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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

April 17, 2011

A conversation about riding alone prior to the ride meeting.

It is kind of funny that this came up, and funnier still that I read a closing thought on the subject on Tamara's blog The Barb Wire.   It must have been brought up at least four times this weekend.  The challenges of training solo, the hazards of training solo, and the fact that at some point you realize the partnership with your horse and you really don't feel "alone" but more a bonded pair moving on down the trail.  I know folks who absolutely do not train without another training partner for safety reasons.  Ideally, yes it is profoundly more safe to have someone to watch your back in the case your ride goes haywire in some big way (as mine often do).  When it is just you, your horse, the trees, squirrels chattering, rivers and creeks flowing, your horse learns to lean on you a little more, and hopefully to trust your leadership (unless attacked by knife welding rogue trees), and your focus becomes tight, onward, onward down the trail.  I've often believed that animals communicate by thought and body language, and horses somehow pick up on our shifts of mental balance, our fear, or in opposition our boldness and mental purpose.  Sometimes if you picture the bad thing happening it suddenly does.  When you picture the flawless ride you somehow get it.  Our horses are beautiful, sensitive, intuitive creatures when they are using a thinking brain, and reckless death on wheels when the reactive side is unleashed.  It is our job to build  partnership.  In the freaky situation that happened this weekend, Phebes resorted to the reckless panic stricken horse, and she wasn't alone, just before it happened, I pictured it.  Did she read me, or did I read her?  We both came through relatively unscathed other than a scrape on her withers and the fear and thankfulness that rushed headlong through my veins.  I like to hope that I will eventually build a solid partnership with this horse that she will choose my direction even when her instincts and adrenaline would like to take over.  We train solo out of necessity, but like many said in the conversation on the topic these are often the very best of rides, and I know for myself  I agree wholeheartedly with Tamara...I love those quiet training rides the best.


  1. I really think you'll get there one day. We get so immersed in day-to-day work with our "problem children" that we don't often step back and look at how far we've come. You have come SO far with Phoebes - you'll get there.

  2. I agree with what Funder said. You've come a long way.

    And it's funny that came up. I definitely prefer riding alone, and Ozzy is the best when we do.