In which this post is full of prettiness, because the sport is pretty!

There comes a time (usually in February, if you live in our Swamp) when the weather doldrums set in so thickly that riders despair.  We get so entrenched in climatic misery that we begin to think that we'll never ride our horses at all, and thoughts of riding outdoors under blue skies seem beyond the realm of remote.

Blue sky, dry trail, happy horse and rider

This post is here to remind us all that the trails are there for us, if only we are willing to skip over and find them.  For local Swamplanders, October trails are soggy and grey--but on the Dry Side of the state, blue skies and beautiful trails await.

Here's a ride report from the Jubilee Ranch Limited Distance ride (which I highly recommend, btw!):

We started the 25-miler not-too-early in the morning.   That's a big advantage to riding the LD ride.

Look!  The sun is almost all the way up,
even if it isn't very warm yet!  

Fiddle and I conducted our warm-up in the ranch arena (all by ourselves!) for about 30 minutes before the start time.  I kept waiting for her to throw the traditional "tantrum," which signals that she is completely warmed up and ready to begin the event, but she worked round and forward, in circles and over poles, without so much as a pinned ear. She even stopped for a few moments to beg carrots from the bystanding kids who were watching the startline.

Early-morning trail, excellent footing

 Hmmm. In her early days, those tantrums lasted 10 or 15 minutes.  This season, they've been getting shorter and shorter.  Dare I hope that she's over them completely?

Finally, I shrugged my shoulders, gave my number to the ride manager and crossed the start line.  80 yards into the ride, Fee threw her tantrum...for about three strides.  Then, she gathered her momentum, and trotted forward down the trail as if the tantrum had never happened.  

(fist bump, me + God)

Out on the trail, through the orchard,

We saw pickers in the orchard, but they asked not me not to take pictures of them.
If the INS is reading this, I want to state here that all of the pickers I saw seemed
to be correctly green-carded, upstanding individuals worthy of respect and thanks
for harvesting these beautiful apples.

 and down a big long cinder road.

Fee didn't mind going down the cinder road, but she thought that going back up it was boring...until we passed Hana and Duana going the other direction.  That put some jet fuel back in her tanks, and off we went again.

She's trotting along happily--note the flopping lower lip as she goes.  No stress in this Dragon at all!

At the vet check, she pulsed down to 60 bpm at the gate, even without stripping tack.  This big mare just doesn't do that during summer season rides, but with some judicious management, we can squeak it at an early-morning vet check in October.

After 45 minutes of food and rest, we went out on the second loop:
Lovely footing, not much rock, though the trail was more technical than the morning loop.
The 50-milers had an early-morning trail through the orchards that included a few
spots of slick-with-dew grass, but the 25-milers had good footing almost all day.

Open country and CRP grassland this time, with views to a few small lakes

and the Snake River in the distance.
Jubilee Ranch Ride photo by Jessica Anderson
I'd chatted with photographer Jessica Anderson about the kind of photo I was hoping to get from this ride. At the last few events, the official ride photos have showed my Dragon with her ears up, her eyes soft, and her body round...but she's been walking.

Cariboo Gold Express photo by  D. Pavlik, August 2013
You can't see in the photo, but we are walking downhill into a lake.

"This time," I told Jess, "we're gonna trot past you, no matter what the terrain looks like."

But Jessica scouted a gorgeous spot to shoot pictures where trotting wasn't difficult--it was just part of the day.  So, that's what we did.

"Hi Jessica!  You gotz any carrots?  No?
Then I'll just keep trotting!"

Ears up, eyes soft, body round.  Dory told me how proud she is of my posture and position and how good my mare looks. I'm proud too.

We kept trotting, past the wheat elevator
The wheat gets dumped into cone-shaped piles and covered in tarps.
Aeration pipes are inserted, and fans blow cool air in to keep the wheat from
getting too warm and starting to compost.  MUCH easier than silos!
 ...through the scrub grass...

and back to camp,

She probably pulsed down a bit faster than the card shows,
but I got busy talking...!  Good scores, otherwise.

where Fee got to indulge in her second-favorite post-ride activity:

Fee:  "Feels sooooooooo good!"
 Fee's first favorite post ride activity is, of course, eating.  And she did plenty of that, before, during and after the ride.  Our completion prize for the event:

Red Delicious, Gala, and Golden Delicious apples

A lovely flexible tub, and access to a huge box of "cull" apples that we could share with the horses.

Which is just the way things should be, according to The Dragon:

Good.  Things are good.

And apples right-off-the-tree are especially GOOD!


  1. Looks great! Your ride photos reflect the joy of of a successful partnership. Great completion award too, those flexi buckets are awesome and the apples look delicious.

  2. Awesome! You deserved a perfect ride, so glad you got one!

    I really need a new flexitub, my old one has a stealthily busted handle and my Worst Crew threatened to quit me if I didn't buy her a new one before 20MT. ;)

  3. Love this post. Love the photos. Love the sport!

  4. You guys both look like you had a great time! Thanks for stopping by to check on Cartman, it turns out he has a badly bruised sesamoid but no chips, tears, or soft tissue damage. Whew!
    Keep those blue sky memories to get through the grey rainy season:)

  5. Awesome! The scenery there is really nice! You and Fiddle look great in the trotting photos! I might be getting one of those printed and framed... ;-)


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