Sunday, March 25, 2012

City Slickers

What's better than one exciting day of trail riding? Why, TWO exciting days of trail riding, of course! Having had my first taste of outdoors adventure on my new mare, and not knowing when I'd have another whole weekend all to ourselves, I just had to have more!

Today's trail system of choice: the Trinity River Trails, with the kickoff point being at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Trinity Trails used to run right near my old place in Fort Worth, but I had no idea that there were sections of it where you could ride horses! I knew that the Stockyards ran trail rides out of their stables, but I had no idea where the riders went, or that the public could also go there. For those of you that don't know, the Stockyards is basically the heart and soul of Fort Worth, where drovers used to bring their herds of longhorns through to the railways for sale. Now it's an insanely large tourist attraction with ridiculously good barbecue, a host of rowdy cowboy bars, huge country music shows, a weekly rodeo, a twice daily cattle drive down the main drag, and the same brick road and old building foundations that it always has had. On a busy weekend, the place is absolutely PACKED with people, motorcycles, longhorn cattle, carriages, cowboys, and about a million cars all trying to make their way through the chaos on the bumpy brick road. It is absolute barbecue sauce-laced pandemonium. And it's awesome.

When I googled the trails, I saw a parking location for horse trailers off of the road next to the main drag running through the heart of the Stockyards. Perfect, says me, and we load up and head out at around noon. When I arrived, I found... that there was no sign anywhere for trailer parking. Lots of parking for cars... no trailers. Excuse me Mr. Parking Attendant, where do I park for the trails? He gives me a totally blank stare and silence. Ok then... I will go down the way and ask the next parking attendant... who also gives me the exact same blank stare. Fine, I will go FURTHER down the way and ask THAT parking attendant, who was closer to where they keep the longhorns and where the petting zoo is. I left Pangea in the trailer in the other parking lot (which clearly was only for smaller vehicles), and finally found a parking attendant who SEEMED to know what he was talking about. Only as it turns out, he was only acting like he knew what he was talking about because he wanted to impress me with his vast Stockyards knowledge in order to try and score my number. He puffed out his chest, turned around in a large semi-circle, and spotted a single lone horse trailer about 1/2 a mile away from us. "Over there," he said, "and then you can ride back through the Stockyards to get to the trails over that way." Um.... are you sure? "Totally." Well... ok then, bye! I left him standing like a deflated balloon, watching his wishful score walk away with haste back to her horse trailer. Don't worry, he comes back into play later.

I got back in my truck, pulled around to the parking lot that was nearly abandoned and about a zillion miles away, and unloaded the mare. She blinked in the sunlight, watched the Tarantula (AKA the train) chugging past, and stood with relative ease compared to how she was yesterday. We still experienced some frantic bouncing and head-shaking when I mounted and she REALLY wanted to go somewhere, but she settled within a minute or so into a nice marching walk, which she then maintained for about two hours. (Jeez... do you ever tire?) She hesitated a bit when she hit the bricks crossing through the Stockyards, but I scooted around the edge of the place, trying to avoid the chaos on my way to the relatively peaceful trail system.

Only.... where are the trails.

Seriously, where are they.

Oh look I found them!

Quite the contrast to yesterday's wilderness, the Trinity River trails are perfectly manicured, flat, and groomed. And they lead basically right into Fort Worth... it was so weird riding right up to the base of a major city!

Compared to yesterday, Pangea was a dream. She steadily marched along, maintaining a very forward pace from start to finish, head low and swinging in time with her step. She fussed about going underneath the highway (can't really blame her... I got off, lead her under, then got back on and rode her back and forth under it a few times), but that was the only real incident we had. The only thing she spooked at were the varying stalagmites from Hell piercing the Earth's crust for the sole purpose of scaring her to death boulders placed along the trail with plaques of death on them. Once she got a sniff and realized they were potentially lethal but temporarily frozen in time harmless, she ambled on without another look.

On the way back, we crossed the main street at the Stockyards, right by the ever-delicious Riskey's BBQ...

... and were waylayed by the same parking attendant who was so very interested in helping me before. I rode over to him and made small talk for a moment, and then he happened to throw in a casual, "Can I just say you're looking stunning today." Like any black-hearted woman, I realized my chance to use this man for a purpose in his moment of weakness had just arisen, and I innocently smiled and thanked him with batted eyelashes. I then followed this up with a casual, "Hey, can I ride down the main road?" "Sure, anything you want!," he replied, clearly bolstered by my response. "Thanks!" I said, and immediately was off, leaving him once again deflated in my dust. I'm not exactly sure whether or not you are allowed to ride down the main road in the Stockyards - it's kind of a chaotic nightmare, and probably extremely dangerous on a rank horse - but hey, I did it anyway!

Even though I probably looked a bit out of place in my trail attire and HELMET. I couldn't count on both hands the number of cowboys who stood staring at the strange tumorous growth on the top of my head, like they had no idea what it could possibly be. All I have to say about that is this: have you ever met a smart cowboy? No? It's because of their numerous head injuries from falling off horses while wearing cowboy hats. Yeah, I said it. Take that, Slim. You put your eyes back in your head and just keep walking.

She was SO good today. SO good! A nice liniment bath, a rubdown, a good graze, and a nice roll later, and she was tucked away with dinner for the night. She'll have a few days off to relax and chill out - it was a very eventful weekend for her! - and then we'll head back to the pool mid-week. Yay for Adventure Time with mares!


  1. That sounds so fun! What a good girl.

  2. That looks like one of the coolest trail rides ever! I love the pictures of you and Pangea coming up on the city. So glad she's doing so well (and, based on the pictures you posted last time of her at the trailer, also LOOKING FANTASTIC)!

  3. Hey, I've been there! I was in Irving on business back in 2005 and my coworker and I visited the Ft. Worth Stockyards one afternoon to kill some time. Very cool! I know exactly what you're talking about (cowboys and rowdy bars)....too funny. So glad you're having fun with Pangea. :)

  4. She's both looking and doing amazing; she gets better and better every day! <3

  5. That is awesome! Love the pictures

  6. Wow--you are brave. Looks like you have a good partner in Pangea.

  7. You guys are awesome! I am so happy for you - you seem to be having a blast with P.

  8. Kid and Rupert's dad, Steven, bikes on those trails. Something tells me Lisa and Steven will be riding the boys on them now!

  9. Good for you Andrea!

    I just today added a linked button to Riders for helmets on my blog, after a sobering experience on Sat....

  10. Looks like fun! You two must be having a blast. :)

    By the way, where did she get her name? You gave us a teaser a while ago and inquiring minds want to know. ;)

  11. That was quite an adventure! I noticed your girl is wearing a Western saddle for these excursions. I didn't know you a) owned one or b) Pangea had ever been ridden in one. Or is that something new to her, too? You may have blown those cowboys' minds with your helmet, but just think if you'd been sitting in a little sissy English saddle to boot! :-)

  12. I own a roping saddle that I trail ride in (don't use it for anything else). Big, squashy, and great for trails! Dunno if she had ever been ridden in one before... but she has now!

  13. I'm pretty sure you are allowed to ride up the main road because there's this barn that sells horses in Dallas that seems to have in every video a shot of the horse walking through the traffic in the stockyards.

    The stockyards are a cool place but I think the last time I went anywhere near downtown Ft Worth was when I had jury duty.