Monday, December 20, 2010


From our saddle expert Linda.

My husband and I have been married for 23 years now. Poor guy married into the horse scene. The most pets his family had growing up was some dogs, a goat and some ducks. So this was a whole new experience for him. We dated for a while before we got married, so he totally knew what he was getting into before he "popped" the question. Throughout the years he has been supportive, but rides less and less as time goes by. He now "rides like the wind" about 2 to 3 times a year (only about an hour or so each ride!!), but at least he's out trying to enjoy it. He tells everyone he knows his "place" and that I would get rid of him before I'd get rid of the horses - which isn't true but we let him think so. I still have the Quarter Horse mare that he started out on. She's 27 now and still going on shorter rides--semi-retired, you could say.

When we were first married we would go camping with my brother and his family on weekend trips to different local state parks. My niece and nephew would love to ride with Uncle Rick (my husband) because he would always do something funny (and not on purpose). That is not a real confidence builder when a 6 and 8 year old are saying this to you as they are riding their own horses.

One time we decided to venture out and go to a state park about an hour away. This park had sand trails with hills and was totally different from what we were used to riding on. We normally would be in wooded areas or hard packed dirt trails. So this would be a new and exciting riding weekend---or so I thought. We got all packed up and away we went. This was before we had kids so there wasn't as much packing to be done. It was in the fall so the horses were starting to get their winter hair. It was cooler at night but warmed up during the day when the sun was out. Well, they weren't used to riding in this sandy ground so they really worked up a sweat at times.

My husband got his back adjusted before we went on this trip (which now I'm wondering why before and not after, but that's beside the point). So we headed out for a nice leisurely ride, just the two of us going along, enjoying the scenery. I was leading with my Arabian and he was following on the Quarter Horse. All of a sudden, I hear a big commotion and him starting to holler. I thought, "Great, what has happened now?" I look back and there he was standing up, still with his feet in the stirrups and still straddling the horse---but his feet were on the ground! I yelled back to him "Get off, you dummy, she is going to roll!"

I'm thinking: broken leg or ankle, being dragged through the camp, there goes his back again---all kinds of things are going through my head.

He's thinking: "Quicksand!! What kind of a state park would have quicksand in the middle of the trail?!! How in blazes are we going to get her out? You can't get a crane back here. There's no way we'll get her free!"

Isn't it funny how differently minds work!! This is all happening in seconds. Well, the horse got onto her side and then decided this was a bad idea. My husband is standing there just watching this whole thing going down, not thinking he should at least hold the reins until she gets back up. Well, she did get back up and took off down the trail heading back to camp. I'm deciding whether to go after her or stay there and get my husband up on the Arabian which doesn't ride double well with a saddle. He would do fine with no saddle but I wasn't leaving my saddle out there. At this point my husband is yelling "You go after her. I'm done riding. I don't care if she doesn't make it back to camp," on and on he goes but I was gone at that point. Needless to say he was not happy with her. He could not believe an animal would try to roll with a saddle on her back. He tells everyone "They have a brain the size of a walnut, you know".

Well, she made it back to camp, ran right up to our hitching rail covered with sand on one side and clean as a whistle on the other. My Mom came up to me as I rode up and wanted to make sure everything wass alright because it was quite a scene with a sand-covered horse running into camp without her rider and me running up behind her. I said we were fine and I would tell her later what had happened. My brother was sitting at the campfire and just knew there was going to be good campfire stories that night. Well, my husband made it back before dark and eventually could talk about his adventure. Alot of folks have gotten a kick out of it. We were even camping at our local state park and had some people riding by and said "There he is! There the quicksand guy!!" We obviously knew part of them but he has become famous from his incident. He definitely tells a better version of it so if you want his side of the story, you will have to ask him.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fall Time Camping

From our saddle expert Linda.

I believe camping in the fall is my most favorite time to camp. This fall was especially a great fall to camp here in Indiana. It's been dry but beautiful. Cool enough to chase the bugs away yet warm enough to wear just a sweatshirt in the afternoon. I enjoyed camping with a group of ladies. We were able to go about 5 times since the end of September which is good, for all of us and our busy schedules. We would go over the weekend and have so much fun that we would set it up to go again in 2 weeks.

