Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great Pond Mountain Wildlands

On Sunday September 20, Jill and I went to get the boys from the field.  They were as far from the gate as they could get!  Six acres can take a while to cross, when laid out in an L.  Look carefully, they’re both here:


Jill and Ellen hauled their horses over to the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands.  Zephyr and I hitched a ride with Jill.  She bought a pair of Fuzzy Logic Equine riding pants from me… here we are, styling in our Ready 2 Ride pants!




We headed north on Valley Road, then Flagg Road, then Hillside Trail.  Despite the promising start, we soon lost the trail in the woods, and decided to go check out the scenery first before trying again.  jill had forgotten her breastplate and her saddle was slipping badly, so i gave her mine.  i had to expand it from the smallest setting all the way to the largest!


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While checking out the scenery, we got a few really great opportunities to canter, which was excellent for Jill and her greenie, Joe.  We had some great conversations about “finding your seat of power”, and effective equitation versus classically correct equitation.  Eventually we turned back and tried Hillside Trail again.  This time, I led and watched for the gray-blue slashes on the trees.  We made it!  Great trail, with more great views.  I like this trail, it’s the only footpath-type trail that the Trust currently allows horses on.  I think it’s a great way to prove how small an impact horses can make on woods paths. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures from that section.


(my capital letters just stopped working and i have no idea why.)  here we are back out on valley road, with great pond mountain in the background.

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zephyr finished the day in great shape despite all his hooves being bare. 

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we had such a wonderful time!  it was only 4 miles or so, and maybe 2 hours if i remember right, but we just really enjoyed ourselves.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Stone House

On Saturday the 19th, several fellow members of the Mid-Maine Equestrian Search and Rescue (MMESAR) unit visited me for a weekend of pleasure riding.  Jill and Ellen were scheduled to arrive Friday after I got home from work.  Ellen arrived first and we got her Arab mare set up in one half of the paddock in the front yard. Shortly after dark, Jill arrived and we settled her Paint gelding in to the other half of the paddock, with glow sticks on the electric tape because he hadn’t seen it before pitch dark.  Zephyr was in his own paddock in the backyard.  Aided by dinner from the local pizza joint, we had an enjoyable but relatively short evening of visiting and socializing.  The early bedtime was good, because we were woken early Saturday morning!

I think it was around 6:00 a.m. when I heard Ellen come upstairs and go outside to take care of her mare.  Probably 15-20 minutes later, I sat bolt upright in bed, hearing galloping hooves.  Before I could even get up, my husband Louis was setting our boots out.  When we got to the front yard, Ellen had her mare by the halter and Jill’s gelding was galloping circles on our leach field… which is what ALWAYS happens when a horse gets loose on my property!  Crazy.  While I guarded the route to the main road, Louis was able to quietly get close enough to catch Joe.

After we rousted Jill from her warm bed, we debated long and hard, finally deciding to put the two geldings in the 6-acre field a few hundred feet down the road where Zephyr spends most of the summer.  They were VERY happy to go play!

Meanwhile, the mare went in the backyard paddock by herself. Then, starving, the three of us headed to the local diner!  Eggs Benedict for me, blueberry pancakes for Jill and Ellen.  Yummy!

When we got back, it was well past time to tack up.  Jill tied Joe next to Zephyr to keep him company while I gave his front hooves a quick trim prior to putting Easyboot Gloves on.  Even with a fresh trim, I had to go with the size 2s, the largest I have.  Those flares on his hoof walls are really interfering with the fit.  After trimming, we tacked up.


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Melissa arrived with her mare, Peek, while we were tacking up.  When we left the property we rode .3 of a mile up the paved road to the trailhead of the historic Ice Road trail, which was used many years ago to haul ice on horse-drawn sleds from Hancock Pond to local ice houses.

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The trail is one of my favorites, but I think I may be the only local horse person who uses it, so in the summer time it gets ragged.  I’m not even sure it’s used for much snowmobiling in the wintertime!  There’s some mud, a couple of short go-arounds for downed trees, and a few downed trees to step over.  I have to be honest, I enjoy the obstacles, it makes for good training on surefootedness.  Zephyr can, and does, trot most of that trail.  The youngest horse in the group, Joe the Paint, got some excellent experience with mud and such.  He started out very nervous about it, and by the end of that trail he was calmly walking through it!  Jill was working on the idea of “one step at a time”.

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We crossed several paved roads on this trail, then came out on Bald Mountain Road and turned right.  We might have had about a mile of pavement if I had to guess, then a small river with drinking access next to the bridge.  Zephyr sucked down about 3 gallons of water, I think!  Even Joe got in on the action; Jill hadn’t been sure what he’d do when faced with water.  It took him a minute but he got there!  No go on the wading, though, he just wasn’t sure enough of the footing.

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^^ Check out Joe’s Cavallo Simple Boots!  Jill is considering switching to Easyboot Gloves, she liked the looks of those gaiters better than the ones on the SBs.  The SBs are rubbing his heels so we spent some time discussing trimming for hoof boots, and the evils of hoof flares.

I had to lead through the next section of trail, it’s a really neat trail but not well known and the owner likes it that way.  To keep it hidden, not much is done in the way of trail trimming.  I hadn’t been through in about a year, so there was more dead wood than usual.  Zephyr got to show off his mad skillz as a chainsaw horse!  Not really, no chainsaws in sight… but when you can grab a dead tree in one hand, grab the breastcollar’s wither strap in the other hand, and, without steering, urge the horse forward while pulling at the dead tree (resulting in the tree breaking in half with a loud CRRACK and falling on the horse’s rump) with the horse staying calm, I think you’re entitled to brag.  No pictures from this section, silly me.

We popped out on a lovely 2-mile stretch of dirt road. For a road with no houses on it, there was a surprising number of vehicles!  All trucks, of course, given how rough the road eventually gets.

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Here you can see our eventual destination in the background:


We emerged into the blueberry barrens and were all overcome with the sense of how lucky we were to have such great weather, great company, great horses, and great places to ride!

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Melissa, you ought to recognize these towers… though you most recently saw them from the OTHER side of town… *evil grin*  (Story coming soon!)


This stone house is an old homestead.  I wish I knew more about it than that! All I know is that it’s at the top of the hill, and from the far side, it has a killer view.  You can see all the way to Bangor!

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The trail back included a long uphill on a rocky section of the dirt road.  I was pleased with how comfortable Zephyr was on the rocks, despite being barefoot on his hind hooves.

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The background shows the stone house:


This next picture was taken just a moment too late.  The Eating Machine had grabbed one of the bamboo-like plants that you see next to us,and it broke off at the base, leaving him with a mouthful of leaves and the entire 8’ length of stalk/trunk/stem hanging from his face.  He kept walking, which made the stalk/trunk/stem break off and ruined our photo op.

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Apparently, somewhere, someone has lots of something.

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When we were almost home, we stopped at Hancock Pond for a drink and a splash.  Joe went in further than any of the other horses!  Jill was so proud!


Got to see some geese on the way home from the pond.


When we got back home, the boots looked great.  New gaiter style on the right hoof, old gaiter style on the left hoof (reversed in photo).  Still not getting the new gaiter as tight as I want, but it’s working.


The boys were thrilled to get back to the field!


All in all, I think we rode about 14 miles, and since we mostly walked, it took us about 4.5 hours.  We got back to the house just in time for the MMESAR business meeting, for which a couple of other members drove up to join us.  After the meeting, Melissa went home and Ellen, Jill, and I watched The Black Stallion Returns and got to bed really late!  Sunday morning came too soon.  See the next entry for that story!