Fire Season in Montana – July 17, 2021 Libby Montana

July15th 2021.

“In Service” that is what I am, in service to my horses, its really ALL I do. My day begins with them, moves thur the day with them – from morning till night they are nearby. Asking for this, needing that, water, food, fly cover, attention, brushing, exercise. Asking…more like demanding… “We need a little more salt, No we need more grain, lets go to the creek now, I don’t like the spray bottle, it tickles. Liska has gone to far away from us, tell her to come back.” This life with these two horses IS my life. But no more Long Riding, no more of that really, really extreme life. Short rides, yes, yes please. 200/300 mile rides. Slow, easy-trails, places I could not see when a Long Ride held me under its grip, pushing me another 1000 miles or more.

This is semi-retirement and right now it’s nice. Nice to be still in the solitude of the woods, in my tent, not traveling, with my horses, near a creek, hot sun, cool nights, bugs not to bad, quiet days, quiet nights.

We are camped in the Kootenai National Forest near an old corral with broken gates yet sturdy enough to hold my horses securely. (I did gate repair) If only Essie Pearl, Hart, Honor, and yes Claire Dog had been given this time as a thank you for all the years, all the miles, all the weight and difficult situations I pushed them thur. Essie and Claire both traveled with me more than 25,000 miles. Hart 6000 miles and Honor 11,000 miles. Pride who remains alive at what? ….32 years with veterinarian Nancy Haugan in Eureka traveled the first 2000 miles with me. Truly an honor a cherished, humbling honor to have traveled and lived with these animals who gave so much of themselves, trusting an often times ignorant navigator. They reminded me to stay grounded, slow down, look for greener pasture, it’ not so bad, you’ll survive if we can. And what, what a lesson their willingness to move forward each morning, what a lesson that was for me!

Bells jingle and jangle off their halters as they graze across the creek. Liska never drifting far from Spirit who is tethered on a long front leg picket line. They openly show their affection for one another, scratching and grooming each others necks and backs every chance they can. Spirit “manages” Liska but is gentle with her, there is no kicking or biting as there had been when the two were first introduced to one another. I have never had two horses so “joined up”, so bonded, it’s really very touching how they move in unison.

Spirit looks like such a rag a muffin with her long forelock and mane. She looks like a wild mustang that roams Wyoming. This life continues to suit me, nurture me. Needing only a little. At this time in my life it is all that I have to offer, use less. Doing without comes easy for me. What for most people would call an inconvenience for me becomes a challenge, “OK lets see how can I make that or rig it up so it works like this?” I love the mental process of not having and finding a way of making it work with what is surrounding me. But all of this is relative. When I look at the new homes being built in Whitefish, Mt. – multi-million dollar homes – the question however, does beg to be answered, “How much does one need?” How elaborate, unique, how great the view, how comfortable, how important must one have it? Northwest Montana is exploding with new arrivals, money, growth and change. It is the first truly big migration since the 50’s when the Libby dam and the BNSF Railway built an 11 mile tunnel near Trego.

I said goodbye to my Montana cabin last month. Thirty two years of my life now in a 10/12 ft storage unit waiting relocation to my sisters home in New Mexico. No, not east to let go of that lovely slice of heaven. But as my younger sister Carol said, “Its better to make a change while you can, then when you have to.” I was delighted I must say with the new owners who come from Pennsylvania and are a perfect fit for the cabin. They know and appreciate just what they have purchased and will be an asset to the Trego community. Welcome!

Other news….Before leaving the Kalispell area I stopped by Outfitters Supply and visited with Russ Barnett. Business is good. He’d just had a young couple looking for sponsorship and for me. He called them and they came out and picked my brain while I camped at the Kalispell Fair Grounds. They are planning an ambitions ride across the US. “5000 miles with 5 horses/mules for 5000 Mustangs” check out their website and mission statement. They will have a support vehicle and its not really a “long ride” in that sense but still, not at all easy.

Right now I am preparing for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame August 13th and 14th in Great Falls, MT. My new riding pants are done, finished working on them last night. Jimmy Prior from SunBody Hats sent out a new hat, am making a new hat band for that. Boots and belt oiled and then I must find a pretty colorful shirt to set the attire off. Smiles.

From August 22nd to the 29th I will be in Long Beach, Washington at the Red Barn Arena. I once trained, showed and gave riding lessons at this arena in the mid 70’s as a youngster of 23 or so. The barn had not even been completed. Now a 3rd generation takes over management and I am truly looking forward to the visit and to riding on the beach! Spirit has seen the Atlantic Ocean but Little Liska has never seen such a large body of water. I’ll be visiting many friends whom I have not seen in years one of which is Emily McKee-Morioka. For those of you who have read the book “Lady Long Rider,” you will know she is the gal who stuck it out with me for 250 miles on the 2012 ride thru Canada. Now happily married with a young son – it will be a highlight visiting with her, her husband and son.It had been sometime since a professional farrier put shoes on the horses so I called Tracey Overnick who has a good reputation in the area. What I did not know was that Gene Overnick his uncle was from Trego. I had heard of him but our  paths never crossed ( I never used horseshoes back then) while I lived there and he moved many years ago to the Wickenburg, Arizona area. What I also did not know was that Gene Overnick is the founder/creator of the Balance Horseshoe. A whole philosophy  of shoeing came from Gene and much I use my self. My sister uses a Balanced Horseshoe Farrier. So that was interesting talking with him. And yes he did indeed do a skill-full setting of horseshoes on my horses hooves. A small, interesting world!
LIbby has a Farmers Market once a week a must for me. Now I ask you would you rather have produce, beautiful, fresh, clean – handled by one or two people from the very earth you walk on or would you rather have it arrive via boat,truck,airplane, handled by a million people have been in cold storage for a couple of weeks and sprayed with who knows what? THis is not a hard choice for me. Support please, support your local farmers they are the future or good health for us and for the planet.

More camping after Long Beach then a visit to see Rebecca Adams (she donated Liska to my rides) in Pendleton, Oregon before heading for Dillon, Montana for the National Horse Conference and Montana’s International Equus Film Festival September 9th 10th & 11th. I am on the guest speaker roster.

All of course as I have said on my rides is a lot of yaddie yadda until it happens. Fires are burning, smoke fills the air this is a precarious time, fire season.

Stay well. Either “DO” the solution or you will “BE” the problem. Smiles

check out the website see what you think

Happy Trails

delicious meal from a shopping day at the Farmers Market in Libby


still dreaming about places I might ride

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