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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

We finally were able to ride with Jane again on Friday. We'd been trying for over a month!

Jane is a member of TROT (Trail Riders Of Today), which means she is very familiar with most of the trails in the area. She helps maintain them and knows the stories behind them. A ride with Jane = something new and exciting. At least for those of us who accompany her! She's a GREAT trail guide and knows the trails in Redneck Park, a huge, huge park only 2 miles away, by heart.

For this ride, it was Jane on Ace, Mary on Willa, and Kathy on Queenie. Lily and I led.

We rode through the backwoods and through the soybean farm to get to our destination.

The backwoods.

So different from just a couple of weeks ago!
Seeing the seasons change just fills me with this overwhelming joy.
I longed for this for so many years!
Trai through the backwoods.
Corner of the farm. This is where the cornfield used to be, off to the left. 
Pond where the Goshen Hunt started off their ride on Opening Day this past weekend. Kathy was there for it and took some pretty awesome photos!

Lily and I rode with Mary and Willa in the front, while Kathy on Queenie and Jane on Ace brought up the back. Lily and Willa were much faster than the other two horses, so every once in a while we'd stop and wait for them to catch up, or turn around and walk back to meet them.

Lily had a couple of episodes of brattiness where she decided that she did not want to stop and wait for the others. If I made her stop, she was going to back up her sweet little bum back home, as fast as she could walk herself forward.

Uh, no Lily. 

We resolved this by trotting and leg-yielding down the trail, while Willa walked in circles around us like a satellite. For whatever reason, Willa, who is a bossy, mean creature to other horses, ADORES Lily and will succumb at her heels. It always makes Mary and me laugh. Mares can be so weird... 

After that, Lily was happy to go forward in a straight line. It helped that we had reached the real trailhead by then. 

The Red Barn trail that we took last time.

Red Barn trail.

River crossing. Photographic evidence of her drinking!!
There was a steep drop into a muddy bank to cross this river. Lily and I found an area that was less muddy and went through there. She didn't hesitate for a second; she went right in and proceeded to guzzle water!

The trail forked into two very muddy areas. Lily and I ventured into the fork that seemed easier but ended up being the muddier of the two...I was SO proud of her, because the footing was truly muck. Black, sucking mud with puddles in deep hoofprints where horses had gone through before us. Stuff that previously she would never have touched with her dainty little hooves. Lily looked at the mud but went in when I asked her to. She floundered about and came to a standstill facing Willa, who was behind us. Lily sank down to her cannon bones standing splay-legged like Bambi's first time on ice. I'm sure at that instant we both had the same expression: "OH SHIT!"

THAT expression.
And Willa, who was facing us, looked as amused as Thumper: "Yeah, Lily! Go in that mud! I'll just stand here and watch you!"

At that moment, Jane, who was bringing up the rear, saw where we were headed and told us to take the other fork. I urged Lily forward. She was more than happy to get out of there and lead the way through the higher, dryer trail.

The trail that followed was like a roller coaster ride. Very steep hills up and down over some gnarly, rocky footing. I heard Kathy comment behind us that you needed a horse that was part billy goat to navigate that trail.

Apparently I own one, because Lily tackled that trail like no one's business, picking up the pace without nary a stumble. She lunged forward to gallop up the super steep inclines (I wish I'd gotten video!! I need a helmet cam), then sat herself down to go down the inclines. She used to HATE going downhill and would try to do them sideways or just balk altogether when I tried to set her up so she didn't try to go down on her forehand. 

Not anymore!! I don't even have to set her up. She just sits and scooches forward methodically and confidently. She's learned to channel her inner cavalry horse.

Like this. Except the inclines we went down were closer to 65 degrees, not 90! Hahaha...

Willa kept up, staying close behind Lily. I could hear Mary laugh when Willa reacted in a similar way to Lily through these obstacles. Kathy and Jane brought up the rear. Ace and Queenie felt no need to act like cavalry horses-they've reached that age where they have no need to get anywhere in a hurry except home. Whenever they lagged behind too much, they'd trot to catch up to Mary and me.

We eventually made it out to here:

The trail took us around one of the corn fields.

It led down between two adjoining cornfields and into Redneck Park.
There were hunters parked right next to the park trail head, but there is so much visibility with the loss of foliage in the woods that we decided to continue on ahead. Jane took us through trails bordering the fields so we would all be safer.

Into the rabbit hole!
Trail leading into Redneck Park.

