The sky dawned clear blue with puffy white clouds on Sunday morning, with a warm sun and cool breeze. Birds were chirping, the air had a post-thunderstorm freshness to it, and I sprang out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Why? Because I got to meet up with Courtney from Vintage Virginia again!
This time we headed over to the Manassas Battlefield, which I highly recommend if you’re looking for a fun outing. The ground was a little soggy from the unrelenting rainstorms of recent days, but we had miles of beautiful trails to traipse through and enjoy. I was slightly more confident that neither of us was a murderer this time, so menfolk were left behind (much to their chagrin).
I was super excited to hop back on Vinny after we had such a blast last time, while she seemed less excited to carry this giant female who slammed around on her back like a potato. I gleefully scrambled on and ignored her sighs of protest. Just to add insult to injury, I carried a heavy backpack to make me heavier and throw off my balance. Sorry horse. But your mom and I needed the champagne and various snacks tucked away in that satchel. No drinks left behind, it’s the law or something.
After Courtney and I were mounted- me on Vintage and her on baby Berry- we decided that maps are for fools and we would just pick a path (side note: I found the map tucked down my pants about 2 hours into our ride). Fortunately we managed to pick the bridle path. And thus began our trek!
We stayed nice and cool because most of the trail took us through the woods and we stayed in the shade. We had some nice trot/canter sets moving through here, but we tried to be careful of the mud patches we ran into with some frequency. Courtney regaled me with tales of equine orienteering (which sounds totally hardcore awesome), we talked about her upcoming show, and I complimented her horses soundly, calling Vinny “a good soul” roughly 12 times in as many minutes. All accompanied by pink champagne, because we are classy females. Champagne makes everything classy.
And then there were some logs near the path. Yes, I was in a dressage saddle. Yes, my stirrups were long. Yes, I asked Courtney if I could torture her horse a little further by popping over. Yes, she agreed. Yes, it was a hot mess. Yes, IT WAS AWESOME I LOVE CROSS COUNTRY OMG.
This little mare was so point-and-shoot at everything. Didn’t blink at all as I threaded her through trees to approach logs, popped over them, and always came right back to a walk upon landing. She should totally be an eventing pony!
After partially coming down from that high, we continued on our way. We made it to a water crossing that took some finesse- by finesse I mean Courtney dismounted, led Vintage into the stream, and chased Berry with a stick. They were both totally fine once they realized it was just water, but the approach was rather steep so I can understand their hesitation. Hooray for Courtney’s waterproof boots!
After this the trail did pass through some nice fields with a gentle uphill and we decided that was a perfect opportunity for a little gallop. WHICH WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!! I really appreciated that Vinny has a fantastic set of brakes on her, so we were able to come right back and calm down after racing Berry up the hill.
We looped back around after this, and I got confused and ran us into a tree.
Courtney thought this was hilarious and whooped with glee as she took a picture of me futilely trying to get free without further damage. I was still finding pieces of tree in my clothing when I returned home.
After enjoying another delicious serving of the bubbly, we decided to turn towards home. We really lucked out with the weather- pleasantly warm but not a scorcher. We made it back through the water without incident, I insisted on popping back over the logs a couple more times, and then we mosied along. We were starting to get a little saddle sore, so Vinny put up with me pretending to me a fancy sidesaddle lady.
Somehow we made it back to the trailer without Vintage losing her patience with my shenanigans. In total we were in the saddle for over 3 hours! A little sweaty but nice and cool, the horses seemed happy to be done.
In case you’re looking for video evidence of the flailing I considered XC jumping, check out my Instagram. It’s beautiful.
A thousand thank yous to Courtney again for letting me play with her awesome pony, for being a totally rad trail companion, and for being a super cool human being in general. I can’t wait to come play again soon!