Friday, May 24, 2013

Trail Ride - Rock Creek Park

For Mother's Day this year, I decided that I wanted to go on a trail ride.  I love my daughter, but I sleep with her every night and take care of her for the bulk of every day during the week, and sometimes I really do need to do something completely different on the weekends so my head doesn't explode.  My husband is lovely and agreed to watch our daughter all day while I cavorted with my horse. 

So we headed out to Washington, D.C. to join the Clifton Horse Society for a ride through Rock Creek Park.  It was a bit of a nerve-wracking drive because I needed to travel on the Beltway and then go through residential areas of D.C. to get to the park.  The Beltway is never fun, but with a horse trailer, it's a fingernail-biting trip.  I wish I had some way to more effectively communicate with the drivers who zip in and out of lanes or cut in front of me and then slam on their brakes.  My current form of communication, which involves a lot of yelling, swearing, and gesturing doesn't seem to be working very well.  The part of the trip through residential D.C. was also anxiety-causing because of the narrow lanes, rough roads, poor signage, and surprise lane disappearances.  However, I made it on time and in good shape.

The parking lot was small, but there were only a few trailers, so it worked out great.  It was a nice pull-in, pull-out set-up, which was a relief after the drive.  Not that I can't back my trailer, but sometimes it's nice to have a break from all that maneuvering.

We were underway at 10 am and we rode for about 2 and a half hours.  I was surprised by how rugged the terrain was and how much land the park covered.  There were a couple of hills (or maybe I should say mountains) that nearly killed my poor horse, who at one point, tried to get a couple out hiking to take him back down the hill and feed him.  Not being horse people, they didn't understand his communication very well and simply thought that he must not have very good steering.  I convinced Nimo to go on and finish the ride, though.

In addition to the more rugged terrain, we crossed a couple of bridges - one of them fairly narrow with not much in the way of guard rails.  I'm willing to bet my right arm that my horse would not have gone over it on his own, but the herd mentality kicked in.  For my horse, the question, "If everyone jumped off of a bridge, would you jump too?" has new meaning.  Apparently, the answer is an emphatic yes.

The highlight for me, though, was crossing Rock Creek.  It wasn't very deep, but the current was strong after several days of rain.  And strangely enough, while my horse is often terrified of things like lawn chair cushions, wheelbarrows, and jump standards, he isn't bothered by raging rivers.  He was happy to dive right in to the river even though a couple of other horses were demonstrating some uncertainty about this latest trail obstacle.

It was a great ride that I would love to do again.  Now that I know the drive, I don't think it will bother me as much, and the wonderfully-maintained trails, great conditioning hills, and easy parking more than make up for the less convenient drive.

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