Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Ride

Dottie Waits Patiently

You might conclude that all we do around here is ride horses, hike, and camp. Well you are mostly right, but winter usually puts a cramp in our outdoor activities. Even with Dangerous' trips to St. George, this year has been an unusually long winter. Until this week, Dottie hadn't been saddled since back in November. After seven long months, we spent four short days in Grover trying to squeeze in a few hours of riding between howling wind storms.

Pick a Sandy Landing Spot

All those months of inactivity cause some real anxiety for both the horse and rider. Dottie is frequently full of herself after eating green grass and grain, and Dangerous is a bit fearful to put his foot in the stirrup the first time. We go through this little ritual every year, and most of the time it turns out all right. Dangerous stays in the saddle, and Dottie decides it is time to earn her keep. With me, I just enjoy watching the awkward ballet between an aging old man and his unpredictable young mare. Dangerous usually has the good sense to pick a nice, soft landing spot just in case the dance doesn't end well for him.

Watch Out for Those Big Rocks

The Boulder Mountains are aptly named for the huge and plentiful igneous rocks scattered everywhere. I have learned from Dangerous' past experiences that choosing a spot for that first ride is critical to the length of the riding season. Even though we usually start at low desert elevations those big black rocks are scattered everywhere. Riding a hyper-vigilant mare sometimes leads to some very hard landings, and even I know you don't want to land face down or any other way in a pile of Boulder Mountain lava rocks. They will take more than the wind out of you.

The Elk Know When It's Spring

Dangerous is notorious for pressing the season. Even with the wind howling and temperatures dropping, he had to find out firsthand what the high country looked like. So, we abandoned the desert winds sand blasting our faces and tried to ride a high country trail. Two miles from the truck we hit snow. For once in his life, Dangerous exercised good judgment and we turned back. Dottie was willing to cross the swollen creeks and wet bogs, but the chest deep snow drifts were a different matter. I rather enjoyed rolling and frolicking in them, but Dottie wasn't the least bit interested in trying to push her way through. Even the elk had the good sense to find a sunny, south facing slope to munch some green grass away from the snow. I suspect that we will know the High Plateau is open for business when the shaggy hair on the elk disappears and we see new born calves following their mothers.

This is Why We Do It

It won't be long and we will be standing stirrup deep in green grass and wildflowers. I guess the reason we go through our first ride ritual every spring is to see and enjoy places like this. In a few more weeks, the aspens will be leafed out and all the snow banks will have melted. For a few short months, we will be back pounding the trails at 10,000 feet hoping for a long Indian summer and a short winter. Love to hear from you!


Gloria said...

Your long-awaited post, and it's a good one. Rosie tells it like it is, and the last photo tells it like it will be. We went to Goblin Valley, Natural Bridges, Recapture Lodge, Goosenecks of the San Juan, Monument Valley, Goulding's Trading Post, and Four Corners which was "Closed for Construction" (curses!) Highway 95 is a treasure!!!

Max said...

I guess it's about time for me to start hitchhiking my way back out to Grover. This stuff is no different than a drug addiction. You think you're over it, but no way. The warm winds begin to blow, the wildflowers begin to show, and before you know it, the yearning to see it all just one more time starts messing with the old brain. Even a jumpy mare is no match for its draw. Hope to be able to clear the decks and see you in September.