Monday, August 31, 2009

VA Highlands 2009

Top photo by Becky Sillers>

Noways Point of View

Since Mom gave me a bath and clipped my whiskers Wednesday, I knew we were headed out for another ride in the woods with lots of horses to chase. I don't get as excited about it s I used to, but my nerves were a bit taut Thursday Morning, when Mom gave me another brushing after my defiant roll in the dust...ha, ha, can't keep me shiny for long.

Yet another long haul, ho-hum, good time to eat and eat and eat hay, with an occasional stop for some water. Mom finally learned I can't bring myself to drink plain ol' water while being hauled ~ for goodness sakes, put some grain in it!

We finally pull into ridecamp, and I swear I thought I heard her say something like, "My goodness, we should have got here yesterday!" Boy, were there lots of trailers and horses and people and dogs! Mom was smiling though, when a kind man directed her to a good camping spot, no shade, but it wasn't that hot anyway. Although Mom sure was sweating after she walked here and there getting things set up for us.

Mom set up my pen and turns me into it. For some reason I thought my best bud, Sully (Mom's granddaughter's horse) was in the trailer, or already here, or came in another trailer, or something, but alas he was not! I yelled and screamed and ran around my pen until Mom finally tied me to the trailer so I could regain my cool...whew, thought I was going to have to jump out of the pen before I got her attention. Finally, Mom's friends unloaded a mare, Zelda, I occasionally get to run with down the trails, so my heart settled and I immediately fell in love...All is well now.

Mom took me to the check-in after yet another brushing and marking on my butt. I've tried and tried, but can't get Mom to walk fast enough for me. She has long legs, why the heck can't she keep up? Instead she keeps reminding me to slow down; she is getting old I reckon. The vet does his thing while I look around, assessing my competition, then we do the trot out, Mom always has to peek at me while we do this. One of these days I'm going to start nodding my head just to see her face fall..But, not today, just making her huff and puff is enough entertainment. The vet's assistant hands Mom the bright pink card and we are in!

I watch Mom get the crew bag ready, and buckets and cooler and all sorts of stuff, so I suppose the VC are to be away. Darn, don't get to get back to my pen and roll. That's OK, I like to aggravate Mom at the away VCs. She hates the way I walk around and around, just snatching at my feed while she tries to put water on me, he he...In my view, all the trouble is just a wastE of time, I just want to go, go, go!

Ride morning! Mom put a blanket on me last night, and it was a good thing, as I don't like to get wet, and it did start a gentle rain this morning. Mom did the usual routine, saddle, boots, check the girth, and check the bags, and check, check, check. She can't find something, but she did put my treats in my special bag, so I'm ready! She walks me around a bit, and I'm happy to have Zelda calmly standing by. Mom finally gets on and we hold back at the trailer while other horses warm up all around us. We circle and circle and finally all of us line up and head out on the trail. I'm happy to stay with my girlfriend and give Mom the best start at a ride ever! Hope she remembers to give me extra treats for this...but for now a stroke on my neck tells me she is pleased.

We trot and trot, Mom and Zelda's rider, Dr. Greg, talk and exclaim over the scenery, sigh, what's there to see? Huge boulders? Clear streams? Trees with big fat leafs on them, fog hanging in the valleys, well I guess it is a 'human' thing. I'm just keeping my eyes on Zelda's butt. We trot on and climb a monster hill, Mom keeps stroking my neck and up we go and go. I'm still being good, not pulling on Mom but just a little bit to let her know we can go faster than this. But, still she keeps me facing Zelda's butt, which is awfully cute.

Finally and at long last, Mom says something to Dr. Greg, "OK, we're going on now." Dr. Greg waves us off as we go around and begin the most fun of a ride for me, WE GET TO PASS HORSES! I just love his part! I used to be a race horse, but they said I was not fast enough, I'm fast now though. Mom speaks to the riders as we cautiously go by, Mom is still holding me to a fast trot, and only lets me canter when we are past horses. I don't count so good, but we passed a lot of horses in groups of ten or more and sometimes only a few, but we go and go. Usually, my friend Sully, who is still new to this game, and carrying Mom's granddaughter, is with us, so Mom holds me in, sometimes for the whole ride...she really complains of her 'whoa muscles' hurting when this happens. What a wimp. But, finally Mom is letting me do what I am born to do! Ye haw!

