Monday, December 21, 2009

Inspiration from Haleakala Ranch

Recently we travelled to Maui for some respite from the west coast winter weather. After about a week or so, I found myself missing the horses and hounds so decided to look up horseback riding in the area. This is something I don't usually do as I have found the results to be quite disappointing in other countries. I am someone who has horses that like to go and when we ride we usually head out for hours of miles at various speeds. On rides, horses are often numb to the rider and go head to tail despite your intentions. In other places, the horses are 13 ft high and bone thin and I just am not inclined to ride much. But, we travelled on every highway in Maui and I was pleasantly surprised by the horses I saw in the fields - healthy quarterhorse types, on grass and in a variety of colors.

After searching a bit, I decided to sign up with Pony Express Tours to do the Haleakala Crater ride. We were going to ride from the top of the crater downhill for a few hours, have lunch and then climb back out. Sounded good - a whole day in the saddle. Unfortunately it didn't run as it had too few folks - but I was offered a private ride with guide Melissa Sowers at the Haleakala ranch instead.

As soon as I arrived I saw Melissa riding up to the office ponying three horses. My eyes went immediately to the dog with her - an Australian cattle dog - Spur, who had decided to follow her for the morning. Made me homesick for my hounds (also a bunch of hill billy hounds ACD's). Melissa is a cheery and charming guide - was more like a morning ride with a girlfriend than someone I didn't know. She filled me in on all sorts of details about the ranch, cattle farming on Maui, the grasses, trees and fence posts. We were out for a couple of hours riding at 4000 ft elevation. The sun was shining down on us which gave a super view of the island. Light was perfect for photography - wish I would have taken more. I was surprised at how rough the footing was - but my horse Rocky was sure footed.

The jaunt was a great one - got some good pics - think I will paint the one of Melissa looking out a the horizon.


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