Thursday, March 16, 2023

weather, enough


grass snacks are never boring

found this friend on my patio!
Atmospheric rivers. Snow. Flooding. Damaging wind storms. I'm supposed to write about riding but that hasn't been happening! What have we been doing?

I dig ditches to try and redirect torrents of water, in the pouring rain, while Miles watches from under his shelter. I try to scrape up some of the mud, between rainstorms, while I put Miles into the empty paddock to eat some grass. I take Miles for a walk to eat some more grass in (what seems like) the five minutes between storms, then we get caught in hail. It's been fun. 

I might be late for dinner
In the last month I got in one short forest ride that was terrible. He was so stupid about wanting to turn home, so we did! Back and forth, out and back, into the arena, back on the trail, repeat. If I could get any consistency I'm sure we'll improve. But not right now.

stu's trail

this, more please

I did do one more ride, and it turned out to be a good one! I sneaked out of work on a randomly gorgeous day during the week. No one else was about, the gravel roads were clear, and we had an enjoyable 10 miles along the river. After the ride I wanted to see if Miles would eat from the bucket on the trailer. He certainly will, and make a huge mess! Back to a mash pan on the floor!

hopefully we'll try the trails on the other side when it dries up

this was the only thing that spooked him all day, writing on the road


There have been a couple of nice days with blue skies, where I'm trapped at work and only get out in the afternoon to take him for a walk. But I'm glad for those days (and being light later, yeah!) and I think Miles likes to get out as well. He always whinnies back at my whistle when I arrive at the stable.

a few minutes of gorgeous
so much shedding, I take a brush on every walk

just a flesh wound…

Oh, and to top it off Miles did manage to scrape his leg up against the wood floor frame of his shelter. It is not deep, but he won't keep a wrap on. Luckily it is still healing fine. This weekend was more moving sandbags and yesterday, during the wind storm, while I was checking on Miles, coming upon the gorgeous, huge oak at the ranch fallen over, crushing fences and cross-ties (luckily no horses or humans hurt).

not enjoying the rain, the oak tree that fell pictured behind

one last treat before you leave?

I am making no short-terms plans. I'll read some more books, wander some thrift stores, and plan for summer. But I'm hopeful that spring will surely arrive sometimes soon…after the next series of cold, wet storms coming next week…. Are we done yet?

thrift finds (that I did not buy): interesting clock, paint-by-number (I have a half-finished one at home already), pegasus fantasy book, huge play horse trailer!

Wesley, gone to the dark side (helping me make the bed)

Monday, February 20, 2023

cronan firsts

I am fully taking advantage of the lull in our winter to get some rides in. California weather does this almost every year, a false spring, but after the deluge of December and early January I'll take it!

filling up before the ride
This time Miles and I teamed up with Rocky and S to explore Cronan ranch. I've been there many times but not with Miles before. I was happy to be showing S around as she'd been, but not on very many of the trails. And Rocky is the absolute best boy! Such a good role model for Miles. The parking lot was packed with cars, I'm assuming runners and bikes, as we were the only trailer there.

love this conifer section by the creek
We first split off the main trail out and do a nice single-track trail called Gerle Loop, then head out on the still-misspelled "Connecter trail" (sigh…). There is a long, fairly narrow bridge across the creek now, I've never done anything like that with Miles. I had him go first, and I'm not sure if it is smart or foolhardy, but I just assume he can and don't worry about it and he does! He certainly takes leadership from his person, but is naturally brave anyway.

love this viewpoint

good boy drinking

at the river for the first time
The views are always beautiful. I practiced having Miles both lead and follow, at the walk and trot. A small storm was rolling in, the wind increasing as the day progressed, but the footing was great and we headed down to the river. We followed the river trail, seeing from debris piles how high the river was in January. There were quite a few people on the trails but there are many miles of trails and everyone was pretty spread out. And everyone was so nice. We gave trail when we could and graciously thanked everyone who stopped for us. (And Miles even got a treat from a cyclist, his favorite thing!)We headed back into the valley floor. There is a nice, long level trail that we worked on some leapfrog exercises as well as trotting side by side (Mr. Competitive showed up for that one).

good hair day riding

We came to the steep Up-Down Trail and hand-walked the horses down. Bikes came past, slowly both directions, and the only glitch was a loose dog, luckily friendly, but really? (This park is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which allows off-leash dogs, but the owner should be in sight at least!!)

