At long last, I was able to join the wonderful group of folks my trainer gathers around for the last horse camping trip of the season, for me at least, probably. I was the last rig out of Sheep Springs today! There were highlights and campfires and lessons learned, things I need to tweak, though it was a fantastic weekend all around.
We managed to fit in a quick ride Friday night after I got there after everyone else. We had to hustle through the twilight, riding that big Morgan trot of Tarma’s through the near dark and trusting her to stay upright was exhilarating and I couldn’t stop laughing at how fun it was!
Saturday we accomplished our longest ride together to date, 13.5 miles and 1200 feet elevation gain up through Bear Valley. We had to push through a ton of Manzanita overgrowing the trail, and about five minutes after I said “this is exactly where you expect to see a bear,” we startled a black bear in the valley below! We chose to follow the service roads back to camp so we didn’t make the horses shove through the Manzanita twice, though it added a few miles. Tarma never put a foot wrong, though she did pull mare face a few times, trying to maintain her spot in line, though she never kicked.
I have a tradition that for every trip I take, I forget something. Usually it’s not critical, a toothbrush or a pillow, something that’s nice to have but doesn’t ruin the trip. This time, of all things, I forgot Benny’s dog food!!! I felt horrible, and when I asked the group to keep an eye on Tarma so I could run into town to grab some, everyone pitched in some food so I could stay in camp and Benny could eat.
My second and more major mistake was not leashing Benny when some riders were coming back to camp, he got rolled by one of the horses before I could catch him. Thankfully there was a vet tech and a former zookeeper there to check him out. He’s fine, just a tad sore on one leg, and otherwise he had a fantastic weekend. I tied my bear bells to him to keep track of him, and when he got tired he fell asleep under my trailer. I was also able to ride several hours on Saturday without worry, as some folks pitched in to keep an eye on him.
I was hoping to ride this morning before we left, but Tarma told me it wasn’t a good idea. Either her back was sore or her boots had rubbed, but she just wasn’t feeling it so we hung around in camp and took our time packing up. I’ll call a body worker tomorrow and will have my saddle reflocked, plus really focus on fitness for us both. I’m going to do everything I can to avoid a Great Saddle Hunt.
Even with my mistakes, it was an incredible weekend with an entertaining and supportive group of folks. Thank you all for pitching in, fun conversation, tasty food, a mess of good dogs and honest horses and solid miles in the saddle!