I had everything I wanted at the house on the three acres my husband and I bought last summer: my horses, my very own little arena, a pasture, and a round pen in a beautiful setting. On the other hand, I'm a die-hard trail rider. Where were the trails?
For three years, I'd boarded my horses where I could ride up the wide, sandy arroyo behind the stable, duck around a residential area, then choose one of the trails that meander across the Tucson Mountains and Saguaro National Park. At our new house, trail access wasn't immediately apparent.
When we'd begun searching for horse property, I'd insisted to our Realtor that he show us only properties that had both space to keep our horses and trail access. We'd lived in our recent home for 17 years. I wasn't going to go to the trouble of selling, buying, and moving if I didn't get what I wanted in a new place. Trail access proved to be challenging, considering our limited budget and desire to stay relatively close to the city.
But, in fact, we ended up buying a place at a corner where two dead-end roads meet without knowing about the trail access. As the house and property were ideal, I simply hoped I could easily get to some trails, considering our proximity to Saguaro National Park. The sale progressed so quickly, I decided to figure out where to go after the purchase was made.
I first tried riding to the new house from the stable where I'd been boarding the horses, about a mile away. Out in the desert, I eyeballed one of our dead-end streets by recognizing the telephone poles located there. I thought I could just ride to the street and on home. However, between desert and street, I came across two old gates rigidly tied with multiple wires to a barbed-wire fence; they proved to be insurmountable barriers.
Next, I rode from my property down a dirt road that intersects the blocked street. I was pleased to discover that, by taking it to the end, then turning onto a lane and following it about a third of a mile, I was finally past the houses and barbed-wire fencing. Best of all, a trail started out into the desert! Well, I'd have to loop about
1_ miles down dirt roads from the house to reach a trail, but so be it.
Soon after we'd moved into the new house, I saddled up to go exploring. How convenient to ride right from home! Darned if I didn't run into another woman riding by herself up in the hills, who turned out to be my next-door neighbor.
I was pleased to meet someone like myself who doesn't mind riding alone, and she was glad to have a new neighbor who "uses their horse instead of just looking at it all the time." Furthermore, she has two horse trailers (I don't have one yet) and offered to take me along when she was riding out of our area.
After a few rides in the nearby desert,
I felt pretty darn lucky to be able to get to the trails so conveniently from our house. It was especially easy with my lazy Paso Fino gelding, Alegro. On the other hand,
I was a little worried about riding my spirited Paso Fino mare, Natalie, on a narrow dirt road frequented by garbage trucks and other vehicles she considers to be monsters. I figured I'd limit my trail rides with her to weekends when fewer commercial trucks were likely to be rumbling by.
Then one day, two friendly neighbors from across the street came to our gate and introduced themselves. It turns out the compound of little houses where they live was formerly a dude ranch. (We don't know how long our property has been inhabited, but our cattle guard has "1945" marked in cement.) I invited them to ride Alegro with me sometime and told them how I accessed the trails into the mountains.
"Oh, you can come right through our place and connect to your trails," one neighbor replied. "There's a corridor to the desert without a fence."
This quickly led to a deal: I'd allow these neighbors to accompany me on trail rides from time to time in exchange for trail access between their homes. This new shortcut shaves about three miles off my ride to the Tucson Mountains. It also takes me directly into the desert, reducing the chances of nervous Natalie encountering monster trucks.
Pinch me! Is this real? My horses at our new home, a gorgeous location, nice neighbors, and, best of all, I just have to ride across the street to hit the trail.