Road Trip Day 9 – Sundance Trails Ranch

Karen and her horse Monty in the Roosevelt National Forest

Today we did an all-day ride that was absolutely incredible; a peaceful, harrowing and extremely rewarding trip all in one.  It was a 2.5-ride ride out including a trek down a very steep rocky hill which we later learned used to be called “suicide slide”.  On foot, this is the type of climb I’d probably do by scooting downhill on my butt.  It’s a very different experience doing it 5 feet above ground on a thousand-pound horse!  The scariest part was that while going down the horses had to also cut tight corners in order to avoid crashing into huge boulders… and we had to keep watch on our own legs and hope the horses didn’t slip and smash us into the rocks!

Getting up and down those climbs safely (minus one small incident with a tree) made me really appreciate the power and coordination of those horses.  The wranglers must really trust in those horses to put such inexperienced riders on those hills!

Once through the rocks we got to trot and lope through beautiful grassy valleys while looking back at the hills we has just conquered.  We passed a group of hikers and I felt very grateful to be on a horse instead of my own feet.  Lunch was served when we reached  Elk Horn Falls.  More than the horses, our own legs were due for a break.  Our wrangler, Victor, had packed us sandwiches, cookies and apples, all of which went down very easy.  After an hour we convinced Victor to let us stay out and extra half hour so we could continue to lay on the rocks and stare into the sky.

At Elk Horn Falls

My riding group today: Diane, myself, Karen and David

The ride back to the lodge was supposed to be easier than the ride out, but we had quite an experience on the way back in.  My horse, who had been great on the way out, remembered that he was the grumpy horse and starting picking fights again.  I had to be on high alert for those ears pointing back.  At one point, while we were loping, another horse apparently came to close and grumpy Gauge and hope horse gave it a jumping side kick while in full stride.  Luckily, Karen is an experienced rider and jumped to the side just in time.  Our wrangler was surprised at it all and especially that Karen and I both stayed on our horses.  It was the best compliment that I got all week; he said “we might just have some real cowgirls here!” (I think he was mostly relieved that no one was hurt..)

After the ride, all four of us headed (more like “hobbled”) straight for the hot tub.  Boy, did we need it.  We stayed in there until dinner time and even then we were all a little sore.  Lucky us, dinner was a nice reward: grilled steak, summer squash, mashed potatoes, ceasar salad and dinner rolls, with carrot cake for dessert.

Zoe update

Zoe had come down to the corrals today and followed us all the way out to the outer gate before deciding to turn back to the lodge.  I kept at the back of the group so she could see me, and it looked like she was very conflicted standing at the gate looking us us, then at the lodge, then back at us again.  Eventually she made the right decision to head back to the lodge.  We missed her but all agreed she might have gotten herself trampled on this ride.

Instead, Zoe found another way to get comfortable.  When I got back to my room I saw that she had found and emptied her bag of treats and decided that the second bed in my room would now be hers.

Zoe claims her bed for an afternoon nap


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