Grace and I are taking you on today's ride.
We had our first big rain storm of the season last night. Both arenas were too sloppy to ride in, so we hit the trails today. I have the incredible fortune to live right next to a Saddle Club, complete with 2 outdoor arenas and 120 acres of trails.
The trails are heavily wooded with lots of hills and bends. There is a cross country course throughout the park. This is a drop jump. Belle likes to jump up it, while Grace and I go around.
I grew up a mile down the road from where I currently live. I lived on these trails as a kid. This was before cell phones and the Internet. We had a Commodore 64, but my summers were spent outside! I will always remember the year that my neighbor finally got a pony. She and I spent the entire summer on those trails. We rode our horses 3 times a day; the first ride was after breakfast. Afterwards we would hose the horses down and let them graze in her lawn while we ate lunch. The second ride was mid afternoon, and the best ride of the day was after dinner, right before it got dark. By the end of the summer, I knew those trails better than the back of my hand.While the horses loved all the attention and the hand grazing, I get the feeling they both breathed a big sigh of relief in September when they saw the school bus pull up.
I was a pony club member and I also evented. At some point I have been over every jump on the cross country course. This one looks small, but is actually a drop. Two strides later there is another drop. I'm pretty sure I had my eyes closed the first time I jumped it!
The cross country course is no longer used, so it's rather over grown. This fence used to really scare me. This one is on the Novice course, its a ramp set at the base of a hill.
This one looked a lot scarier when I was a kid. It's 3 feet high, 3 feed wide and solid! This is where I got my first concussion. It was at Pony Club camp in 1988. I had already psyched myself out over this jump, but when Todd Trewin told me to jump it, there was no way I was going to say no. I was too far forward when my little mare jumped it and I landed on a rock on the other side, on my head! I rode the rest of the day, even jumped the entire Training course, including this jump again. The next morning I couldn't lift my head off my pillow. Good thing I had a helmet on!
Grace and I don't jump over the cross country jumps. We have been known to gallop around them pretty fast! In the summer I use the trails to breeze Grace and build up her wind. Running around the jumps helps me to get comfortable turning at speed, not unlike a barrel turn.
On one of our first gallops, Belle chose to jump over a log as we were going around it. It was totally unexpected and I laughed so hard I almost fell off! The trails are very under used. I always make sure there isn't anyone out there we might run over before we go any faster than a jog. We usually have the whole place to ourselves.
For the last few weeks I've been adding a trail ride in either before or after our arena ride. I typically ride Grace 45 minutes to an hour a day. The trails are especially great on those days that Grace nails down whatever I am asking her in the arena in the first 20 minutes. Leaving the arena for the trail gives me a chance to reward her, while still keeping her fit.
Now that it has started raining, it won't be long before the trails are too muddy to go any faster than a walk. This is when I will incorporate 1/4 mile long dirt driveway, and the road that runs through the saddle club.
In another month the water jump will be filled with water. It gets so deep that it touches Grace's belly!
This is the larger of the two arenas. The footing was replaced last year and seems to be finally settling. It gets sloppy after the first big rainfall, but after that it will be perfect. It's the perfect size for practicing Western Riding patterns or a standard barrel pattern.
This is the smaller arena. It is the warm up arena for the once a month horse shows. I like to set trail patterns in this one, complete with cones, poles, and a tarp. It also works for short barrel pattern.
Thanks for joining us, it was nice to have someone to ride with. I think I should get a helmet cam so I can take you on a gallop!