Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

South Dakota Day 5 Trail Riding to Mt Rushmore

Wednesday, August 5, 2010

Wednesday was the day for the ride to Mt. Rushmore. 2 of us were a little apprehensive, as our horses have never been on such steep, rocky paths. Thinking about it was actually worse than riding the trails though.

We left at 9:10. We traveled Centennial 89 from the Iron Creek Campground to the Blackberry path that led to Mt Rushmore.

The paths were very rocky and I would not want to ride the trails without shoes. If you were adamant about staying barefoot, then I would highly suggest Easy Boots, or something to protect the soles.

There was one ledge that I thought was the worse. You had to move between 2 very close rocks and turn and step up on to a stone ledge. For about 3 steps, I held my breath. The rest of the terrain had dirt between the stones, so that even if you stepped onto flat rock, there was an area with dirt a step or 2 away.

The last ½ mile up took about 45 minutes and was the steepest and rockiest. We rode 4.4 miles and arrived in 2 hours. The views were breathtaking.

We could see Mt Rushmore through the trees.

We tied the horses to trees, which were in sight of a viewing of the presidents.

We walked across a small parking lot and the road that led into the Mt Rushmore area.

We walked between the state flags,

and arrived at the base of the viewing. It is amazing that, in the 1927-1941, the President’s heads were able to be carved out of stone.

Many years ago, when the kids were little, we came to Mt Rushmore for the first time. Someone had told us to view the rock monument at night. The area has been changed, as they added more buildings. At that time, I remember walking down a long path, state flags waving on flag posts on each side of the walkway. It was dark and we had to wait in semi-darkness. The lights came on the side of the mountain. The background was pitch black. In the foreground, the monument was like a 3D picture in front of us. White stone against a black sky. That was our first viewing of Mt. Rushmore. It has left a lasting impression on me, seeing that huge mountainside carving, brilliant against the night sky.

We were at Mt. Rushmore, sightseeing, taking pictures, and had lunch for about an hour and a half. We left, traveling back down Blackberry. For some reason, down seemed easier than up. I wouldn’t have thought so. Maybe I was concentrating on each step or 2 in front of me, helping my horse, Savannah, to find the best route. Down was slower, as the horses slowly found their footing between the stones, placing their feet carefully. When we come to a ledge or big step, they stepped slowly down, reaching with their front feet, then just went. I was glad when that part of the ride was over.

Riding back down Blackberry took about ½ hour. I think it took a little longer going up. This is definitely the steepest place of the trail. From there we turned northwest on Centennial 89 to Horsethief Lake, and continued south on Grizzly Bear Creek, back to C 89 to camp.

(The following pictures don't show the steep trails. I had my camera put away for those. I know my friend, Dianna, kept her camera out, and I can't wait to show you some of her pics!)

Our total mileage was 13.4 miles. Travel time was 7 hours, 10 minutes, which included the time spent at Mt Rushmore. Our moving time was 5 hours, 10 minutes. The extra non-moving time was spent on letting the horses eat some grass, picture taking, and just letting the horses rest after a steep climb.

I would trail ride to Mt Rushmore again. I wouldn’t lose and sleep, anticipating the climb. I only had Savannah less than 1½ months, and after the first 2 easy days of trail riding here, which including some climbs with stony areas, I knew she could do the steeper climbs.

Keep your horse slow on the up and down climbs. Help them to be sure footed, by helping them pick their way sometimes, and other times, let them find their own way.

We had a fabulous day. The weather, sunny and low 80’s, couldn’t be any better. Gorgeous views everywhere!

After a hard ride like today, tomorrow is rest day for the horses. And for the riders!

Resting in camp in the evening, the deer came out to graze.

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