Archives for June 2021

Wednesday, June 30, 2021 – Ride Day at Hungerford

Hey Sweetie!
Well, everything we loved about this place when we came here so many years ago has held up! The trails are spectacular, beautiful footing, fabulous greenery, no extremes, lots of single track trails, even the forest roads don’t have much gravel on them, so it was an absolutely outstanding ride today! Sandy fed the horses while I did my PT this morning, then after breakfast we hit the trails. I had planned a nice, almost 10 mile ride around the eastern half of the park, figured we’d do the western half tomorrow and whatever’s left over the next day. It was wonderful. Flash and her mare got along great, we’d switch leaders intermittently, and her mare was getting more and more calm. In addition to puddles, we crossed a number of small boardwalks with no hesitation on either horses’ part, and just had a fantastic time. Lola came along on this trip today, and she had a great time, too! Got back to camp a bit after noon, rinsed the horses down and settled down for a bit. It’s a bit tough here because there’s no real cell phone signal, but at one point I went up to the other side of camp, which sits a little higher, and managed to get a good enough signal there to check my email and make a few phone calls. Extremely disappointed to learn that the three bags of feed I THOUGHT I ordered last week were not, in fact, ever ordered, and then I heard a bunch of conflicting stuff about whether they carried it or didn’t carry it, but just didn’t have any, yada yada yada. They finally did some checking and said they could get it here by Monday, too late to do me any good. I finally managed to locate some, I can either have Sandy pick some up at Tractor Supply on her way home on Friday in Midland, or I can wait and get it at another place in Standish, wherever that is, though it’s supposed to be fairly close to Sandy’s house. Anyway, I’m not going to have any before I run out, probably. I might scrape through, but it’s going to be mighty close. Then I got a text from Trish who’s desperate for someplace to ride, but apparently the forecast in Indiana is not good, but here it’s fantastic (even chilly at night!), so in the end, she succumbed to temptation and is packing up to drive up tomorrow. Should be quite the reunion! Later Sandy said she didn’t think she’d be up to riding tomorrow (I guess ten miles was too much for her, needs to get her horse muscles back in shape!), but is bringing her family out in the morning to meet the mare. That’s fine, I’m sure Trish will want to ride in the afternoon, especially after such a disappointing trip to Wranglers a few weeks ago. Anyway, it was a gorgeous day, perfect weather, perfect trails, one of those miraculously fantastic days that makes me happy to be alive and doing what we always loved to do! Heading now for shower and bed, it only just got dark at nearly 10:00, so hard to think about bed when it’s still light outside! Makes me feel like a kid! Good night, babe! Love you!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 – Travel Day to Hungerford

Hey Babe!
Woke up early, once again (like yesterday) opted for no breakfast except a protein bar for later on (I’ve been losing a little weight, thank goodness!), and it took less than an hour to get everything put away and the horses all loaded up and cleaned up after. I was just getting ready to pull out when a park guy showed up about the breaker, well, to ask if anyone had helped me with it, which, of course, they had not. We chatted briefly, then he went off and I pulled out. Another beautiful morning, though about a half hour into the drive, just when I was coming off the first U.S. Hwy onto the interstate, which happened to be under construction so less lanes, when the first downpour hit. Not my favorite driving, but I was super careful and got through it okay. It tapered off, but stayed with me more gently for a long time, until we finally shook it off shortly before reaching camp, which was around 12:30. Made good time because of all the freeway driving. I parked in the same spot we parked last time we were here, near the water source. I considered a couple of areas that were more wide open for my solar panel, but proximity to water won out. It took me a couple of hours to get everything set up, horses on the highline (though I let Apollo and Flash graze a bit, until Apollo got bored with grass and decided to try to break into the feed bins that were in the back of the truck!), chairs out, even got the solar panel out, though it was cloudy and occasionally rainy throughout the afternoon. Sandy had a late start and finally got here late in the afternoon, and after she fixed up her bridle with her new Argentine snaffle, decided she wanted to get a ride in, do we saddled up and took about a four mile ride. Her mare behaved reasonably well, certainly a lot better than our ride on Sunday, so it’s good that I worked out some of her energy then, and Flash was excellent, as usual, back to his old self. Footing and trails are great here, markings easy to follow, so it was easy to plot a route short enough to get us back well before dark. Everyone behaved, everything went well, Sandy and her mare started communicating, and that’s the most important thing. Got back around 8:30 (it bugs me that it’s still so light outside at that hour!), got everyone fed, then I heated up some soup (at 9:15 for heaven’s sake!), then we sat out until the mosquitoes started after us. Apollo and the mare (Sandy’s started calling her Mocha now), got into a kicking match for a bit, those two just can’t be close to each other without starting a fight!. Nothing serious, but Mocha has shoes with cleats of some kind on them, and Apollo is barefoot, so NO FAIR! Well, they’ll work it out, or not, it’s a horse things. Anyway, time for shower and bed, I’m sure Sandy’s ready to bed down in one of my recliners (she didn’t bring her cot-tent this time, worried about the rain, not in the mood for a tent), so considering the late hour, I’m ready! Good night, my darlin’! Love you!

