Bumble Bee…otherwise known as the ride with the really long name, or “Lead, Follow or Get Out of My Way @ Bumble Bee” ride. I volunteered it last year…this year, I had the chance to ride it. Gina brought Liberty down for me to ride again — our second ride together.
I’m going to segue for a moment to detail out a theory I have that’s tended to hold true over the years. For me at least, on the horses I’ve really clicked with, the first ride has been magical. Heavenly choir and hallelujah chorus echoing in the distance, and the feeling that I can go anywhere and do anything with this horse. The feeling that sears into your subconscious and stays with you forever. A good thing, too…because inevitably, the second ride is when all hell tends to break loose and you find out what you’re really dealing with.
I had that happen with Mimi…my first test ride on her was amazing. And I had to keep reminding myself of that feeling for the next couple of years as we argued and struggled…it was something to cling to, that we could one day reach that level of partnership again.
Guess what happened this weekend? Yep. I got to experience the “other” side of Liberty. But knowing what I know now, coupled with the horse herself…her “other” side is still not going to be that difficult to work with, and most of it will be solved with experience, exposure, and wet blankets.
The very shortened cliffnotes version of the weekend? We finished…but overtime. The fact we got a late start, coupled with a number of “baby horse brain” training moments meant we came in about half an hour over…and I’m okay with it. It was my decision to deal with the issues as they came up, before they turned into major problems down the line, and my decision to back off and not push it as soon as I realized there was no way we were making time. That didn’t take away from the fact I had a great ride in gorgeous scenery on a really fun horse who has a ton of potential. We all finished in one piece, riders stayed on top, no one tripped and face-planted, no one kicked, and there were no tears or blood involved.
Sooo, now for details…
Friday afternoon saw me and one stuffed suburban heading out, leaving Future Ridecamp Dog in the extremely capable hands of my parents for the weekend. Much as I would have loved to bring her, she’s just a little young still. Hopefully sometime this year…
|overlooking the Bradshaws|
The last four miles of the dirt road into Bumble Bee wasn’t quite as icky as I remember it being…but that could also be because I remembered that I have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle…and remembered to use said four-wheel-drive this year. (Blonde moment? What blonde moment?)
|pretty sure they have more cattle than that now…|
|arriving to basecamp|
I had a chance to meander around camp and visit with friends while I waited for Gina and Kirt to arrive. Once they did, we whisked the horses out of the trailer and vetted them in before we ran out of daylight.
|Liberty watching the vetting area|
Liberty vetted with all As, except for a B on guts, and 40 pulse — not bad for just hopping out of the trailer, being near-dusk, and being several horses away from her travel-and-riding-companion-horse. I would also like to remind people this is only her third ride, at a brand-new basecamp she’s never been to, and only the second time I’ve handled her.
|ranch pavilion where ride meeting was held|
After we vetted them in, we found the permanent ranch corrals we had reserved for the weekend. The horse Gina had brought to ride hadn’t been tested on the hi-tie, as since there were permanent corrals available, we figured that would be the better way to go. And was it ever. The corrals were 35×50, so gave the horses a ton of room to move around all night. There were also feeders (no need to hang hay mangers) and large auto water troughs, so no hauling water. I could get used to this.
As is typical for me on Friday nights before a ride, I didn’t sleep all that well…but new settings combined with the always-present pre-ride nerves mean this is pretty much standard practice for me. It’s always kind of a relief when the alarm finally goes off and I can wake up for good, get dressed, and get on with things.
Ride morning was when we made our first tactical error. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed like time flew by. I had allowed almost two hours before the start, and I was still scrambling, to the point where I forgot my vet card as we were walking up to go check in and had to run back for it. (Yay, early morning cardio.)
Liberty was somewhat up, but still well-behaved, with the exception of trying to paw the air when I wanted to pick her hooves and put her boots on. Least they go on easily…
Liberty is currently running in Renegade Vipers, 140×135 on the fronts and 140×130 on the hinds. To put that in perspective, I can fit Mimi’s boots inside Libby’s with room to spare. This mare has nice, big, lovely feet.
I had the same set-up from Prescott Chaparral, with the exception of a different girth and Woolback pad instead of Skito (my Skito foam inserts have just about had it and I really need to get them replaced). I don’t know if it was the pad, or her being slightly more trim, but my saddle fit her better this time around.
We probably should have allowed more time to get ready, but it’s hard to think about that when it’s cold and dark out, and you’re not used to starting an LD at 7:30 in the morning. Oh, well…now we know…
So we hand-walked over to the start (halfway down, I discovered I’d forgotten my vet card, prompting the aforementioned dash to the trailer and back), Kirt gave both of us a leg up (which I need to practice…I was about as graceful as a flopping tuna, not being used to this whole “leg up” concept), and we made our way out of camp.
|mares moving out from the start|
“Out of camp” meant down a dirt road and through the ranch barn yard…past things like ranch equipment, wired horses, and…goats. Here, Liberty’s lack of exposure to a lot of things made itself known, as it took us probably another ten minutes to make it through and out to where the actual trail started. (Hindsight: Should have hand-walked. But I didn’t relish remounting, since Libby’s a little taller than my usual pony fare.)
|indecisive mare ears…not sure if she wants to lead or make
Wicked go first
I gotta say, the ride name is kind of ironic…”Lead, Follow…” since neither mare wanted to lead particularly well, but neither did they necessarily want to follow. In their pasture, Liberty is boss over Wicked…but Wicked is the more experienced of the two out on trail and at rides.
|cross-country section that routed around a rock slide on the
Black Canyon Trail
|Gina and Wicked behind us on the Black Canyon
Trail. Wicked is every bit as big as she looks — at
least 16 hands tall.
|short climbing section on the BCT…Libby acts
like the hills aren’t even there.
The last bit of loop one took us off the Black Canyon Trail and down into a wash that lead back to camp. The wash actually had a flowing little stream-lette going through it, and ride photographer Susan Kordish was there to take what I’m sure will be awesome ride photos.
|Yes, this is the AZ desert. Really.|
We hand-walked back down the same road we had left on, and back into camp. Both mares were pulsed immediately (Libby was at 44(!)), and she vetted through with all As, except a B on gut sounds. She also pawed the air because there was alfalfa on the ground right. there. and I wouldn’t let her grab it, and cantered and leaped through part of her trot-out. Yeah, worn out, that one.
|“I shall call you Mush Face, and a lovely Mush Face you shall be.”|
|Gina, Wicked, and Kirt at the hold|
We were actually early for our out-time (and yet another graceful leg up into the saddle for me…), and I laughed as Liberty stood in the road, doing her trademark air-pawing. As soon as we hit our time, we were off, and as soon as we cleared camp, both mares sprang into a trot and booked it out of there.
|paralleling the Black Canyon “River”|
|Requisite goofy picture of normally-attractive mare|
I love this part of going to rides and working with Kirt and Gina in a hands-on setting…I always end up picking up just one more tip or trick on fitting/sizing/troubleshooting, or learning something I hadn’t previously known or thought of.
|until next time, big mare… *kisses*|