Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Day Adventure

Do you think that's the Easter Bunny, Harley? 

Can you believe it was snowing this morning here in Maine? The grey skies spit for a bit, then quit, but it stayed windy and chilly all day. Every house we passed had the fire or wood stove burning. So far, it's been colder this April than it was in March. Old Man Winter doesn't want to let go.  After taking care of Ruffy's foot, and giving Rolex and Harley a little extra lunch, we saddled up and headed out. But first, John had to work out a few kinks in our little Roley Girl. She had her dander up and was ready to rock and roll. He worked her a little in the schooling area, then we struck out for the woods.

A favorite spot for a canter
After some exploration on our previous ride, we found some new trails on Nature Conservancy land. Some of these trails are not built for horse travel--way too windy and narrow. But others appeared to more suited to ATVs and horses. Give it was Sunday, I half expected to run into ATV riders, but the woods were truly ours--quiet.

We encountered a maze of trails crossing old roads and decided to follow the established road bed. I was trying to remember where we turned left, where we turned right, and keep track of significant land marks so we could retrace our steps. So many options and so many trail junctions--which way to go next. Of course, the horses always seem to find the way home. They have a built in compass. The old road, bordered on both sides by ancient stone walls and cellar holes, replete with day lilies poking their leaves up, carried us out to a new house and bridge. As we emerged out of the woods, I recognized our location--at least I knew where we were in relation to the barn and our direction homeward as the the crow flies. But the adventure wasn't over yet. We still had trails to explore. So we headed the other direction, again passing cellar holes, stone walls, and even a cemetery along the road side. It must be cared for by relatives, for it appeared raked and cleared of winter's debris.
Stuart Cemetery

Harley and Rolex seemed to be enjoying the new territory. Rolex likes taking the lead until she hits a muddy spot. Then she slams on the brakes and waits for Harley to show her the route, willingly following in his footsteps. They've become trail buddies this year, happy to share carrot treats and tag along behind one another--nose to tail. One would never guess that our little Roley Girl is still less than six months off the track. She walks along easily, ears up, negotiating the trail gamely. Harley, years off the track, still likes to exhibit his Thoroughbred hot-headedness from time to time, especially if it's a solo ride and he hasn't got Rolex for support! He only had one spin out on me today, and it was a half-hearted on at that. I just circled him back and he moved forward without a problem. I think he likes to just test me--the wiley guy!

Here's a section of the 1944 Kennebunk map showing the region of the Tatnic Hills we were riding. The roads haven't changed much in past 68 years. There are more houses, but the dashed line dirt roads are still that--only now you need 4WD or 4-hoof drive to negotiate them. And this only shows the established roads--not all the trails that thread through the woods as well.

Which way now?
It was a chilly day, as you can see by John's down jacket and wool cap. Most of the ride was at a walk with trotting on some of the better footing. Harley and Rolex didn't even break a sweat until we did some sustained trotting, heading for home. Then Harley gets all psyched to be going home and keeps trotting to catch up with Rolex Girl's swinging walk! Things get a bit more interesting at a fast pace. When Harley begins to trot past Rolex, her racing nature takes over, she pins her ears and cuts him off. And if he passes her, then he tries to cut her off. Maybe I should whistle "Call to the post" and see what happens then!

John and I both worked on the horses' paces--extending the trot, slowing the trot, halting and backing. Harley sometimes like to break into a canter rather than trot, but for conditioning purposes today, I held him to the trot. Oh, we did pop over a few downed trees, although I chickened out at one John wanted to try. Maybe next time...for there will surely be a next time! We need to see where all those trails go.

Our first S.M.A.R.T. ride is six weeks away. It will probably only be 10 to 12 miles since it's early in the season, but we want the horses ready to go, plus we're hacking Eeyore (aka Harley) & Rolex to the ride since one animal, who shall go by his alias, doesn't like trailers (something else to work on)!


  1. Answer to your first question is YES! I just love reading your blog. It's like reading a good book. I do not want to put it down. It's romance, adventure and memoir all in one. Just beuatiful. And as usual, your pictures bring it all home.

  2. Your S.M.A.R.T. ride associations, sounds like Our own O.E.T. Oregon Equestrian Trail riders club. There are different branches for the whole state and they really make a differences for horse riders, maintaining the trails and the access to them, through the forestry service.COOL club! It's nice to have that goal on the horizon.

    Yes that "fav spot" does look totally inviting, for a spurt of cantering!
    You did have a late snow..but danger already. I hope it does rain for you all soon...


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