10.28.2014

kickapoo adventure, take two

Tick tock, tick tock...trail closing dates are rapidly approaching. We had high hopes of getting back out on the trail at least one more time this year. There is so much peacefulness to be felt in the woods, it's were everything feels right. The perfect mix of appreciation, contentment, and unknown challenges mesh together to make a person feel alive, fulfilled, and very thankful to be living in the moment. 

Warmer then usual Fall weekend weather gave us first a day to work on nagging chores, then a day to set undone ones aside and enjoy life to it's fullest. We headed out for another Kickapoo Adventure, take two. 

There are so many options to explore with 8, 569 acres, you just have to choose somewhere to begin familiarizing yourself with what the area offers. We welcomed the sight of a couple other horse trailers parked along a wide grassy strip on Cut-off Road. It was close to the trails we planned on riding, providing easy on/off. We decided it would be a great place to start!

We crossed the gravel road, and headed up a grassy hill to begin our ride on the Cut-off Trail...






...weaving up and around....







...you'll notice Fall colors have muted. The leaves have dried and turned into rusty hues. At this time of year most tree's are bare, except for the evergreens. We head into the start of the pines...







 ...with in a short time we were overlooking the reserve, with a spectacular view...






We rounded the corner and found ourselves riding high along an open hillside where we came across our first challenge, or better said our first challenge came across us. A large buck had crossed the road down below, and was bounding up the path towards us, the one we were on...there wasn't much we could do perched on a hillside, but stand still until the buck saw us. So pretty to watch, and thankful the majestic buck eventually chose a path less traveled.

There are many wonderful peaks and valleys, along with sections that have scrappy trees growing in mass. Rock outcroppings treasures are tucked away, similar to what you see on the left of the photo below...





...in certain areas they appear with more frequency. We love rock outcroppings! They get bigger, and smaller, and sometimes you ride right next to them...





...these cute little guys were tucked inside one of the rock crevices. They welcomed us along the trail. I swear I heard them say, howdy! While I prefer mother nature do the decorating, it was funny. They were tactfully placed, and only a few inches high...





...we rode across a boardwalk that helps riders stay out of swampy ground. Shortly after maneuvering a small muddy water crossing, we entered a magical section of larger pines...sigh. I got lost in the moment, it was sooo gorgeous and surreal...light was filtered between the majestic trees and onto the soft amber pine needle carpet. You just can't capture it, so instead you soak it in. We began to head out and onto other terrain...






...at least four times throughout our ride, we crossed small water creeks. The boys were hesitant, and my hubby found it a bit frustrating. We've done a fair amount of water crossing with them, they should be used to it by now. Our horses are thinkers, and each water crossing presents unique footing. Most of them have muddy approaches. Some horses just plod right through water and mud, and some don't. It doesn't bother me, as long they eventually cross the water. For whatever reason, Nemo always seems to be asked to test the water first. Of course that makes it easier for us to cross, once Koda can see that Nemo didn't get swallowed...




...earlier in the ride we had turned off the Cut-off Trail, and onto Hoot Owl Trail. Both were so pretty and diverse trails, with hardly any rocky ground. To make a loop you do have to cross or ride a short time along the ditch of a couple roads. But it wasn't for long, and the roads were not busy. 

We maneuvered over and under many things, including a dead raccoon that was laying across the path nestled in the leaves. Before I saw it the boys walked right over it, or on it, not sure. No photos of that not so lovely sight. I made sure to walk around it on the way back, that was disgusting. Instead I focused on the trees...







...eventually we headed back down to the trailer...





...where Nemo uncharacteristically took issue with one of the trailers parked in front of ours. There was an odd sound coming from across the valley, and a hiker, but still we had walked past the same trailer on the way out. It was an unexpected challenge for Brad, that Nemo eventually got over. 

The sky had turned cloudy, and when we started untacked it began to sprinkle. We made the drive back to the barn, and eventually towards home. My new app came in handy, and clocked our trail ride around 3.5 hours and close to 10 miles...




