An innate sense of direction …

…is not something I came equipped with. Its a bit of a joke, but we are getting to the point where – combined with my intense relationship with Murphy’s law – it is getting to be a bit sad. We set off today with the intention of a one hour drive to do a 1 1/2 – 2 hour trail ride. Easy peasy right? One would have thought, but we decided to “beer budget dressage-it”.

I got some directions from the person we were meeting, double checked those with mapquest and my phone’s GPS. Everything was in sync. We loaded Rio, Tas, and Liberty (because who doesn’t trail ride a Belgian draft horse) and set out up the hill. When we left, we were discussing how much we disliked hauling up and down our very steep hill. However, by the end of the afternoon, our perspectives would be vastly expanded.

All went well for the first 20-30 minutes until we got to the first detour and made the mistake of following it. After that it was nothing but a circuitous trip downhill. The phones could not “re-calculate” anything other than the original route – the road we needed was just the other side of the detour because we drove back to check and see. We ended up pulling over and I walked down to the bridge under construction and got some insight from the construction workers. That got us a lot further (in the right direction) than other options and attempts. However, karma a/k/a Murphy wasn’t done yet. We got stuck with construction two more times and then got stuck behind trucks painting new lines on the road. (Sucka’s- my trailer is eight feet wide on your teensy little back road – those lines were smudged within seconds!). Several phones calls to the person that we were traveling to and we were back on track. until …(cue the banjo’s)….

We are coming down the slightly-more-than-one-lane-but-certainly-not-two-lanes gravel goat path/road and there was a large work truck parked on the side of the road. A SmartCar would not have fit around and we certainly were not. Two elderly men were standing there chatting..and chatting..and despite some long looks and waving…chatting. Finally I put the window down and announce that we cannot get past them and they need to move the truck. One of the elderly men hobbles over, pulls a wheel chalk out from behind his wheels, gets in and moves the truck ahead ten feet and maybe over a foot. He hobbles back and puts the wheel chalk in place. I put my head back out the window and state that I am not certain that will give us enough room and then started to try and squeak by. The driver comes over to the window and starts to explain that he was having transmission troubles. I indicated that I was sorry to hear that and tried to continue to inch the trailer forward. The fellow then continues on with what garage I should avoid for transmission work, etc. I explain that my horses have been on the trailer for a long time and that my friend is standing in the road ahead and is waiting on me. The erstwhile sufferer of transmission troubles now leans in the drivers window to continue the saga. I explain that I don’t want to run him over but that I really had to keep going. He walked along a few steps and we finally cleared his truck and were able to go faster than a snails pace. I have to admit that one flabbergasted me and I was really trying to avoid just yelling in desperation to “Shut Up and Let Me Pass!” Why potentially running him over seemed less rude than yelling is debatable but I was stressed and tired and wanted my poor horses off the trailer.

Since we were late, we offered the horses water and promptly tacked up and headed out on what we thought would be a reasonable length trail ride (we are pansy trail riders). The first hour and a half passed pleasantly. All three horses that we bought are pretty cheerful stoic trail ponies. They however are used to strolling along rails to trails or doing conditioning trots along well groomed trails and access roads. Steep hills are rare and short at home. In what seemed to be the extreme backwoods of NW PA, this is not the case. When we realized that there was another hour or so to go, we got a little sad for our going to be tired ponies and our own backsides. Our host had cheerfully announced that she had an excellent sense of direction and never gets lost. We warned her not to say that in our presence as it would tempt fate. As the next trail we went down was the wrong one, we had to retrace our steps. Then a new pasture had blocked one the trails and we went through a field that gave definition to the term “rugged terrain”. At that point I was so glad I had brought my husbands horse instead of Ries. I promptly felt guilty about that, but I know that my farrier agrees with me.

Really, it was a nice ride. At the same time, while I may wonder whether I am more of an event rider or a dressage rider, I know that an endurance rider is not my calling. The horses were great and got a little bute in their dinner to make certain they are feeling okay tomorrow. The ride home promised to be easier – it had to be..right?

Like you need to guess – of course not. The road/driveway/ditch combination made a left turn really difficult. Our host told us we could just go right and just down the road take the next right and it would get us where we were going. Which technically it did – after ten miles of white knuckle driving. If you have ever ridden a roller coaster you know the feeling you have cresting the first big hill on the ride. I love roller coasters, but doing that with a horse trailer is not fun. The only thing that helped was we were on a paved slightly-more-than-one-lane-but-certainly-not-two-lanes road. It looked like something out of an extreme RV-ing comedy sketch only it was not funny. I was busy staring at the road and riding the break controller on the trailer and putting the truck in low gear. Tas and Rio’s riders were sitting on the passenger side and got the adrenaline inducing views of the very steep drop on the other side of an optimistic guardrail.

We got through, found diesel fuel, got some snacks and carried on. Ten feet into that portion of the drive Siri changed her mind on which way to travel on Rt 6. We were able to pull a quick u-turn in a garage parking lot much to the surprise of the fellow being pushed by a forklift in an Explorer. We waved apologetically as we tried very hard not to occupy the same space and then awkwardly had to wait several moments for traffic to clear and for us to vacate his parking lot.

Five minutes of smooth sailing progressed before we ended up behind some very large field equipment and proceeded at a pace that would have allowed the fellow with the transmission issues to walk along and finish his story. Several times throughout this process we wondered if we were on some sort of  hidden camera reality show.

We finally made it home and promised the horses that it was hopefully a once in a lifetime experience. I got the trailer unhooked and came in the house for a much deserved cold beer….only to open the refrigerator and find that it was all gone.

Beer budget dressage y’all.

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