Thursday, April 22, 2010

Moonshine Loop from Lemmon Valley

Funder and I had a GREAT ride out in Lemmon Valley on Sunday (4/18). She brought her GPS and was able to map the route. Her total route shows 19.5 miles, but she rode over and met us at the arena, and rode back when done, so Diego and I probably did around 17 or so. This is one of my favorite loops to do, and thus why I use it on the endurance ride I manage, the Nevada Moonshine Night Ride. It's probably been at least two years since I did the loop, if not three, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I remembered all the turns and which way we needed to go without any issues at all. It was also a great scouting trip to see what kind of condition the trail was in for our upcoming ride in June (6/26/2010).

Getting over to the arena in the morning was probably the hardest part of my day! I've just been so stressed and overwhelmed with work and school lately, and now have been battling a head/chest cold on top of everything else, so it didn't take much to ruin my morning. Having the truck die and refuse to start (older battery which has now been replaced) and needing to call hubby to come rescue me was just about the final straw. I had a momentary debate with myself on if I still wanted to go riding, or just go curl up in bed, and after a call to Funder where it was determined that she WAS willing to wait an extra hour or so for me to get all my crap situated (BLESS HER), I decided to still go.

And am I GLAD I did!!! Once we started riding, it was just an absolutely gorgeous day to be out! The desert is about as green as it gets right now. Riding past all the interesting rock formations, on a beautiful sandy dirt road, with the blue-blue sky above, the snowy mountains in front, and the warm sun shining down... Aaahhh!! JUST what I needed! To top off all the happiness and sunshine, I had the BEST ride on Diego that I've ever had yet! He really was just a super-star all day long. At one point, Dixie really spooked about a funky looking tree stump that was off the trail. I've been wondering how Dig would react to another horse spooking at something. Turns out his response was to look at what Dixie was looking at, go "Huh? Wha..? Hhmm, nothing" and then continue to mosey on down the trail. =)

We then had our first encounter with dirt bikes, and the rider was SO NICE, it could not have gone better. I had dismounted as soon as I heard the bike, but probably didn't even need to. He shut off his bike from a little ways back and coasted to a stop, then the first thing he did was start talking (asked us a question about directions). Immediately the horses were able to identify this weird creature as at least "somewhat human". We walked over and talked with him for a little while, then he asked us if he could start the bike. He started it back up (it was a quieter street legal version) and rode off nice and slow. Neither horse seemed to mind or care at all. Just a great first experience for Dig to have (outside of seeing AJ and Taren ride around up near his corral). Later, he got to see several other bikes and quads going by at a distance, and ride over to a group of guys relaxing with their bikes after their ride.

Another good encounter was when another rider and a very forward Arab mare caught up to us and then jigged/trotted off down the road, and Diego calmly watched them go. Funder had to put her mare behind Diego for a bit since Dixie thought she should go catch that other horse. ;) Two horses was fine, but three was a race! Dig was just in "chill" mode today and nothing seemed to phase him.

Speaking of "race", Diego and I got to do a bit more cantering yesterday as well. Previously, we've only cantered maybe three strides here or there in a few random rides. Things were going so well yesterday that I let him pick up the canter and encouraged him to keep going with it a few different times. He's getting the hang of it. Often, he would only go a few strides, and then transition back to a trot on his own. Once, I had to bring him back down when, as we cantered past a pipeline marker laying on the ground, he got a bit more UP than forward with it, but all in all we were doing very well learning our new "gear".

The only downside to the ride was that we had a few boot issues. For now, I planning on keeping Diego barefoot, which means we'll be using hoof boots for rides. Since Easycare is coming out with a newer style Glove, which has an improved gaiter and thicker toe, I've been reluctant to invest in new boots until this new style is available. This means I've been making due with Sinatra's older, original style Easyboots, which are a size 1, and of which I have COPIOUS amounts (like 10+, really). Last weekend's ride at Peoria Flats with my mom clearly revealed that Diego needs an 0 rather than a 1 on his rears, so this weekend I left his rears bare and just booted his fronts. Except, that meant that he just wasn't moving right today. He felt like a girl trying to run in high heels, shorter choppy strides. I'm not sure if it's a function of those boots being too big as well (a possibility), or if it was because his hinds got sore on the harder packed roads after several miles. He did move out better on the softer footing, but still not quite like normal. The new and improved Gloves are now available in the size that I need for Dig, so I'm hoping to invest in a full set come next paycheck.

Overall, it was a really great day and I had a really great time. Just what I needed to do. When I woke up Monday morning to go to work, I actually felt like I had taken a mini-vacation, rather than spending half my weekend slaving away on a term paper. I told Funder, "You know, I think I'm really at that I LOVE MY PONY stage now!" =)


Mel said...

I always amazed at no matter how bad I feel, getting on a horse always makes it better. :) Glad you were able to have an enjoyable ride.

Funder said...

That really was such a great ride. :)

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