Monday, November 11, 2013

Back in the Saddle

After 2 weeks of riding vacay, Nimo and I were back at work this past Saturday.  I had originally intended to take only a week off after the OD Intro Endurance Ride, but life happened and it ended up being longer.  For some reason, the month of November seems to usher in a new level of errand-running and Things To Do.  Perhaps it's the upcoming holidays or maybe it just seems extra busy because my expectation is that things will slow down, and they don't.  However, even though we are riding again, we're going to spend a few weeks just doing fun rides and some arena work before getting back down to the business of serious conditioning.

Anyway, we returned to work via the Blue Ridge Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship Benefit Ride.  It was held at the scenic Blandy Experimental Farm, which hosts an arboretum and about 7.5 miles of bridle paths.  I rode at the farm back in June and really loved the trails, so I was excited to get another chance to see them and maybe explore a bit more.

View of the arboretum from the horse trailer parking lot
As I was checking in, one of the volunteers asked if I would give an interview to a gentleman from a local news channel (who was presumably trying to do a human interest story and not a story on people who get up in the dark so they can hook up their trailers in freezing temperatures, load their horses and their tack, and then drive over an hour just to ride for a few miles).  I admit to being a little flustered.  Of course, I'm happy to help because I think therapeutic riding is wonderful, and I want to support it any way that I can.  However, I am the mother of a one-year old who does not sleep according to any logic or what any of the books on baby sleeping say.  I am chronically sleep-deprived, and as a result, I often appear to be a bit dim-witted and my hygiene is not what it used to be.  This particular morning, it had been 2 days since my last shower, and I was wearing the same clothes I'd worn the day before, which included the tomato sauce stain on my shirt from the previous day's lunch.  Also, my daughter woke up at 2:30 that morning and didn't go back to all.  My husband did relieve me at one point, and I was able to get about 45 minutes extra sleep, but I was really running on low and I had the bags under my eyes to prove it.  I had even strongly considered bailing out on the ride, but I was meeting someone, and I didn't want to disappoint (although one could argue that my presence was not that great in the first place).

So, against my better judgment, I did the interview and I'm sure whoever edits the footage will be swearing my name because he/she will have to figure out a way to somehow get across that therapeutic riding is a wonderful cause to support using my barely intelligible phrases.  And I should mention that the news guy also filmed me unloading my horse and then frantically brushing him because, of course, his hygiene has suffered too, and he was filthy when I unloaded him.  I think a few other people were filmed too, and I can only hope that they provided more worthy film than I did.

I did get a chance to ride, and one of the ladies I rode with was quite familiar with the trails, so she showed us around, and I got to know a section of the park I hadn't seen the last time.  There are definitely some great trails for trot/canter sets, and I will absolutely come back when there is no chance of being on camera to see if I can come up with a good work out for Nimo.

Here's another picture from the trailer parking area:

You can see the mountains in the distance (I think the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I'm not positive about that - all the mountain ranges look the same to me).  I think the farm probably looked like that at one time, but after all the trees were taken down for agriculture, the farm looks more like the rolling hills from North Dakota, but with trees, green grass, and tolerable weather.  It ended up being a gorgeous day with all sun and a temperature of about 60 degrees.

My 15 minutes notwithstanding, it ended up being an awesome day for riding and while I didn't ride with a watch or GPS (both are banned for the month of November to give me a break from my obsession with constantly tracking mileage and speed), I estimate that we probably rode a couple of hours.  We mostly walked, but did a little trotting, and when we were done, Nimo felt like he could do the same ride again and again.  He clearly felt good (not stiff or sore) and was very ready to get back to work, which is great.  I had worried that with so much time off, he would need a few rides to get back up to speed, but that doesn't appear to be the case.  Next week, we're going to be brave and try a Hunter Pace, something I've always wanted to do.  And don't ask me what a Hunter Pace is or how it works because I have only the slimmest of ideas.  I'm hopeful that someone will explain it to me when I sign in at the ride!:)


  1. I seriously admire your dedication. My best friend in FL has a young daughter who just turned 3 and it has been extremely difficult for her to be able to squeeze in riding time pretty much since she was pregnant. It is so hard to balance young children with riding, especially distance riding. You do an amazing job!!

    Hunter paces sound like a ton of fun! I don't know if you follow Dom's blog, but she went to one back in July and wrote about her experience. Here's the post: Dom is a professional horse trainer and instructor, but she started out working at a Standardbred rescue and riding her Standardbred, Ozzy, in endurance. He developed a heart condition and had injured a fetlock at a ride that put him out of commission for a long time. However, it looks like she's about to make a comeback to the sport with her heart horse, at least to CTRs and LDs! :)

    1. Thanks for the link! It looks really cool - I hope Nimo and I have that much fun:)

  2. Ohhh! I have never ridden in a hunter pace myself but I uses to photograph them back when I was an equine/event photographer. Basically you have to follow a marked trail (which usually includes a series of x-country type jumps which are optional). They will have several paces (example: slow, moderate, fast) and the team that comes closest to a predetermined optimum time wins:) They are a whole lot of fun and I am really hoping to make it to a few myself soon!

  3. Sounds like a great ride! I don't know how you do it with a baby. I don't have any kids, but I have mild insomnia problems and I would totally have bailed on the ride if I'd been up since 2am lol. I'm a big baby about getting enough sleep. I'm glad you had fun. The hunter pace sounds like fun too. Good luck!!