Horseback Mountain Trips

I had been in the Ft Concho Cavalry for approximately 5 years when Gary Carpenter suggested we take a horseback trip to the mountains. He and Gerry Keiker had taken one the year before. The first year I went with him was in 1996. It was would be me, Russell, Gary and Barney to take this trip. We decided to go to the Pecos Wilderness in northern New Mexico. Gary was familiar with the area from living close by in years past. On the way up there, we stayed at a ranch that Gary had once worked on. We enjoyed a fine steak that night. I took Jasper and Apache on this trip to ride.

Two events happened on this trip that would have an influence on me for the rest of the trips I would take thereafter.

The first event took place the day we got there. It was early, so we decided to ride some that afternoon. We were following a trail that paralleled the creek coming down from the mountain. The trail was getting kinda rough. For some reason, Gary and Barney had decided to turn back to camp, I can’t remember why. I was riding Apache and in the lead with Russell riding Jasper following me. We didn’t go to far when it became apparent that we needed to turn around ourselves. I had gotten on a steep ledge and when I tried to get Apache to turn around, we both went down the side of the mountain. Apache landed with trees between his back legs. To those that know about horses, this is a good way to break a horses leg. I  calmed   Apache  down, trying to get him to not fight the trees. He just lay there for me. I told Russell to go get Gary and Barney. Jasper cut his leg in the process to go get them. He woudn’t be able to ride him the rest of the trip. After Gary returned ,I was able to get Apache’s legs out of the trees. I was able to lead him down a steep ledge to the bottom where the creek was ,without any real injury. It was a learning experience to say the least.

The next event took place the next day while we were on another trail leading to the top. Again, I was in the lead. We were on a switch back. For those that don’t know, a switchback is a trail that goes from one side then back to the opposite side, then back again. We were gaining some altitude. In other words, we were getting up there pretty high. As I was riding, I looked back. That was a big mistake for me. All I could see was a vast open sky like I was on the skyscraper. Barney said that this was a beautiful place and all I said was “Yes, it is”. Barney said I was white as a sheet. I just found out I was not good with heights. Once we got back in the trees, I was ok. Once back in the trees, I saw a big gray wolf traveling right in front of us about 20 yards. Of all of my years riding in the mountains, this is the only time I’ve ever seen one.

This was the first mountain trip with the guys. It was great! It definitely wouldn’t be the last.

Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

me, Apache and Jasper

Jasper and Apache

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