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.|
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 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.
|...the things horses see...|
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|
|Gracie says, "Can we just stay here all day?"|
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...