Sunday, April 26, 2015


Today was an awesome trail ride. We went to Chatfield again, but rode North after crossing the Platte, rather than riding south. I really wanted to try circling the Reservoir. We asked forced T to come with us, since his Godmother was up from Colorado Springs and we haven't forced him to ride with us since October. It was supposed to be partly cloudy, but no rain, and I knew the majority of the trail was sidewalk, so it seemed like a good time to make him come with us.

Additionally, K met a woman two weekends ago (at a spook busting clinic) who boards at SQA and who really likes to trail ride. K got a hold of her and let her know we were riding at Chatfield. When J and I pulled into the barn, PJ was already hooked up, had her horse saddled and loaded and was chomping at the bit. Unfortunately, we still needed to wait for the farrier who was at TMR trimming Eddy at that point. PJ unloaded Margo, her 16.2 TWH (and drop dead gorgeous) mare and took her out to graze while we waited. Thankfully, a barefoot trim does not take very long and Ashke is always a gentleman, so we headed out to get K and Eddy not too much later. PJ followed us over to get Eddy and then to Chatfield.

At TMR, it took two minutes to load K's tack (she puts it in the back of her jeep so we pull up and load) then had to find her and Eddy. Two weeks ago at the Spook Busting Clinic she finally found a tool to help her with Eddy. Eddy's biggest issue is controlling his head and shoulder when asking him to do something. He has bowled K over and pulled away from her, yanking the lead rope out of her hand, and she hasn't been able to stop him. At the clinic, K bought a Monty Roberts halter.

(From Monty Roberts Website)
This is what I tried to make for K, using parachute cord. This was much more effective.

K paid $55 for the halter but she said for the first time ever, she was able to control Eddy. Every time he tried to bull over her or pull away, she was able to bring his nose around and make him face her. By the end of the clinic, Eddy wasn't even trying any more, even around the parachutes or tarps or plastic bags (Eddy's kryptonite). With Eddy in the halter, K led him on the trailer the first time with no shenanigans. It was a fine moment and a real exhibition of K's persistence in making Eddy into a fine trail pony. I would say she got her monies worth and then some. Note to self: sometimes it's the right tool or technique that makes a difference in performance.

Twenty minutes later we were pulling into Chatfield State Park. As holders of a State Park pass, we pulled right through, but then had to wait for PJ to make it through the other line. PJ was smart and bought a State Pass, so next time we go, it will be easy. Cherry Creek State Park is on our list for Mother's Day weekend with J and myself and maybe PJ, if she's interested in going. And we need to finish riding the entire ride at Barr Lake State Park. Maybe we will have hit them all by the time we are done. ;p

Tacking up was pretty quick, and then we were on trail by noon. First up was crossing the river, with Margo leading. Margo's story is pretty interesting. She is TWH, pinto, mare. She was bought at 3 by a man who rode a lot, sent to a trainer for 90 days, and then brought back. Three weeks later the man who bought her had a heart attack and died. Margo was put out to pasture. For years. Then a husband and wife at SQA looked at her as a riding mount for the wife. She was a little too much horse and they settled on a TWH gelding that looks a lot like Margo. Again, she stayed in the pasture. PJ owned a little Appaloosa mare (rescue) who kicked through her fence and broke her leg the day before PJ was flying to France. She had to be euthanized. When PJ got back from overseas, she was still mourning the loss of her mare. The woman from SQA who had looked at Margo originally, had a very powerful dream about Margo. She was standing in the field crying because she really wanted a job and her own human. The woman told PJ she had a horse PJ needed to meet. It was love at first sight and Margo got her job.

Anyway, Margo led through the river (which was higher than last time) and out the other side. We crossed the road and headed north.

The footing was excellent. And Chatfield is getting really green.

K was riding Eddy in the first solid shank bit I tried on Ashke (the one that rubbed the corner of his mouth) and he was really good in it. He didn't toss his head as much and was very soft most of the day. 

PJ on Margo. I swear that mare snorted in happiness for the first five miles.
She and Eddy were having a contest.

Margo has a full fly mask designed specifically for riding.
We might need to get one.

We were traveling pretty fast, with a lot of trotting and cantering in the mix. 

J was able to take some video early, before T got real angry and frustrated with the ride. 

Video proof that T was with us.

So we had a 16.2 h TWH, a 15.1 h Arabian and a 14 h Hafflinger. 
All three horses were so happy to be out on trail.

