I arrived earlier than I had told Sherrie I would, but I had forgotten that she said she wouldn’t be here till evening. I am not that organized with my notes I guess. But it was no big deal, I called her and she told me how to get into the property. I turned the mares out, they look good. There is no legal camping here, just trail rides for the public. There are about 7 horse camps in this area tho. The volunteers for the trail rides sleep in “snooze cabins” which are 2 pop ups in the barn. Or they go home if they live nearby, like Rick does. He works for the DNR here as well. He spent quite a bit of time talking to me and is super nice. Sherrie has been teaching him how to ride in exchange for his time working for her. He also gave me a trail map and explained it. I may go out riding with him, he knows these trails quite well.
Sherrie has rescued a ton of horses, she now has 35. They all earn their keep by doing trail rides here on the summer weekends, and at her other place in Pinckney (pronounced pink knee) the rest of the time. She hauls them back and forth with several trailers. I think there are about 20 at this location right now. She is very knowledgeable about horse training and care. She is Jo-Jo’s sister whom I met when I was at High Knob in Shawnee, IL. The two of them just got back from a ride in South Dakota.
I walked Tommy some and then just hung out and got to know some of the volunteers and Sherrie for the rest of the day. Sherrie has a black lab also, his name is Jackson and he is Tommy’s best friend now. When they first discovered each other it was so cute, they just stood and stared at one another for several minutes, like they were looking in a mirror.
As it got dark, I settled in and read more of The Book Thief, which has finally gotten me hooked into it. It is very disturbing to read about Nazi Germany. It probably wasn’t such a good choice for me right now, but it does make me thankful that I am living here and now and not there and then. I had a fitful sleep with a lot of disturbing dreams, probably inspired by my reading material.
This morning Sherrie came by to say that she was going to get a couple more horses that the farrier was shoeing back at her other place. She offered to throw my laundry in her washer while she was home. Wow, that was really nice, I have a huge bag full of dirty clothes at this point.
While I was updating my blog up near the barn where I had a better signal, I met a guy that drove in. He is from Stuart, FL and just retired. He has been coming to Sherrie to learn about horses. He wants to get his own horses for his grandchildren. Wow, what a nice grandpa.
I took Tommy for a long walk on the trails since I knew he couldn’t ride with me here. Too many rangers and the rule is they must be on a 6’ leash which is impossible on a horse. I’m used to this by now, all state and federal parks are like this. It was a pretty hiking trail we went on that went thru a wetland where I could hear a ton of ducks or geese, I’m not sure what they were, I never saw them.
I started the PA painting. I turned on the generator long enough to print out a photo to use. I’m not supposed to turn it on at all here. I picked a difficult shot to use. I’ll have to work on it again tomorrow. There is a lot going on in the picture, several horses, stalls, lots of light filtering thru the tree tops…too much probably for such a small canvas.
I went out for a ride on Wildflower with Karen (from the hunt club) and Lynn. Both riding Sherrie’s horses. I booted all 4 feet. Most of the footing was sand but there were some seriously rocky areas, but not sharp pointy rocks. I didn’t have enough time to rasp down her feet so they didn’t look like they would stay on, but they did. I have noticed lately that WF has some flare on her front toes at the ground now, less than 1/2 inch high. Not sure what that’s from, it could still be from the alfalfa I fed from Idaho to Kentucky which was last October. I thought it was all grown out but apparently not. The hoof wall above it looks much tighter and at a better angle. We passed quite a few other riders from the other camps. It is a holiday weekend after all. I don’t know how long we were out, I was just enjoying the freedom of not having to worry about getting lost. Wildflower behaved very well, and got thoroughly sweaty. She was still filthy from the PA tantrum so I sponged off most of the dirt and sweat and she looks her pretty self again.
Getting her ready to ride was kind of scary tho. I had her tied to my trailer to saddle and boot. She kept spinning around and fussing, partly cuz Dreamy was calling for her and partly because of the trailer right next to us. She was deathly afraid of the big old trailer, and I don’t blame her, it is kind of scary looking. Sherrie hauls with the doors tied open. I can’t imagine what other drivers on the road must think when they see it. I don’t just mean head openings, full door length doors, open with a chest bar keeping them inside. Its quite big and rusty too. When I first saw it I thought I really should put my glasses on, I must not be seeing this right. It is parked right along side of my rig to hide the fact that I am staying in a trailer and “camping” here.
After the ride I went to a local feed store with Pam to stock up on Nutrena. I still haven’t unhitched the trailer (the last time I did was at the NY camp, same with pulling out the awning, its just too much effort lately), so Pam took me in her car. I have enough now for the rest of the trip. Pam told me about her family and how she got her adult kids (and grandchildren) to move out of their house. They sold it and moved to a tiny house. She also talked about her horse and how her husband gave him to her when she graduated (recently) to become a medical assistant. Right now she is a school bus driver but is hoping to land a job that she just interviewed for in a pediatrician’s office. Every one here is very friendly and open like this. On the way back we stopped for a large bag of ice because 3 of them were doing the ALS Ice bucket challenge.
I watched as all 30 some horses were fed grain and then let out to pasture with hay piles. The ice bucket challenge was next, and of course they nominated others and the ice was all scooped up and it was done 2 more times to others. Sherrie was iced twice. I don’t understand how ALS benefits from this fad but I was told that their donations have increased dramatically, maybe just thru awareness?? Luckily no one nominated me. Tommy kept stealing the ice cubes off the ground, he loves ice. Then we all ate dinner together. There was a big assortment of food laid out in the kitchen in the old barn.
They have those huge flies we experienced at the NY overnight here too. They call them B52’s or bombers. Most of the horses go crazy when one comes near them.
