Wednesday, November 9, 2022

good boy Friday


my favorite picture
Losing them is so very hard. 

spring ride
My good friend C had watched her good boy Friday get more blind and deaf, and while he physically looked OK from a distance (he still had an amazing, glorious trot!) he was falling apart. We talked and worried about winter, and rain, and what if he fell, or spooked into someone he couldn't see and hurt them (he was never the bravest anyway, make worse by his failing sight and hearing).

camping and lake culbetson

local show

Folsom Lake

putting up with my shenanigans with his mini-me

so handsome on a camping trip
She did the hardest, best thing. She let him go on a beautiful fall day, before cold winter set in, and he did not have many bad days. He was Major’s best friend, and it is so very hard to have them gone. We had so many awesome adventures, and they are so loved.

adventure at blue hole


best friends


Friday, November 4, 2022

mea culpa


If there is anyone still out there, I'm sorry for my extended absence! I can't seem to get back in the writing groove. While Miles is coming along I fear that I lost something more of myself when Major died. I can't even put it in words, but I'm trying to push past it and get out on the trails, and remind myself to write about it!

amazing clouds along the river

low river at Avery Pond

hiking down from Cool
obligatory No Hands bridge photo!

This summer we had some really nice, even quite long, trail rides. Miles has NO problem with 16 miles Auburn to Cool, though we are not traveling quickly. He loves getting in the trailer, and has not put a foot wrong when we're out on an adventure. We drove into Hidden Falls and there were hundreds of goats next to the parking. I thought "oh crap, this should be fun." Miles unloaded, looked at the goats, and went to his haybag, "Whatever, there are snacks here."

hundreds of goats? no big deal.

Hidden Falls bridge

our buddy S and Rocky behind us on a ride
Home is another story, still! He is stupidly barn sour, and at some random point on a ride in the local forest decides "now" we've turned for home and gets stupid. We work on turning the other way, sidepassing, backing, one-rein-stops, big whoas, taking a different trail, etc. We also come home and ride in the arena, make him wait and not get put away after a ride, etc, but it is a serious work in progress. And he is super smart at figuring things out, but this one is a battle. If I can't ride consistently (there was a time in September when it was too hot, then smoky, for almost three weeks) it is back to square one.

huge new house along the trail

Beeks overlook view

But yesterday we had a nice five mile ride. And coming back he was stupid again, sigh. So I tried all the things and something clicked, we walked part of the way home very nicely! I did want to see if he tried a trot for a few steps, then walk, then repeat if that would help his anxiety. But instead he was a pogo stick and I decided walking was in my best interest to stay in the saddle!

last ride in daylight after work

waiting, not patiently…
So my update is nothing exciting, and maybe that is part of my reluctance. How many times can I write about training rides? But we also have been hiking, as when I'm not in the mood for shenanigans (I'm sometimes just too burned out after work to deal with one more thing) we take a jaunt into the forest. Lots to see and explore. Last week was a flapping turkey with (what appeared to be) a broken leg. Sadly I'm sure he became coyote food that night. Now there are some puddles from recent rain, a challenge at first but then he was reminded of his manners and marched through. 
fish toy fun!

arena trot

We have also been spending time in the arena, some riding, but mostly some obstacle stuff. He doesn't need to be ridden five days a week, but he needs work to keep his mind busy. He is very smart and in one lesson each learned to pick up the cone (for a treat), pick up the fishy inflatable (for a treat), stand on the manhole cover (for a treat) and put your foot on the big rock (for a treat.) Sensing a pattern here? Yes, he likes treats! I'm really hoping to get a book on trick training, any suggestions? 

My least favorite season has arrived. Darkness is descending, and riding after work gets much harder. But I'll keep on trying, and trying to write about it as well. Maybe I'll at least try for a photo a week, proof of life! On the home front Wesley is just so much fun, our latest game is chase and hide. When all the fun is done he reminds me that when things are hard a cat in your lap makes the world a better place.

watching for lizards

just chillin' on my concrete leaf

watching Wesley TV

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

be cool

heading out, somewhere new!

this is why I get lost, these are all the trail options!
The Olmstead trailhead in Cool, CA is also part of Auburn State Recreation Area, but on the opposite side of the canyon from the Auburn Staging area (and driving the canyon is not particularity fun). I've ridden there quite a bit…but also manage to get turned around almost every time. I can memorize other trail systems no problem, but this one stymies me.

lovely grassy meadow
So Miles and I headed out and I followed my GPS track from a ride (with C and Friday) almost exactly two years ago. It was unseasonably cool (a high of 80 expected, not like today, it is 104, yuck!) as we followed the creek then turned south to eventually get to the Rim trail. All went well for the first mile and a half, when we got to the large, muddy, creek crossing. It is more just standing water, a creek/pond. Miles was having nothing to do with the deeper crossing, so we went a little farther on where there is a tiny bridge and a shallower crossing. 

the dreaded creek actually not so bad…
The little bridge is a bit sketchy, so I hoped to cross the water. He was having none of it. So I settled in for a lesson. First just stand by the water. Fine. Take a step? Oh no! Ok, try again. And again. Did not like that water. So I got off and walked him across the sketchy bridge. I could have just got on and continued the ride but I wanted to work this water obstacle. This side was more gradual, and Miles put a couple feet in the water. Then he'd rapidly back up. So I got off again and led him in. He was fine with that. Once in the water he looked around and played, really dude?! But he was in without too much drama.

