Caballo State Park

By Patty Wilber

Last weekend’s adventure was an all expenses paid trip to Truth or Consequences (OK I drove to Peralta in my truck and trailer and I paid the park fee, but the rest was covered). It included an evening ride near Elephant Butte Reservoir and a nice trek the next day into the hills outside Caballo State Park.

I have Marcia’s horse JD here and Marcia thought it would be fun to take JD and Top down south for a little mini vacation (and as prep for a 25 mile endurance ride JD and I are doing with Marcia in March… my first…and JD’s first, too!).

JD and I have been having fun working on moving his parts–backing, sideways, moving his hip, moving his shoulder, and loping without flinging his head up and down– awkward–reminiscent of an oil derrick–on the move? And no, I am not talking about the oil derrick Western Pleasure Lope, but JD’s very own natural, but kinda weird, fast lope.  He is making great progress in using his body better and Tuesday, in a horrid wind storm, he had a whole circle that was just as soft and sweet as could be.

Go to 3:21 on the video (click) to see what I mean about Western Pleasure–and that horse isn’t really that bad…I have seen a whole lot worse…

Me and JD near Elephant Butte Reservoir, where the horses stayed and we slept in Marcia's RV. Whoo Hoo!

So, we left Friday– noonish.

Had a fine drive down there!

Got the horse motel (hor-tel?–um, that’s just wrong) set up, got our stuff in the RV and went for a ride!

The horse's home away from home.

Marcia warmed up Top by lunging him a bit and I had fun playing with the shadows.

It was a cold day up in the mountains, so even though I did wear gloves in T or C, we had a really nice and warm ride in the desert all around the RV park.

The ground is soft and pebbly and a lot of it is bare, between the mesquite and creosote bushes.  I spotted gobs of interesting rocks.  I just don’t know what many of them are!

This general area was very big for silver  mining until the federal government switched to a gold standard in 1896.

Here is a bit of history on the silver standard courtesy of …Wikipedia!

The United States adopted a silver standard based on the Spanish milled dollar in 1785. This was codified in the 1792 Mint and Coinage Act, and by the Federal Government’s use of the “Bank of the United States” to hold its reserves, as well as establish a fixed ratio of gold to the U.S. dollar. This was, in effect, a derivative silver standard, since the bank was not required to keep silver to back all of its currency.

This began a long series of attempts by the USA to create a bi-metallic standard for the U.S. Dollar, which would continue until the 1920s. Gold and silver coins were legal tender, including the Spanish real”

After we rode, we had a nice leisurely dinner of spaghetti.  So leisurely in fact that we were late to our hot springs appointment!  (only 15 bucks with a Groupon for an hour for two…or 40 minutes for those that cannot show up on time!)

Marcia reminded me to bring clothes (i.e. a swim suit) for this purpose.  I said, “Of course!”, and promptly forgot. Was saved from a trip to Walmart  on the way to the hot springs because Marcia had a spare suit that fit me.

Here is where we went: The Rio Pool at Riverbend Hot Springs (only it was dark).

Wow, that hot soak made me a noodle, so all the way back to the RV park I was bonelessly dozing in the passenger seat.  We drove down to check the horses…and Top was standing by the trailer instead of in his pen!  Good thing we checked.

It was, however, a drag to have to reconstitute my skeleton, so I could get out and help corral him (Get it?  Corral him?).

We chose a civilized ride time of 10 am for Saturday.

We drove to Caballo Lake State Park, about 20 minutes south of the RV park.  Neither Elephant Butte nor Caballo are particularly horse friendly, but our guide, Kit, had made arrangements so we could park in the Park below the dam.

The land in Elephant Butte and Caballo State Parks is largely (federal) Bureau of Reclamation land, but it is leased to, and managed by the State of NM.  The employees we talked to said it might be hard to get these parks to become more equine friendly.  It doesn’t seem like it should be as the land isn’t even state land… Got a survey.  Will fill it out and send it in.

We crossed the river!  Always fun!

In the water! We picked a shallow spot!

Then we started to climb out of the river valley.

Marcia and Top are leading the way to the hills in the background!

It was a nice steady climb in soft ground--fine conditioning.  JD did pretty well, but he has a tendency to flip his head  when he is nervous, so I worked on getting him to soften his neck and bend his nose to minimized that.

There was old cow sign everywhere, but almost no grass that I could see.  Maybe some tough old mesquite eating cows live here in the summer–when it is really hot…

We did see a dead calf. A Hereford-– a white-faced red-bodied animal (originated in England for beef), so not a wiley, desert adapted, lean-muscled Longhorn like you might expect in a place nearly devoid of monocot forage.

We followed arroyos into the hills.  We got dead ended in a few but most got narrow and then opened up again.

When we got high enough, we turned around and headed back. Hard to get lost in the day light when you can always just go down hill until you hit the river. Unless you find a fence, which we did not!

Not a bad way to spend the day!

Horse show Sunday (Toots, Penny and JD will go),  I picked up a saddle this week that I had repaired, the farrier is coming today and Penny is going to a youth show home for the show season, on a lease.  All possible topics for next week!

P.S. I made fermented Giardiniera following Marilyn’s recipe (from her reply to the Sauerkraut blog), and it turned out fabulously!

It is very tasty!!


About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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5 Responses to Caballo State Park

  1. Marilyn says:

    Patty, glad the giardineira turned out well! It’s delicious as a side dish, with ham or salami or provolone cheese — my husband also likes it as a side to brats or corned beef. (I do my own lacto-fermented corned beef, as well. Still tinkering with the spices for that one. A good starting point is Penzey’s corning spice mix.)

    I enjoy these horse treks, btw — used to live in Farmington years ago and occasionally got to go riding. Living ‘way down yonder is rather different from the desert!

    • BlogPatty says:

      Hi Marilyn–I just ate some the giardineira (oo must go check my spelling in the blog) with turkey sandwich meat. Yum!

      Thanks for the horse part comments, too! I am glad you are enjoying the travel segments!!

  2. Karen Keyworth says:

    OOOOh, this ride sounds fun. Please think of me when you do another girls day out ride. I especially like the hot springs soak.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    That video reminds me why I quit going to western horse shows. When I was a kid in South Texas, “Western Pleasure” was a class for a horse that was, you know, fun to ride. Horses walked out. They trotted fairly slowly, but not with their noses down to their knees. And they loped like they were going somewhere. I remember when it changed…and I cannot believe that it’s a pleasure to ride any of those poor critters, creeping along at a walk, jogging slower than a horse should walk, or–as you so aptly put it-lurching in the “oil-derrick” lope and unable, in many cases, to keep it in three beats, because they’re not allowed to spring off that strike-off legs at all.

    Your ride, on the other hand, looks like you were having fun the whole way.

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