Spring has graced us with deliciously warm weather -- so unusual at this time of the year. But with 5 ponies now being worked under saddle, I am thrilled for the nice days, even though I feel like I'm in the saddle 24 hours a day! This week has raced by so fast I'll do a quick recap of the last four riding days.
Tuesday - 3/11 - I decided to begin my day by walking Drummer down to watch the Piedmont Hounds go off. He was very good, standing quietly while looking wide-eyed at the activity while I talked to neighbors and friends who were there either to enjoy the final weekday hunt of the season riding to the hounds, or watching them from the sidelines. When the hounds finally moved off, Drummer and I walked the 1 mile home, stopping only at one point to watch a beautiful red fox lazily trotting across a field, safe from all concern as it was on the opposite side of the territory from the hounds who were now easily another mile away. The fox popped into a local den, and Drummer and I continued our ride home, enjoying the unusual springtime warmth and sunshine. He is still unshod but we spent our whole time walking on the grass or in the woods.
Not so for working Libby -- she wasn't shod as yet, either, but I did want to take her out on part of the gravel road so I opted to throw a set of easyboots on her front feet. Now, Libby has this habit of losing one .. or more.. of her easy boots every time out, so I decided I would stick strictly to the road and not traverse the mucky, oversaturated fields. So... off we go, heading down the road at a merry clip, me trying very, very hard not to listen to the siren song of the spacious grassy fields calling me to come hither and trot across the springy soft ground. I was doing very good not listening to the seductive song as Libby trotted down Willisville Road and back... until we got to Foxlease Farm's back lane at the edge of Cannon Hill's far fields. Libby and I turned down that old road to the stream... and the next thing I knew I was pointing my mare's darling head towards the truck path that led through the fields.
The siren song had been too irresistible to ignore!
Well, maybe just a short jaunt through the fields, and if I kept checking the easy boots I *should* be fine. Only one part was heavily boggy and impossible to circumvent, so I kept an eagle eye on Libby's feet as she slogged through the deep muck. We exited onto dryer ground with both boots still attached to her feet. I breathed a sign of relief and headed across the final field back to the gravel road. We finished up the last mile, me still checking her boot periodically, and just prior to reaching home we trotted down my neighbor Roy and Ann's gravel drive and then into his field to trot the 1/10 mile perimeter to finish up at our place.
I hopped off the saddle at the front door of my stable and as I patted Libby for a job well done, I glance down at her front feet. My jaw dropped. One foot was still sporting an easy boot; the other foot was bare.
Drat!! Once again, an easy boot was gone. After all my care and watching -- she still managed to throw it off. And I hadn't a clue where, except that it had to be within a mile from home.
"Fine," I thought, totally miffed. I'll look for it when I take Flag out next. But before I went anywhere with him -- he was getting a pair of shoes nailed on! I was not going to risk loosing yet another easy boot because... Flag was worse with losing them than Libby ever dreamed of being!
Out came the farrier equipment, on went the farrier apron, and before the hour was out Flag was sporting a brand new spanking pair of lovely aluminum shoes. By then I didn't feel like looking for the lost easy boot, so Flag and I did a different route, heading through the stunning estate of Foxlease with it's hundreds of acres of hayfields and cornfields, and beautiful private roads throughout. I figured I would look for the boot tomorrow.
Wednesday - 3-12 -- The day dawned windy and a bit chilly, and I decided that I would skip hunting for the day and get some things done at home instead. The wind hung around all day, only subsiding later in the afternoon to allow me to saddled up Flag for another trot workout. Since I wasn't bothered with him losing his shoes in the muck and mud, I did a semi-repeat of the route I took with Libby the other day, with the addition of a loop through Foxlease Farm. The whole way I looked my hardest, but... no easy boot was to be found.
By the time Flag and I got back home, I had given the easy boot up for lost. Not a huge loss -- it had been well worn and was pretty tired looking; however, it still had a lot of miles in it, and I was annoyed at the prospect of having to replace it.
I still had a ton of errands to run to get supplies for my son who was installing a trailer camera in my vehicle, which meant hopping in my car for a trip to the town. At I pulled up at the end of my driveway, I noticed the top of the mailbox post seemed a bit... well, odd. It was dusk and the world was already losing it's color and fading to the dull gray of dusk, so I stared at that post, not quite sure why it looked so weird. Since I was in a rush, I just pulled out and headed up the road, any thoughts regarding that mailbox post fading just as quickly as the last lingering dusky light. By the time I got home at night, I whipped past the mailbox with not even a glance.