Monday, June 28, 2021 – Travel Day to Potato Creek

Hi Darlin’!
More rain overnight, but a beautiful, almost clear sky this morning while I finished packing up to move. I had to do the horse stuff, of course, and hook up, which I didn’t do last night, then finally pulled off to the dump a bit after nine, so I was out of camp by about 9:30. Fortunately, had an uneventful drive, though it took longer than I originally planned because I wanted to stay on U.S. Highways rather than cross country. All the interstates around here head northwest toward Chicago, so the wrong direction for me (northeast), and the regular map was calling for routes with lots of turns on small roads, so I opted for the bigger roads with less turns. Worked out well, though, I arrived at Potato Creek around 4:00 local time, having lost an hour changing time zones. The girl assigned me a site, but I had to change it because it was way too short for me (didn’t she notice how long I was, or doesn’t she know the site limits back there?). Anyway, I ended up in a fine spot, simply tied the horses to the hitching post (my least favorite horse containment system), but I didn’t want to take any more time setting up and breaking down, since this was just an overnight stop. I was slowed down a bit by a weak breaker, wouldn’t heat water and run the AC at the same time, but I couldn’t get anyone out despite two phone messages. Did manage to get two loads of laundry in, though, watched a Dish movie (no cell phone signal here, which I’m really getting tired of!), had my shower, now I’m off to bed. Good night, my sweet! Love you!

Sunday, June 27, 2021 – Ride on Sandy’s Mare

Hi Sweetie!
Once again we had rain overnight, but by morning it started to clear out. I spent some time putting a few things away this morning, since I’ve decided to leave for my next stop tomorrow, for only one night, then on to Hungerford so Sandy can finally meet up with her horse. Once those chores were done, I saddled up Coco/Scarlett with my western saddle with a big thick pad, and tried her out with that old bitless bridle you used to use on Clio, but she didn’t respond very well to that, too much energy, so I ended up putting Flash’s bridle on her since it would be the nearest fit I had. I moved her around a bit in camp before heading out on the trail. Normally I would want to do some ground work a horse before riding, but I’ve run out of time for that, and I do want to get at least one ride on her before I turn her over to Sandy. She has a lot of energy, just like Flash did when we first got him, but that will settle down once she gets a lot more riding on her. It took her awhile to start listening to me, but eventually I was able to keep her in a nice gait, equivalent to a fast walk, which was very nice and smooth. One step up from that, however, is a whole other story! She gets very choppy, worse than a quarter horse trot, in my opinion. My stirrups are a bit long to be posting, so I was bouncing all over the place once she hit that speed. I kept slowing her down to her slow gait or a walk, which she does just fine. On one hill, we even did a decent canter, which was okay, not as smooth as Flash’s, but not too bad. We did a lot of fields at first, just getting acquainted, but eventually I took her on to some of the single track dirt trails, she did a great job of following the trail (unlike Flash when I first got him, he’d go straight no matter where the trail was going, even if it was off into the woods!), had no trouble with creek crossings, and was pretty sure-footed going up and down hills, though he kept wanting to go a bit faster than I would like through the woods. Good thing there aren’t many knee-knockers on these narrow trails! It was a good ride, though, seven miles in two hours, and by the end we had reached an understanding, which is all you can ask for on a first (and probably, only) ride. She settled down nicely once she ran some of the energy off, and she seemed to start listening a bit better. Sandy had better be prepared to do a lot of riding to burn off some of that energy and get here settled down! Like Flash, she’s not the kind of horse you can just pull out of the pasture after a couple of months and ride safely. She should make a nice horse though, very sturdy, didn’t have any heat or swelling anywhere afterwards. I do have one concern, and that is that she doesn’t seem to lift her tail to poop, she tends to squat instead. Never seen that before. She also a bit sensitive about her hindquarters, not really physically sensitive when I try to prod it, but skittish when you first approach it. Don’t know if it’s just behavioral or physical, will need further examination by someone with more knowledge than me! Anyway, after we got back I rinsed her down and let her eat some clover for awhile while I did some more prep work for our departure tomorrow, in between reading and resting. Finally settled down for the evening, just in time for the rain to come in, perfect timing again! Had my shower, so now I’m heading to bed, going to try to get an early start in the morning. They have a dump here at Middle Fork, so I’m going to do all that in the morning, but everything else except the horse stuff is packed. That said, I’ll say good night, babe! Love you!

