Annabelle and I went on a remarkable ride earlier this week with my (super-cool) friend Christine. I might have mentioned her a time or two in yesterday’s post.
The ride was remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it was five hours long and covered some pretty steep country. That is a long ride for me alone (on flat ground), and when you throw the added dynamic of a five-year old girl on a small pony into the mix, it makes for an interesting day.
The other remarkable thing about the ride was its location. We rode out of the Avimor subdivision, north of Boise, onto what was the former 23,000 acre Spring Valley Ranch. The ranch was sold to a development company a few years ago, after having been in the McLeod family since the early 1900’s. The McLeod’s now own it once again, and a huge part of the ranch is still dedicated to ranching and open space for wildlife. It is a wonderful place to explore.
There are over 80 miles of multi-use trails to the east of the development, and we headed out on a warm Monday morning to explore them.
The ride was a challenge for my baby daughter. About a quarter of the way into our five hours, we were climbing a steep narrow trail where a small stream was draining down from the tree line just a few hundred yards above us. Me and Christine’s horses hesitated at the bog, but crossed with a little encouragement. Annabelle’s seasoned trail pony Reno, though, jumped sideways like a mountain goat onto the steeper side of the trail above the bog.
Right into the middle of a large curled piece of loose rusted barbed wire.
Annabelle screamed and started to cry. Reno felt the wire around his four little hooves and stood stock still. He is a gem. I jumped off my horse and scrambled up the hill to my little girl. She was fine. The pony was fine. I untangled his feet and led him back to the trail.
She got off and walked him around each and every mud hole we came to for the duration of the ride. There were a lot of them. Winston the maniacal bird dog puppy accompanied her each time.
We climbed nearly to the tree line and saw some pretty spectacular things. Here are Christine and Annabelle along the trail.
Annabelle kept her energy up by systematically eating every scrap of food Christine had packed in her saddle bags for her own lunch. My girl didn’t want anything I had brought. Kids are funny that way.
We saw several long-billed Curlews. This is not a picture I took because the birds kept to the tall grass and wouldn’t let us get close enough to snap them. But this is what they looked like. Desperate Hubby says their common name is a Snipe. They are pretty interesting to watch.
We saw three bands of mule deer, who were leery of us but also curious. They would bound along for a few hundred yards, then stop and look at us for a long time, then bound off again. About thirteen of them crossed right in front of us on the trail. Some of them jumped the fence on the edge of the trail and others crawled underneath it.
I wonder how they know if they are jumpers or crawlers?
At the far south-east corner of the ranch, deep in a ravine, lies this old car.
It appears that it rolled down from the top of a very steep hill, and was just left there to rust. I don’t know much about old cars, but it has the type of fins on the back that you see on cars from the fifties. I bet there is a good story about that.
On the way back we saw this huge red-tailed hawk in her nest. She watched us suspiciously as we rode close enough to take a picture, but she didn’t leave the nest. Annabelle was just sure there were babies in there.
We ran into a rancher from a nearby ranch on our ride. He was riding an ATV with four border collie dogs perched on the rack behind the seat. They sat calmly as the maniac puppy Winston ran around and around them sniffing and snuffling. I didn’t get a picture of that. I should have.
The rancher told us that there is a huge variety of wildlife on the ranch. Black bear, lots and lots of coyotes, mountain lions and even wolves. The wolves create havoc with the cows that are calving there on the ranch, he said. I pointed out to him that Christine always carries a gun with her, and he said it was legal to shoot a wolf if it was harassing the livestock, so if we saw any wolves around the cattle to go ahead and shoot them.
Then he said if we saw any wolves that were not around the cattle to go ahead and shoot them anyway. Then give him a call so he could herd some cattle over to the area.
Those ranchers are funny.
We finished our five-hour ride in good form. When we home Annabelle spent three hours running around outside playing…..horses, with her younger brother.
That girl is a goer.