August 16 – 20, 2010
After some truck trouble and rushing to get it fixed in time, we were on the road by mid-afternoon. This meant we arrived at the campground (Blue Rock) when it was almost dark, so we just got the horses settled and then got the camp set up and flaked for the night.
We originally planned on doing two short rides today, but after we came back and had lunch… Well, we just didn’t feel like tacking up again and going out. I was very curious to see how Nova would react to the river this year (we all remember how he was like, “Thanks, but no.” last year). I was expecting a bit of the same, at least at the first crossing (it was not a shallow/calm crossing). Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when he stopped for a drink and then walked right in and across. Good boy! He did get rather excited a few minutes down the trail and we did a whooole bunch of circles while I was waiting for him to stand still. Both Trapper and Rhythm were just waiting calmly while we did circles, then I would ask him to stop, and then we’d do another circle, rinse and repeat. After that episode though he was much better behaved. We did practice our hover-craft impression though at the big scary boulder that was lurking in the bushes. It was pretty funny, as he doesn’t come anywhere near to dumping me on my head (*knock on wood*). We rode a ways down the trail and then onto an old (but still useable) road. We were very impressed that when we turned around none of the horses got the least bit excited. Woohoo! The rest of the ride was uneventful – Nova again crossed the river wonderfully on the way back.
The first day of riding we headed out down the trail to join up with an old road – we were just riding out and back today. All the horses were really well behaved until right before we turned around and went back a short bit before stopping for lunch. Before we turned around, Mother decided to take a ‘short cut’ trail while we stayed on the road… Unfortunately her short cut did not short cut anywhere, and when both Nova and Trapper realized that she was not right behind them… OMG! THE END OF THE WORLD! I really wish Nova didn’t care so much about where other horses are in relation to him (I’m hoping riding out alone more often will help with that). Anyway, the boys got pretty stupid, so we decided to stop for lunch and calm down before continuing. It worked, as when we started out again they were more relaxed and no one had to mutter the words “dog food” to either horse. There was one part of the trail that was totally covered by a creek (it was basically a huge pool of water), and we paused in it for some photos on our way back. Nova didn’t want to stand in it, but at least he didn’t try to drop and roll! Oh wait, he still doesn’t like water, no matter how much better he was about both water and mud. The road today had a ton of puddles on it that went all the way across the road. The bottoms on all of the puddles were fine though, so after having a ‘no, you are going through’ on the first couple, Nova went through all of them without the least bit of trouble! I was very happy – the river yesterday and the puddles today.
Today was the big ride that we had planned on, and man, it was long. The first part of the trail is pretty interesting. After about a half an hour, you end up going really far down (switch-backs) to go across a creek, and then start heading up, and up, and up. Nova handled it all really well. I am so happy that he doesn’t get stupid on long and tough downhills – he just diligently picks his way down. And on the uphill, well, I felt sorry for the poor guy, but he just keeps on truckin’. When we got to the top, there was quite the view! We had lunch at the top and the horses got to stand and relax for awhile. The only problem with this trail is that the best part of the trail (the view) is close to the start, so even though you’ve had lunch, you still have the majority of the ride left. So, we rode, and we rode, and we rode. Down off the mountain, around and through the valley, then up onto another ridge (at which point I got off to give Nova a break, as it was another steep down). At one point we ran into some cows, which got the horses a bit excited. I actually rode Nova towards one of the calves, and when it moved off from him he sort of decided that they probably wouldn’t eat him. (Mom did the same with Rhythm last year, and you can just see the horses go, “Huh, so they move away from me?”) Not far from where we met the cows we had to go through a gate (which oh so happened to be in the middle of a huge puddle). I didn’t really attempt the gate because Nova + Puddle + Tough Gate = Christine IN Said Puddle. Anyway, we finally got the gate closed (without having to get off) and were started up yet another hill. There was a small tree that had come down in such a way that it was facing down the hill at an angle, and with the steep sides of the path worn into the hill it was not feasible to go around it easily, so I got off of Nova to push it out of the way. While I was doing that, one of the cows (that must have followed us to the gate) let out a loud bellow set Rhythm and Trapper over the edge. Rhythm ended up facing down the hill, and Trapper was almost jumping out of his skin. I hear this and whip around, prepared to dodge a Nova coming overtop of me, but to my surprise he was just standing there looking at me like nothing was wrong. I was very proud of him for that. Nova also learned this year that yes, he can indeed walk behind me without attempting to walk over top of me. Perhaps he figured that out because he was tired and walking my pace wasn’t such a bad thing, or the lightbulb finally turned on, but it was a welcome surprise.
I think it was a welcome relief when we finally made it back to camp. The ride stopped being fun a couple hours before that. Nova got a really good brushing and a big scoop of sweet feed for packing my butt around all day. It was one of those days where I truly appreciate how great my horse is. Not only is he super cute, but he’s got the heart and stamina to back it all up.
Today the smoke rolled in. And by rolled in, I mean it was – “There was a mountain here yesterday…” The minute you stepped out of the trailer the smell hit you. (The forest fires in B.C were causing the smoke and it was blowing into Alberta.) After our killer ride yesterday we did another easier day today. The last time we were at Blue Rock (a few years ago) we heard about and found a trail that was not marked on any map. We had ridden down it a ways, but because we were hauling out that day we did not get to explore very far. We decided to take it again this year and see if we could get to the end. The trail starts off nice and wide and well used (there are well beaten paths around any large dead fall), and it is a nice easy ride. The further you go down though the more rugged it gets. We went through one part that actually had a path around it that we had missed (didn’t know to look for it) that got pretty hairy! For the hundredth time, I am so glad that Nova has a good head on his shoulders. There was one part of the trail that looked pretty bad (lots of mud and a scary home-made job to make a bridge). Mom got off and walked up the trail a short ways to see what it was going to be like, and said it seemed fine – and when she walked back to the horses, actually found a way through the mud that wouldn’t have been that bad. I felt that we were getting close to the end, and both Mom and I wanted to get there just to tell my dad about what the trail was like. But Julie didn’t want to continue (even though it seemed like Trapper was behaving just fine), and sometimes it’s best to just go with the flow. Actually, I think today was the best day for all of the horses – everyone behaved themselves. They had a lot to think about (lots of logs to step over, rocks to go over and around, really twisty trail), so didn’t get it into their heads to be goofy.
Time to head home already. We had some big horn sheep run down the road while we were letting the horses have one last drink from the river before heading out. Nova was fairly clueless about them until the very end, while Rhythm noticed right away and was keeping a close eye on those shady characters. It was a good week, all in all. Nova was much improved over last year in pretty much every way! He just keeps getting better and better.