Yesterday we made it to our second rest stop in this fine state of Missouri. We are about 6 miles south of Licking, and unless our eyes are deceiving us, it appears that Licking is just over half way across the Missouri map! How did that happen so fast?!
The horses seem to be quite refreshed and acting more spunky than they have since we started a year ago. Apparently, all the stops in the last two months- two weeks for snow delays and two for sick/burnt boots- refreshed them. The glazed, tired look in their eyes- the same look I recall in my brother and his comrades when they through-hiked the Appalatian Trail from Georgia to Maine- has at least for the moment, been replaced with a spark of spunk. Apache, for one, has resumed his old habit of giving a few small bucks at the beginning of each ride- something he hasn’t done in over a year! (Much to the utter frustration of this horse trainer who has taught many a horse not to buck, but has never been able to convince her OWN horse that bucking is an enjoyment best done with no one on his back. Alas- I give! I have embraced his little quirk as part of his personality even though he never gets away with it!) It does, however, make me smile every time knowing that he has regained a bit of his old energy- something that even our nearly 3 week stop in Pueblo, CO did not even accomplish.
Since Colorado, we have cut down our daily miles from what they were in the desert, mountains, and first part of the prairie. Partially due to the cold, partially to a temporary lack of motivation, and partially due to the tiredness of the horses- at some point in mid-Kansas- we began cutting miles back to around 15 a day instead of aiming for 20. Between that and the recent rests, it seems to be working!
We were able to ride for (what would have been) 10 days in a row this time. We did stop one day- after day 6 of riding- for pouring rain all day- then after day 9 because I AGAIN got sick for 2 days. But where we are resting now- our day 10 planned rest stop- was perfectly attainable without those stops because the horses are still quite energetic. And what’s more- Bella seems to handle 15 miles a day quite well- much better than the 18 and 19 mile days we pushed during the first week we had her.
We have covered almost 4 pages on our map in one ‘riding week’! Not that this means anything to the reader, but to us, it’s like we are flying! So the old saying, ‘Slow and steady wins the race’, still applies! We intend to only stay here for 2 days since we were just stopped for 2 days when I was sick this past weekend. Then….. we’ll aim for 10 more days in a row! That will bring us just shy of Cape Girardeau where we will be crossing the Mississippi…. which means that in less than two weeks, we could be OFFICIALLY in the eastern third of the country! “Fly horsies fly…. lets get to Delaware before the month of…. July!”