Editor’s Note: In the sixth installment of a multi-part series, we hear from Jeanette Hayhurst, a long-time and avid horsewoman from Barstow, California. Like many of us, she has continued to connect with horses, even when her age and physical limitations kept her from doing a lot of riding. Kudos, Jeanette!
She writes of her transition from riding to driving and owning a miniature horse. Earlier this month, she participated in her second Death Valley drive with two miniature horses. We hope to hear about it soon!
Enjoy this multi-part series of her first drive through Death Valley.
By Jeanette Hayhurst
The next day, Danny got a crash course in bells. I held them in front of his face and he was very interested. He even bit the leather they were attached to. But it was another story when I placed them behind his withers. He clearly wasn’t comfortable with them there.
So I carried them while I led Danny at the walk and then a jog. After that he let me rub them all over him and we made great progress. When I harnessed him up I tied the bell strap on my rein rail so I could hold them quiet if he spooked. At the walk they didn’t even jingle. I shook them every so often to re-introduce them. By the time we made it down out of Desolation Canyon he was doing great.
Several miles later, we pulled in to the parking lot of the Furnace Creek Inn where we joined the palomino Mustangs of the U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. We had lunch and waited until the parade’s kick off.
The Color Guard would go first and then the wagon master driving her three Haflingers lead the rest of us into Furnace Creek. During the lunch break, I had attached the bells to Danny’s saddle so he jingled when he walked and at the trot he was downright musical. In fact, he seemed to like the sound as we trotted down the parade route. Since we were at the end of the wagons, lots of people smiled, pointed and waved at my little pony as he strutted his stuff. The people clapped as we drove by and Danny clearly knew they were clapping for him.
Once we were done with the parade we drove the wagons back to where our trucks and trailers were parked and unhitched our animals. This back area was covered in grass so for the first time in many days, the stock could graze while they were staked out.
It was hard to believe the trip was over. I couldn’t have been any more proud of my little horse. He showed me that he is one tough little guy with lots of heart. I was glad both of us were fit enough to make the trip because it was definitely a challenge on many levels.
I met wonderful people and got to travel the route of the pioneers in a way few people get a chance to experience. I was grateful I was able to participate in this trip of a lifetime!
Note: Thanks, Jeanette, for a fabulous recounting of your preparation and Death Valley trek. Readers should know that Jeanette continues to take on new adventures and has added Harley, a new driving partner, to the team. Happy trails!