Trail Report: Elizabeth’s Furnace – Short Loop, Strasburg, VA

July 31, 2018

Sunday I went out with my local trail club, the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horseman’s Association (woe that’s a mouthful) STHA, for a sweet four hour ride.  I really enjoy getting out with the club but this is sadly the first time I have made a ride this year!

Excitingly this was a brand new location for me, over in the Strasburg area.  I have never driven through this area non the less been here to ride, so it was quite exciting.  It was easy to get to, not far off I81.  I goggle mapped to Elizabeth Furnace Camp Ground, and then drove just past it to the next parking area on the right hand side.

The parking area has a loop drive and plenty of parking.  We had quite a few rigs and all fit just fine with plenty of room to spare.  I did note that the parking lot was in terrible shape and untended.  I thought I was parked beyond the actual parking area and when I was messing around getting ready I noticed parking blocks lost in the depths of overgrowth, dangerously hidden from view as I nearly tripped over them on multiple occasions (glad my truck and trailer didn’t “trip” over them).  I should have gotten a photo of the parking area, but as per my usual when I am riding with other people, I really sucked at getting photos.

 

We left the parking area via a trail situated at the back of the parking area.  If you were facing the parking area from the road the trail would be in the top left hand corner.  This wrapped up through some woods and popped out on a fire road.  I am not going to mince words at this point, and am going to be very to the point, I followed along and had a lovely ride but I paid zero attention to our trail.  We were on and off of fire roads and trails and I saw some blue and orange (maybe) blazes and several signs telling us which way what trails were but I have no idea which trails we rode on.  There were plenty of them though, and lots of options, and plenty of directions to go in.  I did notice that one we were on and left crossed back over to another one we were on later.  Two of our group broke off not too far into the ride and went a different way and met back up at the end.  And when we got back someone else was parked with us and popped back out of the woods just behind us who was also out for a ride.  Point being, I could not retrace this exact loop very easily, but there are a bunch of trails out there and with a map it would be an awesome place to spend some days exploring.

 

There were a couple creek crossings and lots of lovely scenery.  It was a really pretty ride.  There was a large log down at one point and Sharon, Mark and a few others quickly cut us a path around it.

In the photo above, that Mule is named Daisy.  Very cute.

At one point the trail led through an old unused camp grounds.  It was originally a workers camp, which I am already fuzzy on the details that were so kindly told to me.  Please excuse anything inaccurate I relay, but I believe it was built in the depression era, by the ECW/CCC Roosevelt initiative to get labor forces working again, as housing for the workers.  It was later used by the 4H, and I am told that Ellie can tell me all about that era of its use.  Which I would love to know more about.

You can see several of the cabins still standing.  It is so sad that it is all gone to disuse.  I am sure it was a really neat little camp at one time.

and even a pool!

There is also a pavilion still there with the neatest roof inner structure.

Anyway, these type of over grown structures always make me think of all the – end of the world – books and movies.  This area totally had that feel and would make for a good set for the Walking Dead or some such type of film.

We passed through this on the way out and the way back in, and over two little bridges.  After a while we stopped for a nice little lunch break.

It was a lovely ride and a really good time.  It clocked in at 13 miles on the nose and my tracker trimmed out the stopped time so we were moving for a total of 3 1/2 hours.

Simon was a little full of himself, which is quite out of character for him.  I am attributing it to him being a only-pony these past two weeks and him being particularly excited to be with other horses. Normally this doesn’t excite him all that much but on this ride he was all full of it.  Keeping up with all those gaited ponies he rolled into his little jog for some of the ride home.  Not fast enough to do a posting trot and not slow enough to walk.  For a non gaited pony he is pretty smooth, but he is not gaited.  Note, I had on a really good bra.

I am hoping to make more club rides this fall.  I really do enjoy them.  Hopefully my games schedule will start to line up a little better with the STRHA schedule!

Trail Report: Woodstock Equestrian Park, Beallsville, MD

July 29, 2018

Saturday Val hosted a birthday bash competition in celebration of my 40th, and Sunday she met me back at the facility for a morning hack out.

We both rocked our Birthday Bash commemorative t-shirts she had made for everyone (FYI these are so comfortable).

This park has a ton of trails, and we hardly touched them.  we mostly rode around the edges of fields.  Lots of soybeans growing.  We saw a ton of other riders out in small groups too.  This is a very popular park.  If I lived near a park like this I would certainly frequent it too.

