Fall Riding

Fall Riding
Indy & Me trail riding in Howell Twp. - Nov. 2010

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meeting the Quads......

Sunday afternoon was a perfect day for a trail ride. I could tell it was a Sunday since I could hear sounds from the homes in the distance: Lawn mowers, weed whackers, & even hearing kids playing ball in the street. As we were deeper in the woods, the sound was of........ Quad's! They were loud and I knew where they were. In the sand pits close to Tullo's track. "Be brave Indy. We are going to get you used to the sounds of Quad's" . Clipplity, clop through the woods. Within 10 minutes around the corner in the woods there were the evil Quads. They were stopped......all 6 of them on our trail! I waved to the man who was standing next to his Quad. The others had on their helmet gear, mud and all. It was 2 families with kids. I said, "We are going to ride next to you so he gets used to you, but don't rev the engines." This is the funny part. As we walked around 1 quad, see above, the boy was scared to death since Indy & I were right next to him. "He's so big!" as he looked up. "Don't worry, he's not going to hurt you.". The Quads started to move on, and Indy was so calm he wanted to turn and follow them! I was thrilled. He passed the Quad test without engines revving.

20 minutes later, we see them again by the Powerlines. We are trotting north and they were coming south. Engines going, not real loud. We stepped off the trail and watched as they zoomed by, waving to each quad rider again. Indy stood calm like he was a mounted patrol horse watching a parade. 2nd Quad test of engines a little louder zooming by = Pass.

10 minutes later as start our bend out of the Powerlines to the entrance of woods, I hear a loud noise sounding like minibikes. Oh crap. As they come around the bend they see my hand up like I was directing traffic and they stopped. These 2 teenagers were so nice. We walked by them close. "When you see me up there, feel free to take off." I must have been nuts. It was only 50 feet away. but the 3rd test was the big one. We were walking on and then they gave big ZOOMS on the minibikes, as they took off. Indy spooked a little, scared him good, but he calmed right down.....thank God! 3rd Test with the minibikes = Pass, but with some spookiness.

We returned back to our horse farm, and my friends with their thoroughbreds heard the Quads. "Were you okay?", they asked. I replied, "Yea.......thank goodness the thoroughbreds didn't come. They would have been flipping !"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rainstorm party in the run-In

Friday afternoon is "happy hour" for me. After a long week teaching teenagers, it is a sought after event. "Hello Indy", as I yelled across the field when I arrived at the horse farm. The clouds in the sky looked dreary though, and I could actually feel "rain". He & his girlfriend, Fancy, looked up, and I sensed him say, "How ya doin'? Ya got carrots for us?". For those that don't know Indy, he is a "gavone" and as Mike P. says, "Indy likes to eat!". He lives to eat!

Carrots in hand, and walking towards the field, the sky was just bizarre. Like a painting with puffy clouds above, in different shades of gray. Drip, drop, drip, drop. Could this be a sign to get in his field and get my ass quickly to the run-in shed? As I ran to the run-in, with carrots in hand, Indy & Fancy trotted behind me like I had the Kentucky Derby trophy! With the 2 in the run-in with me munching my carrots, the sky opened up! This was like a Florida rainstorm. Gee, it is loud to hear since the roof of the run-in is a heavy tent material. So, here I was for 15 minutes with 2 horses....what shall we do? Massage and rub them of course! As the rain slowly ceased, Fancy walked out to get her hay....another "gavone' that lives to eat! The photo above, with Indy's tongue a little out, says it all to our "happy hour" trail ride.... "Blah to the rain!".

(Saturday we rode around bareback for "happy hour", and this Sunday afternoon we are going out for a long trail ride)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Muscles & brains have memory....

I didn't expect to ride today since the forcast was for rain. It was crappy all week so I knew I had to get out to ride. Indy needed the exercise since galloping around in his field with Fancy isn't exactly a trail ride exercise! Saddled up & off we went. It was 11am and I decided to take the 2 mile trail to Tullo's to see friends and their harness racers. The map above is my route. Click on the photo & you can see it bigger. The upper right is our horse farm, where we started. The track is Tullo's. In red is where we rode, through the woods & out to the Powerlines, heading south to Tullo's harness racing farm. It took us awhile to get there since we weren't in any rush. I enjoyed the silence of just listening to the birds, and frogs in the water crossings. Indy would stand in each water crossing playing & drinking the water.

