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A Tale of Two Trails

I would have posted these yesterday, but after the long day, I ended up going with my parents to see the CIA-thriller movie with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn about the Bush administration’s outing of undercover agent, Valarie Plame … uh, I mean Joe Wilson’s wife, and came home and pretty much zonked out.

But I woke up early today and started editing my trail pictures, so here they are! Mitch was happy and eager to load up yesterday when I met Donna at the barn. Hopped right in the trailer, easy as you please. Dad asked me if Mitch likes going on these trail rides, and I told him Mitch loves getting on the trailer. That should be enough of a clue. If he hated the trail rides, he wouldn’t go on, no matter what. And trust me, if this pony wants his way, he WILL make a statement about it. He could just as easily not budge as opposed to him hopping on the trailer without a second thought.

We went to Summerland’s Greenwell Preserve yesterday. Or we started out there anyway and then went on a nice trail ride through some residential areas and some horse farms. I love living here. We might not always go to wild and exotic back country locations to ride, but we can manage to get a good 3-4 hour ride just going along in our own backyards, practically. Mitch wasn’t too thrilled to have to stand off the shoulder of the parking lot in the weeds, but he took a dump, and I was just as glad that he was in the weeds when he did it.

We met two of Donna’s friends at the trailhead. Bethany was riding an elderly (but feisty!) Thoroughbred and Clarissa had her Quarter Horse and was ponying a yearling. So that was a total of five horses. We took a fairly moderately easy trail, and had a nice time. We had some great views of the ocean, and it was a lovely lovely day to be out in the sunshine. Donna and Red rode drag because Red is lazy-slow, Mitch and I started out in third behind Bethanny and her TB. Despite the TB’s antics of feeling a little hot to get started, Mitch was nice and quiet, which is a good thing for him.

We had several steep hills to traverse. One went fairly straight down, and I am very happy to say that all the work I’ve been doing with Mitch on navigating hills has really paid off. No more weird side-passing shit. He went down, nice as you please, with his hind end tucked under him. He did get a little jiggy at the bottom since he took so long to go down that Clarissa and Bethanny and their horses were already well ahead of us, so I let him trot a few strides to catch up. But he was well behaved. We went by this lemon orchard, and a man ponying a little girl with two more girls behind him came by and said “Hey, a Haflinger!” Gotta love the recognition! Gooo Haffies!! Proving they can do anything, if you ask it of them.

Eventually, we moved along to this part of the trail that just felt like some surreal fairy-tale world. Like Ireland must feel, all cool and shaded and green. I kept expecting to see fairies, or gnomes peeking out at us. There was ivy everywhere and it was just awesome. A really magical feeling. We got to a little stream, and then stopped and waited for the other two. I love the second picture, with Mitch’s little ears pricked up. It’s how I see the world … through golden ears.

After riding around a bit more, we passed a horse stable that was just … wow. They had this awesome dressage arena, and a big jumping arena, and the whole place was major rich-looking. Nice people though. We stopped to talk for a bit with the lady giving lessons because Bethany knew them, and then we introduced ourselves and were waving to people as we went past down this lane with flowers on either side of the fences.

After we got back by the trailers, Bethany and Clarissa called it a day, but Mitch and I were still raring to go. Donna and I went on another loop, this one was the one that leads up to the old Ortega Reservoir. It was a pretty rocky trail with a lot of switchbacks and we stopped a few times on the way up to let the horses catch their breaths for a minute or two.

I feel that this is probably a good time to admit something about myself. I’m a lousy hiker. I really really lousy hiker. I was telling Donna as we went up the switchbacks that if I was hiking with my family, and we hit that stretch of the trail, well .. I’d pack it in. It’s not that in trail riding the horse is doing all the work (hey, shifting your weight around to allow the pony to use his back is work too!) but Mitch has 4 legs and a hell of a lot more ass than I do. I’m just not a good conformational specimen for hiking.

We had to do some roadwork, walking on the road once we hit the end of the trail, and rode up around the reservoir and then back down into the canyon. Going downhill was pretty steep, but Mitch held together. No moar side-passing!! I’m proud of my boy. I feel like we’ve made a vast improvement and we’re really starting to get our made trail-horse thang together.

Once we got back to the trailers, we untacked, and then went to the deli market on the corner to get lunch because it was so late already. Mitch and Red had to wait in the trailer, but they were really good about that. Got home and hosed Mitch down because he got real sweaty. Definitely can’t wait to clip him so he feels better.

I also think I’m going to consider hoof boots. Most of the time, Mitch has good hooves and doesn’t need them, but some trails can be really rocky. I’ll have to think about that anyway.

Yesterday was fun! I’m going to put my dressage saddle on the pony today and walk him around since he did hard work yesterday, but still needs to get out today.

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Trails

  1. Wow sounds like you had a great time. I'm sure our haffys would have loved to have come along! The weather look beautiful too, much nicer than here in chilly Scotland.

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