The Woodstock Equestrian Park is in Beallsville, Maryland on Darnestown Road in Montgomery County making it a county park.  It has a beginner-novice cross country course set up on six acres, a large 230×350 all weather arena, a gravel parking lot (actually two different ones) and 16 miles of trails through fields and woods and over bridges.  This is all set up on 872 acres.  People can use the park free of charge, and can also opt to rent out parts of it for exclusive use, like Val rented the ring for our use on Saturday.

The photo below cracks me up.  We tried to get both of us and both ponies in the same shot.  Our three faces make me laugh.

Val and I had a nice leisurely ride.  We discussed the need for more one day games events with a competition setting.  Lots of deep games talk.

It was a nice ride.

Trail Report: North River Gorge 538

May 12, 2018

Today I teamed up with some mounted games friends, Carol Ann and Natalie and we headed south into Augusta County. I admittedly have not been into this area since I moved to northern Rockingham about four years ago. It used to be my regular trail riding grounds, Bear Trap was my hands down favorite loop ever.

Note to self – go ride Bear Trap soon!

I have not ridden the Gorge in probably ten years. It is one of the most popular rides in the area. Particularly on hot days because the usual loop has eleven or twelve creek crossings. It’s about a 12 mile loop, with some super nice, move along footing down the bottom loop, a nice big climb on a closed fire road, and then some rocky navigation through the mountains with some nice views. The first half of the ride makes it easy to get some good moving pace and speed, and the second half is slower.

It does go through a more populated area than I usually hit up. There are people fishing and camping. We saw two guys hiking out with quite a few trout today. These are stocked waters so good fishing and eating. And we saw quite a few campers.

Parking: There is a pull over on the side of the road, long enough for three long rigs, probably more, just before the entrance we used. We started in from the road, not at the camp grounds, which is also a starting point with a pull over spot.

There is a small pull off the road camp space where we parked right next to the entrance. This is not to be confused with the actual camp grounds. We entered at 538 North River Gorge, closed gate, go over a creek crossing almost immediately.

There are a couple ways to do this ride, the loops can be done in the opposite order, or started from different points, including approached from the other side of the mountain.

I forgot to start the tracker for about .2 so adding that to our total. You can see the blue dot is our supposed start vs the red where we actually started/stopped. This also added about 5 minutes. We were moving out in the start.

This photo is of the entrance. I am sitting on Simon and he is standing on the road for it. So nice smooth, clear, obvious entrance in. You can see the closed gate in the background, which is marked on the map. There is a creek just beyond it.

The first one is shallow but the second one was moving quite quickly and pushed Daisy a bit. Daisy had to swim at that one and a few others. This was also Daisy’s first ride out since her knee surgery back in January. It was probably not the best ride for her to go out on but I could not leave her home again. It’s been breaking my heart to leave her all winter.

Daisy has always gone with me and has maintained an extreme level of fitness due to all her riding with me. She was actually deemed by the vet last fall as being too active when I took her in for a check up worried about her being off her food a little. But four months off and Daisy is not conditioned. Poor girl.

Carol Ann and Natalie were so kind and understanding. We had to wait for her to catch up a few times and let her have a moments rest a few times. The swimming and racing up hill really kicked her butt.

The creeks were refreshing. Back and forth over them. Trot and canter in between. A nice quick first half of the ride.

We eventually popped out by the North River Camp Ground, made a left behind it and then turned left onto the fire road, closed gate, 425 Hankey Mountain.

This is a rather long winding fire road up the mountain. I don’t remember it being so long. It was a nice trot canter up. After a point we pulled up to wait for Daisy. It’s a good move out point so I decided to keep it slower for her and just met Carol Ann and Natalie at the top. Simon was happy to walk and trot on up with Daisy but hilariously whinnied to his horse friends a few times. Silly boy.

So left we go onto 425A Overlook Mountain.

And then left at 716. There are several trails that branch off as you can see on the map.

Around here is where the trail starts to get a bit rockier and narrower and slower.

It’s more of a slower ride at this point. Lots of nice views. The trail mostly wraps along the top and side of the mountain. I attempted to video some of the rockier parts but they never really show it all that well. Nor can the views really be captured all that well either.

Eventually the trail starts to wrap back down. Some more rocks. At some points it makes me feel like someone did a terrible job of trying to put in over sized cobblestones.

