Monday, April 9, 2012

Pig Farm Ride Cont'd...

Here's the rest of the ride story:

Getting more agitated by the minute at the cold wind that seemed to be picking up, I finished saddling up . Moved Maggie around in a circle or two to make sure nothing was pinching or grabbing her hair funny and hopped on. I knew once I got into the state land it would better in the heavy timber so I hurried her to the trail head.At the trailhead is also more parking, more intended for hikers and bikers but today a large horse trailer with about 7 or 8 horses and a group of younger individuals were plugging the parking lot, and the trail head. They all seemed to be novices ,each one struggling with some stage of having their horses properly tacked up. A woman who appeared to be trying to run things walked around assisting everyone. All I could think was I needed to get the heck out of sight before they hit the trail.

I zigzagged Maggie through the crowd and FINALLY we were on the logging road that would eventually wind us into one of numerous trails we could grab. I could feel myself relax for the first time all morning. Maggie walked out quietly but with a spring in her step. Remembering that I wanted to track miles, I checked my vest pocket for my GPS only to find it empty. I apparently , hopefully left it at the truck. Plan B- ride for at least two hours. That would be a good solid workout for Mags. We followed the logging road for about the first mile and then darted off into the trees. The snow started to come down and suddenly I heard a dog come running up behind , panting heavily. Maggie was alerted but not overly concerned. It's common for dogs to be in the area as bikers and hikers often let them run loose. Sadly , too many dogs end up lost this way as well, never to be found again.. This dog realized I wasn't anyone he recognized and headed back the way he came. Fine with us! Maggie and I picked up a trot, and made our way up, around and further back into the trail system. For the next hour, that dog kept appearing randomly out of the woods, startling both Maggie and I pretty good at one point as we came around a corner. This dog was clearly looking for someone. At one point, I stopped Maggie , hopped off and I tried to call him but he just kept running. Best I could tell was that he was some kind of springer/hunting dog, who are generally high strung/crazy anyways. If he wasn’t going to come to me, there wasn't much I could do for him so I turned off onto another trail hoping to lose him once and for all. I know, not very nice but I have been adopted on my trail rides dozens of times by lost dogs over the years in this place , some I found the owners for , others I end up taking to the pound. This day, I wasn't really up for dealing with some other person's irresponsibility. Folks, keep a leash on the hounds.
Maggie and I continued our ride and it snowed on us for the first half of the ride. Eventually the sun did come out and it turned out to be a perfect afternoon. Maggie was behaving really well and I ran into no one. It was just Maggie and I , the birds and the wind in the trees. The dog had apparently decided to not follow us anymore. We meandered through the network of trails. There is a lot of variation to the trails in this area. A lot of up and down, some technical along with some great , pine needle covered, flat , easy to "smoke " 'em trails. I let Maggie pick up her trot on these areas and let her do her Morgan Road Trot thing. We even had a few nice canters. If I could guess, Maggie seemed to be actually enjoying the ride we were on. Not once did she look over her right shoulder and want to turn around, which she often does. Are we finally beginning to get in sync with one another??? Maybe…
We had been going for a little over 2 hours at this point and I was sort of headed in the long about direction back out but ended up finding a nice wide logging road with soft footing. It was a gradual climb. I turned her in that direction and asked her to pick up a trot. She trotted for a few strides but then dropped into the nicest little canter, uphill!!! I love the feeling of a horse pushing themselves up a hill at a canter. I let her canter until the first bit of the hill leveled out, then asked her for a trot again for a bit and eventually she offered to walk. This must have been a first! She always walks willingly when I ask her to, but if we are trotting, rarely will she ask to walk here self.. Maybe she is starting to figure out that she doesn’t always have to be in such a hurry. When we reached the top, I hopped off, checked her legs and let her graze for while. I wished at that moment I had the heart rate monitor or even a watch on me, but didn’t have that either. She was huffing and puffing (still has a winter coat!) but she seemed to recover quickly.
We rode for 3 hours with only that one 10 minute break. When we arrived back to the trailer, she was tired but not wiped out. She still shows some level of being uncertain being out there alone but I saw some real progress with her. For the first time it felt less like a battle and better than anything else, Maggie seemed  be enjoying it.
Looking forward to the next ride out with my girl…

P.S - Oh, the dog story .. there is more. It turns out the dog belonged to the large group of riders I had seen at the start of my ride. They asked me if I had seen in it. I told them I had a couple hours earlier, about 4 miles in. I carried on, crossed the road and headed back to the parking lot where my trailer was. A guy on his tractor called out to me wondering if I was looking for a dog. I sent him down the road to the owners. I am sure they were glad to find him. Lucky dog, he won’t be cougar bait.

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