Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Trails....

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


SCARFACE4 said...


Good luck with the rehab, both my mares have had colic surgery and have come through with no problems. Both have also won championships after the fact henry will be back to knew before you know it. Keep up the good work and have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you SCARFACE4. That really cheers me up. Henry is doing OK, except for a pesky incision infection that leaves him with one small, still-draining hole. Ultra-sound doesn't show any big problem, no hernia, no draining tract. So, I'm hoping if I persist with antibiotics it will just go away. I'll cross my fingers Henry will be like your mares.

mugwump said...

Think how wonderful the trails will be when you get them back. It's how I keep from going crazy while the horse I really want to be on is out in happy exhile and I'm riding the ones I can't give my heart to. I just keep thinking it will be that much sweeter once things are where I need them to be.
I would pity your deadline if it was in June when the trails are dry and the air is still cool.

Anonymous said...

That's what I tell mysef, Janet. When I do get back on the trails it will be the right time for me to be there and it will feel good. Right now, I'm meant to be doing something else. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn't. But I know what you mean.

It will be fun to hear about the time when your mare comes back from "happy exile".

Leslie said...

I'm happy to hear Henry is recouperating! I had always heard horror stories about colic surgery for horses, including scar tissue, recurring problems, that kind of stuff. I suppose it all depends on the horse and the situation.

The picture with you, your son and horses is a great one! Yes, you all look like you're enjoying the day!

Good luck with getting the book finished! I'm better with deadlines which I think is part of my problem right now, no deadlines, just up to my own timeline. I find other things that I think need done so I tend to flit around from one project to another, which ends up getting me frustrated. I'm still recouperating from thyroid surgery and treatment for some "abnormal cells" that showed up in the removed tissue. The body just doesn't bounce back at 48 like it did at 28 or 38!

Take care and hope you have a creative week!

Joy said...

Hang in there. You will make it through the withdrawals and be on the trails with your boy again soon as possible. I love the picture, looks like a beautiful spot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Leslie and Joy. And good luck with your recovery, Leslie. I'm typing chapter 21 today. Only three more chapters to go....

Joy said...

Laura, I just finished Breakaway, and I wanted to tell you that it was breathtakingly awesome. You are such a great writer. I loved it and am just blown away. Can't wait to get on to the rest of the series.

And please do keep working on your chapters. Your readers are waiting with baited breath!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joy. I appreciate the compliment. Breakaway was one of my favorites in the series, but it didn't sell very well. people either love it or hate it, it seems.