Sunday, May 31, 2020

2020/05/31 Charros del Roble Vivo

In this magical part of the year, when spring flowers are blooming and the summer heat has not yet begun, we strode out to ride from the Live Oak Camp and explore new trails. The sky was overcast, a slight breeze was blowing, and we had a goal to ride a slightly longer trail than recently. We succeeded.
In 3 hours we covered 7.4 miles, and a very nice time was had by all.
The trail begins with crossing the Santa Ynez River, already somewhat diminished from last week. Soon it will disappear underground for the rest of the year, so we enjoy it while we can.
Seeing the lake on the horizon is so special. Just as we relish living on the coastline, the Edge of the Continent, having a lake to circumnavigate enhances our rides. Created in 1953 by the creation of the Bradbury Dam, a mountain valley became the main reservoir for drinking water for the city of Santa Barbara.
Today we chose a route that took us out across the open plain.

That put us down almost at lake level, in a sea of grass already sere and soon to be burnt off in summer.
Away off on the edge of the valley we saw tiny specs that definitely caught Tobe's attention.
And there they are, part of the band of wild bucking horses that roams this property.
And in another direction, resting underneath an old oak tree, was a deer.
It is somewhat humbling to ride a hyper-aware prey animal and pay attention to the things that catch his eye, things a mere human works hard to see.
We started to rise up above lake level and I chose this scenic backdrop for the souvenir portraits.
Jamie on Mosca
Rigo on Marcos
Noë on Huarache
Eric on Renegade
and of course Pat on Tobe Mule
A fine crew.
We continued to wind around, seeing lovely views, partly on a trail I had not been on for several years.
Everywhere the tall spikes of yucca in bloom dot the landscape. This one close by the trail had a fully expanded bloom as well as an uncurling one directly adjacent.
And every so often, at a turn in the road, another view of the lake appears.

The smell of the sage and artemisia, California sagebrush, especially on a moist day, adds a further dimension to the experience. If only blogs could have scratch-and-sniff.
But all too soon we were back at the river
Where Mosca did a splashing dance to celebrate another ride well done.
And before turning back to the city, with Covid-19 isolation and riots in the big cities, we stopped to savor the beauty and fulfilling nurture of nature.
And for his last trick, Tobe Mule demonstrated the malleability of his collapsible ears. If a gnat dares to fly into them he flops his head until the bewildered insect gives up and exits.
He is always ready for any annoyance on the trail.
And I appreciate very much his willingness to be my legs, to transform this Sagittarius born in the year of the Horse into a Centaur.
“Never," said Hagrid irritably, "try an' get a straight answer out of a centaur. Ruddy stargazers. Not interested in anythin' closer'n the moon.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

                                   ####    FIN   ####

Sunday, May 24, 2020

2020/05/24 Live Oak Eastern Plateau ride

I'm trying out a new mapping program, so these are not very high tech yet. But it shows our route accurately and the terrain we explored.
We convened back at our favorite Live Oak Camp, and agreed that today, a bright hot sunny Memorial Day weekend, we would do just a short ride.
From the Live Oak Camp parking area we crossed the river and then headed East to the border of the Rancho San Fernando Rey.
The Santa Ynez River is only flowing here part of the year, so it is a pleasure to have the sight of it be the start of the ride. Cold and clear, good for Tobe Mule to take a big drink before a hot afternoon walk.
The wild oats were precisely the height of a mule or horse's nose, a distracting temptation that makes riding more difficult. I want him paying attention to where he is walking, he wants to snack.
We went up the switchbacks on the access road, then headed off toward the border of the County and private properties. There on the other side of the fence we could see cows lounging in the shade of ancient oaks.
I always presume Tobe Mule has MUCH better eyesight than I do. Equine eyes are eight times larger than human eyes; in fact, they are larger than those of any other land mammal. While what I saw were those specs under the oak, this is what he saw.
Tobe spent his first seven years in Kentucky, so possibly this kind of Jerry-rigged hillbilly gate system looks familiar to him. But I thought I caught a look of disdain in his eye.
We kept walking through the oats, occasionally passing through stands of oaks and stopping in the shade a bit.
The wind was giving Tobe a bad hair day.
Then it was time to take today's portraits. Just two people rode with me, so it wasn't the big process that it sometimes can be.
My stalwart pal Jamie Buse on her thoroughbred racehorse Mosca the Horse Fly. You can take a racehorse off the track, but you can't ever get them to forget how much they love to run. Mosca has a very big engine.
Maggie Gerring came along riding Jamie's old trusty Woody the Quarter Horse. He's a been there done that kinda guy, but Mosca has developed an infatuation with him so taking them out on the trail together calms her down. He actually doesn't seem to care.
And there we are, Tobe Mule and I, so pleased to be out and about.
And then it was time to turn around.
This blasted oak was right next to the fence line. Magnificent bark.
And on the way back we did stop and let the equines graze a bit. They were doing all the hard work, it was only fair.
All this grass will be dried up in just a few weeks as summer progresses, and we passed a lot of dead oak trees with picturesque Spanish moss hanging from the limbs.
Looking across the fence it is easy to see how the cows and deer have kept the grass eaten down on that side compared to the Country owned land side.
Once again we came up along the cow resting area.
And once again there's the Tobe's-eye-view.
Like all equines he is especially attuned to movement, so the flicking of an ear or swishing tail rivets him on what could be a predator.
But alas, Tobe Mule is no cow-cuttin' Quarter Horse, no rodeo competitor. He's just a guy who likes to go look at landscape, and humors me out on our adventures.
So the ride was drawing to a close, and another nice stroll was had by all.

