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Across America with Horses, continued

Published: 4/25/2010
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By Mara Miles

Chapter Two:  On the road again!

We're are finally on the home stretch.  Lots of adventures to share, some a little on the "hairy" side, but I'm getting ahead of myself already....

The Cumberland Plateau was as advertised: some of the best footing for trail riding that we've ever experienced.  The trails were, for the most part, totally free of rocks.  Sandy and loamy footing, wide trails where we could easily ride side by side, beautiful country whether you were walking or cantering through it.

 In fact, rocks on the trail were so rare that Ted felt compelled to dismount and remove them when they did appear.  What's not to like? We stayed at a place called "True West" outside of Jamestown, TN.

 The big, open barn provided a clean and safe abode for the boys.  Our camp site was down below the barn and horses were not allowed into the campground in order to keep the fly population down (what flies?-too early in the spring to really experience them). 
We missed having our boys right next to where we were camping, but the campsite was beautiful--right next to a little pond filled with fish and frogs who rehearsed nightly in their baritone voices with the "peepers" adding their soprano melodies to compete with our NPR evening news. 
Best of all, we had the whole place to ourselves, including the heated bath house.  At this point we were feeling that hot showers are some of the world's most underrated luxuries.

We spent three days riding and soaking up the spring weather.  It actually got up into the low 80's which was a tad bit hot for the boys who are still sporting some of their winter coats. 
Mark, the owner, a banjo playing cowboy, is one of the best salesmen I've ever met.  We nearly left there having bought all kinds of things including a pretty, 5 year old black Tennessee Walking Horse (mare) and a small 2 bedroom cabin on 3 acres just down the road from the campground, complete with a nice paddock and barn for all our horses, including the new addition to our 'herd." 
It was the thought of the long hot, humid and buggy summers that deterred us.

Day Four, time to move on. 
We debated trying to make it home in two long days, but common sense won out and we opted for the more prudent "three-day plan." 
The first day's travel was uneventful.  The drive through the Shenandoah Valley was beautiful--the greenest of green pastures everywhere, Red bud trees, Forsythia and Dogwoods in full bloom.   Wide board fencing outlined expanses of lush pastures and very contented horses were everywhere. 
It made us wonder why the early settlers ever headed west!  Rich soil such as is found here, is so rare in many of the places that we've traveled.  

That evening found us pulling into one of the most beautiful places we've ever stayed at.  High Meadow Farm is truly 30 acres of horse heaven.

The boys got their first taste of spring grass and shoved their noses into it without even bothering to check out the new "digs".  They took a 60 second break from their grazing to burst into a good gallop, discover the two beautiful Missouri fox trotter mares in the adjacent pasture, and then went back to the serious work of trying to inhale the rest of the grass in their paddock before we could intervene and prevent them from overindulging.  
Kathleen, our host, gave us the tour and then we put the boys into the spacious round pen with their evening's hay, feed and water.  

Everything there was brand spanking new.  The little two stall barn had a small office, a wash stall and a heated bathroom with SHOWER!  There was also a small guest house, but we opted to stay in our comfortable traveling home.  Kathleen also has two beautiful Springer Spaniels and was up to speed with some great dog training techniques. 
We left with our very own water pistol--a useful tool to have on hand when Chester and Rodney are indulging in their TGD (Terrier Greeting Disorder).   We highly recommend Kathleen's place as a layover for anyone passing through this area.

We broke camp early and headed on to our next destination.  Another day of driving through spectacular scenery.  The sunny skies that accompanied us throughout our trip, began to give way to overcast skies followed by periods of spitting rain and dropping temperatures. 
Our stop for the evening was one  we have stayed at before. Moodna Creek Ranch is a "serviceable" layover, but certainly not one to make it into the list of 'best places to stay'. 
Mark, the owner, offered us a large paddock, or a couple of stalls in his converted cow barn.  The weather was worsening, so we opted for the stalls.  The boys did not seem to mind the low ceilings and were happy to have fresh water and hay and a floor that no longer moved under their feet--not a bit of snobbery in them. 
Mark owns a miniature cattle dog.  After a few minutes of excited greetings, both Rodney and Chester went about 'purchasing real estate' and, having made the place their own, were quite happy to retire out of the drizzle to their warm beds in the camper. 

We are almost home and I will leave the last chapter--perhaps for us the scariest be written when we get back.  Stay tuned.....

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8/10/2014 Keenan
I enjoyed that story!!! Hope all is well!!! I miss you guys!!!

"A canter is the cure for every evil" - Benjamin Disraeli, The Young Duke