Thankfully, my mount was ideal. No matter if I wanted him to go left or right, he just carried on following the horse in front and that was good enough for me.
My pal Richard, hiding his nerves ahead of his first ever ride, got a mustang, complete with authentication branding.
But unlike the yellow soft-top sports car that we drove into town, his horse had just the one gear, slow, and was happiest in plain old park. It had the branding but not the go-faster stripes.
The Spanish named the Cahuilla tribe Agua Caliente (hot water), after the warm springs that come bubbling to the surface. And that remains the name of their reservation which we were crossing. When it came to making maximum use of their surroundings, the tribe were geniuses.
On medical matters, for instance, they were centuries ahead of their time using what American botanists call “nature’s drugstore”, a yellow flowering bush called creosote, or chaparral.
Josh calls our posse to a halt to point out the plant. The Native Americans used it to tackle every conceivable injury or illness and today it is under investigation as a possible treatment for cancer.
It was certainly in plentiful supply as we progressed through Murray Canyon and along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, climbing high through the hills, then down through the shade of towering palm trees that line the occasional oasis, their splashes of vivid bright green a welcoming sight.