Seeing the wild Bucking Horses at Live Oak is always a special thrill. Tobe Mule gets very excited to see the feral brethren at play.
For my birthday ride today we explored some canyons to the East, away from the lake, and saw beautiful stands of oaks bordering the Rancho San Fernando Rey.
It wasn't a long ride, it was very hot and we just wanted to be out in nature for a while, escapism for rejuvenation.
The kiosk at the trail head is getting more and more informative, although I have yet to see anyone reading it. Nor do I see anyone using the Iron Ranger to pay their fee. I prefer to buy an annual pass.
It is just a little creepy that there is now a skull in the middle of the information on the bulletin board.
There IS a lot of dying going on out here. The oaks are in a bad state. Apparently the manipulation of the water table with the lake level in the drought is wrecking havok with the deep root systems of the ancient oaks, and although I try to think positively that many of them look strong they are surrounded by many who are skeletal.
I've been riding out here for 16 years and the change in the oaks is very dramatic. And the Old Farmers' Almanac predicts that this upcoming winter is going to be blisteringly cold in all the rest of the United States except the tiny slice of Coastal Central and Southern California, which will be warmer than usual and DRY.
Looking at the very sparse grass available we wonder how the Bucking Horses manage to get enough sustenance to survive.
But on the hillsides, in the shadowed areas under the trees, there is still a carpet of green grass.
Of course the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and this trail led to a locked gate where the beautiful San Fernando Rey stretched off into the distance.
I once did an endurance ride there, Tobe Mule and I actually did a 25
mile ride! So it was my one chance to see that beautiful private world.
Trees like this always look like someone's home, the opening in the center like a doorway.
The drought has blasted off limbs, but some indomitable spirit is keeping it alive.
When Nature persists in the face of adversity we can all take heart.
Yet the piles of skeletons make this a boneyard ride.
This massive snag fell over onto a neighbor, and might create a convenient ladder to harvest the mistletoe growing above.
Tobe and I are both curious about what is over the next hill.
This healthy grove of oaks was such a pleasure to see, representing such a continuity with the past and their slow growing persistence.
This one gets my vote for best tree. I do a lot of Tree of Life tattoos, and this classic oak has just the right amount of balance without symmetry.
Can you see what Tobe sees, just above his right ear?
This coyote watched us for a long time, utterly unafraid and curious.
He knew we were no threat. We ambled off to follow Jamie and Mosca down the trail.
And to our surprise we found a watering hole.I have always wondered where the Bucking Horses go when they need a drink, there are very few places I have seen water on the property.
And then, all of a sudden, a band of mares appeared.
As soon as they saw us they turned to leave. They are often wary and sometimes curious. I take the opportunity to observe them but never approach them.
They headed off in the direction of the water, and we had run out of time and needed to turn back toward the trailhead.
That did NOT suit Marcos, who is a stallion and thought those mares looked very attractive! Muy hermosa y lista para el amor! Thankfully Noe is a very capable rider, so when Marcos does a dance he laughs and rides it out.Mosca does have a bit of a crush on Marcos, she whinnies for him if he gets around the bend on the trail, and Jamie just laughs at her.Of course I NEVER laugh at Tobe Mule, I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings, and besides I'm deeply grateful that his four good legs take me out to adventures such as these. He is my best ever birthday present from the universe.So back we went, down the steep chalk hill, past the dry Santa Ynez Riverbed, and back to the trailhead for a snack and then home.Tobe knows there are carrots and hay waiting, and a well earned rest standing untacked in the shade while the humans palaver.
FABER EST QUISQUE FORTUNAE SUAE
Every person is the architect of their own fortune.
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