Hubby and I are going away for the weekend, and took today as vacation to get a few things done around the house. So after we got back from breakfast at the local diner, Zephyr got his first set of shoes for the year. (Nate says Zephyr feet ARE bigger this spring!) I’m trying Shock Tamer rim pads on his front feet, and also going back to the aluminum wedge shoes he’s worn off and on (on his front feet) since he first had trouble with his right deep flexor tendon. Nate did a great job, as usual, and after lunch I saddled up for a test ride.
I know it doesn’t look like it in the picture, but I’ve gotten a lot of his winter hair off... there’s just still a lot left!!
We headed out of the yard, across the stream, and into the woods on the trail that runs between our yard and Gary’s. After the second (bigger) stream crossing, we took one of the many “go-rounds” over the root ball of a tree that Gary and I found down across the trail when we rode together recently. We’ve gotten a lot of rain recently, so a couple seconds after we walked across the root ball, there was a creaking/breaking sound of the tree falling as the roots let go. Zephyr freaked out a little bit... it was a creepy sound!... but stood in place. After the tree was done falling, which actually took longer than I would have thought, I took this picture. The good news is, it will be easier to get around the tree now... but the bad news is, as the rest of the roots rot it will probably get dangerous to do so. Looks like it’s finally time to go in with a chainsaw!
We continued down the trail and through a logging yard out onto a small paved road, then trotted down that road and crossed into the woods on the far side of a T intersection. This trail is pretty rocky from all the ATVs that use it, which is really too bad because I happen to know that the owner doesn’t want them there but can’t stop them because he lives out of state. Gates and signs don’t bother them.
Anyway, we trotted as much as we could through this stretch, but it was a lot of stop-and-go. This was one of the good stretches. The light was really cool through the leaves but unfortunately it didn’t come through well in the picture.
We came out of the woods onto the power lines, crossed a paved road, and headed towards Silver Lake. We’ve had a lot of rain lately, as I mentioned, so I wasn’t sure how far we’d get, but I decided to try. I wanted to get off the roads and onto a trail we hadn’t seen in a while, to help with Zephyr’s typical boredom around home.
There was a nice go-round around a snowmobile bridge that isn’t safe for horses. There certainly was plenty of water on the trail! I sponged at every chance, as it was pretty warm and Zephyr still had so much winter hair.
We passed an eagle’s nest up on the power poles, and the adult was circling and screaming. I tried to look as unthreatening as possible!
You may have noticed in the pictures above that the sky was beginning to darken. The air had also cooled and a fairly stiff breeze had come up. I decided that at the next cross road we’d turn and follow the road back home, so we wouldn’t get stuck under the power lines if it started to thunder. It just seemed like a dumb place to be in a storm!
Unfortunately, just before we reached the cross road (literally named Cross Road), there was a swampy area. I remembered going through it last year but couldn’t remember which of the three paths was safest. I opted for the far left side, which looked like it had more grass and less mud and water.
Unfortunately, Zephyr went into it willingly and immediately sank to his belly. For the next twenty feet (and what seemed like six years), he fought tooth and nail to claw his way out the other side. All I could do was just stay balanced over his center of gravity, hold my feet out as far as I could to the side so they’d be out of the way of his flailing limbs, and hold on to his mane. It was bad... at least once, he sank in up to the base of his neck and stretched his neck out in front of him with the bottom of his jaw touching the muck! Eventually, however, we came out the other side. I immediately jumped off and checked him all over.
I was relieved to see that the only effect was that his interference boots had slid down over his fetlock joint and were encircling his pasterns instead of his cannon bones. And of course he had mud all over him, even up on top of his rump! I removed the boots one at a time, wiped the mud off his legs as well as I could, put the boots back on, and mounted up to walk out to the road (pictured at right). There were no further incidents.......... for a while.
At the next intersection, we turned right so we could drop in to visit a friend. It was a good thing he doesn’t live too far down that road, because I couldn’t believe the amount of traffic! LOUD traffic, too. I counted at least three of those whiney-sounding crotch-rocket motorcycles. It was putting me on edge. Dan was out in his yard cutting some wood, and after a quick hello we were on our way home.
As soon as we made the next turn, the traffic died off and I relaxed. I let him stop in a field for a little grazing, then we were off again. Right turn onto another quiet paved road... left turn onto our own road... stopped in a neighbor’s driveway to chat. This neighbor lives only a few houses down from us, and has a little barn. He’s given me permission to stall Zephyr in there if I ever feel like the weather is bad enough to need it. After chatting for a few minutes, Zephyr and I moved on.
We were on the left side of the road and had just trotted by a section of guard rail... I don’t like to be stuck next to a guard rail when traffic comes by... and I was just about to slow him to a walk when he looked to the left, over the edge, and SOMETHING caught his eye/ear. I have no idea what. Before I knew it, he had spooked to the right and I was airborne over his left shoulder. As I was flying through the air, I swear I thought to myself “well, this is new, usually I come off over the RIGHT shoulder!”
I think I landed rolling, because I hit my elbows, outside of my right thigh above my knee, and the right side of my head just behind the ear. My head hit pretty hard, so I was immediately grateful I had a helmet on! I got right up and started walking after Zephyr, the obnoxious brat, who was trotting off down the road away from home. Luckily my neighbor John and his dog were still out in their driveway so they came running towards us. John had his arms spread wide, so Zephyr turned and trotted back towards me. When he got distracted by the grass at the side of the road, I walked right up to him and grabbed the reins while I caught my breath.
After I reassured John that I would be fine, I walked Zephyr the last few dozen feet to our driveway. I untacked him at the trailer, put him back in the paddock, and went inside to change and inspect my bruises. So far, there’s a small scrape on one elbow (thanks to the long sleeves I ALWAYS wear) and a puffy discolored swatch of skin above my knee which will probably become a lovely bruise.
My new helmet is already on order... a new style called the “Aegis Aspen” that I’ve heard fits oval heads well and whose style seems a little less mushroom-head than most. (They no longer make the type of helmet I’ve been using.) Good thing I started doing my research on this a few months ago!! The first ride of the year is in two weeks so I don’t have time to mess around.
I’m off to Vermont at 5am tomorrow, and I DOUBT that 6 hours of sitting in the car will make me feel LESS stiff, so wish me luck!
Edited on Sunday night to add... over the weekend Zephyr pulled off his right front shoe. Do you think he’s trying to tell me something??? Good thing Nate is going to be down the road at Gary’s this Friday, he can put it back on then. I just hope it STAYS on through the ride... ‘cause even my OLD size 0 easy boot doesn’t fit him anymore!!