Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Trip to the Sand Pits

We are getting our first real cold snap now. I guess it's par for the course, being mid November and all. The best part about it cooling off is the lack of insects. Prime forest riding season is just beginning. Another season that is just beginning? Hunting season. Deer hunting specifically. The Croatan can be hunted every day except Sunday, and quite a few people take advantage of this privilege. When hunting is an issue, but I still want to get in the woods, an alternative trail is the sand pits. That's what my husband and I refer to it as anyway. The rest of the boarders call it "the woods" but my husband used to go 4 wheeling on these same paths as a teenager and he says the neighborhood folk call it the sand pits. 

It was around 55 degrees out, and I am cold natured, so I put on my fleece Kerrits and headed off to the barn around 2 in the afternoon. I couldn't believe my eyes when Razz greeted me at the gate. I usually have to cross a huge pasture to grab him because his little herd likes to graze at the farthest point from the barn. Once I brought him in and started grooming I see he has acquired a few extra pounds lately. When did this happen Razz? I didn't notice it yesterday when I was holding you for the farrier. 

we may have to cut you back to half a scoop buddy

I finish my grooming ritual, which is very thorough and takes close to an hour, and get all tacked up. No saddle bags needed today because my husband is hiking with me. We both love to hike so it is not an issue to persuade him to join me. We leave the barn property when we cross the bridge over Shoe Branch.

this bridge is a really nice touch to the farm
It takes about 10 or 15 minutes to get to the sand pits on the shoulder of two paved roads. They aren't super busy with traffic but a lot of people drive fast. Fortunately the shoulder is large enough that I feel comfortable riding them. 

just making sure you're still back there babe :)

almost there, just ahead on the left

I get to the sand pit entrance first. My husband is always about 20 yards behind me. Which means even though we're together we are really on two different hikes, both lost in our own thoughts. The entrance is kinda dark. Razz marches right in just like a brave little trail pony should. 

we're goin' in (no his ears aren't funky, they're covered in bug repellent just in case)

From the moment you get in the woods its obvious why this is called the sand pits. Its a new growth forest, and its thriving in deep white sand. I'm guessing there are forty acres here, give or take. The bugs are almost nonexistent. Thank you cold snap :)

we're going left

Today the woods are quiet. Razz is doing his usual look and sniff as we walk along. The sand is good footing to ride when you're horse is barefoot. I used to keep him shod all the way around but the new barn doesn't allow shoes. I will probably pick up some easyboots or something similar before its all said and done. For now we are good though. As I ride the thought of how chubby my pony has gotten enters my mind again. Looking down at his sides I can't help but notice the small trace of appaloosa in his winter coat. A few white spots above the big whorl on his hind quarters. They are on both sides, but the chestnut is drowning them out this time of year. Summer coat has way more white flecking on his rumps, but still not enough to make a legit appy blanket.

good pony

the only trace of his appy roots
There are several trails that fork left and right, sometimes you get to intersections with three options. Anyone coming in here the first time needs a guide and a good sense of direction to make it easy on themselves in the future. We covered a few dead end trails, and I whistled loudly just in case there was a hunter hidden somewhere. Eventually we came back around to the main loop trail. To loop around without backtracking the same route we have to skirt across the edge of an apartment complex. The land the apartments are on used to be part of the woods. They were built about five years ago. A group of skateboarders was in the parking lot and they seemed a little shocked to see me and Razz pop out of the woods. We cut across, no problem.

coming up on the apartments

just passing thru

and headed back into the woods

We get back into the woods and continue on our way. There are lots of deer tracks and shoe prints in the sand here. There are deer prints all over the woods, but shoe prints only in this area. I figure it is apartment dwellers walking their dogs but strangely there are no dog prints. I begin whistling once more. Better safe than sorry. By now its roughly 4:30 and the deer become active around this time. So do the hunters. There aren't supposed to be any hunters in here but someone could go rogue, you never know.  The husband is still trucking right along too, on his own quest scanning the path for sharks teeth.

yep, still back there

At this point Razz picks up the pace a little bit. It's the headed home walk that all horseback riders are familiar with. The sun is getting lower in the sky. I am not ready to leave the solace of the woods quite yet, so I soak up the last half mile I have left in here. Eventually we make our way back to the beginning of the loop trail and out of the sand pits.

the beginning of the loop, going right is the trail we just covered, straight leads out

out of the sand pits, back onto paved roads
For a good portion of our ride back to the barn I was on the buckle. My pony felt really good stretched out underneath me. He maintained his homeward bound pace, but never broke a walk. I love him. Once we leave the road I use a grassy path that runs alongside Razz's pasture to get back to the barn. The sun is really starting to set and it casts a nice glow. Razz calls out to his herd letting them know he's back. I thank mother nature for her gift of a beautiful day and pleasant ride in the woods. We cross the bridge and our ride has come to an end. The hubs goes on up to the truck and tailgates while I untack and feed my pony his fruit salad treat of carrots and apples before turning him out with his buddies. 
coming home on the buckle

almost back, what a lovely evening

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