 Chatfield is even more beautiful in the spring.

T loves to hide his lower leg on the back of his seat. He then tries to pedal his bike with one leg. I think if we got him clips he would ride like that for a long time. It looks really freaky from the front. One of the ways in which he entertains himself on a ride.

The horses were all very up for the first half of the ride. They really didn't slow down until the final three or so miles. 

We trotted and Margo gaited. She was a wicked running walk.
Or we cantered. A lot.

The trails were all new and climbed from the lower part of the Reservior to the top of the Dam. 

We headed west to Wadsworth, and then the trail turned north to cross one of the creeks that feeds into Chatfield. Our first bridge crossing was uneventful. 

The trail headed up. There was a lot of yucca in the grass, which meant that Ashke spent at least some of his time at the canter jumping brush. One of the times he was going to cut to the right, I thought left, and he squirreled the jump to the left. I lost a stirrup and PJ said that was a very interesting form for both of us.

We moved off the sidewalk and cantered up the hill. Ashke moved a little bit faster than we had been and Eddy started to race. I could hear K saying, "Too fast Eddy, too fast." but they all slowed at the crest of the hill.

Around the north side of the Res.

J has such a great eye for photos. 

We reached a dirt road heading up and we moved back into a canter. Ashke was sooo smooth and relaxed without rushing at all. It was such a smooth wonderful ride. He did shy at a couple of bushes, cross cantered for a couple of strides, then I touched him with my outside heel and he flipped his front to the new lead. It was fairly smooth and we didn't have to slow. 

We topped the hill and came back down (think wide rolling hills) and there was a small creek that was flowing fast at the bottom. Ashke and I started into the water and then we stopped. I asked PJ and K to back up as I was going to get off. There was a pair of sunglasses laying in the water on top of a rock. They looked expensive. I could only really see them when sitting on Ashke. I stepped into the stream (thankful for high topped waterproof paddock boots - my feet stayed dry) and picked up the sunglasses.

Score! Polarized. Online price $225. J knew what they were when she saw them.
I had no clue, until J said they were a pair she was thinking about but they were more expensive than the Oakleys she settled on.
No scratches or damage.  

I gave them to T as a replacement for his Oakleys that were destroyed by Lily the second day of High School, but I might have to take them back, since they look really good on me. I also told T that his glasses had been destroyed, since we had been waiting for him to ask where his glasses were. Usually we don't keep secrets like that, but he had had such a horrible start to High School that we didn't want to make it worse. Ashke drank really well as we crossed the stream. I'm very happy with his willingness to drink at every water spot. We seemed to have learned from our experiences.

Just after that, we stopped for lunch and let the horses graze. The weather started to get snarly and spit some rain. J couldn't find T's jacket (packed in his camelbak) so T put on her screaming yellow jacket on with his skin tight muscle shirt on the outside.

K ready to get on Eddy again. 

PJ on Margo ready to ride. This mare was very well conditioned. She was moving out with Ashke, with no issues. I could see her doing a 25 LD with ease. She loves to go.

After lunch, we had one more climb to the top of the dam. I have no idea how high it is, but it is pretty far up there. The road we were riding up was packed dirt and a gradual rise, so I let Ashke move to a canter, then leaned forward and told him he could gallop if he wanted. We hit a decent 20 mph run and tore up that hill. K said later, she just held on and let Eddy gallop (her first time doing that with him) and Margo cantered up behind us. She has such a big stride I'm not sure she had to gallop. At the top, we met up with J, T and Tia. The sidewalk down was long and looked like a lot of fun. We sent them ahead at full speed, then made our way down at a walk. 

On the north side of the spillway that becomes the South Platte on the north side of the dam.

We stayed on a dirt trail while the bikes stayed on the road.

 All of the cottonwood trees are in leaf. The willows are in leaf.
So much green.

We crossed another bridge, then headed east toward the dam, planning on skirting the base of the dam on the East until we met up with the trail on the East/South that we were riding last week. (We could make of this a 35 mile or so ride, in a big loop.) We left the highland prairie and moved into trees and shade.

 It was such a gorgeous ride. 

