Sunday, April 27, 2014

Long Distance

I think I have an endurance horse.

He loaded fairly quickly, after some rearing and trying to pull back. His current method of loading is to pull back, hit the end of the rope, rear up and lunge into the trailer. (Yes, we will schedule time to practice loading, standing and unloading without going any where.) Once in, he was nervous and shaking, but behaved himself. He was really stressed as we left the property. He called and called and called. He was still calling when we pulled into Fairview Vista, which a long time ago, was called Dowdy Draw and used to be a horse trail only.

As a side note, the trailer pulled easily and the truck had no problem maintaining speed up a long, steep incline.

Ashke was very unsettled when we first unloaded. His head was up and he was very nervous. I had put a rope halter on him under his web halter, which had pinched and rubbed a little bit in the trailer. I quickly stripped his web halter off and lead him around the parking lot and then into the grass. As always, he settled fairly quickly when given the opportunity to sample the lush spring grass.

 I have to say, once he knew what we were doing - confirmed by boots and bikes - he was relaxed and curious. We didn't have a single spook on our ride.

He was still very nervous as I started to groom him, but once I began putting his boots on his feet, he looked up, saw the bikes in the truck and visibly relaxed. (The last time we wore boots, it was obvious the back boots were way too big, so yesterday at the Murdoch's Bucket Sale, we scored two back boots at 20% off. Yeah me! I was like a kid at Christmas, I was so excited. And, I also scored a Carhartt lined vest which will be perfect to layer with in the spring and fall.) We stepped down to the 0.5 size boot on the backs and they are still a little big, but they didn't rub, twist or slip when he walked, so I count that a win. I will order power straps and put them on. Once he was relaxed, it was pretty easy to get the saddle and bridle on.

The trailer worked great and was an easy pull for the truck. Having a bumper pull means we can fill the truck bed with bikes, cooler, water, etc. for our outing.

It took a little bit to get every one straightened out and on the trail. There were several fails on the trip. The bike rack on J's bikc did not fit the seat post and kept slipping down onto her back tire. T (who I really need to make sure has a hearty breakfast and a substantial lunch) struggled with everything: the trail, the rocks, his new bike, his camelbak. I don't think there is anything more difficult than trying to find a way to enjoy an outing with a 14 year old. OMG, the negativity. I'm sure I was not that way.

I must say, this is one of my all time favorite rides. Ever. How can you not love riding under the Flatirons of Boulder?

There was only one time that Ashke got nervous and that was because of the family trying to fly and mostly crashing three big kites at the top of the hill. I didn't even try to ride past them. I got off and led him up and past. He was very looky, but once we were past, he was fine.

The other users of this trail were very considerate. In fact, one guy stopped and thanked me for him being able to use the trail, saying that at one time it was horse only (almost 30 years ago) and that he appreciated that we (I was all horseback riders) allowed him to run there. It was kind of surreal.

T and J stopped a lot. They were looking for a geocache, which we now believe was down on the canal, but that would have entailed going down off the plateau and then back up. I opted to remain on the plateau, mostly because of T's really bad attitude.

We stopped a lot, or at least the bike riders did. Ashke would not stand for love or money. We walked in circles, over rocks and downed tree branches. He wasn't too happy about coming back to where everyone was - this horse wanted to SEE what was coming up next.

We did the entire ride with this attitude. Tail up, moving nicely.

I would have loved to have let him canter, but the ground was riddled with rocks and fallen branches, plus the occasional uprooted sapling (hole) that I decided to walk and trot where we could this first time, then canter our next ride out.

I am getting this made into a t-shirt to wear on trail rides. Although, you can see the prevailing attitude of bike riders toward horses in the scratched out marking on the sign. This sign was every where.

This was what we did while waiting for our group. It was good practice for Ashke, because the downed limbs in the forest were like natural cavalletti. He didn't trip a single time.

The trees were awesome, even if the trail was rocky. It is one of the things about this area - the closer you get to the mountains, the more rock there is on the ground. (Hence Rocky Mountains. Hahahahaha. I crack myself up.)

Ashke had settled into a 5 mph walk, hips and shoulders swinging, that he could have comfortably gone in for hours. We spent more time waiting on the bikes (the trail was very rocky) that I am pretty sure we added a mile to what the bikes rode.

Always with his ears up. 

