“YOU GETTING OUT to ride much?”
It’s a question I’m asked all too frequently.
I love to ride, but becuase I’m not riding as much these days I squirm a bit before uttering, “sadly, no.”
The truth is since I moved into a new place this past August it’s been very slow going trying to unpack boxes and get the place organized.
It’s mainly because I’m now caring for my elderly mother, who now lives with “old-timer’s disease,” along with helping my sister raise her very active 3-year-old grandson.
I feel as if I’m always off-balance and whirling from one person who needs my help to the next, all while living with my own body’s chronic disease, multiple sclerosis.
However, when I’m asked that question I’ve discovered after they hear my answer almost everyone replies with, “me neither,” and then they proceed to list all the problems they too are dealing with.
Yep, it appears my peers and I are all getting older and are dealing with a variety of troublesome issues at the same time.
Some are raising grandkids, nieces or nephews whose parents are lost to a world of drugs; others have become caretakers to elderly parents — or a significant other — and/or are learning to cope with their own chronic health problems.
And, while most of those who are younger than 50 won’t be able to grasp the scope of it, getting old is certainly getting in the way of us having fun on our horses the way we used to do.
The good news is there are many of my peers who are still able to soldier on despite the aches and pains of old age or illness.
I am so impressed with my equestrian friends from the Sol Duc Valley, Larry and Sherry Baysinger.
Not only because they’ve been married for 49 years, but last Saturday, despite the freezing cold and snowfall, they saddled up their horses, loaded them into the trailer and drove up the road a bit to work on clearing a couple of fallen trees and branches off Littleton Trail.
The Baysingers are long-time members of Backcountry Horsemen who own and operate Rain Forest Horse Rides in the Sol Duc Valley.
Just last summer, they retired from their business as commercial packers in the Olympic National Park.
However, retiring from their income-producing job doesn’t mean they are kicking back and taking it easy.
As Sherry says, “We are retired from commercial work but not retired from work.”
Despite years of working with horses, the two continue to share their love of horses and the Olympic Mountains.
“We continue to do trail work, because riding our horses and being in the woods, especially the back country, is our passion,” Sherry said.
“It’s also how we have met so many of our wonderful friends.”
Unlike others who have to search to find someone else to ride with, Larry says, “We are fortunate we enjoy riding together as a couple.”
These two are amazing because unlike most their idea of “riding the trails” really means packing the tools needed to clear fallen trees and branches and whatever else is necessary to help keep the trails on the West End open for others to enjoy.
As for last Saturday’s outing to Littleton Trail, Sherry admits to having an ulterior motive: Saturday was the first ride on a mountain trail with her new buckskin mare, a Foxtrotter from Montana.
When she saw an ad for the mare on Dreamhorse (a website with horses for sale) she knew it would make a nice match with Larry’s buckskin gelding.
“Larry was packing our son and his brother-in-law on a hunting trip to Montana when I just happened to find this buckskin mare on Dreamhorse,” she said.
“The lady who had her happened to live just 15 miles from our long-time friend and ONP packer Boone Jones, who was kind enough to go check her out for me.”
After Jones gave his approval, she was able to contact Larry to let him know that he needed to make a slight detour and pick up this mare on his way home.
Foxtrotters, for those who don’t know, are known to have a much smoother walk, or gait, than most horses. Thus, they’ve become a popular choice for those of us who belong to the Baby Boomer generation.
Sherry said the ride on her new mare was, “awesome and so smooth going downhill that I feel that maybe my back and knees will hold up for another few seasons of riding.”
Yep, that’s the reality check.
As for the Littleton Trail itself, Sherry reported they cleared a couple of windfalls (fallen trees and branches) off the trail but couldn’t get to the trailhead itself because too much snow had fallen.
As of now, the trail is not open for stock use due to the snow and the “many large windfalls that we will need help to clear later.”
In addition, the paved areas of the Olympic Discovery Trail near Lake Crescent are “extremely icy and not stock accessible at this time.”
I figured I should share that news to any crazy, I mean hardy, soul who was thinking of venturing out to ride in this frigid weather.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.