WOW! What a weekend!
I am back from a weekend at Red Hill Horse Camp and ready to share the stories and pictures with you.
Friday morning after dropping off the little ones at school I headed over to the barn to pick up Frankie and Susan's horse Butter. I arrived in the rain to find Frankie a real muddy mess. I had to take the time to wash him off as he was covered in mud and I was not sure of the facilities where we were heading. So after a quick rinse off and packing a few more items in the trailer we were off.
I actually had Frankie load himself this time! Thought I would give it a try so I just stood at the entrance to the trailer and guided him with my hand and smooched and up he jumped all by himself. Cool! Butter loaded with no issues as well and snug as a bug they were in there.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN!
The traveling was easy as most of it was straight down I 75 the camp is in Livingston, Ky about an hour and 20 minutes from my house. The road to the camp proved to be a little more challenging, it was filled with uphills and curves but certainly manageable. We arrived around 1:30 to a vacant camp. In fact the gate was closed and I was doubting if something was wrong. I did speak with the owner just two nights before and assured him we were coming. We opened the gate and found the mess hall, there were trail maps and release forms sitting on a bench on the porch.
We signed the release, got ourselves a map and continued on. We found a very clean well laid out campground. We picked a spot to camp close to the barns for the horses, we unloaded the horses and set up camp.
Here was Frankie's house when we were not riding.
The weather was kinda muggy and we had a few stray showers every now and then but we were not dismayed. Friend Carlene showed up about an hour after we arrived and she grabbed a camp sight next door. After putting out the awning and setting up camp we decided on a short ride. We saddled up and tried to translate the trail map we had picked up earlier. We found the trail head at the end of the camp and proceeded into the woods. The trail was narrow and unfortunately very steep and rocky. We felt bad because Butter was not shod on the back feet. Frankie was doing well and was getting an education on having dogs along for a ride. Susan had brought her two jack russell terriers and her yellow lab along. I never have ridden him with dogs and it took him just a bit to get used to them running ahead, behind and darting out of the brush at any time. All was going well until around 30 minutes into the ride.
Then, on a very narrow trail going downhill Frankie started shaking his head side to side and refused to go onward. I thought this odd as he has never refused anything I have asked of him. I gently encouraged him onward. This was rewarded with a complete blow up! He reared, lunged forward and went into full throttle bucking mode. I yelled for Susan to get out of the way as she was just in front of me and we were temporarily out of control. I mean I'm not talking crow hopping buck here kids but, full throw your a** to the ground bucking. He nearly had me off but I was a hanging by the 4 inch Oh Sh*t handle and lots of mane! As soon as I got him under control and back on trail I dismounted to check tack, surely something was out of whack to make him behave that way! I could find nothing on the girth or breast collar and no welts to indicate stings. I remounted, no easy task since Frankie has seen it necessary to grow to 15.3 hands. We walked on and he started again with the shaking of his head and refusing to go downhill. I knew something must be wrong with his hocks, back ??? This was so out of character for my horse so I dismounted and walked the half a mile back to camp. No easy task since A) the trails were narrow and I had to walk in front of Frankie B) The trails were steep, uphill and down and C) There were rocks to contend with. By the time I got back I had a deeper appreciation for my horse and the things he does for me. I unsaddled him and checked again the pad and his underside, nothing. I gave him some bute and put him in the stall. The three of us girls brainstormed and tried to come up with an explanation to the behaviour. I knew it had to be pain related as Frankie is just as laid back as they come.
We cooked dinner and decided we would try some reflex therapy on him after eating.
Susan brought steaks and fresh squash for dinner, a package of instant potatoes rounded out the meal.
As you can see Dawg the jack russell is patiently awaiting dinner as well.
The owner of the camp, Gene, showed up not much later. We asked him the which trails were flatter since the downhills seemed to be the only thing bothering Frankie. He told us that most of the trails required hills and valleys. He questioned my saddle and saddle pad, if either were something new to the horse.
