Its been 2 weeks since my last adventure which was riding from Fort William to Keith – a 2 week trip, 225 miles, camping each night and during which I was blessed with the best kind of weather. Apart from one drizzly day and one night of strong winds and heavy showers – I mostly had dry weather, a large amount of sunshine (for Scotland) and a strong breeze to keep the midges away.
It was a trip of 2 halves. The first was remote mountainous terrain with little contact with the outside world, followed by a more sociable time catching up with old friends (and new) as I approached home on the Moray Coast. Funny how you never explore the area in which you live, but this time I rode home for the first time and used a large section of a local long-distance trail – the Moray Coastal Trail. It was stunning with the blue seas to guide our way in glorious sunshine!
This took me through more populated areas than I would normally plan to ride through but I loved the ride towards home. A familiar feel as I know the area so well but on trails I hadn’t explored by horse before.
I had thought that a year off from long-distance trail riding would have set us – as a team – back a stage or two but I was delighted to find that it hadn’t made an impact at all. Covid19 restrictions and the horses being unwell for the riding season of 2020, appeared if anything, to have given us a period of reflection which only strengthened our bond and made for eager horses to get back to ‘their work’.
We were all relaxed, took obstacles in our stride and had the most wonderful time. I was surprised and delighted to see how well Team Swogi coped with the challenges of the route and in particular how well they coped with built up areas and traffic (always my major fear). They appeared more confident than ever and I could see a huge change in how they tackled what lay ahead. The positive reinforcement training I’ve been experimenting with was nothing to do with trail riding but it seems to have made a massive impact on how I’m viewed as a worthy leader of the herd.
I’m writing this on the cusp of another adventure – a week long, figure of 8 trek in the eastern Cairngorms. The horses have had 2 weeks off and I hope will be well rested and ready for the challenge ahead. Again its an area I know reasonably well, but the chosen route takes in trails I’ve not explored before and weather allowing goes high and hopefully should see up top out a Munro or two.
I knew my luck with the weather wasn’t likely to last and the forecast isn’t great (but not a show stopper). My waterproofs will be needed for this trip, as will the midge spray I fear lol! This will be the 2nd of my 3 planned treks this year – I don’t usually manage this much riding but I feel the need to make up for the lost year of 2020!
Here’s some of the highlights from Fort William to Keith! – I’ve put together a wee video / slide-show of my trip. I’m now frantically packing for the next one, as I’m aiming to hit the trail this evening. 🙂