It was, indeed, a day. A fun day. A long day. A frustrating day, in some parts--but mostly a great ride day.
It started with the realization this morning that yet another of our pet/laying ducks was gone. In the last three weeks we have lost 4 large laying ducks, we now have only a regal pair of Mallards left and I really hope they live to tell the tale. We set traps around the coop for raccoons and the usual suspects, but we trapped nothing (except one of our cats, twice) and ducks still disappeared. Our dogs didn't raise a ruckus on the nights the ducks vanished. There were no feathers or any blood, no evidence at all, so it has to be something sizable to completely spirit away a large adult duck. We've seen three different neighborhood dogs, two of which are large un-cut males, at our front gate in the last month, and have busted our dogs fraternizing with them. Yesterday driving home my husband saw and photographed one of the neighborhood dogs running from the end of our road with a chicken in it's mouth! Not one of our chickens, apparently someone else was visited that day. SO. It makes sense that our dumb shit dogs socialize with the dog, let it in, and it merrily carries off our ducks, leaving no evidence. We've fired warning shots over the dog's heads when they showed in our yard before, and now thanks to my husband we have photo evidence of the chicken-killer, who is most likely our duck-killer. I made up posters this morning with the photo of the chicken-carrying dog and a warning and am going to post them on the mailboxes at the end of the road tomorrow. The dog lives at one of the houses right behind the mailboxes and I saw it again hanging out next to the street this evening when I got home! We are giving the owners every chance to contain their dog but if it comes on this place and touches a hair or feather on anyone's head here again, it isn't going to walk away happy. If I seem overly rabid on the topic, sorry, but I dealt with rounding up loose neighbor's horses all last summer and this spring and had damage done to my property as a result, so I am just OVER dealing with other people's lack of attention to their animals.
Wow, a long post already and I haven't even gotten to the riding part! So here it is. I made Desire spend an extra twenty minutes in the cross ties this morning, to work on her patience. She tap danced away in there back and forth, back and forth, and only quieted down a minute or two before I pulled her to leave. It boggles my mind that she is that persistent. Like yes, you're tied on both sides, *shuffleshuffleshuffle*, you're STILL tied on both sides, *shuffleshuffleshuffle* Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Anyway we headed out and about a half mile before the trail head parking lot came upon a fresh bad street bike vs. car accident. I was just going by as fire trucks were arriving but it didn't look good as the EMTs were treating someone a good 30 feet off the road in the grass, which tells me the motorcycle rider probably flew. Yikes. Street bikes are SCARY. I was right about on time and Desire came out of the trailer dry and calm.
All alone-y on her own-y
N was a few minutes late so I decided to saddle up and walk Desire back towards the main road to see if we could tell if traffic was being held at the accident. Just as I was doing that I saw N on her way in, re-routed by the accident but not too behind schedule. Since I was already tacked I took Desire out for a warm up mile while N tacked up. I love that Desire just trucked away from the trailers, without a backward glance for N's mare. We looped and came back, picked up N, and headed off to the top of the dam and over the ridge again. We did two road crossings safely and were descending the side of the ridge, on the shadier and at this time of year much colder side, when we heard a street bike SCREAM by. It was unbelievable to me how loud the damn thing was. The horses were rightfully startled by it. The trail winds alongside the road with a thin separation of trees at that point and through the trees I spotted four street bikers pulled off on a small wide spot in the road. A fifth was zipping and up down the narrow, windy road on his bike. I'm sure I don't have to remind you, dear reader, that a street biker was down, possibly dead, not 4 miles away from this yahoo-good -time. I would be really surprised if that person wasn't part of their group, as you don't often see one crotch rocket street bike out, let alone five or six within 5 miles of each other. It really sent me back to the complete irritation at inconsiderate neighbors of the morning, seeing these jackasses hot rodding up and down a narrow, winding road, while Jo Shmo the other biker lies dying on the other side of the ridge. Whether they knew of the accident or not, come ON, let's be adults shall we? My husband says eh, they'll get what's coming them. Probably true, but hopefully they don't take many people with them. My brother is an avid dirt biker and I am not anti-motorcycles in any way, but they are dangerous enough without joy riding on narrow winding roads. Get a grip, folks.
Anyhoo, there was too much stressful bike noise and comings and goings on that side of the ridge so at N's suggestion we decided to turn around about 5 miles out and ride back toward the trailers, then bypass them and do the horse camp loop. I was taken with the idea as it was a route I had been wanting to try (for the practice of passing the trailers etc) and getting away from the noisy ridiculous bikers was top on my priority list. At one point I had to stop and fix my saddle pad and on the way down missed hitting the saddle horn but managed to snag my shirt on my too-tall water bottle and gave myself a nice raspberry scrape up my stomach as I descended. Ooppps. On our second safe road crossing Desire powered up the hill out of the street and her right hind boot came off. It was our first boot-falling-off incident and was pretty minor, since the gaiter held it snugly on and Desire kicked her foot out quickly 5 or 6 times then gave up, without any more fireworks. Thanks to a fresh trim I managed to fit the boot back on quickly and on we went. N and I were discussing our speed and with a little more thorough investigation of my wrist Garmin I managed to get mph on my display instead of speed per mile, which I had been using. We agreed that trotting down the trail trying to figure out how speed/mile translated to mph was too much in the mental acrobatic department, and finding the good old Mph setting was exciting. Desire's relaxed trot is about 7 mph, her more motivated trot 9.5 mph and I'm thinking when she really stretches out it will go 10 or 11 at least. Wheeee! We made it back to the trailers at about 10 miles and rode right on by and headed out on the horse camp loop. It actually makes a perfect ending loop to a ride because you are already warmed up to jam up the big hill at one end, then the loop has some great trotting spans, and ends with very gradual downhill and a long flat walk back to the trailers. We came back to the trailers at 16 miles+my 1 mile warm up so 17 miles for the day. With our water stops (Desire drank at 4/5) a few grazing breaks, a tack adjustment, and a boot reapplication, it took us 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Back at the trailer, thanks for the photo N
Miss D pooped and peed while on the trail as usual, and was chowing at her hay net back at the trailer (until it fell down and scared the bejesus out of her, lol). I loaded her up with the polar fleece cooler on as it was already almost 4 pm and getting cold-- and it is colder still up at our house. I had to stop for 10 or so minutes at the feed store for dog food (and there ran into another endurance friend I hadn't seen since August) and drove on home. Desire came out of the trailer minus the cooler and plus two small cuts, one on a foreleg and one on a hind. And sweaty and trembling. SIGH. How the heck she got a Velcro-ed on blanket off in the confines of a straight load..I guess I don't even want to know. It is so frustrating to drive slowly and smoothly the same way every time and half the time she comes out dry and calm and the other half of the time she is a sweaty basketcase. I really don't think she likes being alone in the trailer, as she wasn't trailered that way at her previous home and she watches me like a hawk when we are alone at the lake. She seems to have some anxiety being alone. Except on the trail, where she is happy as a clam. I think I'd rather deal with her this way than if she were fine otherwise and a nutcase alone on the trail, though! I'm confident that with time and experience she will get better at trailering. She already loads in instantly, though I am still showing her the dressage whip to accomplish it.
I cleaned off her little cuts and sprayed Vetericyn on them, gave another (pointless) attempt at cleaning her up--grey sweaty horse in winter, ugh--and fixed her a hot EGM pellet mash. It was already almost dark and time to feed everyone else by the time I got home! The husband cooked up a phenomenal grilled chicken, rice, and spinach salad dinner, it was so fantastic after a day in the saddle. I have a feeling I'm going to be sore tomorrow, since I haven't ridden that far since August. Worth it!