                        "Who sews virtue reaps honor."
                          -------- Leonardo da Vinci

                                         ### FIN ###

Who sows virtue reaps honor. Leonardo da Vinci
Who sows virtue reaps honor. Leonardo da Vinci
Read more at        "

Sunday, May 17, 2020

2020/05/17 Viva La Live Oak

A windy sunny day and Lake Cachuma 70% full on the horizon, what an absolute delight to be back out in nature
with trusty Tobe Mule and a fine group of companions.
Locked down no more, we are taking back the trail!

Pulling into Live Oak Camp there were more horse trailers in the parking area than I have ever seen. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic panic most of the National Forest and City Parks are closed, and trail head parking for the few trails open is often limited to one hour, preventing equestrian access.
But Live Oak, such a fabulous favorite place to ride, is open and welcoming.
Once we were all saddled up and mounted the first part of the trail crosses the Santa Ynez River, and what a pleasure to see it filled with a foot of water. Tobe took a deep drink, and steadied himself for the coming adventure.
The initial part of the access is by roads big enough for emergency vehicles. After two months standing around his paddock, even this must seem wonderful to Tobe Mule. ME, I'm exulting in the spring flowers and the long horizons and cloud formations. This is the antidote to city confinement.
The rise leads to the first view of Lake Cachuma, where I announce it is time for the souvenir portraits. I like to capture the people I ride with and give them this gift, as thanks for accompanying me and helping me experience this vital part of my life.
Above is Jamie on Mosca the Horse Fly.
This is Maggie riding Jamie's alternate horse Woody.
This is Noë riding Rigoberto's horse Mariposa.
This is Arturo on his new mule Golondrina.
Arturo's son Rodrigo on Reylampago
and Graviel on El Mathemático.
 And Tobe Mule and I. 

When we left downtown Santa Barbara it had been drizzling overnight, and the air was quite humid. But once over the front country ridge it was a typical Santa Ynez Valley bright day. This view is looking toward the ocean which is just on the other side of those mountains, and you'd never know these fluffy clouds are part of a weather system that would greet me with a dense fog over the ocean when I descended later in the afternoon.
I was just so happy to be out there that it didn't matter to me what trail we took. So when Noë headed off toward the peninsula, a trail that would bring us to a dead end, I let him lead on.
At one point a whole swarm of bees passed through our group of riders. We just kept on moving, as thousands of bees flowed around us and moved on, and the air was thick with them and the buzzing so loud... No panic, and soon they were gone, on a mission to find a new home. If any of us had swatted and killed even one we could have had a real rodeo on our hands.
The oak trees got a good watering this winter, and are making a fine come back from the 8 year drought. Ones this big are hundreds of years old, and have a timeless quality.
This is one I always like to see, it crashed to the ground but is still surviving, with magnificent bark and one portion that has a perfect animal den.
After we turned around we stopped under some oaks to let the animals graze. This oak also had wonderful densely furrowed bark.

On the way back the view looks to the East, inland to the mountain ranges that stretch out to the interior. Coming up from the City, in 45 minutes you are in this place where a look in that direction puts the scope of California into perspective. There is essentially no one home for as far as the eye can see.
Back to the beginning of the trail, nice to let the animals cool their hooves in the river now that their job is done.
While the humans broke out lunches and sat under the shade of a big oak in the parking area, Tobe had a bag of bermuda hay and a chance to model his new saddle before he was stripped of tack and let relax.
A fine time was had by all.

This blog is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth.
I wanna grow up to be just like Herself.