It was now Thursday morning, 3-12, and I had made plans with my endurance buddy, Karen Bohn (who is also riding in the VVMM) to meet her at Lake Anna for a day of riding. It's a 2 hour drive from my farm to the Lake and I wanted to get there before noon. As I pulled to the end of the driveway with Itchy in the trailer, looking very fetching on the new monitor mounted on my dashboard, I again noticed there was something strange about the mailbox post. I stopped and stared at the post....and in full sunlight it looked like the post was wearing a jaunty cap. Suddenly I realized that "cap" on the post was... the lost easy boot!!!
I burst out laughing. So Libby *had* lost it close to home -- in Roy and Ann's driveway! Only my witty neighbor, Roy, would have thought of returning it to me in such a humorous fashion.
Happy to have finally recovered the lost easyboot, I headed out on the 2 hour drive down to Lake Anna. The weather forecast for the day was bright and sunny and close to hot -- almost into the 70's. A glorious day. I had noticed the forsythia was already blooming down in middle Virginia.
I arrived at Lake Anna around noon to find Karen and "Kjra" already there, ready and waiting for me. I unloaded Itchy and he and Kjra immediately nickered to one another -- they are good friends and always happy to see each other.
Karen and Kjra led the way on the first 10.5 mile loop, taking Itchy and I on a lovely trot through the woods, up and down over trails that were once byways for the locals that lived here in the 1800's for the gold mining. Back in that century there was no lake -- it was a creek that flowed through the woods that had long been an Indian mining encampment. The endless number of shallow depressions in the ground and the piles of tailings was clear proof that this area was much picked over by the early miners for the glittering gold that could be found near the surface.
But all this occurred far back in the past, and now the only "gold" that could be found was the blooming daffodils already up and announcing spring had come to the trail next to the lake. It was the perfect place to take a break, and stop to smell the flowers.
Then it was back to riding, enjoying the sights of the lake from the trail before we headed inland back to the trailers for lunch. The horses were happy to see the trailers and enjoyed the 1/2 hour "check", happily eating their lunch as Karen and I sat at the picnic tables and enjoyed our own lunch.
Then it was time for the 2nd 10 mile loop. Off we went again, pushing a bit harder and faster this time as the light was starting to move towards later afternoon. It had been lovely warm up until then, but with the fading daylight the breezes now a bit more chilly. Not enough to wear a jacket, but just enough to keep one tied around the waist -- just in case.
Once more the trail ran us happily down to the lake for another photo op -- Karen taking this great shot of Itchy and myself -- and then we boogied on again, doing a lot more cantering to watch the miles past quickly under our feet.
By the time we reached the trailers for the 2nd time with 21 miles logged on our respective GPS the day was powering down. For Karen it was a simple 20 minute ride home. For me it was a bit longer, but the time flew by as I enjoyed watching the monitor recording Itchy in the trailer eating, then sleeping, then yawning and eating again, then sleeping again, only looking out the window when the big trucks powered by us. We arrived home in the dark, Itchy happy to be greeted by his fellow ponies and to find a big dinner waiting for him, and me to find a warm bed waiting for me with the promise of a good night's sleep.
Friday - 3-14-08
Rain was forecast for this evening, and as I had a full morning of things on my to-do list I spent the morning racing around before I finally had everything done and could finally get those shoes on Libby. No soon was I done trimming, fitting, and nailing on the new set of aluminum shoes, then the saddle went on and off we rode, enjoying a wonderful trot down the road without worrying about losing anything on the feet. We did the Lost Easyboot Loop, slogging through any and all mud without a care, cruising along as the steady breezes started to bring clouds into the clear sky.
After returning home to give Libby a nice bath and a hearty meal, it was time to take Flag out. As I walked out of the barn I looked up. The sun had faded to a vague ball behind an increasing cloud cover -- a gray blanket that blocked out the sky, gathering to blackness over the mountains. I figured I probably had just enough time to ride about 7 miles -- if we did a 7 mph trot the whole way. So Flag boogied the whole way, cruising across the fields and through the woods, cantering happily when he was allowed, trotting out when asked, arriving back just as the first drips started leaking out of the sky.
A wonderful week of riding and enjoying time with friends on the trail.