...I reeeally loved these new trails we rode!! They had the right mix of everything, without being so risky. This might be our last trail ride of the year, most trails close November 15. If weather and schedules allow, we will go exploring again. It makes my heart sing.

10.23.2014

grain of salt

Twelve minutes, twelve minutes...why do I need twelve minutes of inaccurate data to tell me what I already know? Maybe it's seeing the information in a visual graphic, or the competitive side of me wanting to do better now that information is in my face, or just because. 

Earlier this week I tried running the Equitrack app more diligently, twice. Once with my ride on Koda, where I carefully paused and restarted, whenever we paused and restarted, and once with my ride on Nemo, where I decided pausing was a hassle. Running the app the entire time during Nemo's ride would be a good comparison anyways. I got the same inaccurate results using the app both ways. Below is the hybrid map of Nemo's ride. It didn't record any part of our indoor ride. I'm not going to bother sharing the inaccurate tracking graphics, and Koda's ride map looks similar:




It's really not the app's fault, it's the lack of cell reception. I started both boys in the outdoor arena, which is still too wet for faster gaits, and then moved indoors to finish our rides. I spent more time indoors then out. Imagine my disappointment when I checked the app out of curiosity to see where we were with ride time, and noticed it had not changed since I last checked it outside. Clearly the app does not record data without GPS. Time to - step away from the app - and take all the inaccurate data with a grain of salt. 

I had both arena's all to myself this day, and spent the morning riding alone. Well, I was with the horses of course. I rode Koda first, he moved out better then our previous ride. Nemo was good too, except for his lope. I loped him enough to know to stop. I do think we could have put it together better had I kept going, but Nemo's lope has a very different feel then what I am used to. It's kinda like a rocking horse, but this time it felt like it was on the rockers ends, with not enough forward movement. Waaay forward, then waaay back. It didn't help he was preoccupied with looking at the light peeking under the service door. I decided to leave loping alone for now, until I get to know him better under saddle. Nemo has a fantastic jog, so we just enjoyed more of that!

After I got done riding both horses, I turned the wild child Cierra out to burn off some stalled energy. She had been calling us off/on through the morning. The girl had many bucks, crow hops, rears and squeals to get out of her system. As usual she ran faster then the wind! I watched her stunning beauty from afar. Koda & Nemo didn't flinch the entire time. One would think they are a couple of old men, but they are only seven. What a difference three years makes, that and daily turn out to just be a horse...wish I had gotten my camera earlier.



Nemo & Koda enjoying a buffet,
while Cierra goes cray-cray

Before I headed home I had to visit the resident baby horse Cash, who is growing fast. Such a sweet guy! I would take him in a heartbeat, if he was for sale and we had our own place. He is in a bit of a fugly stage, but still so darn cute. I'll share some updated pics of him soon. 

Hope you all take time to get outside and enjoy horse-time this weekend, before the snow flies!


10.20.2014

app-solutely revealing

It was a busy weekend on the home front, unfortunately I have no colorful trail rides to share. Might be a good thing, considering all the rain we got during the week.

With a portion of the outdoor arena still under water, the one weekend ride we did squeak in was indoors. Sigh. Our inside rides feel different. The arena is smaller, sand deeper, obstacles are scarce, and barn distractions are but a short glance away for horse and rider. Both Nemo & Koda seem to be a little off the last couple arena rides. Could be one of many things, including a shift of the seasons. The fact that it is both horses, leads me to believe just that. Like it or not, the indoor riding season is rapidly approaching.

Instead of progressing, I feel like Koda & I are slipping backwards with our rides. Two steps forward, three steps back. Our technique is falling apart. Turns on the forehand were sloppy and our lope was back to hitchy. Brad decided to take a couple video clips, and I didn't like what I saw. It felt exactly like it looked. Not horrible, but Koda & I can ride together much better...time to refocus and rebuild our practice.

I decided to try starting up the Equitrack app again, and this time the GPS worked indoors. I started it at the far end of the arena, away from what I believe is "the dead" cell zone. What I learned was app-solutely revealing...




