Riding buddy and I went out yesterday on the network of dirt roads a few miles from my place--the roads are in a very rural, very poor county that has a lot of scenery and not much else. Lots of topography, hunting leases, miles and miles of miles and miles.
Buddy's horse has health issues that make taking him out in warm weather very problematic, and since we are in the Deep South he hasnt been out much for the past few months--we rode a little last weekend but it was really too warm for him. Yesteday was "cold" by our lights (upper 40s and a stiff breeze) so we trailered out to the wilds. We parked on the "frontier" at the county line where the pavement stops.
First hazard of the day--the small herd of ancient horses directly across the road. Due to the weather there was much snorting, farting, flagging of tails and other equine conversation. Across the very noisy concrete bridge over a noisy, rushing creek. No problems there. Up a mile long hill; the road grader had been out and all the deer carcasses dumped in the road by slob hunters had been shoved in the ditch, a Good Thing. The road grader had however uncovered barbed wire, telephone wire, and countless broken beer bottles, a Bad Thing.
Next there was a disappearing ATV that crossed the road and vanished into a locked gated driveway a hundred yards in front of us. When I say vanished I mean that literally. When we got to the gate there was no sign of it. There is no way we could figure that a human being couldve gotten off the ATV and wrapped the chain and secured the lock around the gate and gotten back on the ATV and gotten out of earshot and sight in the amount of time it took us to ride up to the gate. Horses saw it, we saw it, and we were all spooked.
The next couple of miles featured the occasional motor vehicle, barking dogs, squirrels, deer, cats, and so on. Then we got to the huge pasture belonging to a collector of various oddities--scads of miniature horse, donkeys, cattle, and some half starved but full sized horses. We had been by just a week earlier and were elated then to find the herd had been greatly reduced to fewer than a dozen minis. Buddy shook her head and said "He mustve been to the sale." More squealing and bucking and farting and heehawing. A tiny stud donkey and the King Of the Wild Minis told my mare that she was the purtiest little filly they'd ever seen and did she want to perhaps join their herd? Sadie decided she was in fact possibly interested, so we moved on down life's highway only to encounter the family of alpacas further down the field. Horses were horrified but remained calm.
It was getting colder and gloomy when we finally turned around to head back to the trailer--the original plan had been to press on to the Crazy Chicken Lady's place but it was just going to be too far, too cold, and not enough daylight so we gave her a miss until the days start getting longer again (she is very sweet, and collects crippled dogs as well as many kinds of chickens, all very friendly, vocal, and running loose). If we had gone to her place we could've gone around the block, so to speak, and not had to go past the minis etc all over again.
Sadie was duly admired and called to again and we pressed on, dodging a pig carcass that we finally got close enough to identify as sure enough, a dead pig and back down the big hill to our home county and the trailer. The fact that we had also spotted pig tracks in the road made us a little anxious with dusk approaching. Wild hogs are very bad mojo and while the dead pig hadnt bothered the horses we know they are terrifed of live domestic ones.
Last road hazard--a big buzzard on the ground working on a ditch deer. Buddy's horse is especially troubled by buzzards but a car came along in the nick of time and flushed it up into the trees and we were able to tiptoe past without it flapping back to the ground and spooking Buddy's horse. By this time my feet were numb up to my hips practically so I asked Buddy to kindly hold Sadie's head up for my graceless Old Lady Dismount so I wouldnt go slithering straight down her neck and land on my keester. The old legs didnt fail me so all was well. We rode maybe 10-11 miles altogether.
It was my 58th birthday and I cant think of a better way to celebrate!
Pretty cool ride - verbally and literally. Thanks for sharing! It was a hoot picturing all the oddities you passed, and I'm sorry to hear you didn't make it to the Crazy Chicken Lady's place. Maybe next time -- and you'll write about that, too, please?
Love the description of your "ho-hum" trail ride! I can't imagine encountering all of that without my horse(s) going hysterical (we don't get out much)...
I grew up in the South and I remember how cold the 40's seemed. Now I'm up North and as it's currently 39 degrees & sunny out, I'm thinking today might be the mildest riding day for a while. There IS the chance of an ATV or deer sighting here. Wild pigs and carcasses? Highly doubtful!
Last edited by CharingHounds; Dec. 12, 2011 at 01:44 PM.
Reason: added birthday wish
Your ride sounds eerily similar to my weekend ride! Must be a Georgia thing. We didn't encounter any alpaca...thank God, but did see a herd of goats with their guard donkey but since I was riding my gelding, his virtue was safe . We did encounter the deer carcasses, barking dogs, deer darting through the field, buzzards flapping about and rude vehicular traffic. The scariest thing we encountered, though, was a well-meaning, though daffy, neighbor out walking her dog. She, for some reason, thought hiding out of sight in the ditch across the road would keep our horses from being spooked Our horses were completely freaked out by the mysterious disappearing figure. We finally encouraged her to stand up and let our horses see her. They both relaxed when they saw she was harmless.
