Audrey picked me and Etta up this morning just before 9 a.m. and we met the other two gals (Mary and Linda) at Freedom Farm shortly after that. Arrived to find they were having trouble loading one of the horses. As we drove up the one gal working at it stopped trying to drive the horse in (with a carrot stick) and when we got out of the car we walked over to say hi, chat with her and I reached out to pet the horse as we all stood there next to the trailer. The gal tried to hand me the lead rope and I said, “No, no, I was just petting her…” She said, “That’s fine, but please feel free to give it a go—we’ve been at it for half an hour.” Hmmm…. I don’t usually work with other horses. But I know this mare has been Parelli trained and I’ve seen her in a cow clinic—she is an Arab cross with a bit of an attitude, but she seems well-trained and mostly harmless. My thoughts were that whatever trouble she was giving them was probably mostly bluff. So I said, “OK” and turned and walked into the trailer. The mare hesitated for a moment and I asked the gal to, “please just lift the stick off the ground a bit at her hq there, thanks…” and the mare stepped right in. She was totally relaxed (I suspect if they had walked in with her she would have loaded for them just fine!). I tied her and closed the divider, they loaded the other horse and we were off.
It’s a short drive to the Olympic Discovery Trail Adventure Route trail head—maybe 30-40 minutes—but you have to park alongside the hwy to unload and saddle. There is a big wide area, so it wasn’t too bad, tho was noisy with traffic (going 55-60 mph). We were saddled and on the trail in 150-15 minutes. I brought a camera, but the batteries went dead after the first few photos… none of which are that impressive. I will take photos next time I go—it is too lovely not to!
We only rode 3.2 miles one way and rode back—so a total of 6+ miles. The trail was gorgeous, and I thoroughly enjoyed the company—neat gals with very nice horses! Next time I will boot my horse—the others had boots on the fronts, but Etta was barefoot. She was fine, but it was a bit rocky and I think boots would only be fair. A short, narrow bridge, and a long low wooden section both have Astroturf on them, and that stuff concerned Etta, but she went over them eventually. She was very relaxed in any position and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I will happily ride the trail again, and wander farther on it… in fact I am hoping Steve will either hike or bike it with me at some point soon. Heck, maybe he’ll even ride Magnum with me!
One thing happened on this ride that kind of spooked me, but in a good way. Ray Hunt is not a person I think about a lot, but this little episode is all about him… As I was riding back to the trailers, pulling up the rear in our little party of four, there was a lot of exposure on one side of the trail. We came around a bend and I gently asked Etta to move to her left with my right leg and by barely lifting the right rein and moving it into her neck. I would guess these cues would be almost imperceptible if someone had been watching—I think all of our horses are that sensitive around a bend on a trail like that…. Well, as I made those moves, suddenly, and only for the two strides in that leg yield, my entire body felt like it was Ray’s body. My hands were these giant beef-steak hands, my legs bigger, heavier, my teeth gaped, with a big smile on my face (tho I don’t think I was smiling, really), and my eyes felt like they were sparkling with mischief and joy. My whole being felt filled with him, with the pleasure he would feel from that maneuver, from being horseback, from being on that beautiful forest trail on such a glorious day. I tell you, it was incredibly eerie, but it lasted for such a short moment that it was almost past before I realized it happened. And in a way it felt completely natural, like Ray’s spirit just came into my body for a bit of a horse fix.