I had a first this weekend… My friend Molly and I took our minis camping with a driving group from Helena Montana called, Ten Mile Drivers! I have camped out with my big horses, but never with the minis. It was a blast! Be prepared for a VERY picture heavy blog post this time… and also my thing? It’s most definitely trail driving. THIS is what I will be doing with my minis!
First, Molly and I made a very redneck pen for the minis. Our first pen-plan was pretty awesome. I bought some 5 1/2 foot T-post and we cut cattle panels into 4 foot sections so we could put together a good size pen for Goldie and Sky. But the ground was impossible for us to drive T-posts into! It was only a little bit of dirt and then a lot of very hard, red, clay rock. So, the posts weren’t going to work. Instead, we overlapped the cattle panels by one square and zip-tied to them together. I tied the two end panels to the open doors of the horse trailer and the girls were all set! It was ugly and about as hinky as you could get, but it held them in!
Other people were high lining their horses or just tying them up. One gal had a nice little 4 panel pen for her Percheron cross mare and then others used the 4 wooden pens that were available at the camp site. I would like to teach Zorro to high line I think. That was very easy… and something we could do anywhere!
We were the only two with minis. Everyone else had mules or draft crosses of some kind. There was a Hackney/Quarter horse pony and she was adorable, but a bit bigger than our minis. There were 3 riders, riding a Missour Foxtrotter cross, a Morgan and an off the track Thoroughbred. Anyone local to me should think about joining this group and being a trail rider! They are a wonderful group of people, so inclusive and fun. They feed you wonderfully and really know how to have a good time. They welcome trail riders and will teach you how to be an outrider if that is something you are interested in. It’s a great way to learn more about driving before actually driving. And the teamsters just might give you a ride in their wagons!
The first night we had a yummy dinner of hamburgers and salads and chips and desserts. Then it started to thunder and lightning. The wind picked up and we wondered if a Lodge Pole Pine was going to fall on our heads! The rain started up so we decided to go ahead and go to bed. We had brought a queen size air mattress and put it in the back of the Tahoe. It was quite cozy in there during the rainstorm! I didn’t sleep well, but that was because we were in bear country and every sound sounded like a bear creeping into camp. LOL!
The next morning we all had a nice breakfast and then hitched up and were ready to head out for our drive by 9:30. The minis were quite worked up. Especially Sky on this first day. She was shaking her head and hopping around. When we started out she was galloping everywhere and I was doing circles and figures of eight to try to calm her down. It wasn’t going to happen so, I headed her up behind Fred’s vehicle and she found a small measure of comfort sticking her face against his orange triangle…
At about 2 miles in she started to relax, just like last time! Goldie was doing great from the start!
Molly had her dog Ryker along as well and he did awesome! He was able to do nearly all the drive right beside Goldie.
We had all spotted a huge field full of purple flowers on our drive into the campsite and some of us really wanted to have our pictures taken there so we made a slight detour into that field…
Then we headed back to our route and did some off roading!
Along this trail we had to cross raging creek and several very questionable bridges and the minis did every single thing with out batting an eyelash! The water crossing was Sky’s first time crossing water. She went right in!
Our destination was a lake located on a private ranch. A few of us unhitched our horses and offered them a drink in the lake, then tied them up while we had a snack. It was a pretty place to stop and rest.
After this we continued onto our camp site! When all was said and done we had driven 15.2 miles on Saturday. And the minis kept up with the big guys just fine. In fact they still had energy when we got back to the camp site! Everyone was impressed with the Mighty Mini!
Our two girls can be a bit of a handful and on Sunday morning they proved that very well. They both had a melt down thinking that the rest of the horses were going to leave them. Things got dicey, but we managed to stay in the carts and keep the rubber on the road (though that was a close one for Molly when Goldie was thinking about throwing herself over backwards and me when Sky was backing as fast as she could and nearly dumped myself, the cart and herself over a steep edge of the road down to a culvert and some rushing creek water!) and Molly and I peeled off with our girls and had a nice relaxing drive – just the minis and the dog. I think the two girls appreciated that! We drove between 5-6 miles on Sunday, before we loaded up to head home.
When we were driving on our own we had to cross water twice and both of the girls did it without hesitating. On our way back to the campground Sky let me know that she was thirsty and would like a drink so, I let her go over to a little creek running alongside the road and she waded straight in and got a drink. Then she drank a bit from each water crossing. The first time she had ever drank from a live stream was at the lake the day before! I guess it was very refreshing. I’m so glad that she is over her fear of water!
I’m hoping that both Sky and Goldie will settle down a bit with more exposure to the large group driving. We plan to continue joining the Ten Mile Drivers as long as they will let us!
Trail driving is wonderful. These minis are capable of so much more than even I thought- when in good shape, fitted with an excellent, comfortable harness and pulling a well balanced vehicle. (Please don’t try this with a cheap harness and a poorly balanced two wheeled cart!)
Goldie was pulling the Hyperbike and wearing a Comfy Fit harness from Chimacum Tack. Sky was pulling an improved Kingston Saddlery cart with curved shafts, and motorcycle tires and wearing a Comfy Fit harness from Chimacum Tack! Our girls were not sore even after a day of driving 15.2 miles over varied terrain and up and down hills. We were both grateful for our Comfy Fit harnesses this weekend!
(One thing I would like to do is get Sky a better pair of boots. I was disappointed with the EasyBoot Minis this weekend as they don’t allow water to drain so the wet boots, full of water caused some rubbing on both minis. We wrapped their feet with vet wrap to help with rubbing since we were driving so far and I’m sure glad we did that! More than once the vet wrap kept Goldie’s boots from flying off after they got wet. The velcro isn’t worth a crap once it’s wet and a bit dirty. They need to come up with a better way to close these boots. Minis are just as tough as big horses and get just as dirty!! They need a boot that will stand up to this type of rugged use!)
I see many more weekends like this in my future. I can hardly wait to be taking Zorro along! I think he will really enjoy these trail drives! And I’m so happy my friend Molly wants to enjoy this with me! It’s always more fun with two than with one!
And one must always remember to stop and roll in the flowers…