(Only two months late…)
My 2013 ride season has come full circle. I started the year in January with the Fire Mountain ride on Kaity’s horse Kody. Last weekend (last weekend being the last weekend of October), I did what is likely my last riding ride of the season (since I’m committed to working the McDowell ride next month) on Kody. As in January, our purpose was again companionship and babysitting of “greenie-brain” Ani, Kaity’s up-and-comer.
In between January and now, Kody has done three 100s, including Tevis and Virginia City. Needless to say, I felt very privileged to get to ride Kaity’s Tevis!pony.
I also decided against a repeat of the tire incident from the Fire Mountain trip and elected to fly out to Kaity’s this time. (Turns out this was also more economical than filling my gas guzzler.) I flew out bright and early Tuesday morning on a packed Southwest flight, stuffed my bags in Kaity’s car, and we zoomed back up the hill to her place, with stops along the way for Starbucks, pony food, and girl food. (Did you know you can fit two girls, two suitcases, two sacks of feed and a dozen grocery bags into a four-door Chevy car? Neither did I. But you can.)
Packing and prep went without incident, including being warm enough to give the boys a bath. (“Woe is us,” says Kody and Ani.) We pulled out of Kaity’s mid-morning on Friday with one very stuffed truck and trailer, since apparently packing for two girls + two ponies + two days = a lot of stuff.
The Bill Thornburgh ride is located in Inyokern, about 2-1/2 hours or so from Kaity’s place. That is, if 395 isn’t shut down due to a shooting/police chase in Ridgecrest that detoured us out and around the long way. We did go through Red Rocks State Park, so got some pretty scenery.
|Just a small sampling of the pretty. If we didn’t
have Places To Be, I would have loved to explore.
Once we checked in and got our rider packets, we set up camp (weather was nice enough to tent camp this time), then took the boys out for a leg stretcher. Since I’d flown out, I decided against trying to wrangle my own saddle through the airport, instead electing to ride in Kaity’s FreeForm. I’d had a chance to do a couple of short training rides in a FreeForm this summer, and didn’t dislike it as a saddle. And I figured I could put up with almost anything for 25 miles…but it would be nice to know what I was in for by doing a short pre-ride.
|Derp faces all around.|
|Kaity and Ani on our Friday leg-stretcher ride.|
We vetted the boys in after our pre-ride, and Kody vetted in “nearly dead” with a pulse of 30(!). We also continued our trend of completely sucking at trot-outs. (At least we provide entertainment, since it was soft sand and I thought I might fall down at least once.) The rest of the afternoon was spent packing the crew bag and hauling it back to the vetting area — camp was about a block and half away from the check-in/vetting area, so we treated it like an “out check” with everything at the check area instead of traipsing back and forth to the trailers.
Surprisingly, the typical “Battle of the Breakfast” was not a part of the day’s scheduled programming. I was able to eat a yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, a banana, coffee, and juice without any protest and/or mental trickery.
The boys got festively adorned with Halloween decor all around.
|Kody’s witch hat and mane clips|
|The boys ready to go.|
|Ani’s pumpkin heads and mane clips|
|glittery spider on the tail|
And us riders didn’t do too bad in the festivity department, either.
|Orange in my helmet, tights, and Kody’s boots|
|Kaity wins (this time) for most orange, an honor (?) usually
taken by myself
Ride start was a very civilized 8AM, IIRC. (I think…I stopped this partway through, and am picking up writing it again two months later.)
|dust cloud of the rest of the pack ahead of us|
We casually meandered out of camp, pretty much the last ones to leave, and tiptoed past the scary stuff along the road. (The usual suspects: tires, trashcans, other horses, barking dogs.)
|turnaround point is a water stop just past those vehicles|
Yup…flat, straight, sandy. I was warned ahead of time that the Inyokern rides are “good ones to do with a good riding buddy.” And it’s true. Kaity and I chattered and laughed pretty much non-stop through both days. To me, at least, I found the scenery to be interesting and pretty, since it’s a different desert than my desert. I was on a good horse, the weather was good…and flat, fast trails are their own challenge, since you the rider have to consciously think about things like changing gait, changing positions, and making sure you and your horse don’t get sore from the “sameness” of it.
|at the turnaround point…Kody noms alfalfa
while I rummage for something
|lava flow — we rode right at the base of it to the turnaround|
|me-n-Kody, heading back after the turnaround point|
|Kaity and Ani on the trail back to camp, part of which was an
old railbed trail
|baby pistachio trees|
|heading back into camp for lunch|
|shabby view, eh?|
|monitoring the hoover’s food intake at lunch|
I don’t remember how long lunch was — 30 minutes, maybe? I just remember thinking, “Ugh, not long enough.” I don’t like having to eat that fast…but whatever. The thing about riding with Kaity is she makes sure I take care of myself — “Are you drinking?” “Are you eating?” “Ash, leave the horse alone and sit down and eat.” Yes, ma’am. So I sat. And I ate. Bologna/cheese sandwich, tapioca pudding, Kern’s nectar.
|skeeery tire. brave Kody had to lead past it.|
|the start of the really fun single track|
I’ll let the next series of photos speak for itself. This section of the loop was gorgeous, with the Sierras always in sight.
|(photo actually from Friday pre-ride, but you
get the idea…snorkeling pones)
And then we took advantage of the perks of riding the LD: shower, sit in the sunshine, nibble on snacks. Watch exhausted (uh huh…) ponies nap.
|poor 100-mile pone, exhausted after 30 miles…not|
Ride dinner was delicious…tri-tip with all the appropriate sides. (Beans, corn on the cob, salads, and a huge dessert table.) Day one completion awards were t-shirts, and Kaity won a Halloween bucket of goodies for “Best Coordinated Horse and Rider”.
|even more orange today…|
Lather, rinse, repeat for lunch…
And then back out on the same loop two as Saturday. More cantering, more views. And because we knew where all the dips and soft spots were, we made better time.
|photo by Tony Wilkie|
We finished in 12th and 13th again, out of 24 on Sunday’s ride. And Kaity and Ani won the overall LD horse of excellence award for the weekend!
And admiring the high desert mountain weather: