Monday, August 24, 2009

Just Like a Good Neighbor

Sunday August 23 2009

...Lost Juniper Ranch is there!

Carol backed out of riding today on new trails so that Connie, Steph and I could go in our 3-horse trailer. It was to be Connie and Finneas' first Field Trip!

Everybody got up early enough and quickly downed enough coffees, and we left at 8 AM. Hauled up Bachman Grade road closer to the Owyhee mountains to our starting point. Unloaded the horses. Saddled up.

Uh Oh.

Three helmets, three bridles, three saddles... two girths. Argh!

Now what - unhitch, Steph drive back to get a girth? It would take over an hour. Got anything in the trailer or truck we could jerry-rig a girth with? While Steph rooted around, Connie - who happened to bring her cell phone, and who happened to get reception - called Carol and Rick next door. ("You talk to her." "No, you talk to her!" "No, here, you talk to her!") The Brands don't only sell trail and endurance horses at their Lost Juniper Ranch, they run a neighbor rescue operation.

Connie left several messages on their busy phone, sounding pitiful and pitiable ("I'm leaving tomorrow, I really want to ride..." - with a chorus of "PLEASE!"s harmonizing in the background).

Connie got Carol on the third try, and Carol was horrified Steph had almost gotten a possibly workable girth she was tightening on Rhett, made of reins, a shipping boot, and latigo strings. Heck, it might work, we were only doing a 3-4 hour ride!

"Wait! We'll be right there with a girth! Need anything else?"

By now the skies were quite overcast (I checked the forecast... only "showers" and not "thunderstorms" predicted, and I was pretty sure those clouds held only rain), light rain was falling all around us, and drops had already started spitting on us too. "Yes, bring some rain jackets!"

The horses got to graze, and 28 minutes later, a fast moving streak of dust was headed our way on the road: Brands to the rescue with girth and raincoats! "I drove 70!" Rick said. (Not through Oreana, of course; our neighbors want us going 25.)

Our heros departed, we saddled up for real this time, left at 11 AM, and headed up a road along the foot of the Owhyees. About three miles of the road was rocky, but the rest was great footing. It was new trail for me too - Day 1 of the June Almosta Bennett Hills ride came this way, but at the time I was whinging about a broken toe and sat it out.

We made a right turn up and into one little canyon I dubbed "Eyeball Canyon" because the raindrops were stinging Jose in the eyeballs and he didn't like it. Steph saw a pig's snout in some of the rock formations. I saw a deer (a real one) and figured there must be cougars up here, because if I were a cougar, this is where I'd hang out. Some of the Juniper trees' branches were bowed from the weight of blue berries (technically, they are cones, not berries). No bears in these mountains, so hopefully something is enjoying them.

We turned away from the mountains and headed for the Browns Creek drainage, and came upon a field of bright sunflowers, their heads up east still waiting for the sun to appear. It was a great place for a picnic stop for the horses, and a picnic for us out of Connie's always-present Goodie Bag. The horses wanted in Connie's Goodie Bag too. The boys got sunflowers in their bridles. Jose was entranced by a bumblebee that was stuck in a tangle of sunflower leaves.

On down the trail, we passed an old cabin and mine on the creek, then a little further passed another old cabin. Back up onto the flats, and we had some good long trots and canters, and a few gallops, heading back for the trailer. The boys had fun. The girls did too.

I love all our trails here, but I just love covering new country, riding over new trails, especially good footing where you can move out. It's all a wonderland, this high desert with its surprise canyons, and the Owyhee Mountains with their hidden creeks and gorges.

Thanks to the rescue by our neighbors, we got to see a little more of it today.

(I think from now on this 20-mile loop trail will be known as the Forgotten Girth trail.)

More photos at Forgotten Girth Trail on

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