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October 23, 2012: Very Happy Trails

A very blowsy day, but not all that cold. The wind picked up as the day progressed. The plan was for Pete and I to do a trail ride with Valerie and Ron Haney, who live in Anchorage. Valerie has Raynaud's Syndrome, which is a condition in which circulation in your hands is hampered in cold weather. So I figured the pair would cancel. They didn’t. I was stacking full manure buckets in the compost facility when they pulled into the driveway. So the ride was on.

Valerie and Ron had dressed for the ride—Valerie wore insulated mittens and a snowmobile suit. This was a good sign –

Anchorage people, city people, seldom dress right for outdoor activities. A case in point – our naturopath and his girlfriend once came to visit – it was in the middle of winter and they were both wearing tennis shoes. Their car got stuck a few miles down the road. He later said they were both very scared. I think he called our area an inhospitable wilderness.

Pete and I groomed and saddled up Raudi, Siggi, and Signy at the hitching post and trailer. I waited until the last minute before getting Tinni ready since saddle up space was limited. In short order, everyone was saddled up and ready to go. We headed down the driveway, with little Hrimmi following her herd.

The ground is now rock hard, and the road is studded with gravel. All the horses, with the exception of Hrimmi, are ouchy. Doing the ride to the trailhead once again seemed like a death march. The horse order was Siggi (Pete), Raudi (Valerie), Signy (Ron), and Tinni (Alys). Ron, the most gung-ho but most inexperienced rider – Signy was a bit confused by the lack of direction, so I ponied her down-road.

The equines livened up when we got out onto the trail. We rode for about an hour, making our way around frozen puddles, and winding our way around spruce trees. It was not a long ride, but it was a good one. The trees sheltered us from the wind.

There’s always a certain degree of unpredictability in taking horses out on a windy day. This degree of uncertainty increases when you take out inexperienced riders. So, yes, I fretted a bit before and during the ride. But I wasn’t so concerned that I felt that I had to ride Tinni with a saddle. As we moved along, I thought a bit about how far I’ve come. I feel very much at home on all the horses—especially Tinni. He remains my best teacher. And here I am, now going on group rides, and riding him bareback.

This winter I want to horse ski jour and hook Siggi to the cart, putting runners on it if the snow is deep. I’m also thinking of doing more ground work in between now and the next farrier visit, which will be on November 9th. Staying connected with the horses and finding things to do with them – this is incredibly important.

Next: 318. 10/24/12: Organizing my Unorganized Life