Monday, October 22, 2018

Oatka* Creek Park Adventure(s)

*Pronounced Oh-ahhht-cuh and not Oat-cuh. APPARENTLY.

We have a gorgeous, sprawling park that's super horse friendly just thirty minutes from the barn. Most of our trail adventures happen there as it goes on forever and you can choose a new trail pretty much every time you're there. I average about two hours on our usual loop, but I can squeeze in a fun ride in an hour or meander for three or four.

But it gets a little boring when you go there every month--sometimes more than once a month--and I wanted to expand our trail riding horizons. I'd taken my puppers to a new park just down the road from the barn's vet office which is about forty minutes away. The trails are really well maintained and I knew horses were allowed. Farrier, who is my go-to for adventure advice as she rides everywhere, said it was a pretty park to ride in and she'd definitely recommend it.

it is indeed really pretty

So last Tuesday BM and I loaded up our horses and hit the road to do some exploring. Everything was going fine until I went to merge onto the interstate and my steering wheel felt stuck. I was like, "Uhh...that's weird? And also probably not okay?"

I kept driving as it turned to the left fine, it just felt tight to the right. Better safe than sorry though, I pulled off at the first exit with a gas station I knew could fit my trailer to check things over. As I made the turn into the parking lot, the steering wheel locked and I had to use all my bodily strength to wrench that bitch out of the way. Needless to say, the power steering was kaput. I popped the hood and there was fluid sprayed everywhere.

patient ponies wondering what sort of adventure this is

Fortunately, BM knew someone who lived just down the road who was promptly able to come and take BM back to the barn to get her truck. I called AAA to tow my truck to the garage down the road from my house, and BM was back just before the tow truck pulled in. We had the trailer dropped, trucks switched out, and both of us back on the road to our respective destinations in about an hour. Obviously it sucked not to be able to go for our ride, but talk about best case scenario!

Plus BM reported that both boys backed out of the trailer like complete gentleman even though she was by herself. And that's why we train our horses to have perfect manners at all times, people.

yeah, you. even if you have to spend an entire winter pulling
your hair out to ensure proper death box etiquette. 

The weather was looking like shit for the foreseeable future--so, like, for the next eight months--but I saw this morning there was a small glimmer of no rain or snow or gale force winds. I'd had a shitty day yesterday, an even shittier night, and I woke up in a foul mood. I figured a good trail ride was just what I needed.

I got the barn done and then spent a good ten minutes going back and forth about a thousand times trying to inch my hitch to my trailer straight. Because that was just how life was going at that point. Finally, well and truly pissed at that point, I got the fucker lined up and connected. I tromped down the aisle, got my horse, loaded him with ease, and then told myself I was going to have fucking fun.

On the drive down, my check engine light suddenly came on and started flashing. I said many curse words, but the truck felt fine and all the gauges looked okay. About ten seconds later it went off and never came back on again. Fuck you, truck.

doesn't care where we go as long as he gets to eat 

I (finally!) managed to make it there without further issue and got Opie unloaded and tacked up. I stopped at the second parking lot to take a picture of the trail map on the off chance I got turned around somewhere, but Opie wanted no part of that. He was ready for adventure time and kept dragging me towards the trail head. Once we got on the trail in the woods he put cruise control on and marched along taking in the sights. Not bad for having three days off on a 45* day.

the fall leaves have been getting blown off the second they change
color so the foliage this year has been pretty weak. 

I had to get off twice. Once when we reached a bunch of exposed, elevated tree roots on a super narrow section that led downhill to a giant boulder face. Opie attempted it, but halfway down thought about aborting. Since we were about two feet from falling off the face of a cliff, I shimmied off and slid down it with him. It was a tricky spot for even a seasoned trail horse so no harm there.

The second spot was heading down a Man from Snowy River type trail that was borderline ridiculous. I half hopped, half sledded down it while Opie plodded along behind me. He's such a good boy about staying out of my space whenever I end up leading him on trails which has happened a few times now as I end up exploring some sketchy places because who needs maps. I ended up staying on foot for awhile because I wasn't sure how the trail would progress, but it certainly looked to be higher on the sketchy scale.

fortunately i was appropriately dressed for hiking since my
new boots don't get here until this afternoon. also i'm pretty
sure that's lichen growing on my right half chap. 

It ended up being not too bad and I got on and rode him back up it on our way back after I got done trying to convince him to play in the creek.

"worst swimming hole ever. hard pass."

We put in a couple of canters, lots of trotting, and even more meandering. Before I knew it, we'd explored literally the entire park.

In an hour.

Whomp whomp.

this just calls for a good canter

After all that, I probably won't be coming back to this park to trail ride. I spent almost as much time driving down there as I did riding. It's pretty, and I'm glad I got to see all of it, but it's better suited for walking doggos than ponies.


  1. Ugh...I get where you are coming from. When I was actively conditioning for endurance and someone told me about a super awesome new trail system that ended up having all of 5 miles of trails (less than an hour of ride time at endurance pace) I was always so disappointed. I need at least 10 miles to make it worth traveling to. Glad nothing bad happened on the way out the second time though.

    1. We maybe covered three miles total with all the looping around and backtracking we did. It's a fun place to get in a mile walk with the dogs, but other than that not worth the drive. Bummer!

  2. You know, for all that trouble, it should have been the most amazing park ever. Sheesh. Hope the truck was joking about that light.
    I'm glad you guys had a decent trail day finally though!

    1. That light better have been nothing because I have to haul two horses to a hunter pace with it this weekend. I do not have time for your shenanigans, truck!

  3. I cant believe how nonchalant you are about your power sterring going out while pulling a horse trailer. I'd be a FREAKING WRECK and my post about it would be mega dramatic. So glad you were able to get help quickly and that it didn't end up being a huge issue. You're inspiring me to to trail ride before it gets too cold though!

    1. I'm super zen when I haul. It makes up for being a mental basket case the rest of my life. :P

  4. Completely unrelated. In my dream last night I was back at my old Rochester barn and finally FINALLY got to ride thru mendon, but like weird dream mendon. It was awesome. Just FYI.

    1. It still blows my mind that you rode within the park and yet NEVER RODE WITHIN THE PARK!!!

  5. Well, at least you got to enjoy it while it lasted?

    1. It put me in a better mood, so worth it for that at least!

  6. I need to find something like this in my area!

  7. Seems like a good ride to me still!!


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