"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Never Say Never

After all that, writing about our previous trail ride last night gave me the guts to go out and take Lily on our first solo trail ride in MD today.

It was just one of those days: I couldn't think of anything different to work on in the arena, I was bored with what we've been doing, Lily was SUPER calm coming out of the field, even when I had to throw her back in her stall because I had nowhere to cross tie her (the wash stalls were occupied and the manure was lined up in the barn aisles to be picked up), and I was dying to go back to the corn field to give Lily a spin around that track.

So I tacked her up, walked her a bit down the trail to see how willing she was to follow (she was perfect), called Charles to let him know what our plans were and where we'd be, walked back to the mounting block at the beginning of the trail, and swung on. I rode her in the pelham with double reins today.

Initially, instead of heading left towards the ditches and stream, we went right, towards the new bridge and a paved portion of trail. I had led her down this trail back when we first arrived in the area, but had not been this way since. There is a big mound of blacktop right in front of the bridge, and from a distance, Lily was already balking at the sight of the black in front of the bridge. I really didn't want to argue over a bridge, so I turned her around deliberately and we made our way up the paved trail. It is a very steep hill, and Lily was digging in and pushing forwards...until we came face to face with a car. There are little saplings planted on one side of the trail and heavy brush on the other. I had a feeling we weren't supposed to be on the baby tree side, so we had no choice but to turn around again and head back. I had Lily jog back to the trailhead. As soon as we were even with the portion of trail that leads back to the barn, my silly girl decided she wanted to go home and we had a brief argument about where we were going. She gave up after 3 spins, and marched forward, over both ditches, with no jigging nor prancing. We continued our way. Halfway down to the stream, Lily decided she really did not want to go on. This part of the trail slopes quite steeply and is very narrow. On either side of the trail, there is more brush and mud, which didn't give us adequate room for spinning. Lily kept trying to turn around to go home. I kept swinging her back to face the trail. She was adamant about not facing that trail, and at one point, while facing home and trying to turn her back around, I just knew she was thinking about rearing-she was getting that tense. I was NOT comfortable with this idea, as we had our backs to the downwards part of the slope, and felt my heart start to race. This started to really annoy me, as I refused to get off and lead her, as there was nothing to be afraid of, other than the trees surrounding us. At around that moment, Lily made it easy for me by finally giving up and suddenly choosing to keep walking forward nonchalantly. Phew!

We continued our way down the slope uneventfully. I'm still wondering if she was frightened over the sound of the stream? You started to hear it around the spot where Lily had refused to go forward so strongly. We made our way to the entrance to the creek bank, where I dismounted without even trying to argue with Lily (I didn't want to put either one of us in danger when we were by ourselves), and we carefully crossed the stream.

The creek. You can see 3 different paths: one on the far left (muddiest), one in the center (very muddy also) and the one on the far right, across the sand-least muddy, but narrowest path.
I led her past the muddiest areas of the trail, then remounted when the cornfield was in sight.

The cornfield. My heart starts pounding in excitement every time I see this!

We hit the track at a walk, and as we were looping past the farm, Lily had a small meltdown. I'm not sure if she was intimidated by the buildings in the distance or if she heard the farm animals in the breeze, but she tried multiple times to turn around, and each time I brought her back patiently to face the track. At this point I was really glad I was using the double reins-I was able to correct her with mostly the "snaffle" reins, completely avoiding the head tossing that would have ensued if I'd been using the shank reins only.

As before, Lily suddenly gave up and continued forward as if nothing had happened. We power-walked past the dried up scarecrow, and continued around the track. I let Lily choose when to trot: if I relax my seat, she will offer it when she feels confident. She was a very, very good girl, even holding still long enough for me to take this photo for you guys:

Mowed cornfield to the right, track to the left and in front of us!

After this bend, the track slopes down very steeply-I think it would be very unsafe to try at anything faster than a jog. As the track leveled out again, Lily asked to canter, then pranced and jigged for a few strides when I told her no-we were on the homestretch here and I didn't want her getting ideas about galloping back home. So we just walked. She has a lovely swinging walk on these trails-the ups and downs warm her up in a way that the Florida flatness never could. Despite the 40-degree weather, she had even broken a sweat thanks to the rolling hills-this is part of the reason why I had chosen not to trot a lot more than we did: she is not used to such uneven terrain yet.

We found the path back, and again I dismounted before we got to the stream shore. It was another completely boring crossing, and I re-mounted right after. Lily took off at a walk before I had my right foot in the stirrup. She went into her version of beast mode going back: ears up, neck arched, swinging long walk. Twice we lost sight of the trail as it disappeared in the leaves, and twice I caught both of us simultaneously  glancing up the hill at the same time trying to figure out an alternate route as we plowed along. The trail always eventually reappeared in front of us.

She crossed the ditches back without a hitch, and once at the barn yard, I threw the reins down on her neck, gave her a huge hug, and thanked her for giving me such a terrific ride.

She got groomed and her legs washed with warm water, and I treated the scratches (fungus) that has popped up on her hind pasterns from the mud. She stood quietly in the wash stall crossties the entire time. So quietly, in fact, that our neighbor tacking up his horse thought there was no one in our stall!

Free to re-join the herd

Afterwards, Charles and I went out to do some more exploring. We chose to go to Old Town in Alexandria.

While walking around, we discovered this really cool little bar:

The beer was really good, the food was amazing, and the place was just plain cool-everything was themed from The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings! This little pub has been in Alexandria for the last 30 years, so its creation stems from the books themselves.

Love our new home!


  1. Hurrah for little bars like that! It sounds really awesome...and how well timed that you found it around when the Hobbit is debuting in theatres haha!