Thursday, February 18, 2016


The rain cleared and some amazing weather showed up, drying the trails, glorious early spring days. So Major and I have been working. On local trails, on not jigging home and just not being stupid in general. These rides are not particularly interesting, and have consisted of loops and loops and sometimes taking an hour to do a 15 minutes trail home. But it's been highly effective, and there is much better behavior involved now!

But we also need to do actual conditioning. And I was thinking of the horse torture trail from Auburn to Cool. A lot of elevation would provide a needed assessment of Major's (and my) fitness. As I was hooking up the trailer Major was impatiently waiting at the gate (which I love). Let's go, let's go!

hurry, hurry, put me in the trailer

An empty staging area awaited, and we had the trail to ourselves. On the weekends this trail is becoming quite a circus, I was lucky to have a long president's weekend holiday to ride on a Friday. We passed the lovely waterfall, now complete with stupid bridge and knee-knocking railing, and Major continued to lag as we headed for No Hands Bridge. He can be terrible about conditioning rides alone, and was at his utmost stubborness, asking repeatedly "Can I go home now" like a kid on vacation from the backseat of a car.

knee-knocking railing and skeptical ears

more skeptical ears and river view

Sometimes it makes me question, does he really like this? And then he'll power up the hill on the other side, erasing doubts. He just isn't a hot, forward horse (unless you provide him something to chase!). He would rather question ALL your training methods from the comfort of his own pasture thankyouverymuch.

we did not take horrible Training Hill, though Pig Farm is almost as bad

And going up the other side of the canyon we powered along, and he exited stage right (almost out from underneath me!) to make the turn for Pig Farm trail, NOT the trail I was going to take. But while letting Major make decisions has gotten me in trouble, this time I let it be.

tired horse proves later he is not really that tired

And he regretted the decision almost immediately. I got off and walked most of the trail, dragging Major behind me, both of us huffing and puffing. At the top we meandered about, and then to the staging area, bursting with lots of green grass which helped Major recover quite quickly!

so yummy!

But soon it was time to go home, and Major knew it. So a little bouncier and faster we headed back down the hill, passing just-hung trail marking for the upcoming Western States practice run (with Lance Armstrong, it was the talk of the town).

we can follow the race trail marking too!

And back up the other side. Here is where Major shines, on the twisty, uphill single track. He powered up the three miles of trail, and got to the Robie Point road, where he said "I'm done trotting." I got off and walked along for awhile. I was more than fine with that. As the first hard elevation ride we've done all year, he'd done pretty good to make it this far!

never tired of this view

Robie Point, Major says "I'm done"

Almost home! And then I heard chainsaws on the trail ahead. I was about to dismount again when I heard the call of "horses!" and all noise ceased. The CCC crew stood aside, scary equipment getting the eyeball, until we were safely past. Very nice. But Major thought they might chase him with the chainsaws, and got a second third final wind to the waiting trailer.

It was slow. It was hard. It was 16 miles and 2600 feet of climbing. But Major has a great base of fitness, and recovered great. I was more sore from all the hill work myself! A lot of elevation it was, and we have a long way to go, but things are looking up.

miles to go…


  1. I love your horse and wish we could ride together.

    1. Awww, thanks! Riding with you would be so fun. I bet Major and Ashke would have a blast together!

  2. I have an almost equal view of a bridge. It's wonderful but there also starts the noice from the highway ... I wish all my ponies like to jump in a trailer as happily as Major. Pepe is fine, but the other two are not really happy. Do you really think he 'knows' that something interesting will happen and that's the recipe?

    1. Major definitely knows we're going to do something he likes, which is any exploring, anywhere. He of course jumps in at the vet too, but I make sure there are more rides than vet visits!

      I'd love to see your bridge! There is some road noise here too, especially on the steep downhill where cars screech tires sometimes going too fast. But it's never bothered Major. I worry more!

    2. I hope you don't mind, but 'my' bridge turned out to be more unnoticed than I thought, so I made a post:
      About the trailers, I think you in the US have bigger and brighter trailers like we here in Germany. I remember that one US horse guy said once: You Germans have remarkable big horses and very small trailers. I think I'm going to change that!

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  4. Great ride! Love a horse that waits at the gate and LOL At preferring to question your training methods from pasture

  5. Love the photos! Took me a while to figure that you're in CA :-) Riding vicariously with you :-)