Today CW and I trailered out to the desert behind the tourist trap, which is all state land, and saddled up for some more trail riding.
I have be testing out other saddles on Trax, trying to find something that isn't quite as tight on his shoulders, so today I used Killian's big 7-D Rope saddle. It actually fit really nice, and I think now I know more of what I am looking for for Trax. I don't mind this particular saddle, but it is a hard seat, and built more for a man than a woman. However, we rode for 2 full hours up and down some pretty serious terrain, and I was never uncomfortable. But if I could find something that wide, with a padded seat, and a little bit higher cantle that what my Circle Y is, I think it would be perfect.
Anyway, the down side to this saddle is the extra wide saddle horn which my horn bags will not fit over. I grabbed a rear pack to tie on the back, and attached it. As I saddled up my might steed, when ever I flopped the pack around a little to make adjustment, he jumped around. I opted not to try out a new saddle, and a rear pack, on a new trail which is loaded with Cholla cactus and really big rocks. I removed one side of the bag, it flopped down on Trax's flank and he proceeded to have a nice little bucking fit right there next to the trailer.
Now I have to give my horse credit. He looked more like one of those little rocking horse toys because he kept his entire body in a ten by ten area, never running off, just bucking in place about 20 times.
I thought, "Great, is this what the ride is going to be like?"
Once I removed the vicious fanny pack, I lunged him in a quick circle and he was fine, so I bridled him up and got on. Perhaps it was the whole Fanny Pack thing that bothered him. As in "Only dorks wear fanny packs lady!"
In AZ much of the desert riding is surrounded by barbed wire and has special gates which allow horses and people in but not motorized vehicles. I had no clue how Trax would react to one, and I have not had to deal with one yet, so I was "excited" when I saw one for us to go through. Now there was a wide open gate right next to the horse gate, but far be it from me to pass up a golden training opportunity. CW went through with Cody first, I thought about getting off and leading him through but decided to save that for if he gave me a really hard time.
My horse is awesome.
He watched Cody, then walked up, stepped through, with out ever even a hesitation.
Like I said....awesome!
And away we went. One of the things I enjoy about riding with CW is her ability to push my just outside my comfort zone with out pushing so far that it ruins my confidence. Cody is a trail eating machine. I don't care how steep, how narrow, how rocky, how overgrown, how anything is on a trail. He barrels through like it is nothing. He is the most sure footed, confident horse I have ever seen.
Now Trax is a really good trail horse as well. He rarely ever gives me any trouble, and seems to be quite good at these big rocky hills I have been taking him on. He climbs right up, sometimes at a walk, sometimes at a trot, sometimes even at a lope. I let him chose his pace, after all he is the one doing all the work. When we go down he chooses his path carefully, and takes his time. I also think this level of difficulty is teaching him to pick up his feet.
So we started climbing, the first really big hill was a choice of less steep to one side, but the trail went over solid rock which angled down to the side at about a 15% grade, or straight up that same grade. We chose the straight up. It just looked safer.
There was a lot of this and a couple of times I felt that small knot in the pit of my stomach, wondering if we could do it. Trax said, "Of course we can."
Here is one of the medium difficulty hills we climbed. This is from the bottom (obviously)
Same hill from the top.
I hate that the pics don't accurately show how steep it is. Or maybe it just feels steeper when you are going up it.
Not steep at all here, just loving how green it is.
Superstitions back behind us
Just thought this looked cool
So as we are riding along, there were some times when I thought that Trax was showing signs of fatigue. His head was down and he was plodding along. No sooner would I say, "I think he's getting tired," and he would pull his head up, put it into overdrive, and proceed to show me that he was no where near being done.
Here is a very short video of one of those times. This looks like it is on flat ground but it was really about a 3 or 4 percent grade.
It isn't exciting unless you are me and totally in love with your paint horse.
This was taken on the road that the tourist trap uses for their jeep tours. Some of our trail was two track like that, but much of it was single file, drop off on one side, and 10% grade on the other. Those were a little hairy too, especially when there was cactus growing into the trail. Today we learned that side passing away from the cactus is a good thing. I ended up having to use pliers to remove about 20 cactus thorns from his heel bulb at the end of the ride.
As we were making our loop back around and on one of the sections of single trail we hit a patch that was very steep which we had to go down. Trax and I were in front and I was just letting him pick his path, but at this point he moved to the side of the trail, stopped and turned back to look at Cody. His message was clear, " You go first friend, and I will follow you." As soon as Cody went, Trax followed him right down. It was kind of cool actually.
It was a pretty hairy path, less gravel than slick rock, and Cody chose his path wisely and Trax pretty much followed his exact foot steps. Once we got to the bottom the trail widened again and they raced side by side up the hill. Goofy boys. Then Trax fell back in front and all was good.
Just another pic.
So it was a pretty uneventful ride, although a lot of fun, and great conditioning for both horses. However I am going to have to put bell boots on him from now on, because he got a pretty good cut on one foot right next to where I had to pull all the cactus out.
No ride would be complete with out the gratuitous sweaty pony shot.
As I look at this pic I do recognize that the breast collar is slung a little low on him. Remember this is Killian's tack and there for just a tad large on Trax. However even low slung like that it did its job and kept the saddle from sliding back at all.
I really need to get something like Nuzzling Muzzles, helmet cam, or Mugwumps bra cam, so that I can take video going up the stuff that scares the crap out of me. Ok, well that is a slight exaggeration, because if it scared the crap out of me then I probably wouldn't do it, but you get my drift.
So that is what I did this morning, now I am going to saddle up Big K, and ride him down to watch the roping boys on my street. I'm sure there is some sort of work I need to be doing right now, but I'm dressed for riding...no sense wasting that!