Monday, May 7, 2012

A Long Fast Ride

A Long Fast Ride

I love riding with my sister—no one is better than her. We usually ride together only on the weekend, and I look forward to it so much. There is only one problem. I have a young horse and she has an older horse. We aren’t sure how old Ranger is, but he has to be over 20. He has arthritis in his hind legs that has made it impossible to put shoes in the back, and that’s where he really needs them. He moves with a little twist of his hind hooves which used to wear the nails of his shoes right off. Without the shoes to protect him, he wears his feet down to nothing if he has too much riding. Besides, at his age, Ellen wants to be careful not to overdo it. She doesn’t want him to go on those long and fast rides. I understand. I am in the same boat with Cruiser who is almost 25.

Cole is only 6. He needs those long and fast rides. So far, this spring, we have gone on medium-length moderate rides with Ranger. I have loved every minute of it, but when Ellen said she had to work on a Sunday, I started planning a long and fast ride.

The good news is that when she works on a weekend, she starts a little later and still has time to go on a short ride with Cruiser and me. I don’t lose out on all of my sister time, and Cruiser and Ranger love spending time together, too. After our short, fun ride, Ellen scurried off to work, and I saddled up to ride Cole Train.

Kevin, my boyfriend, showed up. He wanted to join me with his horse, Starry. I wasn’t sure how it would go. Starry hadn’t been on the trail I planned to ride in some years. The last time Kevin attempted it, Starry wouldn’t cross the big river. (The big river is about 3 times as wide as any of our other river crossings.) The time before, he crossed the big river but wouldn’t go up the bank on the other side. Kevin wanted a horse to follow to help him through. He didn’t know how long he would go on the ride since Starry isn’t quite as fit as Cole at this point. We decided to play it by ear.

I have been riding Cole with Starry in the evenings on short rides, and they have gone very well together. I knew what to expect as far as behavior. The trip to the big river went just as good as expected. Starry went right down the bank into the water without any encouragement from Cole. I showed Kevin the smoothest place to cross. It went without a hitch. On the other side, he followed Cole up the bank, and we were on the good trail.

I like this trail so much because there are so many good places to trot and canter. The park has recently repaired it; too, so most parts are better than ever.

Starry was afraid of a culvert that he has always been afraid of. Once we got past that, we started to trot with Star in the lead. If a horse has a decent trot, Cole is content to follow along, quietly. We went quite a ways, slowed down to a walk for a few minutes to give them a break and started back up—Cole leading. They went faster, now, because Cole has a ground covering trot. When we reached the Brookpark Bridge, Cole spooked at a suspicious looking pedestrian that he just couldn’t get a good look at. Once she was out in the open, he was fine. We proceeded at a trot with Cole in the lead once again. Cole increased his speed—he was having a great time. Kevin said we should stop, and when we did, I understood why. Starry was huffing and puffing. Cole—well he isn’t ¼ CMK Arabian for nothing. His breathing was slightly elevated. We walked to the next bridge and gave Starry a chance to catch his breath.

At the 480 bridge, Kevin said I should just trot on. He was going to walk. I said I would catch him on the way back. It was only about a mile to the place I wanted to turn around. This section is what my sister and I call “The Canter Stretch.” It is where we used to let Cruiser and Ranger just fly down the trail as fast as they wanted—and we loved it. I so miss those days…

I started off at a trot. I glanced back, and Starry was trotting behind us. After a few minutes, Kevin wanted to stop. He told me to go on without him, and he followed through. We headed out. Now, this time, knowing I didn’t have to worry about pushing Star too hard, I just let Cole trot full out. It was great, but it didn’t take long before I wanted to relive my glorious past. I asked for a canter and away we went. He stopped on his own about 20 seconds later. We trotted a little further and I asked again for the canter. This time, he stayed with it. We went fast and I started laughing with joy. Soon, we saw a group of people ahead. I asked Cole to slow down to a trot. He complied, but it was a fast trot. We passed the hikers, and there the trail was a little rough. I opted to stay at a trot.

We got to a trail intersection and swung to the path on the right, trotted down the trail to another intersection. There was a little trail that shoots the right, goes down a small slope and straight out to the picnic area where I planned to turn around. I used to gallop Cruiser on this trail. Since I wasn’t quite as confident with cantering Cole (yet) I trotted down the slope. When I hit the bottom, the old Judi came out, again. I whispered, “Canter” and we flew down the trail—not slowing down for the dog walker as he pulled his dog off the trail with seconds to spare. Cole didn’t know he was supposed to either turn where the trail turned or stop at the picnic area, so we did go a few feet into the grass, but then he stopped.

I started to laugh with joy, again. He was catching his breath and I grabbed my phone to call my sister. I happily told her where I was and how much fun I had and how I wished she was there, too.

We walked for a minute or so and headed back on the other trail that loops right back to the first intersection to the main path that will then lead us home. We took off at a ground covering trot and found Kevin and Starry waiting for us. Kevin said Starry didn’t mind us leaving him at all. We started the long walk home. I didn’t want to wear Starry down. After a while, we saw someone I knew and stopped to talk. Kevin decided to head towards home and I could catch up with him. After about 10 minutes of chatting, Cole and I trotted to catch up with Kevin. He had been doing some trotting, too, so it took a while before we found Starry.

When I did, we just walked on home. The ride was about two hours and forty-five minutes—and the longest one for both of us for the year. Overall, Cole and Starry were terrific. The only way the ride could have been any better—if Ellen was there.


~Allison said...

Sounds fun!!

achieve1dream said...

Wow that sounds like an awesome ride. :D I'm glad you all had so much fun. Hopefully Ellen can go soon. Is she getting a young horse any time soon since she can't ride Ranger as hard?

Judi said...

Unfortunately, Ellen can't afford a second horse--and there is no way she could part with Ranger after all these years. We did take him out for a 2-hour ride with a lot of trotting and some cantering, and he suffered no repercussions. We should be able to get longer rides in, and maybe a really long ride, now and then. We shall see.

We fantasize about her getting another horse all the time. That way, we could take the 2 old horses out together and then the 2 young horses...

Maybe my boyfriend will go on vacation and we can have his horse...

achieve1dream said...

LOL I didn't even think about borrowing Starry! You two should do that some day when he doesn't want to ride. :)