Monday, September 15, 2014

Look Ma--no bugs!

Vacation week arrived at last with fine weather. And I have to admit, I really, really wanted to ride every day, but made myself work on the "plaster project" and helping John clear out the garage. If we want to sell, a lot of de-cluttering and painting had to happen during our vacation. Oh my, the junk we've saved over the years! What I couldn't take to the junkyard for cash (old bicycle parts, rusted tools, etc.), I put out by the road. My three pairs of vintage skis, miraculously disappeared, along with a beach chair and lounger! One man's junk is another man's treasure, for sure.

But by the time Friday rolled around, I insisted we get in a ride. The weather was perfect--breezy, partly sunny, in the 60's and NO BUGS! We saw an occasional mosquito, and only ONE deer fly, which I squashed. Absolutely heavenly for the horses and us.

We decided to explore the Jepson woods and quarry area. Having not ridden out there since spring, we discovered the enlarged quarry and logged area forced us to re-route some of our trails. Since it was a weekday, all sorts of heavy equipment moved through the quarry. Both horses were remarkably calm about it all, even when we paused to watch a drill, pounding into the rock.

We took a break along the quarry road so I could sample some wild grapes. Fall was in the air--the smell of grapes, aster and goldenrod blooming in the meadows and along the roads, and the sumac heads turning a bright red. 

Our mellow-mooded Harley and Rolex ambled along enjoying the bug-free environment. When they're out 24/7, the horses are much more relaxed. Brave Harley led the way for a good portion of the ride!

We came out onto Cheney Woods Road where the pace picked up--that little alarm that goes off in the horses' heads when we turn for home.

We stopped for a little break--carrots all around for our steeds. Now there's a happy horse!

Homeward bound, out Allen Road, past North Point. A perfect day for a perfect ride on our perfect ponies!

When and if we find our own place, I admit I will miss some of our trails in the Tatnic area. But all the pros outweigh the cons, and there would be new territory to explore. Hopefully, Harley would learn to get on a a trailer so if a moment of nostalgia came over me, we could return to some old haunts. But with all the logging, quarrying, and building going on, it's only a matter of time before land not protected by conservation groups will be swallowed up for development. Only islands of green space will remain, leaving a lot of road riding to reach those idyllic spots. So I need to enjoy them while I can and accept that I can't change the inevitable.

Saturday was another "all work, no play" day. I tried to finish plastering the "rose room" wall, but discovered I will need to redo a few places. Ugh! John nearly finished purging the garage and getting all his tools organized enough so we will be able to squish on vehicle in there during snow storms.  And another boat arrived on our doorstep for repair--organized in the nick of time!

Once all the plaster dries, I can move on towards painting. I will be so glad when this room is done. Then I can move on to finishing up the cupboards in the kitchen. Will it never end?

Sunday dawned chilly with a downright cold breeze blowing. The horses were stabled overnight due to the cold rainy weather. This left them raring to go after breakfast! I anticipated a rowdy ride when Harley barely let me get on before he was off at a trot. He led the way up the road, spooking at every little squirrel, chipmunk, bird, stump, and boulder in sight. John suggested a short ride due to sore muscles, but our little jaunt turned into a three hour plus trek.

We retraced our route out to the Jepson homestead where we encountered three riders from North Point. This had Harley's head as high as a giraffe's as he peered down the trail at the oncoming horses. We exchanged exclamations over the perfect weather and continued on our way. Once we reached the old pasture, Harley decided to have a little snack.

Rolex ate some, but she's always a busy girl and wanted to get going!

She was in rare form on Sunday--full of the dickens and spooking at silly things. I think she felt good and was displaying her humor. She stopped at random stumps, rocks, and other little things along the way, but with her good nature, John just laughed it off.

Where we went wrong was letting Rolex pick her route down a game trail that led in the right direction, but over some tricky terrain and through a swamp. We finally reached a point where I said, "Let me get off and scout this out". We managed to get out on a rocky promontory with a swamp on one side and a steep ravine on the other. John held the horses while I scrambled down one side, looking for a horse-safe route, and then up the other side, hoping it would put us back on the trail. I retraced my steps and told John the plan. Rolex forged out ahead down into the ravine bottom. Then she got a little rattled, and little stuck. I put Harley out front and he attacked that slope like he was heading up Cougar Rock in the Tevis Cup. We made a few switchbacks around rocky slabs and downed trees, but he scrambled up like a hero with me hanging onto his mane. Harley received lots a pats and "Good Boy" huzzahs from me. John was impressed with his finesse too--my grand boy! Here's to off-track Thoroughbreds becoming trail horses!

While bashing through the woods, getting thwacked across the neck, scratched and bloodied by branches, I stopped to take a picture of what I believe is Chicken of the Woods mushroom. Colleen over at Bay State Brumby and her husband Brandon will have to confirm this for me! It sure looked fresh and ready to eat!
But I don't think it would have fared well stuffed in my saddle bag crashing through the puckerbrush.

Here's a little movie of Harley, walking in the woods:

Some of our best riding weather is right now, so I hope to get in a few more great rides like these in between fixing up "This Old House".

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