Cathy & Quietude Max / Ruth & Mandolin

Mary on Quietude Twilight

Ruth checks on directions.
We were having scattered thunderstorms, so it was hard to know when to ride. Yesterday looked very threatening for rain, but Cathy on Max, Mary on Twilight and I on Mandolin headed across the Greenbrier River to ride the heavily wooded Rhododendron Trail and then the pasture trails around Joel's place. Soon the light drizzle turned to a steady downpour, with the dripping leaves adding
to our so

Soon the light drizzle turned to a steady downpour, with the dripping leaves adding to our soak. It did not seem to bother the horses, and there was no thunder or lightning, so on we trekked, soaking and ready for a wet tee shirt contest. Mandolin will pretty much go over or through anything you point her toward, so she led the way, with Cathy occasionally dismounting to clear branches or limbs after we passed. After going over one especially tough spot, Mary and I sat, helmets dripping, as Cathy argued with an obstinate log.

Then my steady mare began tossing her head and frantically trying to rub her face on her legs. I had not heard one of the dive bomber horse flies, which she hates. As I leaned forward to see what was bothering her, I felt a powerful stinger drill in next to eye. Some kind of hornet or wasp. The pain gave me chills. Cathy turned, leading Max, and Mary and I followed close behind.
No more stings, thankfully, and the pain subsided. Mandolin and I had matching swollen stings near our right eyes. We waited out the rain in the woods -- I finally put on the poncho I had in my saddlebag. We then enjoyed Joel's trails, exposed Twilight to all the spook-inducers at Joel's: odd scrap iron sculptures of giraffes and assorted other horse-eating monsters; emus, vultures, a bear cub named Rose; a fire truck; scary black plastic on fence and more. Twilight was interested and curious, but not spooky in the least. Who spooked, and at what? The prize goes to Mandolin for a six-foot side step at a roll of fence that was not as she remembered. The good news: I was able to ride the spook with ease.

What fun to see mature Max, Cathy's perfect trail horse, and young Twilight, still new on the trail, as we laugh, listen, and learn the lessons of the trail. We're really all youngsters again when we are in the saddle, and it feels so good.

Ruth Shaw NC & WV