Trail Report – 2/14/15 – Turner Run 423

February 20, 2015

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My phone (and tracker) cut off at the turn around point.  (straight line did not happen) total ride was about 12 miles in a little over 2 hours.

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Last Saturday I hit up Turner Run. We were expecting snow in the afternoon and the road into Turner Run is not one I would want to drive on if there was any snow so I figured it was a good time to hit that location.

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Tacked up and ready to load up and head on out.

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Ash was particularly excited to get his trail ride on!

I parked at the top, and trotted on in the fire road, past the closed gate.  I checked out one of the turns to the left, and a few side trails, but only briefly.  The one on the left, which is marked on the map as a fire road shows it winding much further than it actually goes.  the road ends and there is an unkempt trail that continued on along the path marked on the map.  I saw some horse poo, but it was a bit of a pain to ride since it was so over grown, so I quickly turned around.

I really wanted to check out the side fire road that I had turned around at the last time I was up there.  This side fire road is marked as being very short on the map, although it is quite a bit longer in reality.  It starts with a closed gate and it provids some amazing views.  There was a log freshly down across the road that required Simon to do a little climbing, but otherwise it was a well kept fire road.  It ends in a tall yellow grass field, and a trail continues, turning up the mountain face.  Again I saw pony poo along this trail.

I checked my tracker at this point, which read 6.27, and then my phone promptly turned off.  AHH, this phone shutting off is getting old.  I will be investing in an upgrade soon.  Here I was in the middle of no where, with no person likely to be in this area for a while, days in the least, and my phone shuts off.  Now that I have become accustomed to having a phone on me when I ride alone I have begun to look at it like a safety blanket.

I called the day at that point and headed back the way I had come.  There were some light flurries and I enjoyed the views.  I also managed to drop and break my point and shoot camera, which I take on these rides.  I had stuffed it into my hoodie pouch after snapping off a pic of the amazing view and then proceeded at a solid canter when it flipped on out and crashed to the ground.  My fault.  I never put my camera in my hoodie pocket for just this reason, and I even have a little camera saddle bag attached to Simon’s breast plate just for its storage.  I climbed off to collect the pieces and took the opportunity to water the dogs.

I did manage to get a few good photos on the ride before my phone and camera died.

The whole ride ended at about the 12 mile mark and took a little over two hours.  this ride felt considerably easier than the one the previous week at Marshall Run.  I am sure part of it was the significant difference in the temperature.  Last week it was around 50 degrees and this week it was around the 30 degree mark.  This week was also almost all fire roads and Simon and I could make really good time.  There were also no big climbs or descents.  Last week there was a good portion of ice roads to slow us down and winding hilly trails.

We did get that snow during the week, and excessively low temperatures to prevent it from melting.  And we are expecting anther storm on Saturday, so it looks like there will be no trail riding this coming weekend.  I guess training for the spring LD Endurance ride, Fox Catcher in Maryland will have to wait a week.

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giant bird tracks.  I should have laid something down for size perspective.

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Simon at the end of the ride.  Ready to head back home.

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Conditioning Ride #2 – 3/27/14

March 29, 2014

On Thursday Beth and I headed back to Browns gap for our second conditioning ride of the year.

I took note that Poe is already getting in better condition. He trotted strongly and kept an upbeat pace for the entire two hour ride.

The most spectacular part, Poe seemed to actually enjoy himself! He even trotted along with his ears forward for portions of the ride. Most importantly, he did not try to throw me off, kick Simon or pull any if his “stunts”. He was happy to move out ahead of Simon, stay along side him, or fall behind him at any point. He was a happy pony.

Poe is an easily bored pony. And I think trail riding does not hold his attention. The last few rides we had were games rides, so maybe he had enough stimulation accumulated that a chill trot in the woods for this ride was tolerable. Or maybe he has “lost” the battle and has accepted that he is going to do these rides, so he has chosen to enjoy them. It’s probably a combination of both!

I am going to try and get in two conditioning rides next week, and I hope he continues to enjoy them.

We are one month out from the first big competition of the games season.

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Sunday Riding

March 12, 2014

On Sunday Carol Ann and I rode the same loop at Bear Trap that we rode two weeks ago.

Carol Ann rode her pony Puck. He started out nervous but quickly relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

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Snow Pads?

December 13, 2013

Over the past week we have had a few light snow storms, mixed with some ice.  Although we did not end up with a large accumulation, it has stayed cold, and the stupid white stuff is not melting.  Well, more precisely, It is not melting in the horse field, trails and areas I ride. The yard is fine!  AHHH.  Both of my ponies have shoes on, and both are walking on snowballs.  Which means I have not been riding. And that is driving me crazy.

Yesterday I gave in, and I hopped on Simon and rode him around the field, which involved him uncomfortably slipping and sliding.  He is very protective of himself and is extremely careful in less than perfect footing.   Not the most exciting ride to say the least.

Trail riding, that’s what I like to do on the weekends in the winter.  Spend my day, ambling through the woods, catching some beautiful views, spending time with my pony and my dog outdoors.  ahhh, I can feel the piece of mind already. Luckily I live in an area that has ample trails.  Unfortunately, the trails are all in the mountains, in the woods, and tend to be snow-covered even when the horse field is not.

Will we have a particularly snowy winter?  Shoot, it’s not even winter yet.  Will January and February be white?  Should I get snow pads put on when the ferrier comes out?

I have not tried snow pads before. I am aware that there are two main types of snow pads.  There are the traditional full coverage ones.  They pop the snow out, keeping them free of snowballs, but they cover the entire bottom of the hoof, preventing access to the sole. There are also snow rim pads, which I know less about.  I lightly read they are better for “snow and melt” environments where conditions change quickly.  I am sure Google will help me become more informed.  The ferrier is another great source of information on shoeing.  Duh. So I’ll also ask him.