All of Sherrie’s horses are rescues. Some of their stories are horrific. The one that is haunting me involves a roping horse that won a championship, the rider tied him to his trailer, celebrated by getting drunk and then drove off forgetting that the horse was tied to the trailer. Miraculously the horse survived being dragged I don’t know how far. Needless to say, this horse can not ever be tied to anything any more. I hope the bastard went to jail.
I want to mention that I feel quite peaceful lately. I can’t explain it but it is very comfortable for me here. I don’t feel any pressure to do anything or perform any way. I feel totally accepted for who I am. I’m not sure when this started, it was before I got to Michigan, maybe at my NY overnight? I’m not worrying about the horses or Tommy or my tire pressures or the generator working or my future. Everything is just kind of flowing along. I am in the trailer with Tommy and Nalla by my side, typing with a couple of candles burning. The crickets outside are very loud. I can hear Tommy dreaming. I am stinky and sticky and have a bunch of mosquito bites but none of this is irritating. My back aches from moving around the bags of feed I bought but it is not painful. This is really nice.
This morning I rode with a trail ride group at 8:30 on Dreamy. I think it was about an hour and a half long, walk only. There was a nice young newly wed couple, the guide, Pam and another regular here on his own horse. It went thru some meadows and into the woods, the footing here is fantastic, sand/dirt, not hard packed and not real deep and soft either. Of course its not all like that but most of it is. There are a ton of people on the trails on horses yet the trails are in great shape. Dreamy was dreamy. While we were out I guess one of the other horses broke into Wildflower’s area and there was some ruckus going on. No one got kicked I was told, hmmm, that surprises me. Wildflower is a kicker.
I finished the painting, but I really just got bored with it. Then I walked Tommy for a long walk. Again we saw a lot of riders out there. I had to keep clipping his leash on and stepping aside. This park is heavily utilized.
I planned my route and gas stops for tomorrow and called in a few overnight reservations & confirmations. The day is passing so slowly. Its pretty warm and very humid. I had heard it was going to rain but nothing yet and its after 3 already. I finished The Book Thief last night so I’m actually getting bored. This is a first on this trip. I could go out and ride again but I will be hauling the next 3 days and that’s not really fair to my mares.
I hung around watching a ride get ready to go out. One woman had on spandex pants (and she shouldn’t have worn them anywhere) and platform sandals. Her toenails were polished pink and she had on big sunglasses and was smoking. They get a lot of those kind of folks here to ride. She has quite a brisk business going on here. All the wranglers are volunteer and work for tips and training. The horses get 1-2 hour breaks between rides. The longest rides are 2 hours I think. This is the 3rd time I have camped at a place like this that does these rides. One also was a camp (PA) and 2 were rescues (here and Maryland). I think I am done with this, none of these were intentionally picked and I was surprised by the trail ride businesses. But I’m glad they have found a way to work the horses and pay for their care.
The only problem riding here that I see is that there are so many unmarked trails that are not on the map. It is impossible to find your way around without someone who knows them. And all together I think there is just basically a 12 mile loop, but I could be wrong about that, maybe its just 12 miles shown on the map I was given. Pam said there was 300,000 acres (??) so I must be wrong.
I think its nap time. I am sooo sleepy for some reason.
I laid down but its too hot to actually fall asleep, so I got up and took the horses to the grassy path near my trailer and took pictures of them. I think I got some good ones. A family was “stocking” the cabin down this path and kept driving their car up and down and I had to keep stopping what I was doing and get them out of the way. She asked if she could bring her daughter down to pet them and I said of course, but they took too long and I saw them back at the barn after I had put them away, asking one of the volunteers the same question. Oh well, it was too hot in the sun and I had already been there for an hour. Sherrie said that while I had the mares out the whole line of corral panels blew over and she thought my horses were missing. I told her I had taken them out and would of told her but when I passed her she was sleeping. The heat is making everyone sleepy I guess. Its not so hot but very humid.
Going to feed everyone, load up 5 new bales of hay that Sherrie is selling to me, pay my tab and take a seriously needed shower. I overnight in Indiana tomorrow, Wisconsin overnight the next night, then on to Shawano, WI with my mom’s ashes and finally Spur of the Moment Horse camp in Mountain, WI. 3 days of hauling, all relatively short ones, each under 200 miles. This is my new plan to save my back, lets see how it goes.
Gillerain Quarterhorse Farm overnight, La Porta, IN
I left Michigan camp at 9:30 and got here by noon central time (I gained an hour). This is the shortest of the 3 legs I planned getting up to northern Wisconsin. It was entirely interstate, but much of it was kind of bad road, not your normal interstate. Truck speed limit was 60 so I took my time. Its not as warm here, sunny but humid still. It may rain later they said. Its a holiday weekend and as I was checking in the owner’s 2 sons and 2 grandsons arrived. They are planning to play golf today. I was asked a lot of the usual questions about what I was doing, my children…One son is from the Chicago area and I told him I had lived in Barrington Hills for 10 years before moving to southern CA and then there were a lot of questions about that and what’s it like living in LA and what hospital my kids were born in, it took me a few seconds to remember the name of Good Shepherd Hospital and I couldn’t remember the one in Evanston that Teddy was born in. Wow did that bring back some memories. It seems like forever ago. We were making our own little happy family I thought. It was so perfect, so much promise, everything was going so well.
They tried to talk me into staying an extra night, that the traffic around Chicago on Labor day was going to be awful. I’ll leave real early I guess.
They don’t have any horses here any more, sold them all so they could travel. The corn around the paddocks is very high. The paddocks have thick grass and the mares are very content. They have a nice big farm house and barns as far as I can tell. It must of been a beautiful place to grow up. Nice midwestern country environment. We should of never moved to LA.
I have the entire afternoon to do nothing now. Huh.