Washington Island 2014

A couple of weeks ago, Sofie and I headed to Washington Island for our annual weekend getaway with Bella and Charm. To sum it up, it was amazing. We had 3 nights and the most of 4 days to relax and explore.
Here are some of the highlights…

• We hiked Rock Island the first day and walked/jogged the 5 mile trail, of course exploring the shore or whatever else caught our eyes along the way.

• What made this trip extra special was that some friends who frequent the island were there with their horses. Because of this, we were able to explore off the road and really see the land.

• We rode about 24 miles total on the road, in the water, through fields, meadows and along the shore. We also happened on trails through the woods with ferns and even hidden sand dunes in the middle of the island.

• We went to the annual Death’s Door BBQ Competition. We rode the horses there and tied them to trees while we sampled some delicious food. Then, we rode over to Main Street and got a couple of beers horseback.

• We picked about 6 pounds of wild blackberries. After eating our fill, I was able to bring home enough to make blackberry jam to enjoy in the months to come.

• When it comes to bugs, there are only butterflies and dragonflies on the Island, or so it seemed.

• The most frequently asked question of the weekend was, “Do year hear that?” To which the other would respond “I hear nothing.”

• We ate a lot of good food and drank some good drinks.

• We enjoyed our traditional Black Velvet at the Fiddler’s Green.

• The horses behaved like old pros. They were patient, went through anything and everything we asked them to and did not tire (except for some ouchy feet on the hard road). Charm in particular was totally in her element. She was happy and forward.

• I ended up selling my saddle on the Island. I’ve had it for sale since February and now it’s gone! Who could have guessed that would have happened?

• One night we laid out a blanket around midnight and looked at the stars all while enjoying some gourmet popcorn.

• The weather was perfect. Low 70s, mostly overcast but not dreary. Ideal when you’re riding all day!

• We had this ridiculous giant white truck for the weekend. The thing was so loud people would make comments about it to us … oops. We named it “Great White” for the weekend. Totally redneck.

• We had no schedule!

• And lastly, we became experts on Snoants and Cincolizards. I will tell you all about them sometime…

Till next year!

Here are some of the pictures that sum it all up…

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Flying

I had something cool happen at the barn last weekend and I thought it would be worth putting on here to share.

Over the past year, Charm has had lameness issues off and on. Sometimes she’s pretty good and other times I fear she is in pain. This has not been fun to deal with as many horse people can relate to. A couple of months ago I had the chiropractor out for an adjustment and Charm adjusted nicely and we also decided that my saddle may be part of the problem.. maybe it’s restricting her movement and causing her problems that could be related to her pain. So since that appointment, I have put my saddle away and have been riding her either bareback or just with the bareback pad (usually when I don’t want to get my jeans dirty or full of hair).

Since the weather has improved, we’ve ventured out into the fields and woods for some rides. She’s moving a lot better and I have been comfortable asking her for a little more lately. We’ve galloped in the fields a couple of times and she seems to go up and down the hills without any sign of pain or lameness.

Last Monday, it was raining out and I didn’t have a lot of time, so after a short warmup and after feeling like we were good and connected, I hopped up for a bareback and bridleless ride around the indoor arena. I didn’t really have a plan, just see what she had to offer me and get a good 10 or 15 minute ride in quickly. Charm has a horrific trot, so I asked her to canter and we were going around and she was doing great. I’ve always had a harder time asking for the right lead while riding bareback, so I have been working at getting better at that. So we were in the right lead and I thought about going through the middle for a simple change to the left. So we did, except Charm didn’t trot she kept cantering through the middle (my mistake? I tried to slow her, but she had something else in mind). So we went to the left and I was just about to bring her back down to a trot so I could pick up the (correct) left lead, when I suddenly realized, we WERE on the left lead! She did a flying change! And I didn’t even notice it! I was so excited! I stopped her after a few strides and told her how wonderful she was and loved on her and smiled. We’ve never been able to nail flying changes consistently and it’s one of those big goals I’ve always had that I haven’t been able to achieve.

