Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Stills: Frame It

I don't often get to participate in Sunday Stills Challenges, because it's rare these days for me to get out and take pictures of anything beyond my own property line, but today I talked my family into going for a hike on the Spooner Lake Loop in the Lake Tahoe area.

Of course, part of the reason for this trip was to scope out new riding trails. Here's a sign that says, "No horses past this point."

This is partly why...

A narrow, lightweight bridge. Beyond this the trail gets narrow and there are low-hanging branches.

I had also planned to go letterboxing. I wanted to find a letterbox and plant one for others to find. However, I totally forgot to bring the backpack that has all my letterboxing supplies in it, including the clue to the letterbox that is already planted on this trail.

I also forgot bug spray and wipes, and we got swarmed by mosquitoes. We managed to swat the majority of them before they were able to suck our blood, but we did get pricked quite a few times. We're hoping none of those mosquitoes were carrying the West Nile Virus.

Thanks to the mosquitoes, we had to keep moving, so all the pictures I took were with a 50mm prime lens. I couldn't stop to switch to my macro or my telephoto lenses or we would have been eaten alive.

I thought these signs were interesting. It's not often that you see signs looking out for the best interests of horseback riders. It turns out the the mountain bikers are supposed to stop and let others pass, but it seemed more logical to me for the hikers to step aside, because it is easier for a hiker to stop than for a mountain biker to stop and haul his bike off to the side of the trail.

I didn't see any horses on the trail, probably because they don't provide parking spots for horse trailers, and probably because it's the 4th of July, which is the busiest time of year for Lake Tahoe. Horseback riders prefer to come out when the crowds are thin and there are less chances of someone setting off a firecracker underneath their horse's belly.

Actually, firecrackers of all kinds are illegal in Nevada. We have such problems with dry brush and wildfires that we can't risk it. Unfortunately, every year hundreds of thousands of Californians bring their firecrackers across the border and set them off anyway.

I would hate to see this beautiful scene burnt to a crisp. We had a bad fire a few years back when a tourist dropped his cigarette from a gondola.

But lightning is actually the most common cause of our local fires. Occasionally, there are accidents and pyromaniacs setting fires, but Mother Nature is her own worst enemy.

We're looking forward to taking this hike again someday, but next time we're going to remember that bug spray and my letterboxing backpack.

I actually get Monday off from work, even though the company I work for is British.

It's good to know there are no hard feelings about the United States obtaining and celebrating its independence from the crown.

When we got home, I was actually able to ride my mare in training, Gabbrielle. The neighborhood was quiet enough. She wouldn't turn to the left again. This meant that either...

A) She is hurting and needs a massage from a chiropractor.

B) She is confused. Just because the horse on the right knows how to turn to the right doesn't mean the horse on the left knows how to turn to the left.

C) She is being stubborn and simply doesn't want to do it.

My friend asked how she was doing while I was riding her. I told her she wouldn't turn to the left and I'm thinking she may need a chiropractor. She said she just had a chiropractor work on an older, fully trained horse who suddenly started crow-hopping, bucking and refusing to turn. It turned out that her horse just didn't want to work anymore and was misbehaving, so they got a trainer out to work with him. He moved him in figure 8's for a while and the horse settled down and is back to his old self.

I decided to assume that my mare Gabbrielle was misbehaving and being stubborn too. She's had so much training with both ground driving and under saddle that she really shouldn't be confused over what the cue to turn left means. Once I stepped up the pressure, she behaved herself and I had her moving in figure 8's. I'm glad my friend stopped to talk to me, because without her story about her horse, I probably would have spent my evening worrying that Gabbrielle was in pain.

Gabbrielle's dam had to be euthanized due to a bad shoulder causing her too much pain. I asked my friend if she thought it could be a genetic problem that was passed down to Gabbrielle. She informed me that Gabbrielle's dam had that shoulder injury from slamming it into the stall door frame. That made me feel better. I thought it was a severe form of arthritis, but she developed the arthritis after the injury.

Gabbrielle is always "off" a bit in her front legs when I first start moving her in the round pen, but once she warms up she moves fine. I tend to obsess over that and convince myself that she has a shoulder condition, but my vet doesn't see anything wrong with her. My husband pointed out that she's as fast as a race horse when she wants to be. I guess because she races around so much, she probably gets stiff like I am after our hike.

Happy Independence Day!


Brenda said...

I love the lake shots, framed by the trees. And the last shot, perfect among the trees.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Happy 4th! Looks like a beautiful hike.

fernvalley01 said...

Beautiful pictures as always. Nothing wrong with looking at all the options when a horse refuses , esp as you d id which was to continue working while assesing your choices.Step up the pressure and if the resistance is worse or they still won't give,maybe look into other options as you have. Nice that your friend stopped by and also had knowledge of Gabrielles dam

Breathe said...

Interesting about Gabrielle. Sometimes it seems they've picked up on a signal that says "I am not REALLY asking you to do that."

It must be so subtle that we don't notice it. Glad she's not in pain!

Katharine Swan said...

Gorgeous pictures! There are a couple of short bridges similar to that on the horse trails where I trail ride. It was one just like that, except much shorter (maybe 10 feet long) that Panama nearly stepped off the other day. I think I screamed, but he showed how much he is growing up by stopping and waiting for me to tell him where to go.

henrygl said...

Great shots and beautiful lake shots :)

Leah Fry said...

Absolutely beautiful shots. Lake Tahoe is one of my very favorite places.

Glad you were able to get Gabbrielle to behave. Even the best of them gets the "I don't want to's" every once in awhile.

dibear said...

I found the fella climbing on the tree the most interesting shot. Just wondering...what is he doing. :) All great shots. Beautiful scenery.

Judy said...

Great takes, all of them!

Maery Rose said...

Looks like a beautiful place to hike.

It's tricky figuring out whether your horse (or any animal) is afraid, confused, hurt, or just stubborn. You done some good detective work!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Lovely photos from your hike. It's great that you still hike together as a family. I hike with my kids all the time, but John's not much of a hiker, though he does love camping.

I hope Gabbrielle figures out her left turns for you soon. I bet it's like kids still getting confused for a while after they learn which hand/foot is their right and which is their left.

Apache seems to have strained her shoulder during our first day's long ride, while we were horseback riding this past weekend. I think she's probably not in good enough condition for 8-10 mile trail rides over steep mountains just yet.

She tried really hard and gave me her all, but at the end of the ride she was too sore and lame to ride the rest of the weekend.
So, she'll be getting a nice long rest for the next couple weeks, along with some massages and linament.
I could use a little rest from all the riding I've been doing these past 6 months, too. So, it's all good. As long as my girl heals up and is back to feeling strong again, I'm happy. :)


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