Monday, June 11, 2012

Trail Journal: 3

Well, Alberta is currently flooding. Funny - last weekend I was thinking how dry it has been, and how this might be one of those summer when your loping in dust clouds - then, BAM! Mother nature unleashed a torrential down-pour two or three nights in a row. The river was intense this weekend, and there was no way I was crossing it with any of the horses I had to choose from, so I stayed above the flats for the most part.

The first day I rode Butterfly again (the paint from last time), I didn't take any pictures. Nor did I take any photos of the crazy river - silly me. We covered some pretty far ground and I barely found any of the horses, I was grumpy. Thankfully, it had rained all morning, and everyone thought I was crazy for going out in the afternoon - but for the most part, I was barely even sprinkled on. Thanks Mama Nature!

The second day I decided to ride a horse named Pepper. Pepper came to us last year, and proceeded to make a name for himself as one very fast horse, that does not like to be in the middle, or back of a line. (... so, not a very good dude string horse). Pepper was ridden throughout the winter, but I doubted that he was loped much, plus his feet were not in very good condition. I was a little nervous about taking him out since I've never ridden him before, but I knew he could cover ground well - plus, I knew Butterfly couldn't handle another big ride like that.

Pepper gave me a bit of a hard time at first, but then we went straight up, up, up to the highest point of the ranch. This is a pretty spectacular spot - no horses, but you get the best view of the mountains. (It's hard to really see how magnificent the view is in this photo).

Here is Pepper, who, by the way, got to wear my prized bridle, (the bridle that is in my header on Jingle). It was my first bridle, and given to me by a lady I very much admire and respect, and I vowed this year not to ride trails in it. Well... look who broke her vow day three... I didn't entirely trust Pepper in a snaffle, nor did I think that he had been ridden in one last summer. This bridle has my only Argentinean snaffle (a broken bit with shanks), and he went pretty well in it. It's definitely harsher than a snaffle - but again, in the right hands it can be quite effective. I like to think, especially when trail riding, I have very soft hands, I only ever gather up the reins when I really need too when out in the bush. With a horse like Pepper you need to be able to escalate pressure quickly, I knew that a bit of a tug would get him calmed down, but I also knew that if he was getting too jiggy, and attempting to test me and run away with me - I could let him know that was not acceptable.

However... at one point he attempted to scratch his face on a tree, IN MY FAVOURITE BRIDLE, with a nice, show bit. I almost murdered him. I will definitely be needing to get another bit similar (which means, bad spending habits Louisa... another headstall)

There was massive amounts of deadfall everywhere I went thanks to the thunderstorm a couple days previous. I was happy Butterfly wasn't subjected to all of it - she gets very nervous going over even the smallest, shortest log. Pepper on the other hand jigged and jogged his way over every single one. Even when there were multiples in a row, he never thought twice about them.

Here's another shot of those beautiful Rocky Mountains - I can never get over them. 

Pepper and I searched high and low, but we found nothing - except for the two year olds I came across last time.

The clouds were pretty ominous, and threatening a storm all morning, but nothing ever came of it.

The ranch has been logged before, and thick 7" pine tree areas have popped up - they are very close together, and you can get notoriously turned around in them because trails run every which way through them. Here we are in one of these little forests - truth be told, I was getting a little claustrophobic about the whole situation. When I returned home the wife of the owner told me that those areas are "a great place to run smack into a bear". Now, i've seen tons of bear tracks out there, but never in these little areas... I definitely would not want to run into a bear in one of these thickets. Mainly because it's so hard to see where you are, that you would end up totally coming out of nowhere. Bears don't typically enjoy that.

Here Pepper is after our ride - he ended up finally calming down after about 3.5 hours, he sure can move. I loped him and he had a nice, steady, slow lope. So, I'm guessing he just doesn't like, nor is used to, being behind another horse. He'll probably make a good riding leader horse this summer. I don't entirely love him though, I can't quite put my finger on why... but he just doesn't mesh well with me. I did, however, appreciate the miles we covered together - he barely batted an eye. Except for some boggy spots - Pepper is not a fan of that scene.

And, alas, yet again, I did not find my horse. I have a feeling he's munching grass, grinning ear-to-ear over the fact he's giving me such a run for my money. I think I know where he is though, actually I'm almost certain, but it's an area that I haven't been since I was a kid and with the high waters, and all the newly formed bogs and mucky areas - I wasn't about to go exploring.

Next weekend they all have to come in, so hopefully I can take old trusty Butterfly to bring them in - because I have a feeling Pepper probably isn't the greatest at chasing horses - he's probably awesome at beating them home. Uh Oh.


  1. It's such a bummer you haven't found Jingle, but wow do these rides look awesome!

    1. It really is - but I have a feeling this weekend is the weekend! (haha.. three weeks later.. ugh.) My non-horsie friends don't quite understand the concept of my "missing" horse. I think, they think, I should be posting flyers out in the bush.

      & yes, I feel pretty blessed - it's amazing country.