Perched atop Mount Muller

Perched atop Mount Muller

KAREN GRIFFITHS’ HORSEPLAY COLUMN: Endurance rider writes about going bitless

A FAVORITE TRAIL ride of mine is from Littleton Horse Camp to the Mount Muller summit.

I’ve ridden it several times, and each time, I find myself awestruck by the majestic views of Sol Duc Valley, Lake Crescent and the Olympic Mountains.

It should be said a horse needs to be in shape to travel the roughly 13-mile loop because it has a fairly steep incline and decline.

And while Lisa claims her Akhal-Teke, a horse bred for speed and endurance, was “not in race shape” for their October trek up the mountain, I happen to know the two, who compete in endurance racing, are always in good condition — even in the winter.

I know because almost daily, I can look out my window — where I sit perched atop my easy chair and sipping tea next to my warm wood stove — and see them journey past to embark on the Cassidy Creek DNR trail system.

Lisa, it should be noted, refers to a 6-mile ride in the DNR region as a “nice little jaunt,” while most of us “common folks” or non-endurance competitors will refer to it as a “nice, long ride.”

As an example of how fast Lisa and Addie travel the trails “not in race shape,” it took them fewer than two hours and 45 minutes to complete the 13-mile Mount Muller loop, and they came home with energy to spare.

I’m fairly certain the last time I rode the loop was with a group of friends, and it took us at least six hours — if not more.

By the end, we were all (horses included) very sore and tired.

Mount Muller’s trailhead starts at Littleton Horse Camp, which is the pride of the Backcountry Horsemen’s Peninsula chapter, and rightly so since it came to fruition through the group’s hard labor and joyful volunteer spirit.

Located west of Port Angeles off U.S. Highway 101, it’s centrally located to about 25 miles of trails and has horse corrals, a vault toilet for humans, stock water tank and parking for several big trailer rigs.

The Peninsula chapter also works hard to clear and maintain those trails, which each spring are chock full of downed trees and branches that need to be cut and cleared off the trails.

With all the working out Lisa does (and she also pumps iron), walking her dog and riding her horse, I don’t know how she finds the time to write books, but she does.

I own her latest, Bitless Bridles, because there’s a lot of hype these days about “going bitless,” and I wanted to learn more about it.

I’ve also been wanting to learn how to make my own bosal (a type of hackamore, or bitless bridle, with a firm, shaped noseband) and rope halters.

Well, in her book, not only does Lisa explain what a bosal is and how to make it, she explains its origin (the hackamore probably began in ancient Persia as the hakama), the materials used in making traditional bosals (braided rawhide and long horse-hair rope called a mecate), the intention of the bosal (best for indirect neck reining) and the traditional fit (a bosal is controlled by wrapping the mecate above the bosal’s heel), and how and where to adjust it.

The book includes step-by-step instructions on how to make more than a dozen different bitless bridles, halters and other handmade tack, including cross-jaws, neck loops, climbing aids and secure Indian hackamores.

The entire book is a very interesting read.

I highly recommend it to all horse owners or even those interested in learning rope-weaving techniques like macrame.

For more information, visit her website at


The Patterned Speed Horse Association’s end-of-year banquet and awards ceremony was held last month at Port Angeles’ Red Lion Hotel.

Gamers gathered from across the state to socialize and accept awards.

Once again, our local riders won numerous top 10 awards.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the list of winners yet, but since I was there, I can tell you Tylar Decker, Waynora Martin, Brad Varner, Ady Crosby, Duncan Parks, Sam Parks, Tyler Lemon and Kenzie Hendricks all received top honors.

Duncan’s mom and dad, Melonie and Jamie Parks, were instrumental in making the weekend a success (Dad was an engaging MC), along with regional members Bridget and Paul Stumbaugh, Donna Parks, Ann Marie Wood-Holgerson, Pam Crosby, Tammy and Tanya Hull, Micki McFall, Molly Dickson, Marie Dickinson, Donna Barnes Cox and Erica Segle-Batson.


Freedom Farms events at 493 Spring Road in Agnew (phone Mary Gallagher at 360-457-4897):

■ Saturday, Nov. 16 — Hoofbeats schooling show.

■ Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17 — Cowmanship class.

■ Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 — Adult horsemanship class.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears every other Wednesday.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

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