Friday, August 1, 2008

The Big Hill Birthday Ride

On her birthday, my sister and I took the horses to the tree farm for a trail ride. It was a great sunny day for a ride, but not too hot. Here I am aboard Tailgater~ er, I mean, My Boy, following the Birthday Girl. Who, by the way, informed me that "35 is only 15 years from turning 50!" Um, yes, little sis, welcome to my world.

We stopped at the mid-point and let the horses have a breather. I couldn't resist taking this shot of these three hineys:

My Boy was so tired he wouldn't even look at me for a picture, despite all of my stomping and clucking and chicken dancing.

By the way, that is not a navy blue bowling ball sitting there under the hitchin' post. That is my big old riding helmet.

On the way back, on the gravel road that leads toward the trail head, we decided to take a detour up a very steep hill. We have seen the little dirt trail lead up the very steep hill for the past year and have never know where it went. I was determined to try it out. So My Boy and I headed up. Oh my! Steep is an understatement. We have now nicknamed it "Little Mt. Everest." About three-quarters of the way up, My Boy lost momentum and I began to urge him on, I did not want him to stop and start sliding backwards or something (highly unlikely, but still, I hate that scene from The Horse Whisperer.) At the top, both horses let out huge coughs. We thought that was strange, but assumed it was due to the exertion. Luckily it was a relatively short climb.

We rested at the top and watched a deer bound off away from us. Then, we heard and saw a helicopter pass above us, which we had also seen flying low and overhead earlier on our ride. We assumed they were taking pictures of the tree farm. However, we found out later that evening that sadly, a small aircraft had crashed the night before just north of where we were riding. That helicopter was probably a news or investigation crew.

Now, look down at this little road below. That is the gravel road to home.

Remember in a previous post I took a picture riding My Boy down that road? Here it is again:

At the top of the very steep hill, we are looking down on that same road. Oh, and that is a little wooden birdhouse on the left, that someone stuck out here in the middle of nowhere. How thoughtful of those logger types, eh? Cut down all the trees that the birds live in, then, put up birdhouses instead.

We followed a meandering switch back trail down the other side of the hill back down to the road. We were not ready to to back down the steep hill we'd just come up! There was only one small inconvenience. There were these awful purple blooming thistles growing 3 feet high all along the narrow trail, so I mostly rode with my knees up around the saddle horn. The horses did not appear to be affected by them (whew!) I guess I was confusing them with some kind of desert cacti that would just painfully prick us all.

Most notably, the ride was considerably quieter than usual. My gaseous spotted boy only released the offending toot-toots three times on the entire ride! People, that is a record! I think the orchard grass hay is agreeing with his tummy much more than that rich alfalfa.


  1. Toot funny is that. I thought all horses 'passed gas'. The first Morgan I had could be heard from the pond when he let one. And that is about 75 yards at least!

    Great pictures as usual. YOU wear a riding helment? Tell me it isn't so. I thought you were a cowgirl!

  2. Hee hee hee - I can just picture it - "despite all of my stomping and clucking and chicken dancing"

    I wear a helmet too - just started in my 49th year. (I'm 52 now) Saw a couple of nasty accidents from excellent riders and just figured it's not so bad. Now I feel naked on the trail without it. :)

  3. Good for you wearing a helmet!!!! I wouldn't have gotten a concussion last year if I had had my helmet on. I see people doing rodeo and not wearing helmets and it scares me to death, especially the bull riders, that should be a law that they have to wear a helmet. What a beautiful place to ride! I would love to do that except riding up the steep hill! We were riding in Arizona a few years back going up a steep hill and got into some shale, I think that's how you spell it, and the horses started sliding. The head guy said just leave them alone they know what to do and they did. My horses would have freaked! So you have an ole' tooter eh? My old guy can keep up with the best of them! lol!

  4. What a great day! I have to wear a helmet where I ride and I just consider it part of the 'uniform'. I'd rather be safe than sorry. Otherwise, it's kind of like buying an alarm system AFTER the house has been robbed.

    I like the irony of the birdhouse in the logged out area. Good catch.

  5. Sounds like a nice ride. Good for you for wearing a helmet - you only get one brain...

    That is a picture of a bonny scottish thistle, lassie. They are indeed quite prickly! ;-p

  6. Who says the loggers aren't conservation oriented-LOL.

    Laura-That's funny-you guys call it Scottish Thistle and here in the states we call it Canadian Thistle. Wondering if it is a noxious weed in Canada too??

  7. Actually, that photo PG has is of bull thistle. Canada thistle looks a bit different. Here are pictures of both:
    Bull thistle
    Canada thistle

    Buena seems to have taken a liking to the bull thistle flower heads.

  8. Woo hoo, sounds like you all had a great ride!

  9. So jealous of the scene as you ride. I see dirt, weeds, more dirt, an occasional bush that is dead and that is about it.
    Great idea with the helmet - I agree, protect your brain. We grew up calling them brain buckets!

