But before that, on Friday, I was lucky enough to be part of the Happy Bottom Running and Riding Club. This is a group led by the famous Curtis Imrie - apparently a legend of sorts in the Salida/ Buena Vista/ Leadville area. www.curtisimrie.com
For starters, his burros are like nothing I have ever seen. They are called MAMMOTH burros and... OMG.... they are huge. Like 18 hands huge. Like the tips of their ears would reach the top of a standard door frame. Like 7 feet tall huge. And so freakin' cute I just wanted to cuddle with them. In the below photo, the little butt is a standard donkey. The big donkey butt is a Mammoth named Big Chief. Check out how huge this beast is. The man standing next to him in the one pic (Brad Wann) is about 6 feet tall. Curtis, his proud owner (in blue), is more like 5'9."
"The Bureau of Land Management’s top priority is to ensure the health of the public lands so that the species depending on them – including the nation’s wild horses and burros – can thrive. To achieve that end, the BLM’s wild horse and burro program must be put on a sustainable course that benefits the animals, the land, and the American taxpayer."
BLM Director Bob Abbey
These guys look waaay different than the others. No white nose (see - the girl on the end is domestic). Dark grey color. And ZEBRA stripes on their legs!! You can't really see them in this pic, but they are definitely prehistoric-looking. I was honored to be given a wild (but now domesticated) burro on Friday. She was named Sabina (pink halter), and she was AMAZING. Her sister Gypsy was a bit spooked, but Sabina was a champ with the pack on and all.
SO. Gorgeous scenery. Snowballs. Big sigh. It was awesome. I can't even put it into words. 7.5 miles of glory.
SO. Now I have made five training runs with several different runners, animals, and trails. And I have learned a bit. The most crucial thing I have learned is about the dynamics of the human-burro team. I don't think there is such thing as a "bad burro." Rather, what I am learning is how to communicate my wants/needs/expectations to the burro. If my donkey isn't cooperating, it's because I'm not being clear enough with him or her.
For the first half of Friday's run, Sabina didn't seem to be cooperating. But after about the first 3 miles, I learned how to communicate with her. I learned what she needed and how to tell her what I needed. The last half of the run was so much better - so much smoother.
But more than that, these big goofy animals teach me so much about myself. They teach me about patience and persistence and, without waxing too sentimental or metaphoric, they teach me about life. About getting through the tough spots and being stubborn and going through with it anyhow... about being scared of bridges and puddles. They teach me about the encouragement necessary to go uphill.
Plus they are always good for a long hug and an ear-rub that is sure to bring your blood pressure down and leave you, not only with dirt under your fingernails, but with a smile on your face.
And at the end of a run, what's better than using your burro as a piece of furniture?