Well, it wasn’t quite like last year’s unseasonable Memorial Day, but the weekend temps did dip to the high 80s and low 90s, which made for a pleasant riding weekend. We didn’t ride Saturday, as the truck battery died overnight…waht a thing to discover at 5:30 in the morning. Morning was spent getting that fixed, and by the time that was done, the clouds and rain from the previous day had left behind a blanket of humidity, combined with bright sun…not my kind of riding weather.
Sunday helped make up for it — warm, but not unbearable, and much lower humidity. We spent some time exploring around the San Tans — rode to the south park entrance and then rode out of the park and around some of the dirt roads and surrounding houses. The ponies really liked getting out into new turf. Mimi was very cheerful, and after patiently trailing behind Beamer for the first half of the ride, she took advantage of the very wide dirt roa and outwalked him into the lead, and lead through the rest of the explorations.
Monday — Memorial Day — was more of the same warm-but-functional temps. We did the big loop at the San Tans, and leapfrogged with friend Donna, a local trail rider who lives next to the park and is the one responsible for 98% of the trails there. We rode with her for a bit out of the trailhead, then moved out ahead of her, then she took a different trail and got in front of us, then veered off to do some trail blazing, so we got in front of her and “blitzed” (yeah, 8-9mph…speed demons, us) through the back sand wash. She caught us after we got through the wash and stated one our way back, and then rode with us the rest of the way back to the trailers.
It was a great ride — Mimi hates Donna’s mare Nackatee (I know I spelled that wrong…) so we put her up front, Beamer in the middle, and Nackatee in the back. Mimi was happy as a clam with this arrangement, and really hustled, lest the hated mare creep up too close to her. It was really nice to get her 4.5mph ride walk on a training ride.
We did the 14 mile loop in 2 hours, 45 minutes, and that includes two stops of about 15 minutes each time to give-ponies-a-breather and for Dad to fix his rear Renegade straps — the Velcro is beyond dead on them, but we were trying to get as much wear out of them as possible. Not bad, considering they’re still from McDowell, and Beamer drags his back toes, especially in the sand.
Some of the new trails they’ve put in at the San Tans are really conducive for uphill trotting, especially the one that leads out of the back sand wash. It’s probably about 3/4 of a mile of gradual uphill (my GPS died on me a couple months ago, so don’t have any concrete data as to elevation change), with a few twists and turns. Mimi led up that section and trotted the whole thing. She’s a little trotting metronome when it comes to that kind of trail. She just motors up, a nice steady little trot the entire way. I think her heart rate peaked at the top of the hill at 110, then dropped to 60 within three or four minutes.
We’ve been doing a lot more hill trotting, and the ponies are loving it. Beamer is learning to be more consistent in going at speed uphill. He likes to walk up at 2 mph, but then he can zoom down and walk out at 4-5mph on the downhill. The plan, should we ever manage to make it to Tevis, is to send him down the canyons first, since Mimi will hustle to keep up with him, and then send Mimi up the canyons first since she just chugs up hills, and Beamer stops to mope as soon as his heart rate goes over 80. Good combination…she’s a bit too careful on downhills sometimes (is that possible?) and needs another horse in front of her to speed her up, otherwise she’ll waste time carefully examining every millimeter of trail she’s going to put her hoof down on.
I was quite thrilled with how Mimi felt on Monday’s ride — very light, collected, and forward. She handled some very slight downhill trotting really well, without me having to do anything. She’s built slightly downhill, so downhill trotting, even very slight downhill grades, often results in her being very heavy on the forehand, and me having to really hold her together. She did so well this time, though, carrying herself really well in her back, and really using her hind end. And because she was balanced and even, it was really easy for me to stay balanced myself.
School started back up again for me this week, so we’re confined to the weekend thing now for the rest of the summer, but at least I have Fridays off, so we’re going to go horse camping at least once.