Finally at the bottom, the trail literally drops out, onto a flat trail. Make a left.

Back on a nice wide flat trail, well maintained and smooth, zip a little ways till the first right hand turn over the creek and then along to the final crossing and back to parking.

It was a really fun ride. Good company and an excellent pony.

Simon was on a pretty good diet late this winter and lost about 4 girth holes which seems to have made a huge difference in his energy level. He was a ball of energy for the first couple miles and bucked along for the first mile or so. He still had plenty of pep at the end.

A quick video of some of the ride.

STRHA JPR 2018

May 5, 2018

Today was the local Judged Pleasure Ride, part of the Crystal Crown Series, hosted by my local trail club, the Shenandoah Trail Riders and Horsemans Association. This is my favorite ride for a couple reasons. It’s the closest, it supports my trail club, it’s a nice length, and I also really enjoy the laid back vibe and easy fun feel of the ride.

I have met Val and Zoe here before and we had a blast, and some years this ride has conflicted with Mid-Atlantic #1, which takes precedence. Last year I came on my own and poor Simon was a mess all alone. And honestly, it’s not so much fun with no companions. But I was befriended by Andrea and Lacy who were the pair ahead of me on the course. They offered me to join them and I felt like we hit it off. See last year’s blog post for details on that. Click here for it

This year I was going to be headed out on my own again so I reached out and Andrea was also headed out on her own and happy to join forces. Woo! Simon and I met up with her and her big boy Quinn and we had an awesome time today.

Obstacle 1: The Chainsaw Massacre. Stand on a plywood platform and be approached by a chainsaw. When you horse moves the chainsaw is stopped. The closer the chainsaw gets the higher you score.

I was happy with Simon although he gave in quick, he was sensible. This was our lowest score, 4.

Quinn was like a rock! He stood there without a care. I am pretty sure he rocked a solid 10 here.

Although this was my lowest scoring obstacle it was also one of my favorites. It was unexpected and different. I have not seen an obstacle anything like this one before. Pretty neat.

Video:

Obstacle 2: Off Side Mount. Have your horse step their front legs over the log so they are straddling it. Dismount, leave your reins, walk around behind your horse to the off side, and remount.

This went well. Simon did great. I was a little sloppy but I still managed to remount from the offside way better than I expected. Score: 10

Quinn was a goof here. He walked off when Andrea went around him, like “haha”. So she reattempted and he did this silly jump to heave his front end over. It is so cute. She mentioned he ground ties and in retrospect she should have dropped his reins on the ground.

I liked this Obstacle a lot too. Simple but also different.

Video:

Obstacle 3: The Gate. The typical rope gate obstacle. Pick up the rope by the knot (not the loop), only use one hand, don’t put it over or under the neck of your horse or let it touch the ground, go through the gate and close it.

Andrea killed this one. I am pretty sure she got a 10. Quinn was so chill.

Simon impressed me here. Last week he was moving so fast on this one and just backed off of it and I had to drop the rope before closing it. I had a moment of confusion at the start deciding which hand to use and switched from left to right at the last second, but all went well except for me letting the rope touch the ground. I believe a judge made the comment that being on a short pony is an advantage on some obstacles but on this one it put my rope closer to the ground. Ha-ha yep. I am super pleased with how this went. Score: 9

This is a classic obstacle and I have no excuse for not having worked on it at home. Note to self – work on this at home.

Video:

Obstacle 4: Back up. Back up the hill through the zigzag pole pattern and through the red markers.

We did super well at this. I started off backing up next to the course then started over on the actual course and it went super super well. Like surprisingly well. If we had only started off on course! Go Simon. Score: 8

Quinn was so big for that course. I doubt Andrea could see the poles around his belly. Be tried though and got most of it. I really think there was just a little visual issue because it was really not bad.

Video:

Obstacle 5: Soccer. Pick up the broom, use it to push the big ball across the yard and out the end in 60seconds. Re approach if you pass it.

I expected this to go pretty poorly with Simon’s weird aversion to big balls but it went surprisingly well. He was a bit quick, and we had to re approach once, but we finished in 30 something seconds. He was apprehensive of the ball. And it was heavier to push than it appeared. Score: 10

Quinn was doing ok but Andrea accidentally bopped him in the head with the broom and then he was audibly upset with the broom, snorting and all. But he was actually pretty good for being unhappy. He did bust out the side of the course, but all in all was reasonably “freaked out”. He did not care about the ball. And Andrea mentioned he eats brooms normally so I assume he was just that offended at being accidentally bopped by it. Reasonable. Andrea did get the ball half way across which was a decent feat.

