October 1st brought us a new friend. Mendy, a friendly local horse lover, pulled over to see what we were up to just as we were standing on a corner with the map out trying to decide what to do. The highway went straight to Salyersville at that corner, and we weren’t legally allowed to ride on it. Instead, we had to take back roads way north and around through Elsie in order to get to Salyersville. We had the option of being hosted at the house on that corner, but if we made a short day and stopped there, it would be an awfully long ride up and around in order to get to Salyersville the next day- where we had been invited to spend a rest stop. So we were looking at the map deciding what to do when Mendy pulled up.
“Let me call my father-in-law. I’m sure there’s a short cut from our house over the hill to Salyersville.”
Sure enough, he was certain that taking a four wheeler track behind their house would cut off several miles. Richard and I were skeptical. If you haven’t been following our blogs, I don’t think there’s ever been a ‘short cut’ that has worked out in our favor!
But Mendy was so nice, and it was such perfect timing that she would stop there of all places, so we decided to risk it. We turned right instead of left toward Elise like we were planning. She welcomed us to their barn and we got our horses unpacked and settle in her round pen. We then had a delicious meal with her in-laws before jumping in the jeep to be shown the short cut.
It was steep, both up and down, but sure enough- the path was parallel to the highway and cut over the foothills to another road that put us out on 30 into Salyersville- saving us several miles. We were glad we had trusted Mendy and we were excited about finding a REAL shortcut!
Morning came and we saddle up, tightened britchen and breast collars, and headed for the hills. We were excited to be off the roads and on a trail, even for just a mile. It was steep, but not as bad as we expected, and the horses did well. We made it to the top and were enjoying the woods when we came upon a low branch that required some maneuvering.
Richard was in the lead and got off Satchmo to lead him under, then carefully stepped him forward so Tiska could get under. She jumped forward a little too fast and Fiddle didn’t have time to get under. Since she was tied to Tiska her nose was being smashed against the branch that she couldn’t get around because the rope was too tight. Richard made a fast (and correct) decision to let go of Satchmo and rescue Fiddle. Since he is so strong and Tiska is so little, he just grabbed her and pulled her backwards toward the low branch to release the pressure so Fiddle didn’t get her nose broken and so she could then go around and get under the branch. He did a great job and Fiddle got under the branch no worse for the wear except for a tiny scratch on her nose.
BUUUUT, just has he was helping Fiddle through, Satchmo looked back at Richard and saw his opportunity and we both swear you could see the look on his face that said, “SUCKER!” just before he took off running. Not because he was scared of anything- just because he could. And there was not a thing we could do about it.
Since Tiska’s rope was wrapped around the horn on Satchmo’s saddle and Fiddle was tied to Tiska- they had no choice but to go along for the ride too. Richard and I were left standing there watching our horses run away through the woods. We tried to hurry after them, but it was clear that Satchmo was not stopping any time soon.
I rode Chance under the branch (gotta love a short horse!) and at Richard’s request, handed Apache to him and took off through the woods on Chance trying to chase down our horses. I didn’t see them for quite a ways and I was keeping an eye on their tracks just hoping they wouldn’t go the wrong way. If we were going to do this in fast forward, I at least wanted it to be EAST! It was steep going down the mountain and quite a rush doing it at high speed. I saw Satchmo stopped up ahead because the reins were around his leg, so I carefully got off and was walking around the pack horses to catch him. Somehow, he stepped just right and got his leg out of the reins, and wouldn’t you know it- he took off again!
So back on Chance I went and hurried down the mountain after them. We came out in a long narrow valley and I said a prayer for Chance’s safety as I urged him to run faster. I wanted to get the horses caught before they got to a road and this was my only opportunity to get in front of them. Chance took off like a champ, got just ahead of them, and surprised the heck out of me by doing a fabulous sliding stop and a quick turn to cut off the horses- all on his own! WOW- he really was a cowboy’s horse! Way to go Chance! Apparently he enjoys cowboy work because he hasn’t forgotten how to do it!
So thanks to Chance, we caught our horses and had a bit of a stern discussion with renegade Satchmo. Thankfully, all of our stuff was still in tact and the packs were amazingly still balanced and in place. Richard had cooled off by the time he hiked down the mountain to join us and we had a good laugh over the whole thing.
The only sad part- we lost Horton the pumpkin. He was tied on well enough for walking across America, not for galloping down a mountianside! He made it a whole 24 hours on the Ride Across America. Guess you gotta be tougher than a pumpkin to make this trip! We are now on the lookout for Horton II and we’ll try to take better care of the next one! Hehehehehe!