I turned to go back up the embankment and a water monster must have grabbed his foot. He leapt up the bank behind me (not touching me, good boy) and splattered me with mud. It looked like I'd been mountain biking through puddles. Sigh. I scraped off the mud and got back on. We walked back down to the creek, entered nicely, turned around, walked back up and continued on our way. Luckily that was the biggest problem of the day!

first big pond

creekside trail

this is very fun single-track

the view over to the Auburn side!
The rest of the ride was nicely uneventful. I followed the pond/creek trail through the shade to the Rim trail. All these are my favorite single-track, and I didn't see another person out there all day. There is lots of creeks and water out there, which was really refreshing, though none of the other creeks caused even an ear flick from Miles, so maybe he just didn't like the mud in the first one?

Knickerbocker Creek pose

Even drinking, good boy!

The red dirt road back to the staging area

the other side of the pond going home

Even on the hotter hills of red dirt he was pretty cheerful, and seemed to know we were heading back to the trailer. I haven't trailered him a ton of places yet, but am establishing some habits to make sure he likes going out, including an after ride mash (of nothing exciting, just beet pulp, alfalfa pellets and salt). He was quite enthusiastic!

hand-me-down boots worked surprisingly well!

mash face

Now that full summer is here these trails can be too hot unless we get there really early, so we might not explore Olmstead much more until fall. Though I'm tempted to go back and school that muddy crossing another time, but maybe closer to the end of the ride than the beginning!

Wesley had a very hard day and was grateful I was home

P.S. This is Tevis week, and the Auburn endurance community is in a fervor. It is quite exciting, and I'll be crewing for my friend S and Beau, her first Tevis. She and Beau knows these trails, Major and I rode many of them with her, it is bittersweet but I'm so excited for her. Full crew report to come later!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

auburn firsts

I'm lucky to have a wide variety of trails, but riding out of the Auburn staging area is still my favorite. You can take so many different trails, and if you don't want the elevation gain you can even stay on the upper terraces. I thought it would be a good place to take Miles for our first off-site ride.

I cajoled my friend S along, with her horse Rocky. He has been there and done that, and Sandy is a newer rider, a very good team. She even goes on my adventures, so she's brave too! I told her we would try not do any scary trails.

going up Robie Point
We just went around and about, and mostly stayed on the wider trails. I didn't take many pictures (two hands on the reins in new situations!) but we all had a good time. Miles likes to lead, but we made both horses switch off. Miles and Rocky both kept their heads when we came up from behind on an entire hiking group of rowdy kids, who moved aside but were pretty noisy, rummaged in their backpacks, pulling out lunches and clothes just as we walked by!

perfect weather and trail that day

video still that S took of us
We did go up one steep trail with a drop off to get back a shorter way. It is a known trail but S noted later it was a little scary. Sorry! I think I don't even notice any more!

Miles and his buddy Rocky
The second time I went I pretty much repeated the same trail but by ourselves. Miles already had learned the way and when we continued going at one point he definitely knew what trail headed home!

The long road back

Why are you turned around taking photos?
The third time I decided to go for it and go all the way down to the river. Much more elevation than we'd done, but Miles had done longer distance, so I thought he'd be ok and was going to take it easy. And I chose a weekday to not battle the crowds hiking to the street runoff "waterfall."

the importance of pre-ride snacks
Miles enjoys his pre-ride hay bag, but leaves it nicely as we head out. No Hands bridge is 1100 feet below the staging area, but it isn't a straight drop. It takes 4 miles where you follow an old railroad trestle (so flat), then drop down along a single track, then another level section. It is a really good variety of trail. Going down the only part I was worried about is the steep banks and the bridge at the "waterfall," so I hiked down and Miles was fine to follow. There was one small group of nicely quiet people, so all was well as we continued to the river.

and back across (this view is heading back to Auburn)
And crossed No Hands for the first time! We just went across and back, he looked a bit at the sides (now ugly chain link) and down to the river below, but otherwise a non-issue. We went down below the bridge to get some water, where he was very good and actually drank. Sadly for him there were really no grass snacks down there.

being dorky for his No Hands posed photo

actually drinking yeah!
We headed back up and again, when we got to the waterfall, I was going to dismount but there was no one there. Miles has been very sensible so we rode down and crossed the bridge. Then I got complacent. Going up I should have showed him the best path to take, but I let him choose. He lurched over a big rock step (we should have gone more left) and fell to his knees. Ouch! I jumped off quickly and he seemed ok, but I walked him to the top to evaluate.

He definitely had skinned both his knees, and I rinsed them with water from my water bottle. I have other first aid in my saddle bag but they weren't bleeding, I was more concerned if he was lame and if I broke my new pony! I walked him out the next half mile, where he was chipper and prancing along, seemingly none the worse for wear. I got back on and we rode the rest of the three miles back to the trailer. 

Broke my new pony (but only a little)
There I cleaned him up, applied some aluminum spray (my favorite) so he looked worse than it was! But he never took a lame step and everything has healed up fine. Lesson learned: I need to pay attention and tell green horse where to put his feet sometimes!

heading out in the cool morning
For our last trip to Auburn we headed out very early as it was going to be a really hot day. I went the other direction (also a bit gun-shy about the section he fell on) and headed downstream to explore the trails over there. There is more gravel road and less single-track, though we did go down Cardiac Hill… carefully. We practiced some cantering on the roads and also tested his mettle on the big hill at Oregon Bar, where he was enthusiastic for the whole ride up. 

Finding a snack just about anywhere

Miles is skeptical about "Cardiac Hill"

ouch, sorry about the star thistle

So I apologize for going on and on about four Auburn trips, I'm trying to get caught up. Miles has been very well behaved off site (better than at home!) with few spooky looks or hesitations. Bikes and hikers and dogs have been no problem. He certainly seems to have a good base on him, I don't know if it is his previous experience, our 100 miles of walking, or just his breeding (or all of them). We have a long way to go till we're tackling 25 miles of canyon trails for fun, but so far I think we're both having a good time getting there.

Oregon Bar view

Wesley seems to have melted while I was out riding