Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Well, let's see...Saturday was my birthday, so it was rather odd actually getting to do something fun, like ride my pony, on my birthday versus what I typically do - school. I'll admit, getting up at 3AM on my birthday might not be the most enjoyable idea ever, but getting up that early is actually worth it, even moreso than getting up at 4 or 4:30. If I'm up at 3, we can be out of the house by 3:30 (I'm finally getting Dad going on this idea of "pack the truck the night before and eat breakfast on the go") and leaving the barn, ponies in tow, by 4:20, and at the trailhead by about 4:45. We're actually ready to ride by 6, so we're still catching about an hour of really pleasant weather before it starts really warming up.

It's very weird being down at the San Tans that early. We're the only ones there at that time, and it's still pitch-black out. There was no moon this weekend, either, so it was even darker. Driving down to the park, we saw two owls! One had just swooped down to grab something on the side of the road, and the other was flying above the truck on the road leading into the park. That was so cool seeing that.

The ponies were both really good on Saturday, especially because it was super windy. It was really still about 4AM, but as the sun started coming up, the breeze picked up, and by the time we were on the trail, there was a good wind blowing. However, it felt really good because of the humidity in the air, and the ponies were feeling really good. Mimi was in Arabian Junior mode, making me really practice my "long leg, deep seat" riding.

We even took them in the Big Scary Sandwash that they hate - really deep sand and a lot of wildlife and birds that like to fly out of bushes as you go past - and it was lovely. The wind was even reaching down into the wash, so it was pleasant enough to just walk along. I took Dad to the south end of the park to show him the new construction they're doing, putting in a secondary trailhead and a small parking lot and another stepover gate. Way to *finally* listen to us about what we need, park people.

On the way back, we saw a Very Large Rattlesnake. Actually, Mimi did. I was half-turned in the saddle, talking to Dad behind me, when she slowed down, then stopped in the middle of the wash. I turned, looked fdown, and about ten feet away was a huge rattlesnake, very softly rattling his tail, but fortunately moving away from us. She watched him Very Carefully until he disappeared into the bushes under a tree, then we continued on. He was about 5 feet long, and probably a good 4 or 5 inches in diameter, with a rather large chunk of rattles on him. Lovely.

Truthfully? I don't mind seeing them, especially in that kind of setting - a lot of space to move, and with the snake streched out, moving away from us. But this was turning out to be quite the wildlife encounters day. And this makes two weekends in a row that we've seen snakes. We saw a king snake or something like it the previous Saturday.

The rest of my birthday my nice and relaxing...came home, took a short nap, my parents took me out to dinner, then I came home and watched several episodes of "Burn Notice," my new favorite TV show, and did a little bit of writing.

The ponies got the day off Sunday, and I spent most of the day catching up on laundry.

Monday was Labor Day, aka no school for me, and the business was closed for Dad, so the ponies got out again. Beamer was very displeased with this idea...he's gotten way too used to, "ride two days, then get the week off." So he expressed this by being an absolute bundle of nerves, spooking at everything, refusing to move out, bucking if he was in the back and Mimi got too far ahead...*sigh*

Mimi started out slightly grumpy (I think I woke her up) but she got better, and by the time I was on her back, she was a regular handful. Forget Junior today, we were in full Arabian mode. Lots of long leg, deep seat, tigher rein. The plus side to this? She's wonderfully collected and forward and light, ready at a second's notice to do what I ask. The downside? She's even more reactive, so I have to be prepared for sudden, violent sideways spooks and shies.

Unfortunately, I couldn't really capitalize on this because Beamer was being such a pain. So we walked. A lot. My butt was numb, and knees were seizing up, and I finally got off and walked the last quarter mile in because at that point, falling off would have been more comfortable. Just about the time I think Beamer is finally commited to moving forwards instead of taking steps backwards, he pulls a stunt like this. What made it even worse was the weather was ickier yesterday - humid, with very little breeze, and hot, so walking was not what I wanted to do.

Well, he's got all week to stew now, and maybe he'll be better next weekend. I really hope so, and I'm not even the one that has to ride him, I just have to deal with his antics peripherally, which is annoying enough.

Good thing Man Against Horse is only a month away...I really need new Renegades.

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