Monday, August 27, 2012

A week of wonderful riding weather

This would have been the week to take some time off with absolutely perfect weather for riding or any other outdoor pursuit. Saturday I biked out to the barn to feed--a nice 16 mile ride round trip. Then I spent the afternoon putting up tomatoes and making granola. Needless to say, I didn't get in a ride too, but sometimes, just being at the barn counts as quality time with the horses.

Sunday's ride was a short jaunt into the woods. Neither Rolex, nor Harley seemed inclined to go too far--too buggy, and too close to dinner time! But it counted as at least a little exercise. We'd spent the day doing barn chores and John got a good portion of one field mowed. Then Pete took over and got the mower stuck in some muck under the fence. Bucky the Trucky to the rescue! John pulled the mower out and proved to me that my little 4 cylinder Tacoma can do more than I give it credit for.

Gray tree frog
This little tree frog has been hanging out by the back of the barn, chirping up a storm for a couple of days. Today, I caught him snoozing in the afternoon sun. Once the sun lowered and it got cooler, he began singing with his brethren in the neighborhood. If I'd taken the photo later, his bulbous pouch would have showed up!

We took Ruffy and Harley on the Tatnic loop ride today, up through Orris Falls and down the road through Tatnic Woods. A number of dogs kept things interesting; some fenced, some not. Harley had to go out front for a ways, past a scary little camper trailer, and then a lady sitting in a lawn chair in the sun, reading. Oh, and then two little poodles tore out of the house--egads, Harley! He can be such a chicken at times, but then he can also be such a sweetie, like when I needed to get off and retrieve a lost Easyboot for Ruffy. He stood quietly for both the dismount (with me nursing my bum shoulder) and the remount (from the right side no less). He can be a good boy. But when he gets his goat up, and I'm using the bitless bridle, he can be headstrong and curmudgeonly. Such as--Ruffy turned around, so I will too!, or I need be next to Ruffy; I don't care if the moving van is taking up the entire road! Hmmm--the look of eagles or chickens? Sometimes I wonder. Friday night he was being a goof ball and spooking at who knows what in the barn. I almost chickened out on riding as he swung left and right in the cross ties. I finally tied him in his stall to tack up. But I had the gumption to get on and go, albeit a schooling session rather than a trail ride! He might have been in a dither because the newbie was turned out with him--the proverbial apple upsetting the Harley's cart.

Harley having a moment--the day of the ill-fated shoulder injury

Monday, August 20, 2012

Evening lollygag down the road

Rolex and John heading home
The deer flies were horrible, yet again, so I made it a short ride in the woods, albeit a brisk one with lots of trotting in hopes of leaving the flies in the dust. No such luck. John caught up with us riding Rolex. He wasn't planning to ride (hence the beachwear outfit), but couldn't resist an opportunity to be in the saddle, bugs or no, shoes or no. That's my guy!

Shoes, boots, or barefoot?

I've been going round and round with this--especially since I know some of my readers are barefoot, and some use boots. John has been using the Easyboot Backcountry Glove on the fillies, but the Velcro appears to have lost it's stickiness and they keep coming loose. I've looked at Renegades and prefer their style/function/fit (providing they stay on!) over others, but again, they rely on Velcro as well. Then there are the Cavallos--any users out there? Harley is not a candidate for barefoot riding--he gets too ouchy on gravel. He does best with shoes, when he's not whacking himself and over-reaching--what to do, what to do. Oh, and we ride through MUD! Serious MUD! Any comments, preferences, suggestions would be appreciated, dear readers. Thanks!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's the end of a perfect day...

Breakfast time, ma!
We awoke to a gorgeous clear day with low humidity at last. Despite my grand plans to bike out and feed early, we still got in a full day, including a trip to the Barrington Truck Show to see my dad with his 1946 Mack LJX on display.

We got back out to the barn by 2 p.m., gathered everyone up for a little lunch, then saddled Harley and Rolex for a ride out to the quarry. I've been leery of riding on my own with my gimpy shoulder, but I feel like I'm missing out on hours of summer riding.

