Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Day 98 and 99: Broken Bit & Runaway Horses

You could say I got to my 100 days with a bang because 98 and 99 were rather exciting & strange.

I'll start with 98.

(Here we are before the ride.  Oh, what adventures awaited!)

This was a ride with my 87 year old friend--a retired family practice doc & lifelong equestrian who hails from the great state of Texas.  He can barely walk, but he can still ride!  And he likes the challenging stuff.

He'd stop us for a "meeting" at each juncture and say, Okay, we can go this way--the easy way--or this other way--through a walking tunnel, over the railroad tracks, along the railroad tracks, up some private property...etc."  He'd let us choose.  I usually opted for a smorgasbord of his ideas & nixed some of his others.

At one point in our adventure, my brave, seasoned gentleman rider almost got bucked off, and I have to admit his life did flash before my eyes--but it didn't seem to phase him. Not one bit.

(Along the route we stopped at a friend's ranch. Things were still going well.)

The picture above is the last one I took--happier times--because when we left there-half way through our journey--things deteriorated for me.  And, they deteriorated for my bit.  Because, you see, my bit broke in half along a steep cliff trail.  

Cowboy didn't act like anything had happened, but when I pulled up to slow him down, there was nothing there.  Nothing.  Just two  hanging pieces of broken bit and the bridle held on by a chin strap.

At that point, I dismounted, but the trail was too thin for rider and walker, so I was sandwiched behind one horse and Cowboy.  Cowboy was sandwiched behind another horse and me.  It was a bit crowded, so everyone spread out and gave us some room. 

And, that's about when we got to the down tree.  A large down tree.  

I got over the tree with no problem, and then I asked Cowboy to come over.  But Cowboy had other plans.  He wanted to go around the tree.  He was even willing to go over the cliff to get around the tree.  Although, in his defense, it was so overgrown with brush and shrubs, he probably didn't know it was a drop off.  As you can imagine, he figured it out quick when he started slipping and getting tangled up--and he jumped back on the trail to save his life--barely missing me.  I shouted a few not-so-savory-words during that little fiasco.  Not that it helped.

Off we went again, and I walked a good ways until we finally got off that Hell Trail and onto a wider one.  As you see, I'm writing this, so I made it back safely.  So did Cowboy.

In retrospect, I wonder what would have happened if the bit hadn't broken.  Would Cowboy still have avoided that tree and opted for the cliff?  Would my weight have got him off balance when he tried to correct?  It's a scary thought.

Day 99

Day 99 was a Back Country Horseman Scavenger Hunt at Riverside State Park.  The BCH is one of the most quality equestrian groups out there.  They donate time and resources to preserving and maintaining our trails.  Their events are of the highest quality....but there's always someone who comes along to ruin it.

We were all given rules for the hunt--and, as you can imagine, NO RUNNING was printed loud and clear for all to see.  With 75 riders--if you have some running, it sets off the others. But run they did--splitting up and scouring the trails for their items as if their lives depended on it. 

On that particular day, there was also a running marathon going through the park.  So, picture this, humans running by the hundreds--horses running---and add to that something extra special....

Two riderless runaway horses galloping by us.

Yes, riderless.  They had bucked off their people and headed for the high hills--which eventually led them straight back home.  

But, in the meantime, we were in the eye of the storm--me, my friend and trainer, Rebecca, who went after the runaways, and my 12 year old granddaughter.  

Cowboy was a hot mess.  He wanted to run--or trot--or something that got us out of there.  So, I dismounted and had my granddaughter dismount--not knowing if the runaways would circle back to us.  Better to be safe than sorry--especially when you have your granddaughter with you.

We walked them back to the arena and waited for our friend to get back and join us again and for the horses to settle.  Then, we went back out and finished up with no more incidents.  

We ended up having a wonderful time and my granddaughter won two tickets to the Spokane Symphony and a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant.  She's going to take her parents out on a date!

On day 100, I took Cowboy back to the park where the Scavenger Hunt was held, to prove to him, there wasn't anything to fear.  (I think he had a little horsey PTSD.  As an Omega, he has always been nervous in horse crowds!)

Day 100 was just a lovely, uneventful day with friends, like most of my rides in the 100 Day Challenge.  

And more good news, my farrier tested Leah's hooves today and she didn't react at all.  A good sign that things are going back to normal.  

