My friend MS and I have been here at Jerome Creek for two nights now. She's staying tonight as well, and then tomorrow heading for home on the flight from Moscow/Pullman, which we know is an oasis of civility in the maelstrom of modern air travel (i.e. short necessary check-in time and, more importantly, a lovely free glass of wine in the air). My goal, which I set when I was here back in July, was for us to take a long ride up to the top of East Gold Hill, packing a lunch and spending five or six hours. I have done a lot of obsessive mulling of trail choices and directions, and worried over the question of water, and where to leave the two middle-aged labs, who would not be joining us, for such a long period of time.
Yesterday, she and I and the four dogs drove partway up Gold Hill for a recon mission and discovered a massive downed tree blocking our first choice in paths. It seemed that we would be able to find another way, though, and so we determined to do it. Snickers, after recovering from her cystic stone bruise of earlier in the summer, has lost a lot of her physical fitness and so we decided to not, after all, take her.
But then, yesterday evening as we were returning to home, just across the road from the gate, Sikem (who I was riding) lost his footing in the gloaming and went down on his knees in the gravel road, skinning them both. He immediately stood up, and I immediately jumped off and checked to make sure he had not been seriously injured. He was not limping, and seemed to be fine, although he had some not-insignificant scrapes. MS dismounted too, and we all walked the last ½ mile home. I sponged Sikem's knees and slathered them in Bag Balm for the night, and this morning he definitely looked better.
Nevertheless, both Shadow and Sikem's feet are very long at the moment, because the shoes that they got more than two months ago are still on. I thought they were going to be off by now, but they're not, and so they have been over-stepping, back feet kicking front feet when they stride up hills (actually, Sikem frequently does this even when his feet are shorter, but Shadow doesn't). I was a little concerned that the extra-long hooves might be hard on the horses for a long day, the first half of it steeply uphill.
I fell asleep last night worrying over what to do about the labs, which is perhaps why Spackle, just after 1 am, fell off the bed with a loud bang. It scared me awake, and it really scared Hoover and Sadie, who were both on the floor. I turned on the light and Sadie leapt into my arms to be comforted. I got her and Hoover situated again on their dog beds on the floor, and lifted Spackle back up on the bed with me (he showed no inclination to stay on the floor, somewhat surprisingly), where I allowed him to stretch out horizontally across the middle, as he is generally wont to do (for good reason, it turns out).
Anyway, I had been jolted out of the wrong cycle of sleep and couldn't find it again until after 3am, but in my tossings and turnings I decided that the best idea about today's ride was to take it relatively easy, with the two mares, and save my really ambitious ride for another day. MS is happy being here at all, and has no complaints about a 2 ½-hour ride through wilderness.
And so, I listened to the Universe, and I think dogs and horses are all going to be better for it.