Arabee's learning how to be a good camper. She has to finish all the hay in the net and drink the water in the black bucket on the fender before I'll turn her back out. She's not thrilled - fidgeting and keeps looking in the direction of the gate, stomping her feet, and so on; at least she is grabbing mouthfuls of hay every so often. Patience!
I hauled out to Versailles State Park this morning, bought my annual bridle pass, so now I can ride at any Indiana state park without having to buy a day permit. Glad to have that out of the way.
So the plan was to ride 12 miles in 2 hours or less, that's 6 miles per hour. I felt that if I wasn't able to ride that fast then I would not attempt to do the 30 mile ride on Friday. Bottom line: it didn't happen! So the 30 is out for sure. Detailed ride recap to follow:
Pulled up to the day parking area and got a call from Jacke saying she didn't have brakes on her truck, but was going to talk to the mechanic to see if it might still work in time to ride at the park today. Well, it wasn't to be for today, and so I decided to do the A loop, which by the map is 7.5 miles. I'd ridden this trail two other times before, and since Arabee and I were going to go solo, I thought it best to do a trail I'd done before. So we set out.
Arabee was going pretty well, doing what I asked, even if she was looking around a lot. I'd studied the map and thought I had right, right, left, right turns to do in order to get around the whole thing. So I made a right turn, then came upon a T, and made a right turn. Pretty soon I came out on a blacktop road on a right angle curve, and across the road was a trail. So I crossed the road, and headed on the trail.....well, it didn't seem right, so I went back to the T in the trail. I checked the map and it seemed like that was the right way, so I went back to the road crossing. This time I saw a sign that said something to the effect of: 'ripley county horse club members ONLY' and decided this wasn't right, and went back to the T. I stood there for a while and pondered it.....my map had said, right, right, left, right, and I hadn't done 2 rights yet. So I went back to the road crossing a third time, and checked carefully for ANY trail markings....nothing. So I went back to the T and continued on the way, and was very happy when I saw a trail A marker! After this I saw several markers and was never concerned about where I was the whole rest of the ride, but I figure that little adventure was 3/10 of a mile.
So we were trotting along as fast as I could get her to go (she was pretty sticky and slow by herself on the trail) on the flats, uphills, and super slight downhills, walking the mid-pastern deep (at times....sometimes only fetlock deep) mud, and walking the downhills, and also walking whenever Arabee sensed that a deer or some other thing had been across the trail recently (I guess that's what it was....you'll have to ask the mare...I couldn't get her to hardly walk at those times!). I spent a lot of time hollering "go turkeys, go deer, woooo, good girl Arabee!" It was actually a really nice, pleasant pleasure riding trot speed, really easy to ride.
There were some sections of trail that as far as I could see it was mud, and at one of those sections (since we were walking it anyway) I decided to get a drink out of my bottle in my pommel pack. As I put the bottle away, Arabee lept forward (she hates the sound of the bottle going back in the pack) and I rolled right off backwards and hit the ground in the soft, wet mud. Arabee scooted off: finally listening to me and stopping about 75 feet away. So my April ride record isn't too great: two times ridden, two times fell off. Hope that changes soon! The stupid fall was my own fault: I know she hates that noise, and should've halted her while I put the bottle away. Needless to say, we'll be practicing that a LOT soon!
So I got back on right away and we headed back on down the trail, with a jumpier horse and the footing is still terrible and we get to the point in the trail that backs some private property with horses and some really vicious sounding barking dogs. I did my utmost to get Arabee to trot past that place: I couldn't really tell if the dogs were getting closer or not, and reallllllly did not want two viciously barking dogs to run up on me and my horse! It was fine, I think they were confined but it sure worried me!
We go on, and cross the creek/ditch several times, and I had an awful time urging Arabee down a hill and across the little ditch at the bottom of it. Well, it turns out there were a pair of hikers. We stopped and talked with them for quite a while: they had horses but hadn't bought their bridle tags yet and were out hunting for morels. The man guessed Arabee to be 3 years old...I said no, Thirteen! He was surprised and both were very complimentary of her, even though she was JUMPY the entire time we talked w/ them. Any little move they made she about jumped out of her skin. They also said they'd startled up a few deer just a little bit before they saw my horse and I, so I think Arabee knew the deer were nearby.
So we continued on, the rest of the ride was really pretty uneventful, aside from some beautiful wildflowers and blooming red buds along the way. We did startle a pair of ducks out of the creek, but aside from that the rest of the ride went very well. Oh, Arabee was balky going down another hill, I assumed it was deer again this time. Nope! She had to pee, so I whistled along and when she was done we marched along again: trotting when we could, walking when we were down hill or when Arabee couldn't be talked into trotting.
So altogether it was an estimated 7.8 miles, we started at 9:55am and got back to the trailer at 11:35am, for a blazing speed of roughly 4.7mph. Not near fast enough to finish the 30. I could easily consider a 25 mile LD....but I truly think it'd be pushing it too much to try the 30 at our current level of both training and conditioning, both horse and human.
It wasn't all wasted: I think the ride was very good for boosting our confidence in each other. We'd never done a solo trail ride before, other than around home, and it really went very well if you would just forget my stupidity w/ the bottle incident.
More to come later about plans for the future! Things are still very much up in the air. Got to go check that mare to see how she's doing on water.