The weather's been holding fairly steady the last few days, so yesterday, I suggested to Kelly that we might want to take a chance on the sun, and go out to the coast for a beach ride.
She invited her friend Anna, who was unable to come for a sleepover, so we arranged to pick her up on the way to the coast.
This meant getting up earlier.
But I can count on Kelly to never sleep in on a day that she might get to go riding. I don't even need to set my alarm (but I do, anyways)
It was cold and miserable at the house. I couldn't even see the neighbour's house across the back yard because of the fog. But we'd promised Anna that we would take her on her first ride, and i didn't want to have to phone their house and wake everyone else up, so off we went.
It was glorious over at the coast, even though it was quite chilly.
There were horses ready to go. Kelly's favourite ponies were taking a break in the pasture, so she got a chance to ride Alex, a high-spirited part Arabian horse.
And oh my goodness, are these horses ever dirty. They get out in the pasture, and they roll in the mud, and it cakes on, and I shudder to think what's gonna need to be done once spring comes, to get them all pretty again.
Kelly was so pleased to ride Alex. During Horse Camp, Kelly's friend Carrie rides Alex, painting her with a brush of "This horse is too hard to handle for you". But Kelly's experience this morning? "She tried to throw her head a bit at the beginning, but then she calmed right down, and was beautiful for me. And she listened, and I hardly had to work at all. And she has such a beautiful canter!"
Yeah. I don't think she's too much horse. Do you?
While I was waiting on the beach for the girls to ride by, I thought I'd take a few photos of the local wildlife. There was a flock of about 500 seagulls on the beach ("and I ran... I ran so far away...") , just basking in the sunshine, and then I realized that at the edge of the flock, sitting up on a piece of driftwood, was a bird that was definitely NOT a seagull.
I walked towards it, and kept taking photos. Soon, it came into view.
A peregrine falcon!
And then it took off. Beautiful!
And I watched it head towards the flock of seagulls....
...who were IMMEDIATELY on high alert, and rose into the sky like a big cloud of "I don't want to be the falcon's breakfast" Or maybe I should say "gotta get away...."
SUPER cool to watch!
Oh, and then I looked down at my feet:
Oh look. A typical January morning on the California Coast. And so fragrant, too.
(makes up for the horse nuggets that get dropped with great regularity along this stretch of the trail)
I got back to the ranch before the girls, and talked to Jorge. I mentioned that Kelly is a little worried that Eddie (her favourite pony) is not getting ridden much, and seems to be regressing back towards the wild-type. Will he be ride-able come Horse Camp next summer?
Jorge assured me that they would have a lot of work ahead of them before horse camp, but that they'd be working with ALL the horses that would be used for horse camp, gentling them again. I said that if it was OK with them, I would be happy to bring Kelly out more often, to work with some of the horses, perhaps just starting off by walking them around the ring, getting them used to the halter and lead rope again. I said that I would even offer to pay for the privilege of letting Kelly come out to the ranch, perhaps not the full cost of a guided ride, but maybe some lesson-fee.
Jorge said "No cost! She's welcome to come out here and work with Eddie, or whoever she wants. Here, I'll get Eddie ready, and she can start today."
And before I could say anything, he was out in the pasture with a little bowl of oats, and a lasso.
So when Kelly and Anna got back from their ride...
She went straight out to the ring, where Jorge gave her a lesson in how to longe.
It looks pretty easy, she thinks...
But Eddie has a mind of his own, and pretty soon, he's broken free, and standing outside the ring, stubbornly pulling back on his halter.
So we'll take a step back, and start with just walking. Walking at a steady pace, and not stepping on the feet of the girl holding your lead rope.
Oh, and there you can see the half-chaps that she got from Nonie and Poppa for Christmas.
And then as a reward, some grooming, and treats.
And then we had to leave precipitously when I realized that Kelly and Anna had a basketball game (against each other), and we still had to get home and change.
But that will be another entry.