By Patty Wilber
Jan 31 is the first Back Country Horsemen ride of the year! Meet at Town and Country Feed Store (Under new management! Stop in and check out the changes!) down (from here) by Tramway and Central where I40 begins to climb into Tijeras Canyon at the eastern edge of Albuquerque.
10 am ready to ride!
This is a training ride. The idea is to get the horses started on gearing up for the work season.
The dark of November and December are behind us (lurking in front, too, DON”T LOOK AHEAD!) It is late January, the sun is up longer each day, and soon soon!, it will be warm! (In all fairness, the barn pipes have thawed, so that is something, but it was 19F Thurs A.M.–and 52 F Thurs P.M.-that’s New Mexico for you.)
From my house, I can track the lengthening days by where the sun sets. In the dead of winter it disappears for the night to the southwest of my house right through Tijeras Canyon, seemingly onto I40! As the minutes add on, the sink point moves north over the arc of the Sandias. Twilight lingers longer each night!
The BCH work season is only weeks (ok, about 8-10 weeks) away, and the horses need to get reacquainted with their BCH buddies, saddle saws, pack equipment, water crossings, etc. The riders need to drag out their work gear and make sure it is all in good shape.
Town and Country Feed (505.296.6711) sits right on the banks of Tijeras Creek and backs up onto some Albuquerque Open Space The creek is not big, but it is live and not a dry arroyo; it runs year round. If you don’t live in an arid area, this may not seem very remarkable, but around here, water is hard to come by, and year round water even more so!
Great place to remind the equines about water crossings. Let us hope mine remember!
The open space is strewn with pink-toned granite boulders and bedded with decomposed granite for footing. There are bayonette-tipped yucca, pinons and junipers, but mainly it is quite open. At about 1500 feet lower than my house, it is usually quite a bit warmer at this time of year.
I am riding Penny and packing Risa. T is going, too. This will be his first trailer ride in a slot right next to a girl! Since he was gelded, he has definitely mellowed, but he still gets an interested murmur in his throat now and then!
Since I put in so many back country hours with Penny and Risa last year, I expect few exciting moments. Am hoping that Risa has improved in her ability to handle horses on her heiny. If not, I will either ride drag (tricky since I am a ride leader) OR I will let T ride behind her. She knows him, so should be able to handle that. Hmm–think I will haul them to the ride in adjacent trailer slots to increase their bonding.
A couple years ago on this ride, I took a 4 year old gelding (Jack) of mine and a 5 year old gelding I had in training (Miracle Whip). They were penned together and Jack was the alpha (head honcho). However, Jack was still pretty green and liked company, so I figured MW would be just the guy…
I started off riding Jack and ponying MW. MW was a pest. He kept touching Jack with his nose, and the two of them were just like little kids.
“He’s touching me!” Ear pinning.
“I did not!” Tail swishing.
“Did too!” Head tossing.
Me, hissing: “Stop it.”
Small pause. Quickly followed by:
“He’s touching me!” Eye rolling.
Me: Disgusted sigh.
I made it to lunch. Figured I’d ride MW back and pony Jack.
MW was petrified that Jack was going to get him and shied every time Jack got too close.
But Jack, by this time, was sweaty and it was warm and the sand looked so very inviting….SO, as we were walking along, wth some semblance of control, he flopped right over to roll! Yes, I was on him.
I let go of MW and stepped off.
Using my Pissed Off Mother Voice “GET UP!” (Unuttered swear words bulging out my forehead.)
He got up, I got back on. MW poked him. Swish. Walk walk, slight pause, walk walk walk, hesitation, walk walk…. The sand looked so inviting. He was so hot and itchy and YEP, before I even felt him go, he flopped down again!
Away went MW. I stepped off.
I was mad. Mad at MW for poking. Mad at Jack for flopping. Gotta love it when your trainees behave so badly in public. Mad Mad MAD!
I got MW. I got Jack. I put MW on my right and Jack on my left.
YOU! Stay over there and DO NOT TOUCH Jack!
YOU TOO! Stay over THERE and DO NOT TOUCH MW.
I gave them my best glare, marched them straight back to the trailer (0nly about a mile and all down hill), loaded them up, took them home and rode them both (one at a time) in the arena until they straightened up.
So, really hoping that any Risa Antics pale in comparison to that!
See you Sunday?
PS Jim and Cometa were going to come along–Risa would have stayed home– but Jim is having Lance Armstrong surgery to repair the collar bone he busted last week due to a bike malfunction. The prognosis is good! And boy do I miss his help at the barn!