Saturday, June 26, 2021 – Hay Delivered, Flash Has His MOJO Back!

Hi Darlin’!
Slept through all the overnight rain (thank you, earplugs!), got up bright at early at 7:00 for the arranged delivery of 10 bales of hay at 8:00. When I went to bed last night the forecast said the all-day rain would start at 9:00, when I got up this morning, that had moved to 3:00! Perfect! Tyler Moews, a very nice young man, arrived around 8:15 with my hay, and helped me load it up into the trailer, worth the extra dollar a bale just for that! Brand new hay, just cut last week, smells scrumptious! He was in and out in no time. Had already fed the horses and Lola, so I had breakfast now. Wasn’t long before I was saddling up Flash for a planned 14+ mile perimeter ride, really looking forward to seeing how he does on this mostly wonderful footing. We were out by 9:30, cognizant of the time frame for the rain (yeah, right!), wanting to be back in plenty of time. He was WONDERFUL! He’s been such a slug the last few weeks, obviously because of all the gravel and boot problems he’s been having, but today, he had all the same old energy he used to have. A lot of the trails are around fields of crops and wildflowers, and many of them are beautiful grass that even with all the rain are in excellent shape. Some were dirt with very little gravel, and were hard enough not to have turned to mud. Well, my plan didn’t exactly work out, because my original perimeter called for crossing the river over and back, but with all the rain, it had swollen to the point where I wouldn’t dare even CONSIDER crossing it, it was like the rush just before Niagara Falls. Very wide, probably deep, and moving so fast with so much flotsam it would have been taking our lives in my hands, no thank you! As it was, we had to cross what was probably just an irrigation ditch, and it took me three tries to get him across that five yards because I kept having to grab for my electronics to keep them above water. There was just one step he didn’t want to take, but he finally did it, just a fraction away from swimming. Of course, I was soaked through up above my knees and my Ariats were soaked through, so I had trench foot by the time we got back to camp! It was a wonderful ride, though, we got in a nice long canter, and spent a lot of time, especially heading back to camp, gaiting nicely. The last section of trail in the south was more single track, but for the most part it wasn’t too bad. He was great, though, very sure-footed, even on the most slippery parts. A couple of times he had to really to sit down on his haunches as we slid down a hill, but he did GREAT! We had one five minute sun shower around noon, but we just stayed under a copse of trees until it passed, hardly got wet at all. We got back to camp just as we reached fourteen miles, so even with all the variations, it worked out perfectly. And I have to say, I LOVE this trail marking style here! Very logical, very easy to follow, I never felt anxious about where I was, except at one intersection near the ranger station that didn’t have a good sign, but all the rest, brilliant! It’s wonderful to ride without the anxiety of getting lost, especially when my GPS programmed route becomes moot. It was just lovely! When we got back I let him graze in the clover for awhile on the anchor as a reward, which he appreciated, but before I knew it, he was standing by his place on the highline snuggling with Apollo as usual! By the time we got back, the weather forecast changed to rain coming in at 4:00, and finally, after all that hooplah (and several hours of unexpected sunshine), a band of rain came through at 6:55 and was gone by 7:30. It’s a darn good thing I don’t rely on the weatherman to decide when I’m going to ride, or I’d never be on the trail! Anyway, I settled down for the afternoon and evening, reading and watching a little TV, now I’m ready for shower and bed. A great day, my love! I felt you with me all the way! And by the way, the cicadas are here! Remember that year in Cincinnati when they all came out? Well, those red-eyed bugs are out again, they keep showing up on my stairs for some reason! Already buzzing in the forest! Wonder what they wait 17 years for? Oh, well, good night, my darlin’!

