Joshua Tree National Park was  – as always – a blissful week of riding on twisty trails with amazing views and spikey vegetation.

Getting out of the slop and into the dry desert air was a welcome respite, despite the freezing temperatures.

Both horses had had two months off, so we took it easy, going out for short, fun rides – with lots of walking in deep sand washes – just what they needed to build up fitness again. During the week we rode a little over 55 miles and climbed approximately 9,000 ft.

The footing was about as perfect as it could be and we never bothered to boot once. I did touch up both horses’ feet with the rasp for minor chips, but was very pleased how well their hooves held up – especially given the wet, muddy conditions they’d been living in for weeks prior to their desert excursion.

The footing as about as perfect as it could be… most of the time:

Photo: Kaity Elliott

The crisp, cold temperatures caused them to stay very cheerful indeed the entire week – particularly one of the days we ended up riding in a snowstorm – first time I’ve experienced that in the desert and it was very pretty.

Riding in the remains of the snow the following day made for yet more cheerful horses, pink cheeks, and great memories.

Photo: Kaity Elliott

All in all, a great start to the year.

Unfortunately, we’re now back in the real world with mud-covered, pink pones. It’s time to get the Bobsey Twins up and running again after 14 months off, with the hope of getting them ready for some 50 mile rides later in the year. With my limited riding time, in order to get them both out I’ve lots of ponying ahead of me to ramp up their fitness. The first outing went well with no histrionics or unwanted excitement.

Here we go again – 2013. Happy New Year to all.

Lucy Chaplin Trumbull
Sierra Foothills, California