Monday, June 15, 2009

Riding the Oak Creek Trail

Earlier in the week, Tammy invited me to try to get Friday afternoon off to go riding the Oak Creek Trail with her and Sheila. I told her that I was game and to keep me posted on the weather.

Friday morning came and 60% chance of t-storms were predicted. I told her that I’m game and we are going no matter what. Doesn’t matter on this trail as it’s for horses only so if it gets torn up, no one will complain. We just need to keep off the limestone trail as much as possible.

I call Tammy as I went by Morse Bluff….she said I’m driving in a downpour can you hear it?! I said yes! But I have just grey clouds here. She said it’s coming and sure enough it did!!

Drove through that and made it to Valparaiso in one piece and had clearing skies. We still opted to wear rain gear as the trees would be wet where we would be riding at. Saddled up and got on our way within 10 minutes.

Tammy had to model her husband's sandblaster least she stayed dry :)
1st challenge was to get Blue and AJ across the bridge over Oak Creek. It’s kind of a scary looking bridge so I opted to get off and just walk him across. Got across and back on and on to our first muddy downhill slide. Blue took it first and AJ was on his butt skiing downhill. At least this time he kept his feet together and handled it fine. Wasn’t too thrilled to have to walk through mud puddles at first though…big baby!

Pretty uneventful and I’m feeling some need for some speed. Tammy is the same way. We get to an open stretch and let them loose….14.2 mph this time, not bad for a nice warm up. Another bridge, some water crossings and rain came our way, but we were having FUN and LAUGHING!

We ride another 2 miles and decide it’s time to turn around. We had been noticing a very dark cloud coming our way and sure enough, it started pouring on us. AJ wanted to just turn around and put his butt to the wind and rain, I let him. Blue wanted to head to the trees and Tammy took him down the trail. We waited the rain out and followed it back, trying to stay behind it.

The sun came back out and things started to get a bit on the humid side. Our wet horses were starting to steam and there was a mist starting to form in the trees. Very pretty.

I started to strip off all my outer layers to stay cool. On the way back, I worked on AJ leading and crossing the bridges alone. I did have to get off and lead him across and back on the last one but he learned that it was ok to be by himself and walked back across it with no problems. He did have airplane ears listening to the rushing water underneath though.

We had to make one final water crossing before we were done. Things got a little deep on this one from the deluge of rain we just had. There was a pretty waterfall that we let the horses check out, AJ wasn’t too thrilled, Blue is a water horse and wanted to play.

We played on AJ’s ‘loping’ trail and ended up getting a video of him sliding in the mud. Too funny! Blue just slogged through it, he wasn’t afraid of getting a little mud on his belly.

Went through the mud slides again and had him walking/sliding slowly instead of plowing his way down out of control.Hit one more open stretch of trail before the trees. This is a bit of a challenging spot as there are 2 water holding ponds, ducks, geese and scary horse eating signs on the fence. Tammy asks if I’m ready and I say let’s rock and roll. Blue leads the way and I’m holding AJ back in a slower lope. I feel pretty confident in him and start opening him up to pass Blue. Blue on the other hand is telling The Kid to back off and to keep his place behind him. We are riding on Blue’s flank to the end of the stretch. We ran through mud, running water and had a BLAST. Tammy clocked us at 19.3 mph.

At that point we traded horses as I had promised her a ride on the tall legged boy. She had to STRETCH to get up in the saddle. Blue is a little shorter J I asked her if she still wanted to lope him and we loped through the trees. I heard her say he’s like riding a Cadillac. Yep, he sure is and has 4-wheel drive to boot. One more lope down the grass to the trailers and we called it a day. Almost 2.5 hours of saddle time in the rain with a good friend and awesome horses.