There was about 14 of us riding, and we were picked up in a mini-van, and driven right into the Valley. On the (bumpy) way we saw all the famous huge rock monuments. Such brilliant shapes! Eventually we got down to where they had the horses. I immediately scouted out some I liked the look of (they had some beauties there), but we had to wait quite a while for them to saddle them all up
. Eventually they were done, and they brought this smallish little roan horse forward, and said, 'Who's the most experienced?' I was volunteered, so stepped forward. The guy told me the gelding's name was Apache, and he spooks a lot, so can be a handful. I was given a saddlebag for my bottle so it didn't swing around, and everyone was warned not to drop anything as it would freak him out. I mounted up, and he stood nicely for me while we waited for the rest of the group to get on. Most of the horses seemed pretty placid and calm, but one piebald gelding called Chequers would not stand still, and one of the guys had to constantly walk him in circles as he could not stand still. They asked for a beginner to come up for him. I did not think he looked like a beginner's horse! But this older guy in our group who had never ridden before but had been making jokes all morning volunteered, and was like, I can handle him! He got on, and spent about 10 mins with one stirrup half the length of the other, till I told him to lengthen it and make them even so he didn't fall off. Then lastly they had this horse called Pepper who wouldn't allow anyone near his saddle, and wouldn't stand still to be mounted. Also didn't look like a novice ride to me, but they eventually got him still and put a guy who'd never ridden before on him. Oh dear.
So eventually we set off. In front of me was the guide and this older guy on Chequers
. He wouldn't shut up, and was making all these bravado comments, and kept being like, 'Come on Chequers, lets go!' The guide occassionally trotted forward, and instead of holding Chequers back he let him trot too, and bounced along. Everyone else was doing ok, and Apache was behaving himself. I just rode him firmly but fairly, and he responded really well. We got to a point where we crossed a little ditch, and three of us had gone over when the guide at the back said that was the wrong way. I was just turning Apache round when I saw Pepper bolting forward past everyone else, getting to the ditch and stopping dead, so his rider came off, before galloping away. Luckily the guy was ok! Pepper came towards me, and I reached for his reins but he shied away. The guide's tried to catch him too, but he was having none of it! Eventually they gave up, and his rider rode double with one of the guides. Pepper walked in the line with everyone, he just wouldn't let anyone catch him the whole way back! We continued, and the scenery was so cool. I felt like I was in a Western film! We saw some really cool rock features, including the 'Snoopy' rock, one that looked like an eagle, and one that was the head of a sleeping dragon! They were amazing.
As we rode, I asked the guide if myself and my friend Sophie could have a canter at some point. He was quite a yound guy, and wasn't really sure, so I left it
. However, he and the guy on Chequers would get quite far in front of me, so I kept having little canters to catch up which was fun. We were almost back, when the guide started catering, and the guy let Chequers canter and follow him. I was like, what the hell is he doing, he's never ridden before, he should not be cantering! But he was all cocky. So I let them go far ahead, and then urged Apache forward to a canter. I was having a lovely time, until in front of me, I saw Chequers start bucking madly, rodeo style. I pulled Apache up immeditely, as I didn't want him to spook, and he just stood with his ears pricked watching intently. The guy flew off, luckily into a sand dune, and Chequers galloped away. Once we established that he was ok, I thought to myself what a stupid cocky idiot. He shouldn't have cantered, he should have held Chequers back. He said his bottle made a sound and it scared the horse. It wouldn't have been making noises if he had just been walking! So he had to walk all the way back, which I thought was appropriate punishment. Apache was brilliant, as wa obeying my every command. I barely had to touch him with my heels or rein him over and he'd do it straight away. What a good little horse. He never shied or played up the entire ride. We got back, and I gave all the horses a fuss, before we said goodbye and got back in the mini van.
We met the others back at the bus, and then it was time to leave Monument Valley
. We made our way to Lake Powell, a man made lake created by a dam. Lukas described it as a beautiful disaster. Apparrently the canyon they flooded to make it was incredibly beautiful, with hanging gardens and was very unique. But they flooded it anyway, and created Lake Powell, which is pretty, but obviously not a shade on what the canyon must have been like. We got out of our dusty clothes, and went for a swim anyway. It was lovely and refreshing, and our shower for the day! Then we made our way to a local town called Page, where we had dinner. I had this huge burger, the size of my head. It was insanely big, but I managed about 3/4 of it! I was rather proud of myself. Then the whole group went to a kareoke bar to sing Bohemium Rhapsody which we'd been practising all week, but myself and Sophie were too young to be allowed it, so we had to sit outside Safeway for a couple of hours which sucked. Eventually everyone came back, and we jumped on the bus for another night drive.
The next day we said goodbye to our friends, packed up and headed to Monument Valley! On the way drove down that piece of road that Forrest Gump stops running on, where you can see the Valley in the background. Of course we had to get out and take photos of us running on the road, whilst dodging the trucks speeding along at 80 mph! Then it was on to the actual Valley, where the some of the group went on a jeep tour, and some went horse-riding. Of course I was in the horse-riding group! You can't really hike there, as there is literally nothing but desert and it gets so hot, so you can only really see it by doing a tour.