“Where should we ride this year?” I asked Walter as he was trimming the horses hooves early one morning this Spring. After a quiet moment came his straight-to-the-point reply, “Passage Creek.”
A great idea. Passage Creek winds through the north end of the beautiful Massanutten Mountain, the 35-mile long mountain that cuts the Shenandoah Valley in half. I grew up riding in those mountains in and around New Market, but knew little of the north end. He said he would pick up a map at the Rangers Station in Edinburg and get the details. With the trail picked and the date already set, it was time to invite riders and seek sponsors.
A week before the ride is our pre-trail ride. We always pre-ride the trails so as to inform ourselves and the riders of the lay-out of the parking area, the general nature of the trail and the surroundings. It removes the questions of the unknown. Indeed, one of the riders this year was concerned over the winding road leading to the trail-head. She drives a big truck with a 27′ trailer behind. I assured her she would be fine as we had been there with our rigs. Knowing we had been and the detailed instructions eased her concern.
Six riders met bright and early at the trail-head on the pleasant morning of June 14, 2014. Horses are curious with new trailers and horses. They whinny, hold heads high, and show a great interest in their surroundings and activities. It is an exciting time. Our riders introduced themselves, horses nickered to one another, and pretty quick Walter called for one of the riders to lead out. Starting out on trail is always filled with many questions of each ones mount: their name, age and breeding. Trail riding makes meeting new folks easier; we all have something to look at and talk about!
Walter is a brave man. He is the only man on this ride. Except for the one ride his son, Wally, joined us on (see “A Boy and His Pony” blog posted July 29, 2012), he has always been the only man. We pick on him unmercifully!
This ride was the toughest and longest one yet. We crossed a pristine mountain creek four times. The water was clear and cold, the horses carefully picked their way through the stone bed. It had this “far away” feel to it back in those mountains. Walter was right, it would be easy to get lost back there. The trail eventually dead-ended for us. As far as we were able to see only rocks and riverbed lay before us. We turned around and re-traced our hoof-prints back to the trailers.
Breaking out of the woods and into the parking lot marked the end of this trail. And who was “waiting” for us? A black bear cub! Only those in front saw the cub as it ambled back in the safety of the underbrush of the mountain. We never saw the momma.
Over 10 miles, 3 hours later from the time we started out the horses had their rub-downs, apples and carrots. We enjoyed blueberry muffins and last bit chatting before loading horses and heading home—happy.
Happy for many reasons. Horses and man were meant to spend time together, being with and making new friends is special, and raising money to help AbbaCare of Winchester reach out to help and support young people caught with an unexpected pregnancy to choose life is a privilege. So we here at Blue Rock Horses wish thank our riders, sponsors, and silent-auction buyer:
Mackintosh Fruit Farm
Apples’n Bits 4H Horse and Service Club
The Vogler Family
Mr. & Mrs. Hickman
Silent auction buyer: Mrs. Shank
We thank you all most sincerely,
Blue Rock Horses
Clarke County, Virginia
For more information on AbbaCare of Winchester, Virginia
Call 540-665-9660 or visit AbbaCare.org