Thursday, February 19, 2015

redemption at hidden falls

With recent naughtiness in mind, I headed out to a new location. I wanted to see some new trail, and I wanted to deal with my horse by himself.

We hadn't been to Hidden Falls since one of my very first trail rides on Major (pre-blog days)! They did a large expansion last year, which makes it a much better place for training (before there was only seven miles of trails in loops, a bit dull). Now there are lots of trails, lots of loops and everything incredibly well maintained. Compared to my usual rutted, eroded, fallen tree, duck for branches, rocky routes, this is Disneyland!

Are you sure we have to leave my hay bag behind?
We got to the normally very busy park early, and were only the second horse trailer and about 6 cars. We headed out, Major wistfully looking back at the trailer (because there was a hay bag back there, filled with crack alfalfa hay).

Our first trails were in the damp shade, but the footing was perfect, and we both warmed up quickly. Major loves to explore (me too) and just set into a fabulous working trot, up and over and around the great terrain, winding through oaks and along the creek where I could hear the waterfalls but not see them. I'd ask him to slow, and he would, but he wanted to go that nice pace, so I let him, and it was great!

cute little bridge

highly suspicious non-native rocks

lovely view

I dare you to get lost here!

At every intersection there is a sign, and at most there is a trail map too. The longest trail I did was about 2.5 miles, as they all interconnect and get a bit complicated, for a total of almost 14 miles. (For the detailed, the crazy list is: South Legacy Way to Pheasant Trail to Golden Eagle Loop to Black Rail Trail to Warbler to South Legacy Trail to Gold Finch Trail across Salmon Run Bridge to Grey Squirrel Trail to Deer Trail to River Otter Loop to North Legacy Way to Creekside Trail across Canyon View Bridge to North Legacy Way across Whiskey Diggins Bridge to Poppy Trail and back to the trailer.)

huge 34 ton capable bridge, I think we can make it

a view from the creek

suspicious rock with plaque, open potty...too many things to look at!

suspicious logs, why are they lined up along the trail?

There is a lovely creek to wade in, though at five miles in Major wasn't interested in drinking. We found one good hill climb on Deer Trail, shared trail with some nice bikers, had a kamikaze squirrel run in front of us and confronted the suspicious stacked rocks and logs. At 10 miles he drank a little and mostly splashed until I pulled him out of the water because I knew any instant he was going to lie down!

good hill on Deer Trail

oaks leafing out and stunning blue skies

this grass over HERE is better...

pretending to drink, more fun to play

love this little tête-à-tête, quite the conversation spot

Heading back we took the totally not scary (though signs would make you think otherwise) trail along the creek, and then walked the fire road to cool down. One last jaunt up Poppy Trail, where we encountered no fewer than eight groups of people coming down, and Major posed to have his sweaty picture taken by some Japanese tourists (I've had this happen twice before, I'm sure it is posted on some foreign visitor's Facebook page, so odd. But glad to be an ambassador of sorts!).

one way travel probably a good idea, a bit narrow for horses and bikes

a view down to the creek

the other big bridge

Major was hot, though not too tired, it was over 70 degrees

shaded fire break is a good place to get off and hike
at the end of Poppy Trail

Back at the trailer the staging area was now very full, packed with trailers and cars circling for spots, even the overflow lot was full. I counted 13 total trailers, too many cars and was glad everyone was out enjoying the day (but glad we were back and not sharing the trails with them). Major waited not so patiently for mash, ate some grass on the hillside, then we headed home.

I can see my mash. It's right there. I need it. Now.


everyone else was out enjoying the day too
I was so glad to explore this new-to-me place, and will be back, as long as I can go early on a weekday again! I was so happy with Major's behavior, not a spook, no fights, and know that I have to battle his at-home demons on home trails. But it's all an adventure.

back home is best

Thursday, February 12, 2015

just one step

All of my posts are real life, but most are of our more fun adventures, as no one cares much about the day to day. But sometimes the day to day stands out. For the worse.

In real life my horse was so naughty yesterday I wanted to leave him out on the trail. Maybe tied at the trail head: ride at your own risk.

I have been in the less-is-more riding school lately, giving lots of time off, as there is lots of time before any competitions, (we're already up to 15 miles no problem). Two weeks ago we rode to Auburn, then last week Major was a good babysitter and took out a new horse on a one-hour walking ride. And that's been it. He has a big pasture, he can run around all day.

