Friday, March 01, 2013
The China Gulch Trail at Camanche winds through cattle pasturage, and the bridle path is wide enough for three horses to go side by side (mostly). That's the good news, along with the beautiful views.
The bad news is that the trail is all gravel and stones, which the horses do not care for underfoot, and all uphill and downhill, which the horses and their aging riders did not especially care for. The stones and gravel bruise the horses' feet at times, in spite of horseshoes, and make the footing going downhill a bit tricky. And the up- and down-hill ...
I can't say how Cathy the Mad Horsewoman and Jerry the Alabama Cowboy felt while riding. They have heavy Western saddles, which may provide them with a bit more support than I have with my lightweight English Wintec -- I definitely have to ride with my legs engaged to maintain balance side to side and back to front. Perhaps I should ask them about that next time. On my part, by the time we were done, my flabby old legs were shaking and screaming at the exertion.
(Now that may sound horrible, but for a life-long horsey junkie like me, it is exactly what your legs long for, and a feeling that fills one's heart with happy-cooties, even while causing one to drag, zombie-like, to set out the picnic lunch afterward.)
The scenery was gorgeous, with weathered stone bluffs in the distance, and the lake glinting improbably blue in the distance (the photos don't do it justice), and the joy of watching our horses' expressions -- it was a wonderful ride. But for me, the best part of the strenuous day was arguing with Dink at every hill, when he wanted to charge ahead in a forging trot, and feeling him eager to keep going on and on to see what else there was to see.
The last time we were at Camanche, I was afraid he was dying. But he did great this time; in fact he was a bit of an ass, but that's Duquesne all the way. He remembered the gate into the park, and positioned himself flawlessly for me to open it from his back. Only after the gate was closed and his mental "work" was done did he begin prancing and puffing to get on with the ride.
We saw a million woodpeckers, heard meadowlarks, watched buzzards and hawks sail through the sky; three mule deer spooked when they heard us come over a ridge, and big grazing cattle watched us warily. We saw a calf chase a gaggle of geese just for fun.
It's bedtime now, and I am still tired from that ride, my legs and arms still threatening to go on strike or something, even with 24+ hours of rest.