This was another cool obstacle. I really liked it.

Video:

Obstacle 6: sidepass mailbox. Step over the rail on the left hand side by the flag, side pass along the rail to the right, open the mailbox, remove the box and hold it over your head, shake it, return it to the mailbox and close it. Side pass back to the left along the rail.

This was our second worse obstacle. Not a bad obstacle set up either. And Simon is a good lateral mover. He was rather concerned about that flag, which is just silly, and too busy looking at it to focus on what I was asking. So he backed off the rail instead of side passed. Score: 5.

Quinn is not a lateral mover and you have to watch him on the video it’s so cute. Andrea is trying to move him over and he just stands there like a rock. He also stands like a rock for the mailbox. Such a good boy.

This was a good obstacle but eh. I don’t have a good reason to not love it accept we didn’t do well at it. And it was a pretty typical one so we should have done well. We have side passed to and from mailboxes before. Maybe that’s why it was meh. Been there done that, but did it better before. I guess they can’t all be winners.

Video:

Obstacle 7: The Tire. Walk through the tire. The tire was filled with bottles.

Quinn yet again killed this one. He just marched on through like a champ. Done and done. I am sure he got a solid 10.

Simon was a bit apprehensive but listened. He was not nearly as smooth as Quinn. Score: 8.

You know, this one was cool. There are only so many things you can do with a tractor tire and this was cool. Simple and cool.

Video:

Obstacle 8: The Tunnel. Ride through the tunnel.

Quinn walked on through. Simple and perfect. Beasted.

Simon also crushed this one.

I believe we both got a 10.

Probably too easy but I liked it. I think this would be a good #1 obstacle to get them warmed up.

Video:

Obstacle 9: Step Up. Ride up the steps.

Quinn killed this one too. It’s a crap video but I am sure he walked off with a 10.

Simon ducked a bit on the second step but nothing too bad. Score: 9.

This is a cool built in obstacle and this is the only place I have seen one. We have gone down it once before too.

Video:

Obstacle 10: The Pond. Get into the pond, pull in the whale. Keep your horse in the water until the whale hits the water.

Quinn did so well at this one. He is such a solid boy. He really did a great job at this one.

Simon did so much better than I expected. He really wanted to run but he held it together until just when that whale hit the water. This was such an improvement for him and any type of dragging. I am super proud of him. Score: 8

A challenge. I like this obstacle. They always have something here and it’s always a challenge. But it’s always a good one.

Video:

I had so much fun with Andrea and Quinn. We chatted the whole time and it was so much fun. I felt completely at ease and myself and I think she did too. And Simon loves Quinn. He was constantly nose bumping him and giving him sniffs. Quinn was such a calming body for Simon to be with and a had a similar pace too. Two cute ponies.

I hope to ride with Andrea and Quinn again. 😊

Battlefield Equestrian Society JPR 04/29/18

May 1, 2018

This past Sunday I drove to Manassas Battlefield and joined my usual JPR companion Val for the Battlefield Equestrian Society Judged Pleasure Ride. Our friend Connie also joined us for her first JPR on her big old appy Bubba. Val rode Babyface for his first JPR. And I was on my trusty Simon.

It was very obvious that Simon had had a full two weeks off of work since Mid-Atlantic #1 and he was one hot little pony, busting with energy. I normally do not let my ponies sit for two weeks but I really needed to let my groin/thigh rest up and recover from the pull it sustained at MA1. So this was my first ride since then. It held up well. It was sore and a little tight about half way into the first loop but I kept standing in my stirrups to stretch it and that really did seem to help. Plus we were on mostly flat ground and I did not need to engage it nearly as much with Simon as I do on Poe. So Success.

Obstacle 1: the goal here was to get your horses lined up with his shoulders at the cones and butt facing the box. Then back up so his shoulders lined up with the opening of the box. Simon was just a wild man here and zooming all over the place. Oh my. Val and Babyface did super well. This pretty much set the pace for BF for the rest of the ride and he continued to handle the obstacles quiet well.