I only rode for 12:27 minutes...what?!! A couple things did factor in while I was in the saddle. I watched Brad & Nemo for extended stretches, trying to see if I could pick up on anything that looked off. I was also socializing with another rider. I find that when we share the arena with other riders, I don't focus as much on my own ride. I am preoccupied with not getting in peoples way, and being friendly.

As far as the overall elapsed/program time, in this case it doesn't reflect total time in the saddle. I forgot to turn the app off after dismounting. It includes picking up cones, untacking, chatting it up in the aisle, hand grazing, and even walking Koda back out to the pasture - whoops! All time was spent with Koda, and in-hand is as important (if not more) as riding. However the revealing thing here is, I only rode 12-ish minutes. That is pathetic. I wouldn't bat an eye if we lived nearby & rode frequently, but we travel 40 minutes one way - to ride. 

While I am a firm believer that it's not the amount of time a person spends - but the quality that counts - this still tells me a lot. I need to put much more effort into our ride, whatever that time ends up being, if I want Koda to do anything similar. Especially indoors.

According to the app (based on his weight and I assume speed & time) Koda only burned 108 units (calories?) of energy. Not an exact method of calculation, but still interesting. What is that, about a handful of hay? No wonder he isn't looking as fit. I can all but guarantee Koda isn't running around in the pasture, except maybe to get to the free-feed round bale of hay they recently added. I on the other hand am still burning up the energy charts at a big ol' zero - ha! 

I did notice the top circle speed filled into the tracking screen, for whatever that's worth. 

Below is the hybrid map for this ride. The yellow square is the indoor arena. I'm guessing the blue stuff outside the yellow square is a result of the GPS dropping, except for when it tracked our walk towards the pasture. The barn wing where I untack wasn't tracked at all, clearly a cell phone dead zone. 





Our riding stats from last weekends outdoor arena/pasture ride clocked me at 36:27 min riding time, for 1.51 miles, compared to this indoor rides paltry 12:27 min riding, for .57 miles. That pretty much says, we like to ride outside!! I think it would be valuable to continue viewing riding stats, but what I really need to work on is my lack of indoor riding enthusiasm!! I find the map tracking pointless in an arena. I wonder if the app will track a ride without the GPS on? Something appy to try next time!

10.16.2014

Equitrack App Review

I purchased an app called Equitrack right before we took our trip to the glorious northwoods. I'm always curious how far we trail ride and for how long. I'm not very good at guestimating and forget to check the time. I thought a tracking app would come in handy on the unmarked Nicolet Forrest trails, if the app worked. 

Because I purchase Equitrack right before we left, I didn't spend any time playing with it or looking for online tutorials on how to use it. It didn't matter. Upon return, I found out there aren't any. I searched for instructions to resolve one nagging thing I couldn't figure out on my own, and found nothing that addressed it. Their website is easy to navigate and does have some info, including FAQ's, but I found the site pretty basic and lacking information. It didn't tell me anything I hadn't already figured out on my own. 

The one nagging thing I couldn't figure out while using the app in the saddle, was how in the H-E-double toothpick does a person go back/find the original tracking screen?? If I missed something, please do tell. For some lucky reason, I took screenshots with my phone - before I knew the tracking screen wouldn't save - and I also figured out what I call a "work around" to get back to the screen. Press "new ride" to go back - while active - otherwise, the tracking screen disappears...it's a bummer, because it's a great graphic! Know that riding information is saved into another plain text format.

Tracking screen at the end of our first ride.
Map screen at the end of our first ride.

I forgot to start the app when we started (start/stop was the same place)
and added the light blue line for the untracked part of our ride. 

Tracking screen at the end of our second ride. 

Map screen at the end of our second ride.

The light blue line is the untracked part of the ride.
I was fumbling with trying to locate the app's tracking screen and hit the wrong button.
The white location words were added for those who read my previous related riding post.

Map screen of our outdoor arena and pasture ride.

I love how the round pen looks like an upside-down bottle cap!
The yellow circled areas were added, they are places where I absolutely did not ride.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a screenshot of the original tracking screen...poof, it's gone!

