Wednesday, October 23, 2013

To be a Long Rider

As a teen, I read a book called Last of the Saddle Tramps. It was about a 63 year old woman from Minot, Maine with little resources, but a lot of pluck, who saddled up a horse named Tarzan and, with her little dog in tow, headed for California. This sounded like an amazing adventure. I've often wondered what it would be like to experience the nation from horseback. My summers as a counselor at Catherine Capers were spent camping and riding around our neck of the Vermont hinterlands. No, it wasn't much fun when it rained, but I took the bad with the good--and most of it was very good!

Day 2 of a 5 day summer trip--campsite know as "Aunt Eunice's" on the banks of the Mettawee River
Where am I going with this? Well, this past Sunday I saw a woman with two horses out in a hay field taking a break in the late afternoon sun. I thought, "Boy, wish my horses ground tied like hers!" That evening, while tapping away on Facebook, I found out she was riding across the country from California to Maine with a destination point of Minot, Maine--home to Messanie Wilkins--where they will be hosting a parade in her honor. Now I'm kicking myself for not stopping and talking to her. What a fascinating conversation it would have been! And I probably would have offered her stabling if it was OK with our barn's owner. But I was feeling poorly from a cold and wanted to get out to the barn and feed the ponies before it got dark. So I see it as a missed opportunity.

For those readers interested in long distance riders, check out the Long Riders Guild website. And to follow Sea G Rhydr, go to and follow their adventure. They also have a facebook page under the same name. Their plan is to be in Minot by November--she's almost there!

Oh, to be a long rider --at least for the summer! Here are a few more pictures from my youth!

Day 3 of the 5 day trip--Rush Hollow

Day 4 of the 5 Day trip--sunrise along Flower Brook
 **Note the sheets, proof of global warming! Late August nights used to be chilly in Vermont.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

And when he was good, he was very, very good...

...and when he was bad he was horrid!

Picture courtesy of

Yes, my dear sweet Halawa Moon was a terrible Gnarley Harley on Saturday. I haven't had as difficult a ride in two years! Granted, he hadn't been ridden since last weekend, and the weather had a little nip in the air, but he was full of himself.

I started out with some schooling in the ring; trotting, circling, etc. just to loosen him up. He wasn't being too bad there, so silly me decided we should head down to Orris Falls before it got too dark.
We only made it about half way down the road before he stopped. There was a car parked on edge of the road--oh heavens! Then he began to back up. If any my readers have been watching the Retired Racehorse makeover the past few months, you might have heard about Dale Simanton of Newell, SD and his Gate to Great Geldings, and especially his OTTB cowpony in training Drake's Dancer, aka Duck. Well if Harley had a steer on the end of a rope, his skills at backing up and keeping the rope taut would have made him a great gelding too! But since I was asking him to go forward, he was NOT being a great gelding. I sat there and let him stare at it until he swung his head to the side and contemplated heading back home. No way--we were going to get past this scary Honda Civic. So rather than go sideways into the ditch and prance in the road, I jumped off and led least until he stopped again! About 5 minutes later , we finally made it to the car. Then John called, so he had to stand there between the car and the turkeys, while I talked on the phone. Once we'd cleared the turkeys, I remounted, only to have him stop and try to be a cow-less cowpony again. This time it was scary kids playing in their yard up ahead.  I dismounted, led him down to Orris Falls, and once we were in the woods, remounted. He seemed to settle a bit and we got in a nice trot, but by now daylight was fast fading and the long shadows were giving Harley the willies. I forged on and we turned around on MY choice. He was raring to go and had a speedy trot, but came back down somewhat willingly. But once we'd cleared the Orris Falls gate, the prancing began.  Oooo boy, I knew I was if for a fun ride back home.

When he's keyed up, trying to make him walk just makes him worse, so I let him jog back up the roadside, head in the air like a giraffe, but ready for anything. At the bottom of the hill, he became difficult, head cranked to the side like a racehorse, all stiff up and down like a pogo stick, snorting, plunging and trying to take off at the same time. I didn't relish the idea of a mad gallop up to the barn alongside a road with a blind curve. So I sat down and rode it out, thankfully not getting tossed, but somehow, managed to jamb the thumb and pinky of my left hand. With all that head tossing, he must have rammed my fingers. The silly part was when we rode into the barnyard, he gave a big snort, stopped by the gate, and just stood there as if to say, "Man, that was a workout. Aren't we done now?"

Oh my, what a silly horse. He thought he was going to get away with his shenanigans, and since I didn't let him turn around and go home, he decided to toss in some extra fun!

Golden days of September

Last weekend we took a ride around the fence line, and checked out last year's logging tracks. We also practiced opening and closing gates from horseback. The horses did well, but the double gates were tough to line up and close simultaneously. Farewell, September--October's brilliant colors are just around the corner.