We've talked about making a return trip to the Academy stables many times in the years since then, but it wasn't until Carol announced she was moving to Germany, that we actually made it happen.
Carol's horse for the day was Chopper. I was assigned to T-Bird.
After last month's Dakota Wild Horse Fest, I was quietly thrilled to be sitting on a mustang!
Our ride did not include a guide. We were helped into the saddle and given a few basic instructions. Then they pointed us at the trail and said, "See you in two hours!"
We headed out and got lost almost right away. Fortunately, this kind rider was able to get us back on track.
We followed the trail...
and it got really pretty really fast.
We made several photo stops.
It was early, but I could already tell that I'd hit the jackpot with T-Bird. He was exactly my kind of horse: solid, sensible, forward, responsive and very handy. I was delighted, and it shows.
Right after that, we came to the first of three gates.
We'd been told about these, of course. I asked if we needed to dismount to negotiate them and was told that we might be able to do it from the saddle. Of course, I took that as a challenge.
T-Bird made it easy.
Chopper was no slouch either.
The trail took us up the mountain and along a ridge.
Chopper thought this was too much work,
but the views were spectacular.
I could ride here every day.
The third gate was the only one that gave us any trouble.
T-Bird and I opened it just fine, but then I dropped the chain.
Carol held him while I fixed the gate.
So cute even when crabby!
We rode up another incline...
and then dropped down into the trees.
This wayward rock was no big deal for Chopper, but T-Bird found it extremely objectionable. For a few minutes there, I was pretty sure I was sitting on an Arab rather than a mustang!
As much as I'd enjoyed the ridge, I liked the trees even better.
We splashed through the creek...
times.Drinks for the ponies!
We were also supposed to cross a stone bridge, but somehow that never happened. I think perhaps T-Bird took us on an alternate route!
In any event, we did make it back to the barn right at the two hour mark.
Goodbye, T-Bird, and thank you. You are far and away the best rental horse I have ever had the privilege to sit on, and I loved every minute of our ride.
I ride a lot of horses and truly enjoy most of them. However, I almost never think, "This is a horse I'd like to own." T-Bird was one of the few. Such a nice horse. Such a good ride. I'm so glad Carol and I finally went riding at the US Air Force Academy Equestrian Center!