Rocky following, this looks epic, I love it.
Back on Connecter trail we headed home. Miles was a bit more forward but I made him wait when his faster walk outpaced Rocky. The funniest part was when we got to where the Gerle Loop split off. He was convinced we had to go back that way, and I let him lead just to see what he'd do. He turned across the trail and started heading that way! We can literally see the parking lot in the distance, but he knew the way we'd come, so it must be the way we had to go to get home! He grudgingly walked down the main trail, but I still don't think he figured it out till we were almost back. He won't forget again, he is very smart about finding his way home.

threatening skies

heading home
Back at the trailer the boys were grateful for their haybags while we had a snack too. This was a good adventure for us all. Rocky was pretty full of it (for him!), S is learning a lot, and I am lucky to have a good training partner. Our ride home was extra long due to a traffic accident, but we can all sure talk horses for a long time! The rain started just as we got everything unloaded, perfect timing for a successful ride.

I'd like to request more alfalfa please

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Miles: one year

One year ago I decided to risk it and take a chance on (another) young, bay, Arab gelding. 
February 15, 2022. Looking a little cautious.

We've both learned a lot, and have a lot farther to go. (Though we did go 575 miles this year, I was surprised at that!)

So here is to many more trails, happy Gotcha day Miles.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

two times

Staying off of delicate trails while they dry is so hard when the sun is out and it is perfect riding weather. Luckily the roads in Auburn are great for that, though maybe not as interesting. I rode very similar trails twice, and I rode two different horses. Both of them were Miles, but first was Miles with Beau, the second one was Miles by himself. I sure like the second Miles better (we have work to do).

remembering to follow at a respectful distance

it was icy in the shade

We went out with Beau to explore how dry the trails were and how the boys would behave together. Short story: they don't very well! So we will need more practice with others (which I knew). Beau has not had enough work after pulling from Tevis last year, and is full of it. Miles just feeds off of all that. So there was walking and circling and lagging behind (on purpose), separating and dealing with it, for horse and human! Going home Miles finally settled down. It was half walking and half riding, but we have a lot to improve on.

now that we're home, can I play with Beau?
Then we headed out the next weekend by ourselves (also in a new-to-me saddle, having fitting issues). Beau was at the trailhead with another horse, and Miles didn't care at all. We left and rode our own ride, and damn, what a good boy!

obligatory weird barrels, just cool

heading down to the river

can't we just stay out here?

all the green starting to peek through

He was forward but rateable, went everywhere and at everything I pointed him at, no spooking or much silliness. Best part: he drank out of everything he saw. Random weird spring that funnels into a tiny bucket, sure! Old trough with running water, sure! Puddles? Ok!

weird spring, yummy!

roadside trough, all good!

Plus is was just gorgeous out. The river trail has really good footing, and the rest was gravel roads. We could have stayed out longer but I'm cautious of bringing him along slowly, We did 11 miles with 1300 feet of elevation gain, and he was never tired, though he was very sweaty!

dam view does not get old

going up

looking downstream

what else are we doing? We're done buddy.

I think moving forward a balance of rides with others to trainhis brain to that and rides alone will be a good compromise. The weather still looks perfect for another weekend, so off to find more trails!

drying off after eating grass snacks

Monday, January 23, 2023

miles monday: hello

 Miles would like to say hi to everyone out there. 

And do you have a treat?


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

sun recovery

Miles is done with it
The deluge is abating. Almost 15 straight days of rain, and not just a little, buckets and torrents! And intense wind storms, thunder and lightning (which we almost never get), pretty much all of our winter packed into two weeks, with more to come! Miles is done with it, as he proved by running, bucking and sliding about when I turned him out into a less muddy pasture yesterday.

During the storms Miles seems sensible if irritated, staying under cover for the worst of it. I visited with a wet mash, though chunky boy doesn't need it, the water and salt are best during weird atmospheric rivers. He wholeheartedly approved and I just watched him eat in peace, me sitting in the drizzle on a wet chair, surveying the mud (after already digging lots of ditches, diversions and bringing in sandbags).

muddy mess, but mash!

There was one clear afternoon last week and I took off work early and got Miles out. He was quite spicy, so a little lunging to remind him that he does actually have a job, and he was pretty good. I rode in the arena (wet but drains well) and then just up and down the graveled lane. I did go to the creek crossing and about 30 feet into the woods, just to see how it was. The trail was a slick mess and we turned around before we rode the slide-and-slide any longer.

trail slip-and-slide

But the damage has been done. I haven't seen much of the trails but what I've seen (I went hiking on one of the rainy days, just to get out!) is a mess. A huge tree across one of our main access points, who knows how long before state parks can come to clear it.

huge pine blocking the trail

lots of water (there is a trail under there)

this is a trail access, now a dangerous deep (about 18 inch) eroded gully
And the erosion! Usual puddles fed by trickles are now streams of water cascading down hillsides, and across the trails, turning them into eroded, dangerous holes.

mossy manzanita and old stacked stone

mushrooms and moss

my new favorite, I'll call it Clam rock
But there were some small moments of nature looking her best. And the sun looks to be shining for a few days. It will be a long process to get the trails cleared, and winter isn't even close to over. Sigh. But this too shall pass. 

Wesley is just going to stay in his hammock…