Teton National Forest

Author’s Note: During my quarantine cleanout, I came across my journal which I kept in July 2005 when I traveled out west. I went alone, rented a car, and drove through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. It was a spectacular trip, and I loved the opportunity to be spontaneous, stopping whenever something pulled my spirit. I decided to depart from a Leia post and share some of these journal entries. “Straightness” was inspired by my trail ride through the Teton National Forest. The photos are not mine.

This morning I met Deb and Patty at Teton Valley Ranch for my half day trail ride. I walked into the barn wearing my black riding breeches adorned with red horses. I told the gals that I had come dressed to spice up the west. My mount for the morning was a sorrel (chestnut) mare named Dingle. She was a new horse to the ranch and was still in her evaluation stage as a trustworthy trail mount.

As we started down the trail on the 4000 acre ranch which abutted the Teton National Forest, Dingle’s body was curved to the left. Therefore, I was dropping off to the right and extremely uncomfortable and unbalanced in the saddle. I started to “talk” to her with my hands, legs, and weight to see if I could straighten her so the saddle would be centered on her back and she could then balance my weight. I applied my right leg to her flank and gave little requests with the right rein in an attempt to eliminate the bow (curve) through her neck and body. At first she was confused, but because I did not demand and continued to ask tactfully, she eventually decided she could comply with my requests. Mares are noted for being smart, and Dingle was no exception. She quickly figured out what I wanted, and once I established her straightness and balance, she maintained it through most of the ride with only occasional reminders.

We rode for about 3 hours plus a 20 minute rest stop by a beautiful creek. The meadows and ridges were a palette of color provided by a wide variety of wildflowers. Deb and Patty both carried wildflower identification books and were enraptured by the display of bloom. I asked what the red flower was that reminded me of our Monarda, or Bee Balm. It was Indian Paintbrush. Indeed the rim of the leaves just below the bloom appeared to be brushed in crimson.

Indian Paintbrush

There is zen in everything we do; we just need to learn to be mindful. Not only did the ride through the ranch territory and Teton National Park invite the opportunity to be “in the moment,” Dingle’s lesson in straightness can easily be applied to our own lives. In horses, straightness asks the horse to load each leg equally so that the energy and power created from the hindquarters can move forward through the body with ease. Not only does this keep horses sound in limb, it also assists their balance and lessens fatigue. A balanced horse is a happy horse because it is free to move in harmony.

Likewise, we, as humans, are constantly challenged to maintain straightness — keeping a sense of correct priorities, and balance in our internal as well as external environments.

One thought on “STRAIGHTNESS

  1. Catherine Marie Guenzel says:

    Enjoyed this as an escape! Thanks Deb! I too have had riding experience in the West, 3 summers in the “70’s” working at a Dude Ranch in the Colorado Rockies. Loved every minute of it!
    And, yes, Indian Paint Brush & CO. Columbine were my favorite flowers!

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