The trails around the new barn were graded this week. They are actually fire access roads and since there was really horrible fire in this area about three years ago, somehow the park has gotten more vigilant about maintaining the fire roads—go figure. What this means for us is that in the last week the footing for Mr. Bars with his aging joints has gone from dicey to great. In addition, the removal of tons of tall grass from the trail area also means I have to contend with far fewer trail hazards.
I love this new barn, but since moving here I have had more ticks on me in a single week than I’ve had in my entire life put together. There are ticks EVERYWHERE. For me it’s even worse because, as noted last week, every time we go up a hill, that means I have to get off and walk back down the hill…and therefore walk through a lot of tall grass infested with ticks.
Ticks are awful. I’m not generally one to excited about very many bugs, but I hate ticks. These parasitic little arachnids are transmitters of all kinds of ugly diseases, including Lyme disease, and they’re just plain yucky. I’ve resorted to using the expensive fly sprays on Bars, because they repel ticks, and even using said fly spray (and bug spray for people, and SWAT) on myself. Never in all my years have I had to deal with this.
And did I mention that the end of California’s drought has brought with it a beautiful crop of poison oak? That stuff is also everywhere, and in some places overgrowing the trails. A couple of months ago I took a short walk on another trail route to check out the footing and there were places there where the poison oak had grown across the trail, completely. Thankfully at the time I was wearing my tall rubber boots. I’ve lived around poison oak off and on all my life and never had a reaction to it, but I’m not about to start now!
For Bars, this new smoother footing means less danger that he will take a wrong step and stumble, twist an already weak leg, or otherwise injure himself. Another lengthy lay-up at this stage in his life could mean the end of riding for both of us, so this is great news. We’ve been picking up our pace a bit—doing more trotting and cantering, which is gradually improving his fitness level. He’s stumbling less, tiring less quickly, and seems to be enjoying our rides more and more. Better fitness for him means we can explore some new trails and get out a little farther each week. This week we had some great views.