Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 – Long Ride and Dinner with The Boys

Another beautiful Florida morning, crisp and cool then warming up later. I saddled up Flash early and headed out for our 18.5 mile loop to Riverbend Park. I checked his leg for warmth and swelling, and felt very little, so I just wrapped it up nice and hit the trail. It must not have bothered him much, because almost every time I gave him a loose rein without instruction, he decided to speed up. He's gotten great about not reacting to birds jumping out of the canal at him, and at one point, I think he was even having a race with an ibis that kept moving out in front of us, for a much longer distance than usual. We saw lots of wildlife today, lots of birds, a couple of alligators, a bright green iguana, and finally, the pink bird we saw Sunday, though I'm not sure it's an ibis now, it has a rather strange, shoehorn shaped bill, which, with a little research on the internet, turns out to be a roseate spoonbill. Flash was brilliant, with several nice canters, and once again, when we were finished, his ankle felt only slightly warm, so it's obviously not bothering him much, though I'll keep an eye on it. I was back by noon, so Hubby and I enjoyed a nice brunch together, then we went into town for a doctor's appointment for his back (we're hoping to get some injections in order to get some long-term relief), then met both brothers and my new sister-in-law at Jeff's favorite restaurant, Rancho Chico in Tequesta for a nice meal. I splurged on a strawberry margarita (well, two, actually) and had a good time all around. A very nice day!

Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 – Short Ride with Brother Jeff and Hubby

Started the day saddling up both horses so that Hubby and I could take a ride, and brother Jeff joined us on Frost. As we went up the road for a tour of the neighborhood, we met up with another rider named Cary on her TW Coco(a?) who joined us as we rode along the canal for a bit. She evidently boards a couple of streets over. She showed us a little detour that avoided the road for a short segment before heading off to her barn, and we carried on until we reached the end of the line, where I wanted to show Hubby these crazy palm trees. Someone meticulously cuts off each frond as it dies off, then lacquers or polyurethane's it to make the whole trunk shiny. It actually makes the tree look fake! We all had a good laugh about it before heading back to the other side of the neighborhood for about a 3 ½ mile ride. Just as we were heading down the last canal on the way home, Flash decided to lay down. He had started doing that earlier, but Hubby had been able to stop him, but this time he went quicker, and Hubby didn't have time to get his foot out of the stirrup so he sort of toppled out of the saddle. No injuries, though his elbow kind of bashed into his ribs, which will probably hurt later. It took us a few minutes to get him back into the saddle without a mounting block, but we managed it, and got the rest of the way home without incident. On the last stretch, though, we saw what we thought was a rare pink ibis, I managed to get a quick photo just before Flash laid down. A nice ride, always good to have Hubby with me on the trail!

Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 – Played Chauffeur, Then A Short Ride with Brother Jeff

First, brother Jeff needed a ride to the auto parts store for a part to fix his power steering pulley on his Bronco (which is really hilarious, he has half a dozen vehicles scattered around his property, none of which are running at the moment!), then brother Glenn needed a ride down to pick up a rental car, which dragged on longer than it should because he hadn't fully confirmed availabilities at our first stop (first because, guess what? They didn't have any cars available!), so then we had to go further to pick one up at another place. They didn't have the size he wanted, so they upgraded him to a small SUV, and he was happy because it fit his golf clubs. Once we got back, Jeff and I decided to go for a short ride, to see how my horse Flash and his horse (well, his boarder's horse) Frost did together on the trail. Just a short run around the neighborhood, but everything went fine. Jeesh, I though Apollo had a slow walk, but Frost is even more of a slug than him! So I have to hold Flash back quite a bit, and that made him a little antsy, but it all worked out. Lola came with us because we just went out the back to Hungryland, heading for Pratt Whitney Rd. We got farther than Hubby and I did last week, but still didn't make it to PW, as he's still pretty out-of-shape and started feeling it. It was a good thing, though, because at their sluggish pace, we barely got back before the sun went down! Settled in for a quiet evening.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019 – Another Long Training Ride on Flash

As promised, I did the same loop I did last Friday backwards, trying to beat our time record, but Flash was a bit more sluggish in the beginning so we didn't quite make it, though we did do some longer stretches at a faster gait later on. Still 18.5 miles is a good workout! Once got back, Hubby and I sat by the pool for a bit, waiting for our local vet to come to give both horses their annuals. They were a bit late, but we got it done before dark, thank goodness. I asked her to check out Flash for any problems, explaining I wanted to train him up for endurance rides, though more urgently for the OTL ride at the end of the month. She found one small area of his left front leg a bit swollen, but said to just rest him and walk him, and wrap it when we got back into our training schedule. She also said his heart sounded different, some kind of flutter in between beats. She had a name for it, but I couldn't pronounce it, but again, she said it wasn't anything to worry about. Hope she's right! Once she packed up and left, we once again settled down for the evening.

Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 – 18 ½ miles In Less Than Three Hours!

Wow, what a ride! Today's goal was to increase the distance stretches of our faster gait, and Flash behaved beautifully! We started out crossing Indiantown road and following the canal down to the Loxahatchee Slough canal, but rather than go into the Slough trails, we kept straight on to the main canal. I've been trying to settle on a regular loop so that we can use it consistently to increase our speed and time, and this is a good one, the only road I have to cross is Indiantown where it is two-lane. From the main canal we cut into the north end part of the trail at Riverbend, then through the tunnel under Indiantown and straight back home through Cypress Creek. Now this is living! A beautiful 18.5 mile ride without traffic and without having to cross any roads except one! I think this will become our training loop for the time being, at least until I get thoroughly bored with it (which probably won't take long 🙂 ). The only complication was that there was a tree down along the last section of canal before getting home, and I tried to break enough branches off to get around it, and managed to get Flash around it on foot, though we had to step off the edge of the canal in order to make it around. Still got back in plenty of time to get Hubby to his dialysis session, and I went to Carson's Tavern for a quick Guinness before picking him up. It's kind of a pain having such a late appointment at the dialysis center, by the time we get home it's half past eight, and dinner after nine. We're hoping we can get earlier chair times eventually!

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 – Another 15+ mile Ride on Flash

The day was windy today, so I was expecting a bit of trouble from Flash today, but hoping for the best, of course. I decided today to do one of my previous loops in reverse, heading out towards Cypress Creek first, where we reached the Mack Dairy Rd. Intersection just as a very large, old noisy truck arrived as well, and it kind of freaked Flash out a bit. I had to fight with him to get him across the road, even having to dismount to accomplish it in the end. We traveled quickly to the tunnel under Indiantown road, and continued through all of Riverbend, where Flash once again decided to rush his way all the way through it, almost all 4.5 miles of it. I almost get the impression there's something there that bothers him, maybe spirits from the old battlefield there or something freaky like that. I don't know, he just loves to go fast through there, don't know if it's because he loves it or hates it! He shied quite a bit because of all the waving palm fronts and windy litter that kept him anxious, and when we got to Jupiter Farms Road, he started to refuse to cross over the bridge, insisting on going across the road instead. Fortunately, the traffic around here is very good about slowing for horses, so once again I had to dismount and get him past the trouble spot. The construction was even more intense today, so I led him through it until we were clear of it, then finally mounted and headed back west along the canal. We once again did quite a bit of his nice cordo gait, so we made good time, and when we finally reached the crossover on Indiantown Road, it was clear of traffic and he was cooperative. In the end, the 15+ miles were done in less than three hours, so he's obviously getting fitter, as am I! A few chores and then we settled down for the evening.

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 – Short Ride w/Hubby

After a quiet morning, I managed to get Hubby up on Flash (though he was feeling a bit weak, I persuaded him to try it anyway), and he wanted to go as far down the Indiantown Grade to the west as possible, with an eye toward getting to Pratt-Whitney Road. We ended up getting about halfway there before he got too tired to continue, so we headed back. Flash was brilliant, staying at a nice walk the entire way, something I could be hard-pressed to do with him, as he usually insists on going faster. It's almost like he knows Hubby needs special care, and gives it to him. Apollo was sluggish, with more reluctance than usual, probably because brother Jeff tried to ride him last week and he resisted, and my brother wasn't able to get him going, so Apollo thought he got away with something, and he was trying the same thing with me. Of course, he didn't get away with it with me, but it made him crankier than usual, and we had a bit of a fight along the way until he finally settled down. Everybody got home in one piece, with Hubby feeling the workout, which is a good thing. Got the horses put away and settled down for the rest of the day, with showers and laundry on the menu!

