In which there is a Plan, and there is a Mutiny, and we had Fun

You know what we at Haiku Farm say about plans:
"...plans make excellent traction when you crumple them up
and go off in a different direction."

So it was with the Crazy Daze ride in Spokane this past weekend.

Beautiful camp.  So far, so good

Jim and Patty and I drove over the mountains to meet up with friends Paul

Paul's horse Frank thinks that Fiddle is beautiful.  Fiddle is sure that Frank is correct.

and Jenni

We met Jenni at a ride 3 years ago, and we've loved her ever since

to help out with the ride and add a few miles to our AERC stats.

That was my Plan.

Paul's first experience marking trail.  He learned some stuff.

Then I saw the trail.  I rode out to fix some trail intersections and put up extra ribbons on the 10-mile loop, and came to a screeching halt when we got to the spot I've dubbed the "Mutiny Trail"

"Oh, hell no."

Some background:

Brand new ride manager Shelly took the reins of Crazy Daze from Gail, who was feeling overwhelmed by putting on a third ride this season.

Gail was still around, of course, zooming hither and thither on the quad (which broke down, and needed retrieval by Jim in the truck), answering questions, fixing trail, and doing all the stuff a ride manager does.

But Shelly chose the trail.  And she wanted the riders to see the very prettiest parts of the park...

One commenter said "that's not a trail, it's a landslide."

When Fiddle saw this steep downhill stretch covered in big rocks, she stopped dead in her tracks and wouldn't go forward.

For context:  the only time my horse has refused a trail since she started endurance was the time there was a bear.  She may roll her eyes at my crazy ideas but she usually wades right in with me.

This time, no.  Actually: "Hell no."

And you know what?  My horse was right.

I called Gail back in camp, and told her that there was no way I would send riders down that steep hill on those rocks.

She told me to find a better trail.  So I did.  I don't expect the new ride manager was thrilled with my refusal, but I wasn't asking.  I was telling.  That trail wasn't safe, and I wouldn't mark it.

A better trail

Riverside State Park is full of trails.  Some are steep, some are flat.  Some are sandy.  Some have some rocks.  Some have a bucket ton of rocks.


That rocky trail might be passable. Trail riders might use it all the time.  But I believe that it would be irresponsible to send tired horses down that hill and then expect them to trot out soundly for the vets.

Riders have to make choices about speed and gait on trail all the time.  Experienced ride managers try to balance the tricky bits of a trail with stretches where a horse can move out safely at speed in order to make the time cut-off back to camp.

It didn't take too long to backtrack to a less-rocky trail, and I marked that instead.


Pretty, pretty, pretty

Having seen the 10-mile loop (and fixed the part that appalled me), I took an option that would have been unheard of for me in earlier years:  I didn't compete at all.

My reasoning:  Even if the rest of the trail was fine, I would be worrying about the footing ahead for the entire distance.

Worrying is not fun.  Worrying makes my horse unhappy.

And we ride to have fun.

So I opted out.  I made the trail as safe as I could, and spent the rest of the weekend volunteering.

Photo by Cassidy Rae, used with purchase

That meant I was on the trail with Gail on the quad fixing ribbons before the riders even left camp!

Smokey sunrise, courtesy of forest fires to the south

I also got to tag along and help out on the water truck. 

Head Water Buffalo (Jim) and Assistant Hairless Sea Monkey (Jenni) 

Oh, hey, that reminds me:

"empty" water bottles are very attractive to yellow jackets and other stripey-stinging-bugs,
Picking up this trash can be scary and dangerous for the crew.

Don't be a litter bug!

Back to the narrative.

Because I was on the water truck instead on the horse, I got to see the osprey nest!

Blurry picture taken from a moving truck.  The nest is at the top of the power pole,
and Mama Osprey is looking out at us as we drive by.

The nest was on the opposite side of the river from the riders.  The only folks who got to see the osprey and her children this weekend were the water crew members,

At the end of Day One, when all the riders were back in camp, Jenni and I saddled up and went out to doodle around on the trails near camp.

Jenni opted out of competition independently from me--she was too daunted by the rock, and felt
overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to ride her green horse down those trails amidst other competitors.

Jenni has been doing a lot of dressage work with her young horse Piglet, and it really shows.  Every time he'd try to be a giraffey idiot, she'd make him bend, flex, turn haunches in, and do other difficult tasks as he moved down the trail.  By the end of our little ride, Piglet had found a REAL WALK (because walking is so much easier than that other stuff!)

That, right there, was worth the price of admission.  So lovely.

After our nice ride with Jenni and Pig, Fiddle and I took a second loop to zoom around the nicer trails before sunset.

Photo by Cassidy Rae, used with purchase

And that was wonderful.

That night, I started participating in my second favorite sport:  Self-Doubt.

Maybe the trail wasn't so bad.  Fiddle and I could probably do it safely, right?  Was I being overly paranoid?  Should I sign up to ride on Day 2?

Then, I started getting reports from riders.  Paul--who has ridden even more gnarly trails than Fiddle and me--took a rider option at 20 miles, rather than go back out for 30 more miles of those rocks.  At least one Green Bean rider was so dismayed by the rough terrain that she may leave the sport entirely.

Okay, then.

I spent the remainder of my time in camp having Fun.

As usual, the feasting in camp was epic:  home-smoked bacon, fresh-laid eggs, homegrown tomatoes,

....roasted lamb, lemon chicken, grilled ribs, corn on the cob, ratatouille, grilled vegetables.... 

Andie and Sadie rode the 75 with us from this ridecamp in 2015.
On Sunday, they passed Sadie's 3000-mile mark!

"Take the foam roller and use it!" they told me.
The foam roller propped up the cooler so we could drain out the ice melt

The battery-operated shower was a source of great hilarity

driving home under forest-fire stained skies

We are home now.

The Plan had been to go camping, ride my horse, help out, and have fun.  Maybe I didn't throw it away, after all.

And that is Good.


  1. I used to trail ride a Banker Pony mare (descendants from Spanish shipwrecks) all over our island - occasionally trail blazing. If that mare wouldn't go forward - there was ALWAYS a reason having to do with safety. Always. Ignore her at your peril. Looks like you and Fiddle made the right decision. :D


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