Monday, November 1, 2010

The Pickett Creek Brigade

Saturday October 30 2010

We'd never done it before: all 5 of us Pickett Creek neighbors riding a 50-mile ride together (me, Connie, Steph, John, Carol).

It was fun, challenging, beautiful - a tour southward toward the Owyhee mountains, through some new Owyhee Badlands, up Birch Creek wash, past the hobbit hole Wind Caves,

into Birch Creek Canyon under the narrow red rhyolite cliffs,

further up the canyon where a spring still flows,

and a hidden grove of renegade Russian olive trees and golden cottonwood trees shelter (at least one of each) a great horned owl, a long-eared owl, a Raven, and a sharp-shinned hawk.

It was fun and challenging for the horses: Jose, Finneas, Rhett, Mac, and Suz - four of which preferred to lead (Mac was the only one who preferred following), so there was always a bit of shuffling and jostling, and sticking noses out front, and pulling harder on bits, as the new leader took his or her turn.

Rain was in the forecast, but the dark blue skies only kept the desert cool, and kept the buffalo gnats to a minimum, and accented the reds of the canyon and the golds of the autumn leaves.

Connie learned a lesson: never, ever, ever, when your horse partially loses a hind Easyboot glove going up a steep single track trail, dismount to pull the boot off, while he's got his head down eating, without holding on to the reins. Or you just might watch your horse decide to go start walking up the steep hill without you, then start running up the steep hill without you, leaving you to realize that your horse may have just run all the way back to the vet check (or home, or gotten lost) and you now might have a very long way to walk back on foot, seven miles or so (or however far you might want to track your horse in the desert).

I learned a lesson: don't just sit behind and watch the whole thing without saying anything!

(Turns out Finneas ran up and over the hill another fifty yards and willingly stopped with Steph, John and Carol and their horses, as his other 3 boots flew off in all directions. We spent 15 minutes there as all four of the boots were found scattered in the sagebrush, and she and Steph got the boots back on with tape on the hooves and around the velcro straps, and by pounding the boots on with a rock.)

I learned another lesson: Jose is a different horse when he is Fresh Fresh Fresh!! He was full of himself, having done virtually nothing, other than some easy training rides, and 2 Limited Distance rides at the September Canyonlands ride, since the Owyhee Fandango in May (!!). The first 19 mile loop he wanted to go faster than our pace (and preferred to be in front), the second 18 mile loop he wanted to go Faster Than Our Pace (and Preferred To Be In Front), and the third 19 mile loop back home he wanted to GO FASTER! I'd been using my seat and legs a lot the first two loops to stay off his mouth, but after 38 miles my legs were jello and I just had to let him pull. That horse did not get tired! Whereas, I was whooped by the end of the ride.

The Pickett Creek Brigade pulled five abreast on the last hundred yard stretch, charging down Wees Road to basecamp.

We wheeled the corner turn into the ranch in a line as a perfect drill team, and Pickett Creek called it a perfect 5 for 5 (actually six for six - additional neighbor Linda finished the Limited Distance on Krusty!) (actually seven for seven - additional visiting adopted neighbor Judy finished the Limited Distance on her horse Milan!) at Day 1 of the Owyhee Hallowed Weenies.

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