You can see in the photo where we arrived on the track and there were still a few harness racers exercising. The tractor was starting to drag the track and Indy didn't bat an eye when he passed us. He was too busy checking out the pacers all hooked up to their jog carts. One was pacing at a nice slow pace and next thing we know, Indy & I were trotting next to the pair and talking. I felt Indy in training mode now: His trot was faster yet in a perfect trotting rhythm. Muscles & brains have memory !

After that fun, around the track, we turned down the driveway off the track to see our friend Carol in the barns. Clip Clop, Clip Clop.....Carol was finishing up her work with her harness racers. "Indy...it's so nice to see a riding horse here!" We met 2 other friends and Indy even ate a piece of banana bread! After gabbing & saying hello to Nick's harness racers, we headed back home. The last pacer was coming off the track. She was done training for the day. We trotted the short way on the track so the tractor could finish the dragging. Quick wave to him & we were back on the trails..... We took our 2 mile walk/trot way home. Of course we stopped at some water crossing to play & drink in the water............

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I am playing "catch-up" here in my blog since Indy & I have been busy with events. Yes, we have done our usual trail riding that we love the best, but let's start with Sept 11th. Horse Park of NJ - Judged Trail Ride. 2-4 miles with 12-15 obstacles. We went with Tracy & her Standardbred "Walter". We had a lot of fun and the obstacles made both horse & rider think & be very patient. The photo with this post is where we had to rope a "cow'. Easy for me since I know roping from when I was a kid. Easy for Indy since things whipping around his head doesn't bother him. He was a stinker with 2 of the obstacles. One was opening a "gate" that was a rope that led into other obstacles. He didn't like the area where it would lead into and it looked eeeery to me too! The 2nd one was going thru branches & leaves, pick up a nerf gun, and shoot a "coyote". Easy.....but no....the stinker just didn't want to go thru the branches. He wasn't afraid.....just being a stinker. All the others we did well. Tracy & I even got our horses through the pond by the bridge. Walter enjoys riding with Indy and at one point we trotted them fast, together, through the Horse Park.

Last weekend were 2 horse shows. We really aren't big on the riding classes at horse shows since we like to ride like free spirits. You know,.... his head up, big trot and me riding however I please. It was the NJ Bred Standardbred Horse Show and this year all were invited. Indy is a Maryland Bred. In the Halter In-Hand class we earned a 4th out of 8 horses. I was very happy! I knew we would be last in the 2 riding classes, but we had fun doing our Meadowlands Trot around the ring. Indy & I do well with Command Classes, (like "Simon Says") and we earned a 5th out of 7 riders. We hadn't done any riding in a riding ring in a year, and it is quite different then a trail or wide open spaces. CJHA was the next day. Indy really was "right on it" in Showmanship and he knew exactly what I wanted him to do with no effort. A 3rd & a 4th place ribbons were earned.....

So.....we did the horse shows but trail riding is still our favorite. BTW - this weekend is a hunter pace with Ival and her STB "Clover". Let the fun begin that day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meeting a family on the trail........

Last evening we went out for a trail ride to take in nature. We were by ourselves and most of the trail we chose, last evening, parallels with houses, including the a neighborhood with newer homes. I could see a group of people in their backyard playing bocce ball. The first "clunk"of a ball hitting another, had Indy give a tiny spook. Head up up looking, I told him not to worry since they were playing a game....LOL. As we got closer, 2 young children pointed to us in the woods, since we were close to the bocce pit. The father started walking towards us with his daughter in his arms. I told them to walk up to meet us! What a thrill they had meeting a horse up close. Luckily Indy is very calm, since now, I see his son, about 10 years old, running down the trail to see us. They chatted with us for a good 15 minutes. I had a few carrots in my pocket for the little girl to feed him. We exchanged our names, said our "see you laters", and went on for our trail riding. It was nice to see such smiles on their faces as they got to meet a horse behind their backyard!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene ...after