All at once a light bulb went off in my block head!! This behaviour came about in a lesser degree the last time I rode him at the reservoir, he did not buck but did not want to go down the last hill on the way home. I had used a limpet pad on him that day as well. It is a closed cell, neoprene like pad. I generally ride him in a wool pad. Ah Ha! We felt all over his back and sure enough he was sore on either side of his withers. We did massage therapy on him and decided to try some more in the morning. We went back to camp and made a fire and swapped riding stories.
GIRLS AROUND THE FIRE
I did not sleep well that night. I was torn on what to do with Frankie. Of course I wanted to ride but I did not want to hurt him. Morning came and we found his back much better, he did not flinch at all when we touched him. Carlene did some more therapy and reflexology on him and we did administer 1 gram of bute to him. After breakfast we saddled up with my wool pad this time and headed out. We tried a smaller downhill to start, he was a little off but nothing like yesterday. I still had pangs of guilt at riding him.
The trails were beautiful.
THE GIRLS RIDING AHEAD INTO THE WOODS
We came across an older couple riding walking horses at an intersection of the trail.
They asked where we were riding to? We told them we did not really have a plan that we were just going to ride wherever the trails lead us. They explained that they had been riding the woods for over 40 years and knew all the trails. They asked if we would like to ride to moonbeam rock with them. We all agreed it sounded like fun and off we went. They actually rode at a slow pace and our quarter horses had no problems keeping up with the walkers. The gentleman's name was Bill and he was very conscientious about the trails, stopping to pick up trash and cans the entire way. He told us how it saddened him that people littered and that he usually goes back with his saddle bags full of cans and trash every weekend. His darling wife Ruby, was a joy to talk with and I was amazed that she was still riding at 68 when she told me of her previous injuries. We rode 8 miles through the woods together to moonbeam rock. It is a sandstone rock shaped like an arch about 80 feet up on the mountain.
Here is a shot of it.
We ate lunch there at the rock and talked about other trails. We mounted up, me with the help of a downed tree, thank you LORD! and down the hill we went. Frankie was holding up well and we were kidding around about all the badges he was earning this trip toward his master trail horse status. We rode the trails along a creek bed and Bill told us of how people had lived along this creek once upon a time. We passed the remnants of an old school house and several shacks. Here is one that was in the best shape of them all.
We crossed creeks and a concrete bridge, passed an old cemetery and ended up back where we started. We exchanged phone numbers with Bill and Ruby and promised to come back and ride with them again real soon. We made it back to camp around 4 in the afternoon and figured out that we had ridden around 15 miles that day. We found that we had some neighbors in the camp when we returned. They came over to see how our ride went and asked where we rode. They planned on doing that ride the next day.
The horses were treated to a nice hosing off and lots of carrots. We began dinner preparations, the menu was salad and brats for Saturday night. Gene, showed up again around dinner and we started kidding him that his nose must bring him around.
We reminded him that there was not hot water at the shower house and he apologized and went to turn on the water heater. He also came back bearing gifts, in the form of moonshine! I must confess, us girls did partake in the tradition of having some shine. It is rude to turn down gifts ya know.
Ms Susan trying out the shine.
We had another visitor at our camp that night, a young fellow named Monroe who claimed he was Amish and was not sure if he was going to stay Amish. We teased him and called him Semi Amish Monroe the rest of the evening. It was interesting to hear about his home life and certainly something new to me. I wish him well and felt a little sorry for the confusing time he was facing.
Sunday we awoke to a crisp 56 degrees! A cold front snuck in while we were sleeping.
We decided on a quick breakfast and to sneak in one last ride before we broke camp.
We saddled up and the horses were in good spirits from the coolness. We rode the lowest loop trail which basically went around the side of the mountain. We saw lots of rock formations and some caves along the way. I love this next photo, the way the sun beam is shining right down on my head!
We did encounter a large tree down on this trail and the horses had to walk over it as there was no way around it. Susan's horse refused and I tried Frankie. He had to step over a log that was higher than his knees, no hesitation he just slowly went over it the best he could. What a guy!! Another badge for him! The other horses followed and I was so proud of the boy. We rode for about an hour than headed back to camp. We cleaned up our site and the stalls, loaded the horses and headed out.
We all agreed we would definitely ride here again. Go give it a try if you are in the area!