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November 13, 2013: Amazing Horses, Amazing Riders

This morning I got an email message from my friend Amy Rogde, who lives down on the Kenai Peninsula. She has Icelandic horses. Amy is a native Alaskan, and a very adept horseback rider and hunter. She wrote that she just returned from a guided 10-day hunting trip in Montana’s Swan Valley, which is adjacent to the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.

Amy said that the group she was with took the horses where she did not think that mules could go, and took the mules where she did not think that horses could go. Overall, the trek gave her a brand new respect for mules.

According to Amy, the group left on the day of the hunt at 4:30 a.m. and travelled from 5,000 to 7,000 feet elevation on horseback in the pitch dark, travelling over snow, ice, and sheer rock. The horseback riders were instructed to keep their headlights off so that the horses wouldn’t be blinded while attempting to find their footing.

The guides tied the horses to the trees while the group went hunting, and said Amy, “returned to where the horses were later in the day.” They then rode back down the mountain in the dark. Amy’s thoughts about this matter can be summarized in a single statement: “I have done some pretty crazy riding, but never in the dark.”

Amy noted that the horses were wearing ice shoes (they have borium adhered to them), but this didn’t help at with traction. “When they scrambled you could see sparks flying in the night,” Amy said.

The very well trained horses stopped at switchbacks and crossed their front and back feet until they were turned in the proper direction, all the while walking slowly and methodically down trail.

I have to say that Amy’s account awed me. Amy is a small women – she rode a big horse, in the dark, on treacherous winter terrain. I might do this on one of our smaller horses, but it would be in the daylight, on less treacherous summer terrain.

I’d have more reservations about doing this now than I would have prior to Mr. Siggi’s death. This is because I saw the end result of what-if thinking. I could not bear to see any of our other horses come to such an untimely end.

This is not to say that I’m giving up trail riding. Oh no – I still very much enjoy it. We were out again today, on our trails. It did my heart good to see the horses so happy to be out and about. Again, we first took Signy, Tinni, and Hrimmi out, and then I later took Signy and Raudi out. Raudi has never been better. Quite obviously, she too enjoys being out on the trails.

Next: 232: 11/13/13: Chunking Things Down