Tuesday, September 4, 2012

skillman adventure

Even with access to such great trails, you can get a little bored, so I'd been wanting to trailer out somewhere. I was going to head out by myself, but friend S and horse Cisco gladly joined us, and we headed up the hill to Skillman (where the Wild West ride was held) where the weather would be cooler and we could explore the trails.

Monday was beautiful, there was almost no one in the campground, and we parked outside the gates and tacked up. I am a little familiar with the trails, having camped there two years ago and doing the endurance ride, but S hadn't explored much, since she was unfortunately pulled on the first loop of Wild West. So we headed out on the trail I knew, planning for about a 15-mile ride.

early on, didn't want to stop = blurry photo
The trails are mostly well-packed dirt, though we did manage to find a few good rocky places (and take photos mostly there, what was up with that?). Major went along nicely, though we avoided cantering, as Cisco was being a bit of a brat. Major and Cisco are both content to lead or follow, and we took the trail towards the White Cloud campground and Highway 20. The trails weaves along a dirt bank with trees very close, knee-clobbering close! (I only got a little clobbered once.)

happy exploring
actual evidence I was riding! Most pictures are just ones I take with ears

We encountered quite a few cyclists and hikers, all were very polite. A group of kids pet a patient Major, one kid saying "I like the mark on his nose. This mark, right here," pointing to Major's dot in his blaze. I remember being that kid, and I like letting kids pet the horses. We went through forest and scrub, dirt and rock, single track and road, and circled back to the trailer after 13 miles. The horses were willing to drink a bit, and Major chowed down on hay, while Cisco rested. We ate PB&J and then headed back out. Major seemed raring to go, Cisco was more subdued.

But then we found a lovely trail. And put Major in front to do his nice, quiet canter, but Cisco wanted none of that! Major thought a fire-breathing dragon was behind him, and got nervous, so we switched places. Putting Cisco in front S really let him go, and moving out he was happy to canter along. Cisco is a bit faster than Major, and Major puts his ears back in serious mode and motors along. It is so nice to find a spot for a sustained canter, and we let them continue up the road, to a clearing.

Major and I coming down the trail

S and Cisco on the trail ahead

And then headed back, though some of the home trail was really rocky. Both horses stopped to slurp out of a tiny puddle, they hadn't had enough at the lunch stop! We were almost back though,and when untacked, took them to the trough where they finally drank and drank. It took 19 miles for them to figure that out! We also sponged the horses, and Major rolled in the dirt (muddy now) and then was shivering. So S loaned me Cisco's cooler, and Major seemed fine. The water was awfully cold, and Major was not that hot. Next time I'll just wait till we get home, dirty horse or not.

We drove home, down the hill, where it was much hotter. We turned them out in the arena, where both horses just wanted to snack on weeds. Major actually looked like he wanted to go back in his paddock, so I turned him out where he promptly rolled in the grass, trotted up to check on his hay situation (plenty of leftover breakfast) and trotted to the trough for a big drink.

shake it off, buddy!
Pretty easy to just go an hour away to escape the heat for a fun adventure. And this was the longest ride we'd done in months, Major was in great shape, bright-eyed and happy, no issues with his healed splint. It is so heart-warming to seem him happy on the trail, in his element. Mine too I guess!


  1. Congrats! I've hiked that exact trail, the one from Skillman to White Cloud, and it looks like a blast to ride. So glad Major is fit and sound!

    1. It's a great trail. I did it during the endurance ride, but that's a bit of a blur!

  2. that sounds like a perfect day! Nice trails too.