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[RC] Malibu, part 3 - Nancy

In 20 minutes we were off trotting down a beautiful single track trail into an oak and brush lined canyon with numerous small creek crossings.  It was still cool and the horses were happy to continue on. However Jazzi started to stumble small at first, but worse as the morning continued.   We also started to encounter other trail users, mountain bikers and hikers.  Everyone was courteous and kind and all made room for us on the trail.  Jazzi sniffed several hoping to find a treat and Dancer did not spook at any walking sticks.


On a steep downhill we were found by Lynne Glazer, photographer extraordinaire.   She warned us the last part of the trail was bad with deep erosion gouges and lots of rock.  At the bottom was a trail head with lots of horse water.  Both horses drank deeply.  Jazzi’s left hind shoe had started making noise just past Lynne.  I found it loose and at Suzanne’s urging was able to get an easy boot over it.  Suzanne called Suzie who was at the lunch stop to ensure the farrier would be available. 


Off to what turned out to be the steepest and longest hill (mountain?) climb I have ever encountered.  It made Bulldog seem like a pleasant dream.  It just never ended.  When you thought you surely were done you would round a corner and find it continued up with no end in sight.   The footing was fine, a hard packed fire road with sections of rocks and ruts, nothing unusual, just steeper and longer than I could ever imagined.  After what seemed like hours we reached the peak.  The view was stunning. Framed by green mountain sides waves danced onto the famous Zuma Beach and a bit of fog hugged the horizon.  To our left was a large ranch entry named “Buzzard’s Roost Ranch.”  To our right we found large water buckets filled with horse water.  Both horses drank well and we let them rest a while and nibble on the dry grasses.  Jazzi ate her electrolyte cookie happily and asked for another one.  With one dose per cookie I had to say no.


Now it was time for the longest, steepest down hill I have ever done.  First Suzanne and Jazzi had to water the roadside, together.  Then we encountered a large group of students working their way up the hill.  They had water and were happy to be out sweating on the side of a mountain, “working on their six packs” they laughed as they pointed to their fat free mid sections.  Suzanne and I had a really good belly laugh at them (pun intended).


Soon it was apparent to me Jazzi was tripping worse and worse.  Her easy boot stayed on, but it did not hold the ground like a steel shoe.  She was slipping and sliding and tripping all at the same time.  I was starting to get frightened Jazzi would fall and we would go off the mountain side.


Suzy Kelly galloped by us going home from the lunch stop.  We were stunned at her horses’ amazing athletic condition.  Was that horse a one in a thousand or did Suzy have some secrete sause?  Maybe Suzy had a fool proof conditioning program.  Whatever she does, Suzy Kelly’s Cayenne Kate is one hell of an athlete.  Unfortunately, they had gotten off course early in the ride and were given a completion only.  Bummer.


The last leg of the down hill into the one hour lunch break was a steep single track.  About 100 yards into it was a large dark spot that turned out to be soft.  Jazzi went down almost to her knees and grunted as she righted herself.  I was so scared I started to cry as I heard my daughter’s voice telling me not to leave her an orphan.  About a half a mile further down Jazzi tripped again.  She again almost went to her knees.  I started dreading the ride back to camp knowing most of the earlier up hills would now be down hills that would have to be trotted to finish in time.  The dread just grew and grew.