Never mind the arch overhead. She was staring at the logs on the right. 
Silly mare.
We came upon another water crossing, a small creek with 2.5' banks on each side. On the near side, the trail became very narrow and somewhat muddy right next to the water. Lily stepped down into the water with barely a second thought. The trail was dry and wider on the opposite side but very steep. Lily said, "F that." and jumped from a standstill to clear the entire bank. It caught me so much by surprise that I burst out laughing. Willa behind us decided to do the same thing! Copycat. :)

Perry Trail. Named after the lady that single-handedly cleared it. 

Perry Trail.
We reached a point where two saplings had fallen directly onto the trail, not sideways but lengthwise. The horses would've had to scramble over branches to get over them, so there was no way. We ended up weaving through the other young trees around the area so we could go around the fallen trees to get back onto the trail. We encountered a lot of branches at eye level and I warned everyone behind us to watch their faces! It was an adventurous little section...

More Perry Trail.

It took us through a grove of pine trees.

Pine trees!!! (You'd think I'd never seen them before in my life...)

Jane calls this the Grand Canyon trail. We had to cross water to get here. It was an uneventful crossing through a narrow creek with flat banks on each side. 
This is the Patuxent River. Isn't it pretty? Even in winter.

Rushing water.

Of course you can't see here, but we had the river on the right and a dry riverbed on the left of the trail.

Lily "pointing" at the view. "COOL!" she says.
This is the same mare that used to be so afraid of water, she'd balk at the sound of running water!

I dunno, all of this set against the overcast day reminded me of a prettier version of The Swamps of Sadness in The Neverending Story.

...Don't you agree?...(Ok, I'm aging myself. So what...Lol)

This trail climbed fairly steeply and turned into a dry creek bed with knee-high banks on each side. The trench was wide enough for the horses to go in single file, but there really was no extra room: it was, at most, 2' wide. We had attempted this trail once before going downhill (in the opposite direction) and Lily had freaked out about the trench and whipped around, crashing into Willa (no one was hurt), who had also been behind us at the time. I never did get to write about that ride. 
This time around, there was one instant where Lily recognized the trench. Her ears shot forward and she tried to pause and leap onto the side bank (no room whatsoever for a horse there! Less than a foot of space between the trees and the edge of the bank) but I immediately straightened her to keep her in the creek bed and kicked her forward into a trot. She obeyed and we eventually made it out of the creek and onto the trail unscathed. 

Out of the rabbit hole! 
The path between soybean fields was at the end of these trees.

I love her.

Random pumpkin tossed in the center of one of the soybean fields. For sharpshooting practice?

Soybean fields! This is where we did our most recent canter sets. 

Mah posse.
Kathy and Queenie were off to the left of Mary (directly behind me), and that's Jane on Ace in the back.

Gravelly road that I talked about here. See? Ouchy. Lily walked just fine over it because she was wearing all 4 Renegades.

The road between sod fields. The field to the right had been...harvested? I have no idea what the correct term would be. Basically the sod had been removed to be sold.

Heavy machinery. NBD.

Sod fields

Sod fields.
It looks like velvet. I always want to take off running and roll all over it. (Is that weird?)

Gravelly road. It just looked pretty with the afternoon light and clearing skies.
A farmer in a huge John Deer tractor came up the road and stopped before we were even close to him, pulling up to the side of the road so we could pass safely. He even turned the tractor off for us. We all thanked him profusely.
What a nice, nice guy!!

The grassy path where Lily always wants to canter heading home.

Through cannon-bone-deep mud, numerous water crossings, over gnarly billy-goat-worthy trails. 
Love these boots!

But I love her the most. <3


  1. She's become such a wonderful trail partner!!

  2. Wow, what a great ride! Nice job on traversing the area where Lily freaked out last time. That's always a challenge. I love that you have wide open spaces and tree lined avenues, plus water challenges on your rides.

    I want to ride with you. The commute would be a bit much, however.

    Planning on getting Renegades in the spring.

    1. The trails here are pretty incredible.
      I'd love to ride with you too, but agree on the commute. :)

      Yay Renegades!

  3. What a great ride!!! I'm the same way about sod fields... so I hope it's not weird LOL! Also very sweet of the farmer to stop his tractor. I miss the days when everyone knew how to behave around horses and people were actually polite to strangers. Also yay Lily for drinking!! And for the boots staying on. :D And I want a helmet cam too lol.

    1. Sounds like we have a lot in common. :) Loving your blog, btw!