Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Big Seven! And a Trail Ride

The Pacific Northwest enjoyed a beautiful day yesterday with temperatures reaching 61 degrees. It was warm and beautiful with the sunshine out. I had been itching to get on the trail the last few weeks, but every scheduled trail ride got canceled due to rain. Curse you rain! Normally, I wouldnt trail ride on a weekday as I dont get off work until 4:30, however after daylight savings time, the days have been long well into six, even seven o'clock.

Not wanting to miss a rare opporunity to jump out on the trail, I texted a friend who keeps her horse only a few short miles down the road from the barn. She was eager to trail ride too and hauled out to meet me. In the spirit of bareback riding, she joined me with her bareback pad. Helmeted, and "saddled up" we hit the trails, anticipating about an hour long trail ride. Just enough to get the horses out, and enough time to soak up some rays.

The walk to the trail head is usually met with a few hurdles: at least two "packs" of dogs, known to chase after people and horses, a cross over a quiet road, two curly horses (the horses always have to gawk at them), two goats, more dogs, and yesterday, a pogo stick.

Yes, we passed a boy bouncing on his pogo stick. Sproing, sproing, sproing. Milo had since passed all the previous death traps, as well as two oncoming bicyclists, but this pogo stick was bouncing up and down, taking the small child for a ride, and belching a rusty, creaking noise along the way. Milo stopped dead still and eyeballed (stared down) the evil bouncing torture device. We walked forward tow more steps, where he then stopped and pivoted around to stare at it some more. Naturally, the kid didnt realize what he was doing to my horse, and merrily kept bouncing along in his driveway. Milo was wound tighter then the coiled springs in that pogo stick. He was prancing in place as I tried to walk him forward from the terror, his every step poised and ready to explode forward if the pogo threat were to become too unbearable.

We did, finally, reach the trail head, but after the pogo incident it took a few minutes to get Milo back "under control" as now every rustle, dog walker, or even corner put him on high alert.

We wound our way through the first small trail, reaching the logging roads thereafter. An inviting slope encourged us to set to work, and I easily trotted Milo up it, still pushing him into using his body correctly to work up the hill, and even working on reaching into the balance of the outside rein. Milo was trotting well on the straight-of-ways, but an impeding corner would cause him to creen his head up and around, anticipating a monster around the corner.

Milo was working well, however, and throughout the ride I encouraged him to work off my outside rein (this being the right rein, as my terrible habit is to ride off the left rein). He was doing very well, and was really lifting up his back and engaging his core. I even worked on some arcing, and at one point where my friend needed to adjust her pad, worked on stepping him up nicely for a turnaround. Milo did very well. This is far different then the typical trail rides we embark on, where its mostly meandering at a walk and chatting with friends. But I had a purpose today in that I wanted him to really stretch out his legs and work up those hills.

Something felt different from the start of the ride and throughout. Nothing felt "off", or "not right" but something was definitely different. Milo's back felt odd. Now, we all know I ride in this bareback pad during every ride (unless its a lesson or horse show, to which I can borrow Sarah's saddle), and have grown very acustom to how my horse feels under it. His back felt, almost, taller, and more strong, to put it into words. He felt like he was really supporting my weight, and simply felt stronger.

We did enjoy a few more trot strides up hills and on straight of ways, then found a winding trail to weave our way back to the head. I had a general trail route in mind from the get-go, knowing these trails would offer hills, turns, and the perfect amount of time for riding. We zig zagged through this connecting trail at an even jog. Milo was working and engaged, breathing in and out steadily. I heard my friend's horse behind me, a bit more out of breath. Asking if she wanted to walk, she said no, and we continued jogging along. Reaching another logging trail and steeper hill, I asked if we could lope, to which my riding partner agreed. We loped easily up the hill, Milo still working nicely. It was only for a few strides until we reached the top and came down to a walk. Milo was puffing a little more now, and we put them on the last trail back to home.

The tree cover was blocking the falling light, and the sunglasses I had on darkened everything as well. We weaved through the trail and reached the large puddle. This is more like a small pond then a puddle, really, as it stays (but drains slightly) year-round. Knowing it would only be just above the fetlocks, we bagan wading through. In fact, after the rain the last two weeks, it was now definitely to the horse's knees. But they soldiered through nicely, I was proud of Milo who only snorted at it at the beginning.

Out of the puddle now and back on the way home, I patted Milo and told him what a good boy he was, allowing the rest of the walk home for cooldown. We walked back home chatting, and still enjoying the warm weather, even with the disappearing sun. I thanked my friend for coming out with me, and thought to myself that I should really try and incorporate a ride such as this one more often, to even once a week as allowed by the weather.

I didnt even break a sweat, Mom!
Now, on to the most important topic of the day, Milo is now 7 years old. Yep, its my little boy's birthday. He's grown up so fast! In honor of this, I have been posting segments of our early days together, I hope you have enjoyed reading the first installments as much as I have enjoyed revisiting those memories.

Happy Birthday, Justa Cool Milo.

Official birthday boy photos to come, as I visit with him after work this evening.


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday to a very cute boy!

And glad you survived the pogo stick - can't say I've encountered one of those before while riding!

Mare said...

Happy Birthday Milo! Such a nice, handsome boy!

Story said...

Happy Birthday to Milo! Sounds like you had a great trail ride.

in2paints said...

Do they even make pogo sticks anymore?! I think Lilly would have had a heart attack... what a good boy!!

Happy Birthday to a sweet boy!!

Molly said...

Happy Birthday Milo!!