A Horse With No Name (Yet)

I woke up at 3 am with winds growling through the trees and battering the house as they raced down from the Arctic and through the valley where I live, on their way to the Pacific Ocean just 60 kilometres away. It was the second day of a blizzard in what has been a wintery start to 2020. It was the second day of many that preparations for riding in Morocco have been hampered.

Almost four months ago, I started a gym and horse-based fitness regime in attempts to be ready to ride in Morocco. Mixing weight training with high-intensity interval training and longer endurance stints, the gym time paid off in stronger muscles, faster recovery, and greater aerobic efficiency. Riding a few horses each day helped keep my riding muscles in shape, although as winter descended those rides became more entertainment than anything – wading through snow drifts, cantering short bursts through the white stuff when it was fluffy enough.

However, early in the year, a nasty cold that seemed to affect half the town’s population rendered me too weak to ride and prevented any more gym visits. Exercise was replaced by a bizarre menu of echinacea, turmeric, ginseng, garlic, onions, vitamins B, C, D, and ginger tea, along with endless sleeping. Muscles sagged and weight gained.

Meanwhile, endurance rider acquaintances provided advice on what to pack. Online research helped determine which brands to purchase and items appeared via mail order – the only way to buy horsey specialty items when living in a City of 12,000 that’s two long days of driving from a large city with well-stocked tack stores. Some decisions were left a little late. It turns out that this small town’s banks don’t carry euros. Ah well, that’s what airports are for.

More recently, I started shifting my internal clock to try to reduce the nine hour time difference a wee bit, by going to bed at 7 pm and waking up at 3 am. The mornings were fine but getting to sleep proved difficult.

I started closely watching the weather forecast for departure day. It’s never a gimme flying out of small-town northern Canada in winter. Planes can be cancelled, grounded, not appear, be delayed, or be diverted to cities over 200 kilometres away due to weather. With three days until wheels up, last minute shopping and packing still to do and a blizzard rattling the house, hopefully the 50 centimetres of forecasted snow arrives sooner rather than later. It’s nice to start a trip on the planned date rather than hanging about in airports for days waiting for disjointed flights to match up.

As the hours count down, lyrics from America’s 1972 hit ‘A Horse With No Name’ are on a continuous loop through my mind.

Tania Millen

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