Danielle and I had the pleasure of riding days one and two of the Eastern Mojave Scenic Sunrise Ranch/XP ride. I rode Jazzi day one and Dani rode Jazzi day two as her horse, Lyric was not in shape for the ride. Due to an unexpected rain all day Thursday, we were late getting on the road Friday. Fortunately, we only encountered one traffic jam were interstate 15 meets 215 just below the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino.
The ride camp was massive, relatively flat and less than a quarter of a mile from I-15 (this is the main road to Las Vegas from LA and southern California). This is the good and bad news. Super easy to find, a joy to use, but the incessant freeway noise got to me the last night in camp.
The weather was beautiful and perfect for riding. The nights were cold with ice covering the water buckets in the morning giving way to high 60’s and low 70’s by mid day. Although the wind was cold, it was less than 5 mph and intermittent. Jackets, hats and gloves were either being removed or added both days. It was deceivingly dry. The horses’ hard work was not evident in their sweat patterns.
The views were also deceiving. What appeared to be a relatively short distance away was in fact miles down the trail. This is due to the clean Mojave Desert air and the short stature of the umbikuous (?sp) Joshua trees that are usually less than 10 feet tall. This landscape is a stunning mix of native cacti, evolved through the ages to survive in a land both beautiful and dangerous. I found that the native plants could pierce the toughest jacket, jeans or gloves. The horses found the chollas cacti very dangerous as the spines had tiny barbs that make them difficult to remove. If left in the horse’s legs the spines could cause lameness and infection. This was not a place to brush against the flora as it would bite back.
Jazz, my 7 year old half Arab, half saddlebred mare did very well traveling without Lyric. In camp and on the trail she had the handsome Bubba G to keep her company. I am forever grateful to Karl and Bubba for sponsoring both myself and Dani. No one could ever have a better companion or mentor. And that Bubba, he can fly down the trail!
In true Duck fashion, the ride meeting was short, sweet and to the point. We were admonished to stay out of the washes with the deep sand by using the single track on either side. The maps were a joy with what appeared to be National geographic topo maps and numbered boxes on one side and matching GPS coordinates, mileage and helpful hints on the other. (Now I whine about losing Jerry who knew everything about a GPS and would have loved teaching Dani and me how to use a GPS on the trail. I’ll stop whining now.) A typical hint was turn left here, water at this corral. The trail was superbly marked and the footing, aside from the deep sand washes, was excellent.
Day one was very cold in the morning with ¼ inch of ice in the water buckets. Our phone alarm did not go off. It was a race to eat, get dressed and in the saddle in 45 minutes. Somehow we got all the tack and trappings on in time and we were off in the cold, clear morning air. Bubba and Jazzi had one small disagreement and then settled down. Well, Bubba settled down and Jazzi took a bit longer. We ended up behind Crockett and Sharon for several miles. It was a beautiful thing to see how they moved down the trail taking turns leading, following always pushing ahead, but always safe and sane. Their horses moved along happily listening to their rider’s commands. I am grateful to have witnessed such cooperation between man and beast and between two people.
Now Bubba is something else, an American Spotted Saddle Horse that can fly down a trail at a trot, rack or a canter. And Bubba is always happy to fly down the trail; any trail is fine with him. I never saw him take a bad step, all day. Karl and Bubba are one of the best teams I have ever seen in action. They have logged thousands of miles together and are one of the top rated mileage teams in the nation. Karl would never boast about this, he is a humble man who is happy to be owned by Bubba.
All day Karl and I took turns leading and following, finding the single track, discussing important life issues. Bubba, true to form was fine as long as he was with Karl. Jazzi however, was better leading; something to work on at home. Karl was always on the look out for the ribbons, as he admits to having a bad case of “Ribbon Attachment Disorder.” This syndrome causes extreme agitation when ribbons are not found every few minutes while on the trail. Not a bad syndrome to have if you are a distance rider.
We ended up walking most of the gentle up hill trail in to lunch as by then Jazzi was tired and hungry. We lost time here, but Karl did not complain. At the lunch stop Jazzi was drinking well and eating anything but what I brought for her. Due to the cold lunch was only 30 minutes in stead of the normal hour hold. I stayed a bit longer and let Jazzi eat more as she needed the fuel to get us back to base camp. Again, Karl did not complain.
The ride home went fast as it was mostly either flat or a gentle down hill grade. I am the first to admit I do not like trotting downhill. According to Dani this is because I am an old worry wart. Well, she is right, but we trotted most of the trail home with no trouble. It seemed like we were back in the ride camp in minutes when in fact we finished at about 4 pm. In true XP fashion we vetted out and in at the same time with happy though hungry horses. I was tired and very sore from the new saddle that put my feet too far forward for my liking.
At the trailer Jazzi ate continuously for over 2 hours. Her head never can above the hay bag or her pan of beet pulp. Dani found several chollas spines in Jazzi’s butt that came out easily. Dani was an expert on removing chollas spines as she removed many for riders at the lunch stop while helping with the pulse checks. And true to form no spines were found on Bubba, that’s the kind of campaigner he is.
Jazzi started a new fashion craze, soon to be seen at every ride camp: fleece blanket with contrasting waist band. What really happened is I forgot her clean cooler in the back of my car at home. (I need to finish making my check lists as last time I forgot Dani’s helmet.) Soon it was time for the ride meeting and bed as day two was Dani’s turn to ride. To be continued.
Lazy J Ranch
Elfin Forest, CA