mile point was for Saturdays ride, and to let him stretch a bit. The
leaves on the trees were beautiful against the bright, clear blue sky.
Camp is right near the MO river, and the trail I took went up along a
ridge, over looking the river. While a bit cool, the weather was really,
really nice. We all wished it would stay like that for the weekend, but
the forecast was not looking in our favor. Everything from sleet,
freezing rain, to snow and frigid temperatures were being tossed out by
weather-guessers. The ride meeting went quick, as everyone was cold,
and we all quickly rushed for our capers and trailers to figure our
times for the maps, and warm up. Not a lot of social chit chat Friday
night! Heard a few rain drops hit the roof over night, but Saturday
morning dawned with only the smallest little tiny snowflakes dropping by
the time we rode out. I am usually ready early, and one of the first to
time out, but this AM I was just running behind, rushed, and ended up
almost last. But Hank did not seem to know, or care, and walked out of
camp calm and not in a rush to catch anyone.
Right as we leave camp is a horse bridge, that we were told to cross,
and then halt with our horses hind feet still on the bridge. Hank did so
nicely, and we then headed on down the trail. Not long, and I hooked up
with Mary Anna Wood, who owns Elmer Bandit. (Google Elmer Bandit if you
do not know of him). She was riding a borrowed horse for the weekend,
who Hank has ridden with before. They pace well together, and we rode
all day together. Hank likes being in the lead, and Striker is happy to
The trails wander up and down through the woods, along ridges, across a
few streams, and around the edges of open fields. Over all, the weather
was kind. Every once and awhile, we would get the small snow flakes
again, but no wind to speak of, and the footing was much better than
anticipated. I had been told if it rained, the trails got really slick.
Most of us were preferring the rain coming down in the frozen form, as
it was not making the trails slick. I could see how some of the hills we
went up and down would be a real challenge if they were slick. This is
a really beautiful park. I will try to get photos tomorrow, as it is not
to rain or snow on us.
The vet does a good balance of metabolic and soundness checks, and
obstacles to show the horses basic skills for doing distance riding,
without being too "horse show" like. We had a metabolic check in hand,
then we had to position the horse, and then do a 180 degree turn on the
forehand, then back them down a grassy slope, position them for a mount
from the slope, and we were done. Because of the limited areas the
judges could get to us, they made this one a multi part. We had to wait
for our turn, and it was the one spot where the wind picked up. Hank was
getting cold, and a little cranky, but he was a good boy. I found it
interesting that I was the only rider I saw who had brought a rump rug
to pull over their horses hind quarters during the P&R's, or while
stopped. I was not going to risk him cramping up from the cold. Later
we had another observation where they did another metabolic check, then
a trot for soundness, and then we had to stop, side pass over to a tree,
and remove or clip on a flagging ribbon. We have marked a lot of trails,
and Hank was a good boy, and did not figure out how to put his own spin
on it. He did not lose any P&R points, but we had to have one recheck.
Just as she took his pulse, the wind kicked up with a big cold gust, a
couple people walked in front of him to go to another horse, and I could
see him get worried about all of it. But on the recheck, all was fine.
He also had his gums show they were "injected" again. Wish we could
figure out whey they do this out of the blue, but I think it is just
going to be something that happens with him. All the other parameters
are always fine.
So, with all judging and P&R's done, we cruised in the last 8 of the 27+
miles. He was very chipper, and feeling good. I can not describe the
feeling of having him trot so willing down the trail, after such a long
season, and this being the 5th weekend in a row for us to be at a ride.
Even with the temps in the 30's, I was feeling pretty warm inside.
After we got back in camp, the vet came by the trailer, and everything
was fine. Still a little injected in the gums, and that tendon that he
had slight issue with earlier in the year had a little bit of fill. But
his back and legs looked great, and he is munching away with his jammies on.
Tomorrow is to be cold, but no wet or frozen stuff is to fall. Hope
that holds true.