Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Devil on His Shoulder or: Gold Rush Shuffle Pre-ride

Yesterday Scrappy and I hauled an hour south to meet N and Willow at the Gold Rush Shuffle ride site. It was a recon mission just intended to familiarize N with the driving route and ride site area, and refresh it in my own mind since I hadn't been in about a year. Camp Far West Lake is in a sadly shrunken state but still present, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. Two other horse trailers pulled in after us but otherwise all was empty and silent. It was totally refreshing to be riding at a different lake and seeing some different sights.

Stay, horse. He does, mostly, and sometimes so well that I forget he isn't tied! 
 I'm still fiddling with my Indian bridle/sidepull rope headstall I bought used recently (pictured above with orange noseband). Scrappy and I both like it *but* it seems to have a major design flaw or two. First of all, there is no weight underneath his chin on the crossed straps with the rein rings, so there is no way for the pressure to relieve once the weight of the reins/pull of the reins pulls those crossed straps tight. It makes the noseband stay very tight, and even tighter when you clip the rings to both rings to lead with, because that is the only way to do it, since there is no ring under the chin either. I'm not comfortable with how tight it stays around his nose, so after some brainstorming with N, I am going to enlist my husband and see what we can come up with. The current idea is a clamp-on ring and then vet wrapping tiny oval fishing weights along the ropes under the chin, however much it takes to have some drawback and release that nose pressure..we'll see--and there *will* be a blog post! In the meantime, I decided to really try my luck and ride him in his big ole halter...
One of the joys of being around Scrappy is that he is hilariously expressive and easy to read. As soon as I mounted I knew that he knew he was only in a halter. And he was fresh. And there was a tiny red devil on his shoulder whispering naughty ideas. Willow seems to love new trail and was at her best, boldly striding along, which was nice because Scrappy was conversing with his devil for most of our eight mile tour of the lake. He never did anything truly out of place, but the debate in his brain was clear to both N and I, and it was hilarious. He'd start to jig a little, hump up his back, and when I checked the reins on his halter he'd shake his head and trot faster. Another check on the halter and he'd slow to the walk, the little angel on his other shoulder soothing him back to Scrappydom. We did fine in this little personality juggle until the cowbell we heard turned out to be on a herd of goats, and then we briskly turned in the other direction and marched away before the little devil really took over. Scrappy isn't a goat fan, by the way!
N and Willow
Camp Far West Lake
This is the perfect time of year to be out in this area, and the ride site will be great as long as it doesn't rain. The short section of dirt road into the horse camp is iffy at best and rain won't be kind to it. 4 x 4 is always a good idea, especially going to winter rides. The footing is phenomenal and I won't be surprised if some people ride some of it entirely barefoot, though there are some sections of gravel road and some really nasty big sharp rocks down by the water line (not likely to need to ride that bit though..).

Along with the lake there are natural streams, many of which are currently dry but there are a few flowing and if we get some rain in the next week or two more may revive.

Scrappy and his devil and I all survived the ride just fine, of course, and here he dives lovingly back into his hay bag after that strenuous 8 miles.... ;-)
...And on into sleep eating...zzzz
Gold Rush Shuffle should be a lot of fun and is the last ride of the 2013 AERC season, with Day 3 actually falling into the 2014 ride season, unless you ride all 3 days in which case it can count for 2013. We'll be hanging out and riding there Thursday-Monday, hope to see you all down there at the end of this month!


  1. Have to agree about the design flaws in the Indian sidepull thingy (I don't know it's proper name lol!). I am looking forward to seeing how you solve them!

  2. I'd wanted an indian sidepull for awhile now, and recently ordered one (because you reminded me I wanted to try one!), but interesting about the design flaw. I'll keep an eye on that. I did order one that is a full rope halter, so it has a place to lead from.

    Scrappy is just making sure he maintains his condition, eight miles uses a few calories! I can't wait for the full ride report, nice to have something new in our region.

  3. I'm interested to see how you handle the noseband. Q's stays tight-ish, but not in a manner I'm greatly concerned about as it hasn't seemed to cause her discomfort or rubbing or anything. Guess we'll see. Your idea may change my mind!