N arrived at our place by 8:30 bearing breakfast burritos from our favorite restaurant (it was the only place I wanted to eat when I was preggers with the T-man and we went there five days a week for a while.) We got out of the house by 9:15, got to the barn, loaded up and pulled out by 10. It was already 85 degrees (we were trying to ride before it got hot). We pulled into the parking lot at Chatfield, unloaded the ponies (who now walk right on the trailer without any hesitation) and began grooming them. Two more trailers carrying four horses pulled up behind us and unloaded.
N and I always take time to really groom, even when we are on the road, because it makes our horses happy. We like happy horses. We had just finished bridling them and N walked around the trailer to get something from the other side of the rig leaving Cali standing quietly next to Ashke with her reins stretched back behind the cantle of her saddle. I was messing with Ashke's fly bonnet when all hell broke loose at the trailer just behind us. Something spooked the horse standing tied to the trailer closest to us, he pulled back and his feet slipped on the gravel over pavement he was standing on (he was shod). He lost his balance and fell, landing on his side with his head at an angle, held in the air by his lead rope. Cali jumped and spun around to see what happened, but stood and waited for N to get back to her. Tia, T's godmother and good friend who was riding with us, calmly took ahold of her reins to hold her still.
Meanwhile, the horse is laying on the ground, his head held up off of the ground by the lead rope. His rider walked over and nudged him with her foot and told him to stand up. He didn't. I muttered, undo the rope you freaking idiot. She must have heard me and released the rope (thank god for quick release knots). The horse just laid there. N wondered quietly, watching with me, if he might have broken his neck. He made no move to get up. The rider walked around to the front of him and pulled on the rope, raising her voice and commanding the horse move. He didn't even try. I thought the rider was going to kick him in the belly to get him up. I think N would have exploded on her if that had been the case. I was beginning to think it was going to be a very bad day, when one of the other group walked over and undid the saddle (he was completely tacked up - I don't know why western riders haul their horses that way). Once the cinch was released the horse scrambled to his feet. He was fine, but it was kind of a surreal incident to start our day.
We got our stuff together and headed out.
Our goal was to travel north along the sidewalk to the entry to the road that led to the stable, then turn south along that trail to Waterton Canyon Park. That was as far south as we had gotten the first time we took the trail. From there I was hopeful that we could make our way south to the Platte and cross at the ford just a little south of the bridge that crosses the river. T was on his new bike, which he loves, so all would be right in the world.
I figured it would add some mileage to our ride and allow us to see some of the park we hadn't seen yet.
Both horses were very up and Ashke had a really bad spook just as we got started. He spooked and stumbled during the spook, which torqued my lower back. Thankfully, Tia gave me a great back rub tonight before bed and I also applied some Rider's Rescue Rub to the area. We trotted with a lot of loft for the first couple of miles. By the time we reached the dirt road, they were warm and we alternated cantering with walking all the way to Waterton Canyon.
I rode with the Osprey hydration pack again today, but with only water in it instead of my lunch and snacks. I managed to drink 100 ounces of water in about two hours, and although my back was sore, it wasn't any worse than it would have been after a normal ride. I used my cantle Stowaway bags on the back of the saddle and absolutely loved them. They held everything I wanted to pack, plus had room left over. I think that N is going to get a bladder for a shell we have (it's very simplistic) because she can't carry enough to drink with just the pommel pack she has. She is going to order a set of the Stowaways for trail riding.
We stopped for lunch, pulled saddles and ate in the shade. That was when the angry 14 year old appeared. I think it was finding out one of his friend's just got a new Xbox One and T wasn't at home to hang out and play with him. Or maybe it was not eating enough at lunch. Or maybe he was just hot. It was 93 by that point. Love the look.
We stopped for lunch at the same place we had stopped to eat last time. I checked my Equitrack app at that point and we had ridden 6.75 miles at a 5.2 mph pace. Not to shabby. When I pulled my saddle I had my arm looped through the reins with the lead rope hanging from the halter on Ashke's head. As I set the saddle on the rock, the lead rope attacked Ashke by brushing his front leg and he jumped like he'd been attacked by rabid wolves (I have very good reason to be afraid to leave him tied or to worry about how he would handle ropes). When he jumped back and tried to get away from the very scary rope, it jerked the rein up my arm, leaving me a pretty darn good bruise and rein burn. I spun around and said "Whoa, Ashke" and he stopped. Darn good thing he loves and trusts me. As we ate lunch N and I talked about doing Parelli work with ropes over the winter, which was the exact same conversation we had a year ago when something similar happened. Maybe we will be able to work on his rope phobia this winter. I will need to put it on my list.
After lunch we headed out to Waterton canyon, thinking there would be access to the Platte at the ford. T was really grumpy because he hates exploring (sometimes I wonder who's kid he is) and he hates taking the same trail back that we took out. I ignored him. Instead, as we were walking up Waterton Canyon, I began guiding Ashke back and forth across the road with my legs. We even did a couple of circles with just my legs. It was pretty darn sweet.
About a mile into Waterton Canyon we discovered that there was no way to cross the river there. The land on the other side is all private reserve and the ford I was looking for was not as far south as we ended up. We were at 7.4 miles when we turned around. I think at that point I lost my GPS signal, because the app lost us completely.
So very green this year.
We headed back, but I knew from talking to one of the bike rider's we had seen that day, that there was a short cut back to the trailer. It also had the added benefit of not being the same track we had ridden out on, which would make T happy. Except that when we got to the turn off, T refused to go down the track. N and I didn't wait or argue. Tia followed us pretty quick after, while J sat and exchanged words with T. She finally gave up and followed us. T at that point, waited another three minutes to make his point) and then came on. Teenagers can be herd people too. The trail was singletrack and cut to the east around the lakes. I figure it safely cut three miles out of our ride. So, if we had followed the same track back we would have had a 15 mile ride, but as it was we probably did 12 or so.
Cali loves to trail ride. I think that both horses love being out.
As we got close to the truck we got separated. I thought everyone was at the lake watching the kayaks and so when we crossed the bridge over the Platte, I started looking for a way down. The single track was there and in less than 15 seconds, I was off the trail and wading into the river.
N was going to try and take a pic of me, but Cali kept laying down in the river. She didn't put anything more than her chest in it, but that was enough. I didn't want N to drop the camera.
The channel gets pretty deep and somewhat swift and the far bank is heavy with undergrowth. However, I would love to pull my saddle and swim my boy across. Maybe before the end of the summer we will do so. The bottom is rocky and offers fairly good footing.
It was an awesome way to finish the ride.
Just for the record, we did not travel in a straight line from Waterton to the truck across two lakes. In fact, it looks like the app stopped working at lunch. We went at least a mile up the canyon and then back. And the trail back to the truck at that point was at least 4 miles. So, I figure we did about 12.5 miles or so in two hours and eighteen minutes of ride time.
That's 5.36 mph. Not too shabby.