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Our First Iowa Ride
By Maddy Butcher Gray
I got out for my first Iowa ride on a warm, windy, sunny day. After some discussion, Pep and
I managed to head down the gravel road away from her shrieking herdmates. She was antsy and her trot felt a bit like a lopsided jackhammer.
We live near the Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area, a 14,000-acred mix of woods, field and marshland. Farmers lease land and plant corn, wheat, and soybeans in scattered fields. Deer and pheasant hunters love it. At first glance, I do, too.
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There are small parking lots every half mile or so and I cut into every one we came upon. Trails lead to fields, stands of hardwood, or both. After following one trail, I came upon a small quiet pond. Quiet, that is, until it exploded with ducks. Beautiful wood ducks. One after another, they took off and circled over the trees. Must have been 10 pairs at least. Wow.
Another trail led to a small field of 100 percent white clover. Felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland.
Alice in Wonderland or a clandestine Provincetown. Yup, we seemed to stumbled upon a
gathering place for local gay men. Not sure how they’ve interpreted ‘wildlife management’ but the men in their skivvies were perfectly friendly anyway.
A quarter million people live within 25 miles of our small town, but you'd never know it. The closest town has a population of 781.
Make that 782.
No ride with Maddy & Pep would be complete without a good dose of bushwhacking. And unintentionally, we got more than our share.
We were climbing along the side of another lovely pond and the brush was getting thicker and thicker. I got off and we ducked and bobbed towards more open ground. Finally, we got to the edge of another field, but it was bordered by four strands of old, tangled barbed wire.
The return to the pond got a little hairy. We had a close, intimate introduction to those thorny, strong-as-hell vines that clasp to trees and hang vertically, diagonally, and wherever you’d rather they not.
Let’s just say, I’m REALLY glad I have a great horse who will stand patiently as a hack away at a vine that’s bound her hind leg.
And then her front leg.
Pep was a trooper. (My Gerber knife wasn’t the perfect implement, but we would have been screwed without it.)
It was quite a first ride. We got home dirty, sweaty, thirsty, and eager to explore more.
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View Reader Comments:
What a great video, beautiful country. I think I will watch again just to hear the music and re-experience the ride. Must have been great!
Beautiful, Maddy! Can't wait to hear all about it.
So beautiful Maddy!! It is horse heaven! Keep them coming.
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"Those who look down eventually get there" - Kip Rosenthal
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