At the base of the dam was a gravel road. T was not impressed. We, however, loved the road and cantered up the slight grade three abreast. This is not easy with the mare in the middle, but we managed it. K and Eddy were on the grassy verge. There was a post and a sewer cap on top of a low concrete foundation. Eddy went to the left. K went even more to the left, hung on the side for a bit, then came off when Eddy turned to the right up the dam. PJ and I had slowed our horses, which helped slow Eddy, and luckily K was not hurt in the fall. Eddy stopped and waited, while K got to her feet, assessed herself, then got back on. I had seen the pipe seconds before Eddy went sideways, but didn't have enough time to shout out a warning. K was a trooper.

After the fall, J, T and Tia decided to climb the very steep bank to the top of the dam. The gravel road was creating issues with the boy's junk. And he wanted to see the top of the dam. It was a great decision.

There was rain in the background, he had just carried his bike up a huge hill, but he had a somewhat smile on his face because he was on top of the dam.

Big Ass Dam and growing boy.

And J in all her colors. They were much happier to be up.

And then they weren't on the top of the dam any more. They left J guarding the bikes and went down the face of the rocks.

Gives some idea of both scope and steepness.

While at the water's edge, T found a stick. More like a pole. He strapped it to his pack and carried it all the way back to the truck.
He was so happy with his find. I swear all we need to do is give the boy a stick and let him play. 

The hardpacked road we were on curved East and then South, running alongside a railroad track. It was a siding and it had a set of railcars and four engines sitting there. The engines were running but not moving. Ashke got very anxious and edgy. At the southern end, where we could get past the dam and back down into the Park, it was Dam abutment, road, tracks with maybe six inches between. Made me very nervous, since I know Ashke does not like trains. The trail down into the park was also very steep, slick, and with a lot of loose rock. PJ and K stayed on, but I got off and hand walked Ashke down. I didn't feel it was fair to ask him to handle the terrain and my weight and our balance with a bum leg. He had been so good, with a light, easy canter, a decent working trot and a swinging walk that I wasn't going to chance him stepping wrong and hurting himself.

We made it back across Plum Creek (will have to ride out and explore that area in more detail at a later time) and headed back. 

Back at the Reservoir for a drink. Ashke drank well and Margo drank from the edge without getting her feet wet. Eddy lipped at the water but didn't drink.

Headed back to the trailer under darkening skies. It held off and blew over. 
Lots of verga.

Looks like it should be raining, right? Not a drop although it did get kind of cool. 
The bikes and their riders headed straight for the trailer down the road, while we followed the singletrack across the prairie.

By the time we reached the trailer, J had buckets of water and wet mash set out for Ashke and Eddy. She told me later that she needs to know what PJ wants for her mare, so she can have it ready for them too. We striped tack while Ashke painted everything he could reach with his mash, stored our stuff and loaded the ponies. It took maybe ten minutes to unload K's tack and Eddy at TMR, then we headed to SQA. Ashke got a quick groom, a clean stall, his left over mash and an extra flake of alfalfa. He seemed happy when we left.

My Equitrack app lost the GPS signal at the place where we stopped for lunch. At that point we had traveled six miles in a little over an hour with an average pace of 4.97 mph. We rode for three hours and 45 minutes or so. I guestimate our mileage at 18 miles, give or take. 

The three of us made a good riding group. None of the horses took issue with another, there was no squeeling or bad tempers and we traveled at the same pace comfortably. PJ and K are easy to ride with and easy to talk to. The horses did fabulously as a group and handled all of the obstacles, including 65 mph traffic less than 50 feet from them. We crossed water twice, four bridges, hills, road traffic, bikes and dogs with no problem at all. Eddy (with one exception) was a rock star and Ashke seemed to enjoy himself. 

T enjoyed being able to stop, throw rocks into the water, find himself a stick, climb up and down the dam, and mess around without being focused on constantly moving forward. J said that he's not going to be happy unless they can geocache or indulge in boy stuff on the ride. Going forward we will incorporate more of that into the ride. He was just so happy after he found his stick.

I tried using my saddlebags on the back of the saddle. I think I will need to get a longer saddlepad so the bags don't rub his hair behind the AP pad I am using. He wasn't sore where they were rubbing, but I don't want to create any problems. It was much easier for me to use the saddlebags, and my shoulders didn't hurt as bad when I was done. I liked using them for my lunch and to carry my rainjacket. I will definitely be using them going forward.

Ashke was in fine shape today. No stocking up and a great attitude. It was raining so I put his new rain sheet on him and will see him tomorrow. We are supposed to have rain through 5 pm tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. What a great ride, glad those threatening skies never rained! It is so nice when you find good riding partners, and lots of good long trails.

    And boys with sticks. Perfect.


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