Some rides I can’t wait to get home after taking care of Tarma, shower and share the photos for all my friends to see. Other rides never get shared, for reasons ranging from a tad too short to too much time passing and life happenings. Others, like yesterday’s, I’m compelled to share, but only after I’ve had time to process through the events on my own, or bounced off my husband or close friends. Sunday’s ride was the latter.
I really wanted Benny along for a ride, it’s been several weeks since he’s gotten to tag along and one sure way to tire out a Labrador is a trail ride. This limits where we can go, so my friends and I settled on some private timberlands near where I board, where off leash dogs are allowed and we seldom bother other trail users. This would also give me a good chance to test out the older used Synergist saddle I snapped up a tack sale. It almost perfectly fits the vision of the saddle I had in my head, it just remains to be seen if we can make it work for Tarma.
Trailering to the parking area and tacking up was uneventful, even though I took the longest due to futzing with my new set up. We managed to get mounted and heading out in a reasonable timeframe, all the horses calm and steady. Even Tarma was super chill, happy to be out but not overly opinionated as she can be sometimes. In order to avoid one tough bit of trail (a creek crossing that can be steep and slippery after the recent, much needed rain) I tried to take a shortcut I vaguely remembered…and I really should have known better. Nearly all my riding friends can recount running into hornets this year, so I should have been more guarded and not taken this particular shortcut. But we did, and when we paused to do some wayfinding, poor Rue stirred up the damn hornets! How we got through the mess with no one getting dumped or kicked or bolted with, all boots and nerves intact, is nothing short crazy. I even had my phone out to look at the map and managed to shove it in my pocket and one hand the reins, which I partially credit to the Synergist keeping me locked in where I needed to be and not sliding about as Tarma scrambled away from the hornets.
Rue and Adriane hit the worst of it, her arm looked frankly terrible. But she refused to drive all the way down and waste the ride, after we determined the horses were okay. Tarma took some stings to her shoulder (which I used the Sore No More clay on when we got back to the trailer and they were gone the next day!) I think that two of us wearing riding skirts helped protect us and the horses a bit, another win for the skirts!
Once we were able to settle down and take stock, the ride was beautiful and calm from then on. We took it easy except for one good trot section, and Tarma was almost as chill as a gelding…until she and Cody egged each other on a bit, the rascals! I’m still searching for a possible bit, though switching to a cross under with a better nose band is really helping, she’s listening to it better without it hurting her (I’m sending my normal side pull in for repair).
After six miles I was still comfortable and happy with the Synergist saddle, though there’s plenty of adjusting I had to do on the fly an more to come. I had a Supracore pad on top of a basic cotton pad, but the cotton pad kept slipping and irritating her. I also had to hop off and remove the rear leather saddle bag, it was bumping into her back too much. I will probably remove all the rear bags, nice as they are, and go back to my Horse Bums bags, but keep the front water bottle holders. I will also need to twist the fenders a bit, my ankles were sore fighting to keep the stirrups facing the same way. My seat was solid and locked in without feeling trapped, and when we trotted or went up or down hill I wasn’t slipping or wiggling as much as I do in the Wintec, all positive signs. Plus, Tarma didn’t twitch or show any signs of discomfort in her back or shoulders the next day!
Overall a pretty fall ride, hornets aside it was a relief to ride in the wet woods that smelled like Oregon should again. I know the rains mean the end of the high season and we’ll be sticking closer to home the next several months, but I’m happy with the rain clearing out the fires and bringing the green back. Not the mud though…