Gus is seriously the bravest trail horse I’ve ever owned (or been able to ride). He is just amazing. It has been hot and HUMID this last week and I have just not been able to make myself get up and go early to the barn. Part of this is because I haven’t been sleeping well, and part of it is because we have had so much rain that the arenas are closed and I’m just not into trail riding in the dark.
The humidity is bad, but bearable once you’re under tree cover. So that’s why we hit the trails. And here’s why I call him the best trail horse EVER.
I have been all over the trails out in our woods, except for one trail. And that’s because I couldn’t find it. All I knew is that once you crossed the stream for the second time, it took you up this ridge and then you emptied into this deforested area that had been cleared for high wires. I could never find where it came back down so eventually I gave up.
But then someone finally showed me where the other half of the trail was (in yellow), and you have to cross the river earlier. We were clearing the trail so we were on foot. And the hill up the ridge from this side was STEEP (as steep as anything I’ve personally done in the Sierra Nevadas), and washed out. But I still thought it looked doable as long as you were going up. And so since I wanted an adventure, I pulled Gus off the known trail and asked him to go somewhere new.
And we CHARGED up that hill! It was just as steep as it looked but thankfully not slick even with all the rain we’ve had. And after about 40 feet or so, it opened into this wonderful trail that looked like it had been groomed recently, even though I’m one of only a handful of people that regularly goes out there at all. It was such a pretty trail and lots of open room for cantering, so we did.
Then all of a sudden there was a down tree in the way. A big thick one that we couldn’t cross. Only I didn’t want to turn around and go back down because I knew I’d have to get off Gus to navigate that steep muddy section and I wasn’t sure he was going to let me get back on afterwards. So I bushwhacked it and did my best to go around. We were doing good too when the footing dropped out from under Gus and we fell into a huge hole. Lovely. It’s those kind of moments where the first thing that goes through your head is “omg, my horse just broke his leg.” Thankfully I was just overreacting. Gus paused briefly, I kept his face pointed in the way I wanted to go and he charged out of the hole and through a bunch of trees. I just kept my head down tight on his neck.
Whew. That was rough, but no worries, the trail was open after that and we continued. Finally we cleared out of the trees and found ourselves under the wires, right where the other trail dumped us out. So we start walking along, looking for the other way back into the woods. Only, the ground is pulling Gus in all the way to his knees! Holy lord, what have I gotten us in to? All I can do is point him back towards the edge of the woods where there is vegetation, and I’m hoping less sinking. Gus scrambles over there and we continue on.
Only now we can’t find the trail down. Omg.
And so, Gus takes us back across the sinking “sand,” navigates us back across the hole in the trail, lets me dismount so I can lead him down the steep ridge (and then he navigates it with quiet grace), and eventually lets me lead him up to a bank in the creek side so I can get back on him and head home. The whole trip, he has just been a perfect gentleman, like he goes trail riding on dangerous mountains all the time.
When we got back to the barn, Gus got his mouth stuffed with cookies and a long lineament bath.
And that is why Gus is the best.