Staying a few nights at place called Bend in the middle of Oregon about three hours south east of Portland. It’s flat wide-open country with endless pine trees and a vast horizon in every direction with a row of mountain peaks rising in the North.
The Bent Wire Ranch has 31 horses, 3 goats, 6 dogs including a Great Dane and some chickens. They are involved in ethology; the study of animal behaviour, specifically, horses and hold regular training sessions and clinics on the property. People bring their horses and they work with them – it’s holistic and it all centres around the animal. Zeno, a trainer from France went into great detail of their methods. She says horses have riders forced on them when the horses are too young and not ready, like 3 years old and their backs can be damaged. She explained how the vertebrae in the back need to strengthen in muscle from 5 years and only ridden from the age of 7. She doesn’t accept the old myth of ‘breaking-in’ a horse saying its cruel and unproductive because the riding life of the horse is shortened. Instead, a horse needs to slowly build muscle between the vertebrae in the back. We walked around the ranch and she showed me some damaged horses. The Ranch is a rest home for a few older horses, the oldest is 27 years, while other horses have come because they have been too difficult for their owners. I learned more about horses from Zeno in half an hour than ever knew before – and no, I didn’t go for a ride.
I’ve been shown around the local town, Tumalo, where we ate at a food truck park and heard a local blues band play. And today into Bend to visit the massive Fred Meyer store that my niece, Hanna, assured me had ‘everything’, – it’s true, the quantity and selection is staggering.
I was looking for some tea and some snacks for my hike. My host has three drawers of teas in their kitchen in every combination of fruit flavours but no black Ceylon tea. With a quick mental conversion I figure the costs of everything in Fred Meyer is about a third less than NZ, but there’s nothing I really need apart from nuts, fruit and tea.
On my hike in Shelving Park reserve I followed a trail through the trees alongside a river. The air smells of pines and there’s a fine dust in the breeze, it’s spring and about 24° C but apparently it’s going to be 29° later in the week. They tell me summers are blazing hot and there’s huge dumps of snow in winter here – seems I’ve come at a good time.