The “horseless” vacation

Patty Wilber      

My parents  have been married 50 years.      

My mom wanted a  family reunion. Finding dates to suit was not easy.  We settled upon Aug 8-14.  A house near Glacier National Park in Montana became the destination.       

Going away involves finding horse sitters. For this trip, we decided to parcel out most of the animals  instead of having a neighbor come feed.  I have imposed on my neighbors a lot this summer, and this seemed like too much.      

Babe, the 15-year-old broken legged dog (Tabooli stepped on her a couple months ago) went to a friend of Jim’s.      

Cometa went to Tabooli’s house (T. went home July 30).  Winston and Penny were slated to go there too, but Winston, who ended up needing antibiotics, leg bandages changed, and stitches removed, went to my friend Cheryl (a nurse with lots of horse wound care experience) at Whispering Spirit Ranch.  Penny went with him for company.      

Risa, my appaloosa that is bred to work cows (she is “cow bred”) went to my friend and fellow trainer, Mark Bohannon.   The idea was that he would ride her “on cows” to see if she had “any cow”. (She does.)      

We managed to catch our flight to Missoula the 8th–after Mark (son) and I drove Maegan (daughter) to L.A. the 5th (so she could start law school orientation on the 9th–she missed the reunion!) Driving out of LA., north, on a Friday (the 6th) was completely insane.  “You can check out, but you can never leave”…Took 3 hours to go 60 miles! Ok! So everyone else in the world apparently already knew this… 

Made it to Montana!      

Met my brother, drove to Kalispell and on to the house. Cool weather.  Big trees.  Meadows, lakes, flowers galore.  Very nice.      

On Monday, we did an “easy” ( it was, actually )  5 mile hike to Avalanche Lake to “acclimate”.  Of my family, I am the only non-fitness freak.  (I’ve got the horses, so I did not escape the obsessive gene.)  My sister runs 50K races, my hubby (Jim) just completed an iron man distance triathlon (140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running), my parents hike several times a week, Mark  is a D1 soccer player.  You get the picture…I ride… A lot.  But riding is not that aerobic.  The only thing that saved me is living at altitude–Much of Glacier is lower than where we live.      

Avalanche lake, Glacier National Park. No horses to be seen.


We went rafting!  The water wasn’t super high, but there were still some fun rapids.      

We rode a tram to the top of Big Mountain and hiked five miles down.  I was sore.      

I ALMOST went to Canada to ride with Connie Hunter of Sunset Stock Horses.  She bred All Round Sundown, who I rode to a national championship (for Whispering Spirit Ranch).  She said she could meet me on the Canada part of the park (since to come to the U.S., you need, yes, that Coggins Test and travel papers–see last week’s blog MyNew Horse, Money Pit).  Unfortunately, my passport was at home (well, and, it was a family reunion, but gosh it had been a few days without riding!!)      

We hiked the Highline Trail to the Loop trail (11 miles).  I made it.  My dad (he’s over 70) out hiked me.  My mom (69) had no problem keeping up with me.  The rest of them hammered away. I plugged along and analyzed the trail for equine friendliness.       

When we got to the Granite Park Chalet (~7 miles in), they had propane and snacks.  That stuff must have been packed in by mule… but the Highline Trail was devoid of equine evidence.  On the way down the Loop Trail, however, I spotted tracks and manure.    Hypothesis supported.      

Highline trail. Cliffy. But wide enough for mules or a good mountain horse. Didn't see equine sign until we headed down onto the Loop trail.


Big horn in the mist! We also saw mountain goats, mule deer, and some of us saw grizzlies and some saw a black bear!

  On the last full day, we took a tour on Two Medicine Lake  in a boat built in the 1920’s (or maybe 30’s) and then Jim, Mark, my bro and myself hiked 8 miles.  I noted there were both bridges and horse friendly water  crossings. I kept up (but they did go a little slower for me).  I still bonked on the last hill!   

People bridge to left. Horse crosing to right.


  We made it home to NM the 14th and I collected all my horses the next day (and went to watch an American Stock Horse competition at the Singleton Ranch (San Cristobal) near Lamy, NM). Might give one a go next month even though Penny is not quite ready for open competition.  There are not enough entrants to have a novice horse division.  As a paid professional  I only qualify for the open…what the heck!  It could be fun!  

Glad to be home.  No more travelling (probably) until I go back to the Pecos over Labor Day!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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2 Responses to The “horseless” vacation

  1. JPW says:

    Sounds like a great trip. Wish I was there. Oh hey, I was.

    You neglected to mention your “sweet” response to your sister when she said we could also go on a trail ride with a horse outfitter.

    And remember, your brother-in-law gave you the Hero award for your hiking success with all of the fitness freaks.

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