I am sure, by now, everyone knows that a hurricane blew up the east coast. I do not take hurricanes lightly, but I do not panic either. I have witnessed 2 hurricanes in Florida, and living at the beach area in NJ, I know they can be ugly. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew (a catagory 5 when it made landfall in Homestead, FL) took residents by surprise. Andrew had weakened a lot, coming past the Bahamas, but as people went to sleep, overnight, it became a monster! It flattened Homestead, FL. A few of my Mom's friends lived there and they never returned to the town they had once lived. Bad memories. In S. Florida, they say "Before Andrew and After Andrew". That is how devestating it was to S. FL. My point is? Take hurricane warnings seriously. Currently many of our NJ residents are still dealing with flooding. Prayers to those that are dealing with the flooding from Hurricane Irene.

In the afternoon, on Saturday, I needed to get to the horse farm to help with cleaning stalls,etc. I carefully took 195 to 547, to avoid roads with the least amount of trees. It was 3:30pm and I turned out Indy & Fancy in the first big field that had no trees. "Stretch out your legs, you two!" Within 20 minutes as I was watching them graze, we heard a loud, & long CRACK! They spooked, & ran a bit, and about 500 feet away (a safe distance away), a huge branch from a huge tree by our woods, had broken off. 10 minutes later another huge tree. The winds had shifted now since Irene was in Long Island. I kept them in the "no trees around" field until the winds died down. My point? Trees can still come down when the hurricane has passsed. Due to weak roots or a change in wind direction.

Yesterday, Ival & I took the horses out to see what damage, if any, the Howell trails had. As we went through, I didn't want to jinx myself by saying, "They look good!". In short, one birch tree that the horses could easily walk over it, and one large branch that blocked a trail to the ditch we all hate anyway, so the trails faired well. We were quite surprised. There was a lot of water but no where that we had to turn around. Clover and Indy went through the water with no problems. I was quite proud of Indy. He actually led the way through the water!! Awesome! Of course he wanted to drink at every water crossings, but that was ok with me! Indy & Clover make a great team. They take turns leading on their own.......like they are saying to each other, "Okay you go first." So our trails are open with no damage.....yeah!

Stay safe everyone, during any future storms we may have........

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ival....Where we going?

First, I must start that Indy used to have such a fear of crossing water. This was 2 years ago. He is 90% almost perfect. Thanks to following other horses crossing water over the years, I can say he has overcome it. Thanks to my friend, Emerald, who gave me tips to get him to cross water, and to Mike P. who also gave me tips since Mike used to have Indy swim in a pool when he trained for harness racing. This photo I took of Indy standing in the water on our trails, while I was sitting on him....well our reflection! Yes he is standing in it. Look....you can see my knee there.....yup, until it gets cold, I always trail ride in shorts & cowboy boots!

Wednesday at 6:30pm, I went out with Ival & "Clover", and Emma & "Hezzie". With the cool weather, I just knew this was going to be a good ride tonight.We went way out, since Ival wanted to show me places where she had clipped back the bushes & small branches. Then she wanted to show what needs to be done. Thanks Ival for bringing us through a jungle as thick as Vietnam! We then went to the section that is all open. "Go here.", Ival said, and pointed to a small trail I had never been to. "Ival, where we going?", I asked. "Let's go to my friend Kati's house, to Vienna Road." What a neat trail. Even Emma had a smile on her face knowing we were going on another adventure. Indy was leading most of the way tonight, but when we had to cross a wooden bridge across a creek, he looked at Clover like, "Ladies first.". We let Indy think he was being polite,but we knew he was really thinking, "What the hell is this? Clover, you go first!".