We climb up, we free wheel it down, 'I love going down', we dance over the rocks, we slip through the trees like ghosts in the wind...ah what fun is this! At last we settle in with a few horses that seem to be going our speed. I could keep going even faster, but Mom seems happy here and makes me behave. For some reason she doesn't like me to get too close to another horse's butt, and holds me more than I like, but I guess I could go along her OK if that's what she wants. Then a strange and scary thing happens. You see, Mom has this thing where she has a bad fall every other September. She hasn't told me this in words, but I can read her mind. She is afraid the trend will continue. But, it is only August, and here it comes!

The horse in front of us, his rider's name is Claire, (Mom says she's nice) trots over a low hanging , big fat grape vine thingy. His front legs clear it, but his hind legs get caught and the vine rides up into the horse's flank as he continues to trot along. Mom yells, "Look out!" thinking something awful is about to happen to that horse. But, alas, the horse jumps out of it and then here comes the big vine swinging back at us, bigger and bigger! I'm shocked and jerk back as the vine slams into us. Mom flips off my back with a thump, and I panic and take off into the woods. Lordy the woods are alive and coming for me after all! Claire gives a little whistle and gets my mind back in place, so I turn around and trot back to Mom. She says my eyes were really big (the better to see strange things coming at me!) Mom is up by now, and strokes my face, whew...I was thinking she might be laying flat on the ground like the last time I lost my mind. She's shaking, she can't fool me. That's OK, Mom I won't let any more vines hit us, 'cause I have my eyes wide open now. Claire and the rider behind us, keeping asking if Mom is OK, she says yes, but I can tell she is riding a little different. She shook out some of those little tablets she takes for when I've been pulling on her all day and the day is just starting.

On we go and Mom seems to get back to herself. We trot and canter and gallop along, then she turns me up the most steep, no-trail hill, I ever saw. I actually stop to look and express my doubt to Mom...'you want me to climb that, there's no trail, just a steep grassy hill with some flags on it!

Yep, and alas there at the very top (Mom says it is the most beautiful place she's ever seen) are lots of trucks and tents and the best part, Mary Lynn, Mom's friend with food and water, and yeah the saddle comes off. I do my usual dancing around, while Mom puts water on me and scraps off the mud and sand and whatever else she thinks I can do without. Then on to the pulse, then on to the vet. I must be OK, cause the pink card comes back to Mom and we return to the food and water, and hay. Yummy, don't want Mom to relax too much, so I take a bite of this and a bite of that, then stare back down the trail to watch the horses coming in. Mom talks to me, but she is relaxing in a chair for goodness sakes, so I make Mary Lynn fuss at me a bit. It's kind'a rainy now, but Mary Lynn has my back and butt covered and we are OK...

Mom squirts that funny tasting applesauce in my mouth and resaddles me, and off we go again. I've watched the front runners going out, so I know what I want to do. Just hope Mom lets me. And she does! This is the long loop with a 15 min. hold a the middle. By the time we arrive at the hold I've passed everyone!! I am cooking with gas! I am the man! I told you I could do this Mom! I'm really excited now, and don't want any carrots or apples or hay, did like that long drink though. Then Mom puts more of that strange applesauce in my mouth. Then darn, she looks down and exclaims, "NO SHOE!" I was hoping she wouldn't notice, I am really good at hiding the fact that I can pull a shoe and not tell her until my foot is worn down to the quick. Then here she is with that silly boot. She's having a hard time, cause I can't stand still that long, she's wet, I'm wt, she is saying bad words under her breath, so the nice volunteer can't hear, but I hear her...OK now we are ready. Mom thanks the volunteers; Mom says they are the best! Off we go again, ye haw! Mom keeps looking down, and darn it she sees I've stepped that silly boot off! She stops me and turns back to look for it. Gosh I took that thing off right away..he, he. But, not so funny now all those fast horses are now passing us while we go back. They tell Mom where they saw it so back and back we go. It is a narrow single track, so we have to find a place to get over while all those horses pass us...

