Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ginger Hits the Trail (pt 5)

I took Ginger on the Amelia Springs Trail Ride.
http://ameliaspringstrailride.com/  We had a good long ride, and I was very pleased with her performance.  Before this, I had worked her at the farm one more time.  She did well, never tried to duck down the driveway at all.  The following weekend, we trailered Ginger and about a half dozen other horses to the far side of the state park.  She was understandably nervous around new horses and a strange place.  However, she settled in nicely after we got moving.  She did shy once at some unseen bogeyman in the woods.  I think it was legit, because the other, more trail wise horses also seemed to have seen something, though none of them shied from it.  She shied a second time later on.  This time the other horses just trooped on past.  I thought I heard one of them whisper "Rookie" as he passed by.  She is a bit soft from languishing in the pasture for so long.  We rode for a little over 2 hours, and near the end, Ginger ran out of steam.  From there, we simply went back to the trail head at a leisurely walk.

                                            No Rest For the Weary

I gave Ginger a good rubdown with absorbine when we got back.  But, the very next weekend she was working hard again.  This time, another rider took her on a long, fast trail ride in North Carolina.  He reported that early on, she attempted to back up with him.  He simply turned her around and backed her about one hundred feet past the point she initially balked.  No more shenanigans after that.  They also encountered some vehicle traffic with absolutely no problems. 

The Amelia Springs Trail Ride was next on Gingers' plate.  We set off on Friday afternoon, and trailered the hour or so to the farm that hosted the event.  We had eleven horses in tow.  All were pre-registered, so check in went smoothly.

Checking in at Amelia Springs
 One of our number had already parked his big gooseneck trailer at our chosen campsite.  It was loaded with buckets, feed, hay, and other horse supplies.  We parked our other two goosenecks at either end of the first one.  This formed a small quadrangle that functioned as our camp for the weekend.

Our camp.  I'm always something of an odd duck, the tipi style tent is mine.

Other groups set up tents and trailers along with a patchwork of portable electric fences for their horses.  All of this quickly grew up around pre-established travel lanes.  In all, about 250 riders came out.

The ride is set up on farmland that is also used as a hunt club.  Our hosts provided meals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  These were served up by an enthusiastic troop of Boy Scouts.  The farm is crisscrossed with a system of well marked trails.  There is a short ride of 14 miles, and a long one of 21 miles, all marked out with directional signs.  The two trails converge at a clearing at the nine mile point.  There, the Boy Scouts had set up several barbecue grills.  I let Ginger graze a bit, then tied her to a tree.  We relaxed and enjoyed burgers, hot dogs, beans, and potato salad. 

Most of our group elected to take the long trail.  Our walking horses are well conditioned, with Ginger being the rookie.  All of them easily covered the ground.  We rode for about six hours with a break for lunch.  On a big hill about an hour or 45 minutes from the end, our horses showed some fatigue.  We dismounted at the top and let them rest for 15 or 20 minutes.  I was pleased that Ginger held up as well as the other, more experienced horses.  She finished out the ride at her smooth, ground eating amble.  I let her pick her own pace going up the last few hills, and she took them eagerly. 

She was obviously tired when we got back to camp.  I unsaddled her and let her have a bucket of water.  Then, I led her around the camps for several laps, until her breathing returned to normal.  Once she was cool, I led her down to the wash rack and sprayed her off with water.  She finished off her day with a big bag of hay and plenty of water. 

Ginger has performed so well, that she has spent the past week with a prospective buyer.  Not bad for a horse that didn't want to do anything a couple months ago. 

Crossing the creek.  From front to rear are; Ginger, Cherokee, and Shadow.
photo by www.AntscapePhoto.com
 The little horse behind me in this photo is Cherokee.  Four months ago this horse was terrified of running water.  I lost count of how many creeks we crossed during this ride.  Cherokee even took at least one good long drink while we were out.  You can read about some of Cherokees' adventures here;

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