90 minutes later as we were returning back to the ranch, Ival told Emma that not many people come out riding with us, and that she is such a good trail rider. I agreed and we told Emma (who by the way is only around 15 years old !) that she is officially a part of the Ival & Suzanne Trail Riding Club. Haha....Ival told her that if anyone can trot through brush and trees, get hit on the head with branches, put up with our silliness, and have no clue where Ival is taking everyone, and then return with smile........she is a member! Happy trails everyone!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Indy....I don't think we are in Kansas anymore

On Monday, I woke up to crisp cool weather. I have not gone riding during the day since the Spring. At noon, I decided to go trail riding. I knew some of our trail buddies were either working or at the beach, so we hoofed it alone. We usually hoof it alone 70% of the time anyway. We had bad storms the night before so I knew we would run into some water....but this is Howell, and our trails have a lot of sand in the soil, so it wasn't that bad. (The photo in this post is us by the "powerlines" heading home. Mane is braided to keep "the boy" cool. Crochet ear cover is to keep bugs out of his ears). During the trail ride, we headed to a section of the woods that I have only been with Ival & "Clover". "Ok Indy, we are doing good. I recognize where we are". 10 minutes later, I find ourselves covered in brush, branches, & small trees around us....no where else to go. "Indy, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore!"
Since Indy is such a rockin' trail horse he didn't even care, as he is covered with vines on his head!. "Well, let's turn around". The small trees were so tight around us, & knew I could get out of this mess, but slowly. "Easy, left, now right, whoa, forward, now right, easy, .....blah, blah"....within a short 30 seconds we were out. Now.........I knew where we were, overall, but......hmmmm which trail should we take. "Take us home Indy". Lo and behold........Indy choose the right trail & in a NJ minute, I knew he choose the right trail home. We trotted to the "powerlines", and then took a slow 40 minute ride home. I love Indy since he such an awesome trail horse!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Darkness On the Edge of Town

Yes...I know that is the name of one of a Bruce Springsteen song, & I thought of it when I had to think of a title of this post. Thursday evening was perfect trail riding weather. A warm summer night with low humidity. Indy & I didn't start our ride until 8:00pm. It was just he & I again. We headed out toward the powerlines, and he had a lot of energy. The sun was setting but I knew we were only 2 days away from a full moon so we would have light if we ended up coming home in darkness. Along the trail we saw 2 friends riding their handsome mustangs. I know their freezebrands since they are on the left side of their necks in a specific code. Standardbreds, like Indy, have them on the right. Indy's starts with an "X" since he was born in 2001. We said hello, the horses all sniffed each other to say hello and onward we went in separate directions.

We ended up out to Tullo's harness racing track again and on the way, passed a few deer, a frog by a creek, a few rabbits, lots of birds. As we were on the track, the sun was disappearing into the horizon. I took this as a cue to start heading back. The Powerlines part of the trail is wide open and well lit during sundown. We took our time since Indy NOW likes to stand in the small water crossings to drink or smell the water. I say "now" since 1 1/2 years ago, crossing water was like the worse thing you could ask him to do. It was now 9:10 and as we entered back into the wooded trail, my eyes could see it was now dark. Horses have good night vision, but it was tough for me to see any of the small branches that were on the trail. Tap, tap, tap.....as my helmet tapped these branches. Mind you, I post when I trot so sometimes that rise can tap a small branch! Easy to duck under in daylight, but not when it's dark! After enough "taps', I knew to walk rather than trot home. It was surely "darkness on the edge of town".....and I could hear some scurrying of deer or whatever critters as we walked home under the lit moon. 9:30 and we were on the last dirt roadway(trail) that paralled with the horse fields. There were 5 of Indy's deer in his field. "Hello Deer", as they picked up their heads and started following us. I see lights now at Alison's home as well as the solar lights at the barn. We were home and the "boogie man" didn't get us!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sleeping at the Horse Show

Indy & I do the CJHA horse show series. I don't know why....haha....but I am a Board member so I figured I'd get involved. We did the Beginner Western for 2 years and the 1st year we ended up Reserve Champions for the year. We can only do beginners for 2 years. We disliked the June and August shows since that division is Noon time and it was always mucho hot. This year, I decided to only do the 8am Halter classes, as well as Showmanship. Hate to say it, but it's a little boring for us. So boring, that yesterday while standing in the ring for Halter and Showmanship, Indy kept falling asleep. Yup! You know like when you were in school and you were so bored, your eyes just couldn't stay open? I have seen him do it in past shows. As the judge would come closer to us, I would have to tap his muzzle to wake him up. We earned a few ribbons and we were done for the day, but we had to stay a few hours longer since our friend Ember & her horse "Tie" had jumper classes to do. (The photo I posted here is from 2010 & he was falling asleep in the photo...haha)

