Today Heather and I decided to ride together on a longer venture than usual, building up the miles and distance as well as adding in some hill work. We started out by meeting at the intersection of Stovall (where Sinwaan lives) and Last Chance. It is 2 miles for me to get there and about 2.3 miles for her to reach this point.
Sinwaan had taken a short break at the alfalfa field half a mile earlier and still had some plant on his face.
Bunny heading towards us over the bridge. From there we continued down Last Chance and made a right onto Frog Hollow. Frog Hollow has a fair amount of hills and I was thinking it would be good to do that portion first, before Sinwaan started getting tired later on in the ride. Well, I didn't realize there was also a lot of climbing later on since we rode a portion I had never been on before.
As we were trotting along, there was some traffic so we had slowed to a walk through the small bits of shade and I looked back to see a truck coming towards us. It was not a normal kind of truck. It was a towering, shifty, hay truck of some kind. I googled later to try and find a similar example but all I could come up with was this video capture, and while the back half of the machinery is similar, the front was nothing like this one. The one that passed us had a small cab very close to the bed of the truck, and it looked ancient. I guess if I see it again I'll have to take a photo. At any rate, the driver was very courteous, he went past us very slowly. I had stopped Sinwaan and turned him around so it would not surprise him, and he handled it like he saw them every day.
When we turned left onto Rainville (one of my favorite roads) we heard a high pitched whinny and a little horse came trotting over to us. Bunny was not really sure about that and she startled a little but Heather soon had her moving on again.
Sinwaan lives with (next to) little horses so he wasn't bothered by them at all, just a little curious to know what they had to say.
This little horse had a pasture-mate who was just as friendly (and fat) as he was. Shortly after this property we had a great blue heron take off in flight right next to us and that spooked the horses a little, but they had a quick recovery and we were able to look over and enjoy the sight of such a large bird so close to our heads.
Headed downhill at a trot at one point on Rainville, Sinwaan moved a little funny, like he was crossing legs or getting tied up a little bit, kind of off, but he would recover and then do it again, recover, etc. Wasn't sure what that was about but within a quarter mile he was back to normal. I only mention it because after our ride I noticed he was missing a shoe, and was thinking maybe that is when it happened.
We had been going along really well and stopped here on Stateline to give the horses a short break and a chance to eat some fresh alfalfa. I found it amusing that there was a portable toilet there out in the middle of nowhere. This was a nice section of road and had very little traffic, although the strange hay truck did come upon us again and passed us. It was also on this road that we went past a big water sprinkler gun at roadside and with Heather in the lead, just as Sinwaan and I passed it, I heard the sound of water chasing up the pipe and sure enough KKKKKSSSSPPPPPHHHHHHH it started spraying the crop. Wowie-wow that gave Sinwaan a fright and he leapt forward a couple of bounds.
Half-way down Stateline on our route it started getting busy with traffic, and we had a motorcycle come up behind us. Sinwaan was trotting along and then dodged to the right, towards the motorcycle. Dumb horse. I got him back over to the shoulder quickly but it probably gave the rider a dose of sense about what a horse could do to his future as he slowed down quite a bit when he passed by Heather. I don't like Stateline for that reason, from Locher road on there is always a lot of cars going 40+. A lot of drivers are nice and slow down or change lanes, but not all and you have to be ready for anything.
Finally reaching our turn at Valley Chapel, Sinwaan took the lead for a little bit. The big Mastiff dogs that always spook us were nowhere in sight (thankfully) and there was a little shade as we kept up our trot towards home. Heather had commented how far Sinwaan had come since she started riding with us earlier this year. Before, he never could have kept up a trot for 2 miles, and now he cruises along like it's no big deal for extended periods. It is really nice to be able to ride with her again and not feel like I am holding her back. It is also great to know his fitness has been building with all these training rides.
Once back on Last Chance, Sinwaan started dragging a bit. I knew we were only about 2 miles from home at that point, so 13.5 miles was farther than he'd gone all year and I was proud of him for his effort so far. Heather thought maybe he would find a second wind when we turned for home back on Stovall. I kept him going at a slow trot most of the time, but we did walk infrequently.
At the barn I checked our time and we were in at 2 hours 25 min. A bit longer than I'd hoped, but still a respectable time for the distance and weather. It was a hot summer day to be sure. I hosed Sinwaan down and checked him all over. He had a slight rub on his chest from his breast-collar. I had started putting his saddle back just a bit farther than last year and had not adjusted the collar. So I took the time to do that today. As I picked out his hooves, I noticed he had lost his front right shoe. Hmmm. Maybe that is why he didn't want to stay in on the shoulder in the gravel, and preferred to instead move along on the asphalt. His one rear shoe was very tight but slightly offset as well. He moves kind of lazy and is wearing that shoe flat along the toe also. With all the miles I have put on him recently, this set of shoes wouldn't make it another round anyway.
I put him out with his flymask on and he enjoyed a good roll in the dust while I texted my farrier.
Turns out the farrier is working harvest and can only come out Sunday morning. I was hoping to be riding in the hills 2 hours before that, but now the plans will be adjusted.