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Vacation Ride/Sponging

I just got back from a 4 day ride (about 70 miles) around the south end of the
Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Went with 3 local fellers who were riding
their Tennessee Walkers. Weather was great...70's during the day and about 40
at night. The leaves were just beginning to change with plenty of yellows and
reds. Lots of ups and downs. Some of the climbs and descents were quite steep
and made for great conditioning for my horse. The flat parts made for an
interesting pace as my horse tried to figure out what gait he was supposed to
be in. Those walkers were too fast to walk with but too slow to trot with. My
horse and I either went on ahead or fell back to catch up periodically.  After
one very long and steep climb followed by a steep descent we stopped at a
creek (they call it a "branch" here). I pulled out my sponge and started
sponging down my horse as he drank. Got some strange looks from a couple of
the guys but one of those ol' mountain boys said that he had wondered what
that sponge was doing tied to my saddle. He thought it was a good idea. This
after 3 days of these experienced mountain riders had been teaching me (a
novice rider) alot about backcountry riding and camping with horses. It felt
good to finally "learn them something". I think that they were impressed with
how well my horse had done to keep up with there walkers too. It was a great
time...a first for me and lots of beautiful scenery and sitting back and
listening to these mountain men spin their yarns was great. A fine bunch of
guys. Now to go out and do some speed work as my horse needs to get out the
slow walk/slow trot mode.

Ed & Sawyer
western NC

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