On our third day riding with my good friend Eric Forsyth, we were awakened by a terrible noise.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in late May, the sun now up nearly 24 hours a day, when we found a great place to camp.
“This will be a beautiful river to spend the night by,” I announced while we enjoyed the view of Mount Denali glowing in front of us.
Eric, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to capture some stunning images of me and the horses before we assembled the small corral we are carrying. We gave the boys water and hay and after a delicious dinner went to bed.
All off a sudden, I was awoken with Eric yelling, “Mac just jumped out of the corral.”
Still half asleep, I had no idea what he was talking about, but when Clara ran outside—the Alaskan sky still bright at 1 am—Big Mac was heading towards the road. Tired of being pushed around by Smokey in the small portable corral, the towering (17-hand) horse took a leap of faith.
The panel he jumped over was badly bent, but luckily Big Mac was unhurt.
“I heard this terrible noise and when I looked out of the window of the motorhome, Mac was dragging his back legs off of the top of the green panel,” Eric told us over breakfast the next morning.
But Mac wasn’t the only one trying to run away in Alaska.
On a cool afternoon, a few days later, while I enjoyed the stunning view around me, Smokey blew up. In survival mode, I tightened my thighs into the pommel of my saddle and reached for the horn. Smokey was in full bucking mode due to the cloud of horseflies around his head. After he bucked for about five seconds, I managed to turn his head to the left by pulling on the rein and get him into a gallop. I finally managed to stop him. Mac, on the lead behind us, let out a big snort.
“Please don’t ever do that again,” I warned Smokey as a transport truck raced past us on the highway a few feet away.