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[RC] Valley of the Sun - another great ride! - Steph Teeter

Another great ride, 50 more miles (ka-ching!) in the bank. I've already done more rides on Jaziret than I did the entire season last year. He feels soooo good right now. He'll be 18 this year and I'm having the best rides on him ever. He's strong, manageable, eager and he seems 'happy'. I guess that's the deal with horses (and life) - it ain't over till it's over! I look at what Jan Worthington is doing, at the age of 69, a member of the USEF team at the 2008 Malaysia WEC, a strong finisher at the 2009 Presidents Cup (a rare feat for invited US riders), and riding 'the best horse we've ever had' according to partner Grace Ramsey. Patience! Things get better, and they get worse, and maybe sometimes the best is when you stop reaching for more. ...ya just never know.

We had perfect weather this weekend. (well it was actually a little hot for some). Gorgeous sunshine, an afternoon breeze, the desert was verdant - everything was green including a carpet of green stuff covering the ground. Flowers are just starting to come on here - poppies, lupine, buckwheat - and some small green plants with yellow flowers that Mac love to eat (tarweed maybe). His obsession with them was not a good thing tho - he ran John into a teddybear cholla (ouch) lunging for one particularly green bunch, and he was a little belly-achey and a lot gassy in the afternoon. But it sure was pretty...

This landscape is the classic desert landscape - the hollywood movie desert landscape- with craggy mountains stacked up on the horizon, blending from green to blue to purple with distance, the stately and sometimes comical saguaro cactus, the sand washes and rocky slopes, and almost every single living thing has thorns or stickers! It feels vast, and open and clean. (and did I say prickly?)

Our ride was good - very strong all morning, we let the horses move out a little more this time. It was rocky and hard in places, deep and sandy in others, but after 2 months riding here we (I) weren't so obsessed about it. Less time watching the trail and more time watching the horizon. We had a good rest at the hold - a single one hour hold for the entire day - the horses never stopped eating, and we left again fresh and strong. Mac started acting funny about 10 miles out - ringing his tail and stopping to poop a lot - and farting like crazy. We slowed down and did more walking, and even stopped in the shade of a palo verde tree to let them cool down and eat some of the tender green grass. (but no more weeds!). It was pleasant and refreshing, and I tried not to notice all the riders that passed us. (some things never really change :) He eventually worked out of it, or passed it out, and perked up considerably on the final stretch. We had a good strong finish - everything was ok.

Great job with management - Irene Murphy had everything in hand, plenty of vets, enough water on the trail which was very well marked - pizza with ride meeting, sandwich makings and drinks for lunch. Friendly and relaxed. very pleasant.

And Sue Nance brought Merlin (Excalibur +/) out of retirement for a blazing first place finish and best condition. And he would have also earned 'prettiest and cleanest and best groomed' if there had been an award for that. He was stunning on the trail - his brilliant white coat standing out against the desert colors. Merlin is 17 years old this year - ya just never know!

I'm a little sunburned today ...feels good :)



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