Archive for the ‘horseback riding’ Tag

Eyes: Our Biggest Blessing   Leave a comment

I have heard people claim that their favorite sense is their hearing, or their taste (foodies), or some other sense.  But it is the eyes, your vision, that should be your favorite.  And not just because it is my favorite sense (haha).  It’s because you are a member of the human species.  We have always relied to a great extent on our vision.  I feel rotten for the whole day when I see a blind person, and I feel inspired when I see them enjoying life.  My eyes are my most precious possession.

This I say because just yesterday I almost lost one.  I was on my horse, enjoying a long ride, when I felt a bit adventurous and took an off-trail route through the jungle that is Oregon (our moist climate has the predictable effect).  I was leading my other horse Khallie, a filly who is occasionally a pain in the butt to pony (horse-speak for leading).  We were going along, through brush where I should have dismounted and walked.  I turned briefly to see what Khallie’s problem was, and when I turned back I got a rigid stick right in my left eye.

Khallie (left) and her mom, Gold Dancer, take a break from a ride in some delicious grass.

The three amigos hang out at the barn after their post-ride bath.

Khallie and I under a full moon.

I haven’t experienced this much pain in quite awhile.  I sat on GD’s back howling, shaking with worry that I had put my eye out.  But when I slowly opened my bloody eye I realized that, just in time, I had apparently closed my eye.  Instead of eye damage, I gashed my eyelid instead.  Whew!  Now my horse GD (for Gold Dancer) normally does not like to stop.  She fidgets and tosses her head until I finally relent and give her rein.  But this time she stood stock still for a full 10 minutes while I recovered.  Actually, both horses stood like statues.  It gave me faith that should I really be hurt badly my horse would carry me home whether I could sit upright or not.

Fortunately I was near a clean stream, so I went over and washed out my bloody eye.  What a close call.  GD thought we were going to cross the stream and I had to stop her from dragging me into the water.  Khallie, as usual, believed we were all about to drown.  Her fear of water is something I’ve been working on.  This morning I woke with my eye sealed shut by the dried blood.  A little worry, some leftover pain, but I was okay.  I cleaned out the wound and will be happy to walk around for the next few days looking like I was in a barroom brawl.

Now I sit here thanking my lucky stars for a good pair of eyes.  To this point in life, I have never even come close to needing glasses.  I do not have the hawk-eyed vision at long distance that I used to have, but my eyes work just fine at all distances.  The bright blue eye color of my youth has dimmed a bit, but I still have that ice-blue going on.  I’ve been told that they can look pretty or very cold depending on whether I am happy (nearly always) or angry (almost never).  I think my eyes are one reason I have always had trouble hiding how I feel.  My feelings are always on full display.

Khallie, an arabian filly who is my special little girl, perks her hears forward in curiosity.

GD in a shot taken from the saddle.

So please consider your eyes the next time you count your blessings.  Although we no longer hunt to survive, there are so many things we do where vision is critical.

And for me, the most indispensable use of my eyes is the ability to see the incredible beauty of this planet we call home.  I am now going to go out for a hike and shoot pictures.  And all along I’ll be thanking God for giving me those two incredibly intricate organs in my face.

The Arabian Horse (and other horsey matters)   Leave a comment

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Khallie and her friends graze in the flowers.

I really have to interrupt the travel blog routine to squeeze in a bit about my horses.  I have two, both girls. The filly in the foreground is my favorite, perhaps because I watched her being born.  Her name is Khalista Siriane (Khallie to her friends), a registered arabian who is considered too small by American standards.  So she’s not worth much in this country, but is worth the world to me.

Khallie is of average size if you take the traditional view of arabs; that is, they are not generally large horses, especially the mares.  Arabian stallions can be, but traditional breeding did not emphasize size except for a certain few lines that were bred to be war horses.  Khallie is only 4 years old, and arabians, unlike most breeds, will normally continue to grow, as late as their 6th year.  Later growth tends to consist mostly of “filling out”, however.

Over the past number of years in this country (USA), arabians have been bred larger and larger, as judges on the show circuit have been rewarding size.  So it is all for the show arena.  War horses I can see, but show?  Give me a break!  Breeders with large, well-conformed stallions of good breeding can literally milk them for millions.  They collect the sperm, immediately freeze it, then ship it to buyers for upwards of $5000 and more a pop!  Considering a stallion being teased by mares is one productive beast, he’s a gold mine on 4 legs.

Arabian horses are prized for their spirit and their brains.  In other words, they are quick to catch on to anything you teach them, but often forget that they are supposed to be going along with your plan at all times.  But if you remember their nature, and give them the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually become the type of horse that thinks on its feet.  They can get you out of a tight spot, often when you are trying to urge them to do something they know would be stupid.  And upon further investigation or thought, you realize they’re right and you’re wrong.

The white horse in the background is my mare Gold Dancer (AKA GD), who is Khallie’s mother and also full arabian.  She is quite typical for her breed, alternately wonderful and infuriating: a responsive speed demon when you give her the green light (no kicking required), but sometimes a royal pain.  She and Khallie both respond to verbal commands very well.  They can easily distinguish commands that vary in their sounds only slightly.  For example my command for stop is Whoa! and for slow-down it’s Whea!  .

I normally ride my motorcycle out to the barn, speeding along at 70 or more on the 2-lanes of looming death called Springwater Road.  After all that excitement, you might think riding the horse is a bit dull.  Nope!  In fact, it’s the other way around.  If she and I are in the mood for running, a ride on GD makes the trip back on my bike less exciting.  Speed on a horse can’t compare with speed on any other conveyance.  Maybe skiing trees fast compares, or at high speed downhill on single-track through forest on a mountain bike.  But riding GD at a run on forested trail with a good number of S-curves, leaning into those turns, that’s the stuff!

But it’s not all excitement with horses.  Mostly, hanging out with them involves listening to their munch-munch-munch sounds as they seem to totally ignore you and graze.  But hanging with them like that, soaking up the fresh air and sunshine, is supremely relaxing.  After a time, looking at them, you begin to realize they aren’t ignoring you at all.  You know they are always aware of you, even if they don’t seem to be paying attention.

It’s the herd togetherness thing, an invisible connection you feel.  And it makes you feel good, in the same way it makes them feel good, being part of a herd.  I now realize how terrible it is to leave a horse alone for long periods, with no friends.  We humans can take it for a stretch.  Horses really suffer.  So please, never get a horse unless you plan to board it with others…or get two.  Happy riding!

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