The World According to Colleen and Other Recipes for Non-Disaster

Monday, January 13, 2014

I am one of those people who looooves making lists. Recently while reading Outside magazine, I got an idea to create another one of my lists. This one is horse related.

 I was at home in a comfy chair on one of those days when it was so wet and rainy that all I could do was brush Lilly and give her carrots when I went to see her. Since I got home early that day, I got involved in this article about Les Stroud, aka Survivorman. It has inspired me to make my own list of Survivor Tips for a trail ride!
Rather, I should say, what follows is a list of things I do to ensure that I am never in a survivor situation on the trail when riding alone. I ride alone a lot. As I was reading this article about Survivorman, I kept applying what he was saying to my solo adventuring on the trail. For example:

Do you ever consider what your three lemons would be? Here are some things that would count as lemons for me:

Tack malfunction
Lost the trail
Forgot a cell phone (maybe)
Late in the day
Weird feeling

What follows is my own list of Recipes for Avoiding Lemony Disaster on the Trail While Riding Solo!

This one is small and easy: Always let other people know where you are going when heading out alone. No one will look for me if no one knows I'm out there. Usually I leave a note like this for Bill. NOT that I expect Bill to be responsible for me. But if he wanted to go out looking, this note says what my plan was and how long I've been gone. 

I almost always carry my cell phone with me on the trail. Surprisingly reception is pretty good out there. This phone cost me $19.99 at CVS. Maybe one day I will get a smart phone that has GPS on it. That would be an excellent addition to my list!

Watching Weather Conditions. I keep a close eye on the sky. This is not to say that if it looks bad I will not go. It just means I stay aware of it. Blue skies are my fave, but gray and cloudy skies won't deter me. I avoid riding, alone or not, when there is thunder, but I know a rain shower won't hurt me or my brumby. I also keep a close eye on the time. If the weather looks gross and the sun is sinking like a ship, I might change my riding plan. 

 When riding alone, I think it is important to know the trail I'll be on. If I want to explore a new trail or do bushwacking, I will hardly ever do this alone. I wait for Bill, who will never shy from trying a new trail...or creating a new one in the moment. But alone, I like to know my terrain. This paticular trail is familiar and is in great shape....

....and this trail (road) is familiar and I love it, but today it had quite a bit of ice on it. Ice is definitely a lemon.

Here's another one: Know Your Horse. There are many things I'd do alone with Lilly on the trail that I would not risk with, for example, Glitter. I took this photo today. While my brumby stayed back and gobbled hay, I took Glitter out for a walk down the road. Here she is looking back for her buddies. Right after I snapped this photo, she whinnied at the top of her lungs--something Lilly never does when I am out alone with her. 

I really like Glitter very much. Sometimes I call her Freckles. 

Back to my List. This one is: Don't freak out if you see footprints that are not human! These are bear. I just saw them today. This is shaping up to be quite a season of animal prints for me! First I saw those crazy Sasquatch prints in my back yard (which turned out to be dog prints--a dog with a strange gait), and then today I spied these. 

Anyway, the item on this list is also to Know Your Surroundings!

When I ride with Christine, she always carries water with her. I never do! But, I feel pretty certain that where I am going, I know where I could get water if I needed it. This goes back to: Know Your Trail.

This item on the list is about Possibles. What is a Possible? It is a thing you might possibly use/need to avert disaster! So what is pictured here is my Possibles bag. I always always always carry my Possibles bag. I would be lost without it! Maybe even literally!

 Here are a few Possibles: a compass and trail marking tape. I also always carry a hoof pick and a saw. I used to carry a lot more stuff for if I were really compromised such as a mirror and waterproof matches! That is when I was really getting into being stranded. I was getting out of control. Now I travel lighter. But I always bring my Possibles. That trail marking tape is something I use all the time. 

 This picture is supposed to represent the rule: Don't do anything I know is stupid. Like taking your horse ice skating! Horses are terrible ice skaters!

Of course I realize that risk is essential. If I didn't believe that, I'd never get on the back of a horse and venture out at all! But all risk can be measured and I am not wild or tenacious enough to do stupidly risky things out on the trail. 

Oh look, here are my trail marking tape and compass from the Possibles bag! This picture was supposed to be up there. But it gives me the opportunity to say that sometimes Lilly is the best compass of them all. If I have lost my way and gotten all mixed up, chances are VERY HIGH that she will know in what direction we will find the barn. 

Finally, I have a very unscientific and unproven item on the list for which there is no photo. It is this: If I just have a weird feeling about something, I don't do it, pursue it, try it etc. If it is a creepy and weird feeling (which I confess I have never had out on the trail) then I will avoid it for sure!  I am all for expanding my comfort zone, but if my instincts tell me something is too weird, I back up and do something else. After all, there is plenty of other stuff to do!

What are your lemons when you ride alone?


Ranch Girl Diaries said...

Great post girlie. I love your ideas. I always carry a phone and on me, not in a saddle bag in case I get seperated from my horse. I never ride alone. I'm just too nervous about it. We have cougar, wolves, probably bears, and lots of spooky elk and deer. Thunder does scare me- in our area somebody riding did get struck. Hey stop by my blog and check out my blogger yard sale hee! :)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Great post! I always carry water with me and offer to get a bottle for my partners, but they always decline. Unless I'm on a really long ride or it is really hot, I rarely need it. But when I got dumped in a thorny bush the other day, I used the water to wash my wounds. It took the sting out and probably prevented infection.

lmel said...

Great post, Colleen! It got me thinking about what I carry. A cell phone (after I finally got one) and it's always on me, should I part ways with Harley. Hoof pick, yes, Water, not unless it's a long ride, although having it to wash wounds is probably a good idea. Bandana--used for wrapping said wounds and I have had to do that!
I don't carry a compass, although it wouldn't be a bad idea if I'm venturing on new terrain. Saw is good, but I have no way to attach it to my saddle (not enough D-rings).
Icy trails always are tricky, so if I can't get around it--try a different route.
Creepy, weird places. Hmm--I think Harley picks up on this more than I do, especially at dusk when creatures start moving about in the woods!
I try to anticipate where I'm headed and make choices accordingly. I've thought about leaving a note at the barn, but who would see it? John might, if he's heading out there after work. Probably a good idea--I just need to remember to do it!
Tack failure is a good one--and I should always ride with a halter and lead rope under the bridle. I should probably check things more closely before I take off, just in case.
Something I should add to my saddle or bridle--a luggage tag with info on it for me and Harley should we part company! This is something I've read about before, but yet to act on!

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