A couple additional things to note on the Original (black) Tracking Screen:

• I never saw the top "Speed" circle change numbers, even while moving. I assume it's tracking the current speed. If it's not going to visibly change, why bother showing it on the screen?
• The bottom "Energy" circle always showed me at "0". I sure hope I'm expending more energy then that! I entered my weight, which is the only requirement their website mentions. This feature didn't work for me. 

The app does offer some different levels of riding programs, including three pre-programmed. I did not try them, and therefore cannot comment on how they function. I did try entering my own riding program, and what I saw looked limited at best. However this app is marketed as an Equine Training Assistant, so there must be more to the training portion then meets the eye. For example, you can add sounds. I guess sounds might come in handy? You can read how this feature might work here. Do people really ride with earbuds on? I'm lucky if I can keep my hat on! Additional sound comments have been edited, because I can't stop laughing from being plain ol' silly. Seriously, if I play with the riding program features, I'll do a follow-up review. Don't hold your breathe, or make a sound!!

Quirks found with the Equitrack version 2.2 (yes, the version matters):
• there is no navigation to get to the original tracking screen 
• the app doesn't save the original tracking screen
• the riders "me" energy expenditure doesn't work

• my freestyle program rides did not list (they saved, but didn't list 1-10)
• map tracking isn't exact
• the phone GPS doesn't work in our indoor arena (no fault of the app)
• you can't add landmark points to the map
• my husband is pretty sure the only time Koda goes 13+ mph is in the trailer!


Favorable things about Equitrack version 2.2:
• it tracks distance
• separation of ride time vs elapsed time, as well as total time

• the original tracking screen is very eye appealing
• the original tracking screen is easy to read
• you can keep track of rides on more then one horse
• the cost is reasonable. I purchased the app for $3.99 (iphone only)
• hybrid maps rock, glad the app pulls the different choice

• the app stayed ON and tracked our entire rides (this is huge, so many cut out)
• weather, location, date etc is auto included in saved riding data

• you can add notes about your ride

Rated *** (3 out of 5 stars, because of the quirks).

With all that said, I had fun using Equitrack!! I was hoping to track all my riding time on Koda, and use our arena riding data as a conditioning gauge, but instead plan to continue using this app where I think it functions best - tracking trail riding adventures.


10.13.2014

where yellow leaves dance in the sunlight

We returned from our bi-annual trail riding trip to the north woods, where spending time exploring the Nicolet Forrest lends itself to quiet and peaceful introspection... 

We continue finding the familiar trails to be ever changing, and discover new trails to explore. Fall colors were noted as being in "full color". The locals however agreed with us, the colors aren't necessarily full color. They are changing differently this year, and taking longer. We saw bare tree's, that had dropped their leaves, providing a colorful cushy blanket and crunchy sound for the horses to shuffle through. We also saw plenty of gorgeous full color trees, and yet there were more then the usual unturned green trees in the mix. Even our Maples at home are changing differently this year. It's a colorful mystery...


surround sound in color

Koda & Nemo were sporting a fresh trim, which found us frequently walking the edge of the trail. The northern trails are much less rocky then those we've ridden in our area the past few weeks. However, the combination of the trim, frequent smaller rocks often hidden under leaves, as well as some gravely trails, made for less then desirable footing for our barefoot boys. The dirt and the soft sandy trails found off the beaten path, deeper in the forrest, were a welcome respite and even more enjoyable. My hubby and I keep talking about getting boots for Koda & Nemo, but get discouraged when none of them seem like they would be right...we haven't settled on any, yet.

No water crossing for us on this trip, unless you count mud puddles. Koda avoided those, apparently he didn't want to get his pretty little feet dirty. Fine with me, the forrest mud puddles are slickery and yucky. I didn't want to ride in them either. Nemo got to avoid all of them, but one that wasn't bad...




We found out there is an actual water crossing for the horses on one of the Nicolet trails not too far from the ranch. Who knew? It's been years since we've ridden that particular trail, maybe next year. 

