by Jessica Black
November 19, 2020
Well.. I suppose technically I mean prerequisites for riding the Sierra Nevada foothills. I’m about 10 miles from Sequoia National Forest. The training barn is at an elevation of ~770 feet. The gate to the cattle ranch adjacent to us is at ~890 feet. My closest riding loop rises to 1860 in a mile (a bit more than half a mile as the crow flies). My current riding (climbing) goal is Hatchett Peak, at 3,261 feet, 2.50 miles as the crow flies.
Yesterday I got about halfway to Hatchett Peak, in the distance it will really take us. I rode about 2.5 miles along our eventual trail, and then headed home. Fantazia is not yet fit enough to go the whole way. Yesterday’s ride was 5.50 miles in 2 hours. Total elevation gain = 1,650 feet. We weren’t in a hurry, we explored trails and rocky ravines. I managed to scare myself many times… Fantazia had to back up, turn leaving a specific foot on the trail, and let me get off and lead. She scrambled up a very steep rocky slope behind me, and did not step on me when I fell.
I was very grateful to have a smart, seasoned horse. And I thought I should make a list of the abilities a horse should possess before it is taken out on these hills. Horses vary in temperament, but you can teach them to be smart, to think, and to listen to the rider when things get scary...