We all switched back to horse # 1 of the day. Which meant I was back on Oliver (third time!) Actually, this ended up being the last time I rode him. While I was very happy with him, I was excited to try out new horses later, but I do have to say, I was very thankful for Oliver’s skills through this leg as it started to get more challenging.
We started out with nothing too special (I say that loosely, because there was always beautiful scenery to look out to… mountains, interesting rocks, moss, you name it!). Funny part was, I think Oliver had caught a second wind, despite having done more work than many of the horses, he chugged on with purpose. We followed the “road” for about 8kms where we found a great spot to rest the horses. There was a small rock corral and a decent fenceline to keep the horses in, and lots of fun climbing rocks.
I sat down by the far fenceline and got to snacking on my granola bars. Oliver was of course a mooch and thoroughly enjoyed sharing with me. His ears flopped around happliy as he mugged me for half my food. If I lost weight on this trip, it was because I fed more than half my food to the horses.
After my food was gone, I still couldn’t resist Oliver’s charms. I started to snake my hand through the fenceline to pick grass for him. Ah, it takes me back to pony camp days. What a perfect evening!
When time came to move along again, we continued along the dirt road, only for a short time. Then we got into the really fun stuff!
The rocks went from giant gravel to voluptuous lava rocks. Enormous boulders with sandy paths between, moss and trees growing around and in crevices. Part of it reminded me a little of the Bruce Trail at home, but without the tall coniferous forests surrounding the rocks and moss.
We weaved around a gnarly little trail that took us through the rock formations. Oliver was expert at putting his feet exactly the correct spot, smooth ride, not a single stumble or anything. This is stuff I would likely not even walk Bentley through.
Some of the trails were tight, so tight that I was knocking my boots on the rocks, and we all modified our riding style to accommodate. Posting trot was more like : up, down, up, down, up, kick back, down, lift leg, up, down, up, tuck those toes, down, up down, and jockey style! Of course, all while winding and climbing and all those other things to pay attention to. I was very happy to be back on Oliver, as I am not sure I would have been able to get my feet high enough riding Friend (short of just standing on his back and riding circus style!)
As the view opened up, we worked our way down the rocks, a sand cave to our right, a river ahead and to our left. Oliver plunged into the river eagerly (he really loved water!). We were the first across, and I turned back to watch the rest come, just in time to see Katja’s matching pinto trip into a hole and almost completely submerge itself. A very handy horse, he righted himself immediately as Katja whooped and hollered with laughter. The sopping pair met us and were delighted to hear I had my camera on the whole time.
The terrain opened up to a relatively grassy trail and we breezed into the next horse change. There wasn’t far to go before we would bed down for the night, but these horses had done 2 long legs already and had earned a rest!