So I thought, huh.. well, let’s try again. So we did the same pattern and BAM! Flying change. Again. Flying change. At this point I think I let out a few shouts of joy, I could hardly contain myself. So of course, with everything like this, no one is there to witness it. There were others in the barn, just not in the arena, I  quickly hopped of and asked Tracey if she would mind recording us (iPhone). I knew it might not happen again, but I had to try to capture this so I could see it and study it.

I hopped back up and Charm gave me two more flying changes in a row! I was so happy and we were able to get it on video. Here it is!

After watching it, I couldn’t believe how smooth it was. It was effortless for her. No tail swish, no late change behind, it was perfect. She even sped up in the middle to make the change too and I love how she blows out and relaxes just before we go through the middle. It just shows me that she was really trying for me. She made it happen, she did it for me. Normally she is more on the lazy side and does not like to use her body. I am hoping this will happen again for us, but if it doesn’t I am happy that we got it on video and I can remember the feeling we had together.

Going Bridleless

I haven’t really posted any horse stuff for a long time! Today my friend Sofie video taped part of a short bridleless ride Charm and I had together.

After a little liberty, I hopped up and after a few minutes here’s what we got.

It’s interesting because after she blew out those three times is when we really get into sync. It’s cool to see it all come together and find the harmony. After that, I thought that was a good place to quit since she was following my focus pretty well. (I didn’t have to use my stick! Well, only to tap her on the butt…)

I am very grateful that we can do this on a whim… I hardly get to practice this stuff anymore!

This is my kind of adrenaline rush 🙂

A Frosty Morning

A beautiful frost and soft light covered the farm this morning. I was fortunate enough to be there and capture it.
(Click on the picture for the best quality)

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Brandywine looked very handsome with his frosty mane.

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Little beautiful things are all around us if we take the time to look for them.

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The geldings are bored in the pasture this time of year, so they play this little game. First one to take a step back loses.

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Frost was literally everwhere.

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The whole fence line was like this.

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Wana play mom? Charm knows is time to head up to the barn with me. 🙂

First Day of Fall

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Charm and I enjoyed a brisk mid-morning ride today. We started out through the woods and ended up in the south field. There is a swampy area that we were overlooking and I had the opportunity to snap this picture with my iPhone. From my viewpoint, I could see the depth, shadows and hidden color. I used Snapseed and Instagram to bring all of these features out of the photo.

Then we cut across the open field and our trot soon turned into a gentle lope over to the road. As I looked East, I noticed the herd in the pasture saw us and were definitely curious and started running over to the near fence line. So I urged Charm to meet them. Again we loped across the open field to her herd mates. It was a fun little ride!

Extreme Trail Riding

On our recent trip to Washington Island, Sofie and I were on a short trail ride before dinner and decided to investigate some gravel roads. I was looking at the GPS on my phone and I could see that the gravel road lead us to a shortcut and would cut our ride time in half instead of doing a big loop.

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The gravel was a little tough on the horse’s feet so we were hugging the sides of the road as much as we could. It was a gorgeous day. We were both in tank tops and sunglasses.

After walking and talking for a while, we both looked up to see that our gravel road had ended.

Confused, I referred to my phone and something wasn’t right.. it said there were roads, but apparently there weren’t any roads. Well, the woods was clear and inviting, so we decided to take a stroll to see what we could find.

We walked through the shaded woods and enjoyed the beauty that surrounded us. Nothing was around, just nature, us and our two horses.

Soon, we came upon another road that seemed abandoned and was overgrown. We followed it and it seemed to match up to a road on my phone that we were suppose to follow: the shortcut. We happily followed our new road and had to dodge some sticks and branches as they came flying past us.

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There was talking, silence, joking, you know.. just enjoying the moment.

