Monday, April 14, 2014

Mugs/Big K Clinic 2013

Come ride with us..Clinic 2014.

We stopped in Ft. Collins that night. Kathy coaxed me into stopping for dinner and meeting up with a friend. I was gnashing my teeth -- I wanted to make it to Sheridan that night -- but Kathy reserves the right to eat a meal once in a while.

We have logged enough miles hauling horses for her to know I'm quite capable of driving all night with a water bottle and a bag of granola. She also knows I turn into a raging psychotic bitch the next day. For some reason she objects to spending her precious vacation days with the Jekyll and Hyde version of Mugs. Whatever.

By the time dinner was over I was crashing, I was getting my first lesson in travelling with PD. Push too hard and watch my blood pressure plummet. So, we spent the night with the horses tied to the trailer and me out cold on the couch.

The next morning I was up and pacing before daylight. I had recovered my manners and gratitude and gave Kathy time for coffee before we loaded up and took off. My mind was on Montana and the pull of the road was so strong it hurt.

My breathing didn't slow until we passed Cheyenne. People complain about crossing Wyoming. The land is harsh and empty, the wind is strong and never stops. I love it. The open space soothes me, and I find endless variety in the terrain. Most of all, I love the play of light and sky on the prairie.

It soothes something wild that lives deep inside of me. When I'm alone, I cross Wyoming  with my windows down and the radio off, and lose myself in the harmonies of the wind and the tires on the pavement, backed up with the percussion of a growling diesel engine. When I have company, I crank my road music to the max. Music is totally my pick through Wyoming, no exceptions.

My music choices aren't for the faint of heart. Try The Execution of Stepen Razin Op.119 at 6:00 a.m. and see if you still call me friend. Ask the kidlette how she feels about Desi Arnez, Joni Mitchell and Edith Piaf. She'll tell you my road music is the sole reason she applied for Emancipation of a Minor when she was 11.

Be afraid, Becky Bean, be very afraid.

I watch for livestock and antelope. The babies were big enough to be up and running.There are more this year than the last few, but not by many. The drought and the market have brought breeding to a halt in ranch country. The only time I saw more than one or two foals was the herd of mini's at a K.O.A. campground. There had to be at least a dozen of the cute little things on the ground. There was a sign on the pasture fence - Herd Reduction! Champion Bloodlines! - of course there was.

The horses tend to be a better quality across the board out here. They have good bone, pretty heads and appealing color. I like to think about the why's and how's behind that one. There seems to be a direct correlation between ugly horses and 5 acre ranchettes.

Travelling through Wyoming makes the occasional oasis much sweeter, every time we pass one I think about living in a tiny cabin with big windows and a giant deck. I could watch the sky and light roll by forever if I was settled in a bit of trees.

The closer we get to the Montana border, the lighter I feel. My world has become so small. My days are spent inside, my work is repetitive, and my time with my horses is usually short and anxious. I feel my old self come flooding back, the relief to know I'm still in there, somewhere, is enormous. As we cross into Montana, Kathy leans over, yanks my "Sambo Mia"  c.d. out of the player and turns on the radio. I can see her fight the urge to chuck it out the window.


  1. "there seems to be a correlation between ugly horses and the five acre ranch"

    Boy ain't that the truth. When I was in WY (you drove right past my house by the way) I loved it there, and I know exactly what you mean, the quality of horses is much better there.

    The wide open spaces are amazing, the sunsets are gorgeous, the people are different......and the wind is the worst!

  2. That countryside would be wonderful with Paul Togioka's Hawaiian slack key guitar music in the background. My favorite (traveling with a car full of chickens to a poultry show) is Ki ho alu Inn.

  3. I wish my drive through Wyoming was a beautiful as yours. When I moved to Oregon from Maryland in the early Spring it wasn't nearly a beautiful as you described. Maybe it was the time of the year, or the stress of driving cross-country with a sheltie and two chinchillas or riding with my Dad who refused to listen to any music at all...

  4. I feel the same way about driving through Northern Ontario... the road twists around hills not quite large enough to be called mountains, through the sheer rock of dynamited ravines, and winds along deep fast rivers. Trees and rocks as far as the eye can see and I feel like the only person in the entire world. I hear you about the small cabin with wide deck... and I dream about a small surefooted horse to ride beneath the muffling tree branches along the deer-path into the wildflower meadows. I can hear distant sounds of my dog scrambling in the underbrush trying to tree something smaller and faster than she is.

    Have I mentioned I'm renting an apartment on a horse farm starting June 1? And there are trails...

  5. SquirrelGurl-You're blaming the countryside for your traveling companions...
    pishkeen-my envy runneth over

  6. Beautiful photos, love the open sky and wide horizons and the wind. It's like that where I live, except much of the area is low saltbush shrub rather than grass. :) Joni Mitchell and Piaff sound pretty cool music choices to me.

  7. It's funny Mugs, cus I've often been envious of you. I rode a ton in highschool, but in a pretty limited way compared to some of your stories. I'm just getting back into it now that I found this amazing place, and I really hope that I don't screw it up. I haven't had the great experiences and horses that you have; hopefully this is my chance to finally really ride.

    PS I'm re-reading all your training advice now!

  8. So glad you are doing this. Love the photos. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I moved out west (summer working a dude ranch in MT, then a winter ski lodge in CO, and i've found my place in WY). I'm actually right on the route you drove too :) I am stupid in love with looking out my windows. There's all this hard red/brown, dusty green flat. Then, pow! Butte or hills or herd of cattle or buffalo. The light is stunning, and then there's the mountains and the snow...

  10. This is fantastic! I've driven across the Canadian prairies a couple times and it's amazing. Most people think it's tedious and there's nothing to look at but I find it beautiful. Last spring we were driving through Saskatchewan at sunset and everything was blue and yellow; it was like being inside a painting. I have to say, I'll always prefer my southern Ontario farmland, but I will defend the prairies to anybody who slags it.

    And Pishkeen, I totally understand what you're saying about northern Ontario! It's the opposite of what you see out west, a different kind of beauty.

    As for road trippin' music… my husband has been making music sound good for 25 years and often doesn't want to listen unless he's on the clock. So we drive with road noise more than we used to. But, he's worked on so much jazz in the last decade and when would I ever have heard any of that? Years ago I would have picked all metal all the time for driving!

    I'm having stupid thoughts like, we could do the go-hard road trip and be there in three days… I am getting way too old for that...

  11. Oh gosh Heidi, I was having similar crazy notions to the point where I'm submitting my passport application tomorrow (better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it, right?). But my husband-to-be keeps reminding me that we have two other big events this summer, and I probably don't need to make it a third...

    Southern Ontario farmland is my home too and I happily enjoy the milder winters instead of the harsher wilderness of the North.

  12. So Mugs, there are a lot of people (my self included) who would love to ride with you, but can't make the haul out west. Would you be interested in traveling closer to us and putting on a clinic? Or how about a group trail ride and camp out?

  13. I think you're right Mugs, I think you're right...

  14. I wish so badly that I could do this this year, but Suki's just recovering from OCD surgery in her hocks, and I want to give her an easy summer of trail rides. Please do this next year! Or come to canada!!!