Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sore butts, happy hearts :)

This past weekend we had some gorgeous fall weather so my mom, Kate M. and I decided to take advantage of one of the last weekends before the start of hunting season to go on a nice long trail ride. Across the road from my house is a county park with several miles of trails, the Money Rocks County Park. The park sits on the top of the mountain and has several beautiful rocky outlooks over the valleys. The story is that a couple hundred years ago locals would use the natural rock formations to hide gold, hence the name: "Money Rocks." Many people have carved their names there too, some dating back to the 1850s or more.

A view from the top (www.co.lancaster.pa.us)
Growing up right across the street from the Money Rocks (before it was even a park) I was over there all the time. Since becoming a park the trails have all been cleaned up and marked (which makes it much easier to not get lost). You do have to watch out, though, as it is pretty rocky in many places and there is no true map of the trails so you have to have a decent sense of direction or be willing to potentially walk 10 miles in the wrong direction if you try a new trail.

Mom and Kate are hopeless when it comes to directions (they willingly admit it) so it was delegated to me to keep us from getting lost. Luckily my sense of direction is a little bit better than theirs, but the horses always know the way home anyway. Charlie happily led the way, only pausing uncertainly at a small stream and at a scary rock pile (but he followed willingly enough once Buffy showed him it was ok), then he was right up in the lead again. Eventually, once we had gone a decent way out into the woods, I decided it was time to veer off the trail we had been following and cut back up on an adjoining one that headed back the direction we needed to go. Didn't want to push the horses too much.....

Well, let me tell you, those horses got a workout. No sooner had we turned onto that trail than it started going up....and fast! You see, this park is on the side of a mountain (or what we would call a mountain in PA) and while most of the trails meander up and down and around, apparently I found the shortcut one that went straight up the side of the hill. Direct route home, yes, but boy was it steep! I could have sworn at some points we were going at a 45 degree angle. Once we started up it, though, there was no way to turn around. It would have been much more dangerous to go back down, what with all the rocks.

Charlie was such a champ! He saw that hill and plunged right ahead. Even when we had to navigate around big stones and fallen logs he took it all in stride. Every time we thought the trail was leveling out, we'd turn the corner and up it would go again but Charlie didn't bat an eye. I knew he was tired (so was I, for that matter, being in two-point for what felt like 10 minutes straight), but he never asked to stop. When I did try to let him rest 3/4 of the way up he didn't want to.

When we finally reached the top it was crazy to look back down over where we had come. The horses were huffing and puffing, and poor Mom had to get off and fix her saddle as Poppy was sweaty enough that it slipped almost down to his hips. Oops! But we made it!
Mom and Poppy: We made it!
The way back was much easier after that. The trail came out on the road a few miles from home. The horses still (surprisingly) had energy so we got in some good trotting and cantering as well.

An (uncharacteristic) view of Charlie behind everyone else
I'm estimating that in total we probably went 9 miles or so (I was kicking myself for not remembering to click "Map my ride" on my phone to track our progress for real). Oh well, next time.

Charlie got a nice bath when we got back, a treatment of SoreNoMore and some bute with dinner. I'm sure his butt was still sore the next day, but we were all happy and I really think he enjoyed himself. (Those borium shoes were also a lifesaver.)

It was such a relaxing and beautiful ride, I can't think of a better way to have spent a Sunday morning :)


  1. I am SOOOOO proud of you guys. I want to get Brantley out there sometime.

  2. Yay, I love trail riding, even when its a bit hairy, its good for the brain, good for the soul (equine and human). Glad to hear Charlie is doing well, what a good boy!

  3. I am really happy that you're so happy, even though we miss you :)

    1. I miss you guys too! Can someone please invent a teleporter...quick!

  4. I love, love, love reading your updates. <3

  5. SO fantastic!!! Really neat that your mom rides too :-)

    1. I'm so glad my mom rides! She did a little bit as a teen but then got out of practice while us kids were growing up. She actually only started getting back in the saddle after I went off to college. Now we ride together all the time :)