Friday, August 12, 2022

I'M BACK .. IN ONE PIECE .. MOSTLY!!

SURPRISE!!!  I'm back three days early.  As is true with ANY horse trip I've ever been on, there were tests and trials.  This one was no exception .... it was an adventure.  Most of my parts and pieces are still intact, but a few are worse for wear.

It was a gorgeous day as we drove up into the Sierra mountains.  At 6,000 feet it was 75 degrees, which sounded pretty good.  Just don't think about the big storm coming.  I was prepared with ponchos, you know the ones made of paper thin plastic that scare the heck out of any critters around, and my very old ski parka that is so thin it doesn't even shed water any more.


We arrived at the Horse Camp to find the last people here had left a giant mess.  Come to find out, they didn't even have horses.  These few sites are reserved for horse camping only.  We are a pack-it-out group, so there are no garbage cans.  This group is even responsible for keeping the three outhouses neat and clean.  Trust me, you've never seen such a sparkling clean outhouse.

It's pretty maddening to find we have to clean up a huge mess before we even set up camp.


Not only was trash spread everywhere, but legless ken dolls and half burned charcoal littered the site.  Shaggs unloaded the horses while I spent an hour filling two trash bags.  I know your question ... and yes, I found Ken's other leg.  It went in the trash too.


The horses always come first.  There was no dilly dallying around with coffee or lunch.  I backed my truck up to the trees and Sandy (I call her Shaggs) set up the tree-saver high line ties.  You never tie a horse to a tree if you can help it.  High lines are run and steel buckles attached, to which we tied hay bale twine.  The lead rope is tied to that.  

Why you ask?  Because if anything happens, like maybe a horse gets startled and ends up with a leg over the lead rope, you can cut the twine in a flash with a knife.  Oh yes ... if you horse camp, you carry a knife.  You are NEVER without one in your pocket. 

Food and water for them is a priority.  You have to carry all your hay with you and I had several 5 gallon containers of water in the back of my truck.  Yessirree ... we carry water to the horses too.  This is no sport for the weak.


That's Mindy above, the one I rode ... a 16 year old long-backed beauty with a great temperament.  There was one small problem however ... she's afraid of cows.  The one below is the 3 year old Mia ... the reason we are here.  Her future involves becoming a great mountain horse, something that is learned by experience only.  Horses do not automatically walk into water or know where to put their feet.  You even have to train them to walk over logs and rocks.  This is the beginning of Mia's education.

Unlike most horses today who are started at two years old, she is three and only has about 60 days riding.  So far she's got a great temperament, hauled like an angel and was doing great at high-lining.  I think this is only her second experience with that.  


Once the horses were fed and watered, we began to set up our kitchen.  Shaggs has everything for minimal cooking since she is also an avid backpacker.  We have a folding barbecue that her handy husband made into a half bbq, half burner creation that works like a charm.  One extra burner was set up for hot water.  Coffee is a must!!


Meanwhile, MY kid lounged in the truck waiting for HIS setup.  Let me just say that a fluffy white dog in this 3" thick dust bowl is not a good idea.  


Notice the RV rug on the ground?  I can't believe I was smart enough to take this along.  It was the best thing I took for the entire trip ... besides Cooper of course.  


Naturally he got the best seat in the house, a new purchase I made for lounging in the sun like Patsy does. My idea of high-lining him worked really good too!!  Honestly, I thought he would go bananas, but he was the perfect little dog the entire time.  Shocker!!!  Of course that's because as you can see, I sat right beside him.  

He wasn't exactly happy when we went riding though ... he got locked in a dog kennel and placed inside the back of the horse trailer.


At long last, I set up my 15 square foot apartment for both Cooper and I to sleep at night.  I have to say the chair cushions from my living room worked perfect.  Better than any air mattress I've ever used.  It took a few tries to get organized ... where do you put those filty dusty boots you were wearing ... and how do you get in and out of your Levis.  It's a good thing there was no one at the campground, because you just stand outside the truck.  


Here's another tip ... there is no running water here.  Yup ... you also have to carry your own water for face and hand washing.  There's nothing like getting up in the dark ... checking around for bears before you get out of bed, finally getting your pants and boots on and washing your face in cold water.  It's not the Ritz, the Hilton or even Motel 6.

And THAT'S when the first problem arose.  There was this horrendous clanging coming up the road.  There are still cattle leases in this area higher up.  This time of year, they open the high gates so the cattle will come down to lower elevations.  It's deer hunting season very soon.  Unlike our herd that only had one or two bells on their necks to allow us to locate them when gathering time came around ... every single one of these cows had a bell.  The clanging was epic!

The horses pretty much went crazy.  Bad enough these were Angus cattle ... black like bears ... but coming at you with bells clanging was enough to make them want to run away.  It's the fight or flight thing .. and with horses, it's almost always flight.  That's when Shaggs said my horse is afraid of cattle, especially when coming towards her.  YIKES!!

Here's the thing with cattle ... they are very curious.  There's always one older mama that is the leader of the pack.  Wherever she goes, so goes everyone else.  They are NOT afraid ... after all, they are in bear country and they know how to fight.  

No pictures because I was just trying to get them gone down the road so the horses would relax.  At last they took off and peace resumed.  Sort of.  The horses jumped every time a pine cone fell to the ground.  

At long last it was bed time and I crashed in my little abode.  You never sleep well horse camping ... every time the horse turns around, you look to see if everything is okay.  We didn't need any bears wandering into camp.  That means every night you put everything away in the trailer, lock it up tight and keep your flashlight right at hand.

The real adventure began the next day, and I will relate that fun tomorrow.  As for now, I'm pretty beat up. Maybe a nice long walk is in order. 


16 comments:

  1. Sounds like YOU LOVED it despite the trials....good for you both. (How dirty was the bath water that Cooper got out of?)

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    1. Yes I did ... I love any time spent riding horses. Surprisingly, it was only Cooper's feet that were black, but he did leave a nice bathtub ring.

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  2. Yikes! That cattle incident sounded intense!

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    1. It was pretty crazy ... most horses I've been around are not bothered by cattle.

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  3. Great first day. Yuma loves chasing cows. Dangerous game. Can't wait to hear more about the trip.

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  4. Well....so far this is exciting.

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  5. All beat up eh. You got some good exercise then. :O)
    Sounds like an advanture,
    bobseyes

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  6. It all makes for good memories!
    We used to pack in 6 miles with a group of us and many
    pack horses. We did always have water close by.
    Looking back I can see why we did it when we were
    fairly young. Lol
    I’m already enjoying this adventure!
    Linda a.

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    1. I've been on lots of pack trips, and yes ... there's always something to make it exciting!!! Of course we don't think of it like that when it's happening!!

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  7. Glad you had a good day! So far, so good, mostly!!! Will be interested in your doings.....

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    1. In the end, it's like okay, that was fun. While it's happening though, you think gee ... what next?

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  8. Holy COW! You really need to be prepared for this 'sport' as you call it. More so than boondocking.
    I sense more adventures to come Cooper looks quite content as long as Mama is close by. He's familiar with the cushions too so hopefully he settled down at night. Ilove the lead type idea! Did you take his ball??

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    1. You got that right Patsy ... preparation is key. Cooper did really well even when I wasn't right there ... a miracle!! I took his balls, but it was just too dusty dirty to play.

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