by Laura Crum
We’ve been out on the trails again in September, which makes me happy. I was gone all of July, and in August all we did was gather and chase cattle at the roping arena, which is fun, but not my very favorite thing. My very favorite thing (horsewise) is riding through the hills on my steady little yellow mule, looking at the flora and fauna of my home trails.
My break from trail riding did serve a purpose. Sunny came up lame at the end of June—the diagnosis was a tiny fracture on the edge of the navicular bone. Shoes and pads and rest were recommended. Sunny got a rest, and he’s worn front shoes and pads for two shoeings now and –voila. He seems completely sound. At least for the light riding I do. The hills are not bothering him at all and he is absolutely even at the trot. I’m happy.
Below are a few photos of my favorite ride. This ride involves going out my front gate, crossing the busy road (which always raises my stress levels), and then bushwacking our way up a narrow little trail that is very overgrown until we strike a (slightly) bigger trail that leads through meadows, redwood forest and tangled groves of shrubbery and liveoaks to a clearing at the top of the ridge where you can see the Monterey Bay.
So below you see my son on Henry and our friend/boarder, Wally, on Twister, in front of the view, with Sunny’s ears in the foreground. We are looking north towards Santa Cruz, and my son is sticking his tongue out cause he doesn’t like having his photo taken.
From the Lookout we ride another trail home, just as overgrown in places as the one we take on the way out. It doesn’t appear that many horsemen have ridden this way lately—perhaps they have been taking a break, too (?) Usually we see far more hoofprints and horse manure than we did on our recent rides. So far this September we have met no one on the trails—neither horsemen nor hikers. I have to admit, I find this very pleasant. It feels like we are out in the wilderness, though this is an illusion. Civilization is all around us—just hidden by the exuberant woods. I like the fact that we are riding a big loop and see different places on the way back. Here the trail goes down through the liveoaks and tangled greenery.
Here we are on Sunny and Henry, pushing our way through the jungle.
Here’s the view from Sunny’s back as we go down the trail.
And again, in the heart of the green world.
Then its down the ridge to once again make a careful crossing of the busy road. As I said, this always makes me nervous. On our last ride our friend Wally began to cross the street before my son and I were quite on the shoulder and by the time Wally had reached the middle of the road a car was bearing down from the left and a big semi-truck from the right. Since we were not yet on the pavement, I told my son to pull up and hollered at Wally to cross and wait for us. Which he did. My kid and I backed our horses up a step or two and a fair batch of traffic whizzed by at fifty miles an hour a few feet from Sunny and Henry’s noses. We’ve done this many, many times before, of course, and the horses are always perfectly solid, but it still scares me. This time I worried that they’d get ancy because Twister was on the other side of the road. But no, little Sunny and Henry stood like rocks while I waited for the road to be perfectly clear. This is why I bought them.
Eventually the road was empty and we crossed—but by the time we’d reached the far side, a guy on a Harley came blasting down the road making the maximum amount of noise—I’m guessing on purpose. We are off the road now, headed across the field and up the hill to my front gate and home. All three horses raised their heads at the roaring racket immediately behind them, but not one broke out of the steady marching walk. I was so proud of them. Here I’m looking down at Sunny back in the barnyard.
The whole ride only takes an hour and fifteen minutes, but there are plenty of hills and varied terrain and it is always interesting in every season. I think of it as my “hour loop”, the ride I can do on a regular basis.
Does anyone else have a little “everyday” loop like this? I find it very pleasant, though I confess, I don’t get it done every day. And do others besides me stress at dealing with traffic? My horses are very calm and comfortable around moving vehicles—I’m the one who hyperventilates.