I just returned from a 4-day Hospital Benefit ride and camping trip. I hesitated on going, as there were to be 100 riders, and Bart is not at his best on large rides. I decided to "Cowgirl Up" and give it a try, believing I could just load up and go home if he was too anxious.
I arrived on Thursday about noon, set up, and got ready to go out on the 2:00 ride. We went into Box Canyon, and saw beautiful rock formations and rode into the river. When we got back the open bar was set up and then we were treated to a BBQ brisket dinner and cobblers made in a Dutch oven. Was fun meeting new people and seeing all the various campers, RV's, and tents being set up. An early bedtime felt good!
Friday more rigs arrived and the ride went out at 9. Bart was fine until we joined the large group of horses waiting to go out, then got wound up and bouncy. I saw a cowboy standing by the hitching post, and asked him if he would hold Bart while I got off. I was not going to ride. He asked if I wanted him to take the edge off, and I was glad to hand him the reins. He stuck a spur and sent Bart flying across the open area, slid him to a sliding stop (5' slide marks!!!), rolled him sharply back and went wide open the opposite direction. He did a few more roll backs, then handed me the reins and said "He is a great horse, just needs a job to do. Keep him moving and working and he will be fine". I got back on and he finally settled down and gave me a good ride. This time we climbed and enjoyed long vistas over mountains and saguaros. I loved the layering of violets, purples and pinks of the mountains....always wish I could paint when I see views like that. I later learned that the cowboy was Tom Seacrest who has a string of horses that he takes to Wyoming in the summers and to Arizona in the winter. I have rented horses from him, as have my visiting friends, and he provides a really nice riding horse.
When we got back a great lunch was waiting, then a gymkhana. I didn't plan to participate, but again got the "Cowgirl Up" urging, so I went to the area where the events were set up. Bart again was fine until he got to the arena with all the gathered horses and commotions, but when he went through the trail class and flag race, he did great! Of course, the others were loping and galloping the events, and I jogged and loped them! I even got some applause after opening, going through, and closing the gate, but then, we do that every day at Simpsons...and he is good at gates! My friends arrived with their horses during the event, so I passed on the Egg and Spoon and went for a great afternoon ride back to Box Canyon with them. Bart could be good at egg and spoon since he is so smooth-gaited, but I figured with an arena full of horses, when they called gallop he would GO....and I didn't think that would be as fun as a relaxing ride in the cool canyon. Dinner was grilled steak and salmon with strawberry shortcake for dessert. So much for losing weight with all the riding. A singing cowboy dolled all up in big hat, chaps, jangly spurs and six-shooters strolled around as we ate to serenade us with old western songs. A fun auction of "Tacky Tack" followed, and brought lot of laughs with the auctioneers remarks on the odds and ends.
Saturday morning was another great breakfast of made-to -order omelets, biscuits and gravy, waffles, cinnamon rolls and all the extras. Bart was pretty wound up....his old girlfriend, Joe's dun mare Miss Kitty had arrived....and during the night broke loose from Cindy's trailer and spent the night with Bart! He whinnied whenever she was out of sight, so I took someones suggestion and had the vet give him a shot of ACE. WONDERFUL STUFF!!! Had an AWESOME ride! We had lunch waiting for us in a wooded area, and the horses enjoyed a nap as they stood tied to the branches. Dinner was a yummy Prime Rib dinner....then another auction, but this time it was beautiful artwork, rugs, wood work and things that went for $800-$1500. I didn't bid....and my silent auction bids didn't win anything either. BUT....a professional photographer brought her pictures from the weekend to sell. The ones she really liked had been enlarged and on display.....and the biggest one was of Bart!!!! It is the picture at the top of this page. Most people had 1-4 pictures to chose from....she had taken 18 of Bart! She told me later that he was her favorite horse...that she thought he was so photogenic (probably because he was usually so animated)! Of course, I wanted them all, but selected 5 and she gave me the 12x14. She had taken some of Wylee, me, and Bart, but she said she hadn't printed them, as they had come out too dark. That was disappointing.
A huge screen had been set up for "Movie Under the Stars"....and John Wayne's "Rio Bravo" was shown and popcorn served. I opted for a shower, clean jammies and bed! I learned later that I wasn't the only one who pooped out after a busy day in the sunny 85 degrees!
Today was a bit of a disappointment. When Cindy and Joe left with Chex and Miss Kitty, Bart was devastated. He whinnied and carried on terribly. I had him saddled, but decided not to ride him as he was SOOOOOO mad about losing his sweetie. So I packed up, drove home down that long 10 mile rough road, brought Bart home and gave him a bath, fresh shavings and some hay, and left him dozing under his tree. Then it was the truck's turn to get washed....then home to wash the dusty clothes....give Wylee a bath,and now I have my bathing suit on and will leave some red desert dust in the Jacuzzi and pool! I think I will be ready for bed right after "Desperate Housewives"!
It was a great weekend and I met some really nice people. Most of the riders were between about 50-75, and one great lady from Montana was 94 and rides every day on her sorrel, Gordie. Gives one hope! Heard great stories from the vet who had gone on a riding trip in Africa, a man who had worked in Hollywood and told stories of the many stars he had worked with, and met a 75 year old woman who driven over alone from California for the ride. I'm glad I went, although I was way out of my comfort zone without my usual camping friends, and desert camping instead of in a nice Minnesota park. Luckily, I didn't see any snakes....although one woman found a taranchula and enjoyed letting it crawl around her face and neck...YIKES! Feels good to be home and my bed will feel great! Bet Bart is twice as happy to be home!!!!