After conditioning our horses at 9,000 to 10,000 feet elevation, up and down mountainsides all summer and fall, tiring them out at 5000 feet on the flat is almost impossible.
We went to Ouray National Wildlife Refuge today, the untraveled part on the south and east side of the Green River. We rode mostly sandy roads and trails, covering about 18 miles, almost all at a canter, and could never get their heart rates much above 120. CRI (Cardiac Recovery Index) returned to baseline in 1 minute after all that work. They weren’t fatigued in the least. Away from the river, the area has some greasewood and other brush, but not very dense. Riding through it isn’t a problem. Along the river, there are some nice cottonwood groves lining the sandy roads. On game trails near the river, the going can get rough with all the tamarisk and Russian olive growth.
We scared up a group of 4 wild turkey and saw a huge flock of Canada geese (maybe 200?)hanging out along the river banks. Alas, I forgot my camera, so no photos. I got these from a federal wildlife site.
I thought my Mischief and I would get some rest over the winter. Maybe not. Depending on snowfall, the Ouray area could be rideable all year. Of course, I don’t think even Steve is crazy enough to ride with daytime highs below zero, so that may shut us down for at least a few weeks in January. Then again, we could always trailer down to southern Utah and give those trails a workout…