Saturday, February 7, 2015

Waterton Canyon

I've been obsessively watching the weather this past week. Today, it dawned bright and clear, with moderate wind (which we determined was not blowing so hard at to deter J from going out) and a predicted high temp of 72. We headed to the barn by nine, loaded my gear, and then grabbed Ashke. He loaded on our second attempt and we were off to get K and Eddy. This week, K and Eddy were calmly waiting for us and it took only a few minutes to load K's gear. K was determined to work through the issues of two weeks ago (when Eddy plowed her down and ran over her) and took three attempts before he walked on the trailer. However, Eddy was calm, never stepped past her shoulder, and the three attempts were K's choice. Loaded up, we headed out for Chatfield, as I figured that area would give us the greatest opportunity to find dry, decent trails.

At the trailer, Ashke plowed into some alfalfa as I tried to clean the pee stains from his left side. He was almost a palomino on that side. I wrapped his legs with the BOT exercise boots, then saddled him up. His feet have been very good and I expected that we could do the ride today sans the boots. My goal is to get him to the point where we can ride pretty much anywhere and not have to use boots. The way he is growing out his hooves, I'm struggling to get the boots on him any way and he has been very sound. The boot on his RF has been  twisting, due to how his breakover is occuring. I plan on taking pics of his feet tomorrow to post, so I can get Saiph's expert opinion on how the look and how they are growing.

Once we were all ready to go, K and I swung up and headed for the South Platte. I had noticed a horse crossing/fjord just south of the bridge we crossed coming into the parking lot, and I thought it would be fun to cross. And good practice for water crossings in the future.

Neither of them offered to lay down

We headed up the far side of the river, opting to stay away from the road after Eddy spooked hard, spun and thought about bolting. K stopped his spook and we moved away from the road. At that point I looked over and realized that Eddy had cockleburrs in his tail, including under his tail by his tail dock. I think he had brought his tail down against his rump and stuck himself with the burrs, resulting in goosing himself. We stopped and K removed the burrs, finding a couple of handfuls up under his tail. Poor boy. Once they were gone, we got back on and headed out. 

 I loved the ride today. It was such an incredible day.

K was pretty happy too, except when she was fighting with Eddy about pulling on her.

J wasn't feeling good when she first woke up, but the sunshine and easy exercise made all the difference.

We rode south along the South Platte (to the left - can't see it) by a series of lakes created to encourage wildlife to habitate.

Eddy was very happy and K had very few issues with him all day. He had a lot of energy but listened well and took care of K.

Such incredible blue sky

At the southern end of Chatfield State Park the trail winds through the trees to a parking lot across the street from the entrance to Waterton Canyon. We had to cross the road (which the horses did without blinking an eye) and then followed the South Platte south into the mountains. Waterton Canyon is known for several things, but the really big thing is the herd of Big Horn Sheep that live on the canyon walls. 

Guess what we found?

See the people in the distance?

This was the point where we stopped and dismounted. Before things got crazy.

 The sheeps saw the horses and headed toward us. Ashke flipped his shit.

Seriously. Snorting ensued. And a fairly serious attempt to run.

A whole flock of Big Horn Sheep Ladies.
J was fairly close.

They seemed pretty scared of us and bolted past us in a stream of bounding bodies.

Ashke was not impressed. Eddy didn't seem to notice.

Maybe two miles up the canyon was a place where we could get the horses down to the water to drink.
Neither of them did. 
I explained to Ashke that proper endurance horses need to drink whenever they are offered water.

After about two hours on trail (an hour and a half of actual riding) we stopped for lunch at a small picnic table on the canyon wall side of the canyon. We had all carried a lunch in. Ashke begged my PBJ out of my hands, stole some of J's apples and pretty much disregarded any of the dried grass in the area. He even tried to tip over Coyote. Eddy spent his time eating whatever he could find and then trying to take K's meat sandwich out of her hand, which he managed to do before she could shove the last bite in her mouth. She didn't want to finish it with horse slobber and grass and leaves on it. Not that I blame her. Then Eddy grabbed a dorito. Crunched it up. Then realized what he had and did the horse version of spitting it out and scraping his tongue. I swear he dragged his tongue in the dirt, coughing the little pieces out of his mouth. Then curled his lip and flehmen'd for a good five minutes. Funniest thing ever.

We turned around after lunch, still a couple of miles away from the dam. We plan on going back on a day when we aren't running under a time constraint. The footing was packed dirt, few rocks and mostly flat. It was a great trail and I look forward to doing the ride all the way to the dam.

On the way back. K and I completely missed them. J did not.

The canyon is unbelievable. There are Ospreys too. We didn't see one, though.

I kept telling J I was so happy. It was that kind of day.

On our way back to the trailer, we turned onto the Audubon trails that lead down to the river. 
The trails were incredible.

The landscape was wonderful and sooo much fun.

We rode through an area of beaver activity, with downed trees on either side of us.

The beavers had actually created a dam across the river. I wonder if the Forest Service will allow it to remain, or if they will remove it.

I can't wait to ride this trail in the spring, full of green and growing things.

There were a few muddy spots but J did not brick her bike.

River crossing from the other side. 

At the trailer we pulled tack. Both horses were pretty sweaty, although Ashke was only sweaty under his tack. Eddy was pretty wet. It didn't hurt that both horses got pretty wet at the river when Eddy started to splash. This time they both loaded without any hesitation. We took Eddy to TMR, where Ashke was surprised by Cali walking up to the trailer and nuzzling his nose. That was hard. Ashke was so unhappy when we left and I am sure Cali wasn't happy either. Then we went home.

Overall, the ride was awesome. It was slower than our average, mostly because of the hairy beasts and getting Eddy in condition to do the kind of miles we are doing. Both horses had plenty in the tank when we got back to the trailer and it is a great start to the miles we will be able to ride this summer, especially once they shed out. This was a great trail, and I look forward to taking T on it.


  1. What a fantastic ride!! It's the best thing ever when everything falls into place so we can get out and do as we wish. Your joy is so tangible in the write-up. The canyon is gorgeous! And good boy Eddy!

    Lily would have had a cow over the Big Horn sheep too. But how awesome that you got to see them!

  2. This ride sounds like SO much fun! I love the landscape differences.

    And OMG the big horn sheep! Q probably would have had a meltdown. I'd have been squeeing in delight!

  3. Looks like a fun ride! I think it's so cool that J accompanies you guys. The bighorn sheep are cool but I can see a horse getting seriously freaked out by them lol. Glad your mounts did ok with it!