I wish I had pictures of the horses I rode up here at the Alisal Ranch but I didn't take any. The ranch doesn't allow you to carry cameras on the rides (one more thing to fly away) and I wouldn't have anyway. I mean, who wants to pull up in the middle of a glorious lope across an open meadow and take a picture? Stop? Not in a million years.
We are leaving tomorrow and may not get to ride before hitting the road. There is rain in the forecast and that would kill the morning breakfast ride - a Wednesday tradition. The rides so far have been fabulous. Since I wasn't able to bring Jackson, I have been riding the ranch horses which is the normal way of doing things here. It's a way I enjoy. I love experiencing the different temperaments and gaits of their mostly QH string. So far, I have ridden the following horses:
Strawberry: This horse is new to the ranch. I rode him Sunday afternoon for our first ride. He is an average height strawberry roan QH. We had a lovely time together and he was perfect for my first ride after arriving. I was a bit tired from the long drive so being on an uncomplicated horse with smooth gaits suited me fine. He didn't have much fire under the hood, but he was willing. Worked for me.
Hank: Monday morning ride. Chestnut QH gelding. 15h Hank had fire under the hood, a responsive light feel, and gaits from hell. He was fun and he had been an English lesson horse before coming to the ranch so if I took any contact at all, he rounded up nicely. But he had a jackhammer trot and his lope was powerful (lots of push) but rough. A mix of Strawberry's gaits and Hanks mind would have been my perfect horse -- hmm, would have been Jackson. We rode with a wrangler who likes to cover a lot of ground so there was lots of trot and lope to bust my seatbones.
Dodge: Monday afternoon. TB cross of some sort. Maybe appendix QH. Maybe pure TB. Tall, narrow, smooth. Bay. Nice smooth gaits. Responsive. We went off the groomed trails with a different wrangler which is what Brett and I really enjoy. There are 2,000 head of cattle on the ranch so we were constantly going around or through them. Flash did fine with cattle and Brett was happy to be going off of the beaten path.
Rooster: Tuesday morning. Bay roan QH. Uncomplicated, well mannered, nice gaits but a bit dead to my leg (as in "move over buddy so I don't hit that branch"). I think with some consistent work he could be a really nice horse. Kate at A Year With Horses could turn him into a great horse. ...and he's for sale. Kate? Need another project? The morning ride was just Brett, a wrangler and me. We went through more cattle, over more hills, across more meadows and Flash was happy happy happy.
Wilbur: Tuesday afternoon. Red roan. QH. Niiiiice. Smooth gaits, responsive, not super light but not heavy either. He was a real pleasure to ride. If we don't get rained out tomorrow morning, I will ride him on the breakfast ride. Brett pushed some cattle (Flash got into that big time), scared more deer, checked out the baby bald eagle, and had another great ride. Broken record... we are not ready to go home. Although I do miss Jackson.
And I need to go on a diet. The food here is amazing and I've been eating a lot of it.