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December 12, 2013: Tough Decisions

I do believe that we get more done when we prioritize or reprioritize. (See the dispatch entitled “Busy” for more on this subject). However, there are only 24 hours in a day, eight of which are taken up by sleeping or thinking about sleeping. So this leaves 16 hours, three (at least) in which we must take care of mundane matters, such as shopping, shitting, eating, and cleaning our fouled nests. We are now down to thirteen hours. Me, I spend more time than I’d like to admit tending to animals. In the time that’s left, I write.

Ryder (for example) now has a very full schedule. I have (in addition to taking her for long daily walks) been taking her to obedience and herding classes. And she will start agility training in early January. I’m now attending K-9 Search and Rescue training sessions, so that I might in time let Ryder have a go at this.

Last night, Pete and I went to a Mat-Su Search and Rescue meeting. There I introduced myself to all as being “a dog and pony” person, meaning that I am interested in both the dog and horse SAR activities. And at the meeting’s end, I met and talked with Barbara, who is in the charge of the newly formed Equine Mounted Unit. We talked for some time, mainly about the horse examination criteria. Barb told me that in order to be used on a search, horses must be able to do a variety of things including stand tied to a trailer, stand still for saddling and mounting, be ponied, and be trail savvy. As she mentioned them, I ticked them off in my head. What I didn’t say is my horses are probably the best trained trail horses in the state, because I didn’t want to brag. But they are. . . .

I have been thinking for some time that I’d have to commit myself to one or the other. I also knew that sooner would be better than later because the more involved I become in each, the harder it would be to decide what to do.

So, last night, after the meeting, I decided to commit to working with the dogs. I will support the horse unit and attend training sessions when I can. However, I’m going to put the bulk of my energy into working with the canine unit. There are numerous reasons for this. I have really (thus far) been impressed with how the dog group members work as a team. This is in part because they are knowledgeable about dog search and rescue training and procedures. And at the same time, they’ve been at it for some time. It also seems to me more likely that local search efforts will center around the use of the dogs rather than horses. Alaska’s trail system is more conducive to foot, canine, and ATV travel than it is to horse travel. This is why we went down to America to ride. I’m also not sure at this point in time how trail savvy other riders’ horses might be.

In addition, Ryder’s current training will lend itself to this kind of work. She is definitely comfortable out in the woods – and she has plenty of energy. And she learns fast. So we shall see how it goes. It would be really cool if I could in time be a part of search while riding my trained horse and using my trained dog. We’ll see. One thing at a time.

This was a tough call to make because our horses are now so well trained. However, I feel that I’ve made the right decision. It’s too bad we can’t be in two places at once or do two things simultaneously. If we could, my life really would be a dog and pony show.

Next: 262: 12/13/13: Graduation Night