March 21, 2016

King's Mountain Ride

I apologize right off the bat for no pictures. My hands were warmly tucked into my gloves which are apparently not touch screen compatible. 

The hunter pace got cancelled again last weekend. I don't know what is gong on with the season. On the plus side, it saves me some money so there is that. Saturday was a gorgeous sunny day with a mild breeze and we spent the afternoon at the barn so Dusty could get Pete out. He has lost a good bit of weight since moving him and now he just needs exercise to tone up. We are really hoping to lease him out this summer to a friend of the BO which would help us with board costs and help Pete get some exercise.

The BO was busy mending fences and I mentioned to her that I would be trailering out the next day to ride if she wanted to come with. She was game and so Sunday morning Gem and Tristan found themselves heading to King's Mountain for a 20 mile ride.

Gem was hilarious. BO has opened up a new section for them which abuts her geldings' pasture so that they can talk over the fence and it gives them access to a small shelter as well. Most of the time, all four horses are chilling near each other. I pulled in, screamed my typical hello and then proceeded to go behind the barn to hook up the trailer. Gem watched me like a hawk and as I was hooking everything up, I heard thundering hooves as she took off snorting to the other end of her pasture. The BO laughed and asked if I wanted some treats to get her.

I never bribe my horse to come to me mostly because it doesn't work but also because I don't want Gem coming to me just because I have food. In fact, I rarely give her treats at all these days. After I loaded the trailer up with my tack and made room for BO I went to get Gem. She was hiding behind a small strand of trees. I called for her and she went screaming past me snorting and farting and carrying on. I turned and stood still watching her as she pranced, tail flagged. About a minute or so later, without me moving a muscle, she came trotting over to me and stood as I patted her head and put the bridle on her. She just always needs to have her opinion heard.

Bonus with having to make room in my extremely messy trailer (hey, it happens when you live out of it for all riding needs and have no access to a tack room for over a year): I found my red mohair girth!! I thought I had lost it back at the Clemson Equathon debacle last fall, but it apparently just fell into the dark recesses of the trailer and then got covered in hay. Yay!!

King's Mountain is a great little trail system. It only has one trail for horse use which online states is 20 miles in one description and 15 miles in another, both written by the State Park Foundation. The trail head is beautiful with a generous area for parking, a bathroom and a handicap accessible mounting block. There were several other trailers already parked when we arrived around 9:30 am. I decided to forgo the bit and just use the side pull since we had company along.

The trail is like a lollipop with about a 1.5 mile section of "stick" common trail leading away and back to the trail head and then a long "sucker" circle portion. The only other time I had been there, I rode out about 5 miles to a picnic area and then headed back, so I was excited to see the entire thing this time.

The trail began with bowling ball sized rocks which the horses picked around carefully. From there it narrowed down to a single track trail with mostly hard packed dirt footing with areas of large rocks mixed in. We covered the ground in a steady trot for mile after mile. The trail is nice in that it is rarely ever flat. While there are some steeper climbs/descents the trail is mostly rolling hills up or down the entire way. The BO, an eventer, was getting tired of posting and endless trot work when we came upon a lovely double wide section with no rocks and she looked back to ask if we could open it up a bit. I was more than game and we headed off at a nice little hand gallop.

From there we crossed several streams and continued to chat as the miles went by. At one point Tristan put on the breaks and snorted. Coming towards us was a whole pack of hikers, probably boy scouts, and he was none too sure about the back packs they were lugging. A big bonus of having a toddler is that Gem is pretty much accustomed to all sorts of weird gear including kid carrying back packs, strollers and wagons and she barely batted an eye.

Once those monsters were passed us, we carried on like before walking where the trail became super rocky, trotting most of it, and cantering where able.

It wasn't long before we reached the picnic area I had turned around at before and I knew we were about 5 miles out.

Gem was still going strong at the end although she was getting a bit snarky about 2 miles from the end. I was getting a little worried about her thinking maybe all the rocks had caused her to be sore or worse a stone bruise, but then she peeled off the trail and emptied her bladder with the most melodramatic moan of all time. Mareface hates to pee under saddle and will typically go in her pasture when she sees me coming, but didn't take the time to do so that morning.

The last two miles were back along the bowling ball sized rocks and we picked our way back. Both horses were barely sweaty at all and neither looked overly tired at the end. Gem was starving though. She had started to look for anything edible along the trail around mile 7 or 8 and once back at the trailer she devoured her hay bag in record time. Tristan barely touched his and she was greedily eying it up when I unloaded her back home.

My Garmin read about 13 miles, which given the history of using it means it was more likely 15 miles. We finished it in just over 2 1/2 hours which I was pleased with given the need to walk a good bit and the stops for the backpackers.

I typically don't feed Gem right before a ride. The feed won't be usable energy by the time we are finished riding and we leave early enough in the morning that she generally had breakfast within a couple of hours of loading up. She always gets feed at the end, but if she continues to get hungry while out on trail, I may begin to give her a smidge before we head out.

I forgot to take some salt with me to make a salt water bucket for after the ride. It wasn't really needed anyway given the weather and the tiny bit of sweat she produced under the saddle, so I am not sure she would have even drank it. I want to start getting her used to it before the May ride though.

It was a fantastic day out on the trails with good company, both horse and rider and I know Gem always appreciates the mental break that having another horse brings.



  1. I always feed TC Senior and oats at the trailer, along with alfalfa. I like giving Ashke his choice and I believe it helps cut down on stomach acid, which leads to ulcers. (I discussed this in depth with Saiph due to girthing issues). Ashke does not ever gorge, and the combination seems to keep him going regardless of distance. He can eat whatever is left (usually at least half, maybe a touch less) when we return, but most often he snatches a couple of mouthfuls and watches whats going on around us.

  2. I think I may follow suit. She gets free hay on the trailer ride plus I then tie the bag for her outside the trailer while I tack. This has been enough in the past but she was certainly hungry during the ride. No change in her performance or willingness to move out but she was trying to snatch anything she could get. She is a super good water on trail but the woods we've been riding in have minimal offerings for grazing. Some feed pre ride is a good idea.