Monday, September 4, 2017


I had not realized how much mental stress I was under until Thursday, 31 August.  I knew that I was unhappy with the current elected administration, and that I have had to increase my anti-depression medication accordingly.  I knew that I was missing Rosie, the Irish Setter, whom I cared for for 10 years, until her death.  I knew that I missed returning to Chincoteague and Assateague Islands this summer.  I knew that I was sleeping more than normal, just to "escape" the usual day-to-day living events.  Thursday was my eye-opener.
    Beatrice, my room mate, gave me a Christmas gift - a certificate for two riders to take a hour trail ride together.  Beatrice doesn't ride.  My sister has been in poor health for the last year, and, so, I had no one to ride with.  I called the company, explained I was an experienced rider, and was told I could have a three-hour trail ride as a single rider, instead of two one-hour rides.  I went riding Thursday morning, having walked a dog, fed fish, fed two sets of cats, and having released hens and cleaned their coop and roost.
   It was a 45 minute drive, and I was asked to arrive 30 minutes before we were scheduled to leave.  Upon arrival, I was told that another group of four people were expected to join the wrangler, or guide, and me.  I signed my release form, opted to not wear a riding helmet, and grabbed a saddle horn bag to put my drinking water and camera into.  Then I settled down to wait.
   When I pulled up, there was a large sorrel tied up to the railing.  He looked like a guy who could easily carry my weight, and he had a saddle with short stirrups on.  I thought he might be my ride.  Then the wrangler came out, and saddled up a bay Appaloosa - roaning and black spots on his butt, with roaning also along his sides and neck.  Then several folks started bringing out other mounts - multiple pintos, a bay, and a palomino.  The people who were supposed to ride with me changed their minds at the last minute, so Richard, the wrangler, and I set out alone.
   Richard was riding Outlaw, the bay Appaloosa.  I was mounted on a 16 hand bay pinto gelding named King.  King's legs had twice the bone of Outlaw's - and Outlaw was about 15 hands with a light, but strong, build.  Outlaw also has a convex face; much more so than King's.
   The stable complex is right beside highway 34, to the east of Estes Park.  The three-hour trail ride took us to the very top of Crosier Mountain and back down (of course).  Richard was pretty quiet, once he ascertained that I did, really, know how to ride...  In several places, he launched into his guide spiel, what the elevation was, and what we were looking at; and he kept warning me about the closeness of tree trunks and rocky outcrops - that's his job.  He also tried to point out the different types of trees, brush, flowers and wildlife we encountered - but, after telling him I could recognize them, and nicely asking him to only speak when needed, we both just enjoyed the ride.
   We did see the tracks of two different mountain lions; one much larger than the other.  We saw bear droppings (scat).  There were hoof prints of elk and mule deer, too.  The horses both shied at one point, and snorted, with their concentration on one distinct point, but neither Richard nor I could see what was bothering them, so we moved on quietly.  About three-quarters of the way through the ride, we did hear the squall of a mountain lion, but it seemed to be more than a mile away.  What else did we hear?  The wind in the pines, birds singing, grasshoppers buzzing, insects ticking, the chatter of squirrels, the calls of hawks.  We saw a bald eagle on the wing, and three red tail hawks; there were numerous chipmunks and squirrels, and an Abert's squirrel; there were meadow larks, nuthatches, sparrows, jays, a Stellar's jay, a few swallows, and a whole host of smaller birds on branches.  Once, there was the sound of a distant airplane.  But there were no sounds of any other vehicles - no cars, no trucks, no buses, no motorcycles, no ATVs.  No telephones rang.  Once, their was a quiet voice from Richard's radio - but that was the only non-organic sounds during those three delightful hours.
    We traveled mostly up- and down-hill, so we were leaning forward in the saddle, or leaning back, and letting the horses have their heads over rocky, sometimes sliding ground.  I was in heaven!   I was able to stretch forward and stroke King's ears, and to reach back and pat the base of his tail.  We trotted occasionally across an open meadow, and cantered across a beautiful stretch of glade openings among the pines.   We looked down, from 8500 feet, to see highway 34 and the Big Thompson River.  We had partly cloudy skies that morning, and we were all a little sweaty when we returned to the stable area - it was all of 73 degrees, but very dry...
    I felt so relaxed and refreshed and just generally - replenished - after that ride. I had no idea how taut my nerves were...   I highly recommend getting away for several hours - and doing whatever it is that makes you feel good.   There is nothing better in life.

No comments: