Monday, June 01, 2020

I’ve been riding routinely latey in the Horse Butte area and on a nearly bicyclist-free route that other horseback riders have recommended. It’s smooth going for my little group. I’m on horseback, ponying another, and being followed by our loyal donkey. My dogs out again and running free are in dog heaven.

Yesterday, while descending a tricky hill I heard distant sounds without focusing on them. I was very busy trying to prevent my horses’ stopping mid-descent for fresh grass underfoot from the previous day’s big rain. We finally had begun traveling on the flats and had settled down, before I noticed Osix missing among the dogs. I called and called, to no avail, and then understood the distant noises. They were gunshots, those terrify Osix. I paused and considered turning back to find her, but had another couple of thoughts about this. We were on a lightly-trod trail, and in an after-rain environment with heavy air holding our scents. Osix could find us if she wanted. Most likely, the gun-firings had driven her back to our rig where she’d wait. I decided not to turn back and end this ride.

Later, while returning to the trailhead, a horseback rider coming toward me said she’d seen a dog at my rig. Smart Osix, the quirky one.

Actually, my mind is on the Horse Butte itself. Years ago while frequenting the area, often I climbed that butte, it was steep-going with gravel-slippery spots. I would support my ascents using a walking stick for steadiness, and now, I wonder what might have happened to that nice device.

The Horse Butte is a spent, small volcano. On reaching its top, one can see into its valley, a desertscape with interesting rocks and twisted junipers. Strolling around in that trough to examine plants and rock formations is fun. I’ve always, especially, been fond of the high lone juniper on the Butte’s far side, a unique sight, where often I’ve stood and enjoyed a wide perspective of the territory below.

Those were early days in my horseback experience. Eventually, I learned of other places for good riding. Here in Central Oregon are mountain paths, wilderness areas, desert stretches, and well-trodden urban horse trails. Along with my growing riding skills were wishes to know better this whole area. I began wandering on horseback without returning to Horse Butte, until now.

Dear Friends: There’s often loveliness in re-experiencing an old stomping ground. Diana

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