Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fall Shmall

The end of Summer is nigh.  :'(  Back to freezing cold temperatures, dead foliage, frozen water, snow to wade through.....did I mention the freezing temperatures?!

My favorite season is Spring.  A really close second would be Summer.  Believe it or not, Winter is third, and Autumn is my least favorite by far.

Pretty?  Sure.
I know so many people that are all like, "Ahhh, Fall is my favorite season.  I love hoodies and bonfires and Apple Cider!"

Here's a different spin:

Yeah, Winter is cold.  But Winter is pretty, and the fact that the following season is Spring grants it a certain amount of amnesty.

Fall is the death of nature.  It's sad to me.  When Autumn comes around, I can appreciate the occasional pretty view like the first one, but mostly I see the dead and dying.  It almost feels like watching a beloved friend slowly loosing their battle with cancer, or saying goodbye to your lover.

Until we meet again, my love.

Dead leaves.  Bare branches.  A few green patches of foliage desperately hanging on to life as the daylight shortens and the temperatures drop to an unlivable atmosphere, and they are forced to surrender to the impending wintry grave that awaits.

Until Spring.  Spring, the time of resurrection, life, new birth, hope, energy.

Spring brings another important thing - pink.

Ok, enough complaining.  As of today, Wednesday, October 30th, 2013, there are 140 left until Spring.  It can't get here soon enough.

Ride safe all,

~The RoadQueen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Alum Creek State Park

This past weekend Mom and I joined a group of friends at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Ohio.  This camping trip was to serve two purposes:  1st, I've never been there and it's always fun to explore new territory and 2nd, our friend's husband and granddaughter were to celebrate their joint birthday on Saturday.

We arrived Friday late afternoon just before dark and sat around the campfire chatting, listening to the owls and stargazing.

Saturday morning we got a late start, but finally headed out around noon.

Ready to go.
There were six of us originally planning on riding together, but it quickly became apparent that not all of our horses were going to get along.  The horses were HOT - way too hot for the tricky terrain that we were trying to traverse, and there was some kicking and general disobedience going on fueled by the situation.

So, we split into two groups of three and went our separate ways.  The rest of the day was fairly uneventful and all of the horses quickly recovered from the earlier excitement.

The Others
Along the way, the fall scenery was amazing.  We passed through a corridor of these bushes, covered with pretty red berries.  No, we didn't eat any.

Berry Close
Berries, berries, everywhere

Right after the berry patch, we came to a tunnel.  Well, it was actually a gigantic culvert that passed underneath a highway.

Guinness was all like,

Guinness:  "!!!!!!!!"
So I got off and walked him through the tunnel to fend off any "boogie men" while my mounted counter parts rode through with nary an issue.

Go towards the light!
After the tunnel episode, all went well and all I have to add for the rest of the ride is some scenic fall-in-the-woods porn:

While the scenery was beautiful, there were plenty of places where the trail itself - wasn't.  Mud, mud, mud.  We were all pretty well covered in it by the time we got back from our 5 hours in the saddle.

Alum Creek Horseman's Camp has a pretty decent hosing station though, so we were able to hose the worst of the mud off the horses.

Basking in the sunshine

We got settled in camp while watching the sun go down and waited for the birthday party guests to arrive at our campsite.

Then we had a big potluck dinner, and sat around the fire for a bit before Mom and I headed off to bed and let the party goers howl at the moon.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early, well rested after our early bedtime the night before.  The same three of us decided to head out together again to explore a different trail.  It was supposed to be a short, couple hour ride.  It ended up being 4 hours, but it was pretty and fun.

Ok, so I got bored with taking photos, so I tried to capture some of the ride on Sunday in video format.

It's not great, because I was simply hanging onto my little point and shoot camera while riding, but it's kinda neat, nonetheless.  I had to dub over the audio with an appropriate song, because honestly, the video was laced with heavy effort grunting and cursing.  Hey, it's not easy to stay on with no hands through that stuff!

Anyway, here's my attempt at video:

Happy Riding all!

~The RoadQueen

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Heritage Days at Malabar Farm

Every year for many, many years (20+) the club that I belong to, Wayne County Chapter of the Ohio Horseman's Council, raises funds to donate back to the Ohio State Parks system by giving pony rides at a local event at Malabar Farm during the Heritage Days event held each year at the historical farm and once home of Author Louis Bromfield.

Guinness stayed home, unfortunately.  I took him last year, but he made it very clear that the hustle and bustle of the public event was NOT the place for him.  There have been many, many regales of his antics last year around many a campfire by the other members of my club.

They're all pretty sure he's certifiably nuts, but that's ok.  I KNOW I am, so we're a good pair.

Mom's horse Beezley came though, as he adores small children and enjoys all of the attention involved in giving pony rides.

Old Man Teaching The Whipper-snappers How To Ride
A friend of ours brought a horse and a pony to give pony rides with, and she allowed me to ride her horse back and forth to and from the horseman's camp that is about a 30 minute trail ride from the site where the festivities happen.

Meet Seeger:

Seeger and I had a disagreement on the way back to camp Saturday.  I wanted him to go faster to keep up with Beezley.  He felt that bucking was a better option. We got that all sorted out, and the next 2 rides were uneventful.

He turned out to be a rock star at giving pony rides, so I'm sure he'll be asked to come back next year.  Unlike poor Guinness, who was requested to be left at home.

It's been a few years since I rode a horse that trotted.  Guinness is a Tennessee Walking Horse and thus, does not trot.  He is what we call in the horse world 'gaited', meaning that he does not trot.  

This video demonstrates several types of gait that certain breeds of horses can do.  Guinness does a Running Walk, and a Rack.  Notice how smooth the movements are and how still the riders are in the saddle.

In my opinion, for trail riding, this is the way to go.  A smoothly gaiting horse not only tends to be more sure footed than a horse that is trotting, but it's WAY more comfortable for the rider.

Now, observe a trot:

Instructions aside, see how much the rider is bouncing?  That is a lot of work to keep your bum in the saddle, and then to post by rising into the two point position.  It's an excellent work out for your core, legs and shoulders. 

But not so awesome when you're on a 3-4 hour trail ride. (After a very short period of time, your ass really starts to hurt from all the jarring.)

Anyway, for the 30 minute ride twice a day that I rode Seeger, I had a lot of fun riding his trot.  I discovered that I still got it, and I can smoothly sit the trot, as well as post with grace and dignity.  Maybe it's like riding a bike??  ;)  (Glad to see all the hours I spent practicing the sitting trot, posting trot and two point position without stirrups paid off.)

It did make me wistful to own a trotting horse and get back into Dressage.  I love Guinness, and he'll always be one of my 'special' children, but I really, really miss the structure, precision and grace of the Dressage Ring.

Maybe someday.

Anyway, back to the pony rides!!!

The whole shindig was a roaring success, as usual.  The club made a tidy sum to use for State Park improvements, everyone stayed safe with no injuries, and a lot of fun was had.

I think the best reward of the whole experience is watching these little kids waiting in line, bouncing up and down with excitement and anticipation.  Then, when it's their turn and they get paired up with a horse/pony, the facial expression goes from excited, to awe.

Then we start walking and the smile is enough to melt your heart.

There were a bunch of club members that showed up to help, even though they didn't have a horse to bring (like myself).  RCT and son Wyatt even made an appearance to check out the festivities, although I couldn't talk either one of them into getting a pony ride.  Shucks...maybe next time.  :D

Ride Safe All!

~The RoadQueen