The one weekend in October proved to be quite trying but in looking back it was truly a memory maker:

We were not going to be able to get to the campground until about 5ish so we knew we would be racing the clock to get set up and supper made before dark. We pulled up to the main gate and there was a line to just get into the park. No problem - it's the second weekend in October, the peak color time in IN so we weren't too shocked until we went up to the gate house to pay to get in and she told us that the horseman's campground was full!! Now if you have ever packed for horse camping you know what is all involved. There's alot of time and effort in remembering everything for you and your horses. I'm fortunate to have a living quarters in my trailer so I can store alot of things in there that can stay there for the season but you still have alot of last minute things to get around: your clothes for all kinds of weather, your food, all the horse stuff that you need - hay, feed, buckets, blankets, emergency kits, etc. So our hearts just sank at the thought of just turning around and heading back home. The gal was checking with the park ranger to see if the overflow sites would be available for us to stay on which was great but there was only two overflow sites and we needed three sites and they were not next to each other and when you camp together, normally you want to be close enough to share the campfire and suppers if you choose to do so. So we talked and thought we could make do. It was better than heading back home for the weekend. We prayed the horses would all get along at the hitching rail and the walking, we decided would do us good.

So we got the go ahead to head back to the horseman's campground, which by now we had people lined up behind us out on the highway waiting to get in. We got back to the gatehouse to the campground and the guy there told us we would have to go back to the main entrance to pay for the weekend stay!! He also told us that there were three sites right inside the campground right next to each other that was open. We said why not and pulled on to those sites. Now a little voice inside my head kept saying, "Don't unload everything until you know this is for real." I've had to pack up and move everything before because of a mess up and it's not fun. So we unloaded the horses and high tailed it back to the main gate. Good thing we didn't set up camp because we had to move. The sites were only open for Friday night and we needed sites for the whole weekend. We paid for our two sites that weren't next to each other and out in the middle of the campground, but we could stay for the weekend. Thankfully the horses got along fine with each other and our neighbors didn't mind us cutting through their sites to get to our friends site. We got everything set up - in the dark and horses feed and was making our chili over the fire at about 9 pm. What an evening!!

During the night we started to hear this pecking on the roof of our trailers. It was starting to rain. Oh, well, it should stop before we get rolling in the morning. It didn't stop until about noon but we did get to sleep in some, leisurely eat our breakfast and just plain relax which most of us needed anyway. Only one problem--when the rain stopped it started getting windy, and when you are out on the prairie, not much is stopping the wind. Didn't think too much about it. It wasn't a cold wind so let's ride!! We got back from a couple hour ride and was getting something to eat when my mom stated that she thought we might want to tie down the awning because some of those gusts of wind would really make it rattle good. No sooner did she get that out of her mouth then we heard this horrible crash and alot of light was shining in. The awning had blown up and over the horse trailer!! breaking one of the arms that attach it to the trailer. God bless good neighbors. One of our neighbors seen it go and came over to help us get it rolled back up and tied onto the trailer to at least get it back home to get fixed. You should have seen people scrambling to get their awnings tied down after ours went for a ride!! Glad we could help them out in sending out the warning at the expense of our awning. It was an older one anyway with a few problems but it still worked up until then.

Despite all the set backs, we had the best time. You'd wake up Sunday morning and there was a light fog settling over the whole campground as the sun was coming up. At night you would smell the campfires burning, the coolness setting in and maybe later on in the evening a raccoon would pay you a visit. It was just priceless to be there. The riding was magnificent. We would ride through the woods and watch the leaves falling and see how the landscape would change from each season and really each week. Totally awesome! Riding through the pines has got to be the best. The smell of the pines can never be bottled, it's so refreshing and clean that it sticks in you mind forever. My friend and I would take our geldings on one of the trails that was towards the back side of the park where there wasn't much traffic and just let the boys run through the woods. It was amazingly invigorating. I think they were having as much fun as we were. What a ride!! And that is why you go through all you do when you camp - it's for the ride!!!