We had a bad moment when J thought she had lost her phone. Before I knew what was happening, Tia and T had taken off back down the trail. I gave J my phone so she could use the Find My Phone app. We've discovered that doesn't really work in the wilderness. I told her to call her phone to see if anyone had found it, and to help Tia and T locate it. She did and discovered the phone in her pants pocket. Yes, it was that kind of day.

My horse was so happy!!

We crossed small streams and narrow bridges without issue.

My new favorite picture.

That far distant little fleck of white centered between the big tree just to the right of Ashke's ear and the little nubbin of a shrub to the right, next to the ribbon of trail: that is the trailer. This is where we parted company so they could sail down the trail.

Ashke knew when we had made the circle and were headed for home. The bike trail had smoothed out on a long downhill completely clear of rocks. It was perfect for the bikes and Ashke and I moved back up the plateau to allow them to ride as fast as they wanted or was safe. They flew down the hill. Ashke and I trotted, for the most part, at one time sidepassing at the trot in both directions to help slow his forward momentum. 

 Waiting at the bottom of their "fun" run, which was the only part of the ride that T enjoyed, watching us come down the hill.

 He trotted down the hill, which he never wants to do.

 We could have gone for much longer under the correct circumstances.

 Ashke felt as awesome coming back as he did going out.

He got his bran mash at the end of the ride, complete with carrots and smartpak.

 This picture just absolutely cracks me up. Could he be more blissful?

 There was bran every where. He is a pretty sloppy eater.

Digging in.

Mush Face!!

He ate about half the mash and then I loaded him. He had some issues with wanting to load to go home, and managed to nick the front of his neck on the door handle to the trailer before he reared and then jumped into the trailer. The nick was superficial (even though it bled just a touch) and I know we need to work on the loading process. Ten minutes later we were back at the barn and unloading. 

This is very deceiving, since one of the times I looked we were averaging 5 mph at the walk (he was really moving) but we stopped a lot and that always effects what the numbers look like. The speed and pace numbers in orange are what we are doing at that moment. Since I was standing still, I figure those don't count.

The really cool part about this trail? We could have ridden all day. The trails go for miles and miles. Once the construction on the underpass under 93 is complete along the canal trail, we can cross 93 and ride on the open space on the other side of the road. Or we can come down the plateau and ride in Eldorado Canyon. Or we can follow the trail into Boulder all the way to Chautauqua at the base of the Flatirons. 

Boulder has held a part of my soul since I first moved out here. The city has done a lot of work to maintain their open space and their trails all connect. I could ride a 50 out here, with a little planning. Since it is my goal to ride the 25 mile ride at Happy Jack in August, this is an area where we can put some miles on. Now there are four places to ride off property: Dowdy Draw, Bear Creek, Evergreen and Chatfield. Of them all, Dowdy Draw will always be my favorite. I can't wait to go back next Saturday!!


  1. Replies
    1. It was a wonderful ride. I can't wait to do more of the trail.

  2. When I saw your new header photo, I wanted to comment that it's been a while since I've seen sheer joy in a horse's expression. Then later you called it "happy"; ) There's nothing like being on a horse who LOVES being out there exploring. That he doesn't spook is quite a bonus.

  3. Oh, in case you don't know me or my horse, I should say Ashke is in contrast to my horse, whose face on trails says:


  4. Dear Ashke,

    I, too, find that manner of loading to be The Most Acceptable. My human disagrees. I also like to add Rapid Backing Off after I have lunged on. My human hates this the most. Stand strong with me, brother! We will train the two legs!


    At any LOVE that sign, too! That is just the kind of thing we were learning when I did my Leave No Trace master educator course. We learned that kind of thing and then the best way to talk with non-horse/stock users about it/how to apply it/etc. So very cool.

    I kind of recognize where you are in relation to the Flat Irons, too! My ex lives in Boulder RIGHT under the Flat Irons. I visited last March and got a pseudo-feel for the city/its location in relation to everything.

    Sounds like you had a pretty fun day (minus teenage angst lol) and it looks like the weather was BEAUTIFUL. =) Don't know how you keep Ashke so shining and white!

  5. Oh boy those pictures are truly spectacular! Glad you had a nice ride!

  6. The photos of you and Ashke with the Flatirons in the background are breathtaking!
    So glad you are doing well, and I'm sorry Preacher passed away.

  7. I loved this post, especially knowing what it means for you and Ashke in terms of future adventures. The photos are spectacular! But my favorite is the one of his blissed-out face while eating his mash. It won't be long before he starts looking forward to these trips!


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