Friday, June 25, 2021 – First Ride Plus Shopping on a Rainy Day

Hi Sweetheart!
Woke up early this morning, but slept deeply, because I had to put earplugs in, what with all the rain that came and went last night. Got up and did the chores, and while I was eating breakfast, a trailer went by me, and it turned out to be the gals that I was supposed to ride with this morning. Seems they must have seen the radar and the weather forecast, it looked pretty gloomy. Of course, not for the first time, the rain stopped just after 9:30, so I saddled up Apollo and went out on my own (with Lola, of course!) Anyway! There seemed to be a break in the rain, I figured I could get a ride in. About a half hour in it started to rain a bit, but I just slipped on my slicker, and before I even had it fully on the rain slowed down a lot. Just a little spit or two after that, then it stopped for the rest of the ride. We just did a short four miles, mostly around the edge of fields and clearing, but it was a lot of nice grass footing, so it was good, especially for Apollo, who’s been such a drama queen about his feet lately. I took one wrong turn (what’s a ride without at least one!), and ended up on what would usually be my favorite kind of trail, single track with dirt footing, but with all the rain and the type of dirt they had here, it was a slippery as ice. Apollo really was being extra careful, almost slipping a couple of times, but we made it. Guess we’ll stick to the wide grassy trails for awhile! It was a nice ride, though, and the skies kept gradually clearing most of the afternoon, until we actually had some blue sky and sunshine for a little bit before it started clouding up again. Once we got back, I headed into town, wanted to top of a couple of propane tanks (since it doesn’t seem like I’m going to get much energy from the sun any time soon!), and a bit of shopping and to fill up with fuel. Spent some time searching for hay, but I can’t seem to get anyone to get back to me, either by phone or messenger, and I’m getting desperate, only have a couple of meals left so I may have to either drive a long way or try to find a feed store in the morning, though the ones I already called don’t have any. Finally settled down for the evening, had to move Coco to a different highline, she’s been doing a lot of stomping and it’s been making it a real mud bog under her, hopefully she won’t keep doing that. There’s no special treatment under the highlines, just dirt and not mud, so nothing more I can do. No one else came in tonight, I suspect the weather forecast is keeping everyone away, but I’m not convinced it’s going to be that bad. Today the radar showed a mass of rain coming my way, but then it suddenly all dissipated before it got here. Fingers crossed for tomorrow, I was hoping to get a long ride in on Flash, but I also have to find some hay, so we’ll see what happens! Anyway, time for shower and bed. Good night, my love!

Thursday, June 24, 2021 – Travel Day to Middle Fork State WMA

Hi Babe!
Once again had trouble getting to sleep, but made up for it later on by sleeping a little later. Was up by 8:00, and because I did so much prep work yesterday, I was on the road by 9:30, which means I arrived at Middle Fork by just after noon after a nice, uneventful drive. There was only one other trailer in here with three girls, so it didn’t take me long to find a spot up on a hill. They have highline posts with cables already on them, which I don’t particularly like, not to mention they were VERY high up, no chance of reaching them without a ladder, which fortunately, I have! Put my own highline up for my boys, then just put a spring lock and a ring up for Coco, which worked out just fine. I’m very close to a water spigot, so I filled up all the water, and just got everyone settled in, got my chairs and awning out, had a short visit with the neighbors, then came back just as the rain started to come in. I had left Apollo on his anchor and Flash nearby, but then some man in a truck came by to tell me that my horses had to be tied up (really? There’s no one anywhere near me, but okay, fine), so naturally that was when the deluge hit, so by the time I had my guys on the highline, I was wet through. He immediately disappeared, don’t know who he was but he didn’t look like anyone official, not sure why I even listened to him. Thanks a lot! Settled down for a quiet rainy afternoon, mostly reading until dinner time, got everyone fed, including me, then relaxed for the evening. I’ve arranged to go riding with the girls tomorrow, and since they have stock horses, it will be on Apollo, who needs to be ridden anyway. Then I’ll take a quick trip to town for shopping. Good news is that will the rain, at least it’s not hot today! Put my solar panel up in hopes of sun in the morning, but we’ll see. Meanwhile, time for shower and bed! Good night, darlin’! Love you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 – Ride Day at Stephen A Forbes State Park

