August 10. 2002 - I have always believed some time on the trail is extremely beneficial to my reining horses, from 2 year olds in training to the experienced reiners. The hard part is finding time for an outing. However, I made it a priority for my Futurity horses, Silk and Skye. After the dust had settled from Okanagan Summer Slide (the first show for both mares), Don and I headed for the mountains. Even if we could only manage a couple of days, it was great human and equine R & R.
We chose the Earl Grey Pass trail in the Purcell Mountains for our short holiday. I had been on the trail a couple of years ago and knew it to both scenic and of moderate difficulty – something we could manage with sliding plates! I had ridden both mares in the mountains behind our house, but they had missed the 2 year old “pack trip” I usually do and had not seen as much of the trails as their older reiner companions. I knew the trip would be good for them.
When we arrived at the trailhead we saddled and rode as far as the Earl Grey cabin, a couple of hours to stretch the mares’ legs and introduce them to the area. Both were a little wide eyed, but willing and cooperative and returned to camp still fresh and eager. I suppose they wondered where their nice cozy barn was, but they didn’t complain too much about the make-shift corral we designed under the trees beside the creek or the more than usual time tied up. It was all part of learning to be “real horses”!
In the morning, we packed saddle bags, video camera and 35 mm for a day on the trail. We crossed logs and creeks, stones and a little bog. Snow-capped peaks towered above us as we climbed steadily, never reaching the top. Silk and Skye seemed just as relaxed as we were. Other than a momentary start from a tawny doe, they were comfortable and at ease and they munched happily on the abundant grass during our coffee and lunch breaks.
Eight hours later we all arrived back at camp and a week later, the mares and I were competing in the South Country Slide In in Cardston, Alberta!