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September 1, 2019: The Gift of a Good Ride

I’m giving away the ending of the book that I’m working on, right now in my head, which is, The Gift of a Good Ride. For years, I’d been seeking the gift of a good ride – the ride in which I am one with a horse. I had many good rides as a child, but because I was young. Then, after a thirty-year hiatus, I resumed riding. What I had previously taken for granted was no more. I had aged, mentally and physically and so the ability to ride in a fearless and confident manner was gone.

What to do? I resumed riding, thinking that soon, soon enough, I’d again be cantering over hill and dale, on a horse, any horse, moving effortlessly, easily, endlessly. There was no “soon enough.” Instead, I unknowingly embarked on a sojourn that

Alys and Tyra in the Wyoming Range
Alys and Tyra in the Wyoming Range

had a beginning, but seemingly no middle or end.

It started with one horse, Raudi, a sorrel mare who her breeder said “was of strong temperament.” I initially boarded her. We eventually brought her home, and acquired Siggi and then Tinni. Raudi then, was the catalyst for my becoming a more astute horse person. Always the lifelong learner, I became a Centered Riding instructor and TTeam practitioner. I also began learning as much as I could about positive reinforcement training, and attended several Karen Pryor clicker training clinics. I began taking courses and studying movement science. Strength training came next.

Pete (husband) and I did two lengthy pack trips in 2011 and 2013. I must confess, in doing both, I was most of the time fearful that Raudi, who had a mind of her own, would see a cow and bolt. No, it was instead the road grader that sent us up and over Colorado’s Cottonwood Pass. Yes, the gift of a good ride continued to be elusive.

This past spring and summer, we did yet another trip, this time taking Hrimfara, daughter of Signy, our pack mare, and Tyra, a mare I acquired three years ago, when she was two. This trip was more difficult than the previous two – the trails were more challenging, and we had to deal with weather extremes. The latter was most worrisome when travelling the 1,500 mile Alaska-Canada Highway. There we were, at the Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory Visitor Center. It was 83 degrees out, and there were no camping areas to be had. There were also a few mishaps – Raudi tripped over a tree when hobbled and we had to cut her out of them. And Hrimfara got a rope burn when on the highline. Needless to say, I was relieved when, in Mid-August, 2019, we pulled into our driveway with our three very fit and healthy horses, and told them yes, we were home.

The question that I was left with after this trip was, is there really such a thing as the gift of a good ride? I had hoped to experience it on this trip, and at times I came close. Close, at least in my mind, was not good enough.

Pete and I began preparing for fall. Priorities included getting hay in the barn, wood in the shed, and berries in the freezer. I gave our mares a break, then seeing as they were bored, I resumed riding. Yesterday, I made a comparison. I took Tyra, age 6, on a residential neighborhood outing. My destination was a friend’s house – a roofing work party was taking place. Tyra and I, we dealt with it all. All included men on roofs; tossing sheeting to the ground; a handful kids playing basketball; two barking dogs who wanted to see that horse run; and a single horse in a pasture, which whinnied repeatedly.

I tied her to a tree where she stood quietly. I then talked for a while with the owners of the property, who have been considering adopting two mustangs. They asked, and I told them about the high cost and the time involved in keeping horses at our place. When asked why I made such a considerable investment, I became tongue tied. The answer was just not forthcoming. Rather, I shrugged and said “your guess is as good as mine.”

There was then, the tense horse owner who in the past would have turned in the direction of home much sooner. And there is now, the confident horse owner who after a lengthy visit, mounted up and rode home. On the return trip, I asked Tyra to trot. I made my eyes soft, shrunk the sun in my core, and sat up straight, all the while picturing myself as being the winner of the 2020 Knik River Ramble Competitive Trail ride. Tyra obliged, and together, as one, we experienced the gift of a good ride.

It was right then that the answer that had previously not been forthcoming came to mind. I got into horses because I was seeking the gift of a good ride. This had not occurred on our trip, as I presumed it would. But rather, it occurred after our trip, in our neighborhood. This then, was the culmination of many, many years of, but worth all the time and money it took to bring it about.

Next: 242. 8/2/19: Same Old, Same Old

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