Thursday, August 6, 2009

Virtual Trail Ride With Earth Movers

It's time for another virtual trail ride! First I had to go out to the mare's pasture to get Maisie - note that our pastures have finally been mowed. This is what I often see - Misty (right) and Sugar (left) cluster with Dawn (foreground) and Maisie is far, far away (way in the back of the picture). Lily, who retired to Tennessee at the end of June, was Maisie's particular companion, and she doesn't seem as closely attached (at least in the pasture) to the other mares.

She doesn't come to me in the pasture, but she doesn't run away either (she used to do that). She usually picks up her head, looks at me, and then goes back to grazing to get in those last few minutes. Here she is pretending she doesn't see me:

We went back to the barn, groomed and tacked up. We took our favorite route past the pretty pond to the north of the barn. We saw a Great Blue Heron fly up, and there were some small diving ducks on the water, but I didn't get a picture of those.

Then we crossed behind the soccer nets along a line of trees:

Past the soccer field, the trail runs along a state highway that is about to be widened - they just started work on it this week. And here was our first piece of earth-moving equipment - a big dump truck. Maisie barely gave it a glance.

Then, across the road towards the school:

Since school was out for the summer, the playground equipment was silent - it's often teeming with children:

Then we passed along an overgrown section of the trail neither of us like much - it's curvy but you can't see around the corners and we've often come too close to bikers for my liking:

We passed by the underpass to the other side of the road - we weren't going that way today:

Then there was another piece of equipment - I've never seen one like it before - it looked a bit like a giant lawn aerator - I suppose it texturizes the soil for some reason:

And then there were two very large excavators:

At this point we were the farthest from home - here's the view back over the prairie:

We were on the path leading across the road and over the railroad crossing - but we were turning off to the right:

Past the town information kiosk:

And we even saw a commuter train - this one was an express and blew its horn (very loudly) several times, which unsettled Maisie a bit:

And then we turned back towards home. Although Maisie had been very alert on the way out, she had been very willing and not spooky. This was by far the longest trail ride we had taken yet this year, and I think she finally realized how far she was from the barn. She became very focussed on getting back, and wasn't really interested in walking quietly. She wanted to walk fast, we slowed. She wanted to jig, we slowed and did serpentines. But she still wasn't very calm - I didn't think she would do anything very bad, but thought she might have a better chance to calm down if I led her, so I dismounted and led her on the trip home. I could have ridden all the way home, but got a calmer horse this way. She never did entirely settle, but we walked home at a nice, regular, not too fast pace that I set.

We also stopped and stood for a bit on a loose rein several times. When we got fairly close to the barn, I got back on using a handy retaining wall - Maisie is 16.2 and I don't mount from the ground - my knees can't take it and it's not good for her back either. As we walked up to the barn, she started calling - she hadn't called once up to this point. We walked around a bit, and also stood for a while in a couple of places. Then she went in and had her dinner.

When she hasn't been on the trail a lot, she can be a little herd-bound. She's also in heat right now, and that makes her a little more clingy. But she did very well on our ride considering how long it was. Next ride will be a little bit better - she likes the trail but needs to get used to these long rides again.


  1. I miss having some open fields to ride in, I love to do most of my riding not in my lovely arena but out in the fields. I am jealous of your trails!

  2. That is a lot of stuff to take in and sounds like she did a great job keeping it together. One of the coolest things I have learned about horses in the last two years is to calmly turn around and head back the way you came if the horse feels tense. Then when it feels right, turn around again and go the way you were going. Amazing how quickly they relax when you keep them guessing where they are going. Works wonders on Maddy.

  3. what a great account...good on Maisie.

  4. sounds like a successful trail ride. I am still trying to figure out how i am going to get the guts to trail alone. I am such a chicken about some things!

  5. Thanks for bringing us Kate!
    I love those virtual rides, it is such a good idea and so interesting to see more of the surroundings in a different corner of the world!
    What a shame that the overgrown part is haunted by bikers. It looked very inviting for a canter, you know.
    Masie was a good girl, passing all the machines and the horse-eating train - and out all on her own too!

  6. At 16.2 hands, I'm sure that you know once you get off, you're staying off until the perfect roost presents itself. You have some nice places to ride (minus the road construction). Thanks for sharing the photos and your experience.

  7. I love to see where people ride! Thanks for taking all those photos. I love Maisie's ears in that one picture. They are cute.

    I am experiencing some herdbound behavior from Sovey. He was never like that but now he is especially attached to Pie. I hope to post about it soon.


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