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72 Issue 3 2013
Another World; no, not the soap Mom
watched in the 70's. I'm talking about Arizona. If
you've ever been here you know what I'm talking
about. If you haven't you probably have a picture
in your mind of the Arizona landscape and I can
almost guarantee you, you don't have a clue what
it's really like.
That's how it was for me when Jody and I
first headed south to check out different locations
here. I had an idea in my mind of what the desert
was like and when I actually had feet on the
ground and eyes on the terrain I was totally blown
away. The natural beauty and rugged harshness
was far beyond anything I could imagine.
With multitudes of mountain ranges
scattered throughout AZ, numerous types
of deserts, and all that lies
between, I found it impossible to
capture the diversity here in one
snapshot within my head.
Certainly there is no short
fall when it comes to having great
places to ride. Again, it's another
world, compared to anywhere
else I've been. Riding in the
desert and on the slopes of the
Catalinas is like nowhere else.
The rawness of the desert gives
you and your horse a number
of new experiences. There are
different trees, different rocks,
different footing, different plants,
different animals, it's all different.
Folks ask me what it's like here
and my pat answer is it's just like
the Black Hills, only different. I
know that's a goofy answer, but
it's true.
The first time I rode each
of my horses and mules here
they all reacted a little differently
and also somewhat the same. When they saw a
barrel cactus they all had to look it over with great
curiosity. When I was in a wash the first time the
sand was soft and heavy, like a well-groomed
arena, that was new because we can't find sand
anywhere in the Hills. The rocks here caused a
reaction, too, because they are large, smooth
and round, not at all like the jagged spires in the
Hills. I guess large round rocks sometimes look
like bears at least that's what Sally (the mule) told
There is decomposed granite here and
when you first see it, it looks like sand or gravel.
To the horses it looks like the rest of the desert
floor so when you get on a steep slope that is this
granite your horse doesn't realize that it can be a
bit slick. Kind of reminds me of the pine needles
in the autumn up in the Black Hills. They are
everywhere and the horse doesn't realize how
slick they can be. So in each case the rider must
be aware because the horse has no idea there is
any issue with the footing.
The number of cactus species is great, so
there are lots of different sizes and shapes. They
all have stickers to some degree and it only took a
couple of rides for my horses and mules to figure
out which ones to stay clear of and which ones
they could walk through. Again, it is also rider
beware, because there are some cactus barbs
you don't want your horse to encounter. The
barbs on barrel cactus cause a great deal of pain,
are difficult to remove, and can become infected
when impaled in your animal's leg. On the other
hand, barbs from prickly pear are not much of an
issue and are easy to remove. If you have been
to our Facebook page you may have seen the
picture of a cow eating a prickly pear, barbs and
all, yuck...ouch. Then there is the cholla, jumping
cactus, thought to be able to jump onto anything
that passes by. When a horse switches his tail
it can easily get tangled up in detachable spiny
cholla joints.
One of the scariest cacti for my horses
has been the soaptree yucca. When a soaptree
yucca dies it lays on the ground looking like a
very hairy/wooly animal. One of my horses looks
cross-eyed at these yuccas nearly every time he
sees one, although he's getting better, practice
makes perfect they say.
All of these experiences have been great for
my animals and they are better for the changes.
Riding in the desert and on the mountains here
has made me a better horseman, too, all because
of the experiences I just talked about.
I tell you all of this, not to scare you out of
coming to the desert to ride, but to encourage
you to take on a new adventure. We trail riders
are typically an adventuresome lot. The reason
we ride horses and mules is because we don't
only enjoy them but because they can take us
places we would not normally go. Our animals
can easily get to locations most vehicles can
never go. If you are like me, you would rather
ride than walk. The way I figure, God gave man
two legs and horses four, four legs are better
than two, so I choose to ride the horse.
The thrill of riding up the side of Apache
Peak and getting there by way of the Arizona Trail
is awesome. And did I tell you we rode by the
High Jinx Ranch formerly owned by Buffalo Bill
Cody, to get there? How cool is that??? To get to
ride where Custer rode in the Black Hills and to
ride where legends like Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill,
and Cochise rode here in the Arizona desert is a
lot of fun. To be able to step back in time and see
the landscape in much the same way they saw it
is pretty neat.
There is good reason we all got hooked on
favorite childhood TV shows like High Chaparral,
Bonanza, and Clint Eastwood westerns. Those
shows took us to the WEST, the real west, Arizona
and Nevada, beautiful, rugged, unforgiving and
enchanting. Lots of those places are still the
same, and that is why the adventure is still real
and still gets so many of us excited to ride.
We trail riders love to ride and we love to
see what is on the other side of the mountain. It is
the desire to discover the unknown that keeps us
in the saddle and drives us to want more from life.
The horse makes it possible for us to go where
few people ever get to go. Few people ever get
to have the feeling of reaching the highest peak
and seeing a horizon that seems to never end.
All made possible because of the union between
you and your horse or mule.
For me, and I'm sure for you, there is no
better feeling and no better reason to ride. The
experiences and adventures on the back of your
horse, the horse you shaped and guided to be a
safe, dependable, partner is what it is all about.
When you realize the need to ride, and
the desire to take on the adventures of your
dreams, no matter where they take you, maybe to
ANOTHER WORLD, the sooner you will realize
"It'll Be Fine".
oug and Jody Lindgren own and operate
Hay Creek Ranch near Nemo, SD and
now HCR - AZ outside of Oracle, AZ. Doug rides
2-10 hours every day, spring, summer and fall,
training horses to be great trail horses. You can
visit their website at
It'll Be Fine
Article XXXV
by Doug Lindgren