Monday, June 8, 2009

Mountains, and Lakes, and Rivers ..... Ho Hum!

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[If you zoom out for a wider view (click on the - button on the left three times), and put the red marker, where we started the ride, in the lower right corner, and Lake Kachees in the upper left, that's where we were.]

Sunday, Kate and I ventured even farther into the Cascades for the Eastern Washington Quarter Horse Association Poker Ride, out of Easton. Friday and Saturday had been windy and cold, but, although today was a mix of clouds and sunshine, it was actually a very pleasant day. I trailered in with my neighbor Pat and her friend Shari, and met up with about 12 more members of the Kittitas County Trail Riders. We designated our group of five as the "slow-going" horses. Though both Shari's horse and Kate are very green, it was the three older horses that were the ones pulling the shenanigans (fine with me!).

Here we're crossing the little dirt dam at the southeast end of Lake Kachess, maybe a mile or so out from base camp. Although Kate had given a good long look at all that water when we first emerged from the trees and faced the lake, she remained pretty relaxed. I was hoping that my friend Barry ( a retired school counselor--I wish I could say that) could get a photo including the lake to the left and the rugged ridge behind it. But the path was too narrow for him to get behind us and shoot that and the horses.
I was riding my PSG dressage saddle. I had noticed the other day that Kate is developing some random white hairs on either side of her withers. I fear that Miss Broad Beam is being pinched by my semi-quarter horse bars working saddle. The PSG is so very secure feeling and comfortable, and the English stirrups/leathers are much easier on my knees and ankles that the heavier fenders of your typical western saddle (never mind the fact that I still have mine barely broke in, after five years!). I had added a jumping breastplate and managed to secure my pommel bags (first aid, water bottle, snacks, camera) to that. The blue vet wrap padding on the bosal was more for Maddie, whose thin skin got rubbed a bit at the show a few weeks ago. I have a fleece cover coming this week (with my dewormer order).

After the second check point we had the option of "water or no water." We went to where a small brushy bog crossed the trail. Pat and Shari remembered a major wreck at this same spot a couple of years ago, so we back-tracked to the "no water" route, which, unfortunately included a while on this road--not as pretty as the trail route--but I still LOVE! being in the trees! The other problem was the gravel footing was a little ouchy on Kate's five-day-old trimmed hooves. She has never worn shoes, and has pretty tough feet. I had brought along her Simple Boots, but with the assurance that most of the ride was on cushy trails (it was) left them back at the trailer. I just let her take her time, and Chuck and Barry moved ahead of us for this short leg. We caught up at the third check-point and settled back into our middle of the pack position. Barry's horse wanted to charge right along, and Barry was impressed with Kate's "road-block" skills--she was moving nice and steady, and was not intimidated by the naughty palomino.
Much of the route was through near rain forest conditions. We were only about 20 miles below the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, at the top of the Cascade ridge. This is where all the clouds that plague Seattle finally let loose their precipitation. It is also the watershed that supplies our irrigation ditches, 40 miles away! (Note, this photo is dark and slightly out of focus because the overhanging trees made the camera go to flash mode, hence, Kate's brightly lit ears.)

Fourth check point. The ride was very well run, with riding groups going out at a steady, spaced rate. This meant there was very little back-up at the check points. Kate patiently waited her turn each time, and was not phased by the fluorescent volunteers coming at her with rattling bags of poker chips.

The final leg brought us down parallel to Swift Creek. Again, Kate looked hard, as if to say "You're not going to ask me to go there, are you?!?" She willingly went down to the shoreline, but I didn't ask her to get her feetsies wet (I had a roaring headache, and didn't really feel up to any "training" opportunities). It was a beautiful spot, however, and I'm looking forward to going back soon.

Back at the trailer. Total ride wasn't much more than maybe six miles, with none of the harder climbs of the Roslyn ride two weeks ago. (It would have been a nicer "first ride" for Maddie, but oh well...). Kate barely broke a sweat, though where she did was under the neoprene girth--I may rethink that for strenuous trail rides (as opposed to arena/show work).
I got several comments on her striking color, but I was most proud of her exceptional behavior and willingness! In spite of my headache, it was a very pleasant ride.
She is truly a great little filly!

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