I was recently asked “what do you think about during all those hours in the saddle?”
It’s a good question - I typically spent 5 to 6 hours a day traveling with Apollo, whether walking or riding, and none of it with the distractions that most people immerse themselves in, not even music (I need my ears free to listen for cars and simply to enjoy my surroundings).
A lot of the time is spent simply being, without conscious thought. Just placing one foot in front of the other, looking at the scenery, listening to Apollo’s bells and hoof beats. Even when there’s not much going on with the scenery, I am still looking at the flowers, the sky, the birds, or Apollo’s cute ears.
More time is also spent in thinking about Apollo - what he’s telling me with his actions, whether I need to adjust some aspect of our routine, his training, the pack arrangement or saddle fit, etc.
Here’s a sampling of my normal internal chatter.
“I wonder if horse boogers have any medicinal properties?”
“How many miles have I gone now? How many left?” (Repeat every 2 to 10 minutes)
Calculating approximate days to travel to certain major points on the map, such as the next big city, and how far I’m likely to make it by winter.
“Yup, yup, yup, yup” (out loud, to Apollo, as he nods his head while walking or gaiting).
Singing to myself, and out loud if Apollo is unlucky. (Mostly broadway show tunes, since I know you just wondered that).
“My feet/back/knees/ankles/shoulders hurt. Why am I doing this to myself.”
Calculating how many miles until I can stop for ice cream or some other non-granola bar snack, if I will be riding by somewhere that sells food. (This is something I check on my map before starting each day).
“Gosh I’m lucky to be seeing the country like this, and Apollo is such a great horse.”
Thinking about new topics to write about here.