Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reflecting on Redwood: Little Bit Goes Pro (and Leaves me for Another Woman)

Submitted by Renee Gonzalez

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since I had the opportunity to ride in the Redwood National Forest. 2010 is flying by and I feel like I’m pedaling fast to keep up. It’s been a good year in many ways and I’ve been fortunate to have a great horse and great friends to share some miles with. Here we are, already into August and ready for another Redwood Ride.

I had two goals for this ride. The first was for Little Bit to haul to the ride by himself and camp like a professional endurance horse without the support of a buddy. A professional would be the kind who eats and drinks and takes care of himself, rather than the kind who stares into the distance and waits for it to get dark before he bothers to eat. Usually, Little Bit falls into the less desirable category. He’s normally too busy meditating to remember to take care of the basics.

The ride meeting was short and sweet, thanks to ride manager Natalie Herman and head vet, Dr. Jen Powers. The ride is hosted by Redwood Empire Endurance Riders, a small club that puts on four rides each year. For this ride, Natalie volunteered to be manager and she really did a great job. I especially liked that she didn’t make us put ugly numbers on our horses butts (something I’ve always thought makes a horse look like he’s come straight from the auction yard).

My second goal for this ride was for Little Bit to start the ride by himself. Looking back, I should have been more specific when mentioning this to him, as I think he took it quite literally. Perhaps that was why he chose to dump me at mile 8 and attempt to do the ride “by himself”. The start of the ride went better than expected.

Through the night, Little Bit had made friends with his neighbors and thought it’d be best to stick with them all day. I walked him for about 20 minutes in camp to warm him up, and at 6:30 when they said the trail was open, I let the front runners get a head start on the single track trail before setting out. Little Bit power walked across the levy in a reasonably relaxed fashion. Just as we were about to set out up the big hill, a rider went trotting past us at top speed which indicated to Little Bit that this was where he should start trotting, too. This was the 11th time I had done Redwood Ride so I‘m fairly familiar with the trail, and I assured Little Bit that walking up the giant hill at the beginning was an absolute must. Much to my surprise and delight, he complied with my request and behaved himself. Mission number two: accomplished. Sort of.

A couple miles into the ride, Michele Dostal and her Rushcreek mare trotted up behind us and ended up riding with us for most of the first loop. Her mare is very sweet and pretty and Little Bit really seemed to like her. In fact, he liked her so much that when Michele stopped to adjust her saddle, and I tried to go on, Little Bit “spooked” at something, dumped me, and trotted back to his girlfriend. Thankfully, Michele was off her horse and being on a single track trail, Little Bit didn’t really have anywhere to go. Throughout the course of our relationship, Little Bit has dumped me a lot. But he’s never dumped me and left me for another woman! In the past when I’ve made an involuntary dismount, I look up to see his big pink nose hovering over me.

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