Thursday, July 28, 2016

Horse Fun at Wyman Wildlife Preserve

 I saw a history note from 1966 in today's Daily Bee, announcing the fifth annual Lake Pend Oreille Trail Ride.  The Hawkins family who date back more than 100 years here in the area came up with the idea.

At the time, they owned the Litehouse.  They knew how to cook and they loved horses, so the concept involved riding the ridges above Lake Pend Oreille and indulging in some wonderful gourmet menus. 

I'm sure some recipes still used in what's now known as the nation's leading refrigerated salad dressing, et. al. had a spot on the menu. 

For several years, the annual promotion letters would come in the mail, telling of the beauty to be seen and the delectable dishes to be enjoyed. 

By the time any of our family participated in the ride, the weekend trail ride population had grown to more than 200. 

My mother was the first to give it a try aboard her big beautiful mare Cricket.  I'm open to correction if I'm wrong, but I do believe that her riding partner that year was our neighbor Peggy Watts Shadel, who also accompanied me the year I rode my Arabian mare named Tiny. 

The year I went on the popular ride, things didn't work out so well for the Litehouse folks and their planning. 

I don't know that details, but I do know that after a long day of riding some narrow rocky trails, through cross country, open grassy areas (where hiding behind a tree from 200 other riders when nature called was not an option)  and up and down some steep hills, 250 hungry wranglers did their best to think positive when told that dinner at the Moose Lake camping site would be late. 

I recall eating in the darkness and not really knowing what I was eating.  I'm sure it was tasty, but when a rider is ready to eat a bear, anything is tasty. 

Another recollection that stands out in my mind is the caliber of riders who came along from throughout the Inland Northwest.  Let's just say they weren't all trail savvy, and when they galloped their horses along the narrow trails, they were fortunate to escape what could have turned into "trail rage." 

In spite of the problems, like anything challenging, I am proud to say that I took part. Plus, any time I did anything on horseback with my friend Peggy, it was a fun time. 

Well, yesterday, a few of those memories came floating back, along with a tinge of nostalgia for the good ol' days of trail riding past. 

Yes, I thought about Mother and Harold, and how proud they would be to see four of their six kids aboard horses, enjoying the heck out of those horses.

I also thought about and appreciated this group of six, including Swiss Miss and our longtime friend Roxzene.  Everyone cooperated, slowing down when necessary, getting off and urging young horses across some of their first creek crossings, and just plain collectively enjoying their beloved mounts and the gorgeous countryside within the Wyman Wildlife Preserve.

Again, nostalgia:  Les and Violet Wyman were close friends of our parents.  Both the Tibbs family and the Wymans raised Hereford cattle and loved horses.  Before Vi's death, she set about to have a large portion of their ranch at Naples turned into a beautiful preserve.

That's where another family member comes into the picture.  Bill, with his forestry knowledge (Bill recalls Vi Wyman telling him once that Harold Tibbs provided her the "best horse I ever had), and others worked closely with Vi in the planning phases of what has turned out to be one of the classiest preserves in the area.  

The place is wonderfully educational with its well-planned signage, identifying tree species and wildlife to be seen within the several hundred-acre plot. 

For horseback riders, the trail system can easily provide a day's worth of riding or a couple of hours.  Take your choice. 

Warming huts and picnic tables and old apple trees and rustic buildings and an old classic auto appear at various spots throughout the refuge. 

Yesterday's outing on our Arabian horses provided much more than just another trail ride. We enjoyed the camaraderie, the visible progress in some of our horses from start to finish and continuous inspiration from the beauty within the preserve. 

No gourmet food on this ride with its perfect-sized group but grilled hamburgers later at the Colburn home.

Along with that came total delight in what we had accomplished as a group and, of course, some poignant moments savored, regarding those beloved family members who came before us and inspired us toward this perfect day in the saddle. 

Mother and Harold would have been proud.  Now, if we could get Jim (who rides horses) and Mike (who does not)  to climb aboard and join us, they'd be really proud!  

How about it, Mike?????  

Swiss Miss:  a proud ZAHHHGS (ZAGS) fan and true horse lover. 

Thank you, Laura aka Swiss Miss, who took this photo.  Laura rode one of Barbara's Half Arabian mares, April.  The rest of the horses, pictured above, all had their start in life at Ravenwood Arabians in Ronan, Mont.  

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