What's next after my 100 days?  What adventures lie ahead in 2016-2017?  

I can't wait to find out.


  1. Oh my, just maybe that was God's way of getting you off your horse so you wouldn't have to find out how Cowboy would have handled the tree with you on board! Just think about it, you wouldn't have dismounted had you not noticed your dangling bit. I absolutely believe in our guardian angels watching over us, and I kinda think yours was with you that day. Did Cowboy eventually jump the tree? I hate skinny trails like that with cliffs these days! Years ago when I was riding my Kadie mare (perfect horse that she was), it wouldn't have phased me, but these days I prefer wider trails, land on both sides of us, and not overly steeps. Overall it sounds like you had lovely rides and made some good memories! Congratulations on a job well done Linda! Your pics from the 100 day challenge speak louder than words. Beautiful!

    1. I couldn't agree more with you. I was telling the story to my sister the next day and it hit me that the broken bit may have saved my life. I couldn't have been more thankful at that moment! Yes, Cowboy did have to jump over the log because it extended over the edge. He couldn't see where it ended because it was covered with shrubs. He was nervous and in the mode to save his own life--so he had no trouble clearing the log back onto the trail! And yes, I prefer wider trails, too! You better have a rock solid horse if you're going to go bush-whacking on the steep stuff. PS. I used to let Cowboy go around down trees, but now I'm asking him to cross every dang one we see--path or no path!

  2. How wonderful to be 87 years young & still riding! Adventurous trail rides make for great memories & real life stories, as long as they have a happy ending. Glad your unexpected bit-less ride turned out okay, whew!!!

    1. Yeah, can you imagine being 87 and still in the saddle? Amazing! He comes out of the saddle quite often though. I think he wants to die on horseback, but so far, so good.

  3. That was an exciting couple of days. It's good to know that there's someone out there who has trouble walking, but can still ride. I saw a video of me walking this weekend, and I was horrified. I limp like one leg is several inches shorter than the other. I asked my husband when he noticed I started walking that way, and he said it started up this year.

    The broken bit potentially preventing a more serious problem reminds me of the time my trainer insisted on riding Gabbrielle down into the big arroyo behind my house. I advised against it, because I had led her down there once, and she went ballistic. She felt trapped. Anyway, the trainer said, "All the more reason to ride her down there," but before she could do it, the bridle broke. I was relieved that her plan was aborted. I'm pretty sure she would have been hurt.

    Free music and food is always a good thing.

    I was "traveling" around Spokane using birds eye and street view on Google maps, because I was trying to help my brother find a good neighborhood to live in that's close to conveniences since he doesn't have a car. It's really a beautiful area.

    1. Yes, it is a beautiful area. We've been exploring Lake Roosevelt on the waverunners and it is also GORGEOUS. It's less than an hour from our place. So much to see around here and so many lakes and trails!

  4. It's funny how things work sometime. I'm glad that your bit broke- that must have a bit nerve wracking.
    The scavenger hunt sounded like a bit of a hot mess- I hope that the runaway horses were okay.

    1. I heard the horses made it home safely. I'm not sure what that means. They weren't in our group, it turns out. Just a father and daughter on a trail ride on a very bad day to have one. The girl was hysterical afterward. It was extremely sad.

  5. Well, you certainly know how to end a challenge with a bang! Good thing your bit broke or it could have been a different turn out to the story. If I make it yo 87 I hope I'm still able to ride. He's amazing.

    You're right there's always one or more in the crowd to make things go wrong. Glad you and your granddaughter weren't hurt.

    It was nice to end the challenge on a good note with a fun ride. Congratulations!

    1. Yeah, it was like I had to earn those hundred days! I don't understand why GROWN women don't know better than to jeopardize other participants by running their horses around. There was a young lady on a green horse we ran into and she was almost in tears over it all. She said she'd hoped (and heard) that it was going to be a low-key, safe environment and she just got her horse back from 30 days of training, so she wanted to take him out.

      It was nice to end it with a relaxed ride & thank you!

  6. Well that was adventurous! But all's well that ends well. I want to be still riding when I'm in my 90's. One of my mentors was still riding in his 90's- for sure when he was 93 at a clinic I attended. He needed a little help getting on, but he rode most of the day.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.