Sunday, May 27, 2012

First S.M.A.R.T. ride of the year!

Harley out marking trails last week
Today was our first S.M.A.R.T. Ride for 2012 and it was on Rolex Girl's 5th birthday! We had a rather late start, so it was a good thing we knew the terrain and it was well marked. I think we were the last people to leave, but unlike the rest of the riders, we had to hack to the beginning point. That added another 45 minutes or so. It would have been longer if I hadn't jumped off and walked Harley over the bridge at the Great Works River. Just last Monday we rode down there when we were helping mark the trails for the ride. He didn't like it then, and doesn't like it now. Since he was making a production, and we were running late, I figured it would be easier to walk him across.

We didn't see any other riders until 2 who had taken a wrong turn caught up with us. Otherwise, we rode pretty much all by ourselves, as the sweep riders--dead last!

The weather was awesome--bugs weren't too bad, the sun was shining, and a nice breeze kept us cool when we crossed fields. At the nicest spot, a lovely open field with lovely cantering footing, a photographer was stationed taking pictures of riders passing by. I'm hoping she got some good ones of Harley and Rolex, although Harley was spooking at her and going a bit sideways. Then she made whinnying noises and I think that confounded him all the more.

Witchrot Road--didn't see any witches
Some of the trails crossed land belonging to an ATV /snowmobile club. They had amusing signs hanging up such as No Parking, STOP, Children Playing, etc. They also had road name signs as well, like Main Drag. But my favorite was Witchrot Rd. There is an Witchtrot Road in South Berwick, but the one in the woods was mis-spelled and much cooler! John snapped a few pictures, but neither horse was in the mood to stand still, hence the blurry photo. I think the horses already knew we had reached the halfway point and they heard horses ahead of them. Time to pick up the pace! We went to the lunch stop, but trying to eat food and hold the horses was going to be tough. We had carrots and apples in our packs and all of us munched on our fruits and vegetables. I was actually hoping they'd have water for the horses. Harley and Rolex aren't well-schooled on drinking out of streams yet. Another thing for us to work on! So we sallied forth down the trail, Harley and Roley jigging to catch up to the horses in front of them. Then we and 2 other riders missed a turn and wound up following a mucky logging path. One of Rolex's Easyboots came apart. Thankfully, one of the riders behind us saw it! The sole had detached from the hoof cover and we had no spare screws. Stupidly, I went back to see where the last trail marker was, knowing we'd missed our turn. This left poor Rolex plunging in the mud on her lonesome. I realized this and turned around to meet John coming out of the muck with poor, agitated Rolex. Once clear of the mud, he took both boots off. From this point, we could see horses crossing a field. Rolex stood with head up, doing her camel imitation, while Harley shook his head and snorted. Once the other riders were out of sight, everyone calmed down...until we reached Lovers Brook. This was a substantial water crossing with a mucky approach. Both horses balked at it, but I knew Harley would go through. I urged him past Rolex and he plunged in, glad to clamber out the other side, with Rolex right behind him.

Cooling off in Knight's Pond
We were in the home stretch now. Once we reached Knight's Pond, we took a detour down to the water, hoping they would have a drink and let them cool off a bit. Compared to Lovers Brook, this is easier. Again, Harley needed to convince Rolex and vice versa. Overcoming obstacles together makes them feel brave! John got a good picture of Harley in the pond, with a smattering of Roley Girl's ears. Little fish darted among the grass and lily pads, but I don't think either horse saw a one. They were too awed by the vast expanse of water out there, probably afraid we'd ask them to swim across!

Then it was back along the old railroad bed to the ride's beginning point. A big spread of food lay out on the picnic tables, but it was getting late and we still had another 45 ride home. So we waved at the crowd and moseyed on towards home. We took a little break at a roadside park where the horses noshed on a bit of grass and we got to stretch our legs for a bit. Once we got to the infamous bridge, Harley had no problem walking across it--it led to home! He was in power walk mode anyway. I don't think much would have stopped him at this point. We covered about 20 miles today--not bad for our guys on their first ride of the season! Happy Birthday Rolex Girl!


  1. You four are intrepid - that is for sure! I am worn out just reading about this ride. Glad it was cool and the bugs were at bay. Happy Birthday Rolex Girl! Five year old big girl on a great ride with her people and horsey brother, Harley!

  2. That looks and sounds SO FANTASTIC! I always want to do rides like that with other bigger groups of people, but then I become filled with anxiety and never sign up for anything. we love our trails at home though and thank goodness we have so many of them. I didn't know the term SWEEPRIDER! hahahah, that makes me chuckle--I am always the sweeprider when I am trail riding with my friends. It's not that I mind being in fron, but I have an ambler and other people have horses who hate being in back. Love the fly bonnet! aren't they the best inventions around? I wonder who was the first person to knit one up....? Your blog makes me feel like I have been on vacation! I also love "camel imitation!" Scream! That is hilar.

  3. Forgot to say: Happy Birthday to Rolex!


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