Happy Birthday! I can't think of a better way to spend it than on a horse.
"My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."
What a great story - thanks for sharing Sounds like my kinda ride, right down to the dismount. I don't get on any better than I get off these days. Accomplishing things-physical just gets uglier the further we travel down life's path.
I'm still back on the 4-wheeler. Unless there was nothing but wide-open space on the other side of that fence, he was watching you from somewhere
If there was wide open spaces - I'd wonder what piece of fake ground he disappeared under - Double Eek
Do you keep Thy Brothers Smith & Wesson in your fanny pack when you ride The Deliverance Roads? I hope?
At any rate, a big happy birthday again and I hope you celebrated with cake and whiskey or cake and beer or cake and wine or cake and moonshine --- something
Happy Birthday! Next one for me will be the double nickle - yippee! I can finally join AARP!
Would Mr Jeano be up to buying you a helmet cam for Xmas? I love to watch those, or little bits anyway, I've seen enough deer carcasses by the side of the road to last me for a while, thank you. Any more they are the only way I get to have a nice quiet trail ride.
Happy BD! Sounds like a great ride! The farm where I board is 100 acres and we also have permission to ride on two neighboring farms. We don't get in 11 miles, but we have cow sightings and the occassional tractor or Polarus siting as we are riding. Your ride sounded like fun, loved the description. We have a resident herd of deer that often pop up out of a ravine on the farm and sometimes run along near the trail. There are also several ponds and we have geese ducks and turtles that splash and fly when we are riding across the dams. This coming weekend we are trailering to a battlefield park about an hour away to ride with some riding club buddies. I'm currently 57(58 in February) and have the same old lady mount and dismount as does my barn riding buddy who is 10 years older than me. We often joke that we look like monkeys sliding down the side of our horses. hehe... Here's to many more rides!
Thanks everyone for the b-day greetings. Yesterday we sallied forth again, same venue, but parked the rig at the top of the mile long hill, reasoning that with two miles cut off the loop we could go around the block as it were and be sure of seeing what Crazy Chicken Lady is up to (not to be confused with Mumble Man, who wanders on foot in the neighborhood talking to himself. We've never understood a word he says but he seems to be afeared of horses).
The thought of parking at the top of the hill was a good one, but the execution was marred. We observed while turning around so as to be pointing down hill (for a fast getaway if needed) that Dead Pig had migrated to another corner of the intersection. Hot dog, we thought, horses wont spook at him. Problem was, whoever or whatever moved him neglected to move his GUTS which were right at the bottom of the ramp. We got my gelding Hawk unloaded and he promptly put his head down to sniff at what I was standing in and levitated about ten feet in the air. Once order was restored Riding Buddy moved the truck and trailer down the hill a little further, we mounted up and proceeded down the road, in the opposite direction from the previous week's adventure. (Meaning we'd end up with minis and alpacas and such 7 or 8 miles along, after the boys had quieted down some, we hoped.)
A quarter of a mile later I dropped a glove. Now, when you're our weight and age you dont dismount frivolously, but I liked that glove so I clambered down. Too far to waddle back to the trailer (and the pig guts) and use the step stool mounting block we'd brought along. Nothing for it but to park Hawk in the ditch, tighten the girth, and remind him that he'd get a cookie if could avoid leaping OUT of the ditch until I at least got both stirrups. He earned his cookie.
Nothing terribly eventful transpired for the first half of the ride--long stretch of dirt road, then about a mile alongside a lightly travelled paved road--the locals understand livestock and usually slow down a little if we are close to the pavement. The margin of the road is pretty wide and not too hazardous.
When we turned the corner back on to the dirt road that goes to Crazy Chicken Lady's place we had some fun. A huge drafty chunk and a huger spotted and very flashy closer to pure draft came charging toward their fence line bucking and farting and snorting and showing off and telling our geldings that they were puny slave saddle horses and didnt they want to be free wild horses like them? Spotty looked like he was maybe half Gypsy Vanner and half percheron. He and his buddy put on a horse show as we rode past their place, which featured yapping dogs of various sizes and a big billy goat.
Crazy Chicken Lady's place was kind of disappointing--usually she is outside with about a gazillion chickens and a yard full of dogs. Her house is real dilapidated and her yard has interesting junk in it. The chickens were nowhere to be seen and we were only greeted by one dog, and CCL herself didnt come out. Perhaps she was at church. Her inside the house dog barked at us, too.
