We opted to follow the sandy road/trail that cuts south from the parking lot along the east side of the South Platte, toward Waterton Canyon but on the other side of the river.
The footing was really sandy, which is okay for Ashke, but not so good for J. Sand is hard on a bike, because it causes the front tire to not want to travel in a straight line and it bogs down the tires, making it harder to go forward. Sand also means the downhills aren't as fun, because having your front tire suddenly turn perpendicular to the frame of the bike results in a rotational fall.
We must have seen at least eight groups or individuals riding out on Sunday.
Ashke was telling me there was a lone rider to our left he really thought could use a companion.
Coming up on Dead Horse Lake.
Legend has it a QH horse was ridden into the lake in full tack, got bogged down and drowned. Hence the name. I think it's Urban Legend, but have no proof either way. This lake has a gravel bottom, at least close to the edge, which leads me to think we could play in the water if the name wasn't so forboding.
Ashke heard the geese and ducks on the lake.
J got herself a pair of arm sleeves for her bday. She got them to protect her arms from being sunburned without having to wear a jacket, which is hot. The sleeves acted as coolers, allowing the air to flow through and keep her skin cool. She had goosebumps along her arms after putting them on. For all you endurance riders out there - this might be a great thing to try. She really liked them.
At the end of the lakes (there are three) we took the trail up to the Highline canal, instead of crossing Willow Creek (was a little cool for J to take her shoes and socks off to cross the creek) and then going up to the Highline Canal.
Can you see her? They were very well camoflaged. There are actually three does in this photo, but I can only find the one. They were very curious about the beautiful, magical Unicorn who was visiting. They followed us down the canal for a bit, until they got spooked.
Ashke was very interested in them. Although he was only distracted from the grass for a short time. This was where we stopped for lunch.
We did a lot of nice trotting. J had to laugh at my massive arms (wind filled the sleeves).
We cantered a lot of the canal, where there were no obstacles, after Ashke shied sideways at a dog behind a fence and almost landed on top of J.
I made her stay in front when we were cantering after that.
We came down off the canal to play in the river bottoms.
This is Plum Creek. The Highline Canal (which I had hoped I could ride all the way around the Reservoir on) ends at Plum Creek. There is a private residence (Boarding Stables) at that junction that is closed to the public. Ashke and I wandered into the water. He didn't drink but he did offer to lay down.
We wandered down through the trees.
Although there was a lot of sand and rough going for J, she still said that Chatfield is her favorite place to ride.
This tree looked like a flame. I wish I could turn it into a tribal tattoo.
I would get it tattooed on my back (like the Briar Rose in the Kushiel Series by J Carey) from the top of my butt to the base of my neck.
It was starting to get green. Some buds and leaves on early trees.
Lots of bugs already.
Exploring all the ways.
J and her many colors.
I don't worry about losing her when she's in front.
It was beginning to get hot. It hit all of 64, but it felt hotter. We took a second break and let Ashke graze for 20 minutes or so while we rested and ate chocolate.
The trail back along the edge of the water.
The tail end of the ride and reservoir.
The last hill before the trailer. We were all pretty much done in. It was hot and Ashke was acting a touch lethargic.
When we got back to the trailer, Ashke refused water and his mash (he's never done that before). I used the five gallons of water I had to rinse down his neck and back, but he's still so hairy that the water didn't really penetrate. While I was trying to decide if I had broken my horse, a car going by on the nearby road, suddenly squeeled to a halt, threw a quick U turn (on a blind curve no less) and came screeching into the parking lot. The stopped abruptly by us and three or four people piled out of the car and came running up behind Ashke gushing about the horse. I was not in the mood. I snarled at them to not run up behind my horse or they were going to get kicked (Ashke could have cared less, but still).
One of the guys said, "Uhh, my girlfriend wants to pet your horse."
I snarled back, "I am not a petting zoo." Then I turned away to deal with Ashke.
The guy said, to his girlfriend, "I guess the bitch isn't going to let you pet him."
Dogs and horses seem to be public property when you are out on trail. I am usually a little more pleasant when dealing with little kids, however, I don't have to tolerate adults acting like fools.
Ashke still was not interested in any food or water. He kept pulling me toward the trailer, so we loaded up and headed home. My gut feeling was he was overheated and I needed to get him cooled out. I didn't even think about walking down to the river and letting him go in. I could have ridden him in bareback. I just thought we needed to get home. Panic will do that to you.
One thing to note, he had a handful of gravel between the gaiter and his pastern on his left front foot and a three inch stick in the same spot on his right foot. I could feel that something was not right, but hadn't thought to check the gaiters. Note to self: check the gaiters at all stops. It didn't rub or cause a bruise, but I do think it was annoying him.
When we got back to the barn, I took him out and sprayed him off with the hose. I could see him sigh with relief as we sprayed and squeegeed him until the water ran off him cold. We did the same distance this week as the week before in about the same temperature and in the same area of the state. However, someone suggested that when the hair begins to loosen but hasn't come off, it can be even hotter than they are used to. Either way, the cold water did the trick. Ashke looked great afterwards and had a good long drink and his mash when he got back into his stall.
I resolved a new game plan going forward, at least until he sheds out.