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 – Another Nice Long Ride on Flash

My plan for today's ride was to try to find a more efficient way to do a loop to and through Riverbed Park, by finding the first crossover road or canal that would take me on the most direct route. By looking at Google Earth, it looked like there was a canal that might do it, but it's hard to say from the satellite pictures for sure. We headed straight east to the canal in our neighborhood, then took that due south until we hit Indiantown Road where we crossed the four lane highway. Fortunately, it's just before the road narrows to two lanes, so there's not usually too much traffic here. We crossed with no problems, then continued south along the road, which had an asphalt bike path as well as a grassy ditch that was wide enough to get us clear of the road with no problem. A few tenths of a mile down that road led us to the first canal, and we heading straight east from that point, mostly along the back yards of houses along the way. There was one yard with a blue tarp covering some things, and Flash got very antsy about passing it, so I had to back him up until we were past it, the only way I've been able to get him past things that freak him out. Fortunately he's very cooperative on his backing, even for the good 30 yards or so we had to go, then I turned him to face the front again just after we passed it, and he was fine. Funny the things that bother him! When we reached the end of the canal at Jupiter Farms Road, there was major construction at the intersection, including a huge shovel and bulldozer, and a large noisy generator. The bulldozer driver waved at me and got out of the way, and the shovel driver saw me and responded to my request to pass through the very narrow part of the road which they were mostly blocking. He put his shovel down and turned off the machine long enough to let us pass, and Flash moved through with just a bit of urging from me. We crossed the road and entered Riverbend, where Flash decided it was time to hop up to his fairly fast cordo gait, which he kept up the entire time we were in the park (about 4.5 miles) until about the last half mile, when he finally dropped back down to a walk, exiting through the tunnel under Indiantown Road.  We took a slight detour on what I guessed later was actually a hiking trail, but then rejoined the equestrian trail and headed back into Cypress Creek Trail again, which took us home in the usual way. A good ride, over three hours, and nearly 16.5 miles, in beautiful weather, which we've had a lot of lately!  Got home and did a little housework, then resumed our binge-watching of Downton Abbey for the evening.

Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 – Exploring The Hungryland WMA on Flash-11.09 Miles

After a leisurely start to the day, I saddled up Flash and headed out to the Hungryland WMA right behind the house. I haven't done too much exploring in there as the main trail seems to get overgrown sometimes, and I've never had the chance to look for a loop until now, so I decided today was the day! After reaching the canal crossover behind my brother's house, I found that the old barbed wire fence was gone, so we headed north on the canal, seeing a lot of other hoofprints so I know we weren't the only ones apparently trespassing. 🙂 We went as far as we could, then found another break in the fence leading to a trail that headed west, so we followed it, working our way north and west, trying to see how far we could get to a parking area on Pratt Whitney Road that always seems to have horse trailers in it. It hasn't rained in quite a while, so even the swamp and wetlands were pretty dry, allowing us safe passage almost anywhere. We followed the high ground along canals for most of the time, but eventually I was concerned we were getting too far north, and headed west, then southwest, in order to reach the road. Of course, there was a barbed wire fence all along the road, but I just kept following the tracks that swamp buggies had made, thinking that they must have had a way in, so it must provide a way out, right? Eventually I did find a break in the fence, and because I wasn't sure if I'd find another one between where I was and the entrance to the Jupiter-Indiantown Grade, I diverted to the swale along the road, which was plenty wide enough for safety. Just under a mile or so south along the road and we arrived at the parking area for the hiking entrance. We turned in, passed a few vehicles (don't know if they were hunters, environmentalists, or something else), but Flash, having gone mostly slowly for the duration at my request, decided it was time to pick things up, and he did his now famous cordo for the entire 3.25 miles from one end of the grade to the other, barely slowing down enough to get through the horse gate at the other end! I made him walk the mile home to cool him down, then, as usual, rinsed him off and set him free in the yard. Another great ride on this great horse! Only a bit over eleven miles, short by comparison to some other rides recently, but I don't want him to be tired of riding, or bored with the same trail, so it was a success as far as I was concerned. Did some housekeeping, then had a relaxing night.

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 – Another Long Ride on Flash, 19.74 Miles, Then Dialysis

In keeping with my plan to get Flash and myself conditioned for endurance riding, I headed south along the canal across Indiantown Road, passing a couple of playful otters on the way, turned east into the Jupiter Farms neighborhood and followed the canal all the way to Jupiter Farms Road and beyond. I had hoped to find a back entrance to Riverbend Park, but unfortunately there isn't one, so we had to stay on the bike path all the way up to the west entrance to the trail, which is just south of Indiantown Road anyway. Then we took the perimeter trail inside Riverbend Park, enjoying may long cordos and canters the entire time. This horse just loves to move!! We went under the tunnel to join the OTL trail, then straight west on the Cypress Creek Trail and finally, home, a fabulous almost twenty mile ride. Love this horse! Grabbed a quick lunch, changed clothes, and off to dialysis with us! Love this life!