…or trail riding. 😉 Only this time I lead some! Though not without direction thankfully.
So originally this ride was supposed to be at Grayson Highlands State Park where the wild ponies are. The NC Cowgirl has posted about riding up there, and I’ve hiked up there once, but I’ve never taken a horse up there. K and H mentioned that we should try to ride up there and see the ponies and the leaves, so we scheduled the ride…only to have the truck start to leak coolant. So we opted to stay closer to home and ride the Virginia Highlands trail. So the same map as last time, but the dark red line instead of the bright green.
It ended up working out well because someone else told us that all the leaves were already down and dead at Grayson Highlands, so we’d missed all of the pretty colors. Luckily we saw lots of nice leaves on this ride, which ended up being about 10 miles.
As usual, Paige was a saint. This trail ride was different in that this is the first time that I’ve had shoes all the way around on Paige, and she was quiet different! Previously she has toodled along many horse lengths behind our companions, but we were never far from the group and often between H and K’s horses for the bulk of the ride. K was trying to encourage the mare that she was riding to lead, but every time she fell back the slightest bit, Paige was more than willing to take the lead. I couldn’t help but giggle at it, but it made things harder on K throughout the ride because Jade had an easy out in eager beaver Paige. Towards the end of the ride, K told me that Paige could lead now, hopefully she’d made her point to Jade. Once I let Paige take the lead, her stride lengthened until we were several lengths ahead of everyone else! When we got to the main road, I had to start holding her back.
So the last bit of the ride was spent stopped waiting on our friend’s to catch up or with the reins looped around the horn and my feet out of the stirrups stretching. There were some rogue dogs that ran out at us from a campsite, so I picked up my stirrups and reins only to have Paige stand quietly when I said whoa and were swarmed by strange dogs. She doesn’t really care. The strange dogs were more interested in H’s dog that went on the ride with us (the black dot in the distance in many of the earshots). Once their owner came out and leashed them, we were back on our way.
We did have one moment of excitement when a giant tree was blocking the road. Paige marched up to it like she thought it was passable, but upon closer inspection, it was wide, lifted off of the ground AND had another limb jutting at an angle away from it on the opposite side. Even if we had delusions of grandeur about our jumping prowess, that wasn’t a safe option. In hindsight I should’ve photographed it, but the prospect of going off the beaten path was too much excitement for my pea brain. So we went down a bank because H (who apparently knows the national forest way too well) knew of another trail off the beaten path that we could take back to the road. He was correct that there was another trail back there, and after we got on it, he remembered why he never goes that way anymore. It was straight up moss covered rocks and obviously hadn’t been used in a long time. We hand walked through most of it because it was so hard for the horses to walk on. Being the balanced and graceful individual that I am, I fell on my butt on one of the moss covered rocks myself. Paige has infinite patience (and I had infinite foresight to reattach my reins to the halter bridle off the bit on the halter part should my weight end up hanging off of her face…) and she stood while I got up to continue our walk. Luckily this trail was level. I can’t imagine had it been on an incline! Once again, no media of the actual noteworthy aspects of the ride…here are some random shots.
We made it back to the trailer intact and Paige actually seemed like she could do another ten miles! It was good to have a ride where she felt so good with all of my apprehension about her aging. She’s been running in the pastures the last couple of days and doesn’t seem to have any residual soreness, so I’m glad I gave her some bute before the ride.
While K fully intends to go back up to the mountain again before winter, my participation will depend heavily on the weather. We had glorious weather on this ride, but today and yesterday have been very windy and in the 30’s, a combination that does not lead me to being enthusiastic about future endeavors. I am really glad I didn’t chicken out on this ride and, as usual, am tickled to death with how wonderful Paige is for these spontaneous adventures.