Monday, June 22, 2009

Riding the "loop"

I thought it'd be fun to show a typical ride that I take around our home here in WI. This ride is not on our property at all (although I think at some point I'll put photos in of a "property" ride). This is a typical route that I take that ends up being about 6 miles. It takes us out across a cranberry marsh, along the interstate, through the woods, and under two interstate overpasses before we arrive back at home. The obstacles we encounter along the way are enough to test any well-rounded trail horse. Enjoy the ride: First we start off around the outer edge of Scott's marsh. These soft sandy roads are awesome for cantering and galloping down. The cranberries are blossoming! Both sides of my family are into cranberries (so named because the blossom looks like a crane's head - get it? Crane-berries?) This is the time of the year when the beehives are set out on the marsh dikes, so we give those a wide berth. We ride along the outer edge of a banked pond lined with black rubber that was installed to serve as a reservoir for watering the cranberries. I guess the hope was that it would hold water, but you can see that it doesn't. There is a tiny little wet area in the lowest part of the bottom. Don't worry, they have another pond that we've already ridden past at this point that DOES hold water, so the cranberries will not dry up. Catlow investigated the black rubber by biting it and slobbering on it. We pop out onto a rural country road (same one we live on) where there is a beautiful field of daisies. Years ago this used to have cattle but now it appears empty as far as I can tell. We encounter a lot of road signs and everyone pretty much ignores them...especially if there is grass below them. The rural road runs alongside the interstate for a while. The horses pay no attention to the semis and other huge vehicles, even though the noise is deafening. I don't think that I'd be able to hear my cell phone if it rang in here (I was thinking about this when I was searching for it in the grass yesterday). We meander alongside the road where most of the way has a large grassy area to ride in so that I don't have to be right on the road. And then our rural road brings us to the first interstate overpass. This one is not very busy because there is no exit ramp. There is construction going on here, like on most of the interstate bridges right now. Catlow walks out freely under it. She's wary but fine. This is the claustrobic part, but we just walk right down the middle of the road. I don't worry too much about traffic because they can see us well. If I need to make the horses move to the side, they will, but they feel more comfortable in the middle. It seems like everytime I ride through here, the workers are on a break. After we came out from under the bridge, there were 3 of them sitting on a peice of equipment watching me. I'd have taken their picture (because they are one of the obstacles, but I figured that was rude - Catlow was actually more leery of them than the bridge. They waved at me. I think they are getting used to seeing me pass through here. Then we turn onto a side road that used to be called Starlight (but its called a very unromantic name - however will always be Starlight to me). The first section is paved, but then it becomes dirt. Our first obstacle on here is the railroad tracks. It took a little convincing the first time for all three of my horses to go across the tracks, but now that they've done it before, it's old news. Crossing tracks just requires watching your feet! Then finally we pop into the woods on some trails. Most of the rest of the ride, until we almost get home, can be done through the woods or rural country roads through the woods. We finally get away from the interstate noise and can hear the birds! Some parts of this trail are in red pine plantations. This is my favorite stretch of woods to ride through. Unfortunately, the deerflies and horseflies are pretty bad through here, but if I douse the horses with spray before we leave, they seem tolerable. In a clear cut area, there was a big pile of dirt with super thick dark green grass growing out of it. I had to let the horses snack on it. I'm not sure why the grass was so green and thick...maybe it was not just dirt? Something very nutrient rich? It looks kinda odd sitting there all alone amidst the nutrient starved sandy surroundings. It might be ditch dredgings... Then we come out on another rural road. This is a really neat section of road too. It's quiet, there are lots of birds singing and the sound of hooves clopping out a rhythm on the road is so relaxing.

Then we come back out along the train tracks again. We have yet to see a train, although I know these tracks are well traveled because I hear the train from our house. I think the horses will be fine after the initial high-headed response with intense watching if they see a train. Eventually we come to a network of trails through the woods. This one dumped me out at Jellystone Campground, which I can't ride through, so I had to back track a bit... And then we found ourselves back on our original road but now we have a nice big path to ride on! At least, I think we are doesn't say no horses. Catlow clops over the white paintings with confidence. At this point, she knows we are pointing toward home. Now, we have to skirt Jellystone in all it's overdeveloped glory. I really dislike it. And I have to ride through it or around it on just about any ride that I do if I want to make the loop. I can't actually ride through the campground part, but these condos were annexed into the village so that they could get "city" water, which means that the roads through here are public domain. They put up these condos and convinced people to buy them because they were in the "north woods", but then the economy when to hell and the owner of Jellystone declared bankruptcy. The campground part is still open, but the indoor waterpark and hotel are closed. These condos are half sold and half not...I'd never come here for a vacation, but maybe people from Chicago see it differently than I do. I see a huge eye sore and developement over my old riding trails that used to go right through here. Here's the waterpark/hotel and a skate park too. Today things are pretty slow because it is not the weekend. On the weekends, this place can really get hopping with people...I would know, I used to work at the campground when I was in high school. When we ride through Jellystone, we see lots of crazy obstacles like golf carts and huge motorhomes and campers. We found a huge clover patch, so I had to let the horses have another snack. Now we are out on the main highway. Chico walked alongside or behind me in a very well behaved manner the whole ride. I was a little surpised. I figured he wouldn't want to walk beside Catlow because usually he's pretty competitive with her, since she's the only horse below him in the herd. But he was very well behaved. He didn't try to pass her up, or bite her or anything. Maybe it was too hot. I have been pretty strict with him when I am leading all three of them. He is not allowed to pass me at all, and I kick him if he gets too close. So it's probably that he's grown out of some of that baby stuff (biting the riding horse) and also I've trained him to pony. We are almost home now. We just need to cross under the second overpass...this one gets pretty busy because this is a highway and there is an exit/onramp here. The bridge is complete with huge motorhome obstacles. We rode up and waited for the cars to go through before we went. You can see that these workers are not on break. I usually see these ones working. I didn't take anymore pictures because I had to focus and get Catlow trotting under the bridge and through the drippy water because there was another car coming and I really don't like it if they pass me while I'm under the bridge. The horses are fine with cars, but I worry about something unexpected happening and then it'd be bad to have a panic attack under there with a car. My horses are generally not prone to panic attacks, but they ARE horses. And we made it home! Now just need to be unsaddled and given some treats.


Jessie said...

Thanks for the tour!!

I used to drive by Jellystone on my way to school when I went to River Falls. It was one of the many landmarks that told me how far away I was and how much time was left of the trip.

I agree with you, it really is an eyesore.

You've got some brave Mustangs. Remington is not a fan of cars moving faster than 10 mph :-)

Pony Girl said...

Kara, that was a great ride! Thanks for taking us along. I am so impressed with you ponying a horse and approaching and negotiating all of those roads and scary obstacles! Catlow is a nice horse. I love, love that mane, too! :)

Andrea said...

Awesome post. You have such good horses, and you're such a good horsey "mom." I love that you spend so much time with them and have them so well trained. Every horse should have a person so dedicated!

Jellystone does look pretty ugly.

I love Chico's expression in that last picture.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your ride with us! That's great training for your horses - and it's nice that you can pony along as well. Some parts of the ride are very beautiful!