On Becoming Harriet Bighorn
The day Bernie found a gaping hole in the foundation of our cistern was the day Magneto bucked his saddle clear off, and I discovered he also had a hole in his foundation. While Bernie went after the repairs to the cistern’s foundation with shovels, rebar, and cement, I am slowly going after Magneto’s foundation with time in the round pen and a subscription to Warwick Schiller’s horse training.
Bernie is always ready to leave for a long trip with very little preparation. I am not quite so adjustable. Bernie eagerly meets the challenges that present themselves on a trip. I’m much happier to do whatever homework I can ahead of time and hope the challenges will be a little less hostile when I’m out there. Sometimes though, I’ve just had to grit my teeth and follow along behind him because going is almost always the better move than staying, even when you are not fully prepared. You will never be fully prepared.
Bernie has reflexes like a cat and the calmness of a good zen master. He’s an experienced single-hand circumnavigator and an excellent horseman with literally thousands of miles of unexpected events having occurred while he was in the saddle, not to mention his career as a steeplechase jockey. The man is brave. He has huge courage and self-confidence. I, on the other hand, am more chicken shit. I’ve Googled “how to grow courage?” more than once and never gotten a satisfying answer. The best I’ve come up with is to gain knowledge and skills, find calm and yes, carry on.
Bernie and I are thinking of spending a while (maybe a year) roaming the West with our horses and mules, sleeping out under the stars or in our tent while we explore the western public lands. We have no concrete plan other than to head out West with our animals after we get done working on Bernie’s current book (click here to know when it will come out). We want to become western characters, steal back the romance of those who used to roam the West with their horses and bedrolls. We want to write about the beauty of the West. We want to go to BLM lands and National Parks and write of these places that belong to all Americans. We plan to take on fake western-sounding names and enjoy the feeling of slipping into two timeless characters, one hand on our reins, the other on a pack animal’s lead. Together Jake Punch and Harriet Bighorn will roam the West.
I realized this December 31st, on the eve of the new year, when I was thinking about resolutions, that my list this year was long. That’s because I am not only out to improve myself this year but to transform myself into the frontier character of Harriet Bighorn whose people hail from the area around Wolf City, Montana. Courageous Harriet Bighorn whose horses behave and grizzly bears fear. A woman for whom the West could never be wild enough. Now that’s one massive pair of cowboy boots to try and fill.
My list for 2022 on becoming Harriet Bighorn.
Learn about guns.
Learn what I’d need to carry to take down a grizzly bear if needed.
Learn to shoot a gun and to use it safely.
Learn to shoot a gun powerful enough to take down a grizzly without it knocking me over.
Learn about grizzly bears and their ecology so I can stay away from them and avoid as much as possible an encounter with one.
Learn about bear spray and how well or not it works in grizzly bear confrontations, as I'd rather not ever shoot one.
Learn how to solve Magneto’s ticklishness and broncing issues with the help of Warwick Schiller’s, Ray Hunt’s, Tom Dorrance’s, and Buck Brannamen’s horse training methods.
Learn to help Pie with her opinionatedness with Warwick Schiller’s, Ray Hunt’s, Tom Dorrance’s, and Buck Brannaman’s horse training methods.
Teach Pie and Magneto to picket.
Teach Pie and Magneto to pack (and remain calm even when the pack saddle flips under their bellies or they see a bull elk or a mountain lion).
Learn to improve my nervous system response by following Jane Pike’s Confident Rider program.
Take on a bit of mindfulness meditation.
Learn about the western public lands and their issues.
Learn to use a lasso because it would be fun to know how to rope something and I imagine that Harriet Bighorn knows how to throw one well.
Learn to breathe deeply and hopefully find I have more courage.
Let the learning begin! Happy 2022 to all. May we all arrive somewhere in the general direction of our goals.
1/23/2022 09:50:08 am
This is so fantastic! I was laughing out loud about pie… You are a brave woman, and much braver than you think. There’s nothing wrong with caution and preparedness… They go hand-in-hand with very long lives! One of my favorite poems of all time, by William Wordsworth is just this: “to begin, begin.“ I cannot wait to hear about your journeys! Love, Lou.
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