The weather was perfect on our trip, sunny with fresh Fall crispness in the air. We enjoyed our favorite eateries, local company, and quiet campfires with the horses. By the time the weekend rolled around, Spur of the Moment Ranch was the busiest we've ever seen. When we left, it was plum full. Horse trailers were lined up, every paddock was taken. There were mega four wheeler's in town for a cancer benefit weekend ride, some stayed at the ranch. Altho everyone is nice and respectful of each other, we were happy to pack up and leave the hustle and bustle the weekends bring. Truly thankful that we are able to enjoy the forrest in all it's glory during the quiet weekdays. The only living things we run into on the trail are a couple deer and turkey, and while heading out to the forrest an occasional local four wheeler on the main corridor.

Much of our ride is under a canopy of trees, where yellow leaves dance in the sunlight...





...and filtered light is magical...






...in between the quiet times, we share laughs...


laughter is good for the soul

a maple leaf landed on Nemo's hip
and stayed so long I had to snap a picture of his unique Appy spot!


...the pines speak for themselves, if you listen...


riding the pines


taking a break


heading out of the pines


...the mixed tree areas are some of the most colorful, and entertaining. My cowboy randomly twirls his rope reins throughout our rides. He unknowingly starts and stops at any given time. I was able to catch a short clip of the twirling, altho he usually spins the reins up tight and then unwinds them. Funny guy.





video



A Fall trip to the Nicolet wouldn't be complete without riding up to The Lookout. In order to get to the winding paths that lead up to the ginormous rock formation, we ride the Bonita Grade (pictured in the video above). We know we are getting close to the top when the familiar drumming echoes up from the ground with each step the horses take, as we ride up higher and higher for a breathtaking colorful view that overlooks the entire forrest. The trees go in every direction for as far as the eye can see...


Brad getting ready to take some photos

soaking up the view, from as close as I'll get to the drop off edge


I took a short video clip so you could see the amazing view, of course it doesn't do it any justice - and blogger makes it worse. I was surprised to hear how windy the video turned out! The view starts to my left of where Koda & I are standing above, and ends somewhere behind me where Brad and Nemo are heading down in the photo below...


video



heading down from the lookout

Koda's interested lookout ears


Thanks for riding along. Happy trails to you, 'til we meet again...



10.06.2014

Kickapoo Valley Reserve

You know those kind of days, when you are doing something you love, with other people that enjoy doing the same thing(s), surrounded by natures glory, and in all that wonderfulness, you discover a new favorite place to trail ride? Yesterday was one of those days, at Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Wow, what a gorgeous place to ride!! 

We headed out earlier then usual to pick up Koda & Nemo. Plans were to meet our friend Peggy (Checkers owner, from previous posts) at an unloading spot. She trailered one of her mares from home, along with her faithful canine companion Nell. Good thing we headed out early, shortly after we arrived at the campground trail head there were a steady stream of trailers pulling in. It didn't completely surprise me, with Saturday's yucky weather and the triathlon that was held at Kickapoo. Who wants to ride with 500 participants canoeing, running and biking, along with spectators, and all the hoopla that goes with it? Not me.

Fall colors were really starting to turn. We enjoyed them on the drive to/from, and found the reserve is a great place to enjoy them with it's varied terrain and treescape. 


Winnie, Nemo, Koda (L-R)

It wasn't too long before we arrived at a path appropriately marked "River Crossing Path". We meandered along, and then came upon one of the hardest things I've even done on horseback - cross the Kickapoo River. For some strange reason, the crossing is around a river bend where the current flows strong. It's so strong, that it can take your horses legs right out from under them.


Brad & Nemo went down to the river first.
Here they are trying to figure out the best way to cross.


With a little persuasion, Nemo goes in and heads for the bank.


 They made it across! 


Peggy has done this crossing before, altho not with Winnie.
They crossed so fast, somehow I didn't manage to snap a photo.
She didn't even get her feet wet!

