February 20, 2009

Mocha's First Group Trail Ride Away from Home...

February 22nd, 2009 ~ Mocha's first group trail ride.
One of the "AZ Back Country Riders" members invited me along on a ride with some people she knew. 2 were AZBCR members but the others were her neighbors and friends of her Farrier.
I was a little nervous about this ride because I was anticipating Mocha being difficult to handle if he were to get excited being around a lot of horses but what I feared most is the range cattle which he is still afraid of. And my fear would only make him more nervous if he sensed it. After a 36 mile drive SE of Salome I met "LoriW" and her neighbors at an intersection. What was funny was we all arrived at the intersection within 2 minutes of each other. Than we followed her to someones home farther south where everyone had planned to meet and ride off from...
"LoriW" "Brain Tumor Survivor"
Lori took some pictures of Mocha and I before we headed out and more during the ride ... ("Thanks Lori!")
Once everyone arrived, about 12 altogether, we headed south on a dirt road until we came upon a corral where there was a gate that opened to BLM land to the West. Once we all got through the gate there was a small group of cattle to our right. Mocha and two horses near me spooked. I don't know which horse started the chain reaction but luckily it was brief. The two others , being beginner riders, decided that was more than they wanted to deal with and turned back. I just about did the same as Mocha was so frightened I could feel his heart pounding ! Luckily Lori's farrier and his 2 sons were experienced around cattle so one of his sons rode between me and the cattle while he and his other son ran them off. All went smooth after that. Mocha has been barefoot all his life and has tough hoofs but this ride was 99% rocks of all shapes and sizes so I was a little concerned about him being sore from it but the next day he was fine. No sore muscles or tender feet. I plan to get a pair of hoof boots for his fronts before we do much more trail riding like this. Meanwhile I hope more of the trails we ride will be more sandy and less rocky. We got to the end of this road after about a mile and a half or more and came to a gate and found that it was locked! Just as I was digging out my pliers to unwind the barbwire someone found a key hidden somewhere so we were able to go through the gate. When we came around to the road that we started on completing the 6+mile loop we were about 400 feet from "home" and Mocha recognized the surroundings and got his second wind and picked up his pace. It reminded me of the endurance ride stories I have read. When the horses recognize they are approaching base camp and pick up speed.
He was happy to be back to his trailer.
I tied him to the trailer and poured him some water. He drank about a gallon of water I poured some on his chest to help him cool down than brought out his hay cubes to munch on while I unsaddled him.
It was a successful ride with no mishaps. I am looking forward to next time. I hope Mocha is too...
"Mocha! Are you hiding?"