I rode with Chris again today. She was on Nordisk and I was on JJ. This time we went adventuring.
About a mile down the road, across the NJ Turnpike is Jamesburg Park. It is a fully forested area with many sections of pines, much like the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. It's a super place to ride, but getting there is a bit of a trick.
First is the mile long journey along the road. Not so bad until you reach the bridge over the NJ Turnpike. Wisely, we dismounted and led the horses across. It didn't help that at the first side there was a huge bulldozer scraping dirt in the lane on our side. Needless to say, that was rather distracting to Nordie who'd never seen anything like that before. But he was a good boy and settled down for the leading part of the trip.
I hate going across those bridges in anything but my car or truck, and NJ drivers don't seem to understand that according to the law, if a horse is present, they are supposed to slow down to 25 mph. Despite lots of very expressive gestures on both my part and Chris's part, only a handful of cars did slow down to pass us.
I breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the other side to remount in the grassy areas in front of the first warehouses. Well, "remount" is a rather loose term here as I cannot mount a horse from the ground, so Chris had to give me a leg up. What a klutz I am at the moment. I managed to get my body over the saddle, but trying to swing my leg over the cantle was a whole 'nother matter. Let's put it this way, it would have made a viral video on youTube,
The next part of the ride was along the warehouse district with trucks banging and back up beepers beeping and all kinds of manhole covers and silly things to challenge Nordisk's novice trail skills. He was on edge about things, but actually very sensible, especially since he was leading and my JJ was in his usual casual pace behind.
Then we crossed Cranbury Road at the traffic light--a feat not for the fainthearted, even in a car--and entered the peace and solitude of the Parkland. I'd never been in there before and it really is nice. There are lots of trails and sandy paths to ride on. Chris is rather an adventurer and we did some trail blazing as well. There are tons of trees down blocking paths so we had to do a lot of bushwhacking to get through. Nordisk was once again a star, bravely leading the way, while JJ just took his time following.
After and hour or so, we headed back, made the traffic light crossing again and started for home. That's when near disaster struck. There was a flag of yellow plastic tape in a tree I passes and it must have had some kind of wire attached. That got caught on JJ and flapped over towards Nordisk. He spooked and for a brief moment, I thought all was lost. But the tape pulled free and JJ was completely calm about the whole thing which, I suspect reassured Nordie who settled right back down. Amazing for a young horse like that.
We dismounted again for the bridge crossing home and had some more entertainment calling the passing drivers all kinds of names when they simply could not manage to slow down for us, no matter what kind of hand signals we gave them. The ones who did slow, got big thank yous and smiles. The others....well, let's just say their lives are cursed for many days to come.
About two and a half hours later, we were back in the barn and the two Arabians were settled down to their dinner.
But there was lots of daylight left.
And is was a really warm day.
I figured, no time like the present to try Tucker out on the trail again. My goal was to get farther along in the saddle than I had yesterday.
Well, I did.
At the spot where he'd acted up yesterday, Tucker started fussing again. This time, I stayed on. He was dancing, but controllable. It wasn't the calmest ride, but I made it all the way to the short trail through the woods heading for home.
The trail goes uphill slightly, so I let him jog a little. Then it happened.
There is low hanging tree branch that sticks out over the trail. It's got all kinds of pieces sticking out. At the very moment I tried to duck to avoid it, Tucker decided to buck. Now, mind you, this was a crowhop kind of buck, not a big nasty one. It was almost a canter stride. But, the problem was, it was a buck up, just at the moment when I wanted to be down under the branch.
Crunch! My face hit the branch square on, whiplashing me back and Tucker went foward and I went tumbling off to the right, kind of flipping over so I landed right on my back. The wind was knocked out of me and my loyal steed took off in a gallop for home.
As I lay there, I felt the warm trickle of blood from my nose. Yippee! Wounded.
It took me a moment to gather my wits and a nearby clump of snow to apply to the nosebleed. I wisely had a tissue in my pocket, to I blotted up the blood and my wounded pride with that and managed to get to my feet.
Tucker the magnificent was waiting at the gate. He seemed totally unconcerned.
Ah well. It had to happen sooner or later. The frustrating part is that if it hadn't been for the tree branch, I am sure I would have stayed on just fine. It really was not a huge buck, just a most unfortunate one. That doesn't mean it was OK, but I could have ridden it out.
Guess I'll stick to the arena for a while with him. At least there aren't any tree branches in there to do me in.