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July 18, 2019: Fiddlesticks

This morning I decided that I would stop using the word fuck and instead use the word fiddlesticks. This decision was a good one, although not long lasting. I was attempting to put Tyra’s boot on her left rear hoof – it was too tight. “Fiddlesticks,” I said, well aware that this did not suit the occasion. I somehow managed to get the boot in place. I then went to put her other boot on her right rear hoof. After struggling for a bit, I yelled out “fuck!” I then determined that using this expletive was far more satisfying than using the other, non-expletive.

Old habits like cursing are hard to change because they get ingrained in the brain map. I’m older so my map is very well established. So I decided that I’m going to wait on changing my speech patterns until this damn trip is over.

Alys and Tyra at Sheep Pass
Alys and Tyra at Sheep Pass

The riding day began in a grand fashion, with our climbing the trail up the Sheep Pass, located directly to the left of our campsite. I remarked to Pete that the weather was good – the wind had died down, and it was not yet too hot.

We, in our hobbit-like fashion, climbed the meandering path on the very well maintained trail. Up, up, up we went until we were in yet another bowl-like depression. Ryder raced ahead and rolled in a snow patch. The horses, invigorated by the smell of the snow, snorted and moved at a slow trot. A small section of snow cut across the trail. I got off and walked Tyra down the far side of it because I knew that at any minute she was going to go down to her knees and roll. I didn’t want any fiddlesticks moments here.

Then, down, down, down we went, the scenery consisting of meadows one minute and forested trails the next. The varied scenery was a nice contrast because the forested areas provided us with much-needed shade. We crossed several creeks – Hrimmi, now willing, did not balk when we came to bogs.

The toughest part of the ride came right before lunch. Or maybe lunch came after the toughest part of the ride. It depends on who you talk to, Pete or me. We had to ride along a ledge – in some places there was barely a hoof hold. I do as I’ve become accustomed to doing in such instances – I looked at the wall on my left instead of straight down, and put more weight into my left side seat bone.

Later in the afternoon, we went through an area on the map that appeared like little sperm-like squiggles. I learned that they were tributaries, mud bogs. The routine became – yell flat tire (Pete’s word for a half-off boot), stop, get off. Pete tied Raudi and Hrimmi to trees. I held Tyra and he put the boot back in place. “Fiddlesticks,” I said, repeatedly. He at first laughed at my joke, but not after the fifth time around.

It was by now quite hot. I conceded to myself that I could no longer wear both the vest and Camelback. Fiddlesticks. Towards the day’s end, the snap on Tyra’s breast collar snapped. Oh oh. Many fiddlesticks here. This, I soon realized, was why she was throwing herself around on the downhill switchbacks.

I did better today because I projected the words “calm and confident” above my head, and every so often I looked up at them. Like the clouds, they grew larger as the day wore on. My calf is now better and the knot is gone, so I’m now again sitting in balance. Today, I was momentarily centered.

Next: 197. 7/19/19: Final Day of Riding in the Wyoming Range

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