Hi Darlin’!
Took awhile to fall asleep but ending up sleeping later than I planned this morning, but no matter. The horses did fine overnight, everyone was in their right place this morning. As soon as I fed them, I headed out to the post office to pick up my package (pads for my Cavallo horse boots), and got back in no time. Got Lola and myself breakfast, and before long, was saddling up Flash for our one and only ride here. What a lovely ride it was! We went along the edges of corn and soy fields, through deep woods, past picnic areas, small ponds, and of course, went right along the side of the big lake. Saw a strange white bird floating in the water, had a beak like a pelican but swam like a swan! Have to do some research on that one! Saw quite a few deer, with very young fawns as well. Just lovely! And the weather was absolutely perfect! These are the days I live for, a nice long ride (12.25 miles) on good footing with lots of variety. Flash even forgot to be “ouchy” on his feet today, the footing was mostly dirt with just a few patches of gravel. He even had a lot of energy on the grass stretches we did! Just perfect! Got back to camp and rinsed him off, but naturally he immediately rolled in the dirt. I started to put stuff away so that I will have the least amount to do in the morning, got their feed ready for tonight and the morning, hooked the truck up though haven’t dropped it all the way so it will stay level. Did one last water fill up on everything and put the hoses away. Did my third load of laundry. Everything’s done except the very last minute stuff I can’t do until the morning. Finally settled down for the evening, but then my signal started acting up so I couldn’t finish watching my program, so I’ve taken my shower and will soon be heading to bed. Unfortunately the weather forecast for where I’m going doesn’t look too good, they’re callling for rain starting tomorrow night and going all the way into next week, but then again, how often has the weatherman been right? Besides, I have a slicker if I need it. At least it will be dry when I get there, and the drive should be dry, so that’s something. Anyway, off to bed as soon as all my pix get loaded on this slow signal. Good night, sweetie! Love you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021 – Horse Delivered, Travel Day to Stephen A. Forbes Horse Camp

