We basically rode the dotted yellow trail today. you can see how much more there is to explore.
It goes 19.5 miles one direction. J and I studied the maps and talked about this trail all week. We woke up early on Saturday and instead of racing out to do the entire trail, we did this:
The two terrors enjoyed their time at the park.
Then we went to the barn, hitched the trailer and loaded Ashke. He hesitated before walking on the trailer, trying to find out where Cali was. Once he was on (with a peppermint treat in payment) he got a bit stressed that she didn't join him and he was calling for her as we drove out of the barn. We had decided to park at the Spring Gulch Equestrian Area and ride the trail from there.
The entrance road to Spring Gulch is a one-lane dirt track with poor signage on the East side of a very busy road. We missed the entrance the first time and had to turn around in a church parking lot. We stopped on the way in and I purchased an annual pass. If the trail was as fun as it looked, we would want to ride out here and so the annual pass made the most sense. After the fee station, which was a box at the entrance, we drove down a very long road to a gate. It was not fun, in any sense of the word, if we would have had to back out with the trailer. The gate was triggered by the truck. We went in and turned around so we were facing the way out. We were the only ones there.
Spring Gulch is an eventing x-country course. The footing is sand covered with grass. In areas where the horses will be galloping the grass has been mowed. There are three jumps of varying heights at each obstacle. The one thing that we didn't know when we paid the fees and drove in, the entire place is fenced. With no gates. No way to get out.
It's a pretty big course, but we aren't eventers. We are something else.
Ashke snorted with delight (and some trepidation) for the first half hour of our ride. He was so happy to get out onto a new trail.
We followed this road, thinking it would lead us to the trail, but instead we found the fence. Luckily, there was a stream that crosses the property, leading from Spring Gulch and instead of trying to run the fence across the stream, the fence ended on both sides of the stream. On the North side, there was enough room for both J and Ashke to walk around the last pole (through a sumac tree) and then up to the trail. However, this wasn't the trail we were looking for.
The path was paved and very pretty but not the path we were looking for.
Unfortunately, the groomed sides of the trail were littered with gopher holes. This is problematic if I want to ride faster than a walk. Gopher's make trails under the ground that may sudden collapse, creating a hole. This happened one time towards the end of our ride and it strained Ashke's RH leg. Trotting or cantering was not really good.
There was some shade at the beginning of the trail. It did not last.
The trail we were following kept winding through the subdivisions and did not match the description of the trail we were looking for.
J and I stopped at the second street we came to that needed to be crossed. There was an older man standing at the mail box on our side of the street. J had her phone out and we were cross checking the map of the trails with mapquest. The older man suddenly said loudly and in our direction, "I'm calling the police, then."
I gaped at him. And he repeated what he had said. I asked, "Why are you calling the police?"
He didn't answer, but instead trundled across the road holding his mail, and grumbling at us under his breath. J and I laughed while we figured out our access and went on our merry way. We figured, even if he called the police, what would they do? Senility is a tough pill to swallow.
We finally found our way out of the neighborhood,
East-West Regional Trail
By the time we reached the trail, J was feeling really awful. She has a horrible head cold that was getting worse the further we rode. We went almost a mile east from when we finally found the trail, stopped and let Ashke graze while we ate lunch. Then we turned back. Next time, we will press on and see what other vistas we can ride.
The Shining Blue Mountains in the far distance.
I was so not ready to turn around. Alas, J was feeling really bad and I couldn't continue to ride if she felt bad.
Ashke has started reaching out and touching J on the arm or shoulder as he walks. She is part of his family and for some reason, he is feeling more connected to her on every ride.
Today, I rode with the Stowaway pack. I figured out how to slide the breast collar through the front of the saddle bags to keep them from flapping against his shoulders. That fixed what was bothering him. We were able to trot and canter without any bolting or spooking.
Fun with the video camera on our way back
Some trotting. I let Ashke carry himself however he wanted. I practiced riding with my left hand.
My left hand is stupid.
I rode mostly with my right. I do need to practice with the left more.
Some cantering. He cross-cantered a couple of times when his right hind got tired.
Not the best picture of me. Pretty good pic of my boy, though.
I don't think I can express how much this image makes my heart sing. I love wide open spaces.
The pack. Working. Now I have two packs that I can ride with. I may still work with trying to make the cantle pack work with the hydration pack.
We took the East-West Regional trail home. The one that we wanted to ride originally. Unfortunately, the trail took us to the corner of Santa Fe and Highlands Ranch Parkway. It's an incredibly busy street. I got off to hand walk Ashke across the road. There was a Dump truck sitting at the light. As I led Ashke in front of him, the driver released his Airbrakes, making a huge hiss. Ashke went sideways, almost into the road. I was pissed. What an asshat. We made it across and found ourselves just on the outside of Spring Gulch.
With no way back inside.
There was a very narrow space between the gate and the fence. Very Narrow. I got off and hooked the stirrups up, then carefully led Ashke through that space. We had maybe an inch on either side.
We got back to the trailer, unsaddled and led Ashke onto the trailer for the ride home. At the barn, I washed him for the last time this summer, taking special care to wash his tail completely white. He looked good when I tucked him into his stall with his mash.