Indy woke up fast when I hosed him down and I walked him over to get lunch at the concession stand. A horse at a concession stand? "C'mon Indy. Be good and I'll buy you a snack". We stood in line, as people looked at us & smiled, like "What?....She has her horse with her." As I ordered my lunch, with Indy sniffing out snack bags, I got a bag of chex mix for him. We walked off and ate lunch....yup together! 30 minutes later I needed another drink. We walked over to the stand again. Someone in front of us opened the cooler that was on the ground where all the bottles & cans of drinks are for sale. She didn't shut the top. I saw a few people in line giggling, and I look down & there is my horse drinking the melted ice (now water) out of the cooler, like it was a trough. Oh my....he may fall asleep at horse show classes, but he sure is a clown & entertains people. All I can say is, it is a pleasure to have such a calm, sweet, silly and non-spooky horse.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The trail to Tullo's

Last evening, Emma & "Hezzie" joined us for the usual "Tuesday Trail Night". Ival is away. I hadn't been up to Tullo's harness racing track in a few weeks, so that was the plan of action. Emma has never been actually on the track. We started off with our knucklehead horses that would rather eat the overgrown bushes rather to "go forward". Did you know that small branches with leaves at the end make good crops?! With a little tap like a harness racing whip we finally moved on. 2 miles later we were up on the racetrack. The track is always raked each day after training is done so I let Emma know to stay on the outer part of the track. Indy knows the track TOO well. He stopped to grab some overgrown bushes, & as I broke off another "pretend crop", I got one that looked & felt like one that Yannink Gringas used when Indy raced.....LOL. One tap & oh crap, we were trotting away on the track. Here comes "Hezzie" & Emma cantering besides us. I actually had to break the "pretend crop" smaller since Indy wanted to go, go, go. A few feet later was the driveway off the track to the barns. I showed Emma all the harness racers in their barns, and what a jog cart looks like. I know many people at Tullo's, so riding on the property is no problem. Next......time to take the 2 mile jaunt home. It meant, back on the racetrack to get back to the trails, AND the horses knowing they were going home. Once on the track, Indy started trotting in training mode. It is so awesome, and of course Hezzie & Emma playing "outrider" cantering next to us. We returned back home knowing we had another adventure completed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Emma & Hezzie, and Deer

Last week we had a new trail rider with us. Her name is Emma and she is around 15 years old and rides Hezzie. She rode with me one night, and then joined me and Ival. Indy actually didn't mind leading but he prefers it when Clover leads. When Clover goes, he follows and her speed is faster than him. Let's look at the word, "Deer". Indy and Hezzie like deer. Clover does not. Indy has a herd of 5-6 each night that graze in his field with him, so no wonder deer do not bother him. Last week on the trail a doe was looking at all 3 of the horses. Ival tried to turn Clover's head but she did a little spook dance. Real quick. Indy did a little spook dance too, only because Clover did it. I am sure Indy then said to her, "C'mon Clover, it's only a deer!"

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Post #1

Since it is very hot day here in Jersey (100 degrees), and no trail riding for the last 3 days, this is a start for my blog. Indy is my Standardbred horse and we love to trail ride. We do some horse shows but limit it to Halter & Showmanship classes. We are a great team, but belong riding and racing through the trails. May I add that he has great conformation for Halter classes & Indy loves to show off, but after those classes, he is looking for the trailer to go home. We trail ride a lot with our good friends, Ival and her Standardbred, Clover. We ride through our hidden trails belonging to Howell Twp. Indy and I also go out by ourselves in the the cool weather and we ride 2 miles to Tullo's harness racing farm. Here we bring our trot up to speed on the track, and also visit our friends: Carol, Anna, & Nick, in the barns.

We did a judged trail competition this Spring. Everyone else went in groups, but Indy & I were alone. I didn't expect much since when we did it 2 years ago, we had some issues with the obstacles. This year, it was a long 8 miles, very warm, and he wasn't in his best shape coming from the winter months out with a hock issue . BUT, he did the course like he did when he was a harness racer....he gave it his all. Out of 36 riders (& their horses), we earned 12th!

So......this is now my blog, and I will add our adventures as they happen.