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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

home trails


very full lake view

We started off walking. I wanted to establish a good base and instill some good behaviors. I knew Miles had done more, but I wanted to try and do it right. Is this the right way? I don't know, I've read so many ways to work green horses, but this seemed sensible.

smorgasbord when the grass was high

lupine paths diverging

under epic skies

Miles did not always agree. Going home should be faster. Or up hills should be faster. Or when his friend went around the corner we should catch up. Or sometimes just because. I'm pretty attuned to most of those tricks, so there were a lot of discussions that he did not win. What worked best for him: going home and working in the arena. Even just the road home became an arena extension.

our friend S and Rocky coming up the hill

Beau and Miles have a playdate
And still he has days where he forgets. And he forgets when we ride with others. And then he thinks back to his show days and wants to prance around. But we're working on that and it has much improved! He goes out with "Grandpa" Rocky, who isn't phased by Miles' antics. He also goes out with his pasture neighbor Beau, it is good to ride with people who understand our goals.

Trails turning brown

trying to creep closer to the treat tote

There weren't many photos in the beginning, as I needed two hands on the reins. We're much better now though, he'll stand forever if there are snacks available.

singletrack with pretty yellow flowers

three oak knoll

I am good at selfies, hi everyone!

And he sure loves to eat! The grass has turned brown now but he still looks for snacks everywhere. I'm fine with when we stop he gets a snack, he hasn't figured out how to snatch and walk, we'll leave that for later! He is very expectant after a ride for treats. In the beginning I gave him too many, he's a bit too greedy for that. Now he just gets a couple (when he is caught in pasture, when his bit goes in, after I untack, when he's put away). Much nicer behavior after that was instituted.

golden grasses

after ride posing

Now we've walked 100 miles. It's been a good project to concentrate on, and it is nice when I arrive at the stable and whistle for Miles he whinnys back. We're working on walk/trot (and even some canter) for our second hundred. The miles have already flown by, we'll see what the summer holds…

Wesley judging my work projects

Wesley thinks he is so tough posing with the deer skull

Thursday, June 16, 2022

a year

 It has been a year that Major has been gone. It seems so long and also like yesterday.

I'm sorry for the lack of updates. Things with Miles are going really well! We've had great progress and are moving into some longer rides. I'm not sure why I haven't written, I think about it, then the thought of sitting in front of the computer (after doing that all day) does not sound appealing.

I've been pretty lost, even with Miles, and Beau and friends, and everyone else. A Major-sized hole that can't be filled, only marked off with caution tape and walked around for awhile, till you get used to the hole being there and it isn't so scary. I'm not there yet.

I'm seeing the same trails through different ears, and it still doesn't seem right. But Miles can make me smile (especially when he nickers at me as I walk up to his pasture), and sometimes I forget long enough and have fun, the process will be long. I'm working on moving forward, even if it is to a very different trot.

different ears, same trails

Thursday, April 21, 2022

lupine lament

The lupine are not as amazing as last year, but I'd still seen some lovely images and wanted to get out there. This would be Miles' first time out at the lake (with me), and sometimes it is a lot (waves, wind, people, bikes). We started out through the green, green forest where he was very good, and then down to the lake.

I had gotten off to handwalk through the tricky rocky/driftwood access (I don't trust his footwork quite yet) and we came out on the lake and Miles had a good look about. Wide and open unlike the forest, but he wasn't too concerned.

We started off and immediately had to cross some deep mud, which took a little patience, but he walked though, no jumping, just needs ot take his time to look at things. We were riding along, I'd taken a few photos, and then it hit me.

I was just sad. So very, very sad. I stopped Miles as I couldn't see through my tears. The last times with Major through here, all our lupine adventures, they felt gone. The rides with my friend C and her horse Shane, gone too soon as well. I know they are memories but the giant hole in me felt so very huge and raw right then. I'm sure Miles didn't understand at all when I got off and slowly walked him a bit.

With a sigh to suck it up I got back on. Miles was very good at the lake, we even did some trotting! Well, until we returned to the forest, and he figured out where we were, and some barn-sourness appeared. We're working on it…by working. Circles and side-passing and backtracking and then we can walk forward without jigging. A good distraction.

Then to top it all off I took Beau for a ride among the lupine a few days later. That day I found out my friend/Beau's owner has decided no more treatment, and is coming home for hospice care. I took some videos of his ears among the lupine, so she could feel like riding the trails. It is the least I could do.

 The lupine is still lovely this year. But a little harder to appreciate.