07. May 2011 · Comments Off on The Hard Trigger Ride · Categories: Fun Rides

What’s that all about? Hard Trigger? I saw a sign for Wilson Creek. I don’t get the Hard Trigger business. But then, the problem is that I only show up to skim the cream off the top of the jar. My friend Janine supplies the horses, the tack, the trailer, the gas, the feed, and the 24/365 care. I show up to sit on the horse for a while. Pretty cool gig, eh?

Janine, recently retired yet full of youthful exuberance, is a model member of Squaw Butte Back Country Horsemen. Not only did she sign herself up and take on some administrative duties, but she got me—an anti-social, non-joiner—to sign up. So, I still don’t go to meetings and I don’t participate in anything but the fun stuff; i.e., the RIDES. But I’m a dues-paying member and I got some calendars sold. Apparently that gets my boot in the door without being stomped on.

So there I was, early the Saturday morning before Mother’s Day, at Janine’s place just in time to slam the trailer door shut behind the caballo’s arses. Off we went for the Owyhee foothills. The journey thus far was uneventful. But in short order a mini-hell broke loose behind our parked trailer where my head-in-the-clouds mount stood impatiently awaiting the ride. While I was gagging over fistfuls of winter fur that blew off the curry comb, a rider from the trailer beside us mounted up and raced his steed up the hill igniting One Shot’s excitable nature. He pranced and he danced while I struggled to aim the saddle at the appropriate spot on his moving backside.

Meanwhile, Janine was busily engaged with mule-tack lessons. Proud new owner of two mules, she’s eager to glean wise bits of advice from other mule owners. I was about to attempt the bridling process with Mr. One Shot when a beautiful, saddled but unbridled, buckskin quarter horse darted past the back of our trailer, hotly pursued by a phalanx of mounted and non-mounted cowboys. This put Mr. One Shot beside himself. The runaway bronc was not one of Squaw Butte’s horses, nor, by the way, was the thoughtless rider from the trailer beside us. But it was a busy day there in the parking lot with two independent horse groups assembled for excitement.

Unsure of just how wild Mr. One Shot’s behavior might become, I began walking him about, hoping to settle his nerves and avoid a breakaway experience like that of the buckskin bronc. In short order, I decided I’d have a better chance of survival from atop this kegged dynamite. That was premature, as my saddle was still loose. Rob Adams came to my rescue, gentleman that he is. At last we were off.

SBBCH split into two groups of five riders. I have no idea where group A went. But they sure looked good as they rode off into the sagebrush. Ours was a lovely ride through BLM land where wild horses are often seen, but on this day we saw only doe-eyed beef. We scaled the side of a steep hill under ominous, but fortunately unproductive clouds. Cresting the top of a broad plateau we ambled about long enough for me to get slightly disoriented. When we reached Wilson Creek we passed through a gate and headed back toward the parking lot through a short but fascinating canyon of lava hoodoos. Caves dotted the rock formations where eons ago, large air bubbles had sponged the hardening rock.

I’m just returning to the horse world after nearly a 40-year hiatus, so there’s much for me to learn.  Of course, as we left the trail head, my hot-headed mount was prancing and dancing like a three-year old. Aside from the fact that I must constantly check him with the reins to keep his nose out of the rear of the horse in front, my girlhood romanticism revels in his high-stepping enthusiasm. But when Phil Ryan grumbled that he needed to rid his cowpony of its steady-all-day-jog, I listened and thought about what he said. It’s true. A mincing, prancing horse is nothing but trouble on a trail ride, where careful hoof placement reigns supreme.

Then there were the innumerable stream crossings as we rode through the canyon. Again, the schoolgirl in me thrilled to the unexpected leaps, dashes, and gyrations that took One Shot over each water crossing. But this, too, is detrimental behavior on the trail. If I needed proof, there is the black and blue mark above my groin where I lost a stirrup when One Shot lost his footing during one of his airborne leaps. I was utterly embarrassed to have lost my seat so easily. But the point holds. A trail horse needs some common sense. So does a trail rider. These trail rides are an awesome opportunity to glean wisdom from knowledgeable horsemen in the group.

And then, back at the trail head, there’s hot food, and wild stories to share. Even an old recluse like me enjoys the camaraderie.

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