Nov 182016

By Patty Wilber

When Dancer, a Paso Fino cross, arrived last month, she jumped out of the trailer, flattened her long, black-tipped ears at life in general and tried to double barrel a dog to drive home the point.

“Oh dear” or maybe more accurately, “Holy sh**”, I thought.

Six weeks later, I am nearly ready to send her home because she has done SO well!

She is an unusual horse in that she really does seem to hate a lot of stuff.  At first she wouldn’t even talk to me! I could barely halter her because she would not let me touch her ears or poll.  Try slipping a bridle on. Ha! She still tries to kick her neighbors about 10 times a day. And she really doesn’t like being petted.  Cuddling?  Forget about it!

Now, she waits for us every morning at the gate, but we don’t pet her.  We just touch her lightly in greeting. She tolerates bridling quite well and I can rub her ear tips and fold her ears if I am respectful.  And when I ride her, and she does something correctly, she seems to puff up with pride if I praise her and scratch her neck.

She is a tiny, but boy is she handy and coordinated.  And she learns fast.

So, last Friday, for her Ride #23 Surprise (that she didn’t know she was getting), I loaded her up to take her to the Caja del Rio.  Jim and our friend Mary Ann went, too, but we didn’t take anyone else as we really had no idea where we were going or what to expect.

Second to load was Penny.  Dancer immediately squealed and tried to kick Penny (because she hates Penny), but the trailer divider kept that from working out for Dancer.  Penny wasn’t too perturbed.  She chewed some hay. Tulip, Mary Ann’s big beautiful Shire cross was to load third.  Tulip has traveled three gazillion miles via trailer but when she heard that squealing and stomping, she said, “i am not getting in there with those lunatics.”  Tulip, we might change your name to Pansy!

We convinced the Sweet Flower that Dancer, not Penny, was the real issue and the dividers would protect her in any case. Off we went.

It took us close to an hour and a half to get from my house to the HQ Well trail head.  We only missed one turn because the sign caught us gabbing.  And because it was a little sign.

The short distance of graveled road was in good shape and at the trail head there was a lot of space to park.  There was one van in the lot that left soon after we arrived.  Two other trucks came by and drove into the Caja, perhaps to get wood? There was broken window glass near our parking spot, so it looked like there had been a break in at some point.  We took our wallets with us, just to be safe. Right past where we parked were two very big stock tanks full of water. “i hate those,” said Dancer.  She refused to drink, but Penny and Tulip liked the water just fine, thank-you!


In the parking lot with a truck driving by! Dancer is loaded with her first set of saddle bags. “i don’t quite hate those,” she says.

Once mounted, and with our handy Caja del Rio Plateau map, we set off to ride around the Twin Hills.  After about 3.5 miles, we got a little bored with the flat juniper and cholla terrain,

20161111_114232 dancer2

so we decided change our plan and head up a canyon (with a trail, clearly marked on the map).  It was technical, with down trees, lots of rocks and a steady ascent.  That turned out to be right up our alley (or canyon–get it?”)!


“i got this”, says Dancer

Once we got on top, we heard a big whuffing sort of snort  in the trees and Jim saw what he thought was a horse, run off.

We ate lunch up there and then decided (based on the map!) to loop back down East Canyon.


Dancer at the lunch break. Dang, I like her!


View of the Sangre de Cristos, or “The Pecos”, where we do a lot of our Back Country Horsemen work.

We covered somewhere between 10 and 12 miles. We didn’t use a GPS or other tracking program, so we guesstimated based on the map.  It is a very nice map!


I just love the New Mexico sky! We are nearly back in this picture. Jim on Penny and Mary Ann on Tulip.



Me and Dancer. This girl can walk out. She has turned out to be a very talented horse on the trail (she likes it!). I get a big kick out of learning where each horse excels!

The ride was a little shorter than we had planned, but it allowed me and Jim (Jim and me??) to make it to 99 Degrees in Albuquerque by 6:30 (ok, we were a little late) to chow down on crabs, shrimp, scallops etc.

Over all, it was great to go to a new place, but that particular area wasn’t especially spectacular (I just picked all the scenic pictures).  If we go again, I might like to try to get up to the 1100 Well trail head, or try heading out Buckman  Road to the Devil’s Canyon area!