  10. Liz: Thanks for the thistle clarification...I can't believe Buena likes to eat the flowers! Although I imagine they are sweet....

    I have pulled many of those thistles up from the arena and meadow area (they multiply worse than dandelions!) and even when wearing gloves I have to be sure to grab them near the root to avoid getting pricked. The other day I got a sliver of a thorn through my glove and into my finger and it was so fine and tiny yet still caused a lot of pain. I am really surprised the horses didn't get any on their legs!

  11. What a little stinker he is. Now I know why you ride in back. That is a beautiful place to ride. Have you seen Bigfoot yet?

  12. Hmmm-thanks Liz...I never stop to think that there are other types than the Canadian. Probably because the Canadian is considered a noxious weed and anytime I see a thistle, I cut the flowers off. That helps stop the spread of them in isolated areas. In big patches we add a bug to them when they are flowering. The bug lays its eggs in the head and the eggs kill the bloom. That helps stop them from spreading too.

  13. NM: No Bigfoot, and hopefully no bears! (More on that in an upcoming post.)

    BEC: I never thought about removing the flowers, as that is the seed source! But honestly, at the rate these things crop up it's like a science fiction movie. They are still blooming and haven't gone to seed, and new ones are popping up everywhere! And last year this meadow was just dirt, before that, trees and no thistles. So where do they come from?

  14. Looks like you ALL had a good time :)

    If that helicopter was investigating the crash that I am thinking of, then that means that you live in th opposite direction of your parents? I was thinking that you lived "down" there too...maybe not!

    Our horses love to eat the tops/flowers off of the thistles also. It is fun to watch, because they are very careful as they remove it from the rest of the "pokey" plant.

    Have a great weekend, and don't worry, I figured that you were not too much of a worry-wart when you are actually WITH your probably comes later...when you second guess what you did ;)

  15. oh heck pg- i am just jealous that you get to RIDE!!!

    looks like a blast though!!

  16. Thistles spread both through the seeds in the heads and through the root system. I would suppose they got started by seeds blowing in and germinating at different times, but once they get started, they spread from the roots too. The only way to eradicate them entirely is using a herbicide and even then they have a tendency to pop up repeatedly.
    But worth the effort IMO, as those darn things can take over.

  17. I wonder if that is why my Baby Doll always toots so much?! I swear she is always turning her butt to me and lifting her tail and letting one rip right in my face. Ewww! Stinky! Changing her to grass would be so worth it if she stopped farting in my face! haha

    Looks like you had a terrific ride. You ride quite often on the tree farm. Is it private property that you've asked permission to ride on, or is it open to the public?

    There's a neighbor near us that has several hundred acres that he used to graze cows on. My next door neighbor and I were wanting to ask his permission to ride her land. Right now he's even leasing his land to our other neighbor's horses for grazing. So I don't think he'd mind. Hope not anyway.
    It's always nice when you can ride right out your back door, isn't it?

    We have one trail a mile or so away that starts off with a near vertical steep incline. It scares me, so we haven't even attempted it yet.
    But once you get past that hill, there are supposed to be miles and miles of trails all throughout the mountains available to ride.....

    But then I remember that the only way back out is to go back DOWN that same vertical steep hill. ack.

  18. Oh! And we have thistel here, too. But it's more cactus-like with thick leaves covered in prickly pear-type thorns.
    I wonder if it is a different species?
    As you know we live in the Central Mountains of New Mexico.

  19. Twinville: the land we ride on is private, but open to horses and mountain bikers only. The trails are well-maintained. There are approximately 5000 acres to ride on, I think. The trails are not in our backyard, we have to trailer to them but luckily it's a short trip.

    There are trails accessible from my sister's neighhorhood, but they are not as well-maintained. The barn My Boy was boarded while I leased him had access to these same trails too, so we rode them often. But they weren't many trails, it was a much smaller chunk of land for a shorter ride unless you wanted to ride in circles. Actually, I have a funny story (well, it wasn't really funny to me! ;) to share about those trails, I'll try to get it in sometime next week!

    My Boy has always had this gas problem, everyone chuckles at us on the trail. I had him on probiotics for a couple months (the vet was worried about gas colic) and that did not seem to help. The grass hay has helped. I have also heard that joint supps can cause gas?

  20. I've always thought alfalfa was way too hot for horse food. I fed grass hay for years and years without a colic on it. I avoid alfalfa. And, as for the helmet, I've often said I wore one so my husband would not have to care for a brain injured wife. Just makes sense! Love my cowboy hat, though....

  21. That looks like an amazing ride!! The first time I went trail riding in Utah, I didn't have a breast collar on my horse and when we went up, my saddle went down!! I learned my lesson!! LOL!!
    Your sister's mare has an awesome tail!!
    I often wonder what horses think of us when we are acting all crazy to get their attention. I do that same thing.


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