Friday, January 9, 2009

Wanted to share pics, as much of the trails are now lost to a fire!

Last May we went on a Competitive Trail ride, I didn't blog about it as I got so busy. But now I feel compelled to share, as there has been a big forest fire that has destroyed a big chunk of the provincial forest. It was started by a quader, during a quad poker derby two weekends later. Here are some pictures of the fire that was in the news...

But I prefer to remember our ride. It was amazing! We weren't sure about going on this ride, as it was a 2 hour drive south east of us. I decided to just do a 10 mile ride, as I didn't want to get up and out of the farm by 6:30am to make it to a longer ride! Ick, early riser I am NOT! So we all packed up, except for Michele's horse Cici (Michele injured herself) and made the trip out to Sandilands Provincial Forest.

It was a very brisk day, staying below 10 degrees C, and having a cool wind. But it was sunny and had great scenery! The four of us set out; me on Willow, Jill on Sage, Debbie on Meg and Ilonka on Mayberry. The trails were very interesting, with lots of hills (many with danger signs - eek!)

There were lots of hill and thick, gnarly roots sticking up in the trails, with tall pines waving softly overhead. We spent much of the 10 miles in the Gotland’s comfortable, ground-covering trot. I can still close my eyes now, almost a year later and remember the feel of the ride. It just seemed to flow.

We had so much fun on this ride, and it was I think my favourite trail of the year. There is a ride tentatively scheduled for October 2009 (if the trails get marked after the fire). It is definitely worth the 1 ½ drive to go again!

The worst Farrier… ever!

Just as Willow was beginning to recover from the Leg Sucking Mud Incident, we had a run in with a newbie farrier. The regular farrier (who is great!) was training an apprentice farrier. They can get the 7 horses done in record time! So I trotted out Willow for the new guy. I should have known things were not going to work when Willow tried to stomp him and chew his hide off. I was so busy trying to save him, I couldn’t watch what he was doing. I know, it’s no excuse… I know better now!

He put no roll on the front of the hooves (or breakover, whatever you call it), he pared out a bunch of sole and then completely took out her bars. There was nothing left to hold her feet together, and she was very tender until her sole grew back! She had massive flare very quickly. I was bad in so many ways.

Not even two weeks later, Will had horrible chips in all her hooves, and then long quarter cracks! Of course these showed up just as the Gotland people (Pat’s Gotland breeding friends from Denmark) were visiting. They just shook their heads at the trim and said should never see that with the Russ. So all the men trouped out to the barn and trimmed her up, and showed Bill the best way to trim a Gotland. I took a few trimmings from Bill, but she has the best feet out there now, and I have decided to learn how to barefoot trim myself! But it took several more weeks before I was confident to ride her.

So a few great things came from the visit, including meeting the Danes and going on some fun rides with them! But now I think: sure, I can trim myself - I couldn't possibly be any worse than that farrier we actually paid to do it!

Ride season is over *sob*

Well, the endurance season is over here in Manitoba, and mine didn’t go so well. Best laid plans… It started out great with a beautiful ride in Mars Hills, followed by the Sandilands Competitive Trail ride. At Sandilands, I rode with the other Gotlands Girls; Jill, Debbie and Ilonka (Michele was out with a bad back), so I just decided to have fun and do the 10 mile ride. It was amazing, beautiful and a total blast! (I’ll post the story with pictures later!).

And then we started to have problems! At the next ride, an endurance ride in Bird’s Hill Park, Willow and I decided we could do another 25 miler. So off we went. We were doing great, improving our time over previous rides by completing the first 15 mile loop in only 2 ¼ hours. Now, this may not seem like a great feat to more experienced riders, but remember Willow is only 13h, with short little legs and chunky monkey me on her back!

We enjoyed our 1 hour break, where they offered me a delicious stew. As I was leaving the camp site, Debbie and Jill rode in on their horses. I waved as I set out to enjoy the second loop, and hopefully my first completion of a 25 miler!

But 5 miles into the second loop, we came across mud. Great, big pools of leg sucking mud. The trees were tight and there was no way to avoid it. But I had been warned about this mud at the ride meeting this morning, told it wasn’t too bad, and that others had made it through fine yesterday. Unfortunately it had rained overnight, and I was the last horse through in a pack of 30+. We got through the first few patches OK, but then we kept running into more, and they just kept getting worse and worse. It was too late to turn back, and I just hoped they would end soon. I had to push Willow through them, but she was a trouper, always willing when I asked her to go on.

But at the last bog, she got tired halfway through and paused. She started to sink! We desperately thrashed our way out, and came to a shaking stop at the other end. I got off to check her out. No cuts or soreness yet, but even her belly was cake din mud. It may have only been up to the knees of the other horses, but we sank to her belly. Hmm, guess it was a good thing it was so big, it spread out our weight and stopped us from sinking further!

I hopped back on and we continued our ride. She was fine for a mile or two, but then I started to notice irregularities in her trot. Obviously she was sore from the mud. So I got off and walked her. Unfortunately, we didn’t know the trail in BHP yet and we didn’t know any shortcuts back to camp. We were forced to complete the ride.
We got back to camp around 6. The vet checked her out and we were obviously disqualified for lameness issues. He recommended a mud pack, and Maura was great at tracking down someone who gave me one, and she lent me her leg wraps to apply it. But she was off work for the next few weeks to recover. *sigh*