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Trail Obstacle Training

May 13, 2013

Yesterday I took Simon and went to the Saddle Doctor in Timberville, Virginia and took part in a trail fun day.  It was a really fun day!

There were a five of us and Jenny, our instructor who demonstrated on her horse and her husband, Paul, who helped on the ground.  In general there was a lot of backing up, side passing, and general “bomb proofing” involved in most of the obstacles.  There was also a degree of coordination, planning and problem solving to complete them.  The biggest factor was having communication and trust between horse and rider.  Both parties had to think and work together to complete the tasks.

We went through a ton of obstacles.  We started out trotting through ground poles.  One set was pretty basic and the other set was set up with raised ends.  Jenny explained that sometimes they are different distances apart, and might be set up unevenly or zig-zaggy and you loose points if your horse hits a pole with his hooves.

There was another obstacle that involved two barrels set up about 3 or so yards apart.  There was a 2×4 stretched across the barrels, with an end on each barrel.  One end of the board had a rope handle on it.  The rider picks up the board by the handle and walks a circle around the two barrels, holding the rope, and turning the board, so that the other end stays on top of the barrel and it pivots around the circle with the rider returning the end being carried back on the top of the empty barrel, in its original position.

Simon and I kicked butt at this one.

Another obstacle involved side passing over a rail on the ground and reaching into a mail box, removing the mail, showing it, putting it back in the mail box and side passing back over the rail.

In another obstacle poles were laid out in a giant W.  The goal is to side pass through the W with two legs on either side.  There was a fun obstacle in the woods that involved picking a flag out of a bucket on a barrel, side passing to another barrel with a bucket on it and deposit the flag.  The catch was that the side pass was done going up hill.  This was trickier than you would expect.

The side passing continued on the ground.  I dismounted and asked simon to side pass in both directions.  He did surprisingly well on the ground, and also well when I was mounted.  We have some work to do, but I was pretty pleased him.

Simon backs well, but I found he tends to angle to his right.  Something we need to work on.  There was also a lot of backing, including through poles in the shape of an L.  In another obstacle we backed up a small hill, between two cones, around another cone and then back down hill.  It went pretty well for our first try.

Some of the ones that were particularly easy for Simon involved bending through cones, picking up a raincoat and putting it on, putting a spooky decorated hula hoop around his neck while mounted and stepping over logs and pausing with legs on both sides.

We rode over a tarp in the woods, through shower curtains in trees, pushed through and under pool noodles, and rode past wirly gigs.  Simon took it all in stride.  We also rode over the bridge and teeter totter, rocking it back and forth, like we did at the Blue Ridge Games intro to games day we did a month ago.

We also attempted ground tying, which went better than expected (although we were in the ring for that part, so there was no grass to distract him) and we mounted (always make sure a judge sees you check your girth) and dismounted from the offside.  This was much harder than it should be.  Jenny and Paul told us about a lot of different possible obstacles, and challenges we could face at a competition. the possibilities are endless!

One of my favorite obstacles was pretty simple.  There were two jump standards set up, with a rope tied to each end making a “gate”.  You had to, using only the one hand and not switching the rope over to the other, open the gate, ride through, and then close it behind you.  It involved a little backing and side passing.  It was not particularly hard, but it did involve a little more planning and coordination than you would expect.

Simon had two nemesis.  The first was a big tractor tire on the ground.  He walked right through it with no qualms, but that was not the real obstacle.  The goal is to put either the two front legs or the two back legs into the tire, and then side step around it in a circle, keeping the two legs in and the other two legs outs.  Its sort of a combination of a side pass and a turn on the forehand or haunches.  We could get about a quarter of the way around.

Paul and Jenny were very kind and send me home with a tractor tire so I can work on that one at home.

The other big trial for Simon was the big blue fish.  It was a simple blow up pool toy from the Dollar Store with bailing twine tied to it.  The goal is to drag it behind you, and ride off and around a barrel and back.  You might also be asked to back up, pulling it with you, or drag it into your horse and pick it up.

Simon was very interested in the fish.  He bit and wuffled it quiet a bit, and eagerly followed after it when Paul drug it.  So much so that Simon followed it without prompting from me.  He would let me drag it a little ways, but would start to side pass to keep his eye on it, and eventually scoot away from it until I let go.  I am going to pick myself up a fish or some type of scary blow up critter and work on this one at home.

It was really interesting how much Simon enjoyed himself.  He was not working all that hard physically, but being a fidgety pony, he was happy to use his brain.  He licked his lips and chewed a lot, particularly at the fish.

The whole day was really fun.  The Saddle Doctor is a really happy place to be, and Jenny and Paul are great.  The other rides made me feel right at home as well, and it was just an amazing day that left me smiling ear to ear.  Paul found an arrow head in the ring while we were riding, and Jenny fitted Simon to harness so I could see what size he needs and how it should fit him (driving Simon is another future activity).  It was just a great day with great people.  And an introduction to a really neat horse sport I am excited to take part in.

I excited to incorporate some of this into my basic training with Simon.  I can see how it will improve our communication and help in our everyday riding.  Yea!  And I am also excited to try one of the competitions.  the only one left this year that does not correspond with a Mid-Atlantic Games Series competition, is one in June.  The two in the Crystal Crown Series in the fall take place during the last two MAs.  boo.  One thing I did notice is that the Judged Pleasure Rides are mostly on Sundays!  This is fantastic for me since I work on Saturdays.  wooo whoooo!

Thank you everyone at the Saddle Doctor for a fantastic day!
back through the L

back through the L

 

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