Audrey Pavia
September 10, 2012

spanish mustang at NATRC event

Photo by Audrey Pavia

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My campsite at the competitive trail ride this past weekend.

As bucolic as it can be on my urban farm, there’s no point in keeping horses if I’m not going to take them anywhere. So, this past weekend I loaded up Milagro and took him to a competitive trail ride.

Milagro and I have been on a number of North American Trail Ride Conference-sanctioned competitive trail rides, but this was the first one Milagro and I were attending alone. I just couldn’t rustle up a buddy to go with me, and decided that I’d muster up some courage and do it anyway.

I’d never hauled a horse trailer before, so that was my first challenge. My cousin sold me her old trailer a few months ago, but since I don’t have truck for towing, it has just been sitting in the lot. My roommate Lisa offered to loan me her truck for the NATRC ride, so I practiced hauling it around on Labor Day. But hauling my precious cargo 90 miles each way all by myself would be another thing. It was daunting, but I was determined to do it.

I had fun packing up my trailer for the ride, and was happy that Milagro got right in when I asked him to. The drive down to the county park in San Diego, Calif., where the ride was held, was easy. There wasn’t much traffic, and it was a straight run down the freeway.

The next challenge would be to do the 15-mile ride all alone. Milagro has always ridden with a buddy on these things, and he’s not a happy camper when he’s by himself. Regardless, on Saturday morning, we hit the trail alone. He acted scared of a goat in a pen that we saw on the way to the trailhead, a clear sign he was stressed at being by himself; he’s seen many goats in his life. Once we got deep into the trail, he repeatedly neighed to the other horses that he knew were out in the park. Soon enough, his dream of a riding buddy came true. We came upon another solo rider, and the two of us decided to stick together.

The trails were beautiful, with a lot of water crossings. California oaks and sycamores provided plenty of shade. Milagro was a champ, behaving like a gentleman at the vet checks and obeying my various requests along the way. I was very proud of him and was glad I’d decided to take him off the farm.

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