Down to the river bank I went. Koda didn't like what I was asking him to do, and was resisting. There I was on the opposite bank, me, my horse, and the dog. Great. Nell was running around our feet, trying to figure out the best way to get across. Koda did try for me. In we went, and it was a whirling dizzy unsteady feeling as the current swept Koda's back legs away, holy crap!! We had turned mid-river, into the current, and started slipping backwards off a drop off...my boots filled up with water, as I felt my boy start to swim. I quickly cued him back to the starting river bank. In hindsight, we were too far to the left and didn't have enough forward motion. Going back to the beginning was probably another mistake, but after slipping down stream we were both nervous - I just needed to get out of there! I gathered myself, and tried to cross again, and again. We ended up riding up and down the embankment in our feeble frustrating attempts. Brad & Peggy were shouting encouraging words from across the river, like "take your time", "you are getting closer" and from my husband who knows me well, "relax..." !! My efforts were exhausting. I shouted back across "he isn't going to go, we may need a buddy". Of course my hubby came across to help not once, but twice. First as a lead horse at the river bank, and then at the top before you head down, where he asked me if I wanted him to try taking Koda across...it would make me feel like such a failure. I hate it when that happens! I decided to try one more time. I had to ask Koda with increasing pressure, but it was starting to work and he began listening to me again. At this point things are kind of a blur. A family group had ridden up behind me and was waiting, adding to the pressure. I was so focused on Koda, but somewhere in my efforts, I remember Peggy shouting some sage advice "look across to the bank and believe you can do it" and Koda went in again. This time he forged ahead, through the current, with his ears touching the sky. I didn't let him rush out and up the slippery muddy mess of an incline. We made it across, hurray!! I was so proud of my brave boy!

Now we had another problem. Nell was still across the river. The family that was behind me rode right across the river, first the dad, then each of the two young kids on their own mounts, and a lady or two. They made it look so easy. Trust me, it wasn't. I assume they are regulars at the reserve. Peggy wasn't too impressed with Nell not crossing. She said all her other dogs have jumped right in, gotten carried down the river a little ways, swam out, and rejoined the ride. Not little Nell, maybe she was too smart? No way were we going to let Peggy take her back to the trailer, we leave no one behind. It's just the way we are. Before I knew it, Brad was crossing the river again. This time to go get Nell...


Nemo get's sticky feet

Brad had his hands full, literally. It was hard to get himself into the saddle with Nell on it. Eventually he got on first, and she half jumped up so he could grab her. He couldn't see or steer very well with her in his arms, and Nemo had just about enough of this river crossing. He was not crossing again. Who could blame the guy? I suggested one of us come across to help. I started to go, but then realized Peggy would be a better choice. With the trouble Koda & I experienced we could end up adding to the problem. Winnie had crossed willingly the first time, Peggy agreed and they crossed to help. Winnie did amazing, she is around 10 and never been off their farm. We were very impressed with her. 




Everybody needs a little help once in a while.
All it took was a little tug from Peggy, to get Nemo to cross one last time.

Nemo, Nell and Winnie (L-R)


Enjoy this short video I made, and see for yourself how strong the current is:






The rest of our ride was much quieter, and prettier. We rode mostly in the woods, because we all like that best. Up, down, around and through huge beautiful colorful peaks and valley's, complete with boulder outcroppings. It's very remote, absolutely love this place!!

We did run into some sketchy slippery sloped spots, but now we know where they are. I thought I took more photos, apparently I was enjoying the ride instead. It was low 50's, cloudy and cool, and my feet were wet - but I didn't care in these breathtaking surroundings.
  


Winnie & Nemo (L-R) coming out of the woods

We saw four large doe in our path, so pretty watching the white tails bound away from us. One of my favorite area's in the reserve are the pines. The floor is carpeted with soft amber needles, the trees go on as far as the eye can see, and you could hear a pin drop...



Koda, Nell, Nemo (L-R)

It was the first time we've trail ridden our horses with a dog, we all loved having one along!! It was so cute how Nell & Nemo bonded after the river. She needs some reminders to get out of the way of the horses, and once Nemo even bent down and gently nudged her to the side. Nell would check up, and rode beside, all of us. What a great dog! The horses didn't mind having her inches from their feet, and sometimes in between. 