So, despite some possible tears in the rotator cuff--life must go on and that includes riding. Harley behaved himself, unlike the last episode in the thunderstorm, all alone, with Rolex out of sight-egad! We had some nice trots and a rather lazy canter up a hill, but with him out front, things were more manageable for my sore wing--less snorting and sideways prancing! We have not been out to the quarry in some time. The bugs were bothersome, and I'll be happy when cool weather drives them away. Every summer I say I'll get a fly whisk but I've yet to follow through and usually rely on tree branches to swat the bugs. I've determined that no fly spray is really effective in the deep woods. Beating and slapping them works best! Both horses seemed reluctant to head out and I'm not sure if it was the bugs or the new arrival at the barn. A new boarder has arrived--a Percheron/Quarter horse yearling.  Harley is curious and I think the fillies might be in love--good thing he has been gelded, even if he is in the neighboring pasture!

I'm looking forward to my September vacation with, hopefully, more long days spent in the saddle!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dog days of summer are here

Snack time!
This is the kind of weather where it's so hard to get motivated, even to ride. Hot sultry weather seems to stuck in our neck of the woods with no relief from the rainstorms that passed through last night. Despite the icky, sticky weather, John mowed the ring area (yes, the grass was taking over) and now we'll need to disc it again before dragging it. Then he mowed around and between our garden plantings, while I weeded by hand, whew! The squash, potatoes, corn, and peppers seem to be holding their own against the wild radish invasion! I even found two zucchini in the nick of time--before they became monster squash with no use.

After the mowing was done, we decided to brave the heat and take the girls out for a little jaunt. Harley has broken out in hives again (something hatched or the no-see-ums attacked), and the fillies have minor cases, as does Vance. So, no saddle for Harley again.

We walked up the power line and down through the woods to the Orris Falls trail, all the while, swishing at the darn deer flies swarming our ponies. They were absolutely awful and the girls were most unhappy, tossing their heads, swishing their tails, even breaking into a trot to get the heck home as soon as possible! I can't say I blame them. All they really wanted was a nice cool shower and to stand in the shade with a fan blowing on them. And that's just what we did, along with giving everyone a little snack. Stamping off flies and standing in the dirt, no grazing in the buggy fields, leads towards weight drop, so the snack/indoor break gave them a nice reprieve.

Then a big storm blew in with blue-grey clouds that burst open and poured. No thunder and lightning, like they predicted, and not a lot of cooling, but the brief respite felt wonderful. I stood in the barn doorway, getting misted from the blowing rain--ahhh!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My other steed

My 2-wheeled steed, Old Blue
While my shoulder is recuperating, I've been wary of getting back on Harley and injuring it further. But as the range of motion seems to have improved, I finally got out on my other steed, my trusty old 25+ year old bicycle.  It didn't seem to bother my shoulder after 11 miles on Saturday, so John suggested we ride out to the barn on Sunday. Round trip is just over 16 miles, but it does include 2 good hill climbs--ooh, boy.

I've done many "upgrades" and changes over the years, including adding some "granny gears", but it always takes a while to get back in the saddle again. I packed a pair of breeches, on the off chance I was up for riding 'old Snarley Harley, along with the camera, phone, and carrots. With John's car out of commission, he's been packing in the miles on his bike. So now it's time for me to catch up! But of course, I didn't catch him on the hills--I just ground my way up. This told me that I need to bike to the barn, rather than drive! And given the price of gas--I'll save money and improve my cardiovascular stamina at the same time. A win-win situation.

I still can't lift the saddle onto Harley, so John gave me a hand tacking up, then we went off for a meander down the road. The deer flies annoyed Rolex and Harley, even with bug repellent. I've yet to find one that really works well. Since the woods are even worse, we kept out in the open. The horses and I will be happy to see the back end of bug season!

Pretty girl Ruffy
After our jaunt down the road, John tacked up Ruffy. She's such a doll in the cross ties, patiently standing there for grooming, tacking, shoeing, etc.  And she's a love-bug, enjoying head rubs along with carrots.

I did barn chores while John was riding. As I went out back to empty the wheelbarrow, John and Ruffy cantered up to the barn, then went down in the back pasture to try out our little log jump. Boy, can this girl jump--I think she likes it! And so does John, as he enjoyed a nice canter around the field. Unfortunately, I was holding the wheelbarrow, and not the camera, so I didn't get any good pictures of their fun.