A horse, a dog and a hammock…

June 29-July 1, 2015

This week we spent 3 days in Camp Creek State Park in WV. It was a really nice park and we had the horse campground all to ourselves.

After the mare squabble a few rides ago we’d decided I would ride with my friend and the 3 hour haul in the trailer with the girls side-by-side would do them good. I don’t travel in a living quarters trailer and my camping is pretty primitive, so it’s ok to horse-truck-trailer-pool. I like to sleep in my hammock- takes up very little space, easy to set up, and more comfortable than the floor- as long as it doesn’t rain I’m happy under the stars.

I took the farthest corral (since i don’t have a rig) and enjoyed my first night hanging between some trees next to the corral with Peggy-Sue my ace (though it was her first time) camping dog right at the base of the tree. All you really need: a horse, a dog and a hammock.

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We pulled in on Monday, got settled and did an easy 8.5 mile ride getting acquainted with the park. We met Michelle who had ridden there before and the four of us were a nice group. The mares were a little off-key on the first day, or was it the riders? Nothing to report- just an energy that wasn’t exactly relaxed and easy. This was Khaleesi’s longest trailer ride, to end up in a foreign place, put in a foreign pen, then ridden on foreign trails, adding in a foreign horse (Michelle’s sweet gelding). She was pretty good, but I was paying attention all the time.

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lunch break at Almost Heaven

The park is really pretty- lots of waterfalls and variety in trails. We had lunch at an old farm property called “Almost Heaven” where there was a primitive camp with a covered picnic area and beautiful views. We rode about 13 miles together on Tuesday. Khaleesi had really hit a sweet spot that day; I was more relaxed and she seemed to figure out what we were doing and was great in all places in the group (front, back, middle) she didn’t threaten, and even seemed fine with Mireyah (the other mare). After returning to camp a little earlier than we’d thought and our horses still having energy, Carrington and I decided to head out for a quick hour ride to run them around a bit while the other two relaxed by the creek.

IMG_0341We did 6 more miles in just over an hour. Khaleesi and Abaco had been doing well together this trip – they may actually be related, we’re not completely certain- (also two horses is simpler than 4) so we enjoyed some stress free romping on the trails. We trotted and even cantered and really let them go- I didn’t have to ask twice, Khaleesi seemed to love running the trails together which was really nice to see (my biggest worry about her was she would be a slow-poke!). Her canter is really coming along and when she finds it is a joy! We led, followed, and traveled side-by-side at all paces and after 19 miles she was still doing great. I am encouraged that we really will be ready for a LD ride next month!

Khaleesi and Abaco (who may be related)

Tuesday night we ate dinner and laughed and drank until the storm came in. I am always thankful for the time I get to spend with my trail riding girlfriends- it’s a special bond we share and it doesn’t matter if we see each other regularly like my local friends, or once or twice a year like my out of state friends, it’s always a good time.

Carrington kept getting weather alerts so we knew severe thunderstorms were possible. As the rumbling came closer and some lightning flashed in the distance we put our plan into action and loaded our 3 horses onto Carringtons (3-horse) trailer (Michelle loaded Mac onto her own) and climbed into Nancy’s to wait out the worst of it. It was amazing how fast those horses loaded as the storm got closer. You didn’t have to ask any of them twice! They sensed something.

After it passed we put them back out but I hung my hammock in a trailer that night as the rain continued until early morning.

Wednesday morning was pretty- cool but no rain and we had breakfast, coffee and saddled up for a short ride to Neely Knob before driving home. We saw more beautiful trails with Rhododendron canopy, creek crossings and some nice views as we got toward the top. It was a short ride, but just right before getting loaded up and heading home.

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I wish I had something more dramatic to report, but alas my mare made me really proud and is still coming along well.

In camp she was quiet and even though she was the farthest away from us and the other horses (she could still see Mac), she didn’t complain and was a good sport.

Her boots stayed on perfectly and we didn’t loose one in the entire 3 days of riding.

Pretty flowers along the trail
Pretty flowers along the trail

I worked on my Jedi skills when able and started tuning in to our beat, tempo, and which shoulder is moving L R L R L R or L H R H L H R H L H R H instead of 1 2 3 4 sometimes so I can get better at knowing what I’m doing with what she’s doing. I switched diagonals on our longer trots too.

On the trails she’s not perfect, but her manners are still improving. She did pull the stop and not want to go forward trick a few times- only if she was the leader on new trails. If we were in territory we’d covered before or if she was not the lead horse she did not stop. Each time I was able to move her forward with little drama.

She didn’t kick out once although I think she considered it twice. I like to think she thought it over and made the right decision both times because she didn’t raise a leg.

I have a few pictures (below) I enjoyed seeing where she just didn’t look quite happy and well behaved. I think they sum up her figuring out how this trail riding with others thing works… The other horses are normal, then there’s Khaleesi like the toddler: she isn’t 100%, but she’s not dangerous either.

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For the future, I’m hoping to start pushing our speed on a ride each week just to get used to more trotting out for longer periods and in exciting news I’ve sold my tiny ‘death trap’ trailer and am picking up a new (used) one next week that will haul both girls together and is not so heavy. I am now 8 weeks away from the Iron Mountain Jubilee ride that I’d like to be her first 25 miler! We are moving faster than expected this summer!

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