Saturday, March 15, 2008

What a blissful spring day!

Finally, I had one of those days that makes it all worthwhile. James and I rode all day!

We started with Champ and Handyman, so I could take Cersei. I won't take a chance on her getting squished, so I hop off and leash her and walk her across every road we cross. Champ is always good (well, as good as Champ ever is) about letting me get off and back on, so he's my Cersei-buddy. We've gotten a lot of rain lately and most of the trails are underwater, so we had to take an unusual route to get to the river. As it turned out, it was the only route.

We usually go up OK Robertson to the football field, then through the soybean field and north along Thomas to that green thing (it's a seasonal lake), then under the highway and due east on that dirt road (which has an anhydrous ammonia pipeline under it, eek), then north on the pipeline road to the river. Well, the green lake is flooded and the pipeline road is under water, so that was right out. We went across the soybean field, walked the beasties across Thomas, rode up Millington, led everybody through a very small gap in a fence, and we were finally on the "trail."

There's a little stream with a bridge over it. The bank is usually about 6' high - but the stream was brim-full. Wow. Then as we rode up the field, the trail got soggier and soggier til the horses were knee-deep. We finally made it to the river - the banks there are usually 15-20' above the water, and the river was full to the brim too. We stopped and just stared at it for a while, watching the huge logs ripping downstream and the whirlpools at the banks.

The trail in the forest wasn't too bad, and the horses were pretty cool about going under the train bridge - even though there was a train on it. Then we headed back down the pipeline road to go home our usual way, but the water just got deeper and deeper. Cersei was swimming, poor girl, and the horses were up to their chests. We stopped and watched catfish (!) swimming on the road(!!!) and decided there was just no way to get under the bridge. The horses could swim, and they were willing to swim because they knew they were headed home, but there's too many branches and pieces of rebar and junk that none of us would be able to see.

So we turned around and went halfway back, then tried to cut under the RR tracks at a different point that would've saved about 2 miles. No dice - I tried to ride alongside where the trail usually is, but we got to a point where the bottom dropped off deeper than Champ could feel and he refused to step off the edge. I asked him and tried to coax him, because I knew it was only a few feet of really deep water, but he was NOT having it and I wasn't going to force him to do something that dangerous. So back north to the river, back under the train tracks, then south along the tracks. There's another little bridge we had to cross, and this one was mostly underwater. We could see it, and the horses were blase about all this stupid water, so it wasn't a problem.

Champ gaited or walked almost the whole way. He actually picked his feet up and stepped pretty where it wasn't muddy (on the blacktop and gravel parts), all on his own. I let him canter back across the bean field on the way home, but that wasn't a great idea. Of course he wanted to RUN LIKE THE WIND because he's really a racehorse (:rolleyes:), and I was trying to keep him pulled back to a canter, keep from dropping the lead rope / dog leash draped across my lap, keep an elbow on my pistol so it didn't fall out of the holster and kill us all, check to make sure my wallet wasn't going to escape my back pocket, and watch out for the puppy. Nothing terrible happened, but it wasn't as blissful as our runs usually are!

When we got back, I put Cersei in the truck to nap and got Quinn. She was a wild monster when I first got on, as usual, but then she... settled down. She alternated walking and gaiting, she steered, she stopped. She listened to me. It was very weird, even though it's what I've been waiting for for months. James was riding Rascal, and we did a much easier ride. I didn't really trust Quinn to cross the highway without freaking out and getting us smeared by a semi, so we just did three laps in the soybean field, then a big circle around the football arena, then down the median on Watkins to the next barn down the street. She kept listening. She kept doing what I asked. It was amazing!

When we got back, I thought I'd really push my luck and try to trim her. Yep, got her trimmed. Well, kind of - she didn't need anything except some excess toe knocked off. I got about 1/4 or 1/2" taken off her front toes and called her done.

The paddock was a minefield of mud, so I put everybody up tonight. I brushed the mud off of everybody and really went to town on Champ and Silky getting some of the loose hair off. Tomorrow I'll ride Quinn again and maybe get on the Appy for a while.

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