June 8, 2015

Croft State Park 6/5/15

Friday I played hooky at work. I don't talk about work on the blog, but I had to fire an employee on Thursday and it gave me a migraine and made me nauseous. I really didn't like doing it, but man was this person a terrible employee. It just had to be done. In fact, I hadn't even realized how stressed I had become in the month this person worked for me and ever since Thursday I have been in a much better mood with less fatigue. It is amazing what stress does to a body.

I decided that it was time for a day off, so I took Gemmie to Croft State Park for a ride Friday.

Obligatory pre ride pic. I put the fleece leather covers back on and really liked them this time. I think the problem the first time around was my frozen legs at Pow Wow and not the covers.  She is almost looking like a real endurance horse. I just need to figure out the breast collar and she will be all set.

 Took a new to us trail that began alongside the river. Recent rains have filled it back up. The trail  was really soft and squishy and I let Gem just walk along on a loose rein to ease into things.
Single track trail through the trees.  Gem just wanted feeling it this day and I just let her keep walking. I can't remember the last time I just let her walk in the woods with me. Probably over 2 years ago.
The recent rains had caused a lot of fallen trees over the trail too. At one point I had to get off her because the second chunk of the tree was so low I was worried I would get scraped off. She was a really good girl through it all though. Eventually we left the river and dove deeper into the woods and then crossed a paved road to the other side of the state park.

As we moved along I saw this offshoot to a rocky creek. I saw hoof prints and thought that it didn't look very friendly given the rock shelf across it and went on by. About 50 feet later I saw a NO HORSES sign and had to turn around. The riding trail went across the creek.
The creek crossing. Gem was being level headed the entire time and didn't give me any reason to believe she wouldn't cross, but I was alone and didn't know 100% where I was in relation to the quickest way back to the parking lot. If Dusty had been hiking there I would have asked her to cross with me on board, but when I am completely alone I tend to be more cautious. I got off and led her across. She didn't balk one time unlike our last outing where she flat out refused to cross by that black anti erosion material.
2 hours into the ride I got off to give her back a break. We had basically walked the entire time and I was getting sore from it. I swear walking is way harder on me than trotting.  Gem enjoyed the break and moseyed along behind me.
While I was on foot I happened to look down and see this guy. He was very long and thankfully heading the opposite direction. I should probably learn my snake species because there are black snakes that I think are poisonous. He seemed unconcerned with us and we walked on by.
I got back on her and we trotted a little to get moving a bit. The trail plopped us out at this little beauty. This is Lake Johnson and was really pretty. I looked around for a place to get Gem wet, but the banks were all super steep and the water dropped off quickly.
More Lake Johnson
The trail along Lake Johnson was pretty perfect. I asked Gem to move out here and she refused. It wasn't in a pig headed cranky way, but in an odd way for her. Typically she will move off my leg well and be all fidgety or spooky if she isn't feeling it, but this day she just plumb wouldn't get going. It wasn't hot out. She had peed three times already so maybe she was in heat and just didn't have the energy? Either way, since she was being polite about it I didn't push it and we continued to enjoy the scenery at a walk.
I had wanted 10 miles and studied the map prior to getting on. There are several smaller loops that interconnect and by the time we left Lake Johnson to head into the woods again I thought we were about 1-2 miles away. The trail came across an intersection and I looked to my right to see this sign. I laughed and apologized to Gemmie telling her that I must have missed something and we were actually doing 15.
Before I turned right I looked down the trail towards and left and saw this sign. Gem lucked out that I did!
There were quite a few climbs on this trail that were very rocky. By this point we were 9 miles in and she continued to not be herself. I began to worry that she was foot sore. I hopped off and hand walked her up this gravel hill to give her a break. She seemed to appreciate it and I watched her legs closely. Nothing was off and she was heel first landing, but wasn't walking off with as much confidence as usual.
This is Lake Craig. This is the normal trail we hike on with the dogs and Wyatt. I often times will see boats out on this lake.
The sandy lane that goes along the lake. To the left of the picture is the lake and to the right is a creek. Both sides are super steep and while I am tempted to gallop down it, a single spook could take us head over heels over the edge.
At the far end of the lane is this. Gem hates this. It is a large drain that empties the lake to the creek on the other side of the lane. It is super loud and hidden around the bend. She walked past it this time without too much of an issue, but the first time I tried she was a mess.
We ended up back at the barn. I believe the barn has 30+ stalls and can be rented out for use daily or overnight. There is a camp ground area for rigs too that is about 1/4 mile or less down the road. As far as I know you can't personally camp outside the camp area, so no primitive camping with your horse. There are three large grassy day parking areas that would be excellent for camping, but I am not sure if they would allow overnight use of those or not. I would love to put on an endurance ride here.
10 miles and 3 hours 45 minutes later we arrived back at the trailer. It was very slow going and I can't remember the last time we walked that much. At the end I think she was either in heat, foot sore or bored of going out alone. I contacted a local endurance friend and made plans to ride next weekend together so I can see how Gem moves then. 


  1. The snake was probably a black racer, though it's hard to tell from the pic. And I could be wrong but (as far as I know) the only black-ish poisonous snake in the US is the water moccasin. They rarely run and usually have a very obvious Hitler-stache. I hope Gem feels perkier during your ride this coming weekend.

    1. I was thinking that black poisonous snakes live in water, but wasn't sure. This one seemed to not really mind us being there and didn't turn around to face us at any point, so I figured he just wanted to be left alone.