Don't be fooled by such a darling face. (and it is pretty darling, I must say)

Today I set out on the trail solo. No one was around so it was just my brumby and me. As usual, it was a battle of wills to the trail head. Miss Take-Ten-Steps-and-Then-Stop was at it again. Infuriating, especially since I know her feet don't hurt (she has shoes on) and the trail isn't scary (she knows this trail better than anyone). I decided to go for the Parallel Trail and then at the cottage in to woods, wrap around and come home via the River Trail.  This picture is from Quartz Corner. More refusals to go forward. Is my brumby becoming barn sour?

Is it that she hates getting her pretty feet so dirty? We've had so much rain that the trail in Quartz Corner was a real mess.

As much as Lilly was not too interested in moving forward, she remained very calm about it. She's a very stoic creature. I kept telling her that when you look like a Good n' Plenty candy out on the trail, it is very hard to take such stoicism so seriously. I ended up getting off of her and walking her down part of the trail.

We were momentarily distracted by a toad who was hopping by. Did you know that one of the differences between a frog and a toad is that toads hop and frogs leap?

I think Lilly didn't want to move forward because I'm make her walk over these slippery rocks. And maybe because all of her buddies are back in their pasture soaking up so sun.

As soon as we make the hairpin turn that turns the Parallel Trail into the River Trail, Lilly's pace picked up considerably. Getting her to step out moving away from the barn is like pulling teeth. Going home is always a much more enjoyable ride. I guess the girl knows her direction. An 1100 pound compass. Here we are passing the river, which I have discovered, speaking of directions, is named the South River.

Last summer (or maybe the summer before) when I was starting to learn tree identification, there was one tree that Bill said has leaves that are tulip shaped. I was always like, Huh? Tulips? So today Lilly kept stopping to nibble these very leaves pictured here and I said to myself: Look, those look like tulips! And then, I remembered Bill's tree lesson! Only I could not remember what kind of tree had tulip shaped leaves. Who knows this answer? At home, my naturalist husband told me. Answer at the end of this post!

Even with the initial sour patch quality of our ride, overall it was excellent. The River Trail is actually verrry steep and Lilly plowed up it very gently. Perfect! Back at the barn, she tried to befriend Molly the cat.

 Move over mice! It looks like three blind mares! I actually think fly masks are really neat. If only Lilly's was in pink.....

Farewell for now! But before I go, the answer to the tulip leaf quiz:

It's a striped maple!
(I will add that Brandon and I originally thought it was a poplar, but upon his return from Vermont, Bill corrected us! Good ole Bill! What would we do without him?)

I'm Lovin' it!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June is one of my favorite months! It is the best time of the year to get out on the trail. Some think fall is better but not me. Does June make me a little goofy? Maybe....

This Saturday I began my riding day with Lilly down in the round pen. I have been watching Julie Goodnight on RFD-TV teaching other riders circle work and wanted to try some of it out. Well. My brumby did everything I asked her to, but her face was so sour the whole time it was like she had just eaten a peck of lemons.  I filmed a long sequence of my working with her, only to delete it in horror.

Bill also worked with Willie in the round pen. Then he decided that Willie was ready for his first trail ride under saddle.

This was a very big deal. Because if something went wrong, it could potentially be a major setback in Willie's training process. The last thing he needed was a bad experience when his training has been going so well.

But Bill is a guy who likes challenge and adventure. So out we went. We figured with Lilly around, her mellow trail personality (unlike her demeanor in the ring) would be an excellent example for the new guy.

We were right. Lilly was perfect. But there were a few learning edges. First the neighbor's dog, Fox, ran out onto the trail like a little brown rocket barking up a maelstrom. Then, while cantering for the first time up the Short Trail, Willie thought a few airy little bucks were appropriate, probably because he is young and fresh and doesn't know any better. Bill expertly nipped this behavior in the bud. All was recorded on Bill's GoPro helmet cam:

Just click here to see it all! 

Sunday I was back out on the trail with Lilly. We headed for the River Trail because it was such a gorgeous day and I love seeing the water sparkling in the sunshine. The bugs were so obnoxious! To get to the river, the trail is pretty steep. Lilly was extremely reluctant to go down the path to the river. At first I thought she was just being stubborn. But then I theorized that her feet hurt. Those darn feet! They are very hard to please!

I hate to see my brumby in any kind of pain, even a small amount. I got off of her and walked for a while. It doesn't seem very kind to ride a horse whose feet hurt. (The next day while I was at work, Bill put shoes on her. Relief.)

Although taking pictures in the saddle is fun and easy, from the ground I can get some good stuff too. And now that I have this handy dandy funky little tripod thing, I can mount the camera just about anywhere. As I walked along with Lilly, I paused quite a few times to take some pictures using this new tool.

I never said the pictures were of high quality! Here's the real question: Do I care if I look like a dorky goofball all the time? Answer: Hardly ever.