Sunday, May 15, 2011

Third time's the charm - longwinded

Yesterday's ride has been really unexpectedly hard for me to write about! I'm super tired, but in many ways it was the best of the three rides, so I'm not sure why this is so difficult.

We did almost 8 miles in 3 hours - we were truly just ambling along in no hurry at all. Here's the map - zoom in and check the terrain and satellite views! I don't really trust my GPS in the trees, but it looks pretty accurate.

View Thomas Creek ride in a larger map

In a delightful change of circumstances, I went and picked up ~C and Diego and we hauled up to a trailhead by her house, off of Thomas Creek. Look at that, it's my horse and my truck and MY TRAILER! Tough call, but I suspect my horse is the prettiest thing in the picture.

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We wound slowly up the creek canyon. It was very dramatic - very much what you think of when you think "riding in the Sierras." (And minutes from Reno!)
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There was a crappy road and a scenic singletrack trail. We switched back and forth between the two - the road had a more boring view (bad) but fewer horse-eating monsters (good). The trail is popular with hikers and mountain bikers - our horses did just fine together, but I don't think I'd want to ride it alone any time soon.
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I quickly braided Dixie's mane in a running braid, just to see how it'd do. It had mostly fallen out in 2 hours, but it was substantially quicker than the viking braids I do for races. Here's the other thing - you see those ears?
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I had paying-attention-to-me ears the whole time. She was the calmest, sweetest, most obedient pony I've ever ridden.
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I just realized, as I was writing this up, that I hadn't brought Miss Thing her nightly carrots. Sometimes I run out of carrots and bring her apples or pears, and sometimes I have nothing to give her, but most nights, I bring her a couple of carrots.

I don't think I've ever told you this - well, maybe I did at the very beginning of this blog, but I think Sara's the only person who was still reading that long ago. Anyway, I had no good reason to buy Dixie - I had three perfectly good horses and she cost more than all three put together. My friends tricked me into looking at her - Jen said that Jody wanted her to buy one of Jody's horses and let's go look at her. We walked in the stall with this absolutely wild-eyed spazzed-out show horse and I immediately knew that Jen didn't need or want this kind of horse. And then I realized that it was a setup, and they wanted me to look at her, but it was too late for me to walk away. Dixie gave me this fearsome glare, the kind that said "You! Human! Get me out of here." I've told yall that before, but here's the part I never told: I scratched her neck, and her face softened and she made silly faces for me. So I bought the stupid horse. It took almost three and a half years for me to pay her off. It took almost four years for us to get comfortable with each other. I've ridden her almost a thousand miles. And now, this year, she's finally started making the silly faces for me again.

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It's not for lack of trying, either. She doesn't like to be touched, and for years every time I'd scritch her withers or her neck or her tailhead she'd move away. Or she'd purse her lips and endure it. It was heartbreaking, over and over. I started to think I'd imagined her ever wanting to be scratched. Finally, slowly, in 2011, she started to warm up to me a tiny bit. She'd lick my hands and, I swear, give me a hopeful look. I am dense, but I finally realized that maybe she would permit me to scratch her withers? Yes. Yes, human, you may scratch me.

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So yesterday, after two hard scary days of riding, I went and haltered Dixie and loaded her in MY TRAILER and took her off with Diego. And she gave me "what next?" ears, the whole time. We led Dig past scary mountain bikes and scary dogs, and he led her through scary rushing burbling running creeks. We walked up tiny singletrack along steep canyon walls, through old snowbanks. I hopped off and led her whenever I felt like it, because I knew she'd stand still (just long enough) for me to remount. And the whole time I felt like she was listening to me and asking "what next?"

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And tonight I brought her carrots, and she gave me the hopeful look, so I opened the gate and slipped inside to scratch her. It's freezing (literally! IN MAY!) but her mane kept my fingers warm. I spent a good twenty minutes scratching her. She is a jealous beast - she charged Cersei and ran her off from us - but so gentle and polite with me. I love that horse.

18 comments:

  1. Also: this is why I never go look at horses for sale. I am a sucker for That Look.

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  2. You big sap.

    Are you SURE that you aren't my sister?

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  3. By another mother, maybe. ;)

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  4. how about a collective "awww" *smiles*

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  5. Some of those pictures remind me of scenes from the movie "Man from Snowy River"!

    Very beautiful!

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  6. Not longwinded at all and it made me smile, some thing I'm seriously lacking today and needed. =)

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  7. YAY! What a great entry. Our horses are coming together at the same time. It's all warm and fuzzy and mushy and other feelings I tend not to acknowledge but it's overall wonderful.

    :)

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  8. Those feelings of love for your horse are something else! I love my little 14 hand Arab gelding so much I swear sometimes my hear might just explode out of my chest from it. I bought him as a 12 yr old (estimate!) 2 years ago for $400 with no history, papers, etc, and he was a whinnying prancing monster boy when I rode him on trial. I got him back to the barn and said, "SOLD!" who knows why..wait, I know why, because he is truly a special wonderful horse who does team sorting, gymkhanas, endurance, AND packs around my husband and chihuahua! Its so nice to LOVE LOVE the horse you have!

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  9. Beautiful pictures! Looks like a fantastic place to ride too.

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  10. The best relationships are forged through time...and yours is just growing. You two are lucky to have each other!

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  11. ♩♬♪ All you need is love... ♬♩♪

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  12. Loved hearing the whole story behind Dixie. You two have come a long, long way. She is a beautiful mare.

    From the way you describe Dixie, she reminds me a lot of Moon. He's not much into people, but this year has taken a turn toward appreciating attention. I guess all of the hard work does pay off eventually, either that or we have simply worn them down-LOL.

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  13. Yes, don't buy the first horse that one looks at. (I bought the second one that I saw. Maybe we too are related?)

    Nice scenery too. Isn't it fun crashing through old snowdrifts, makes one think of Aragorn doing something intrepid in the Misty Mountains.

    You have a nice clean white trailer. Are the bugs kind enough not to get squashed on the front?

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  14. Oh Funder! I think this is the most beautiful post I ever read! Sniff sniff.

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  15. Those cliffs are stunning.

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  16. It makes it all the more rewarding that she made you wait for the sweet mare moments.

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  17. Another nice ride out in the Thomas Creek direction is from Galena State Park on Mt. Rose Highway, the Jones Creek/Whites Creek Loop. After climbing up up up the switchbacks, you can head uphill farther to Church's Pond and have a snack, or continue downhill to Whites Creek and then back (don't miss the sign!). It seems like every time I went however, I got rained or snowed on, even in the summer! Part way up, it gets into the Mt. Rose Wilderness, and no dogs or bikes are allowed.

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  18. So gorgeous. Great pics!
    I hadn't heard the story behind Dixie, and I'm in the *sniff sniff sniffle* group. How sweet is that? And what a lot of hard work and communication you two have done together. That she was just interested and inquiring the whole time - be still my heart.

    You've done a lovely lovely job. :)

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