Archives for 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011 – First Exploratory Ride at Tidewater

We haven’t been sleeping well in the last few days, so we were grateful to get a good night sleep last night, sleeping well and late this morning. We decided to take a short ride just to get a feel for the place, so we headed out Saddle Pen Road for a bit, which is where we had seen many horses enter the campground from last night when we were setting up. We got turned around a bit, when we realized that this area also only marked the trails on one side, and we were going the wrong way. We ended up cutting across along an unmarked trail, then followed along the old rail line because we knew from the map it would eventually cross a trail, but we didn’t like the gravel much, even though it was mostly covered over with grass. Eventually we ran into the yellow trail, and from there I easily navigated a way back to the campground, albeit in the “opposite” direction than the trail blazes dictated. Well, that’s what exploring is all about! The trails, again are very nice, with good footing in most places, though some have some fairly deep sand, but nothing we and our horses couldn’t handle with aplomb! A nice quiet ride with some lovely jogs and short canters, and the temperature was perfect, just what we’ve been searching for all along! A great day, especially as it is the second anniversary of the day we “ran away from home” on December 30, 2009!

Thursday, December 29, 2011 – Move to Tidewater/Shopping

Saying good-bye to our generous hosts, we headed down the road to the south end of the Goethe State Forest, to the Tidewater Horse Camp. Here we found an area a bit larger than Black Prong, with a pavillion in addition to the bathrooms, and quite a few more spots to camp. Although Thursdays are usually slow, I guess the week between Christmas and New Years is an exception, and the place was packed when we arrived. There were really only two places we could camp, and one was very close to what was obviously the group campfire in the middle, so we opted for a corner on the edge of the campground by the road, which unfortunately was right under a sodium light on a pole, but it was unavoidable. There are water spigots between every other campsite or so, so it was convenient, and plenty of trees ringing the camp for highlines. We got the RV settled in, then Hubby and I took the van with the horses and headed for the nearby town of Dunnellon where we did some shopping, had our ice cream lunch, and finally headed back, completing our setup and getting the horses settled in by 5:00, just in time for dinner for all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 – Group Ride to Willards Restaurant

 Today our hosts had arranged a group ride to a nearby restaurant called Willards. Well, restaurant might be a bit of a generous description. It was more of a biker bar, with a pool table and other assorted bar games. The three mile ride took us to a large backyard with a couple of highlines strung on some trees, so high up that I stayed on Apollo to hook him up before dismounting. The ride included Gregg and Julie and another couple we had met with them at Otter Creek in September, and were joined by another couple who drove there. The service was a bit slow, but the food was pretty good (burger and sweet potato fries). The ride was way off the beaten track for the most part, along trails so unmarked we would never have been able to find the place on our own. Hubby and I stayed at the back of the back, partly because the pace the others were keeping was a bit quicker than we usually do, so we had to trot to keep up occasionally. After awhile, my horse was starting to get a bit irritated by trotting a short distance, then having to slow down again, without ever getting a chance to really stretch his legs. Eventually we all trotted a few times, which helped, but then he wanted to canter, and didn’t have room for that either. He “rodeo-ed” on my once, when he suddenly leaps in the air like a bronco with all four feet off the ground just to make his opinion known (as one of our group called it), but then he settled down again for the rest of the ride. Hubby and I have come to the conclusion that we like to ride on our own for the most part, and group rides are something we’ll do only on occasions like this one, not something we’d seek out for ourselves. We’ve come across lots of people who seek out clubs and group rides, but that’s just not for us, at least not for now. That’s not to take away from the day, though, it was a nice change and we enjoyed it. Always like to do something new once in a while to keep things fresh! Headed back, taking some new trails just to keep it more interesting, until we finally make it back to the Black Prong Trailhead and back home.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 – Buggy Ride

Rather than ride today, our hostess Julie invited me to take a buggy ride with her. At the time I thought it would be a nice leisurely “stroll” through the neighborhood, but it turned out to be something entirely different. I learned that there are buggy competitions, and Julie is at the top of the game. The buggy is a one-seater, and the passenger is actually ballast to help counter-balance the buggy when speeding around sharp turns, which is the object of the competition, i.e. avoiding obstacles on the course. So my job was to stand on a platform on the back of the buggy and hold on for dear life for two hours! Not quite what I had in mind, but it was certainly different! She took me through a small section of the neighborhood, filling me in on all the details of the neighbors, before heading out past the same equestrian center Hubby and I had passed earlier, then onto another one where we went through a few obstacles, then finally out into the forest to trot and lope out there for awhile. It never ceases to amaze me what people come up with to compete in! Anyway, it was new and different, and it made for an interesting day!

