To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy campers

We are back from our annual Cowboy Campmeeting trip, which was chockful of adventures.

They started on the way there. We were cruising east on I-84 when a pick-up drew up alongside us. I looked over; he motioned back. As Rick started looking for a good place to pull over, another vehicle's driver came up and motioned to us. Eeek! Fortunately an exit ramp appeared where we could safely pull over. The problem? A totally shredded rear trailer tire. My adrenaline spiked as I thought of what could have happened had the tire on the front axle failed; praise be to God that it didn't. With two horses, three full water tanks, several bales of hay, tack, generator, and various other gear for our trip, that trailer was LOADED. Whew; so thankful!
I posted the above photo on Instagram, and a friend asked how Rick jacked up a fully loaded trailer to change the tire. We have this (sorry, couldn't get a good photo of ours in use), and it has been a life-saver. EVERY owner of a dual-axle trailer should own one; it's worth every penny!

As we approached our destination, I spotted smoke coming from the forested hillside above the campground. It looked like a small wildfire was just getting started! We pulled in and asked around, but no one knew about it. Concerned, we kept our eye on the smoke through the trees, wondering if we should set up camp or wait to be evacuated. Finally, one of our leaders called the Forest Service, and learned they had started a prescribed burn. Considering how very dry and windy it was, and the fact that campfires were banned, we were all astounded. The pros had it under control, though; by the next day, the fire was out. Another "Whew"!

Many of our group highlines their horses; we prefer to set up a paddock with hot wire so they can move around and lay down. (Some people use long-enough rope that their horses can eat from the ground and lay down while highlined, but we've seen too many bad rope burns – including one on Russell – to take that risk.) We found a lovely spot amidst some trees so they had shade most of the day.

During our first night there, I was gradually dragged from a very deep sleep by strange noises. Noises that sounded like hoof steps, but without the usual whinnying that occurs when someone's horses get loose. Still, Rick and I jumped up and threw some clothes on. A quick flashlight check of our paddock confirmed it was our horses gone walkabout – or should I say runabout! After they dashed past us a couple times we were able to catch the turkeys and tie them to the horse trailer while we set up a highline at o'dark thirty.
From then on, Lance and Ollie spent nights on the highline and days (when we weren't riding) in the paddock. That means we slept better at night, and they could get caught up in the daytime!

On Thursday, Brian and I participated in the competitive trail ride our group sets up every year. I was happily surprised Brian wanted to do it, and a bit relieved that we wouldn't be leaving Lance's buddy in camp. (Even the most independent of horses can act terribly herdbound when in the wilderness; I think it's a security thing.) Brian wanted to start first, so Lance was a pill about his disappearing buddy while I worked on getting him through the first obstacle (and once out of sight, Brian couldn't get Ollie to continue on the trail). Once Lance and I caught up, we stayed within sight of each other for the rest of the ride so both horses were happy campers.
Enjoying the spring-fed water trough at the end of the ride
The protected source provided refreshment for humans, too
I don't have any photos of me and Lance, but I did "dress for success" – I wore the fancy fringed breeches Theresa gave me!
That night at the meeting, the winners were announced. There were only two riders in the youth division, and Brian won the equitation award!

The next morning I couldn't get either of my guys to go for a ride, so when an acquaintance rode by on her pretty gaited mule and invited me to join a group for a trail ride, I threw my saddle on Lance and took off. It ended being a much longer ride than I anticipated; we were gone for several hours. I should have known better; the three riders on Tennessee Walkers in front (who peeled off on a different route for the return), and the two women behind me on mules are all used to longer rides than I am usually able to indulge in. Still, it was a beautiful ride.
Lance was very tense and screamed for his buddy much of the ride, but thankfully didn't get too crazy – as evidenced by my being able to shoot a few photos. Another "whew."

When we got back to the water trough, there was Rick on Ollie. He said he'd given up on us and was going to ride by himself, but would rather have us join him. So Lance and I added another hour or so to the many miles we'd already covered . . . but we did get to see more beautiful country, and my horse could finally relax.
Whenever I'm with a group like this, I enjoy noting the different breeds present. Besides mules, Walkers, quarter horses, mustangs (Lance wasn't the only one), Arabians, and Appaloosas, there was a Norwegian Fjord (of whom I didn't get a photo),
an Icelandic horse (with a gray Tennessee Walker behind him),
a Halflinger,
and a Percheron (who had once been a carriage horse at Disneyland).
Variety is the spice of life!

The horses got Sabbath off; on Sunday we took a conversational ride with friends before breaking camp.

No personal adventures on the way home, thankfully, but we saw the sobering smoke of a wildfire just outside The Dalles, Oregon. I heard on Tuesday that it was under control with no structures but a pump house lost. Hallelujah!
That's "our" beautiful Mt. Hood behind the smoke screen


Theresa said...

What a good time really, and home safe and sound! I love seeing the variety of horses too! Cute little Icelandic. Would love to ride one someday. That tilt looks interesting. What a handsome and leggy pair of mules.

Michelle said...

Yes, always thankful to get home safe and sound. My favorite of the two mules had lovely turned tips on her ears, and big, beautiful eyes; gaited, too. I'd steal that Halfinger if he was younger (he's 21); he'd be an awesome dressage mount!

A :-) said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful getaway :-)