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!
I love the way you and Doranna both talk about your equine and canine friends. The ‘conversations’ are hilarious and I can see it so clearly.
Oh, golly, I can just see that!
Connery is King of the Not Touching game, which is a variation; he perfected it on Jean-Luc, who had no idea what to do about it. He hovers REALLY REALLY CLOSE without touching until the other dog sounds off, and then there he is, all innocence, while the other dog has been socially inappropriate for no obvious reason. He says, “Whut?” and the other dog–usually Belle–flattens her ears and says oh dear, I am a bad dog.
At this point, Belle usually abandons her spot when she sees that look on his face. But Ha! to him! The puppy–another Beagle–is oblivious to such tactics!
Last year in exactly that same spot MW decided to roll with me on him and fortunately I too was able to just step off. Yesterday I actually ponyed MW behind Shadow for the first time. I had tied MW up in the corral while I rode Shadow and MW got loose and came flying through the field to us. MW can’t stand to be seperated from Shadow despite the fact that Shadow pushes him around. Saem goes for Peggy Sue (pig) whot hates to be separated form MW even though MW chases her around the field until she backs up under a tree. Anyway I picked up MW’s lead rope and we all went for a walk. Initially Shadow was a little jumpy but soon calmed down. So you think 15F to 52F in the same day is something remarkable. In Montana it was – 30F with several feet of snow. A Chinook wind came through and in the midle of the night I heard a roaring outside and went out and found river rapids inthe field alongside the house fromthe rapidley melting snow. As I went to work the snow banks caused my the plow acted as a levee holding the water back from the road in the fields. The snow was floating on top with mice popping up through holes in the snow. The road was still covering in ice and I expected it to be muddy when I came home. Late that afternoon as I drove home I was kicking up a dust cloud behind the car. The snow levees had held and the road dried right out. It had gotten up to 60F that afternoon. It always astounded me that even in -30F the horses (and the cows and bull for that matter) were just wandering around in the fields with no blankets or cover. My pig was much warmer. He (Wilber, his mate was Orville ,think about teh possible implications here) had uriated into the straw in his hut and it seemed to have fermented actually steaming and giving off heat to keep her comfortable even in the coldest weather. See you sunday if the snow holds off. I knwo you will be ridign inthe snow but I’ll cuddle up by the fire with my Kindle.
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Hi Laura–you can just see the though bubbles popping out of their heads!
Hi Richard! I will look forward to seeing you.