Fall in the Valle Grande

Susie Morgan - October 23, 2014

'The day was New Mexico Spectacular; the temperature and riding conditions were perfect.'

The Horse Shelter recently held a fundraising trail ride to buy winter hay for the horses being rehabbed and nurtured back to health at The Horse Shelter. Riders rallied to the cause with donations to THS and signed up to meet like-minded horsemen in The Grande. The Grande is the concave top of the volcano; one of only 3 active calderas in the USA. The VC Preserve allows a very few horsemen to ride into The Grande each year, lest the pristine land be diminished. The Horse Shelter is lucky to get one of those days.

Raising the bar from last year, Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse at 202 Galisteo in Santa Fe, took the lead as Presenting Sponsor and paid the Valles Caldera fees AND donated an additional $1000 to THS. When you are in town, stop in or visit one of their special events in this Santa Fe landmark and specialty bookstore owned and operated by a long-time Santa Fe family (Dorothy and Mary) who are well-known for their generous financial support to the Santa Fe NFP Community.

Almost everyone is struck by The Grande the first time they arrive in the bottom; an enormous place of beauty and quiet. The day was New Mexico Spectacular; the temperature and riding conditions were perfect. The meadow grasses that had been wiped out in the Las Conchas Fire three years ago had grown back to the horses’ knees and wildflowers were in bloom. To top it all off, the crisp fall day felt good to the horses too. When we dismounted for lunch, the horses devoured the sweet grasses while we enjoyed our lunches.

We rode by the old ramshackle cowboy buildings, now beginning to slant and fall down, that were used decades ago for cattle roundup. The 1800 head are brought in by Jemez Cowboys who were gathering cows the day we were there. They move the cattle to greener pastures before snowfall turns the grasses dormant, and we were lucky to get to watch the cowboys working cattle alongside our rigs.

Blue Window Bistro in Los Alamos provided all the food for the day. No one could believe their eyes. Breakfast started with hot coffee, juices, fruit cups, and croissants and, drum roll please... hot breakfast burritos that were simply scrumptious. Gourmet box lunches were provided that people stuffed in their saddle bags before they threw their leg over the saddle. But the stunner came at 3pm, when all riders returned to the trailers to find yet another spread of food: bay shrimp sandwiches, caprese salad, cheese tray, canapés, and on and on. This was a first: Melissa Paternoster, the owner of Blue Window Bistro, brought along a BARTENDER to serve wine: incredible. One rider asked Melissa if she baked her own bread....that’s how good it was. In the end, we were unable to finish off the amazing spread provided. Unbelievably, boxes were provided for take-home feasts.

After the 3pm ‘feeding of the humans’, a raffle was held for wonderful horsey things. Lisa was pleased with the pair of custom-made riding breaches she won. Stacie, a Horse Vet from Western Trails Veterinary Hospital in Edgewood, added 2 free equine teeth maintenances – a great boost to the raffle. Riders lingered to meet four of the Shelter horses that were out on the ride, and share sweet memories of an unbeatable day in The Grande. Inevitably, the day came to an end when the trailers were loaded and everyone headed home. Dust rose up while the rigs navigated their way out of the belly of the Grande, the unavoidable end to memorable day.

All photos: Linda Rinkinen


The Horse Shelter: To volunteer, adopt, or donate: http://www.thehorseshelter.org/

Stacie Boswell DVM - Western Trails Veterinary Hospital http://westerntrailsvet.com/ (505)286-4604

Blue Window Bistro Los Alamos http://www.labluewindowbistro.com/