The Doc & The Horse at McDowell Mountain Fun Ride

One of the most relaxing things I have found over the years, is spending time with my family and my horse out of doors. Each year the American Endurance Ride Conference and the Arabian Horse Association sponsors a number of Endurance Rides around the state of Arizona.  This weekend was the “Lead, Follow or Get Out of My Way” ride at McDowell Mountain Park.  It featured 75 mile, 50 mile, 30 mile & 12 mile rides.

So, we packed up the trailer, loaded the horses and crossed the valley to the beautiful park.

Horse Camp at McDowell Mountain Park

Horse Camp at McDowell Mountain Park

We camped overnight, and this morning, got up and went for the 12 mile “Fun Ride.”  I have to say, that we live in some beautiful country.  We have been blessed with the opportunity to care for and enjoy some of God’s most amazing creatures. . . the horse.

This is Bailey . . . he’s my trusted steed.

Bailey

Bailey

Seeing that his owner is always working and struggles to find time for a good ride, he patiently looks forward to these adventures away from the paddock.

Bailey, keeping a close eye on the sun rise.

Bailey, keeping a close eye on the sun rise.

I rode with my wife and daughter who were carried gracefully across the desert by the beautiful Jazz. . .

Jazz

Jazz

And, the very magical Houdini . . .

Houdini

Houdini

Getting up this morning to the crisp Arizona desert air and and the smell of saddle leather makes you really appreciate the Old West and the simple life.

It was a fantastic ride and a trail that I look forward to riding again.

Sonoran Desert Decorations

I live in the Sonoran Desert. It’s the only place in the world that gets hot enough to feed the chickens ice cubes for pre-boiled eggs. It is a true desert, and the summer time can be very hot (up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit).  However, I find it to be a very beautiful place to live throughout the year.  Much of this beauty can only be seen on horseback.

The Maricopa Trail, a horse trail that circles Maricopa County, skirts along the base of the White Tank Mountains on the West side of the Phoenix Valley, here in Arizona.  There is a part of the trail that is decorated with some of the most beautiful Saguaro Cactus in the world.  These cacti are between 100-200 years old and are some of the most majestic desert plants you will ever see.  I had a chance to snap a couple of photos while on horseback this evening.

Cactus 2

It takes over 10 years for a Saguaro Cactus to get over 2 inches tall and takes up to 75 years for them to reach 14-16 feet in height.  These cacti are probably 150-200 years old.  The amazing thing is that their root system is only 4-6 inches below the surface, yet spans out a radial distance equal to the height all the way around the base of the cactus.

Cactus 1It amazes me that the desert seems to share a different story with you each time you venture into it.  The old settlers of Arizona, many of my ancestors, told it like it was, rough and rocky. They named their towns Rimrock, Rough Rock, Round Rock, and Wide Ruins, Skull Valley, Bitter Springs, Wolf Hole, Tombstone. It’s a tough country. The names of Arizona towns tell you much of what you need to know.

But what really makes this desert beautiful, is that this rough and rocky exterior hides a number of beautiful wells. It is a land of extremes, a land of contrasts, a land of surprises and a land of contradictions….  That is the Sonoran Desert and that is what decorates Arizona.

Something About Being On Horseback . . .

It has been a nice quite weekend.  I was under the weather and left work early Thursday . . . slept most of Friday. Woke this morning feeling a bit better.  The fresh rain-washed air this morning was very helpful.  We’ve had scattered showers of rain over the last few days.  We had a nice drizzle this morning, and this after noon, the clouds broke.

It was a perfect chance to take the horses for a walk.  Riding a horse somehow makes you feel like you are riding the clouds in the sky.

IMG_1338

It’s amazing how beautiful the clouds can be when they scatter the sunshine.  The new rule in our house . . . when your feeling down, saddle up.

IMG_1324

We got a little sprinkle while on our walk.  But there’s nothing like a horseback ride framed by a rainbow.

IMG_1337

Lord forbid, that when I go to heaven there aren’t any horses there. . . No hour of the day is ever wasted in the saddle.

I have found that most of the good sense in the world is found in children and horses.

In the words of Rudyard Kipling, “Four things greater than all things are, Women, Horses, Power and War.”

Beginning the Sport of Endurance Riding . . .

Trail Ride White Tanks

The Girls on the Trail in the White Tank Mountains

For many years we have talked about participating with a number of family members and friends in the Sport of Equine Endurance Riding.  My wife, daughter and I have been training for an entry level ride over the last few months. We have been riding 7-10 miles two to three times per week over the last few months getting our horses (and our backsides) prepared for a 25 mile ride in Bumble Bee, Arizona.

We live close enough to the White Tank Mountains that riding the trails is as easy as saddling up and riding out the front driveway.  It has been quite fun and enjoyable.

It has been great to learn the sport from some very good friends and family members.  I’ve come to learn that a happy horse is one that has a job and loves to do it.

Unfortunately, my horse caught a cold and has had a mild cough over the few weeks. We bent the axle on our horse trailer and went through three tires before we were able to diagnose the problem.

We were able to locate a replacement trailer, but not until the last minute.  We decided that my wife and daughter would race this weekend and I would leave my horse home to mend. There was a simple 12.5 mile “Fun Ride” that they figured they would enter, since we arrived late in the evening due to the trailer issues the day before.

Northern Trail Training

The Trail Back Home

So, we loaded up and headed North to Bumble Bee, Arizona.  It really is a beautiful place.  Quite remote, and off the beaten path, but a very beautiful set of trails hidden in the mountains between Crown King and Sunset Point.

Trail Selfie

The Token Helmet Selfie

Oh, did I tell you how much I despise how these helmets make you look?  But, you gotta protect your noggin!!

Anyway, overall, it was a great experience and one that I look forward to again. Hopefully, my horse, Baily, will be feeling better for the next ride.

Bumble Bee Horse Camp

Bumble Bee Horse Camp from Atop Sunset Point

The horse-camp is set just below Sunset point.  You can just make out the trailers and trucks in the camp in the picture. This was taken atop of Sunset Point at the rest stop on the way back home.

Leanna at Bumble Bee Horse Camp

Happy Horseback Riders

As you can see, the girls were very happy about their first experience with Endurance Riding.  I have to say, as well, I have never experience nature in such a wonderful and more natural way than on horse back.  We look forward to many years of fun in the saddle.