I cropped my photo this way because its composition reminded me of classic Chinese landscapes, particularly with the landslide area just to the rear of the horses resembling a waterfall. The trainer was trail-riding my horse Indiana Jones (because he's an adventure to ride) today with another client, so, from the perspective of the boarding stable, I thought I'd photograph them on one of the mountain ascents to illustrate our overall terrain (trails zigzag all the way up in back to the top.) Indy is in front, and all of us ride in our English saddles on the trails.This is one of the few parts of the Angeles Forest that didn't burn in the Station fire this last summer, so it's still green from the rains. Because it's our norm, I also keep forgetting that we ride "rough" trails, and have to contend with very steep inclines, landslides, quicksand, mountain-top switchbacks, motorbikes, sheep in pastures racing from border collies, mountain lions, deer, vultures, coyotes, bobcats and even birds darting from the brush which scare the horses with their sudden motion.
As prey animals, horses are afraid of everything, with anything anew causing their wreckless flight at top speed. And it's hard to restrain a 35 mph 1,000 lb. terrified creature, taking real finesse to leverage against all that. Bobcats are the best trail hazard- the horses think they smell identical to house cats and aren't bothered- and motorbikes are the very worst due to what professionals call testosterone poisoning. The Angeles Forest abuts Los Angeles so we contend with both urban and rural trail hazards. No wonder we have so many problematic rides! As Isak Dinesen routinely joked after returning from her safaris in the Kenya wilds, "'Cheated death again!" My own maxim echoes that of private pilots returning from treacherous flights, "Any landing you walk away from is a good landing." What a hobby.