I haven't mentioned it much however my area is going through a pretty big drought, we haven't had almost any measurable rain since mid-May. Things are very brown and the grass is going from dormant to dead. Dead hay fields are being turned under and being replaced with crops making a bad hay shortage even worse as there won't be a 2nd cutting there. I called a guy today as I heard he had some hay, his price for 1st cutting? $6 a bale, from the wagon only. Not delivered or stacked. My hay guy said he will get some sort of 2nd cutting since he cut his first cutting so early in the season but we have to have some sort of rain so he isn't cutting dead grass. I after calling several others I finally called another guy who RB4 uses and he is selling 300 bales at $3.25 a bale. While I don't like the hay I suppose it is better then nothing so it will be here this weekend. I am even splurging and paying to have it stacked and delivered, a luxury I haven't ever had before. I will only need about 150 more bales to make it until the spring, hopefully we get some rain else everyone will be eating hay pellets instead of hay from a bale
I have made sure to stay extra busy in the days leading up to surgery to keep me from getting too depressed, lots of wood cutting/clearing/splitting/stacking to prepare for the upcoming winter, install a new ceiling fan which included running wires through a fiberglass insulation filled crawlspace, cutting holes in the roof to install some roof vents, rearranging the barn again and trying to prepare things for my being down for a couple of weeks. While SO wasn't super thrilled with my desire to ride, when the Dr said I could ride if I was careful, I continued with my plans to ride in the only hunter pace that is held around here. In Ohio I rode in several a year and LOVED them. An organized trail rides with optional jumps that you could school and reschool over? Jumps that you haven't ever seen before so there is that challenge plus some being just very different, it is excellent practice and exposure for an eventer in training! A school bench? Sure! A jump with actual railroad crossing signs on the standards for the extra spook factor? Bring it on! A log with a drop on the landing side you weren't aware of until you were over the jump? Hey I am game and have done it all. Since this is the only one for the year in at least an hour drive, probably more, I was really not wanting to miss it.
On Sunday I packed up and brought the TWH over to pick up RB3's horse and off we went. It was quite different from the hunter paces I have done in Ohio, that is for sure. It was more of a treasure hunt to find the trails we needed, the trails were marked with orange flagging tape however it wasn't marked well at all. No arrows, no markers at a crossing, a labyrinth of trails with the right one identified only by a single orange tape 10-20 yards down the trail. We helped a few groups who had walked past a marker onto a different trail and were successful in finding a marker at one point only because we saw riders in a different direction then we were headed. There were also not many jumps on the path. One hunter pace I have done had 40 jumps in it with typical averages of around 20-30 jumps. This ride had maybe 10 jumps, all of which were between 2-3 feet. It was a little disappointing but since I wasn't planning on jumping it was probably for the best.
I had such a great time with the TWH too. He walked when I asked and he would give me an awesome canter, nice, balanced and light. There was even two points during the ride we were able to give a full gallop and the TWH just loved it. The second gallop was over an hour into the ride and I fully expected him to pull up before I asked but he didn't, he wanted to keep going resulting in my finally having to circle him to bring him back. He was such a rockstar during the entire ride and while he was sweaty he wasn't exhausted after the 2 hour ride.
Also, despite my "knowing better", I even popped him over a couple of smaller jumps. Over the first jump, an inviting 2 foot coop, he was really hesitant and unsure if he was really supposed to go. There was enough hesitation that I even prepared for a refusal, as a result when he jumped it I was left behind a bit. I am very proud that he didn't refuse though, I call that progress in my book! The other jump was a little 2 foot rock wall by a road crossing and he jumped it beautifully without any of the hesitation of before, he made me very proud. Not only did he jump brand new things without first being presented to them at a walk, he jumped well AND appeared to be looking for jumps and locking onto them with "radar ears". Despite only going over 2 jumps, towards the end of the ride he actually seemed to be asking me if we were going over jumps when we approached them. I made a conscious effort to walk near any jump with him pointed away from the jump but when one popped up on us fairly suddenly when we were cantering, his little ears locked on and he was ready to go. Yay eventing horse!
Much to my surprise I also am not even a little bit sore from the ride yesterday. I may try a short ride tomorrow but that will be it for several weeks. I am very glad I was able to end on such a good ride.