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December 25, 2017: Christmas Dispatch

We are having the sort of Christmas that on the one hand many dread having, and on the other hand, others dream of having. Pete and I are spending it with one another rather than with family or friends. Remaining family members are too distant for a visit from us both and either one of us wanted the other to be alone. And our close friends (that in the past we have spent holidays with) have either moved or passed on.

We did give one another presents. Pete gave me a GPS watch a few weeks ago. With help, I figured out how to use it. And I gave him the book The Hidden Life of Trees. This seemed to me to be a good book for someone who is writing a book on chainsaw use.

And we spent the majority of the daylight hours outside, with the critters. We first took Tyra and Hrimfara for a lengthy walk. We’d let one and then the other off-lead – exactly a year ago today we learned the hard way if we let them loose together they run with great abandon, off into the distance. Our destination was the base of Peaches’ Trail where a tree had recently fallen. Pete wanted to delimb the downed tree so that we continued to have trail access.

We’ve been riding and walking our trail system on a daily basis since it snowed. This way we keep it packed down and rideable. It is a winding up and down trail, and therefore is not very inviting to snowmobilers, bicyclists, or ATV users. We have encountered hunters hunkering down in the brush – and also dead moose and moose parts. We tend to be proprietary about our trails – we consider the routes that we traverse as ours because the other nearby trails have been trashed by motorized vehicles. Yes, I have seen pick up trucks on these trails.

We ride, and I use these trails for ground training. I want my horses to “own” their movements, and this is the place then where I encourage them to develop movement competency. This has worked well for Tyra, now 4 – she will race back and forth between Pete and me with considerable abandon. And Hrimmi, now 5, has become more adept at shifting her weight to her hindquarters.

We returned home and wasted no time in getting our two older horses out. This time, we went on the recreational trails, that is the ones that are traversed by skiers, fat-tire (!) bicyclists, snowmobilers, and ATVs. I used to feel more of a kinship with the skiers and bicyclists than I do now. They tend to spook horses because they don’t know to start talking before they come up on us. Pete says they are trainable. The problem is that their numbers are growing. It seems like now everyone has a fat-tire (!) bicycle. Conversely, the snowmobilers are fast and they leave a nasty smell in their wake. The ATVers ride what I call the “poor person’s snowmobiles.” They tend to tear up the trails.

I will go on record as saying that the concept of multi-use trails isn’t feasible. This is why we have put in, and maintain our own trails.

Unlike our trails, the others are well-known, have few bends, and are on fairly level ground Someone got out and groomed these trails yesterday, so they are what I call “the white highway.”

We ride the multi-use trails on what I call “down times,” which are times when we anticipate low traffic use. Today was one of those days. Today the trail was a tad bit punchy, but because we haven’t gotten a whole lot of snow, the punch was minimal.

It was a wonderful ride. We didn’t see anyone. It was quiet, though we did hear gunshots at the distance. The horses were glad to get out, though they did lollygag on the way to Grizzly Camp. Pete rode Raudi, now 14, and I rode Tinni, now 28. Raudi is now a very reliable trail horse, but Tinni is still the Number One riding horse. He recently had acupuncture treatment and will soon be getting Adequan, a joint supplement. He also gets a daily slurpy with various types of supplements. As today indicated, these are measures that ensure us that he’ll continue to remain in good health. We came to a creek with overflow and fast-moving water. Raudi stopped, Tinni moved ahead of her, waded to the center and began drinking from the stream. Raudi then followed suit.

The ride home was amazingly fast – if I had let him, Tinni would have galloped home the entire way. I put him behind Raudi because I did not want him to arrive home overheated. Raudi walked fast and trotted slowly, as she’s been trained to do.

I have to admit that I got a bit chilled on this ride. I didn’t think that I’d be out all day or I would have dressed more warmly. So we moved quickly in putting the horses away and cleaning the pen.

My GPS watch works really well – I recorded the data. All total, we rode and walked six miles and travelled at an average speed of 2.7 miles per hour. Our total distance and speed does not compare to what we’ll be doing in preparation for the July Competitive Trail Ride. However, it’s a good overall consistent distance for our four, considering it is winter and they too are putting energy into staying warm. I’m now keeping a log with the above and other conditioning information.

So now we are inside where it’s warm. The woodstove has been stoked and I am now thawed out. Pete’s making the holiday dinner – we are low on provisions because we didn’t want to deal with the holiday store crowds. So he is going to cobble together something.

I am soon going to send this dispatch to friends who also include those who sold us Tinni, Tyra, and Hrimmi’s dam Signy because I want them to know how grateful I am that they sold us these amazing animals.

I will spend the remaining portion of my evening working on my current project, that is my major sorting and organizing endeavor. (I have OCO, that is obsessive compulsive order). I am now close to done, what I discovered is that less is more. This is in preparation for the New Year and several writing projects that I will soon finish.

In rereading the above, I relived this wonderful day. Next year most likely will be different because change is always a constant. This makes today and all that transpired that much more special.

Next: 357. 12/26/17: The Writing Life: Perhaps

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