But he'd rather do it with me. Damn. Out of the trail he was HOT and forward, but the recent rains have left dangerously rutted trails, so moving out is iffy. So we headed down to the sand to trot. But now trotting wasn't good enough, Major thought we must canter. We did not canter.

standing still is torture, but just look at those clouds

We trotted and walked when Major's brain fell out, and circled and then walked up and down the banks of the canal, just to make him think. We backed down the trail and backed up hillsides. I tortured my horse by making him walk up the lovely trotting hill to one staging area, where we needed to head home as it was getting dark and cold with the sun going down.

the lake is slowly rising, Major doesn't care, let's go, now!

I just wanted to walk the last 1.5 miles home. It's a trail along a road, and while safe, I didn't need foolishness.

But I got it, and more. The entire time I couldn't get him to take more than one freakin' walk step. Not one. Jigging, prancing, annoyance. I got off about 1/2 mile from our turnoff, and even then he just jigged and pranced beside me. Sigh. No lesson learned.

So we have some training rides to do soon. From home, where he misbehaves. With a crop. And a warm jacket for me. And a determination to not go home until I get that walk. 

But no matter how annoyed, the one thing I love about horses is the care. Because we got back and I stripped tack from my steaming beast (who was so worked up he was sweaty, and not from the length of the ride), sponged what I could, and did a thorough towel dry, which he loves. I got all his itchy places, and put him back in his pasture (where he promptly cantered over to his hay). And I wasn't annoyed any more. It's just something to work through, as usual.

And on the way home I appreciated the waning light, and the abandoned house I drive by daily looked so pretty and sad that I stopped to take a photo. With a little care it would be all right.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

rainy day checklist

1. Go outside to garage to make feed bags

2. Get distracted and take random yard photos in the rain. 

Shiny things 

Pretty winter camellia

Old tonka truck

Watch out for dinosaurs 

3. Now make feed bags, take to the stable

4. Give pitiful horse a mash...just because. He's not even wet!

5. Take all the tack home to clean. 

Wash girths

Clean rest of tack in the bathtub

Clean saddle (with supervision from SO's cat, Jack)

6. Make big vat of spaghetti sauce (with more supervision by Jack). (Favorite after ride food: my Mom's spaghetti sauce, freezes great.)

7. Don't forget to pack lunch for work tomorrow.

P.S. Remember to make lists after the fact, that way it feels like you got everything done!

Monday, February 2, 2015

are we there yet?

Today is Groundhog Day. We have no groundhogs here. But this weekend was so gorgeous we spent the whole time looking at our shadow. Maybe can we please get six weeks of winter? Not six more weeks of winter, just some winter? No rain since mid-December, but the trails are perfect, grass abounds, and might as well take advantage.

I was tired of the usual home trails, but didn't want to stray far. So I decided on a one-way trip to Auburn (with SO kindly delivering my trailer). The distance isn't too far (14 miles) but the elevation gain makes up for it (2,200 feet, most of it in a 1.5 mile section!). Major thought it was too early until I plied him with alfalfa.

sun coming up, a classy wheelbarrow, an alfalfa snack, and modeling his new-to-me Toklat Matrix pad: thumbs up!

We headed out about 9:00am in sunshine and short-sleeves. In January. Crazy. Major was happy to move along towards Avery Pond. Past that, he knew something was up. Shouldn't we be turning around?

stream below should really be an entire finger of the lake
on the other side of the little stream!

We trotted the service road and past the bridge of death. Then begins a lovely single-track along the river. Just a few runners coming towards us, every time we passed them Major would speed up, thinking he was wining the race…in the opposite direction. Not his most clever move. Then he'd slow, pull over and stop (I always think he has to pee, or wants a grass snack, yes he has me fooled!). Time to turn around yet?

drought-stricken river
looking back before starting up, hold on for cliffs and rocks ahead

Then it's up, up, up. I hate the rock portions, though Major hates them more. It is slow going over yucky rock footing. I got off and hiked the last portion of the Cardiac Bypass, at the top Major dove into the grass like a starving thing. Then stared back down the trail, time to turn around yet?

partway up, might not make it without a snack!

Just another couple miles, up to the lovely trough at Auburn. Where he snorkeled but didn't drink. Time to go home now? Major didn't quite understand that the trailer was waiting, that we could go home the easy way. I do like that we was willing to keep going, and he sure felt like he could have done another 14 miles!

we're done here, let's go home…

After I untacked, and cleaned him up, he found a perfect place to roll in the dirt. And I think he finally figured out we didn't have to ride back! He jumped into the trailer and stuck his head out the window. Now can we go home?

really, he was clean…

one last look down the trail