Sunday, August 23, 2015

Huron River Endurance Ride - Novice 13.66 miles

Despite a niggling throat itch that was requiring frequent coughing, I got up early Saturday morning to load Gwyn up and head over to Kensington Metropark. It's about 1hr 15 away so it isn't a place I've been able to explore yet, though I was aware that it had a great network of trails.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Addison Oaks County Park Ride

Today, by stark contrast to my ride on Tuesday, was absolutely glorious!  The deer flies were minimal, I saw about 10 and we didn't have a swarm following us whereever we went.  The trails were groomed to perfection, nothing was below face height and the paths, even the more 'wild' ones were wide enough for at least 2 horses side by side.

Additionally, despite the park having multi-use trails, mountain bikes never shared an equestrian trail. They crossed paths multiple times, but no sharing. I can't tell you how safe and happy that made me feel.

Anyway, today I almost didn't go. I woke up and everything looked wet outside. Then I checked the weather, and while the forecast listed cloudy and cool (mid 60s F), rain wasn't even being considered until the afternoon.

So Gwyn got loaded up and we repeated the routine, dropping Kaylee off, practicing grocery shopping, then drove over to the park. It was a little bit further away from gymnastics, but only about a 20 minute drive (max).

The parking lot was completely empty! I was super excited. Of course they also have camping here so there could be campers using the trails, but this was 9 am on a weekday, unlikely, lol

Gwyn was concerned about our location. Golf carts of park staff were going by regularly. When I went to put on her bridle she 'took off' toward a bunch of facility staff in a VERY up walk. It felt like she was evaluating for spooking, but never actually spooked. I eventually got her bridle on in the middle of that parking lot and took her back, very embarrassed.

The park has this gorgeous facility for rental for weddings and other events. It's well taken care off.

Everything is nicely marked too! You know if your trail is a horse or bike trail.

I got a water bottle holder and tried it out today. More on that later. I did keep my park map, camera, phone and a small pair of clippers in case I came across face level branches that needed trimming.

The trail started out with a low grade climb. It was PERFECT to make Gwyn walk up. She was huffing by the end. We need to do this more!

Once we got past the scary pavement, she settled into a very forward working walk, loose rein, happy ears.

Occasional hay field. At the time my thought was, I wonder if I can ride in that for some cantering?

What I think these pictures don't accurately capture is how -pretty- it was this morning. Everything was still wet from the rain, but it wasn't humid. The wood was dark, nearly black, while the green was super vibrant. It was magical.

Half wet, half dry

Pond just off the path

Then we got to this field. And the path went ALL THE WAY AROUND IT!  WOOOO!  We totally cantered.

At one point the field dipped down and came back up. We cantered down and I guess Gwyn felt really good because I felt her hind end come up a bit. Nothing unsettling, I laughed at her, but she had to get a wiggle out!

Heading back to the trailer. I'll mention here that she was great on the trail, and has been great on all the trails. But crossing black pavement was almost too much for the Goober Pony. It was the ONE spot we had a discussion about going forward. She did go, but it took a bit....

I can see the trailer! And my mounting block boulder, lol

When I got off and looked at my gear I was horrified to realize that I was literally 3 threads away from losing my phone, camera and super nice Fiskars trimmers. WTH TOUGH-1?!?!?!?!?!   Not really living up to your name. Now I need to figure out a different way to attach it for my ride saturday if I want to use it. Grrrr. The company WILL hear about this because that's ridiculous. One use and it falls apart? 

See? Held on by THREADS ALONE

Loaded up while I went to pee since we had a lot of time before we needed to leave. But better that than to be late.

My bumper stickers for the trailer. I need more.

Ride stuff!

I've got lots to catch up, especially as I was tagged in a blog hop. But first things first, my venture to Ortonville State Recreation Area!

On tuesday I was up super early. Kaylee had woken up at 5 am and even though I got her back to sleep, I just could not sleep myself. I had the truck all packed the night before so all I needed to do was make sure that I could get everyone onto the truck and trailer and leave before 8 am. Simple, right?

