Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stateside: Part 3

I spent the night in Lincoln barely sleeping from anticipation of the trail ride that we would be going on in a few hours. It rained during the night and morning dawned wet and cloudy. Thankfully, in the early morning hours, it stopped raining and the sun came out.

We drove over to the town of Valparaiso to meet up with Tammy and the other riders. We explored the town a bit and waited anxiously as we were early. Soon, we saw horse trailers pulling in to the park, lots of them.Tammy found Sheila and I and showed us our mounts. She introduced us to Ginger, who I would be riding, and Blue, Sheila's horse for the day. We went to work right away grooming and saddling them. I was very impressed with how calm and relaxed all her horses were as they stood tied to the trailer. They looked great too. Ginger is about the same size as my horses and Blue is huge, not tall, but very solid! Tammy would be riding Windy, the prettiest bay mare, who is standing behind Ginger, the prettiest sorrel, in the photo below.Sheila was very nervous at first since she hasn't ridden too much lately but she did very well getting acquainted with Blue. Isn't he pretty? I don't know how he got a rainbow around his neck but I love this picture of the two of them.

Here is Tammy holding Butter while her husband, John, is walking up.

All their horses look to be in good condition and happy. They are such pretty colors too.

I was glad that I was riding an experienced trail horse. I don't know how my horses would have been with such a large group of horses. Both Ginger and Blue were feeling fresh but very managable as we headed off along with the other riders around 10:00AM. I believe the official count was 128 riders!

We rode through the woods, up and down embankments, over dry creek beds, alongside fields, and over bridges. I carried my camera in my hand the whole time since Ginger reined so well with only one hand. I took tons of photos but I will try to limit them so I don't bore you to death. The trail was easy to follow because a 4 foot path had just been mowed for this ride. It was very pretty with the fields and trees greening up and all the birds singing. Here is Tammy on Windy and Sheila on Blue.We trotted a little but mostly we walked along until we reached the little town of Loma about 7-1/2 miles later. This town was used as a set in the movie, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, Stockard Channing, and John Leguizamo. In the movie, the town was called Snydersville and one old building still has that written on a side wall. My mother was able to follow John's truck and trailer to Loma with our car. She waited there for the riders to arrive. Meanwhile, John set up water troughs for the horses to drink from. Then he saddled up Butter and rode back to join the trail riders.

Here's my dog Buddha checking out all the horses as they arrive. I felt so spoiled when John offered to hold our horses while we had our lunches. What a great guy! We bought sack lunches which were catered in. Lunch for us was a ham sandwich on a roll, chips, soda, and cookies. Yummy!
I think the horses were happy to just rest for a while. Here are Tammy and John's four horses. Don't they all look comfortable together? They're all super horses!Look at all those horses! Sheila fell in love with Blue! Aren't they cute together?Here I am with Ginger. She was a sweetie!
Here's one of the residents of Loma out for a stroll, curious to see what's happening around town. There were horses and riders everywhere!

After lunch we rode back to Valpraiso. We made great time, a little over 2 hours riding time each way. We covered about 15 miles on the full ride. When we started the ride we were towards the front. As you can see here, on the way back we were towards the back. Look at all those riders ahead of us!
The nice thing about a trail ride like this is that the horses do spread out. Some move faster and some slower. There were a couple of Tennessee Walkers I saw gaiting out at one point. There were all breeds and colors of horses on this ride. I even saw a couple of mules! After we arrived back at Valpraiso, we unsaddled, watered, and groomed the horses. Then we all sat around and visited for a while until the caterers brought our dinner of Barbeque beef, Irish potatoes, beans, and salads. It tasted great even though a few pieces of hay blew into our plates from the horse's feedbags.

I didn't hear of any really bad things happening to anyone so I would say the ride was a great success! I guess the worst thing was sunburns. My daughter and I burned our shoulders pretty bad from going sleeveless and I saw other ladies with even worse sunburns.

Most of the trail maintenance was done by Tammy and her husband over the last several years since the annual trail ride began 9 years ago. What a great job they've done organizing such a wonderful event! Thanks to everyone who made this happen! And a special thanks to Tammy and John for loaning your horses and making us feel so welcome!


cowgirljlynn said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful day with everyone!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Looked like a fabulous trail ride. So many horses! You took some wonderful pics, too.
Sheila looks gorgeous as always. Looks like a model :)

I'm glad you 3 made it home safely, too.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

That was one huge trail ride. One of the trail riding books I've been reading warned against the various problems that go along with highly populated trail rides, however yours seemed to go off without a hitch.

Tammy said...

Valerie - just got back from a long weekend & trying to catch up on my reading. Loved your recap of our ride and the pictures! The Loma church looks gorgeous with the blue sky behind it. The skies really were that blue that day! Thanks for sharing your story!