Wednesday, July 3, 2013


You never know how riding aside and the internet will alter your life.  It enables you to make connections that never would have surfaced before.

In my case, it was a farm invasion by federal cavalry on their way to Gettysburg!  Cindy Westbrook of Wildhorse Fashion contacted me a few weeks ago, looking for a place they could overnight on their trek to the 150th anniversary reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg.  I assured her she was more than welcome here, and since we are only about 20 something miles south of the site our farm was a perfect stop over.  Last week three very large and loaded horse trailers came down our drive, laden with reenactors and cavalry horses.  We were able to clear out some fields and places for them to camp, so their horses had a chance to roll, stretch their legs, and just be horses after their three day trek from Utah. Cindy's group mostly does Manifest Destiny reenactment (Cavalry vs. Indians) but they were falling in with the 3rd platoon of the Federal Ohio Cavalry unit, and Cindy had made several new period habits for herself.  Her own personal mount was a PMU foal that they adopted several years ago; he's a quarter horse/percheron cross and has turned into a wonderful reenactment mount. He's big, black, and impressive but has that calm almost dopey personality of the draft. The rest of the horses were a mix of quarter horses and some Missouri Foxtrotters, and they were really nice horses.  This invasion definitely sparked up our horses...and Owen had a thing or two to say about other horses occupying HIS field without his say so.

Cindy and her unit stayed with us several days prior to moving on to Gettysburg, so we had a chance to do some activities.  The first morning we garbed up and I took them on a mounted tour of Cold Saturday.  Most of my riding habits are still packed up, but I managed to unearth my light blue ACW habit and by some miracle the appropriate hat to go with it.  I also found two corsets, but had to skimp on the other appropriate foundations garments. 

My back is still killing me, and the lumbar fractures have not yet healed, so I gave plenty of thought to the saddle I would use.  I ended up choosing the Manorgrove, a decision that was to haunt me for several days.

Here we are riding down the lane in front of the main house.  That's Cindy in the foreground in a mulberry colored linen habit.  Her husband Scott is riding the little palomino, and you can see me on Owen in the background:

Here's the cavalry in formation in front of the main house: Alan, Scott, Tyrell, Daniel.  Funny thing...we trooped over through Cold Saturday, and there was Garnett (the current owner) in front of the house, taking it all in as if a mounted cavalry unit hacking through the property is something that happens all the time.  He called out, "Hey, aren't you guys 150 years too late?"

It was a really appropriate remark, since exactly 150 years prior to the day we were riding out there was a cavalry battle between JEB Stuart and Corbit not far from us in Westminster.  In fact, the cavalry passed right through Cold Saturday, and while not many people know about this skirmish, it is significant in that it delayed Stuart from reaching Gettysburg on time, leaving Bobby Lee without support.  There is much conjecture on how the battle would have turned out had Stuart been there on time.

Here we are passing in front of our former residence, the little stone house:

I had decided on taking the long loop around the property, rather than retracing our steps to return to the farm, and this meant crossing a creek named Beaver Run.  Normally this is a lazy creek about 30 feet across, but we've had such a wet year that it was running fairly deep and while Owen has crossed it before, this time he wasn't so keen.  Having all those sabers rattling behind him didn't exact relax him either, so after much encouragement he leaped into the stream, crossing it in a few bounds.  The bank on the far side was about 2 1/2 feet high and he proinged right up it without hesitation.  I should mention that Sis has been taking jumping lessons on him from an event trainer during my lay up, and Owen has become rather fixated on showing off his new skill.  I hadn't expected him to treat this creek like an obstacle on a cross country course...and so got totally left behind when he made his great lurch upward.  Jumping up banks aside is always harder than when astride anyway, and I took the force in my right knee and back although I let the reins slip and didn't catch Owen in the mouth.  Owen took advantage of this and once safely on terra firma gave me a series of bucks before I could gather him back.  Here is where my saddle selection caused problems, since that Manorgrove has a flat firm seat, not a nice sweepy one, plus is has a flat safe which torques the right knee a bit.  Usually this is not of concern, but I was riding with a torn ligament in that knee plus all those fractures; I felt  something give.  We rode out a few more miles on the trail, which included some logs which I jumped over plus some really steep hills that required my using that right knee and thigh heavily; I was in so much pain I could barely stand it and cut our ride short.  When going up the last hill I actually had to hold onto the saddle with one hand to keep my position.

Once dismounted I knew I was in real trouble.  I did get Owen put away, and limped to the truck to go home.  Mom had a nice dinner planned for all of us so I had to somehow pull myself together, which included taking some oxycodone and hooking myself up to my electrical simulation unit.  I did manage to get through dinner and the next day the cavalry unit headed off to Gettysburg.  We had planned on going up to see them (and Bruce, who was also in the reenactment) but I ended up stuck in bed for the next three days in serious pain. 

But I did get to see them all again, since after the battle was over they came back down to our place for a few days to let their horses unwind and take in some local sight seeing.  You should have seen those horses drop down and roll, followed by burying their heads down in the grass...they had been picketed out for the previous three days and they were thrilled to be turned out.

I really wish I could have been more active while they were here...indeed, I wish I could be more active period.  I had planned on taking both of my boys to Camp Leaping Horn this year, but it's doubtful that I could even manage the drive up.



  1. That's one of those moments when you will yourself to stay aboard! I hope you didn't do any serious damage. I would not have been able to pass up the opportunity either. What great photos!

  2. I completely understand the urge to go ride and probably would have done the same but hind sight being 20/20, REST lol. You are Recouperating,not all better yet :) Don't over do it :). That said I'm glad you had such a nice ride before the jumping and bucking. I hope you feel better! Glad to see you post again ;) Wishing you all the best!