So I got all the tack ready to go first (i.e., out of the truck and onto the fender of the trailer and walls of the truck bed, where I could get to them faster), then fetched Arya and took her straight to the wash rack and hosed her down. I'm not sure whether she got bathed with her previous owner, but it was my first time hosing her off. (Though Shar has seen her play with water while filling the water troughs.) At first she wasn't too thrilled, but I started with her feet and worked my way up, and she soon realized that while the cold water was shocking at first, it quickly became rather pleasant compared to the extreme heat of the day, and she tolerated it. She even mouthed at the water stream a bit.
I took her over to the trailer to tie her up while I tacked her, and though I hadn't purposefully soaked the saddle area, it'd gotten pretty wet from the splashing. Oh well, no wetter than it would be after she started sweating, and no wetter than the saddle pad would get anyway, from said sweating, so on the gear went, and I mounted up, and we took off, with a couple large water bottles on board.
We did the loop that goes past the llamas (or alpacas?), without any extra added loops--too hot! Though a thunderstorm was brewing to the south, and occasionally a nice breeze would hit. But when the air was stagnant? It was MISERABLE.
Arya was her usual self when we first left, trying to turn for home, with the extra added "feature" of calling for her buddy. That's new. Normally Emma calls for Arya, but not the other way around. Ugh. My nerves didn't love it, because her clenching her tummy to whinny loudly felt a lot like a back humping up under the saddle to buck, but of course after the first couple times, even my subconcious caught on that it wasn't a buck, and I calmed down. :-)
We rode past a Krista's house, a friend who also lives in the neighborhood, though we've only managed to ride together twice. I don't think she was home, but I took a photo of her critters to send her. We continued on down the "trail" (99% road), and Arya was actually a little peppier than usual, even with the heat. Granted, she did keep slowing down to a walk, but the trot she was offering was faster than her usual solo rode, headed away from home trot. Which generated a nice breeze. Speaking of which, I hadn't felt before that, but when we paused at Krista's house (about a mile into our ride?), I felt to see if Arya was still damp at all from the hosing down, and she was dry as a bone. So at least she wasn't sweating profusely (or more likely, she was, but it was evaporating as fast as it was emerging from her skin).
Anyway, she did great at the llamas--she gave them the side-eye for a few seconds, then got far more distracted by a *GASP* dead tree that dared to hang out on the opposite side of the road. Then, she got even more distracted by the Kubota that was feeding the llamas (food? for me, too?). So that went well. SHortly after the llamas, though, a deer or something jumped out of the bushes and startled both of us and she spooked sideways a bit. I stayed on, but got a good scare. There were a few other, much smaller, spooks throughout the ride, including when a dog started chasing us and she wanted to bolt a bit, but I held her to the trot we were already in and it went fine.
|Ears at the bottom, after we made the farthest turn and headed home.|
|No one every said I was smart...|
So, riding in sandals. Not half bad, actually. It was weird at first, to feel breezes on my toes. And I could feel the leather at the bottom of the fenders (not quite covered up by the fleece seat cover) and the saddle strings occasionally hitting my ankles. Posting felt slightly weird, mostly because the footbed of these sandals is nice and squishy, which is great, but the stirrups already have some padding, so it made it VERY squishy overall, so that took some getting used to, and possibly even compensating, who knows. I did notice, toward the end of the ride, that the straps, especially the toe strap (can't see it in the photo, but there's a strap that goes just around the big toe), which doesn't normally bother me at all day to day (and I choose that option for security when hiking), was digging in between my toes a bit. If it were to bother me normally, I'd be able to kick my heel against something, even just the ground, to set my foot back into the heel strap and relieve the pressure on the front part. But of course the only way to do that while riding would have been by kicking Arya. Not an option I really wanted to pursue right then. :-) And if my foot twisted in the stirrup just right (and since the fenders are new, stiff leather, it was kind of hard to get them in there perfectly straight), my pinkie toes kind of hit the edge of the stirrup or part of the cage or whatever. Not a HUGE deal, but the annoyances would add up on longer mileages. Plus if I had to get off and hike very far, it would probably also feel better in tennies than in these sandals. So not something I'll pursue for longer/bigger rides (like actual endurance rides, or long training rides), but I'm not going to rule it out for quick rides on hot days. :-)
As soon as we got back, I pulled all her tack off, and hauled Arya back over to the wash rack for another, even more thorough dousing. Though I could see her muscles reacting to the cold water hitting each new area (especially her abs clenching!), she clearly appreciated it, and even leaned into and stepped toward the stream to get it to hit her in where it hadn't yet. Good girl!
And after all that horrible trauma, I dared to put her to work AGAIN. As a lawnmower this time. :-) Check out the veritable SEA of green grass she had to suffer through! She got to munch (actually, GORGE) out there for a while while I hung out with Shar (and we tracked down her fly mask, which she'd somehow lost again). Anyway, the poor thing eventually had to go back out to the pasture with her friends, and instead of her usual roll (which I thought SURE she'd do after the bath, though she had pretty much dried by the time I put her away), she headed straight for the hay. Yes, even though she'd been on the green grass smorgasbord for probably an hour. Weirdo.
|Seriously, folks, don't show this photo to your horses unless you're prepared for mutiny|