I want to thank everyone for their support - I am still struggling somewhat with the decision, as I feel like a failure. Silly I know, but I guess the need for perfection was too well-drilled into me as a child (sound familiar @SueC ?). My brain knows that is the right choice, but my heart doesn't like it much..
Yesterday, I had planned to ride both boys, as their post-ride rest period is over. I couldn't get a super early start, as it's spring turkey season and I wasn't sure if anybody would be out hunting. I impatiently waited until 9:30, then headed out to get George.
And found this:
Luckily George is still shedding like mad, so he actually cleaned up fairly easily.
Because the ground is a mess again (we got an inch of rain Sunday that we sure didn't need), I planned to stick to roads. We started out going up and down the Sugarloaf. Then, we did the out and back on the neighbor's driveway.
Next was across the farm and up the Tomhicken. I was not happy to find a couple new trees down. While they were all crossable, they were a PITA as they kept interrupting the rhythm of our climbing. The washouts weren't any worse at least, though no lack of rocks.
We just went up to the top and then around through the development and back down. As we started for home, the sun came out and the temp shot up.
9.67 miles, 1760 feet of climb, 5.2 mph average pace, 76F real feel
I finished with George and turned him out into the third paddock, which we have had closed off to let the grass grow. He was so excited by the tall grass, he didn't even roll.
I went out to get Phin and was pleased when he actually stood and let me come right up to him. He was not any cleaner than George was, but is also shedding so cleaned up ok. I was just about to start tacking him when I got a message from our overnight guest: she was coming 3 hours earlier than expected! That meant I didn't have time to ride Phin. Ugh.
Instead, I turned him out with George to eat the grass. Probably the best thing that could have happened in Phin's opinion.
Today, I got our overnight guest on the road and then went out to grab Phin. I expected him to not want to be caught, but I was pleasantly surprised that he only walked 2 steps before giving up. It was already quite warm when we headed out to cover the same route I did with George.
I was very pleased that Phin was much more relaxed than I expected him to be after 2 weeks off. I even rode him down the short piece of public road as it was clear of traffic when we arrived. He got a little silly when the neighbor's dog started barking as we passed, but climbing up the Sugarloaf soon leveled him out. Heading down the backside, we must have jumped 2 dozen deer total and he just flicked an ear and kept on trotting.
When we got to the neighbor's driveway, he got a bit cranked up. So instead of turning around in the normal place, we kept going a bit to the next driveway, where he settled. We then turned around to head back. We passed the fish pond and he barely spared it a glance.
We went up the back side of the Sugarloaf and then down across the farm, where we found Bruce mowing.
Our climb up the Tomhicken was uneventful, but it was trash day so that made going around the housing development a bit wiggly. Overall, Phin did really well, especially as at one spot an excavator was digging on the opposite sides of Always Suspicious Trash Bags. By the time we got back to the farm, the remains of the logging operation barely got a glance.
10.11 miles, 1862 feet of climb, 5.3 mph average pace, 81F real feel