From Endurance to Dressage
Mojave Desert Ride
My friend Wendy lives in Rosamond, a small town in the Mojave Desert. Rosamond is a short 133 miles to Death Valley and an even closer 75 miles to Bakersfield. Back when I was still endurance racing, we did a lot of winter riding out in the desert. California may have some political and economic issues, but for many of us, the access to forests, mountains, deserts, and beaches makes up for a lot. And from Bakersfield, all of those places are within a two-hour drive.
Wendy has been to Bakersfield three times over the past six months to see me, so I thought it was high time I drove out to see her. With my truck and trailer again road worthy, I pulled out for the Mojave Desert on New Year's Day. It's an hour and a half to Rosamond, and the drive is actually quite pretty. From Bakersfield, you head east through the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, dropping down into the Mojave Desert. Interestingly, the Mojave Desert receives less than 2 inches of rain a year and is generally between 2,000 and 5,000 feet in elevation which is why it is often referred to as high desert.
Between Bakersfield and the desert lies the Tehachapi Pass, a high wind area. If you've seen the wind turbines outside of the San Francisco Bay Area near Livermore, you'll know how stunningly impressive these windmills are. The Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm is one of the first large-scale wind farms installed in the U.S., with more than 4,700 wind turbines. One of the best ways to see the turbines is to take the Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road that runs between Tehachapi and Rosamond which is the route I took. Until fairly recently, the wind turbines of the Bay Area, Tehachapi, and Palm Springs were the largest in the world.
Just before 10:00 a.m., I pulled into the ranch where Wendy keeps Beanie and Bloo. Since Speedy loves to travel, I had brought him for Wendy's friend (and ranch owner) to ride. Jane is an experienced rider and was happy to hop aboard Speedy knowing that she was doing me a great favor. They got along famously, and Jane was quite delighted by Speedy's friendliness and pleasant attitude. If she only knew!
We headed out into the desert on a loop that took about two hours. Of course, with so many interesting things to stop and see, we might have been out there longer. One of the first places of interest, besides the abandoned gold mine - the desert is rich in minerals, was the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound's Feline Conservation Center - "The Cat House." Wendy had told me about the place before, so I was eager to glimpse one of the tigers.
While we didn't get to see one of the tigers, Wendy shared a video of the tigers enjoying donated Christmas trees. If you visit this link and scroll down to the bottom, you can see the video. Wendy said that when the tigers are out and about in their enclosure, the horses don't even bat an eye. They just walk on past. I guess I'll have to go back for another look.
As we rode further out into the desert, the Joshua Trees caught my eye. If you've ever traveled through the deserts of California, you've probably seen them from the highway, and maybe you've even gotten out for a closer look. They're quite beautiful and much larger than you'd think; some grow to more than forty feet in height.
Joshua Trees grow all over the desert, but most people probably think of them all growing in Joshua Tree National Park. The JTNP is about 150 miles southeast of Rosamond, but you can see the trees throughout the deserts of California, particularly to the north. Neither Wendy nor Jane thought it odd or weird to want a photo of the "trees." The sky was brilliant blue and the mountains in the background had snow from the day before, all of which created a beautiful picture of a part of California that not everyone gets to enjoy.
After our ride, I tied my boys to the trailer, hung a hay bag, made a beet pulp/bran mash lunch, and filled a bucket of water. With all of the horses resting in the sunshine, we headed to Jane's patio for a delicious lunch and two hours of laughter. Wendy enjoys a good meal just as much as I do. By mid-afternoon, I glanced at my watch and realized I had better hit the road. I managed to get the horses back to the ranch and the trailer unhitched before it was completely dark, but by the time I arrived home, it was well past sunset.
The next day, my husband and I took the dogs hiking. I think I have a great idea for our next trail ride, and I am pretty sure Wendy and Beanie will be up for it.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: