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



Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Loop

Two weekends ago, Charles had dropped me off at the barn while I set up feed for the girls: he wanted to check out a nearby park that we'd ridden past during our first explorations of the new area. I figured it would take him 10 minutes tops to go and come back.

30 minutes later I was anxiously looking at the clock wondering the hell he'd gone to, when he finally returned. He was bubbling with excitement: he had discovered how to connect the two roads leading in opposite directions from the barn to make them one big loop. We went on our ride and he gave me the tour afterwards in the car.

It was, indeed, a loop, and we had not been that far from making the connection during our rides in both directions. I promised him we would ride it soon.

On Sunday the weather cooperated and we decided to go for our long ride. I have been itching to go on a longer 10+ mile ride since the ride with Gail back in February and stuff kept happening to cut our rides short, so I figured on this day we'd do the new loop and tack on the additional loop through all of the neighbor fields if necessary to make the desired distance.

We set the girls up with haynets to munch on prior to the ride and took our sweet time grooming and tacking up so they would get to finish all of the hay: I wanted them to go out on full stomachs. Since the weather keeps doing crazy shit like dropping into the teens on Saturday night, I still haven't been able to touch up Lily's blanket clip from October (you can still see the demarcation on her coat in specific lighting) so I gave her 1 scoop of Perform N' Win mixed with water in a 60 ml syringe prior to our ride: she's been sweating a lot and I wanted to keep her drinking well throughout this ride, especially since I knew we were going to have plenty of access to water. It was 33 degrees when we arrived at the barn but temps were supposed to soar up into the 50's before we returned from our ride. I gave Lily a syringe with scoop of Perform n' Win electrolytes mixed with water: she's been sweating much more than Gracie on these rides.

We headed out, taking the bridle path up to the neighbor's field, past the cornfield and down the road towards the bridge, moving along at a trot most of the way except for the paved portion before the bridge. Once past the bridge, we stopped at the river so the girls could drink.

Photo from a different day, but same spot in the river.
And continued on our way, connecting to the new section of gravel road that Charles had discovered.

There was a fork in the road: we could either go straight, which is what we had driven, or turn to the left over another small bridge. We chose to go over the bridge and explore.

The creek from the small bridge. See that yellow and black sign? The horses didn't even notice it. Remember this for later.
View from the other side of the bridge
We followed the road to where it became two lanes with a yellow line dividing them and here I suggested we turned around: marks on the road suggest "main road" to me, and I'm a lot more comfortable riding on the quiet unmarked back country roads.

We went back towards the small bridge but instead of crossing the bridge itself, we just stepped down into the creek so the horses could take a drink. We all climbed up the bank and headed out towards the gravel road we had driven the previous weekend.

The road took us through grassy fields and past a few houses. It looked a lot like the second loop of Fort Valley and I told Charles about it. It eventually turned to pavement, and we had the option of turning right, which would eventually take us back towards the barn, or continuing straight.

We had all day, so we elected to continue straight.

Except this route was haunted. Or something. Because both mares decided that they absolutely would NOT go this way.

Both mares agreed that the 30 mph speed limit sign was a Bad Sign. You know, because white eats horses but apparently yellow does not...(sometimes. Sometimes yellow is carnivorous.) Lily decided that the pale tree on the left ate horses and Gracie was convinced that the Boogie Monster lived in the green shed on the right. 

...the things horses see...
We were going to just ride them onwards but a truck materialized headed our way and we decided to turn around and not argue with the mares in the middle of the road.

We turned towards home and the mares picked up a trot again of their own accord. A guy on an ATV took off across the hills to our left and neither mare even flicked an ear at him. Good girls! (But seriously? An ATV is okay but a 30 mph sign is not?? MARES!)

The road eventually takes travellers right through the very center of a dairy farm. It's pretty cool and highly unusual.


The mares were a little looky through here but did pretty well considering. We continued trotting until we were well past the farm buildings.

Shortly after this, the road connects to the park road we explored not long after moving. We went over the big bridge and past the park, and continued on towards the barn.


We passed the barn driveway, where both mares looked back over their shoulders like, "Ummm home is back that way," but they obeyed when we asked them to continue. We took the bridle path up through the neighbor's fields and down the trail towards the river.

The water level of the big river was down. There is a trail leading down towards it that I had been hesitant to try previously due to the water level with the snow melt. Charles thought he could see an ATV trail on the other side, so we decided to check it out on this day.

This gives you an idea of how wide the river is in this section. 
Crystal clear water
As it turned out, the ATV trail was a dead end in both directions, but we had fun taking the girls in the water again on the way back.





Gracie says, "Can we just stay here all day?"
We cantered up the steep hill opposite the river bank and did a short loop around the fields before heading back towards the barn.





We completed 11 miles in 2.5 hours.

The girls got untacked and groomed while eating soupy mashes. They got turned back out in their field afterwards.

On the way home, we stopped at The Little Red Barn for ice cream. It is located in the tiny town of Jefferson, MD, only about 15 minutes from the barn. Charles ordered a chocolate milkshake and I got an Oreo Barnstormer, which is similar to a McFlurry but oh so much better...






It was an awesome day!

13 comments:

  1. It continues to baffle me how horses decide scary vs. not scary haha Sounds like it was a great ride and the ice cream afterwards was the perfect way to celebrate! Let's hope that spring is finally here to stay.

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    1. It baffles me too. It can be frustrating in the moment but is quite funny in hindsight.

      Amen to spring!

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  2. What awesome riding opportunities! And the ice cream! You know you're headed toward spring when ice cream on a 50 degree day sounds good:)

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    1. Hahaha I know, right? After all of the temps in the 20s recently, 50 degrees felt wonderfully warm!

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  3. I LOVE THE RIVER!!!

    What a wonderful ride. I can't wait to see it when the trees are in leaf. Was this the ride with the hawk and the fox? I really love this area and have already told J that we must go there for Ice Cream.

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    1. Yes, this was the ride with the hawk and the fox. :) The fox darted across the ATV trail after we crossed the river, and the hawk swooped over Charles when we were headed home on the road. It was a really beautiful ride. Other than the mares being silly over that one section of road they didn't want to take (what they did wasn't a big deal but we decided it wasn't worth arguing at that point), it was relaxing and uneventful.

      And yes!!! We'll take you there for ice cream! :D And then to the Cuban place for dinner.

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  4. I love the river! And now I want ice cream....

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  5. That river is to die for. Wow.

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  6. I really want to visit Frederick now :) You are so lucky to have that many options right from the barn. Endless opportunities for conditioning and that roads look great for speed work too. Enjoy the spring!

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  7. what a perfect end to a lovely sounding ride! glad the mares were well behaved (despite those skerry skerry signs haha)

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