We entered at the equestrian gate, always a nice chance for showing off how nicely a horse can pivot to allow the rider to reach down and unlock it and then push it open.
The first steps onto the trail are always great. My two legs don't work so well after an injury, but out here I have 4 very capable legs quite willing to carry me to adventure.
I feel blessed.
At this point, as we approach the river, we can start to contemplate the choices for which trail we will choose today.
But we cannot know what we will see.
There is very little water in the Santa Ynez River at this crossing, and on the other side the documentary film maker Dawn was positioned to capture us fording it.
All 4" of it.
Almost immediately we heard the extremely close thrumming of a helicopter directly overhead. It is VERY tiny in that photo.
Thankfully all of the animals remained calm as it buzzed back and forth over us, and we stayed still and waited for it to leave.
The day was shaping up to be a driver-training movie. What would we see next?
One thing about riding trails repeatedly is that you remember things you have seen on previous rides. leading to nicknames for trails and spots.
Once we surprised a mule deer buck near this spot, and because equines have memories like elephants I can tell Tobe Mule always scans the bushes to see if he is there again.
And then, another aerial display. This time a small airplane circling over and over above us.
We couldn't tell if they were joy riding, or looking for someone or something. We joked that perhaps it was the Board of Supervisors taking a tour of the Live Oak Trails and hoped it would inspire them to keep our pristine playground exclusively equine-access.
But we'll never know.
We held the animals still and waited and finally they buzzed away like a very loud lazy fly.
At the second gate Tobe and I rested a bit in the shade before going through.
Always fair to let the animals catch their breath, and this time of year go ahead and eat some grass.
Tobe is very good at opening gates.
Once upon a time many years ago I hit my knee on a metal gate like this, so ever since I have trained him to open it up, walk half way through, and stop. That way I can make sure neither of my knees are going to hit. Then we move through.
I always like the variety of animals who come on these rides. All different colors, breeds, and personalities.
And the riders are all as unique as their animals.
But then, another helicopter!
It is VERY seldom that we have anything flying overhead here.
But next we got to the view spot, where we first get views of the lake. And it was time for portraits.
For the first time this year the wildflowers have started to bloom, so I attempted to document as many as I could while still mounted with only an iPhone camera.
Very tiny in this photo
These people circled the entire plateau over and over, it looked like someone doing practice going down low and then back up...
And again we stopped to watch this unusual display.
Finally they landed on a private ranch on the other side of the lake.
And thankfully there are a lot of predator raptors to keep their numbers in check.
I am guessing this is a turkey vulture.
And that was quite enough overhead activity for one day.
Jamie insisted that all the animals wanted to go in and cool off in the river
Woody looked deeply grateful for a chance to stop and chill and meditate
Einstein was lively as ever and splashed about
Pico who actually ran some extra miles today, living up to his Arabian heritage, was happy to hydrate
And then we were back at the rigs and ready to untack the animals and sit together for a nice lunch.
The photographer Dawn was still around, and asked us each to speak a bit for a video she is putting together about Live Oak and what we love about it. We were all happy to give testimony!
Another day on the trail, good friends, good animals, good times.
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
- William Shakespeare
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