Thursday, March 19, 2009

THIS is the mountains, Kate!

So now (June, 2008): it's the last weekend before school gets out for the summer. Will this be the last opportunity to work with Kate that I will get, before I haul her down to Tri-Cities? I have two options:

The little Purina-sponsored show that Kate has gone to each year since she was two months old.

The judge has always liked her, and it would be the first time I rode her there. It would be neat to show him how far she'd come.

On the other hand, it was the weekend of the Ellensburg Sheriff's Posse "Poker Ride."

For those of you unfamiliar with the idea of a poker ride (as I was not so long ago), it is basically an excuse for a trial ride, with prizes based solely on the luck of the draw at the various check points along the trail. Those with the best "hand" (and the worst, and many in between) get to pick from various donated items, and the entry fees all go to some more or less worthy cause--in this case, the Ellensburg Rodeo Queen and her Royal Court.

It was a chance to get Kate out in the woods for the first time. It seemed like a better idea than the same-old-same-old at the Fairgrounds.... but....

....all my usual riding friends were also 4H moms, and their kids were at the show. I wasn't sure that I would know anybody on the ride (turns out a neighbor I had yet to meet was the $500 grand prize winner), and I didn't think I wanted to be out there all by myself, if Kate misbehaved. Who could I invite to come along?

AHA! My new principal K had borrowed my trailer last fall to haul two saddle horses up from his folks' ranch (where he grew up). Did he want to come along and see some of the local country? Sure thing!

Here, we're started up the trail into the first "woods" Kate has ever seen. Having hauled K's horse in with us, she was now Kate's role model, and Kate willingly followed her up the rocky trail.
Coming down the hill into the second or third checkpoint, one of the organizers took this shot of Kate and I.

Into the next checkpoint, an abandoned old log cabin in a clearing. As we left out of here, Kate suddenly stopped in her tracks, looking up the hill behind the cabin. It took me a minute, but I finally spotted a big mule deer watching us pass. Other than her hard look, Kate never hesitated nor spooked.Here's the most photographic evidence I got of Kate during the ride. We were just coming out of the trees and back toward the trail head. However....there was one last obstacle to overcome. The CREEK! A real, live, ankle-deep, yards-wide, flowing-with-wet-water creek! YIKES!

But Kate didn't want to lose her brand new BFF. So she tried skirting the creek by wandering upstream.

That works at home on puddles, mom.

But it didn't work here--that water just kept coming from who-knows-where up the mountain!

So Kate just had to suck it up, and



the creek!

Back at the trailer. A little wind-blown, but none the worse for wear. We had met the mountain and we won! (And we won a new halter and a pommel bag, as well, in the poker competition.)

Would it be our last ride together?