Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Last of the Fall Color

On Monday I headed out for another quick fall ride through the part of the woods we hadn't ridden on since the wind storms. I was expecting a LOT of storm damage, but really, there wasn't much.

When we headed out, Mercy and I found one of the last remaining clumps of vibrantly colored maple leaves. Mercy just wanted to eat them...

... but once I got her situated better I was able to get a better close up. The colors were so much brighter then my camera portrays, but the range of colors is still impressive.

We walked up the rocky hill and slowly made our way into the woods (Mercy is very suspicious in this area. I don't know why...). Besides a few branches and most of the leaves from the deciduous being down, there wasn't anything else different from our normal rides. At least, that was until we were loping up a curvy and 'dippy' hill and almost ran right into a tree. Shoot. We almost got through this trail with no worries.
Mercy gnawed on the tree while I got off and checked out the path around the downed tree. No problem! We just stepped to our left and walked over an older stump and back onto the trail. Next time I will just ride her through, if no one has taken care of the tree by then.

While we wandered back to the rocky hill, I noticed that the trees in the woods that still had leaves never got really bright. This most certainly is because they are located in the shade of the trees, but it was odd seeing almost paper white leaves still clinging on.

When I got back from my ride I noticed the huge branches that had fallen from our large maple tree in the pasture. Good thing too. I have been wondering how to get the dead limbs down without hauling out a ladder. Thank you Mother Nature... this time...

I was desperate to ride on Wednesday. After a long day of more rain and wind, I grabbed the girls out of their "turnout." I had let them out to roll and stretch their legs at the neighbor's. Ewww...
Yeah, I didn't even bother cleaning Star; I wasn't riding her, so I didn't care how clean she was.
I thought I had a little more time to ride then I actually did. There was a very dark black cloud heading our way, but what I didn't realize was how fast it was moving. I jumped on Mercy and as soon as we headed out it started raining. It wasn't that heavy, so we continued. Well, that didn't last long. We quickly found the short loop home and jogged home. I hadn't worn my Outback, so we were all soaked by the time we got back. Oh well, we rode!

Both my mom and I got home early on Thursday, so we hit the trails! We stopped by the apple tree on the way out to the train tracks. Of course the girls got one each!

The leaves on the track are almost all down now. This is my FAVORITE time of the year to be on the track. I love the crunchy leaves and the colors all around us! Beautiful!

We just walked along until the end; no jogging or loping, too wet. We did decide to explore the 'biker trails,' a trail system we, until recently, had no desire to explore. Well it turns out we took a loop, a short loop, so we didn't have that much to explore and it was good enough for the day.
We entered the woods and stopped for a photo op.

Then I spotted these pretty leaves on an old growth maple:

Mercy enjoyed smelling the leaves on the ground...

... until they became too irresistible not to sample.

Before heading back to the barn, we stopped to give the horses a snack:

The next day we wanted to head out for a but this is what we discovered on Star...

... and this...

After further investigation, we discovered where the blood from the mouth was coming from. She had split her gums on her corner feed tub in her stall. There was blood splattered in and around the tub. Poor girl! We cleaned her up and discussed what to do. We ended up having me ride Mercy and pony Star while my mom walked along. It worked out pretty good. I did have to pass off Star a few times when we either got the chance or I needed to work with Mercy's patience issues. And get this, Leo was off the leash again! GRRR!!!!! Freaking dog. Thank goodness her responds to "Go HOME!" We only rode to the lake and then headed home along the creek.

We got back home and I fed Star an apple. The poor girls gums started bleeding again. Her mouth is doing much better today and I picked up a new feed tub. But, her legs are really stocked up. Standing in her stall and walking around her small paddock is tough on the old girl when it rains hard all day and night. Good grief Star.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bumps, Scrapes, and Fall

Last Thursday afternoon, I hauled Star and Mercy's butts out to go for a ride. I had already ridden that day ( I rode a friend's horse at her lesson... long story) so I was looking for an easy, quiet ride. When I got the girls to the trailer this is what I found:

Dang it Star. At least it was only a little hide missing and not a gushing bloody mess. Grrr.... It wasn't sensitive at all, so I ignored it, lol! I got Mercy saddled up and headed out. Since I wasn't sure how sore Star still was, we took it slow and only stayed toward the service roads to get to the lake. Of course, we had to take a few trails to get to the roads. The lovely fall colors made up for the huge rocks I tried to avoid, for Star's sake.