Nell

On our way back to the trailers we came across two recumbent bikers, with neon green flags bobbing high above their heads. None of the horses had ever seen them, and Winnie wasn't too thrilled but she got over it quickly. Peggy is a great handler. We opted to take a large suspended wooden bridge high up over the river, instead of through it, to get back. 

Over 5 hours and 10 plus miles later, we untacked, brushed and fed our horses, and before making the drive home we tailgated with some good conversation, cold water, specialty cheese, sausage, crackers and grapes - yum!!

  

10.02.2014

the ride goes on

On a sunny Fall weekend, as expected, White Mound park was the busiest we've ever seen. We counted eight trailers, some camping, most not. There are typically one or two trailers, and sometimes none. Who wouldn't want to be outside enjoying the trails with gorgeous weather on one of the last nice days before the snow flies?!

The other riders in our group who were all in, in the end, were all out. I like to believe the intention was there, but when time comes to commit it often falls to the wayside. Must be common. The couple we met last weekend at White Mound said their riding buddies bowed out as well. We all agreed, the ride goes on regardless.

We ended up sharing the last leg of the trail with these nice folks. They were parked right in front of us, and waved as we pulled in. The only other riders we encountered on the trail was a large family group that was just heading out. Our paths crossed with this couple two other times throughout our meandering ride, all pleasant encounters. I can't help but wonder if these things happen for a reason?

Trail experiences were shared, as best we could while maneuvering single file down a rocky rather challenging trail. All of us were thankful to be out enjoying our horses, exploring the beautiful surroundings. It felt like we were kindred spirits of sorts. We chatted some more back at the trailers, shook hands and went our separate ways. We surely would have become friends, if only it wasn't so odd to give out ones phone number to people you've just met.

I opted to not bring my pocket camera for this ride. No surprise I only have one iphone photo to share, not very impressed with my phone camera... The park is very pretty, it's also very hilly. It does offer prairie riding, but to fully enjoy the trails you ride the steep mound where you are either going up, or down - and sometimes sideways. 

I always check websites for trail updates, before heading out on our trips. It mentioned they were looking for riders to try out a new trail. No clue when that was posted. We knew we found the new trail the minute we started riding it. It wraps around the lake, high above, weaving and crossing the hillside. You find yourself traveling in the woods surrounded by many tree's, riding sideways, while heading mostly downwards. Brad mentioned it reminded him of our Colorado rides, on a smaller scale. It's very pretty. You can actually see the lake from a birds eye view in one area. We really enjoyed the new trail! However I would be remiss if I didn't mention there were some rather dangerous parts, when our horses were sinking and sliding. I certainly wouldn't want to ride this trail when it's wet. Nemo was in the lead, and I kept seeing his back legs slide out - especially the downside one. Koda and I tried to avoid the treacherous parts, but there were spots were you didn't have a choice. In the worst spot, all four of Koda's legs began to sink and slide, and he started to panic. He stopped, listened, and trusted me enough to guide us through that sticky area safely. I was really proud of my boy! This new trail is not for the faint of heart. Any new wooded trail means uprooted or cut trees, even with best efforts it leaves holes, and lots of loose dirt - but when that's done on a steep sloping hillside it adds another level of difficulty. I don't know what it is about White Mound, but that place is always a fun adventure!! Altho it was only a couple hours of riding, it was one tough ride. 



White Mound

It isn't all hills and thrills, we enjoyed a couple small water crossing's on the flatter area's. We came upon disgusting deer remains lying across one of the roadside prairie paths. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Koda didn't want anything to do with those lifeless beady eyes, me either. I tried not to look, as we rode waaay around. Shortly after the first stream is a nice stretch of trail that is safe for a faster paced gait. We trotted along, until the wooded paths started up again.

By the time we got back to the trailer, Koda & Nemo were soaked to the bone. We had such a wonderful ride, enjoying many of the things we love!! The yellow, orange, red and green landscape was so pretty on our ride home. We wrapped the day up by giving the boys a nice rosewater bath back at the barn, hand grazing them while drying off in what was left of the sun, and tucking them into their stalls with supper waiting. We were all exhausted, and happy.