The video of all three of our attempts, and for me it was a real “attempt” scoring my worst, 1 pt! Ahhhh!

Val: 9

Krista: 1

Connie: 1

Obstacle 2: this one was perfect for both Val and I. Pick up the cup of water, walk down and around the cone and return the cup to the ladder. Don’t spill, only walk, you don’t need to stop to pick it up or put it down. The cup was full to the top. Friend Robin was one of the course resetters for this one.

Connie had a bit of issue returning her cup and had to drop it but not bad until that point. This one was a real easy obstacle for our games ponies.

And the video of the three of us crushing this obstacle.

Doesn’t it look like someone sped up Simon’s video 1 1/2xs? I swear he was moving with some purpose.

Val: 10

Krista: 10

Connie: 1

Obstacle 3: the gate obstacle. Ride up, lift the rope, go through, close the gate. Only use one hand. Do not have the rope go over or under your horse’s neck or rump or let it touch the ground.

Val killed this one too. Well don BF. Showing that smart head he wears at the end of his long neck. Bubba just thought it was stupid to mess with the rope when there was a perfectly good opening right next to it.

We did not get video of my attempt at this one, which I wouldn’t have minded watching. We started off great. Open, through, pivot, prep to close and Simon backed up. I thought we were done there but then he moved forward again. And then backed away again. I had to drop it. But I did feel like it went better than I expected. This is one I should set up at home and work on. It’s almost like the dragging things with him. He gets weird about the rope. And I felt like he was in 2x speed up motion. The judge even commented. He really needed to run off some of that energy.

Val and Connie’s attempt video.

Val: 7

Krista: 6

Connie: 2

Obstacle 4: this one was easy. Easy easy. I think we all crushed it and it was the first one I think I scored better than Val on! And surprisingly Simon was sort of chill for this one. He was leaping and bouncing for part of the ride there too. He really needed to run!!!!

Walk over the rail (laying on the ground), straddling it, stand still and count to 5, back off. Do not touch it.

So we touched it lightly but we stood nicely and didn’t roll it or anything. BF did way better than expected since he tends to forget where his legs are still. Bubba sort of side passed off of it in a round about not proper way.

Val: 6

Krista: 8

Connie: 1

Obstacle 5: this was a neat one. Ride up to the blow up purple alien rolled up in a hammock and stop and stand. And then pick a piece of candy out of the bowl and ride away.

Val crushed this one. Simon was not bad. He attempted to stick his nose in the bowl and was moving in fast motion again. Really. Bubba was shy of the lawn chair that was for the judge and not part of the obstacle at all.

Our videos.

Val: 10

Krista: 9

Connie: 2

Obstacle 6: no hands. This was neat and actually went way better than we all expected. The judge told us that there had only been one successful person and two that came close. There were 5 cones you needed to weave through and stop flush with the last one, shoulders lined up. The catch, no hands! Connie managed one cone and to stop, I think Val got two and me, I got three before Simon broke into a trot! Woo! Score! I liked this one more than I expected to.

Val: 2

Krista: 3

Connie: 3

Obstacle 7: trot the pattern, go in the shoot, over the rails to the left, and out the shoot. Super super tight. Don’t touch any rails and maintain a trot. I’ll say I felt like I maintained a trot through it. But, yeah. It was so tight. BF did super well on this one. His legs usually are all over the place but he really managed it. Well done.

Val: 6

Krista: 3

Connie: 3

Obstacle 8: the tunnel was one of my favorites and we all did well at that one. Ride along a short path and then up through a tarp tunnel. Maintain a walk. Smooth sailing.

Val: 10

Krista: 10

Connie: 9

Obstacle 9: dismounted pick up the branch, drag it around the cone and return it to its exact spot. The catch here is the time was super short. I really do wish we had me on video for this one because I really hustled. And I think I got back right as she was saying “time”. So I wish I could verify how close I was. Like was I still standing straight up with the branch or what? Otherwise pretty simple and actually the first time I have done one like this. It just wasn’t super clear how fast it needed to be done from the start.

Val: 5

Krista: 7

Connie: 6

Obstacle 10: remount. 8 max points from the near side 10 from the off side. Use mounting block, tail gate or from the ground. Val and Connie both went offside. I do not have the coordination for all that. Connie and Bubba served us on this one. Nice.

Sorry no video of this one.

Val: 8

Krista: 7

Connie: 9

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