We had almost reached the roads when we found our first downed tree. I had forgotten that we did just have a huge weekend of wind and crazy storms, so of course I forgot to being my little saw. I got off and tried to snap a few branches off but the limbs were still 'alive,' making it very difficult to do. I ended up just bending and tucking some back, just enough to get through.

Mercy wasn't too sure about that mess, but she walked over it just fine after getting the chance to lick the moss on it's bark. *sigh*
A little further more and we came across another downed limb. This one wasn't so scary, especially in this serene setting.

The roads were clear of debris, so we were able to really focus on getting to the lake without too much distraction. A pair of ducks were the only other things at the lake. Mercy couldn't keep her eyes off of them. Maybe I seriously need to get some geese or pigeons for her to herd, lol!

if I had let her, I'm sure she would have walked/swam out to them, even though it was not quite swimming weather. Star was interested too, but I think she was mainly thinking about the grass on the other bank.

Making our way to the park we met a nice dog (on a leash!!!!) being reminded she had to 'heel,' even around horses. Then we finally got to the grass. Mercy was being patient, for once, but Star was just awful. She kept walking past my knee (a big no-no) and diving for the grass. So we worked on that for a while. Every time she went past my knee I stopped her and backed her immediately. Once I could stop Mercy and Star would stop and look at us for her next instructions, I let them graze.

After grazing for quite a while, it was time to head back. The rain was coming in fast so we headed into a brisk trot. Didn't last long though... we ran into the good dog again and another, evil dog. "Leo" is a super aggressive mutt that has actually come to our place and harassed our girls. And he is NEVER on a leash. If I was in more of a foul mood I would have told his handler off, but I just wanted to go home. Next time Leo, next time...
We made it home quickly and Star seemed fine when I checked her legs, no heat, swelling, or pain. This was short lived, however. On Saturday her leg was a little swollen again. But this time there wasn't any heat. Ugh.

We wanted to ride and Star seemed willing, so my mom and I headed out. We decided that if she was ouchy in any way, we would dismount and walk home. Well, she was feeling great. Spirit is not a problem for her! It was a murky day, so we both wore our Outbacks and stayed dry. The sun peaked through the clouds for a minute, illuminating the rain drops on vegetation. The appeared to be ice-laden. It was really sparkly!
We followed the creek to the lake, but I wasn't feeling the best and there were a lot of people out walking their dogs, so we headed back home on the roads. There was an amazing breakthrough though! LEO WAS ON A LEASH! The couple walking these dogs were not his owner, but we thanked them repeatedly for leashing the animals in THEIR control, whether it's their dog or not. :)
I guess people can learn...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fun Fall Rides

Last Thursday, Mercy and I were able to head out for a quick ride in the sun. Star was not quite right yet, so she had to stay home, unfortunately. I had Mercy move out quickly from the property hoping she would take the hint about our pace for the day, but she slowed quickly. She still just didn't seem quite right either; her stride just isn't what it use to be. And, since she isn't 'lame,' I really don't know what to think. Boo.

