Saturday, November 4, 2006

Horse Trials: Heat and the Attack of the Motorcycles

Saturday November 4 2006

Dang, is it hot in Ridgecrest. Well, okay, maybe it only hit 77* this weekend, but being used to 15* mornings and maybe 40-50* days, Gretchen and I just can’t take the heat. Wimps, we are.

First thing before our ride on Saturday, we shaved Fuzzy Bear – Raffiq. We’d already taken a little hair off his neck and chest for the last ride, the High Desert in October, but that was up north where it’s pretty chilly. Next weekend’s 75 miler will be down here near Ridgecrest, where, if Gretchen and I think it’s hot, Raffiq must think it’s hot too. We can peel layers off, but he can’t. We took a lot more hair off, his neck, shoulders, belly, left a big brown pile under his feet. Anybody ever figure out what to do with all that horse hair? There must be something. Pillows? Mattress stuffing?

Spice isn’t nearly as hairy so we didn’t shave her.

We hauled the horses up to one of our favorite training trails at Brady’s, in the foothills of the Sierras. It’s the shortest hardest ride we know. Eight and a half miles of: a stiff climb up to a dirt road that meanders flat for a few miles, then another long tough climb, then a long downhill, a fun sandy glissade-able trail, then one more medium uphill climb, then down another sandy trail, and a few easy flat miles back to the base.

For the first time ever here, we ran into a few motorcyclers.

Now here, a few words about motorcyclers and 4-wheelers. Spice is afraid of motorcycles, and that is because last year on a ride, an idiot riding one almost crashed into us. We were rounding a curve on a logging road, and here came two dirt bikers. The first one immediately slowed down, and made sure the horses were okay as he slowly rolled past us, and the second one saw us, gunned his bike around the corner, hit a groove in the road, wobbled crazily and almost slid and fell right into Spice and me. She blew up (who wouldn’t have) and jumped up and twisted away from him even as I and the other riders around me were yelling curses at the asshole while I tried to stay on Spice. (He continued gunning it on down the road, never slowing down, almost getting the next two riders thrown.)

Thanks to that one mentally deficient person having intelligence in the lowest measurable range, Spice has since been afraid of motorcycles. Also since then, Spice and I have met only one other idiot, and that was a young kid who actually did stop when his elders told him to, but he didn’t wait long enough for us to pass, and he gunned his bike to a start right behind Spice (Gretchen aboard), which caused her to freak again. Everybody else we have run into has always slowed down (sometimes we wave them to slow down but usually, they automatically slow) or stopped and turned their engines off till we pass. And believe me, we will always happily give motorcycles and ATVs and dune buggies as much space as we can – they can have the trail, road, whatever they want, we will move off - they can just come up on you so fast.

Today at Brady’s, one group of about 5 passed within 20 feet of us, but we were off the road, and they slowed down, and while Spice tensed up under me, she didn’t panic or jump. (I told her she was very brave.) Then, while on the dirt road, we ran into another group coming towards us. We waved at them to slow down, while looking for a place to pull as far off the road as possible. These guys, about 8 of them, stopped and turned off their bikes and were going to sit there while we rode by. Instead, we waved them to come on, but, seeing as there were so many bikes, I jumped off Spice. Good thing, because even though they went by slowly and as quietly as possible, after about the 4th one, Spice couldn’t take anymore. She reared up a bit and jumped back, crashing into Star, who, fortunately, like Raffiq, was not bothered in the least by the bikes. I talked to Spice and petted her while she was trying to figure out an escape route, and then they were all past, and I told her how awfully brave she was for withstanding the attack of the motorbikes. Maybe, since they didn’t really attack this time, she believed me and maybe she won’t be so scared next time…

It turned out to be a lovely ride on a beautiful day (above the desert floor, it was nice and cool), but the horses sweated quite a lot.

I think we’ll be giving them both pretty good body shaves for next weekend’s 75 mile Get R’ Done ride, and come to think of it, I may be doing the same thing, because it sure feels like summer already…

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