On a day too hot to ride elsewhere we chose to explore the forests and back trails of the La Purisma, where it was comparatively cool and shady.
We went up the right hand side of the middle valley, up to the water towers, and then on the way back down bashed our way on the Western Edge through the relatively unmaintained trails alongside the water treatment plant.
We are so fortunate to have this equestrian resource available. Even on a hot day there were lots of walkers, horses and bike riders. Most were nice, one was a dick, but that's the way of it. We are sitting with our heads ten feet in the air, we rise above.
My companions today were Jamie on Mosca and Noe on Marcos. Here they are posing at one of the paddocks that sometimes holds animals owned by the Mission.
When we start out at the bottom of the open valley it is always interesting to speculate on what crops might have been grown here, where animals were kept. Back in the days when the Mission was home to conscripted native Chumash it was a large and self-sustaining society. Now the local community uses this as a resource for health, coming for walks and rides.
And then there is Marcos, who is still a stallion but facing being gelded soon because he's a real handful. Noe his owner is a masterful rider, and thank goodness for that. Today he had such a photogenic meltdown that I took a bunch of photos of our own private rodeo.
When the dancing starts Jamie and I know to back way away and let it go.
All this because there was a sign on the side of the trail and Noe asked Marcos to go over and look at it.
And he was frightened of it.
See why I ride a gelded mule?
This was an intriguing path that Jamie thought would go up to the shady trail in the first photo, so we went on up it.... to a dead end.
With 25 miles of trails it is always lovely to find one we think we have not been on before, so off we go to see what there is to see.
And sometimes we turn around and go back the way we came.
Isn't that pretty?
Rather like the Lipizzan horses at the Spanish Riding School in Austria.
The Lipizzans were developed from the Spanish Andalusian, all classic baroque horses of great beauty, stamina, and war horse potential.
Marcos is 3/4 Andalusian so he has the bloodline.
For Marcos, rearing up is his default when he'd rather not do something he is being asked to do.
The war horses of old were taught to do various moves that were useful in battle.
They are called the "haute ecole" and require tremendous skill and training to achieve.
Now in Austria they perform for the public as an attraction, and if you want to know more about them watch the Disney movie Miracle of the White Stallions
and learn about "Operation Cowboy." In April 1945 when WWII was winding down, the 42nd Recon Squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Division saved the Lipizzaners from the Nazis.
To create the Master Race of horses, Hitler had the horses taken from Austria to Czechoslovakia, and then to Hosteau, Germany.
General George Patton, fearing they would be killed to feed the starving German or Red Army troops in the area, led a coordinated effort to save them. The foals were loaded onto trucks and 700 horses were ridden out to safety.
Does Marcos think he would have made a fine war horse?
And didn't we all grow up with....
"Hi Ho Silver, away!"
The Lone Ranger!
Roy Rogers on
Ah, the stuff of childhood dreams, when our role models fought for truth, justice, and the American way.
For now I'm just glad when Marcos gets over himself and we can move on down the trail.
We all agree that this little shady stretch is our favorite part of the trails here.
We would have been at Live Oak today, where it was 100 degrees, so this is much much nicer.
We speculate on the age of these trees, surely hundreds of years.
What tales they could tell.
Many of them are draped with Spanish Moss, vegetal cobwebs of time.
But it was time to emerge onto one of the access roads to head up to the water tanks that mark the highest point of the Mesa.
From the top we can look out across the valley, and the city of Lompoc, toward the coastal mountains. And as always I like to use a scenic backdrop to take portraits of the people I ride with.
Jamie Buse on Mosca the Appendix Thoroughbred racehorse
Noe Alvarez Peña on Mosca the Andalusian x Azteca
And a rather blurry Pat Fish on Tobe the Rocky Mountain Mule
Then it was time to head back down the hill, bashing our way through extremely overgrown trails, branches overhanging and ready to knock an unwary equestrian out of the saddle or drop a tick down on your hair... But Tobe Mule is steady, and I'd just lower my head and let my helmet take a whacking as we made our way through.
Overhead the turkey vultures were circling, so no time to slow down or look weak! Best we ride the trail out, get back to the rigs, where a bucket of carrots is ready for Tobe and lunch and cool drinks await the rest of us.
xxx PAT FISH xxx
xx FIN xx