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What to do with all of this extra oxygen

What to do with all of this extra oxygen

I didn’t realize how much I took it for granted but I learned this week that east Tennessee has a luxurious amount of oxygen. Business took me to Denver last week and since Colorado is a long way from Tennessee, I had to fly in the day before to be there in time for a morning meeting Wednesday. As luck would have it, frequent readers Laura and Rich live in Denver and it just so happened there was a window of opportunity for me to meet up with them for a quick ride, barn tour and dinner. So I left home in my barn jeans and favorite riding boots, hoping that the smell of the farm on my boots wasn’t too strong. I’m not sure I notice it as much anymore but surely my fellow passengers would. Surprisingly, going through security was easier in my boots. No untying of shoes; just slip off and back on at the other side.

Now we live what’s called the western lifestyle on our farm but everything is definitely more western out west. Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona…it’s easier feeling western out there and that heritage is reflected all over the place. The Denver airport had western-styled shops, the entrance to the airport had a giant blue bronco, reared up and angrily staring at travelers entering the airport grounds. It’s eyes even glowed red. The local magazines spoke of rodeos and even my hotel had a western theme. I had been to Denver before but that was before horses were a part of our lives and this time I felt more welcome.

Colorado ridingLaura met me at the barn and introduced me to my borrowed ride “Socks”, a gelding who was calm enough to use in a youth equine program. Many thanks to his owner, whose name escapes me but who interestingly visits east Tennessee once a year not 30 minutes from where we live. I hope to reciprocate with a Tennessee ride with her next summer. Laura lent me her 16 inch saddle which fit me perfectly. We tacked up and headed out. We tested the horses in a large outdoor arena and once we were satisfied with their disposition that day, we headed out past the barn. I lucked out again with the weather. Laura and Rich tell me the weather can fluctuate a lot this time of year and on this day it just happened to be 75 and very pleasant. Perfect riding weather. Laura and I toured the countryside, avoiding prairie dog holes (which are quite large). Only two scary things attacked us: man hole covers (why do they use suck threatening devices?) and a jogger, if you can believe it. I saw her in the distance and warned Laura but once the horses realized something was sneaking up on us, they became unnerved. I didn’t mind and was expecting it. With horses, no matter how experienced the horse is, the rider must be prepared for reactions to things the horse perceives as a threat. And Laura is far more experienced than I am so this was no big deal. In fact Laura suggested the right response, which was for us to turn the horses so they could see what was coming up behind us. The jogger even came over gently so the horses could sniff her.

The beautiful sun set over the Rockies so we put the horses up and headed out for dinner. Rich wasn’t able to join us for the ride (darn work getting in the way of recreation!) but we met up for dinner at a restaurant serving tapas called The 9th Door in downtown Denver. Tapas is an appetizer style meal where you order a bunch of items and then share. It’s a lot fancier than any meal I’ve had where I live and I appreciated the unusual dining experience.

I love it when I can combine my love of horses with a business trip and this was one of those rare opportunities to do so. Thanks to Laura and Rich for an afternoon of fun and fellowship and I hope Mikki and the kid can come out to meet you both on a future visit. We’d love to reciprocate if you’re ever in east Tennessee.

My five hour trail ride mistake

My five hour trail ride mistake

Oh, my aching back, legs, rear, etc.! Saturday we spent a wonderful day riding horses next to a beautiful lake. This was supposed to be the day we got Moonshine back to try her new riding skills but due to the incident from a few days ago (Moonshine gets hit by a car), she’s on the injured list and wasn’t ridable. In her place I rode my backup horse, Sinbad, a well broke, ridable by almost anyone kind of horse, 25 years old and still full of energy. Mikki and I met up with our horse friend Shari, Lance (the guy training Moonshine) and some other horse owners. Shari and Lance were kind enough to pick up Valentine and Moonshine on their horse trailers (we need one of those!) and off we went for a day of riding. Now I knew I’d be a little sore because I use a cheap saddle and haven’t ridden any distance in 6 months or so. But five hours later, my rump we tender and I was ready to call it a day. Today, Sunday, I could barely get out of bed. I just may have overdone it. Perhaps we ought to bump a hot tub up on the priority list for future purchases!

Notes from the trip:

  1. Mikki’s horse Valentine LOVES the water. He was splashing around on it like a little kid. We were all pretty concerned he’d want to roll in it.
  2. When there are 11 horses together on a trail ride, it makes sense that some of them won’t get along. We had to rearrange horses a few times. For example, Sinbad is a tailgater and the horse in front of us was a kicker. Not a good combo!
  3. Horses are very good at walking over downed trees, though some like to jump over them.
  4. Fearing her own weight was giving her horse trouble navigating through some deep water, Shari bailed into the drink and emerged horseless and soaking wet. Her horse was easily caught and she finished the trip still wet.
  5. Cheap saddles make for sore butts on long rides. According to my body, five hours is considered “long”. You get what you pay for in saddles, apparently.

We’ll definitely head back to this area soon. I’m looking for a new saddle and possibly the add-on gel pads to hold me over. And hopefully a future trip will include Moonshine.

Below are some more pictures from the ride. Yeah, warm weather!