Monday, April 16, 2012

quarry ride

Major LOVES his friend Friday. Both horses have such a good time (well, so do their owners). So together we decided to try the Quarry trail that I'd been dying to go on since hiking it a few weeks ago. The plan had been brewing for awhile, and I was excited, but then another rider told us the trail was blocked by a tree! Damn. Luckily they said three miles in. By starting in Auburn we would have already done seven miles, so if the tree was down, we'd still get a good ride in, with lots of elevation change.

I had new saddle inserts to try, really nice equipedic foam from Action Rider Tack. It doesn't solve the too-tight issue the saddle seem to be having, but unfortunately saddle-ftting seems to be just trial and error. Saddled up and ready to go, the staging area was filling up by the time we hit the trail.

Down, down, down to the river and No Hands bridge. My SO was also out trail running, much faster than we go downhill, and quickly passed us. Both horses were happy to be out, the mud was beginning to dry up, and we fit in good trotting and cantering in the flatter areas. And Major lost his first boot, front left. Luckily it stayed around Major's pastern, and I slipped it back on, the mud does a number on the velcro!

The bridge crossing is fine (I don't mind it, be wary if afraid of heights) but the road crossing is scary. The trail drops straight down onto the road, no space really to compose yourself or look both ways. Luckily my SO did stay around and acted as crossing guard. One car stopped, another guy almost hit him not paying attention, and we dashed across the highway.

But the Quarry trail was so fun! We cantered almost a mile along the first part of the flat trail, we don't have access to much trail like that, so it was great. Major was quick but not pulling, so we just kept going. You come to the long-abandoned quarry, and keep going. The trail starts going up and down and winding a bit more, but still car-wide. We waded across creeks and cantered up hills. Cantering up one hill Major took some funny steps, and his boot was flapping. I got down to fix it...and the other boot was gone! Arrggh! I love the boots, I really do, but I understand why people don't want to deal with it. I didn't want to backtrack, I figured we'd pick it up on the way back. One boot attached to the saddle, Major headed out barefoot. This part of the trail is mostly just packed red dirt, so very nice footing.

Then we came to the downed tree. And I pulled out my handy-dandy saw and chopped away. It only needed a few branches to be passable (to a good trail horse) so 10 minutes later we were on our way again, real trailblazers! There had been a directional sign, and Maine Bar sounded like a good stopping point. Best peanut butter sandwich EVER, and the grass was nice for the horses. Both horses were sweaty and gross, Major again thought it was a good idea to roll! No! Saddle came off (nice even sweat marks) and then he was distracted by grass and didn't roll...sigh..back on the saddle went, and off we headed for home.

And boot searching. I've lost enough to know they're pretty easy to notice. But we saw neither hide nor hair (nor orange plastic) of the damn thing. There were lots of people out, maybe someone thought they were being a good samaritan and picked it up. But didn't see it put anywhere, and I am very sad. (Luckily Mel from Boots and Saddles is helping me order a new one, and walk me through the fitting issues, and it may be ridiculous, but I made a lost poster to put up near the trail, hey, doesn't hurt!)

But Major seemed pretty undeterred. He preferred the side of the trail, though he does anyway. Didn't seem flinchy over rocks, and we traveled home no problem. Major likes to lead, Friday likes to follow, and though we switch it out so they don't get too entitled, the system works great. Lots more people out walking on the Quarry trail, plenty of room so we just kept trotting, people smiled as we went by. The highway was much easier to cross this direction, you can see both directions safely and have plenty of room.

"Black Hole of Calcutta" was a rushing waterfall
Again we crossed the bridge, and powered up the hill (mountain? more than 1000 feet of climbing). We crossed paths with another rider, who said his horse was out of shape....if that is out of shape, wow! Turns out he owns a local feed store, is a serious Tevis benefactor and does lots of trail work with a fancy trail machine. He mentioned as an aside that Tevis is allowing a completely barefoot horse for the first time ever. They are taking it very seriously, looking at the competitor's records, talking with vets, before approving anyone. Very interesting to see how that turns out.

Back at the staging area the horses were not happy to get hosed off, but were happy to gorge on the fresh grass. Major had even sweat marks, and his back was fine right after the ride, but I'll see how it is today. His feet, after 18 total miles and 13 barefoot miles of dirt, gravel and rock trail, looked fine, a couple chips (and he is due for a trim tomorrow). I'll check them later today too.

After trailering the horses home, I was hot and sweaty and tired, and Major and Friday jauntily pranced around the arena, looking great. A good roll in the sand and Major galloped back up the hill to the waiting leftover breakfast hay. A good fun day was had by all. And I'm still a pit of anxiety about saddle fit and boots and the upcoming ride. I know I said I was trying to get better about worrying...yes, getting better, but not that much better about it yet!


  1. Nice, sounds like a good ride. Nothing like a good safe stretch of cantering!

    Your lost boot sign is very cute, like you say it doesn't hurt! I was glad my black Easyboot got noticed and rescued at Whiskeytown in all the mud and hubbub, and my friend N's bright red Renegade got noticed but she had to go back and save it herself. Ahhh the joys of booting.

    What is your first planned ride again? Will it be Major's first endurance ride? I feel like I should know these things from my reading by now, but..I can't recall.

    1. My first (and Major's too) will be in 2 weeks at American River. Hold on for the drama/stress/crazy I'll feel in the next few weeks...

  2. LOL at your hoof boot flyer!

    So pretty out there. I've gotta get over there and ride the end of the Tevis trail some time soon!

    I guess I'm glad somebody's trying Tevis barefoot. I think it's a bad idea, and I wouldn't do it on MY horse, but maybe I'm wrong. Just seems too rocky to do a hundred miles barefoot with a couple hundred pounds of human aboard...

    1. Come ride any time, it is gorgeous. I fly through it like nothing now, but the views take your breath away, and the cliffs too!

      I don't think Tevis barefoot is very good idea either. I wouldn't have even ridden that section barefoot if I hadn't lost a boot! It sounds like the Tevis folks are being very cautious with who to allow, and checking endurance records and other pertinent info. It will be interesting to follow.

  3. Looks like a beautiful ride. Hope the boot shows up.

    1. I wish you could come along and take pictures! You'd do it justice. We were moving pretty quick and I didn't stop enough to take photos: I need a helmet cam!