It actually wasn't that bad, hah!  Kaylee was still passed out, so I went down to the barn and grabbed Gwyn. She loaded relatively quickly and easily. I drove the truck and trailer around to the front of the house, opened the side window and left Gwyn to her hay while I went inside to wake Kaylee up.

My plan obviously involved making Gwyn just stand in the trailer, but as my friend Cortney always said, it's good for horses to practice 'grocery shopping'.

Anyway, I got Kaylee dressed and fed, then we piled into the truck and were out the door perfectly on time! It normally takes 25 minutes or so to get to her gymnastics camp in Oxford and I gave myself more like 40 since I was hauling. I was still super early. Got Kaylee situated, then up the road Gwyn and I went to the state park. It was only 15 minutes away, I mentally made sure I was planning to be leaving by 30 min prior to pick up.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

8/2 Adventure to a trail!!

This weekend I was itching to get out and go trail riding. I had thought we were going to have plans with family but they never solidified, so I had ended up missing out on riding with someone else from the Distance Derby. Instead, I went alone!

I tried to convince Eric to come and hike while I rode so I could have some safety cushion as I had no idea what Gwyn would do. But it was high 80s and he didn't want to hike. Instead, I went solo! I got the truck and trailer hooked up, loaded with my stuff and got changed. Then it was just a matter of rounding up Gwyn and loading her, which happened pretty quickly, considering where she's been with trailer loading. The donkeys looked confused, and maybe a bit worried as they watched from the barn.
But we headed down the road to the Addison Township Watershed Preserve, a mere 10 minutes away on the same road I live on (so convenient!)  There were people hanging out at their trucks in the parking lot and they watched rather curiously as I turned the truck and trailer around and got out to unload. Their dog came over to say high and decided against it when he saw Gwyn.  The parking lot is HUGE gravel, not ideal or preferred for me, but I'm in no position to be picky or make demands. I groomed and tacked up. Gwyn got a little concerned when the people left to go walk the trails but settled back down. I stationed her on the far side of the trailer from the road, and the occasional traffic noise wasn't an issue.

She was great and I found a picnic table to use as a mounting block. She stood politely and when I pointed her at the trails her ears pricked forward and BOY OH BOY I had a happy mare from that point on. The only time her ears weren't pricked forward was when she was shaking the flies off. I need to finish her fly bonnet so she has some ear protection. Or modify the one she's wearing to have some ears. The flies were nasty and I popped some full of blood. Ick. I tried to smush as many as I could, but it was obvious she was bothered. Next time, Goober, I learn, I promise!

She never hesitated on the trail today. She offered the trot and canter in places. She did not spook. We just motored down the trails and explored. I did mini loops and did cover most of the trails twice because of the network of them. There aren't that many, or at least total length is not that great, but we got over 3 miles and I would have enjoyed going for longer if the bugs weren't terribad.
I had previously brought Kaylee here on a hike and I made sure to take all the paths so I was familiar. I started on the north loop that I had skipped on foot due to incoming storms. It offered a nice view of a marsh and had decently groomed trail.

We found the beaver dam and then I encountered the people from the parking lot. They were having a joint subcommittee at a bench with a nice view of Slating Lake. I got a mini contact high from riding by.

Beautiful forest by the lake. 

We rode up to the edge of Slating Lake but I didn't trust the water and footing to try and get in with Gwyn.
The view you get up on a 16h horse is better than on foot!

Selfie! I actually didn't get bit by any bugs. I did put on fly spray and not even the crazy pyrethrin, just the natural oils kind.

A man made fishing lake. You can camp by this spot if you get a permit from the fire department.

Camp spot.

Back in the forest

And here's the comparison between bike mode on the fitbit and endomondo. A .06 mile difference. That's pretty good! I'm going to continue to double track it, but I'm feeling better about using the fitbit now. Now all they need is a horseback riding exercise option so I can keep my bike rides separate from horse riding.