Anyway, we hooked a right onto the creek trail and took our time wandering along it's banks. When we reached the tree bridge, Mercy decided that it looked like a good place to cross. Wrong! this bridge is definitely HUMAN safe only. The tree is pretty cool actually. Someone has wrapped the truck with chicken wire to decrease the risk of any slippage, as well as add a 'zip line,' which you can barely see on the right of the bridge, to aid in making it successfully to the other side. This is a great passage during the winter especially since the creek can get moving really quick and high.
After reaching the lake I decided to ride Mercy on the 'duck trail,' a trail that follows the line of the swamp that connects to the lake. This wetland area is always full of ducks and other water fowl. It's also not the easiest trail for green horses. This was the first time I had ever taken her on the trail since I have owned her, almost three years now. It is quite curvy, with lots of dips, hills, and massive trees that don't move when you push on them, lol! We just went really slow, picking our way through the roots, stumps, and scary frogs.
After making it to the end we took a left and loped up the hill to the top where we momentarily gazed over the lake. We rode out to the service road and took a few side trails. One trail is very steep down and very steep up. We took that trail; I love it! It is a little challenging going down, but once at the bottom I can only look forward to loping up the other side. I released Mercy to do her thing. I am still amazed at how fast she accelerates. It ALWAYS throws me back in the saddle, no matter how prepared I am. LOVE IT!!!! Once at the top, we headed down the service road and back home. Great ride.
Before the big storm of the week hit, my mom and I hit the trail. On Monday we decided to take Star on a test drive. All of her leg swelling is gone and she really needed to get out. We just took the creek trail to the left, which is soft on their feet and short- the winds had already picked up, so it was a win-win situation for everything!
While we rode along I spotted this annoying plant- ivy. How'd that get there?! I am not aware of any native species. Weird, I'll have to come back and keep an eye on it. Ivy grows like crazy here and I don't want it taking over the area.
Maybe I should just let Mercy eat it. I'm sure she wouldn't mind, lol! Nah.
We broke off the creek trail to head back home. When we were loping up a short hill, Mercy got a little carried away and her hind end slipped out form underneath her. She recovered just fine, but it sure was unexpected! Star did pretty good on this ride. I think my mom mentioned that she dropped her shoulders a few time, but her front feet were probably still hurting. Poor girl. And now the rain has set in. I guess that's good for Star, no rides for now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Starlett Woes and Mercy Fun

Oh Starlett. What are we going to do with you? Last week we had our farrier come out and reset Star's shoes way early. I think it was only over 4 or 5 weeks. Her hoof walls were just crumbling all around, so we had him out to smooth things out and reshape her hooves. Unfortunately, Star was super sensitive on all of her feet and our farrier had to reset nails multiple time to get her decently comfortable. Then, he nailed one in too deep and angled on her right hind. After getting some iodine in the hole, he finished the rest of the nails and shoes. Poor Star was really sore afterwards so we buted her up and let her hang out in her stall. This was last week. She is still off and now her hind right leg is swollen. This was yesterday morning:

And this was from this morning:

Her hooves don't feel warm anymore, but I'm thinking abscess. She is not sensitive on her leg at all, so that is really the only thing I can think of. And of course our farrier is on vacation this week, so we will just keep an eye on her and try to keep her comfy. Kinda hard to do though when I take Mercy out, lol!

Actually, on Monday Mercy and I had a great ride. We headed out to the train tracks, but before we even got started, we stopped to take these stunning pictures. The hillside looked like it was on fire. I love fall! After taking that quick break, we headed up the rocky hill and down the other side. At the bottom I grabbed an apple for Mercy and we continued onto the tracks. There was no one in sight so I pushed Mercy into brisk trot. And we trotted and trotted and trotted. We only loped for a brief minute just to check that she was listening to me. Then we trotted some more. Finally we reached the end and we broke to a walk. We wondered through the woods a little and made our way to our "running hill." This is the hill that my mom and I love to let the horses loose to run up as fast as they can. It was so much fun not having to worry if the other rider was ready or OK behind us. Just Mercy and me.

When we got to the top of the hill I asked her to continue. We loped for a little ways more then I slowed her to a trot for a weird dip on the trail. Once we passed that, we loped again and jumped a downed log. Mercy liked that! I had to pull her down pretty hard to get her to walk before the next one up ahead. Maybe that is her new calling?! Ah, too bad I down have anywhere safe to practice. Boo.

BTW, I was trying to make a 'paint' map of my trails so I don't keep saying 'this trail, you know!? The one?' but the paint program on my laptop is not working right now. So, I will need to do it on another computer and upload it later. Grrr.... Anyway, something to look forward to!