Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Friday, August 20, 2010

South Dakota Day 7 Trail Riding to Harney Peak

Friday, August 7, 2010



Trail riding to Harney Peak is the ultimate trail ride of the area. The trail is steep, rocky, and sometimes, a little tough in places. Maybe a little treacherous. There was one spot where you stepped up onto stone, had to make a sharp turn to the right through a very tight, maybe 6” path for the horses’ legs, and up onto rock again. For 3 or 4 steps, I held my breath. Then we had to come back down it! The last 30 minutes were the toughest, but well worth it.

Along the way is some fungus growing on trees. The horse thought it was interesting too.



To view Harney Peak is breathtaking. You are on top of the mountain, literally. You see above the tree line and far into the distance. Let’s just say that my viewing lasted less than 5 minutes, as I made the climb with my horse, and I climbed the last area by foot, but as I stood in the middle of the area at the top of the peak, I knew I couldn’t stay there. After a few minutes, I high tailed it down to safe ground. Back to where the horses were tied.



No one understands what I feel, at least not too many people. I can look out, over heights but I can’t look down. And I’m bothered by seeing other people look down over steep edges. And it‘s getting worse with age. I asked my friends not to get near the edge when I was up there, but one ventured too near for my comfort. And I quickly exited the area. I don’t know why. I don’t know when this feeling started. But all I know is that my body doesn’t care for the feeling that someone may go over the edge. So after a few very short moments of viewing the wonderful scenery, I went to the safety of where the horses were. And I called my husband. I was a little upset.

Is it ok to say that I was feeling a little homesick? I had been on the road for 7 days with 4 other women. This day was hard for me. And I was on a horse with very little experience. And I felt that no one truly understood what I felt. My horse was anxious and skittish at times. I don’t enjoy heights. But I knew that my hubby would understand, because he has experienced my uneasiness and what I felt, first hand. And, that time, a few years ago, when he pushed the matter with me, I was so upset that I cried. And then he knew that the experience had upset me. This time, as he talked to me on the phone, I almost started to cry. But I heard my friends coming back down the trail to the horses, so I didn’t talk so I wouldn’t be upset. Mostly with myself. I didn‘t want to be anxious about heights, about my new horse, about her anxieties and goosiness if she was last. I wanted to enjoy the day. I needed to enjoy the moment. So, to my hubby on the phone, I said I miss you and I love you, and then we hung up. I didn’t talk to my friends, as I felt they were upset with me for leaving them. But they knew I may not even make that walk up the staircase, to the top, or stay there very long. I just wanted to be back with the horses. I only needed someone to understand and who cared.



I think everyone was feeling the pressure of the day. The steep, rocky climb. The tight turns, on rock. The anticipation of what was going to happen. Then the relief when the climb to the top was done. Only to realize that the climb had to continue, but this time down. And when the trail leveled off, everyone was thinking of their own ride. I doubt, at that moment, when we were down with the steepest decline, no one took into consideration the thoughts and fears of the other riders, and their horses.

No one realized that my horse was turning into a monster. At one point, when we stopped to take pictures of each other, she was wanting to rear and rush forward. I don’t like it when people think I’m just rushing them to get moving. I know everyone wants time to get their picture taken. My horse needed to go, and go now, to keep her mind on the trail, and not on losing it. She needs patience training, but this wasn‘t the moment to work on that. Why didn’t anyone understand that but me? I tired to explain that, but no one was listening to my doubts. Was it because we were already on the trail for 6 hours and everyone else was beginning to get tired? I felt like my horse was like that kid that was over tired. Being bad because she had just about had enough! I didn’t say anything, just bit my lip, and felt more upset with myself. Geez, I was turning hormonal! And that was the only bad thing that happened on the trip. I brought it on myself. Imagine that!

All of the trail rides and this trip up to Harney Peak was well worth any trouble along the way. I know that now. I would do it again this trip, if we had just a few days to prepare for it again!



And after we had all had a snack when we got back, I think everyone was feeling better and the mood lightened. I know I was tired, so I’m sure everyone was. After feeding horses at chore time, we sat around a campfire, enjoying the cooler night and watching the deer come down to the meadow to graze.

A few riders were leaving the next morning, and I was debating on whether to leave. I ended up staying the last day, as I had already paid for the campsite. I figured we would go on one last short ride and zone out. I needed to end the ride time in SD on a good note with my friends. I needed an easy ride on my horse.

When horses get bad, as they always will, don’t take it out on friends. Just make the most of what you are riding at the moment, and keep everyone safe. There’s time to work on behavior issues and training moments at home. The rides through the forest and up the hill sides were wonderful. That is the most important thing to remember about this vacation.

That, and these beautiful sunsets that we saw!

2 comments:

Tammy said...

I love Harney Peak. Still my favorite. I can understand your anxiety about your horse, too. I went thru that my first CGW with Windy. It is frustrating and scary!

I remember coming down Harney Peak - everyone's horses were tired, except Windy. She was in the go go go mood. Lead mot of the way back.

Horses Are Our Lives said...

thanks, tv! My horse was actually being pretty good, especially going up. then, like I tell people, your horse will feed off your emotions. I think she felt my apprehensions over the height thing, and just didn't want to stop moving until she got back to camp. She has a motor and she wanted to go.

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