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Travels with Horses, from New Mexico to Maine

Published: 4/12/2010
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NickerNews contributor Mara Miles recounts highs and lows as she and her husband travel from New Mexico to Maine with their horses. The Miles spent several months in New Mexico where they rode many scenic miles of trails near Silver City

Many thanks for your contribution, Mara!

By Mara Miles

We're cruising through Tennessee on the return trip to Maine listening to Bobby Dylan.

You can take your clothes
put em in a sack
you're going out on the road
and you can't come back....

Spring is busy leafing out and there are flowers everywhere. It's good to see the green again, but I didn't miss the humidity....and what are those little nasty things that buzz and bite?!
We're on Day Four of our trip. The first day through West Texas left us with not much to report. My sister reminded me that Grandpa grew up in West Texas. That well explains his remark that to find Texas "you walk West until you smell it and then South until you step in it." Pretty much the size of it, I'd say.
Except for the addition of the smell of oil. As I told our new Silver City friend, Dave, we traveled through miles of oil fields with oil rigs sucking oil out of the ground looking like some sort of prehistoric parasites.....
Pretty depressing until we got to the the wind farms. The white spires of gigantic windmills reaching into that blue, blue sky, revived some feelings of hope that just maybe we will find a way to dig ourselves out of this quagmire of dependency on non-renewable fuels.
We decided to do some "retail therapy" and stopped at one of the largest tack stores we've ever seen.
Texas really knows how to do tack stores!
Check this out:

We did an obligatory overnight around Odessa. It was flat, flat, flat and not a tree in sight.
Saw some land advertised for $20,000 an acre which I would not have taken had you offered me that much to take if off your hands.
Our leather skinned, grin-creased host for the evening at "Luna Rosa" was happy as a clam in this environment, however.
He had a facility that was boarding about 40 horses -- all of them quarter horses. And they had a huge arena where they did a lot of reining and roping.
It was blowing like crazy and we had dust in our ears and on our teeth by the time we had the horses tucked into their corral in the lea of the wind.
Our horses seemed to say: 'Where's the hay, where's the water and who is that cute mare next to us?'
We humans should be so easy to please.... There was a bathroom, however, at the other end of a large, dusty....did I say DUSTY.....tack room. Life is good in Texas....

Out of there at morning's light, we told West Texas to 'eat OUR dust' and headed onward to Fort Worth/Dallas.
Wow! What a different world. There are TREES there....and GREEN GRASS!
I called ahead to make sure they had room for us at RTM Ranch Incorporated. 
Sue, the owner, took my call but had trouble hearing me because her cell phone kept droppping out. Finally she stopped cantering her horse and stood still long enough to tell me they had a large paddock (100' X 25') for the boys with automatic waterers and a good sized run-in.
Now this is a beautiful facility! Looked like horse paradise to the boys too. Lots of room to stretch out -- even some of that good green stuff to munch on.
The human facilities weren't much, but then, that's why we have the trailer. Sue was a welcoming hostess and eager to show off her newly born colt. Couldn't believe when that baby staggered to his feet--his legs went on forever. It is the largest new born horse I have ever seen!

Rodney and Chester enjoyed peeing on the trees--real trees. But they were not too happy with "Ham Bone" the prison hound whose former life had been spent tracking down prisoners before he retired to RTM Ranch.

Ham Bone had definite boundaries established and made sure no four legged critter without the proper password could trespass. Fortunately there were enough trees to go around....

Next stop was Bar 50 Ranch in Bismark, outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas, where we decided to lay over an extra day so we could take advantage of the miles of trails they have for riding. We had stayed there a couple of years ago and enjoyed it.
Unbeknownst to us when we booked our reservation, Bar 50 was putting on a week long ride beginning today. Apparently this is a popular ride with over 80 riders expected. Our first evening was spent in quiet tranquility, but by the next evening half of the 80 riders had arrived and the place had turned into a small city--albeit a horse friendly one.
We did get out for a nice 8 mile ride in the morning before the festivities began.
The "trail boss" invited us to join him while he marked trails. We spent an hour with him at a s l o w walk, stopping every 500 feet to watch him hang some surveyor's tape to a tree. If he had been a better conversationalist, it might have been interesting, but he was bent on heaping abuse on his poor horse for every twitch it made--the poor creature's eyes were bugging out of it's head in fear.
We decided getting lost was the better alternative and headed off on our own. The ride and the scenery were much improved after that and we arrived back at camp to find the place full of horses, mostly gaited, and people. We met some friendly folks from all over--some with accents so thick we could barely understand them--they had fun teasing the "Yankees" and were very intrigued that we were "all the way from Maine".
I spent the night worrying about the 'trail boss's" horse and wishing I could somehow stuff him into the trailer and steal him away....

Left early this AM as the rest of the trail riders were arriving. We're heading for a layover at "Lazy Susan's Overnight Boarding" just outside of Nashville, TN. We'll spend the night and move on tomorrow to spend a couple of days at True West Campground and Stables in Jamestown, TN. Jamestown is on the Cumberland Plateau and we understand the riding there is wonderful. Will keep you posted...

Happy Trails...

Ted, Mara, Rodney, Chester, Bounty, Freddy

Read Part II

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"Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses" - Elizabeth Taylor