Sunday, June 28, 2009

Slide Mountain Revisited

Slide Mountain Ranch
Steve and I went back up to Slide Mountain Ranch for a quickie weekend and realized just how much we missed being up here.

Slide is where Lena came from, and the people and place that got us far enough to want to have horses in our lives. And not just horses but interesting, curious, fun, energetic, horses.

Thank goodness for Slide and Lena or I might have had a much harder time staying with Bar through all of our troubles.

Eclipse the wonder horse

I got to ride Lena's half brother Eclipse, which is a pretty special thing. I wrote a post about him a few years ago, calling him the horse ambassador. He is now 26 and has slowed down some from when I first met him, but don't tell him that. He still teaches his rider with every step, and my lesson was to pay attention and not assume just because he is the best horse on the property, he won't try to eat the veggies growing in the garden. Cheri is worried he's starting to develop Cushing's disease, which can happen to older horses. He may be, but he was still willing and eager to come out and play and even thought maybe we should head out on the trail instead of getting a bath.

Eclipse getting a bath

I also got to handle Dandy, who was the first horse I ever rode at Slide. She is a Paint mare and one of their best trail horses. Calm and steady, willing to go over or through just about anything. She's the horse that, after we had loped (read galloped) up a hill with me clinging on for dear life and yet laughing the whole time, Ike turned to me and told me to trot through the creek because "that horse likes to roll in the water."

About a year ago, Dandy had a bad accident while tied up that lead to some serious neurological problems. They nursed her until she was more stable, then turned her out with their other horses on their 100-acre ranch and watched as she regained her coordination. She is not as confident as I remember her, but she is back to bossing around the small herd she's with, so that is a good sign. Steve rode her very gently because she is still getting back into shape, and then we took her down to have a bath. She was a little apprehensive about being near the hitching rail, and you can't tie her, yet, so I spent a lot of time just talking to her and hitting some of the acupressure points I could reach. Finally, standing in the sun after her bath, she dropped her head and cocked a back leg and just hung out there with me like that for awhile. Pretty cool.

Slide has a whole crop of new youngsters they are really excited about, too. Mia, a 4-year old Paint mare; BB, a 3-year old nearly coal black mare; Elvis, a 2-year old Paint gelding; and two other young geldings whose pictures I got (above), but names I did not. I could recite which foal came from which mare, but I'll refrain. Cheri is working a lot with BB Cat, who I remember as a tiny little orphan, but has turned into a beauty. Her personality reminds me a little of Lena's--won't hold still and thinks you are obviously there just to pay attention to her--but she's a fun and interesting horse and I'm looking forward to seeing how things go with her.

BB Cat and Cheri Bunney

These two little colts pictured below were also a hoot. I haven't been around many babies, at least not with a significant amount of horsemanship under my belt. These two were so curious, so interested in everything I was doing, I felt like I needed horse eyes to keep track of both of them. As it was, I used my arms and kept my head swiveling as best I could.

Jess and two Slide colts

Steve also got to ride one of Lena's other half brothers, Junior. He acts a lot like Lena and is a really awesome trail horse. The trails Ike has built behind Slide are definitely challenging in some spots, but wonderful for making horses slow down and think about their feet. It really made me wish I had brought Bar because both Junior and Cloud, the horse I was riding, have downhill worked out really well and Bar could use a little tutoring in that department. (Not surprising--racetracks don't have a lot of up and downhill, after all.)

Junior, Lena's half brother

I also love knowing more about where Lena came from and seeing a horse like Eclipse--so similar in personality--still wanting to come out and play at age 26! Their dam, Buttercup, was apparently quite the horse. The picture below is of Buttercup as a yearling, and is a little distorted because it was taken in the semi-dark at an angle of a picture that hangs in the bunkhouse, then cropped to cut the frame out. But, hey, it kind of worked! You can certainly see where Lena gets her build and her beauty. I can't tell, though, if Buttercup gave Lena those wonderful, curly, expressive ears.

It may seem weird to go on vacation to ride other horses, but I came back with a renewed faith in myself as a horse-woman, and some new ideas for working with Bar. I also came back knowing we have a place to take Bar and Lena that will not only accept us, but help us be better horse people. That means a lot to me.

I also got to check out where my daughter Katie would be staying when she goes up to work for Ike and Cheri this month. I'm almost jealous! It will be an interesting and once-in-a-lifetime experience for Katie and I am so glad to know people who can offer that to her.

That's a lot for one post, but it was a lot to cram into three short days. The next trip will definitely be a little longer and include Bar and Lena. I wonder if that means the next post will be twice as long? Maybe so.

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