Jan 122018

By Patty Wilber

In December, Jim and I went hiking in the Ojito Wilderness.  We accessed it via Cabezon Road and hiked the Hoodoo Trail (red dot and line)  over by Bernalillito Mesa.

The hoodoos are surreal, like being in a different dimension, but as far as horseback riding, it is a short trail.

So, Tuesday, us ladies in our big trucks (cuz we might be AARP age, but we are formidable, especially in a group) went on US 550 3.5 miles past San Ysidro to the gray road on the map. We went in the green gate and parked right there.  Then, we followed that gray road on horseback into the Ojito and saw a different side of it.

Marianne, Siri, Linda, and Lily.

Some people might crave green and trees, but New Mexico’s space and sky and rock fill me right up.

Me and Penny. Photo by Marianne Randall.

 Two of our horses started off a little fresh.

“whoo whee!” says Zuni, Lily’s gorgeous five year old Azteca. “but, um, is that water?  i don’t do water.”  “That’s what you think!” we told him.  “You will!” And he did!








The trail we chose was flat and mainly sandy for about four miles.  We did a few excursions off the main route, but we elected not to go down into any of the deep arroyos or up any of the rock formations.  We went for a low key, admire the scenery, sort of day.

It felt just right!

Except, we chose, for some oddball reason, to leave the parking area at around 11 am, sans lunches, for our nine mile ride.

We were regretting the lack of sustenance by the time we got back!

We sat in the sun by a cliff  and laughed and ate while the horses hung out.  Rio (left) kept his eyes peeled for any incoming anything.  Penny mostly slept since Rio was on it.

I sometimes think of my mom on days like this.  She wanted me to play tennis in part because her tennis friends became her lifelong friends.  Turns out this horseback riding thing works, too!

Thank-you for such a fine day, my friends, old and new!

  2 Responses to “Ojito”

  1. What a lovely day! Now that I have a rideable horse again (or she will be, when I re-acquire tack that fits her and that I can lift) I can appreciate this w/o envy except for the quality of your scenery and the fact you already have solid riding friends. And that young black horse Zuni is beautiful…was he the tallest of the four? He looks leggy and elegant.

    Mocha and had a good several hours of discovering each other again today. Learning experiences both sides. All without drama.

    Mocha: “You mean you think ‘whoa’ means I should stop right away? Are you sure?”

    Me: Yes, and always

    Mocha: ‘But it’s easier to take another step or three to make sure you really mean it.”

    Me. I mean it.

    Mocha: “Okay, if you’re sure.”

    Me: GOOD girl.

    Following which, she stopped smartly on command while being led by a friend. She has also *almost* learned that if I’m opening the gate to the horse side of the barn, she must step back from the gate and not crowd the human(s).

    “But you have the red bucket. The red bucket is for food and treats.”


    “Is moving one foot back but standing in the same place enough? And what’s in that bucket this time?”

    BACK-BACK-BACK (contact with arm or loop of cotton lead rope.)

    “You’re serious…OKay.”

    Whoa means whoa NOW. Back means back NOW. She’s smart, and not really contrary, just not yet sure what the new rules are. And she has some good rules already in place–she’s quiet and calm to work around, keeps all four feet planted when you reach under her for blanket straps, etc. She stands for grooming without being tied, and appears happy with the brushes I bought yesterday. Got her face done, too. Today was only her second full day here. More stuff will happen tomorrow and subsequent days, all ground work until the tack issues are sorted. Her leading has already improved, in more than just the halt. She is walking much better without the badly applied front shoes, I notice. (My farrier pulled them yesterday, and will start the new trimming protocol when she’s grown a little hoof. He was muttering and fussing about the way Former Owner trimmed her, and I agree.

    • You are going to have a great time on your 80 acres! I enjoy fun training rides on my 30 acres of rock.

      I think Zuni was the biggest, but not by a lot.

      Do you have Mocha stop out on the line? I use the turn and face up method on the lunge line, but do the stop instantly and back up when leading. With Ms. Atti, we are going to be doing much less lunging and way more backing up on the ground and more mental work. I have been lunging both the youngsters Indy and Atti a lot to help them settle down and it is frankly not my favorite. I also think that I have been teaching them to need to be lunged prior to riding. If I am going to lunge, I am going to to back to many more mental exercises rather physical, and also to teaching them to be able to be ridden for the settling part. I love the challenge even when I am banging my head against the wall.

      I have seen a bit change in Atti’s eye in 2 days of this, so am excited to keep on! She is gonna be a good one! And a really different challenge!

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