Okay, so this past Saturday, I went on another butt-kickin' trail ride with a small group of folks from the barn. There were 4 of us, and we've ridden together before. We have a total blast on these rides; they're at a state park-type area about an hour or so from the barn. You pay $20 at the gate, park and tack up, and then take off on the morning ride. This particular ride was anywhere from 5-6 miles, maybe more. I am NOT a good judge of distance! The ride is tough; both horse and rider MUST be in shape, or you'll both have a really tough time. There is a lot of up and down, lots of hills, rocks, fallen trees, streams, bridges, roads, etc. to negotiate in this very wooded area.
We were about 2/3 of the way through the ride, and Ranger had just about had it with going down hill. He'd get to the top of the hill, look down the other side, and I could just hear him saying "you've got to be kidding". We took a lot of breaks, and I always let him choose the pace he wants to travel at. He's older...24...and in fantastic shape, but he's the one doing all the work so I try to let him make some of the decisions. That kind of backfired on me...
We were last in line to go down a hill...because he was pouting at the top of the hill...and I finally encouraged him enough to head down. Well, there are a lot of trees in a forest. We had smacked into a few throughout the day, but mostly they were little skinny saplings that just moved out of the way. Not this time. So, Mr. Forgot I Have Someone On My Back starts going down this hill, and he's too far to the right on the path. There's a tree on our right side...about 6 inches in diameter...and it's flush with his shoulder. Incidentally, his shoulder is right in front of my leg. Which means that freakin' tree is about to whack me in the leg. I distinctly remember thinking "oh, crap, that thing is NOT going to move out of the way". It didn't. SMACK. Right into my leg, from the knee, through the shin, to the outside of my ankle. Something in the ankle went POP, and I said "OUCH!". It threw my balance off...remember, we're still in forward motion headed down the hill...and the next thing I know, I'm bounced up out of the saddle, thrown forward onto Ranger's neck, and I'm screaming "Help! Help!". Everyone stopped their horses, and told Ranger to "whoa". He did. He found a relatively flat spot just to the left side of the path.
So, the best way to describe how I looked at this point in time is to direct you to the movie "Toy Story". Remember when Woody had to get outside to the yardsale to save Wheezy the Pengiun? Well, he hitched a ride on the dog...the weenie dog...by hanging on to the collar and laying his body flat against the right side of the dog's body. This would be me and Ranger. The only points of contact I had with him were my left foot, over the top of the saddle and digging in to the saddle, and my chest over the top of Ranger's neck. My right leg was out of the stirrup and hanging almost to the ground, my right hand still had a hold of the reins, but was under his neck, my left hand was dangling down the left side of his neck, and I was looking at the ground thinking "hey, there's his front left foot!". Ugh.
I VERY CLEARLY heard Anna (the barn owner) yell to me in her "instructor's voice": Shannon! Reach down and grab the reins! I did as instructed with my left hand, pulled toward his butt, and that's how he came to a stop. At that point, I took a mental "inventory" of my body parts, everything was attached, and I looked behind me. There was Ed, Anna's hubby, smiling. I started laughing and asked "How the HELL did I stay on this horse???!!!!". I lowered myself to the ground, where I promptly had to "take a knee" due to the pain in my shin and ankle. I sipped a Propel, shook it off, mounted up, and off we went.
So now, I have a lovely bruise on my right calf, a swollen bump on my right shin, a "rug-burn" on my right elbow from the bark of the tree, and the outside of my right ankle is slightly swollen. I can walk on it today, though, without limping. I'm pretty sure I broke a teeny tiny something in there...but it's nothing that's serious enough to go get an xray done. The pain is gone, and for the most part if feels fine. There are a few positions that elicit a small scream from me, but not many.
Aside from the "episode" with the tree, the ride was a blast. There's a lot of flat areas to get in a good gallop, and lots of cleared forest areas to trot and canter through. The scenery is awesome, and the trails are very well marked. At the end of the ride, we wind up at the bunkhouse, where a stew or chili is waiting for us, along with homemade German sourdough bread, drinks, and cobbler with ice cream. Now, one thing about the cobbler. There are people who go on this ride specifically to get the cobbler...no kidding. It's homemade in cast-iron kettles and cooked in an open campfire in front of the bunkhouse. This time it was apple cinnamon...yum!
After lunch, you can either load up and go back home, or do the afternooon ride...which is a trail that goes in a different direction than the one you just completed. We don't do the second ride; our horses would scrape us off on the first tree they could find and run for the hills if we tried to do that. They would NOT be pleased with us!
Back at the barn, everything gets unpacked and put away, horses get baths, fed and put up for the night. Ranger got liniment on all four legs, pain reliever, and an electrolyte replacer. Spoiled???????
While I was off cruising the trails, Marc and Tyler got to have a "Daddy Day". Tyler LOVES these days! He gets Daddy all to himself, and they go do guy stuff. This time, they went to Cooter's Pond State Park to fly their remote control plane...which turned out to have a dead battery...but was okay because there was a HUGE RC demo going on. Tyler got to see all kinds of RC planes and helicopters fly around. Then, they came home and went to the park by our house so Tyler could swing.
School photos are Wednesday; I can't wait! They'll be taken without his glasses, so we don't have to deal with the glare issue. I have no idea when they'll be back, but I've ordered the packages I need. Don't freak if you don't get one of them; we're sending out Christmas cards this year with a photo of the 3 of us, so you'll be able to see his cuteness anyway!
Well, time to get my achy-muscle bod to bed. I'm headed to the barn to ride tomorrow. Yay! See you next time...
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