This weekend we loaded our four legged partners and headed up towards Usery Mountain Regional Park. Long time readers will recognize this as a favourite spot when we were traveling around with the RV. We have spent time in this great spot on at least a couple of occasions in the past and always wanted to come back with the horses. Well, this weekend, one of the groups we ride with, the Lone Rangers, had arranged to have us camp out right at the trailhead so we couldn’t miss the opportunity. Unlike many of our rides this one was a pretty short haul for us, just about an hour, but most of it through the Phoenix complex.
The shot above is of our camp with Pass Mountain in the background. Because of the band of light coloured rock across the face this mountain is also sometimes called Scarface. Just another interesting tidbit, Usery park is named after a local rancher and horse thief named King Usery who frequented this area back in the 1870’s. Sunset from our camp on Friday night.
We got in the saddle Saturday morning and headed out on what is known as the Pass Mountain trail, it circumnavigates Scarface and traverses some pretty varied terrain, from rolling desert littered liberally with Saguaro’s and Ocotillo to a high mountain pass complete with lots of ledges and slip rock to scramble across. Although the trail was a little shorter than what we are used to at 8.some miles it was a beautiful ride through challenging country. The ponies earned their oats on that one.
A shot of Brenda making her way up the slope and below the rest of the group coming along behind us.
We went around the loop in an anti-clockwise direction which kept our horses on an uphill climb, much preferred, through the sections of slip rock, but once we crested the pass, the trail continued with ledges on the down slope but the footing was much better. I would recommend that if you were hiking or biking though, that you go in the opposite direction as the climb up is a lot more gradual. Better walking for those who choose to use rubber footwear, rather than steel shod hooves. The pictures below are just a few of the great vista’s we were treated to as we rode along.
For the second time in less than a month Brenda had an encounter of the prickly kind with our friendly neighbourhood cholla, or jumping cactus. I don’t really think they jump but it sure seems that way as a hoof or tail can flick them up pretty easily and once they get close to you, they attach themselves like the velcro that is modeled after them, to whatever part of yours or your horses body that is handy. And I know from experience they have a way of getting your attention. Linda Modahl captured the one that attacked Brenda right after she had brushed up against it, in the picture below.
You can see the little beggar riding along on her thigh and make note of the ledge we were making our way along. Not a good place to stop and dismount and as Brenda wasn’t carrying a comb or anything to flick it off with she had to continue along until we came to a place just a little wider where I could get down and extricate it from her leg. When I flicked it off, her horse Wink, turned her head to see what was going on and the damn thing attached itself to her forehead. She took it pretty calmly and just stood there while we got it off her head. But you can imagine how quickly Brenda got out of that saddle when that happened. Wouldn’t be a good place to get to bucking, high up on that mountain side with nowhere to go but over the edge. But she is turning out to be a great horse and didn’t get excited at all and just stood there while I removed the spines from between her eyes. Just a note: Brenda is carrying a comb now to deal with these things herself.
Because of the shortness of the ride we headed back to our camp to eat our lunch and then planned to head out on a short ride around the park after our repast. For some reason Blue seemed to develop a limp when it came to leaving camp again so we opted out and just enjoyed the rest of the day lounging around in the sun. Of course once the others returned it was time to dig into the potluck. I have said this before but it bears repeating, “this is not a riding club, it is really an eating club that rides”, and here they are checking out the dessert table.
Once dinner was done we loaded up and headed back to Dogpound South as we were participating in a Ground work and Problem Solving clinic with our horses that Wink’s trainers that TACC was hosting first thing Sunday morning. Thanks for donating that clinic to the group Kim and Kathy, sorry I was so busy learning new stuff that I plumb forgot to take any pictures of that. Once the clinic was done I trailered Willow and Blue back home, dropped off Willow and headed back out on Blue to check out our local trick riding girls. Brenda and Terri had ridden straight over from the clinic. Another of our local residents who is a nationally acclaimed trick rider is offering her expertise to a group of young ladies here in Thunderbird Farms. They look like they are having a ball hanging off their mounts in all different ways.
After that we rode over to Raceway for a bite of lunch and then finally home. Now to see what the rest of the week brings, I am planning on resuming swimming in the mornings after a long break for Christmas. Hard to get up to swim when you have to break the ice off the pool first, but the weather has changed back and we are enjoying some mid 70ish (20C) type weather so that excuse is gone, and Thursday is the day the horses have their visit with the dentist. Oh and we have another ride planned for next weekend but you will have to wait to see that one. Below is a screen shot of our trail this weekend.
And this link will take you to the entire set of photos