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Being solo on horseback, I’ve come to realize, is like the aurora borealis in a clear night sky. No matter how good the company of a friend, the solitude of riding alone is unsurpassed.

 
Yesterday was a perfect example. I rode into BLM land north of Eagle. It was just the horse and me. The warm-hay smell of horse mixes with the rain-freshened smell of prairie sage. The impossibly blue sky, slathered with puffy spring clouds, reaches for the horizon, while the whisper of a cool breeze brushes my skin.

There is nothing to distract the mind: no radio, no I-pod, no Internet, no book, no phone, no camera, and no conversation save for that endless streaming between horse and rider. The horse’s ears wander forward and back, periscopes searching for cues from the rider, from the terrain ahead, and ready for flight if attacked from behind. I always feel safe on the back of a good horse.

The clouds gather and separate, drawing images in the sky. These are the clouds of my youth. Clouds born of a battle between temperatures. They billow and build in layers like the bubbles in a bubble bath.

The horse crests a hill and to the right, a hawk hangs in the air, suspended momentarily at eye-level, searching intently for lunch on legs. Abruptly the hawk dips a wing almost imperceptibly, catches a current, and swoops down, then up and out of sight. Further down the road, a lone jack rabbit lopes unevenly three strides down the path, then disappears into the brush. Deer tracks occasionally criss-cross the road.

I have few childhood memories that don’t include horses. An ancient peacefulness returns on these blissful days of solo horseback riding. It feels like coming home at last.