Last weekend, I took Kelly over to the coast for an early morning ride.
We got there a bit late, thanks to a bit of my dilly-dallying, and also getting stuck behind a truck that was doing a brisk walking pace over the hill. 12 miles at a walking pace will put anyone behind schedule, let me tell you. And as we got to the ranch, we were just in time to see a giant group of folks riding out of the place. Whoopsie. Looks like there aren't any horses left. What a bummer.
But I sent Kelly jumping out of the van as soon as we stopped, and told her to go see if there was any chance of a ride. If she wanted it that bad, she could beg. And beg she did. Turns out there were three other people who came while the big group was getting saddled up, and Jorge told them he'd take a second "early bird ride" out, in a few minutes, so Kelly was able to get in with them. And there were a few horses hiding in the back, just waiting.
Kelly got to take a turn on KC. She hadn't ridden him for a long time. I think it might have been Labour Day the last time she was on him. He's a lovely horse, though, and treated her really well.
Kelly led the way on the trail, with the guide bringing up the rear.
Things got a bit hinky on the beach when a parachute-ultralight aircraft buzzed them, but they were able to keep their horses calmed, and in line until the noisy distraction passed.
On the way back, the guide suggested that Kelly could hang back a bit, and then catch up to the group, to give KC a little bit more exercise. No galloping, but a little bit more exciting than just the walking pace that the rest of the group was willing to take.
Every ride is different. Every ride is fun in its own way, and Kelly thought this was one of the best ones.
I'm glad she's getting my money's worth out of these rides.
When they got back to the ranch, and she'd helped water the horses and loosen the saddles, it was time for some carrot snacks (of course)
Even the ponies and the mule are not left out of the orange windfall.
And Wrangler? He just gets hugs and kisses.
And she always saves him the last dance.
"Mom? Before we go home, can we do something? Tilly threw a shoe as we were crossing the last road, and I want to see if I can go back and get it and keep it as a souvenir."
Of course. If it's still there. But honey, that's a pretty busy driveway, the road to the State Beach, and it's had a lot of traffic of folks heading to the shore. Don't get your hopes up...
What do you know!
Well, while we're here at Venice Beach, why don't we go down to the water, and take some photos?
Oh look! What are those guys doing?
I asked the yellow-hatted guy (wearing sandals on the outside his waders). He was very willing to teach Kelly all about Surf Smelt. Apparently, it was the running of the smelt, and you could come out and toss your nets in to catch them. They spawn in the surf at high tide, I guess. We watched, fascinated, for nearly an hour, while these two guys (and a number of others) filled their buckets with smelt.
I have no idea what they did with them, if they just went home and feasted, or if these two were some sort of commercial operation. While the older guy wearing the sandals seemed to be just doing it for fun, the guy wearing the blue-tooth earbud really seemed to be a professional. His nets were often quite full, and his bucket had a company name on it. I wonder if he supplies some of the local fish markets. And he seemed very determined, and not dissuaded by the big waves crashing up the front of him.
As the nets were dragged up the bank, sometimes fish would escape. Usually the fishermen would toss them back into the surf as they came back down to the waterline. Kelly finally got brave enough to step in and help with the 'tossing back' activity.
Of course, it's an acquired skill... to do it without screaming, and dropping the somewhat slimy fish back onto the sand.
And then when you get really brave...
You bring them back up the beach, and drop them in the bucket.