A couple of my friends invited me to ride with them on Saturday. This was the first time riding with both of them, although I knew both Barb and Cheryl through mutual friends, and had met Barb in person and rode with her during an ACTHA ride last Spring.
We were going to ride out on the trails from Barb's house. Barb and her husband Barry used to operate a rescue called The Lucky 13 Donkey Ranch, but have had to re-home all their rescue donkeys and scale back. Now they focus on their own personal horses and mules instead.
Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect and almost cancelled out several times before the ride because of the cold, windy weather and knowing that we would have to ride alongside roads for some of the ride (something I really am not all that crazy about).
Barb had also told me that we would riding past a barn full of about 50 alpacas, a farm with mini stallions, some draft horses, a few donkeys, a herd of cattle and even a zebra!
Sounded like a Farm Animal Safari Ride to me!
But one of the goals for myself that I made last year was to try new things and not turn down riding opportunities. And my mantra is to live life to it’s fullest. So, I bundled up in my new puffy vest, some fleece layers and my new fleece Saddle Bums Riding Breeches...and I went. And I rode….my horse.
And it was absolutely awesome!
Apache is my rock and she never once spooked or freaked out about any of the animals, people, or sights we saw along the ride.
But the galloping mini stallions did get her a little bit excited. I think she really just wanted to go over there and kick their hides to the moon. *grin*
Here is the GPS Track Map from my Magellan Explorist, uploaded to Every Trail.
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near Albuquerque, New Mexico
As you can see from the Trip Stats, most of the ride was done at higher speeds. We trotted most of the trail and did some thrilling long canters through the snow. Both of my riding buddies ride gaited horses, so it was a necessity that Apache and I trot and canter just to keep up. But sometimes all 3 of us cantered our horses just for the fun of running wildly through the snow-covered forest. It was a blast!
Apache and I have come a long way in our relationship and now when I ask her to trot or canter, I only have to gently squeeze my thighs and we’re off! I love how when we’re trotting, Apache will lean her head to the side so one eye and ear is focused on me. I’ve learned it’s her way of asking, “Do you wanna go faster?”
I hadn’t ridden Apache since November and I think I’ve learned one thing about giving an arthritic horse too much time off from working and exercise…..it leads to stiffness.
I got Apache tacked up and hopped on, but after about 10 minutes of riding I noticed that Apache was slightly gimpy at the walk. My friends asked if I wanted to take Apache back to the trailer, but I wanted to see if Apache’s shoulder would loosen up once she was warmed up.
When we trotted and cantered there was no sign at all of any gimpiness and as we continued to ride, even the slight limp during the walk, just disappeared. It was a good call. And as Apache warmed up, I could also feel how happy she was to be out on the trails again, too. I love it when my horse enjoys what we are doing just as much as I am. It just makes everything so much more fun!
As we made our way through the trees, the wind also disappeared and we all felt so much warmer. The sun on the snow made it sparkle beautifully and everything was just so pretty and peaceful.
Apache seemed very happy to be out on the trails away from home on such a gorgeous day.
While up in the forest we saw a few people hiking and walking their dogs and Barb said she was surprised to see so many people, because she’s been riding these trails for years and it’s rare to ever see anyone. My guess is everyone was feeling cabin fever and on the first warm day, just wanted to be outdoors in the bright sunshine.
I was very impressed with the dog walkers. All of the dog owners had their dogs on leashes or under control. Even the guy with two German Shepherds moved off the trail upon seeing us, spoke to us as he squatted down beside his dogs as we rode past. None of the dogs barked at us and they all sat or stood quietly as we rode on by.
People were so friendly and polite. It made me very happy to be outdoors and sharing the trail with such good folks.
Apache and I enjoyed exploring the trails together and riding through the snow.
And there were also some gorgeous views to enjoy, too!
This is me with my friend Barb and her gaited mare, Alex.
This is me and my friend Cheryl and her gaited gelding Koda.
Cheryl and Barb with South Mountain in the background.
Lots of beautiful snow to ride through, too!
Cheryl and Barb on their wonderful horses, Koda and Alex.
Some rocky sections, but all of our horses were surefooted and barefoot.
We were above 7,000 ft elevation for much of the ride.
We enjoyed beautiful views towards the south.
Apache and I both liked when the trail was clear of trees and the vistas spread out before us. Apache enjoys being in high places and will often stop just to take in the views while I take photos.
We also liked riding among the trees, too. Apache has gotten so much better at keeping a wide berth around trees and not trying to wipe me off on branches.
We circled the top of a mountain and we could even see views towards the west and the Sandia Mountains…..where last summer, Apache and I stood upon it’s 10,600’ crest!
Me and my Shadow Horse.
Lots of variation in terrain on these trails.
Apache and her Shadow Sister
A Cholla Cactus Garden…nope, don’t want to ride in there!
Happy Smiling Faces!
When we were trotting and cantering I kept my camera tucked in my saddle bags, and focused on on my horse and staying balanced, but I still managed to take a lot of photos during our walking moments.
Expansive views out towards the Eastern Plains.
The last photo I took while on the mountain because we spent the rest of our ride cantering and trotting coming down.
On the Road Again…..
One way I know that Apache enjoys trail rides and getting out to new places, is because she loves to look. She looks left, she looks right, she stops and stares. She doesn’t just plod along staring at the trail ahead, nor does she hike her head into the air and just let the world fly by. Apache is very interested in the sights we see when out riding and exploring.
Of course, that often means that we’re often way behind our trail riding friends.
But we enjoy saying hello to some new friends while riding along.
On the other side of this fence on the right were several dogs that could have easily slipped underneath the barbed wire to harass our horses, but I was impressed that they stayed inside their fence on their own property, just as all the other dogs we encountered along our route. Such well-behaved, well-trained under control dogs make trail riding so much more enjoyable and safer, too.
For such a short ride of only six and half miles, I was impressed with the diversity of the terrain.
There are many horse trails in this area and lots of horse barns and paddocks. But sadly many of those barns and paddocks were empty. A sign of the times.
I think it’s great that there is a designated Horse Route that winds throughout the neighborhoods.
Of course, the horse route travels beside quite a few horse paddocks filled with curious, friendly horses. Or in this case……one draft horse and a zebra! The zebra wouldn’t come up to visit at the fence line, but Apache wasn’t too impressed with his stripes. *grin*
The draft horse below tried to sniff Apache’s butt as we rode past, so I had to shoo him away. I was proud of Apache for letting me take care of her instead of taking matters into her own hooves and attempting to kick at him to teach him some manners.
Not only did we encounter all sorts of barnyard critters while out riding, we also shared the road with fellow horseback riders, too.
It was a really great day and I look forward to riding with Barb and Cheryl again soon. Barb only lives about 10 minutes from my house, so it’s nice to have another local riding buddy, especially one that has such wonderful trails right outside her front door.
Apache was perfect and a pure joy to ride. She did everything I asked, and didn’t give me any trouble. Apache took good care of me and was calm, brave, curious, and a lot of fun.
Did I already mention how much I love my horse?