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August 11, 2019: Where to Begin?

A few dispatch titles have come to mind – it has been a varied day, culminating with our arrival here, at the Northern Tempo dressage and boarding facility. I’m sitting on the passenger seat of the truck – in front of me are our three ponies, each of whom are standing in somewhat small stall-like paneled enclosures. Pete and I spent over an hour cleaning out their stalls before putting them into their current digs. The footing consisted of old sawdust and manure. The ponies have a roof overhead, hay bags in front of them, and buckets full of clean water to the side. Their halters and ropes are hanging on the front of the panels. They seem to be to be quite content.

Pete talking with bicycle tourists
Pete talking with bicycle tourists

I was at first dubious about confining them in this space because the enclosures are small and stall-like. In fact, I at first objected, but then when Pete said “This’ll work,” relented, my thought being the alternative would be finding a place to highline. And I must say, we have made this work.

This is an upscale boarding facility. I must say we don’t look like the knowledgeable horse people/resourceful individuals that we are. Rather, we look like ragtag gypsies, travelling with an entourage of three small ponies and a scruffy dog. And we are getting ready to eat a tailgate dinner. No Best Western Motel for this crew.

The Northern Tempo Equestrian Centre is located outside of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. Pete stayed here a few years back, when he was bringing Tyra up the highway. Does she remember where she is? Yes, Tyra has a memory like a steel trap.

I did not catch the owner’s name, for which I regret. I walked into the indoor arena a short time ago and watched her teach a class. She told me her student was her son; he looked to be in his early 20s. He was riding a six year old bay gelding, a Canadian Sport Horse. The fellow moved nicely under his rider. In fact, both he and the horse had good body awareness. The instructor was kind, and had a soft voice that she was able to project into the far corners of the arena. I thought that even without surround sound, that I’d be able to hear her. I was told that the horse suffered an injury as a weanling, and after he had to have screws and plates put in his knees. He spent several years recuperating and now is able to be ridden, lightly, under saddle.

Mother told son to put weight in his seat, bring his awareness to the bottom of his feet, and think about where his and the horse’s center of balance might be. As I watched the threesome work, I felt like such a nobody. I apparently knew nothing about instruction, or at least this is what this woman thought. I wanted in, a manner of speaking, to converse about what was going on – but being a rag tag gypsy, I knew my place. Nevertheless, I wished that I lived near here and was taking lessons from this very knowledgeable instructor.

I had a similar feeling earlier today, when we stopped outside of Whitehorse and at a rest area, chatted with two long distance bicyclists, each having met up but going in opposite directions. One was in his 50s and the other was in his 30s. The older one had ridden from Arizona to Alaska and was on his way home. The younger one, from Germany, was riding from Prudhoe Bay to Mexico City, raising money for and promoting Cancer Research. He explained to me that his brother had died of this illness a few years back. He was traveling light and staying at motels. The older fellow, who was wearing an army green MIA bandana, mused that being an older rider was advantageous in that he was wiser for it. He said he had learned over the years how to better take care of himself, mentally and physically. He also pays closer attention to the weather, which is why he was going to take the road to Skagway, and the Alaska Ferry to Seattle.

It was a good conversation – I found myself wishing that we might set up camp close by and continue on with it. But, we all have schedules and destinations.

I miss bicycle touring. This is what I’ve decided. Next year, I’m going to do an in-state trip in Alaska, one in which I ride bicycles, horses, run, and sea kayak. Then I’ll have plenty to talk about.

Next: 222. August 12, 2019: The Semi Nomadic Lifestyle

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