Mom again tries to get the boot back on. I am more anxious than ever. Forget the boot lets go for gosh sakes. Mom is not a happy Mom at all now, but I can't help it and give her the 'eye' which says, "Get on darn it, and lets go!" Well, time after time we go through this when one of the riders offers something called an Epic...says they stay on better...ha, ha. They exchange boots and again we go through Mom's clumsy attempts at pounding on the boot with a rock. I think I saw blood on her fingers...poor Mom. All she has to do is get on and we can go, go, go. But no, I keep- stepping the boot off and she keeps trying to figure a way to make it stay on. It won't. Finally she gives up when she sees I've also taken off the other front shoe. May as well be even I'm thinking. Since the Epic is nearly in shreds and won't stay on, she at last sees the light and ties the darn thing on the saddle and off we go bare footing it! Fortunately, this part of the trail isn't too rocky and the gravel roads are soft from the light rain. I show her right away that I can make time without shoes too. Still she holds me in when she sees rocks, but mostly we just go!

Finally back to the vet check again, and again we climb that hill, but this time I know what is at the top. More food! Mary Lynn has already gotten word that we need the farrier, so all is ready. Just to make sure Mom knows that my left front shoe is also gone, I step on her toes. Mom sure can dance around without moving her feet! Now Mary Lynn trots me out for the Vet, as Mom is getting a little stiff from her fall and all the getting on and off of me. And now there are the sore toes to wimp about. I'm declared sound, of course...I'm one tough horse! Mom on the other hoof, is not so sound. Mom even leaves me to Mary Lynn while new shoes are tacked on! Could she be getting tired? We have 15 more miles to home!

I show Mom I have plenty more go in me and canter across the top of the scenic hill top then Mom gets hold of me and we trot down that steep hill. It is a bit slick. Then canter the roadway until we get to the trail again. boy, oh boy am I glad Mom got me new shoes! Rocks, and rocks and more rocks on this leg with some nice sucky mud to boot. We've picked up a friend, Fran, and Mom and she do some talking while we horses do all the work. We make a very long climb up a gravel road to some welcome water tanks. I suck it down, but my new buddy turns up his nose. He told me he likes to do this to his Mom to make her worry...I know that trick too. Off we go again, and there is more climbing to do, but I know we are headed home, I have this thing in my head that tells me this. When we finally, finally, get to the top, our friend has dropped back and all I want to do is sail on down the other side of that mountain as fast as my long legs will carry me, and Mom will let me. I can really scare her sometimes... he, he.

To Mom's surprise we come up on one of the front runners, Sue, who rides the prettiest little bay mare. Mom insists I settle in behind her, and we travel on this way for a few miles. She has a cute butt too, so I allow this. We finally come to the bottom of the mountain and I recognize the creek we crossed at the beginning of the ride this morning. Mom does the sponge thing, but I've cooled off pretty good now. Almost home, and Mom lets me trot on out at my big trot to camp. And there they are; those people Mom is always so glad to see after a ride, the timers who take that pink card and declare that we are finished! Ye haw! We are forth place! Mom is pleased, so all is well. I'm hungry!

Now again Mom sponges me off, getting all the sand and dirty grit off of me. She has me tied to the arena fence so I have to stand still, but I still manage to knock over one of her buckets and her helmet off of her saddle twice..he, he.

The vet I've seen many times before, Dr. Otis looks me over good and we trot out. Mom has to do it this time. I'm feeling a little sorry for her now, so I trot along beside her at her pace, and don't nod my head...Mom decides we may as well stand for the BC judging, but she lets me go back to my pen and take a good roll. I love to roll. After another yummy meal of sloppy beet pulp and grain, she gets me cleaned up again and back to the vet we go. Mom has some how done a transformation, now her hair is really wet and she smells much nicer, she is also smiling at me. Mary Lynn walks me around a bit with the other horses and that pretty mare we came in with, then Mom does another trot with me, and again Dr. Otis checks me over. And we are done at last! Back to the pen for a good rest and more food.

Mom tells me later we didn't get Best Condition, but that pretty little mare of Sue Mullins did! That's OK; she really did have a cute butt...
Mom says to say that the ride was the best! Good trail markings, and she never got worried, and all the volunteers were so happy to help that it made the ride a pleasant happening. The scenery is to die for! The New River is good cool wading after a long hot day too.

Good job everyone! Certainly a ride to put on the calender for next year, it just keeps getting better.

The picture is of me (in my black mask) and my girlfriend, Zelda, and Mom's best pal Mary Lynn Stockdale, cooling our toes in the beautiful New River after a long day on the trail...

Noways ~ Mom's wonder horse...


  1. Thanks for the tale, really enjoyed it. <;p]

  2. way 2 go

    happy trails

  3. Congratulations Janice, I mean Noways. Great writing! Annie and Mark