When the others got there, we figured we'd park where we were after all, so we went to unload the horses. Turns out, Cisco got frustrated that he ran out of hay in his hay bag, and put a foot into the hay bag, where it got stuck. So it turns out instead of him being a bit annoying, he was actually quite the trooper! We got him untangled and unloaded, followed by the other two. It took a bit for us all to get all ready to go, since we needed to load snacks and water and such into our bags.
Then we were off like a herd of turtles. Right at the beginning, we came to a water crossing. Unlike Smith Rock, it was shallow with easy entry. Unlike a mud puddle, it was pretty hard to avoid. Luckily, Arya marched right up to it, sniffed the water, and walked right through it. Woo hoo!
We said we'd take up the rear since we were planning to walk the whole way, so the group headed off with five in the front group and the three of us bringing up the rear. Soon, the front group trotted off out of sight. Meanwhile, Cisco really wanted to go faster and really wanted to be at the front of the group, so Brenda kind of had her hands full. But eventually he realized that we were in for a bit of a hike and his energy would be better expended by just walking calmly down the trail.
Shortly after starting, the other group decided to trot, so they pulled away from us, but Flash was in the front of our little group and didn't mind a bit. When they were out of side, Cisco got to lead for quite a while, though he got nervous when we got to the first noisy waterfall, so Flash led for that.
Soon, we arrived at our second water crossing. It was much like the first--shallow entry, shallow water, optional bridge. Once again, Arya went right in. Didn't hurt that there was lush green grass along the banks as her reward for getting in the water. :-) Other riders tried out the bridge, so after Arya had had some grass, I took her up the bank and pointed her at the bridge, but she wanted nothing to do with it and I didn't want to spoil the good work we'd done with the water, so I left it alone and we headed up the trail again once the faster group was out of sight.
The trail pretty much follows Paulina Creek, sometimes right alongside, sometimes high up but still visible or audible, and sometimes a bit out of sight/hearing range. It mostly goes through shady forest with soft footing. There was a fire up there a while back, and the trail goes through the burned out section, which is now mostly manzanita along the trail, so it would get really hot and dusty in the summer. We were lucky to have a bit of clouds plus recent rain to keep the dust mostly under control. It was such a beautiful ride that photos don't do it justice, but I took a few anyway. :-)
Shortly after we headed up that hill in the above photo, Brenda, who had been having issues with her saddle slipping to the side all day, got REALLY off balance. At first, she thought she'd be able to recover by putting her weight in the high stirrup, but then she realized she was past that point and was at a very big risk of slipping all the way over. Before I knew it, Shar was out of her own saddle and helping Brenda get hers straightened out. They tightened the cinch and Brenda got back on. Meanwhile, Cisco stood still like it was no big deal. WINNER of a horse, that guy! After all that excitement, and worried that the saddle slipping would be a problem, we decided to turn around, have lunch down by the river, then head back.
I tried tying Arya to a tree as the others had done, but had left the lead rope back at the trailer, figuring I'd use the rein (it's one long rein, with snaps on both ends) as a lead. It works fine for leading her or holding her by hand, but not so well for tying. It's a little shorter than the lead rope, plus something about the way it's woven makes it NOT want to stay tied. Oops. So Arya went wandering to get closer to the other two, but Brenda grabbed her. I tried tying her again, then gave up and just held her while I ate. Ugh. Next time we ride long enough that tying (and not just hand-holding) might be necessary, I'll bring the rope. I was just already carrying so much stuff along I didn't want to go overboard. Lesson learned.
This was our lunch spot:
Then we headed back down the hill, retracing our steps. At the water crossing again, I asked Shar if she would mind leading us across the bridge. She walked Flash up to it, and he wasn't too sure, but she coaxed him onto it. She was worried he'd rush across, but he marched across like a good boy. Brenda had a little trouble getting Cisco onto it, so she stepped aside, and I got Arya pointed at it. She put her head down to check out the deck, then put a foot on it, then another foot, then marched all the way across. GOOD GIRL! Her pace got a little faster toward the end, but not bad at all. Then Cisco crossed it too. What good ponies! So then they got rewarded by going down to the creek for a good eat and drink.
|Photo upstream from in the creek as proof|
|Photo of my leg dangling ABOVE the water (and a bunch of grass that fell out of Arya's mouth because she literally bites off more than she can chew)|
|Shar took some photos of me, so I snagged them off Facebook|
About halfway between the "second" (now third) water crossing and the "first" (now fourth), I hopped off and led Arya on foot. My hips were getting really sore from the saddle, etc., and I knew we were almost back. Other than Arya getting too close to my "bubble" and kicking my ankle (ouch!), for which she got a reminder about the bubble, it was good to get off and stretch a bit. I jogged to catch up, then walked behind the other two ladies, who stayed on their horses.
|Looking downstream, toward the trailers|
I led Arya right into the water. I had sandals back at my car for driving home in, so I didn't care if my tennis shoes got wet and squishy. It felt SO good. And it wasn't even all that hot, so I can imagine how much better it would feel on a really hot day! It felt so good to get my feet and ankles wet, I took my stuff out of my pockets, put them in the saddle bags, and just sat right down in the water. BRRR!!! But it felt good. Shar eventually got her feet wet (though she only had the one pair of shoes, so she took them off before wading in). We hung out there at the river for quite a while. It was still mid-afternoon, none of us had anywhere to be, and the other riders were still out on the trail. So we let the horses eat the thick green grass, and wade and drink to their hearts' content. Well, nearly. I'm sure they would have helped mow that grass for weeks if we'd let them. :-)
Eventually, we headed back to the trailer to untack. The other riders messaged to say they were only a mile or so out, so we decided to hang out and wait. Shar had planned ahead and brought the ingredients for a nice wet, salty mash to replace the electrolytes they lost on the warm day, so they slurped that down. Then we took them for a good last drink before the trailer ride home.
|Flash on the left, Arya in the middle, and Cisco on the right|
|Good a pretty good shot of Cisco--Brenda says it's hard to catch him with his ears up. :-)|
When the other riders still didn't come back for a while, we figured they must have done the same as us, and let the horses eat and drink at that last water crossing for a while, so we eventually loaded up to head home. Right then, they re-appeared, so we chatted with them for a bit, then headed out. We stopped for Mexican food on the way home (ponies had to hang out in the trailer), then headed home. Shar was kind enough to unload Arya for me, and the tack needed to stay in the truck anyway for our lesson in Prineville on Wednesday, so that worked out pretty well for me. :-)
So yeah, it was a GREAT day of riding. All the walking wasn't great for my hips, but it was EXCELLENT for the horses brains and muscles. Next up, lesson with Celena on Wednesday after work. Bet I'll be sore after that one!