Fort Collins, Colo.
I have been sitting around feeling sorry for myself all summer because I did not have a summer job to be working a’horseback. I have lived my life straddling a horse in one way or another and this was just taking all my joy away from me. The last time I was on a horse was in the first part of June when I traveled to Green River and won the team-penning buckle.
Then of course I entered the official Team Penning at the “Ranch” County Fair and got my “lunch ate” by the professionals. I just came home feeling dejected, questioning if I was getting too old to be competitive any more and would have to spend the rest of my life as a spectator. My horse, John, is getting old also and though he is still good for short competitions, I can feel him getting tired if they go on for too long.
So, when my friend, Brenda, called and asked if I wanted to go along on a trail ride up by Red Feather Lake, I answered, “YES”; then she said it would be with three women. Did I still want to go? “Well … yes”.
I just wanted to get out of the house and horseback in some open country ” I didn’t care if it was with all women ” I just wanted to get out. Turned out the women were all good friends of mine that I had driven bus with for a number of years. Carrie Saunders had spent several summers working with a horseback outfit, taking long trail rides through the mountains, and her roommate Laura had not been actively riding for a number of years but grew up in the country we were to ride in.
When we stopped to unload at the Mount Margaret trail head, it didn’t look like much of a favorite spot for hikers, bicycle riders and horsebackers There was just a small pullout right off the highway, with room enough to park several horse trailers and a number of cars. I had asked to take my dog along and try him out following us. When we moved out, he followed along as if he had been doing this all his life, investigating smells and brush. The country was beautiful with a wide trail that wandered through thinned forest.
I had been concerned because my horse was shod with only front shoes, but Brenda advised that the trail was easy and he would be okay. In fact, Carrie had no shoes on her horse and got along fine, as it is not rocky and is good traveling. The wide-open meadows between forests showed signs of cattle grazing, which made it my kind of country. As we rode on, I found that my spirits rose higher and I breathed deeper, taking in lungs full of fresh mountain air.
However, my dog, Blaze began to get hot and poop out because the only water we had crossed was Lone Pine Creek at the beginning and the ride began to get hot. We stopped once and found a pocket in a rock where I gave Blaze a drink from my water jug. That perked him up a little and we went on. The country was, in my mind, beautiful ” not in high mountain peaks and tall, thick pine trees, but beautiful open space snuggled between sparkly sprinkled trees.
Along the way, we could see campsites set up by the Forest Service and evidence of dead tree cutting, which opened up the country. We met up with hikers carrying daypacks and an occasional horseback riders, but not enough to overpopulate the area ” interesting for a Sunday afternoon outing, but enough to tell it was a popular trail.
Blaze began to get really tired and hot so Carrie offered to give him a ride and I took her up on it. Blaze didn’t know if he liked this or not, but after a while he settled into the ride for a little while. Then, it clouded up and began to rain a little and she let him down. When we reached the creek, he drank long and hard.
Back at the trailer, as we loosened the cinches and loaded up for the trip home I couldn’t thank Brenda, Carrie and Laura enough for inviting me along on the trip. My only regret was that I had forgotten a camera so I could share part of it with you.
Roger Thompson is a CHA certified instructor of advanced Western horsemanship and beginning English riding.
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