While we waited on John & Harley at the bridge, Callie and I explored the plant life and wildlife along the ditches. The roadside looks like a forest primeval; dripping hemlocks with an understory of bunchberry, rhodora, cinnamon fern, tall avens, wintergreen, clintonia, and bunchberry. I inhaled the odor of earthy, damp woods while frogs leaped in and out of mud puddles. Then I heard the clop of Harley appoaching. Head high, peering ahead at the construction equipment and roadside markers, he gave John a few whirls and some reverse gears before I intervened. To save energy and time, I led him across, past hoses snaking over the bridge, spewing up little streams of water (to cure the concrete), large idle machinery, and other scary construction debris. I'd hook up with them at the ride's start, in about another mile.
10:00 a.m. Riders began heading out as others were just arriving. Horses of all shape, size, and color along with riders of the same, passed by me as I got back in the truck and headed to the lunch stop where I'd act, once again, as part of the sag wagon support team.
12 noon: Voices came from the woods as riders began appearing. Then along came my boys, emerging from the hemlock forest. Harley was doing well, and everything was going fine, except for the cheapo bitless bridle which broke. Good thing John had a spare! We stripped the tack from Harley, gave him a wash and a chance to drink and have some treats. One rider asked me, "Is he done for the day?" I said, "No, just putting on a dry girth and saddle pad." She replied, "I want to come back in the next life as your horse!" Yes, he's spoiled. No other riders had the luxury of a waiting groom and fresh gear!
|Can I go home now?|
John told me Harley jogged most of the way back and asked if I wanted to hack him home. Sure enough, he jogged most of the way with me too. As usual, he was anxious to be back safe at home. I asked John how he would grade Harley's performance. "B+ heading out, but when he saw horses in front of him, he wanted to be out in front of them. It's in his breeding Coming home, a C-.
Oh Harley, I see we still have some work to do. But what a good boy--all said and done, he did about 20 miles handily.
|Harley thinking this is the park class, but looking good!|