Next obstacle was the Scary Waterfall (and old mill dam, less mill) which is right beside the road. The water goes through a big noisy culvert and comes out the other side of the road, and the horses dont care for it much, but they were good. On to the minis. The entire herd was way the heck over on the other side of the huge pasture and didnt notice us. We thought we were home free at that point. I dismounted again for a pit stop in the woods. Again, no good place to remount, but there was a downed half rotted log wedged between a bank and a standing pine that would give me a reasonably high and reasonably solid place to put my right foot (the right ankle and big toe joints are about completely free of cartilage and prone to failure.) I would have to coax Hawk to step across the log and not move one iota in order for this to work.
He was a perfect little gentleman. On down the road, and we were confronted by a ribcage smack in the middle of the road, with deep ditches going down and five foot banks going up as the road cut dipped down to creek level. Horses didnt want to have anything to do with it, but Hawk was less unwilling than buddy's horse, so we took the lead. We were nearly to it when we heard an ATV whining around the curve and coming at us. We uttered as many creative curses as we could and fled back up the hill so as to be OUT of the slot and to get the horses the hell off the road before the ATV, which was going way too fast, was in our laps. This manuever was successfull but of course conviced the horses that the ribcage in the road really WAS a horse eating alligator and to be avoided at all costs. Hawk prudently decided if couldnt see it then it could get him, turned his head to the right, and crabbed past it, with Buddy's horse following suit. We got buzzed by the ATV again but we had a better place to get off the road and the horses were fine.
At the last leg to the trailer Buddy's gelding was about all in so we took it easy. We stopped at one trailer when a man called to his little boy to come see the horses, and after visiting for a few minutes and learning all about Dad's diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma and cataracts, and about how he wants to get horses when he gets his sight back, Hawk and I gave the little boy a ride around the yard. Dad thanked us and we had no further excitement beyond a couple of spook in place events for no discernable reason. Just another carefree day on the dirt roads. Almost makes me miss the days when the neighbors on the corner had a couple of bison in their field....
I'm just grinning. You need to ride each weekend, and give us an accounting of your adventures. Our ride this weekend mainly consisted of running into old friends and chatting. My gps would indicate about 0 mph except for the fact that I forgot to turn it off on my drive home...
Yesterday it was 40 and 40 (mph wind gusts and temperature degrees farenheit) so we were at it again, with the two geldings. Our original intention was to go on the paved road another quarter mile to the intersection with a dirt road leading south toward Deepstep. We've never been on them horseback, but its long been my ambition to ride to Deepstep (actually, I want to go to Goat Town, a bedroom community of Deepstep.) Plans were thwarted by a couple of factors.
Firstly, we were in another nice narrow place with no escape except forward when we discovered we were leading a convoy of a dozen pickup trucks packed with hunters. We poured on the coal until we got to the top of the defile and a spot wide enough to give the trucks passing room. Hawk decided it was time to slam his hindquarters into Buddy's horse (who outweighs him by 150 pounds, probably) in an apparent effort to knock him into the convoy. I yanked him completely out of the road and into the thicket and then Buddy's horse tried to take off after the last of the trucks.
Buddy nailed him and explained he likes to chase cars when there's more than one. We got sorted out and were doing okay on the paved stretch when Hawk decided to be a jerk and Buddy's horse decided to follow suit, both of them insisting on being in the lead. We had our hands full for long enough that we decided we would take our chances on Chunkie and Chunkier (since renamed Bucky and Farty) and do the loop that would get us off the paved road soonest and not involve returning past the hunting party, who had looked to be settling in for a nice daylong dove shoot.
Truly, the rest of the ride was uneventful, but a very nice thing happened. Bucky and Farty's owner was out working in her yard and after chatting for a few minutes we discovered that she had actually gone riding with Hawk before, when he was with his previous owners. Our new friend correctly characterized the owners as folks who would ruin any horse they could and said she'd warned Hawk's former mom to stay out of his mouth, he wasnt doing a thing wrong. "She didnt ride him very long." New Friend consented to letting us park Buddy's rig in her yard any time we like, which means we can get to Deepstep with only a quarter mile soujourn on the paved road, A Very Very Good Thing. New Friend said she doesnt get out riding much since she prefers not to ride alone but we assured her we would be pleased and proud to ride with her any time. I can't wait to see how Bucky and/or Farty behave under saddle....
A possibly ominous update on Crazy Chicken Lady--her dogs were in evidence and two men we'd never seen before were about the place, leading us to think that perhaps she's ill or otherwise incapacitated. I We didnt like the looks of the fellows and noted that none of the wash on the line was feminine. Not a chicken on the place, and that is Not a Good Sign.
Last but not least, Pig Head was square in the middle of the last stretch of road we had to negotiate. One of his ears was a bit further on. (He is not aging gracefully, you might not realize he was a pig if you didnt know him as well as we do.) Both horses ignored him and his ear, and none of us were too frozen.