I'm really loving these long trail rides. I finally got a couple of pictures to show you a little of the landscape in the park. In this picture, you can see the parking lot on the left, and in the middle — almost hidden by the tall grass on the hill — the public riding arena. The riding stables that takes trail rides out into the park is slightly behind and to the right of us.
Today we turned right at the riding arena, crossed the road, and went down by the creek on the south side of the park (as opposed to Monday, when we crossed the creek to the north of the barn). We followed the creek to the west (toward the barn), crossed, and headed east across the open fields. Panama and I took this path on one of our first long trail rides.
Here you can see the rolling field, which is covered in goldenrod right now, the reservoir on the left, and Mt. Carbon on the right. Why they call it "mount" anything I don't know, because it's really just a big hill.
We followed this trail through the prairie dog village, just like before. The prairie dogs are so cute, but on the other side of the village we spotted three coyote pups. For a moment they peeped over the hill at us, a cluster of three fuzzy heads with big, inquisitive ears, and then they ducked out of sight. I feel bad for the prairie dogs that surely keep those pups alive, but I guess if I were a mama coyote, I'd have my babies right next to the Country Buffet, too.
Panama didn't act silly about the coyotes, though he did perk up and look at the hill for a long time after they had gone. One of our trail buddies commented that they probably look just like dogs, but I would think they'd smell differently. In any case, I'm glad Panama didn't mind them.
When our trail intersected with another near the base of Mt. Carbon, we turned and went back down to the creek, where we rode in the shade of the cottonwoods for a while. We moved off the trail to let a guided trail ride from the riding stables go by, and then continued on. We passed a pond with ducks in it, which scared Zans by swimming toward us and quacking — Panama was very alert but couldn't seem to figure out where the quacking was coming from. And he scared the crap out of me by almost stepping right off a little bridge (no hand rails) into the ditch below. I think I screamed a little, and he — bless his heart — stopped walking and waited for me to tell him where to go.
We crossed the creek at the same place we'd crossed earlier, and took a short cut home across the field. Instead of riding along the bike path, as I've done before on that short cut, our lead rider got on the road through the campgrounds. Unfortunately a garbage truck was in the campgrounds, and Panama was a bit nervous about that, so we got off the road again until he passed. I thought it was an odd choice to ride on the road when the garbage truck was tooling around, but I guess her horse isn't worried about garbage trucks. Panama, however, still is.
Our trail ride took a total of about two hours, and I think on the whole we did less grazing than usual (which was nice). When we got back, the horses were all tired, though I think Panama was less so than the others, being the young'un of the group. Still, he was tired enough that he didn't put up much of a fuss when the farrier came and trimmed his feet right after the ride!
I didn't leave the barn for a couple more hours. I had brought my lunch, so I sat with another boarder at one of the picnic tables at the barn and ate together, and then my trainer showed up to work with another horse, so I watched them for a bit. While I was sitting in the shade, this cute little fella came over and made himself comfortable in my lap, wet feet and tummy and all:
Max is the barn owner's new dog, and seems to be suffering from the misguided notion that wet, half-grown Border Collie puppies are lap dogs. I let him continue to think so, but only because he is the sweetest, goofiest troublemaker I've ever seen.
Anyway, by the time I finally left, I'd been there for over five hours. I am, I'm afraid, quite burned, plus I'm probably dehydrated and exhausted from being out in the heat all that time. I'm going to have to start taking more than one water bottle to the barn...
Labels: trail riding