By Laura Crum
Recently Jami posted here about trying to decide between showing and trail riding. I commented that I had made that choice long ago…it is the trails on the ridge across the road that call to me, not the show ring (not that one actually needs to choose; it is, of course, possible to do both). My own situation right now is even more frustrating (or so I think) than Jami’s. I am quite clear what I want to do with my horses and quite happy doing it. Unfortunately, I am unable to ride the trails, at least for the moment.
Those of you who read this blog know that my son’s horse, Henry, colicked at the end of January and had to go to colic surgery to save his life. (See my post “Colic” Feb 09). Between Henry’s rehab and the fact that it rained most of February, I didn’t manage to get on a horse for the entire month. On top of this, when I do go out on the trails, my son is always keen to go with me, and I don’t have the heart to go for a ride when his horse is layed up and he can’t come. This has resulted in my riding Sunny (my own trail horse) in the arena (sporadically) this month, in an effort to keep him in shape, while I continue to give Henry his rehab regime. For those who are interested, this includes three small meals a day, antibiotics twice a day, hand walking and grazing for half an hour twice a day, stall cleaning twice a day, changing the dressing on his incision once a day. Between Henry’s care and my hours at the computer desperately typing book number 11, which is supposed to be turned in the end of this month….well, I just don’t have much time for any kind of riding, let alone trail riding.
This has been really frustrating for me, as I spent all of last year riding the trails on the nearby ridge, well, some would say obsessively. I was out on the trails at least twice a week all year, and riding in the arena another two or three days a week. So, I spent a lot of time horseback. Going an entire month without once being on a horse came as a big change. Maybe I’m having a form of withdrawal.
All I can say is that by the end of February, with my corrals knee deep in mud, my horse activities confined to rehabbing Henry (which involved a fair amount of hand walking him in a downpour), and the many hours I spent in somewhat frantic efforts to type an entire book with one finger, I was in a sorry state. So, what happened? My husband showed me a photo he took near the end of January, of the last trail ride my son and I went on before Henry colicked.
There we are, my little boy and me, on Sunny and Henry, our two good bomb proof trail horses. We are at a place where we let the horses air up after a steep climb. It’s a peaceful shady flat, a pleasant place to rest on a warm afternoon. My husband was hiking with us and took the photo when he caught up to us there.
Do we look relaxed and happy or what? Janet has posted on her mugwump chronicles blog about how she is always thinking about training her horses when she rides on the trail. Not me. As much as I admire the thought and desire to improve that goes with that attitude, I am so much lazier than that. I think you can see by this photo that I spend my time on the trail in a happy daze, watching the landscape go by, enjoying the green world. I am, as Janet said once, the quintessential hippie chick on horseback. I live in Santa Cruz California, after all.
And for those who are interested in such things, my son does ride in Ugg boots, which have no heels (so do I), but his stirrups have tapaderos, which prevent his foot from slipping through.
You can also tell that I don’t waste much time fussing with grooming. Both horses are hairy and Sunny’s white mane is, well, not white. But I took one look at this photo and almost burst into nostalgic tears.
I so miss being out there on the trails, cruising along the ridge. I revisit all the favorite spots in my mind—even more so as the book I’m writing has a long passage that involves these very trails. I think about the next section of trail after the resting spot in the photo, and how it is steep and leads to what we call the “Lookout” a clearing high in the hills from which we can see the whole Monterey Bay. I think about the long, gentle sloping trail we take on the homeward trip, and how we call it the “pretty trail” because it looks so idyllic, with broad leaf trees waving graceful branches overhead and wildflowers on the fringes. I miss it all. I don’t know when we’ll get back there.
For the moment, I’m focused on rehabbing Henry successfully so that we can use him again. And yes, so far, he’s doing well. I try to keep Sunny at least a little bit legged up. I wait for the weather to improve. And I struggle to finish this damn book. That’s my horse life these days. I hope the rest of you are doing better.
Happy trails (some day)—Laura Crum