Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Praise of Mares - Not Missing The Storm

We have been out to the Indiana Dunes to ride the trails the last couple of weekends, and of course, there is always something to talk about afterwards. To me that is what is so neat about trail riding -- it is always an adventure of some sort. Even if we are just going for a short ride on the trails near our house, something always makes the ride unique -- sometimes scary, sometimes funny, sometimes just a bit more interesting.

A couple of Saturdays ago, the day looked beautiful in spite of the weather channel warnings that storms were headed our way. We looked outside at the blue sky, felt the perfect temperature, and then looked again at the weather channel and its green blobs headed our way and agreed -- "What the heck! Let's go anyway. We will be done riding by the time the storm gets here."

Sure, we would have been thru the trails before the storm got there. The day was still beautiful when we arrived at the Dunes and began grooming the girls and tacking them up. The day was still beautiful as we admired a new truck in the parking lot, then met the owner as he came back from his ride. It was still beautiful as we stood there talking trucks and horses for about 45 minutes.

He was riding a mare, and we talked about how some people say mares are so awful. None of us could understand that -- our mares are great!

It was still beautiful when a husband and wife came out from the trail, also riding mares, and stopped to talk. It was the first time we had been to those trails when every horse there was a mare! There were only 3 trucks and trailers in the lot, and we were all there in the parking lot together and we were all riding mares! It was so neat!! The husband and wife do some training, and said that they would rather train a mare than a gelding -- they said that mares learn faster (no surprise here -- females are smarter!!). In fact, they own 5 or 6 horses, and they are all mares. So it was still beautiful as we stood there feeling all "mare superior" and talking for another half hour.

Finally we started on our ride, and there were some grey clouds overhead. We get almost all the way thru the trails, we were about 3 miles out, and it started to rain. I mean really rain. Thankfully the Dunes are pretty wooded, so we were not getting soaked. But I could also hear thunder..... So we picked up the pace. It was not long until John and Zora were way ahead of Divna and me.

I got to one point on the trail where it comes to a "T" -- to the right takes you back to the parking lot; to the left takes you back out on the trail. I had a premonition that John and Zora went off to the left. Somehow I just knew it.

Sure enough, when we got back to the parking lot they were not there. Once in the parking lot I could see there was lightening with this storm. I did not want to be out in the clear and take a chance of becoming a lightening rod. Also, out in the open like that I was getting soaked, so we went back in a little ways onto the trail to wait for John and Zora.

Divna started getting all nervous being without Zora. It seemed like eternity until they showed up. Sure enough, they took a left at the "T" -- John got mixed up, so he let Zora find the way back.

We waited under a picnic shelter until the rain subsided.

All in all, a pretty good ride!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tippecanoe State Park

We are fortunate that Indiana has parks close by that have horse trails. Tippecanoe State Park is about an hour or so drive from our house, and they have riding trails and a horseman's campground. We don't like to camp there, because the horse camp does not have shower facilities -- and they are almost militant about horse people going over to the family campground to shower. Let's face it, if you are around horses all day and riding the trails you definitely need a shower at the end of the day. It is pretty poor planing of the park system not to recognize that. We decided if we ever do go there to camp again, we will pay for a camping spot in the family campground, set up our extra tent there, and make it look "occupied" so we can go and take a shower. John is going to write a letter to the state parks department and let them know about this situation, but he hasn't yet. At any rate, we went there last weekend for day riding.

It was a nice day, and there were lots of riders there. We have only been there a couple of times, so we don't know the trails. We got a trail map, which is really sort of a joke for us. We can never follow those things. In Indiana they print the trail map in green, so it is just a lot of squiggly green lines on the paper -- we always get lost and the map never helps. But this time we met some people on the trail who knew where they were going, so we rode with them. I was proud of our Girls -- they are getting so much better about riding with other horses. Zora was even content to be last in the line, and Divna didn't kick any of the other horses. They were very well behaved, and I think they enjoyed it.

They were really nice people, and as it turns out, live in Northwest Indiana, too. So it looks like we may have some new people to ride with. After the ride we sat around the picnic table near where we were parked and had snacks and cold drinks. We talked for the longest time -- it is so neat to meet other horse people like that. We are really looking forward to going riding with them again. They know of some places in Lake County where we have never ridden before, and we hope to meet them at the Dunes or have them out to our place to ride the trails around our house.

It was a great day and a lot of fun. The best money we ever spent was on our horses....having them has provided us with so much in terms of entertainment and meeting great people.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

End of The Idiot Saga

Note: If you have not read the previous post, this one will make no sense......

So the First Idiot says to the Second Idiot "What do you think?" (Doesn't really matter which of us is the First Idiot and which is the Second Idiot)

Second Idiot, "I think we will be OK. What about you?" First Idiot "Yeah, I think so too. The parking lot shouldn't be too far from here, and our horses are really good."

First Idiot "OK, then. Let's go"

So there we go, down U.S. Highway 20 (key word there is Highway). We were on the north side of the road, so we were facing traffic, which was probably for the best. There was a pretty large space of grass on my left, highway on my right. Just beyond the grass was a barbed wire fence, so there was no getting over any farther away from the road. All was well until a ditch appeared.

Divna is missing her right eye -- so her blind side was to the road. But her sighted side caught sight of that ditch, and she did not like it one bit. It was full of water, and I am certain it was not very deep, but it may as well have been the Pacific Ocean. She did not want to go near it, and kept trying to get over to her right -- right into the road. It was a struggle to keep her over to the left.

In the meantime, John and Zora are ahead of us, going at a steady pace in pretty much a straight line. I was happy to see less thing to worry about.

We rode for what felt like forever. Most drivers had enough sense to move over into their left lane to give us space. Some drivers were as big of idiots as we were, and stayed in the right lane, even when the left was empty!! At one point, Divna's back end started drifting onto the street, right when a car was in that lane. That is a moment I will never forget.

Did I mention semi-trucks use U.S. 20? And that there is a train track that runs along the south side of the highway?

I was starting to realize exactly how stupid of a move this was. Not just for us, and our horses but for innocent drivers on U.S.20. A real tragedy could have unfolded there that day, one that could have impacted so many lives, all because of our stupid decision.... That is what bothers me most of all about this, and what terrifies me if I give myself a chance to imagine what could have been.

As it turns out, we got back safely, Thank God.

One day after work I drove our little detour-route. It is almost exactly one mile.

The next weekend we went to Tippecanoe Park in Winamac and rode the trails there. We met some really nice people, and had a normal ride.