Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mary's Little Mountain Goat at the Finger Lakes

The Northeast Region hosted a new ride this year, the Hector Half Hundred, located on one of the Finger Lakes near Watkins Glen, New York. I couldn't resist going; I've loved this area ever since I was accepted to Cornell University nearly 30 years ago (my dad sensibly insisting on in-state tuition rates at U.Va.)

To break up the long trek north, I loaded up my mare Siena on Thursday after work, reaching the Engle's home in Fairfield, PA just before dark. There I enjoyed Susan's delicious potato soup while my semi-retired horse Shiloh and Siena had a joyful reunion. I decided to take Shiloh along as a buddy horse, with hopes of squeezing in a short conditioning ride once I'd set up camp. Fall color abounded the further north we got. Basecamp was a grassy field overlooking Lake Seneca, with dozens of wineries all around us.

I lost no time in saddling up Shiloh for a short ride to check out the trails, which were spectacular, reluctantly turning back at the 3 mile mark when a heavy rainstorm struck.

Changing into dry clothes, I took a short nap then went to the vet in where I saw that Pam Karner, the head vet and ride manager, was taking temperatures as an extra step (thermometer goes in horse's anus.)  Having never been "temped," Siena was quite squirrelly until I ran back to fetch good ole Shiloh, the perfect buddy horse.

At the ride briefing, Pam explained that she'd received word the previous evening that because of the federal government shutdown, they'd lost use of 30 miles of trail in the Finger Lakes National Forest. The re-routed trail was mostly road, with a fair amount of out-and-back that repeated, but we all enjoyed it immensely. I rode the first two loops with Libby Llop and her young mare May Fly before they were pulled, then continued on the last loop with Sallie Sullivan and Ivan, ending up somewhere around 7th place. It was Sallie who dubbed 800 pound Siena my little mountain goat. It was the first competition I've had a chance to do with her this year, and delighted with her vet scores, I waited to present for Best Condition before leaving. She was slightly girthy on her left side and I was far enough behind the front runners that I didn't have much chance of receiving this award, but was very happy that she received 9 out of 10 on soundness and impulsion.

On the return trip, I reached the Engels by 10 p.m. and got a good night's rest. After helping Dennis fetch 25 bales of hay, I left Siena at the Engels and logged the last 200 miles home with Shiloh on board - arriving in time for a lovely afternoon boating with my husband Shan and our dog Ginger.

I sure hope I'll be able to return to this ride NEXT year and see those 30 miles of trail we didn't have a chance to enjoy this time...