My Handy Dandy Guide to Summertime Trail Rides

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    Maybe it’s because the days are long and the mood is laidback, but summertime trail rides are the most memorable ones for Wally and me. Of course, I often end up encountering some kind of calamity that makes my rides in July and August more memorable. With that somewhat skewered point of view, here are some tips to help you and your horse have some unforgettable summertime rides.

    Life with Horses - My Handy Dandy Guide to Summertime Trail Rides

    If your local network of trails takes you anywhere near traffic you’ll need to get your horse accustomed to crossing the street. Some horses get a little antsy waiting for the “walk” signal. You can get a really unsettling feeling in your stomach if your horse is eager to bolt into the crosswalk just as an 18-wheeler roars through the intersection at 40 mph. Thankfully, Wally is in no hurry to step off the curb. In fact, I think he’d be perfectly happy to set up a lawn chair and just watch the cars zip past.

    Life with Horses - My Handy Dandy Guide to Summertime Trail Rides

    It’s been my experience that when it comes to crossing bodies of water, horses fall into three categories. First there are the horses that get to the edge of a river and think, “Wow! Cool! Someone left the hose running. Let’s have a pool party!” Then there are the horses who get to a river and think, “Oh no! Someone left the hose running! I think we should go back and tell someone because this is simply not right. Wait. What? You want me to wade into this? Are you serious? Well, okay…. But don’t blame me if next month’s water bill is extremely high.” And then there’s the third group of horses that stand firmly on the bank of the river and think, “Yikes! Someone left the hose running! It’s probably because some catastrophe happened back at the barn and everyone’s dead. This is a really bad sign. We need to leave immediately and run for our lives!”

    (Wally is in the first category. He is a macho dude and has always trudged right into the water. If he were a person he’d wear Speedo trunks and perform extravagant dives into the pool just to impress all the girls.)

    Life with Horses - My Handy Dandy Guide to Summertime Trail Rides

    Besides the good old fashioned fun of splashing around in water, a summertime water crossing can refresh your horse. Here Wally enjoys the benefits. Not only does the cool water feel good on his legs, but he can sip from the river as it swirls around his feet. Of course, at about this time I’m starting to feel thirsty, too, but I’m not about to hop off and drink what amounts to Tadpole Tea. When I get home I’m going to reconsider buying that little saddle pack that comes with the plastic water bottle.

     

    Life with Horses - My Handy Dandy Guide to Summertime Trail Rides

    Riding down narrow trails that course through thick stands of foliage presents some challenges. First, it’s nearly impossible to prevent your horse from sampling the vegetation, especially when it’s right there, brushing against your horse’s mouth. It may conjure up that helpless feeling you got when you were a kid and the pony you rode kept diving its head down into the grass. Second, if you’re even slightly paranoid you can feel vulnerable, particularly if you’re a woman riding alone. This is why I now carry a Taser with me if I’m riding in a secluded area by myself. It was either that or teach Wally some kung fu moves.

     

    Life with Horses - My Handy Dandy Guide to Summertime Trail Rides

    The terrain often changes on lengthy trail rides. Here, Wally surveys what’s on the other side of the river. It’s a sparse, desert-like panorama. The finely grained sand is deep and silvery white, and there’s an intense glare from the summer sunshine. Luckily, before I saddled up I slathered so much SPF 50 sunscreen on my face and arms that I looked like I was applying clown make-up before I rubbed it in. Nonetheless, it’s not an aesthetically pleasing setting. Wally agrees. In fact, he came up with an impromptu riddle. “Question: Why did the horse cross the river? Answer: I have no freakin’ idea.”

    After a few minutes of plodding through warm sand, we turn back across the river and head home. Wally will get a bath and a special oatmeal-based body wash. Then I’ll go inside and gulp down a glass of lemonade. It’s not a bad way to spend a summer day, and these are the rides I’ll recall most when the chilly weather of winter comes. I hope you have some memorable summertime rides, too!

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    7 COMMENTS

    1. Your are so lucky! You have a little bit of everything. Where I live, there is only wooded trails. No water, no traffic, no sand. Thanks for sharing your photos. That is the best part. Give my best to Ron. I hope he is doing good!

    2. LOVE THIS – cracked me up! Of course I had to envision the speedo escapade! It’s fun to see the variation in terrain from what I’m used to – mostly woods and fields here in Illinois. Sure is nice to see some emphasis on trailriding – thanks for sharing!!

    3. Wally is a funny horse. I think he’d get along great with my mare because she likes water crossings, too. He could even wear his horse Speedos on their first date. Thanks for the blog. đŸ™‚

    4. Cindy, please talk more about tasers and trail riding! I carry pepper spray, but the thought of something with more bite interests me. I rarely ride alone, but it’s usually just my friend and I, and we’ve run across some scary people over the years, especially in the nearby canyons.

    5. I’M SO GLAD YOU ALL SEEM TO ENJOY READING ABOUT MY ESCAPADES WITH WALLY. HE’S MY BEST BUDDY, THAT’S FOR SURE!
      CAMILL, I WILL DEFINITELY WRITE MORE ABOUT MY TASER. I’LL DO IT IN AN UPCOMING BLOG. I HAD SOME MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT CARRYING ONE UNTIL I HAD A COUPLE OF DISCONCERTING EXPERIENCES MYSELF WHILE TRAIL RIDING.

    6. Thanks for the suggestions. I have only recently started trail riding my horse Shawnee as we are still both inexperienced. The taser is certainly something to think about, although I’d be afraid of tasing myself or my horse by mistake.

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