Then, we looked up again to see giant trees that had fallen across the road. It almost seemed like someone was logging, but never picked up the fallen timber. These trees were huge and I wasn’t too sure that Charm and Bella would have been able to safely navigate them.

Referring to my phone again I saw the main road we needed to get to, wasn’t that far away, so we decided to dive into the woods again and attempt to bushwhack our way through it.

It started out okay, but soon the woods got thick with various heights of footing and fallen timber scattered randomly around us.

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You want me to walk through this??

Now what?

I felt we were too far in at this point to turn back. Plus when looking at the map, the road we needed to get to didn’t seem that far away, so we kept going.

We were jumping fallen tree trunks, stepping over fallen brush, climbing small rocky hills. I kept having visions that I was with Man Tracker and was looking for the prey! But no, we were just somewhat lost in the middle of the woods on Washington Island.

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Those are some tall trunks!

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Charm was content to take a break with her feet down in a little hole.

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Sofie was getting a little too adventurous!

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HUGE uprooted tree that had pulled up some stone with it. Kinda freaky.

After things got really thick, we both eventually jumped off and led the horses through. Since we were just going for a leisurely ride, we had both just had our lead ropes and halters on the horses, which was perfect since we were asking them to navigate such compromising terrain. Now we could easily lead them through without possibly getting a bridle stuck on a branch or something like that.

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Is this ridge possibly part of the Niagara Escarpment?

It seemed to go on and on forever. But I think since we had to find horse friendly spots to cross the fallen trees and massive piles of brush, it just took longer than it would have if we were just on foot.

I think the most frustrating thing was that we could hear cars going by on the road.. it wasn’t far away at all, but we just couldn’t seem to get there. Every time we had to go around a fallen tree, we would end up going south or west when we needed to keep heading east.

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Ugh, yes we made our way through this somehow.. We have the world’s best horses!

Finally, which seemed like an eternity, we saw a car through the trees.. the road! It wasn’t a straight shot out of the woods yet, but at least we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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It cleared out just before we found the road. This was a little more swampy.

Finally we got to the road and breathed a sigh of relief. We both got dismounted our horses and looked them over for wounds and cuts. Charm had one one her hind end, but it was nothing serious, just a scrape.

We ate a snack that we had packed and followed the newly blacktopped road north on the shore and took another stop at a beach. Of course we had to run the horses on the sandy beach and take a few pictures.

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The east beach… finally! Only a little over a mile until home.

Then we headed back to camp, tired and sweaty. We earned our showers and also a delicious dinner of odds and ends plus a delightful and entertaining night out at the Fiddlers Green with some fellow camping horse friends.

I’ll never forget this day and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Early Mornings

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I have had a few early mornings at the barn lately and that has allowed me to capture some beautiful pictures of the horses in the pasture. These were just taken with my iPhone, but I like how they look.

Last Saturday, my friend Sofie and I loaded up the horses and headed off to the local trail for a morning ride. Upon arriving at the trail, I noticed that Charm had some bruising on her left front heel bulbs. I had ridden her earlier in the week through some fields and noticed that she just wasn’t as peppy as usual, but I just chalked it up to her being lazy.

Well now I noticed the bruising. We rode anyway, took it easy, but I realized afterward I probably shouldn’t have ridden her.

When I got back from the short trail ride I asked Tracey and also Randy and Shirley to take a look (thanks guys!), and they agreed it was bruised but there didn’t appear to be any signs that an abscess was forming.

I headed out again on Tuesday and Charm was still a little sore on it, but Shirley and I agreed that it looked much better than it did over the weekend.

Charm had the week off from giving lessons and this morning when I checked on her, she seems to be back to her old self! She had a bounce in her step and her pep back. I couldn’t see any sign of bruising anymore, thank goodness!

You see, there is a weekend of trail riding ahead of us and I want to make sure Charm is up for it! She will be wearing bell boots just to make sure she doesn’t bruise them again.

Wish us luck! I will have PLENTY of pictures to share.

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