Wednesday, June 5, 2013


It was hot already. Expected high of 95, so I headed up the hill to cooler weather and lovely trails at Skillman horse camp. This is where Wild West is held every year, and I've done other days camping and riding here too. I was joined by Major's friend (and my friend) Friday and C.

Just an hour away and there are gorgeous huge pines, just-finished blooming dogwoods and lots of green! But I have very few photos, as we were burning up the trails!

The horses were both pretty happy to be out. Major loves "new" trails, ears pricked we trotted along. We slowed to walk a rocky section, and just as we were leaving it Major's head came up, "Something in the trees!" he alerted, though not that worried. I tend to dismiss his silliness and just move on, but took a glance. Yes, yes there was something. A bear! A pretty cinnamon-colored bear. That turned to go the same direction our trail was heading! Damn! But I kicked Major into a trot, started whistling and just went down the trail. The bears are not a threat, just something that could concern the horses. Not to be seen again, the bear disappeared into the woods, we kept traveling.

Distant lake view

Down and over lots of roots, vista views of distant lakes, snaking trails through pines. On the snaking trails I remembered something I'd recently read. If there is a too-close tree next to the trail, turn the horses head INTO the tree, which will bend their body away.  It is probably something many people already know, but it was lightbulb "duh!" moment for me. I always apply leg, but there are those times when the tree is super close/horse is not listening so well. I tried this a couple times, totally works! I also forgot one time/was distracted and have a lovely bruised knee to show for it.

Don't take your lowered El Camino on this road (what is up with the car? I love it!)

The trails have great footing, we flew along. My favorite part was Hallelujah Hill. It just keeps going up and up, switchbacks and steep. Both horses just motored up, no slowing, loose reins as the horses navigated themselves through the footing and turns. Skillman. Skilled. Skillz.

Green as far as the eye can see
Green and purple, a pretty picture of C and Friday

We cantered smooth dirt trails, and a lovely green viney section, Major getting a little goosey one time as the vines grabbed him. Some of the trail is built into the hill, so the hill just drops away to pines and green underbrush. There are loop-de-loops as the trail drops away 5 feet and back up in a short space. You ride those either really well or really badly, depends on your timing. I got better as the day went on!

Let's go, let's go!

We took a break back at the trailers and headed out out again, wondering if the horses would be annoyed at leaving. Nope, fit and raring to go! Just another hour, then back to the trailer for good. There is great horse water at the camp, and we talked to the camp host, who used to be a sword swallower. Yes, a sword-swallowing, flame-eating renaissance fair guy. Cool. Through horses you can meet some pretty interesting folks!

Horse eating firepit. Or BBQ.

The scariest thing Major saw all day was back at camp. The firepit. Or maybe the BBQ. Both got the evil eye. Both horses did great, 20-year-old Friday keeping up with Major just fine. And Major was super strong, we didn't even go far enough to tax him at all. So I contemplated. And thought. And pondered. And sent in my entry for two days of 50s at Wild West at the end of June.


  1. What gorgeous trails! And awesome on two days at Wild West! Sounds like Major is ready. :)

    1. They really are great trails. I'm hoping Major (and me) are ready for two days!

  2. my man and i loved that sign - both the "not recommended" and the shot up one. you just don't see shot-up signs in germany. i guess i miss it.

    1. Not only that, but the road become trail after about 1/2 a mile, not recommended! Glad you liked it, I love signs too.

  3. Very nice! I really want to come ride at Skillman sometime when it's quiet. Are there multiple trail heads or a particularly good spot to drive in for a day ride? It would be fun to come join you up there some time :)

    1. Multiple trail heads, none of which are very well signed. A bit hard to navigate the first time, but I'm getting better at finding my way around! You can park right outside the camp, there are a couple good spots, and then we just walk into the camp and use the troughs. It is usually pretty quiet up there (except Wild West weekend) there, last weekend only two camp sites full!

      I'd love to show you around!

  4. Also HAHA leave the El Camino at home! Awesome.