Monday, June 5, 2017

Spillway Trail

Silverwood Lake spillway into the Mojave River

Max, Skippy, Nicker, and Diamond were splashing in the water enjoying themselves. And why shouldn't they? After all, for the past forty-five minutes they had been carrying human cargo through the Mojave Desert.

Laureen and Skippy
 enjoying the waters
with their other four-footed friends
Now, this isn't the beginning of a new novel but a simple blog about a wonderful day horse back riding in Apple Valley with friends.
J and L were invited for an early morning ride by their friends, Allen and Carol who are the owners of about a thousand horses - well maybe only about a dozen, but to non-horse owners it looked like a thousand on their large ranch in Apple Valley. Each of the couple's horses are treated like royalty - private stalls, fly masks, daily showers during the summer months, plenty of edible treats - heck, one horse is even named 'Princess.'  How royally can one be treated?

Carol and Allen checking L's stirrups

So J and L went for the morning ride in an area just north of Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino County. The trail, we'll call it the 'spillway trail', meandered through beautiful Joshua Trees, mesquite bushes teeming with wild life - mainly rabbits darting here to fro - and ended up at the spillway for Silverwood Lake.

Thus the reason for the moniker - 'spillway trail.' Not sure that's the real name but it is for this piece.

This huge section of desert used to be open for off-road vehicles but the BLM and Army Corps of Engineers deemed it too dangerous after several fatalities and near-fatal accidents occurred in the area. People imbibing too much and then deciding to see if they could dive into the shallow waters of the spillway proved really fatal for some. Steel and cement barriers now block all access to motorized vehicles leaving only room for two- and four-footed entry.

Allen making sure the riders stick to the trail

This Sunday, the two-footed animals were atop the four-footed animals.

The morning was bright and very warm, which was fine as the trail swooped through the spillway where the riders sat atop their steeds who leisurely lapped up the cooling and sparkling clear waters from Silverwood Lake.

Cool and refreshing for both horse and rider
With waters reaching nearly the bellies of the horses in some spots it was also cooling for the riders who occasionally received splashes from the horses hooves. No one complained as the trail continued for what seemed like miles through river bottom created by the overflow from the lake.

Clomp, clomp went the horses as the two human couples chit-chatted about this and that. A delightful way to spend the morning.

Of course, a careful eye was kept out by both Carol and Allen since this was only the fourth time on horseback for Laureen and John had not been in the saddle in decades.

It was like riding a bike - a big alive bike - J stated as he leaped (okay, climbed laboriously) into the saddle and road off eastbound. The problem was the rest of the group was heading due south. With a flick of the reins Max, the horse J was riding, turned and soon all four were side by side on the trail.

Where's the next trail ride?
No accidents, no sore bums, and no one (J or L) being dragged down the desert trail by the stirrups. An hour and a half later back at the horse trailer the riders dismounted knowing it had been a great ride.

Back at Allen and Carol's ranch, the horses were unsaddled, showered off , bathed with anti-fly spray, and given numerous carrots and horse treats for a job well done.

The riders - well they weren't showered down or sprayed, but were satisfied nonetheless with a day well spent.

A horse is a marvelous creature. Powerful but gentle at the same time - they take lead easily and will keep the rider safe knowing where to step to ensure all stay upright. Though it had been decades, J felt like he had stepped back in time and loved every minute of the ride.

Decades won't slip by like the proverbial tide before he finds himself in the saddle again.

How this 'Cowboy' cooled off after the ride

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