crickets and creeks and steps ~ oh my!

Before we bring Koda & Nemo home, and the show season goes into full swing for our trainer, we wanted to take in another trail ride. We couldn't find anyone to join us, so Brad, Patty and I headed out to White Mound - and once again found an adventure!

It was a warm sunny 86 degree's. The trails had opened four days earlier. I wasn't sure what we would find on opening weekend, having only ridden these trails once before. We arrived to find only three trailers, not bad. One group was at the camp site/unloading area, we never did see the other's or anyone on the trail. Their horses were saddled and grazing, and loose...pretty darn bold if you ask me. They grabbed two of them after we unloaded, but let the other two wander around. Whatever. We tacked up, did a short lunge warm up and headed out - starting off with a challenge. Someone had set up camp in an undesignated spot. We had to walk past their tent, scary outhouses, and right next to hanging blowing clothes, bags, and a mirror on a clothes line. The recent fire that was put out got wonky looks from the horses too. Let's just say we all got off. Brad & Nemo eventually rode around the outhouse/tent area. Once past the scary stuff, Patty got back on Lena  (a young Haflinger in training) We went right from the scary campsite, to the road. Great. Falling off while road riding was fresh in my mind. Starting out with Koda ready to jump out of his skin at the campsite, shot my nerves. I opted to walk the road. This wasn't how I wanted to start my ride.

Brad & Nemo led us onto a trail that was varied, and beautiful. Parts of it looked familiar, and we were happy to find they had marked the trails a bit better then our first visit. We rode the trail now occasionally marked as number 7. We rounded a corner and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by thousands of crickets ~ the ground was alive!! The crickets were making noise and hopping everywhere, the trail was completely blanketed with them. Koda looked down the entire time trying to figure out what the heck those jumping things were that engulfed his feet. We had a good laugh, none of us had ever experienced cricket-land. It was surreal.

We all took turns leading, and rode in and out of different terrain - forrest, grassy plains, across park roads, and very hilly woods with steep declines. We came upon the same hills we had dismounted on our first ride at White Mound, due to the slippery wet conditions. All the horses took the hills slow, and did great. There was a lot of down hill riding. One would think what goes down must come up, but we went down far more then we ever went up. 

At one point on the grassy open trails a huge Tom Turkey jumped out of the bushes right next to Lena and Nemo, all three horses jumped and spun around. I thought, here I go again...I grabbed my horn and this time managed to hang on and regain my balance. Patty was delighted, but in all honesty I didn't do anything different then the last time this happened. I looked up, Brad and Nemo had already walked up the hill. I didn't think anything of it, but called out for him to wait.

Brad and Nemo leading the way

We crossed a swampy area, and came upon a creek. Nemo and Koda have never crossed water. Patty thought her mount had, but wasn't sure. Our boy's didn't want anything to do with getting swallowed up by the mud that preceded the water. Brad dismounted and walked though the small creek, but Nemo jumped it! He encouraged Nemo to trust, and eventually rode him through the mud and creek over and over. The haffie followed him and walked right through it, funny how they all have different strengths. I just didn't have it in me, so I dismounted and held Lena while Patty rode a shaking Koda. With the help of Nemo, they eventually convinced Koda it was okay. We switched, and I rode Koda through the creek too. He took it slow, and did a good job. Later in the ride, we all crossed a different creek with ease.

As if all that wasn't enough of an adventure, we found ourselves on a different challenging part of the trail. While riding through the woods we came upon large blocks of hardwood timbers strategically placed on the trail, to stop erosion. At that point Patty was leading, her mount wasn't too keen on the wood blocks. I decided to take the lead, Koda and I hopped up the first one (it was a big step) and maneuvered around others. It changed into a narrow path with barbwire on one side, and a small patch of scrub trees between us and the campers. What we found next, stopped us in our tracks. You couldn't see the end of a steep rocky downhill narrow winding path, with more large blocks of wood - did I mention it was really steep? Once again fearless Brad and Nemo took the lead, Koda and I went next, and altho Patty thought about dismounting she chose to ride it. It would have been hard to lead a horse in hand. Once again all the horses were rock stars, as we worked in teams, slowly weaving and maneuvering the advanced rugged terrain. Definitely not a trail for the faint of heart, horse or human.

A few paths later, Brad and Nemo led us back to the trailer. How does he do that? I'm married to a GPS, good thing too - I need all the help I can get!  We were a happy thirsty, sweaty, and tired bunch.

My sweaty boy, Koda

After letting the horses graze and cool off, we headed back to the barn. They were pretty happy to be going home. I wonder if they liked the adventure as much as we did?

loading up
Patty and Lena getting ready to load

We unloaded the trailer, and tucked our boys into their stalls. On the ride home I found out why Brad and Nemo uncharacteristically rode away after the Tom Turkey scare. He said he was pissed. Huh? He had been thinking about my saddle. Firmly stating "it's not you Aurora - I know what I saw, and it's the saddle (fit). When the horses justifiably spooked, said he easily saw 4-6 inches between my butt and the saddle...and I never should have caught air". Nobody else did. I never used to catch air during anything similar. The horses turned and went sideways, there was no hill or lift. I know why, I am perched. I've been saying this since day one. Nobody's fault, but my own. I gave in, and stopped mentioning things like the way the cantle pushes me forward. I'm fighting it. I really needed a saddle and had been on a very long search so I payed for it, and still am (in other ways). I've tried to change the way I ride...and am very far from an expert, but it's throwing me off balance. It's all okay, until something goes wrong.

In the past, I never gave saddles a second thought - I rode in whatever. A person shouldn't have to change the way they ride. Now I'm always consciously thinking about it, the whole dang trail. Not much relaxing going on. Imagine how Koda feels. All the carefree stuff I loved is gone. Maybe someday I'll find "it" again? My saddle tree is narrow, it's comfortable, it's pretty and yep it makes me sit up real nice and straight - not so important on the trail. It stinks, I really like everything else about my saddle but I'm stuck with it for now. I'm tired of thinking about it, and surely your tired of reading about it. We have other rides planned. I'll just have to keep my guard up. Not sure why, but for some reason my husband's comment made me feel better.


Shirley said...

Just curious, what kind of saddle do you have? Is there any way you can try other saddles out, maybe borrow one just to see what works best for you? I've been through many saddles over the years, I've bought and sold several. I don't keep them if they don't work right for me; I'd rather ride bareback than a saddle that isn't right.

aurora said...

I have a Billy Cook reiner that has about 5 things modified on it. I love everything about it, except the cantle. Yep, I now have two saddles one that no longer fits my growing horse and one that doesn't suit me well.

I've tried a fair amount of saddles through this whole ordeal. I'm beginning to think the perfect one just doesn't exist. I may end up selling and getting one like my hubby's (Billy Cook trail) and deal with sitting wide - it's better then fighting being balanced.

Jeni said...

Aurora - I know the saddle thing is exhausting. I have a suggestion - if the western saddles aren't fitting either you or Koda for one reason or another - any reason why you can't try an english all purpose saddle? You can put a grab strap on the cantle if you need it, as well as breast plates and cruppers if needed to trail riding.

I have an awesome western saddle for Bonnie, and I gave up on the western thing with Rosie for trail riding because NOTHING ever fit her or me correctly or comfortable. So now I trail ride Rosie in my English AP or even my "gasp" dressage saddle. I'm sooo much happier and so is Rosie.

aurora said...

Thanks for the suggestion Jeni, it's something to consider. I've only ridden in an English saddle for about 3 months of lessons many years ago.

My daughter has one that might fit Koda to try, altho it would likely look silly on my huge barrel cow horse.