I needed a vacation. My amazing and talented friend Olivia was in the mood for company. Perfect. And we could …ride horses.
I know, I know. What sane horse trainer would go on vacation and RIDE HORSES? Perhaps the answer can be found some where around the word “sane”…
The mountains above Santa Cruz are steep, thickly vegetated with REDWOODS and poison oak, and that’s where we rode the first day. We met Janie at the road and continued on through a lovely meadow to a eucalyptus grove with a view of the Pacific Ocean, which was somewhat obscured by a haze of sea fog.
Redwoods, sea fog… It was 6% humidity and 97 degrees in New Mexico. I’ll take some mist over the ocean!
I have pictures on my phone but I can’t figure out how to get them off and every time I go to try, it is late and I have ten other things that MUST get done. You’ll just have to come visit to see them.
The second day we rode at Bill and Janie’s Yellow Bank Ranch. I brought my camera!
It was pretty darn scenic.
Of course I was interested in the cattle management, and here are a few things I learned. The cows have good forage for a large part of the year, but do have to be fed in the winter. They use the “Honk and Feed” program, just like we did! Cows are pretty easy to train to come to food, it turns out.
When we drove a truck up near some holding pens, the cows came a runnin’. I got a cow fix!
It also turns out thistles are a problem.
Thistle 1 and Thistle 2 can be controlled by mowing and the cows will knock down the vegetation as the season progresses.
- Purple star thistle grows lower and produces multiple rosettes if mowed early, and mowing late spreads seed…Grubbing is the best control for these (according to this cool website from the California Invasive Plant Council). On rangeland. Can you say Labor Intensive?
- We were unfortunately unable to ride as far as we wanted because Hickory apparently sprained his right front pastern while I was loping him up a hill (I did not feel him stumble or anything…) He is resting comfortably and getting Bute to relieve pain and inflamation.
- Here are a few more pictures:
- And just for a redwood forest shot: This waterfall is a short hike from Olivia’s house. And we saw what we think was an American Dipper nesting on the cliff.
- So, there you have it: a few highlights of my trip to Santa Cruz!
- PS It was great seeing some of my family on Father’s Day (including my father)!!