Monday, December 26, 2011 – Long Orange Trail

  Decided the horses and we were fit enough for a longer ride today, so we tackled the long loop of the Orange Trail, which was about 10 miles. It began on a long stretch of the hard-packed road, which was dirt/sand and some gravel, then, after almost missing an unmarked turn, we found our way to the orange markers and never had any further navigation problems. It was mostly a truly lovely trail, wide enough to ride side by side most of the way. Lots of pine trees and some oaks, as well as scrub palms throughout. One section took us to an older growth part of the forest which was truly nice, lots of hanging moss, but most was pretty much well-managed forest. Some of the trails had obviously been part of the race, others were a bit less used, giving us a chance to see what the trails would usually be like. We had a great time, though, and the horses seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did for the full ten miles, with lots of cantering and trotting along the way!

Sunday, December 25, 2011 – Christmas Dinner with New Friends

Slept late again, thankfully, and had a rather relaxing day today. Hubby and I aren’t much for holidays (we view every day as a gift!), so it was pretty low-key. The folks we met the other night, Judy and Ken, were having a dinner party and invited us along, so we headed over there about 6:00. Had a wonderful dinner and chatted with a number of interesting people, though the main thrust of this group is competition, which Hubby and I have little interest in. We’re truly out for the pleasure of it, and competing is just too much like work! A nice evening overall though, and we were thankful to our hosts for making it an extra special Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011 – Short Ride with Billy

Had a better night sleep than I’ve had in a long time, but still tired deep down, hoping to make a dent in that soon. We decided to take a short ride today, but our little dog Billy slipped out the door and refused to come back in, so we decided to let him tag along (careful what you wish for Billy). We followed some unmarked trails that weren’t actually part of the forest, because we didn’t want to cross the rather busy road to get to the trailhead with Billy. We passed a gorgeous equestrian center and the backs of a few houses, but were in wooded areas most of the time. Didn’t take long for Billy to tire out, and once he did, we headed across the road to the trailhead just to see what the campground was like. The Black Prong Campground is the farthest north of the horse campgrounds in Goethe, and where we would have stayed if our friends hadn’t invited us to stay with them instead. Other than being right next to a busy road, it’s a rather nice little campground. Several small sites are there, plus a large clearing where a bigger rig could go. There are a couple of central water spigots, and very nice tiled bathrooms with running cold water, so it would have been a good place to stay. Picked up a map at the kiosk, then decided to take the short blue loop just to check out the trails. We had learned that the trails were not in perfect shape for two reasons. One, they’ve been having a terrible drought for months, so there’s no water on the trails and the sand had grown quite soft, and two, they had just had an endurance race through the forest with over 120 horses, and they had really chewed up the trail. The result was some areas of pretty deep sand on some long stretches of trail, some of which we encountered on the short blue loop. Nothing impassable, just slowed us down a bit. A nice area, though, and we’re looking forward to doing more exploring. One more thing we learned was that the trails are only marked going in one direction! You either have to follow the trail in the direction they want, or you have to constantly be turning your head around looking for markers, at least until you get to know the trails. We’ve only encountered this phenomenon once before, and it’s beyond understanding, but c’est la vie! We’ll just have to get to know the trails!

Friday, December 23, 2011 – Moved the Friends House near Goethe State Forest

 Headed south looking for warmer climes, arriving at Gregg and Julie’s house around 3:00. We met them at Sugar Hill in New York during the summer, and met up with them again at Otter Creek over Labor Day weekend. We parked in their pasture, and let the horses run around in the pasture next door. They have a great location, right next to the Goethe State Forest, and the entire neighborhood is horse-oriented. Had a very enjoyable cocktail hour (which lasted 3 hours), meeting another couple, Judy and Ken, before turning in for the night.

Thursday, December 22, 2011 – Trail Ride at Hidden River

Finally managed to get a trail ride in here. Trails were mostly narrow hiking trails, which we liked, but there was only a mile or two, so we had to repeat a few loops, going around backwards and generally just riding for time rather than destination. We finally did find a really nice loop that was a bit longer, and that filled up the 90 minute or so ride nicely. Spent a little time getting ready for our departure, actually can’t wait to leave here. There is a negativity about the environment that’s hard to describe or define, just a feeling that there are bad spirits around. Looking forward to our next stop.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – Workday

Spent the day working on my information database, managed to finish it by 5:00, and got out a Christmas e-card to everyone just in time. Forecast is for a warmer day tomorrow, we’re hoping to get a ride in (our first here) before we head out on Friday.