I was the ride contact so I scouted the trail the Sunday before with Joel to mark the trail for the moonlight ride. The biting flies on the trail were ferocious and we tried to out run them. That worked well for Scarlett, my 14.1 hand quarter horse, because Joel and Tulip, a 17.2 hand Walker, travels much faster and the flies always attack the first horse. We were moving along so fast I wasn’t able to put up markers. I returned to scout on Thursday evening and the flies were even worse. Blondie and I lasted one hour in the woods, returning to the trailer I started the bug fogger and proceeded to kill all the bugs. On the way out, I called Susan and asked if she would be on the moonlight ride. I told her I wasn’t comfortable leading since I haven’t ridden these trails enough to be familiar with them in the dark. She promised to be there and most likely Jill would also ride. Thank you to Susan, Jill and Julie, Jill’s daughter. Without these three friends we would have been lost in the National Forest till sunrise. The magnificent moonlight ride had 13 riders and 14 horses. Linda on Blondie, Suzanne on Trouble, guest Jimmy on Sugar, guest Gary on California, Pat riding Dusty, Pat’s husband Butch on Sheba, Ambrose on Sally, Rocky on Silk, Cody on Hoss, Lyn on Tally, Susan on Onyx, Jill on Buddy, Julie on her quarter horse Raven and the old guy Laddy being ponyed. Julie brought the old guy so he wouldn’t be left at the barn alone to stress out. I arrived at 6:30 seeing that Ambrose, Gary, Jimmy, and Suzanne had already parked and were preparing for the ride. I started the bug fogger while Gary worked the sign in sheet proclaiming to be the PR man and assigning Jimmy as maintenance crew. Suzanne, Ambrose, and Jimmy cleaned up the parking area as others arrived. We started down the trail at 7:30 while the clouds rolled in with a light breeze. Gary who is hard of hearing said “do I hear thunder?” I replied “no, you hear a plane because we are close to the airport.” Gary was too smart for that and he said “as long as there isn’t any lighting we’ll be okay.” A few more rumbles and it started sprinkling lasting about 10 minutes cooling us down and running the flies off. Butch’s cell phone kept ringing with friends wishing him a happy birthday. What a great way to spend your birthday. As we meandered past cypress ponds and through the pines, darkness covered the forest. Where was the moon? Gary spotted the moon coming up behind a cumulus cloud and it was the most beautiful moon rise I have ever seen on our moonlight rides. We heard whippoorwills and owls as we headed back. Susan and Jill led the gaited horses in while Julie kept the quarter horses on track arriving at the trailers 10:00. The next moonlight ride will be Saturday July 16 at 7:30 St. Marks Rail Trail parking under the power lines Hope to see ya’ll there. Happy Trails — Linda