by Lisa Thompson
In the past few years, when we have headed out for what I call a “Dave Thompson Adventure Ride,” it usually goes like this: We start out saying that it’ll just be a short ride, something really easy for the young horse I’m riding. Then somehow we find ourselves lost in the wilderness, sometimes with scratches and scrapes across my face and hands and maybe even a tear in my shirt. But it usually turns out to be really fun. Lately our rides have become a bit more mild, but they still push the boundaries. This is one reason I love to ride with David — he’s never boring.
We got to the Cow Creek trail head at about 9:00 a.m. It was going to be a hot day. We wanted to catch another glimpse of those wildflowers before they faded and we caught it just right. Still blanketing the hills all around, so many colors, it was almost like eating too much with my eyes. We rode up the same trail as before, and I found myself singing a little song in my head. “Sweet Pea” by Amos Lee. I realized it was a perfect nickname for Prestigious V (Audacious PS x Pretty Pauline V).
“Sweet Pea, apple of my eye … ”
It’s a nice little song. “Sweet P.”
Prestigious V and I were in the front. We came to a water crossing, where he hesitated. David’s horse Roy didn’t change his pace and was soon passing us. Prestigious V didn’t want to feel foolish so he walked right on across it, but he was still beside Roy. When we got to the high point on the ride, there was a lake off to our left. Here is where we left the trail. “Ah,” I said to myself, “here we go, on another Adventure Ride.”
We rode down and around the lake, pushing through bushes into the woods and stepping over many logs. The ground under our feet was covered in pine needles and spongy. It was cooler under the shade of the tall pine trees. David’s hat was brushed off by a low branch and landed right in front of us. Prestigious V just watched it fall but did not jump at it. I got off and handed it back to David and we went on. We climbed to the top of a ridge line where the view spread out wide before us, and then we followed the ridge, pushing through plenty of thick bushes. A deer jumped up and bounded off. This cross-country rough riding can be a little beyond a young horse’s comfort zone. The thing with Prestigious V though, is that he does not buck or rear or spin or run off, he just shakes his head. After a while he was shaking his head so much I thought he just might tip over. In an attempt to distract him from all the trouble in his head, I sort of shoveled him past Roy and away to the side. He kept up with the head shaking but a little less because he had to watch where he was going. Then right in front of us we found the trail that we were hoping we’d come across to take us back down. As soon as we were back on a trail, his head stopped shaking. Completely. On the trail we met a couple of hikers, dogs, mountain bikers, and motorcycles (most of the trails are still closed because of snow and mud), and after a little while I almost could hear him thinking: “Ah, I get this.” His mind seemed to change from a place of innocence and insecurity to complete ease. At the creek crossing, the water was rushing fast but not quite as full as the week before. He dropped his head and took a big drink. That cool water must taste so good. Then he stepped right on in and across without any tomfoolery. This was his first time to cross the creek first. Apparently he was ready because it was no big deal. Put a smile on my face. “Good boy,” I petted his neck and tried to sound a little bit like Varian trainer Jaime Hernandez.
A few days later, our friend Martina and her son Elias came to the house in the late afternoon. The four of us just rode up the canyon behind our house. When we got back we sat on the patio, eating pizza and drinking our wine and watching the three geldings in the paddock (Martina’s mare was tied to the trailer). Roy, being the older stately gentleman that he is, stood off to the side and watched as Prestigious V and El Tejon V (x Estopa Crystal Bell) frolicked in the evening light. Two Audacious PS sons at play. It was fun to compare the two, their size and shape very similar, their color much different. It was great entertainment; way better than watching TV.
As our Sheila Varian would say, “Ain’t life grand?”
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