We’ve showed you the Oregon Horse Center’s indoor mountain trail course before, but never like this — come along for the ride!
Have you heard of the limited-but-growing sport of indoor mountain trail? Nothing beats riding along a real mountain trail, of course, but seeking a good way to challenge horses and riders, the folks at the Oregon Horse Center built an indoor course complete with bridges, terrain changes and a flowing waterfall. The OHC hosts several shows and clinics throughout the year, as well as open practice days.
If you’re a long way from Oregon and probably won’t be hauling your horse to give the course a try any time soon, ride vicariously with Kellie Rahm and “Radar,” her Tennessee Walker, and hang out at the world’s greatest trail horse playground. While not a helmet cam — Kellie filmed it with a pocket camera she held in her hand the entire ride — it does give a rider’s POV of the course’s unique challenges:
Good boy, Radar! An accomplishment made even more impressive by the journey Kellie and Radar have made get to this point in their training. In the video description Kellie explains:
“Five years ago I couldn’t ride Radar without him spooking, whirling, spooking, rearing and bolting. The more he behaved like that, the more tense I became, and the more I did that, the worse he became. I lost count of the number of times my life flashed before my eyes, and also how many people told me to get rid of him. Lucky for him (and me), I am much too stubborn for my own good. I wasn’t about to give up on him, if I did I would be giving up on me, and an opportunity to became a better rider. I swallowed the humble pie, admitted my mistakes, and quit blaming Radar, the saddle, the bit, and the other horses (deer, birds, spectators, etc.). I learned to quit overreacting to his drama and just keep riding. Relax and breathe, smile, talk and even sing. Enjoy the ride, hang on when I need to, and laugh at myself often. I recognize our limitations, ride where we can, and set goals to practice and ride in more difficult places as we get better. It took five years to be able to do that trail course with one hand, 90% on a loose rein, and with Radar having his head down and actually looking where he was going and thinking about the next step. It’s been a long hard road, but sometimes humble pie is very sweet and worth the wait.”
Trail obstacles are one thing; life obstacles are another. Since the filming of this video, Kellie’s life took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. Kellie sent us this update: “Treatment made me very, very ill. Being able to ride Radar, even if only for a few minutes, helped keep my spirits up. In the course of treatment I lost my right ear, complete nerve damage. So not only deaf, but permanent vertigo.”
Much like he did on the trail, Radar — who will be 19 next month — rose to the occasion of helping his owner over the obstacles that lie ahead of them. “Radar not only tolerated by wobbly weakness, he would move over to get under me if I became unbalanced, or he would just stop to keep me from falling,” she says. “He is still spirited and silly, but he seems to know when I really need him.”
Thank you, Kellie, for sharing the story of your inspiring partnership!
If simply riding over moving bridges, into ditches and through shower curtains is too tame for you, the Oregon Horse Center’s trail competitions also include timed rounds, as well as my personal favorite, the cattle drive. If you’d like to learn more about the indoor trail course, check out the Oregon Horse Center’s website for details.