Today we did the Mines, backwards, plus some extra wandering in the desert. It was 5.18 miles in 1:43, average 3.0 mph.
We meandered off at our usual pitiful pace, but Dixie picked up her speed pretty fast headed down the wide canyon trails. Everything was going pretty smoothly til we rounded a corner and encountered the Invisible Swordsman. I don’t know what else it could’ve been – I sure couldn’t see anything there, and Cersei couldn’t see anything either. But Dixie was sure a monster was lurking. She did that Horse Helicopter Thing. You know what I’m talking about – the horse starts snorting with that extra WHRRR noise and helicoptering her head up and down to get a better look at the monster. I just sat there and talked quietly to her til she decided the danger was past, and we continued down the trail.
She was pretty nervous after that brush with death, so I rode extra calm and things went well. We made it to the furthest out point and turned onto the canyon that would take us home and proceeded up it. Then the Invisible Swordsman struck again! (Or more likely, Cersei broke a branch behind us.) Dixie lost her shit and bolted up this narrow canyon. On the first stride, I hollered “Dixie!” in exasperation. On the second stride, I reached forward and grabbed the left rein as far up as possible. On the third, I briefly considered how one-rein-stopping her was a Very Bad Idea, but how letting her run was An Even Worse One. I pulled her head left, up the canyon slope onto a pile of boulders and tree branches, and she stopped instantly. What an awesome mare!
We continued toward home, but she was even spazzier and I kinda lost the trail and ended up at the top of a sand slope, surrounded on all sides by nasty rocky footing. My only choice was to turn around and head back down the slope, but Dixie felt very stupid. Like, she was going to either plunge down the slope on her forehand or she was going to bolt down the slope and kill us both. I got off and walked her for almost a mile, and she gradually calmed down more and more. We detoured down a wash til I found a mounting block – a juniper that was probably 500 years old and hadn’t ever grown more than 24″ high. I stood on the scraggly stump and she lined up perfectly by it!
We did a little more exploring on the way home. I found a mountain we can climb next time. That sounds kinda silly, because everywhere you look there’s mountains, but some of them are too steep for me to comfortably ride back down and most of them are too rocky. I’m not worried about Dixie’s feet as much as I am about her slipping! But this one looks doable.
The three of us shared a tangerine when we got back safely.