We made a trip to a huge wooded area that is a wildlife preserve and is used by riders and hikers alike. Mom, Peggy, my sister and I loaded up the stock trailer and headed out about 930. The girls were wearing some cute ear bonnets and we were armed with horse hair swishers. I had a pouch with my phone, a map of the area (such that it is) and treats. The plan was to ride for about and hour and head home.
|Fancy one for Dottie|
|Blingy bead for Rosemary|
The trail was a gravel road at first, which the horses were not thrilled with. So we veered right onto a grassier path. All the horses were great, even with the huge horse flies attacking. Dottie showed her hunt background, by taking the lead much to my sister's surprise. We had to tell her to not get too far ahead. They all seemed to think this was snack time too. Especially when we passed corn fields.
As we crossed a water spot, we decided to head back to the trailer. Since we had made what we thought was a loop, it should have been easy to find our way back. Well, an hour or so later we still had no idea where we were at. At one point Dottie was adamant about going a certain way. We did not listen to her and looking back I seriously wonder if she knew the right way. After traveling one way and not finding anything but unending trees, we turned around and started back tracking. Peggy started to have issues with the heat and the worry in us all grew. Things could get really bad. At 100pm, she hit the wall and had to dismount. She laid on the ground in the shade, trying to cool down. It was clear she was not going to be able to get out of the woods on her own.
So I made the call to 911. Did not think I would hear that typical 911 response when I left home today. We had no water, two phones (mine on low battery) and no idea where we were. I was able to say that we were by the power lines just past a water crossing. This trail system had NO MARKERS. Seriously it was annoying. We were now in the waiting mode. Of course I lost connection with 911 and it half an hour to reconnect. The operator said "there are a lot of people looking for you." Oh yay, how embarrassing. Soon after that, we heard a truck. Rescue had arrived.
They were able to give Peggy water and pour it on her head to cool her down. Then fire station SUV arrived and an ATV. The horses just stared at all the people. Eventually, it was decided that Peggy would ride in the EMS vehicle and we would ride out. They gave us directions, which by the way, we were headed the right way. That also meant we had to pony Comrade and get back on the horses. My sister is shorter than all of us and she had to get on 16h Dottie. Peggy gave her a leg up, but it was an ugly process. Mom ended up using the truck to get back on DaVinci since her bad knee could not handle a ground mount. I was determined to get up on Rosemary, but needed someone to hold the off stirrup. I called a cute fireman over (that was a bonus factor to the whole episode), and asked him to hold the stirrup. Que the blank look. Oh, just hold the foot thing. He figured it out and I, whew, made the mount with tired legs.
I held Comrade and we headed out. Quickly I realized Comrade was going to be a pain to pony. He refused to travel by Rosemary's shoulder. With him behind her, he somehow managed to get the reins caught under her tail. I had to drop the reins. My sister was able to get them. Problem solved... or not. Dottie refused to walk with Comrade and my sister is not experienced enough to handle the drama. So Mom ended up with him. Again he was dragging. No way could we go the rest of the way with him like that. Mom was able to undo his reins and hook it to his noseband on one end and the other was eventually hooked to DaVinci's grab strap.
We found our way with tired ponies who were seriously over the gravel. As time ticked away we did not stop worrying until we finally saw some familiar sights. Never have I been happier to see a downed tree. An hour after Peggy left us, we saw her waiting at the gate with the firemen. Lights still flashing on their SUV. With the end in sight, we decided to get off and walk the horses the rest of the way.
|Ah the good before the crazy time|
We finally headed home just after 3pm. I think we were in the saddle for about 4 hours. The horses all got a liniment rub down and a meal. All the humans had to drink a ton of water. I have to say I can appreciate an event course even more now. I love directionals and clear maps. At least we all made it back in okay condition and the horses dealt with everything like pros. I think we will all feel it tomorrow though.