Hi Sweetie!
Whew, what a busy day this turned out to be! I thought I’d be doing little more than waiting for Sandy’s horse to be delivered today and letting my horses get acquainted with her, but then they called and said they were bringing her fairly early this morning, I got into a whirlwind of decision-making. Rather than lose the precious day of travel to a horse camp less than two hours away, I decided that as long as this new horse isn’t too stressed out by the trip that I would go ahead and pack up and move to my next planned horse camp a day early, which then means we can get to Middle Fork a day early. Frankly, I’ve been worried about arriving on a Friday, it’s always harder to find a good spot at a popular horse camp on a Friday, so this way we can get there on Thursday. Since Forbes has electric, I’ll still have time to do my laundry, pick up my package from the local post office, and take Flash on the 15 mile loop around the lake tomorrow, and still be able to leave on Thursday. Then I decided to skip the stop I was going to make in Indiana (I’ve been to both of my choices anyway) which means I can stay a couple of extra nights at Middle Fork and still be able to get to Hungerford in Michigan by Thursday, maybe even Wednesday, though it will be a very long day of travel. I’m concerned about it being 4th of July weekend and it falling on a Sunday, not sure if people will take off the week before or the week after, hopefully both so the crowds will be smaller. In any event, arriving on Wednesday will probably be better than Thursday, and I’ve made Sandy promise to get over there and save me a good spot, big enough for me to fit and near the water supply. So I got busy and started packing. Tim the ranger stopped by and helped me move the feed cans into the back of the truck, so that job’s done. Then the girl arrived with the horse (they’ve been calling her Scarlett, but she screamed “Coco” or “Cocoa” to me, so I’m going to call her that until Sandy changes it), and I put her on the highline for awhile just to let the horses see each other for awhile. Once we got our business done and she left, I finished packing up, got the truck hooked up, and finally started loading the horses in. About half way through, two ladies who are camping up in the primitive campground arrived, saying they’ve been reading my blog and wanted to come down to say “hi!” How nice is that? I write nearly every day, but never really know if anyone besides me is reading it, so it was heartening to hear that someone does. They weren’t horse gals, they were just looking to see what was happening at Ferne Clyffe and came across me. How fun! Thanks for stopping by, ladies! Well, it wasn’t long after that that I finished packing, headed to the dump, said good-by to camp host Amy, and headed out around 12:30. A quick stop at the post office to drop off a priority package (book sale), then straight north, mostly on the interstate, so easy driving, then no trouble finding the horse camp. It didn’t take long to find the perfect spot (I’ll have a straight shot out and didn’t have to worry about any sharp turns in the loop because I backed right into it), got the horses out and tied them to some crazy triangular pipe stand, I’ve never seen THAT before, but it was just temporary until I could get their highlines up. That took a little doing, I had to get the ladder out, and I put Flash closest to Coco, now they’re snuggling, but Apollo and her have been “having words”, probably because Apollo can be such a bully, but Coco is holding her own with him, no problem! They’ll get it sorted out in no time. Meanwhile, I’ve had dinner, done a load of laundry, and settled down for the evening. Won’t be long before it’s shower and bed! I had a great night sleep last night because of the cool weather, waking up only once to add a blanket! Nice change, I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts! So I’m signing off, my love! Good night!

Monday, June 21, 2021 – Reorganized the Trailer, Went Out For Highline Equipment

Hi Babe!
Had a pretty lousy sleep again last night, it was so hot as to be really uncomfortable, and there were storms heading out way so Lola was as restless as ever. She kept trying to scratch at the bedroom partition, and I was sweating just laying there. Finally got to sleep, but kept getting woke up practically every hour by one thing or another, storms and dog. After chores and breakfast I got busy reorganizing the back of the trailer in order to make room for Sandy’s horse. Moved the tool box to the stud stall, which made most of the room, but it’s obvious I am going to have to move the feed bins into the back of the truck. I measured them and they’ll just fit, though I won’t have much room to take the lids off, so they’ll have to be near the front. Unfortunately, I just filled them up yesterday, so they’re too heavy for me to lift now, so I’m going to have to get some help to do it, or empty half of it out somehow. Then I took a ride down to the local hardware store in Goreville to get the hardware and rope I needed to create another highline, but they didn’t have what I needed, so I ended up running up to Marion to get it at the Home Depot. I called four different places looking for half inch cotton rope, and no one had it! I’ve had to get some kind of polymer which I don’t really like but was all I could find. Managed to get everything else I needed, though the pulley I bought was bigger, I may exchange it. So I’m all set to accept delivery of the mare now. Unfortunately, it turns out Sandy wants her in western Michigan near her daughter’s house by July 1, which essentially means I have to run up there practically non-stop in order to get there in time. Basically drive a day, rest a day, drive a day, with pretty much no time to do any riding. Wasn’t exactly how I planned it, I had hoped to take it a little slower and enjoy the camps I went to, but I guess that’s not going to happen, at least not until the horse is delivered. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say! Anyway, I’ll be able to slow down once I get there, I guess, I just won’t see as much of Illinois as I had hoped this summer. The good news is that throughout the day, it got cooler and cooler, until now it’s in the mid-60’s, which feels positively fabulous, even if it is a bit damp! Going to be a beautiful day tomorrow, just sorry there aren’t any more trails to ride here, and I’ll be spending my day waiting for the horse. Just looking forward to a really good night sleep tonight, fingers crossed! Had my shower, so I’m off the bed now, to read and hopefully sleep through the night! Good night, darlin’! Love you!