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His Name Is Walker

By Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Gonzales

Due to the nature of my job, my weekdays are mostly sedentary so I usually find myself searching online for fun activities or new sites to explore on the weekends.

It’s escape time!!! That’s how I #Embr8cedTheCh8se for the first time and discovered the lovely SiStars of Ch8singWaterfalls on Mother’s Day weekend nonetheless. Their heartwarming welcome and embrace was comforting. I didn’t feel new to the group, I felt like family. That’s the uplifting support and empowerment this sisterhood provides. They never hold back on their shine! So on to our Ch. 58 Horseback Ch8se - 6.4.22 adventure!

It was rise and shine 5:15 am, as one by one the Ch8ser ladies convened at the meet up location in true cowgirl fashion style! We turned up to the beat of Lovely Day, took pictures, and said a prayer before our caravan departure. We rode off with energy and excitement as the morning wind cheerfully waved car flags that kept our vehicles in sight throughout our crack of dawn roadtrip to Smokemont Riding Stables in North Carolina. Yay! Let the fun begin! But first a short 8:00 am shop stop at the Smoky Mountain Visitor Center (Franklin) in Macon County, NC before arriving to our equestrian destination. This was our first opportunity to catch sight of the great mountains covered in a blanket of fog, rendering the “Smokies” name and iconic look. A picturesque scenery to say the least! Upon our arrival to the Smokemont Riding Stables in Cherokee, NC we were promptly greeted by their friendly staff members who provided the waivers and safety instructions for the riders. And then it was saddle up time! As we eagerly hopped on our horses to begin our ride onto the wooded mountain trails; AyJay and the VibeTribe led the rest of the ch8sers on the hiking trail by foot. There is nothing more relaxing than listening to the sounds of nature, views of exquisite scenery and sights of flora and fauna. So off we go to Embr8cetheCh8se hiking and riding through 3 miles of stunning mountain streams and creekside scenery.

While everyone’s experience on their horse was unique, it may be safe to say that on Ch. 58 Horseback Ch8se no one’s experience was quite like mine.

This wasn’t my first rodeo, I’ve been horseback riding more than a handful of times throughout my life and they have been enjoyable. Not to say this was the exception, but I will say that my experience this time around was much more challenging than I ever remember it to be.

To start off, my horse’s name was Walker, which was very misleading… since walking was the last thing on his mind. Rumor has it he’s got a reputation, as this horse will stop, eat and graze for the most part throughout the trail ride. He was worse than a kid in a candy store! Walker was also stubborn and a little fesity at times, making brisk movements as I leaned forward to pull him back from grazing. I kept second guessing my decision to horseback ride as the trail guides were compelled to stop the line and holler instructions on how to maneuver. As much as I tried keeping my wits, it quickly became unpleasant and very draining to say the least! While other horses allowed their riders to trust and relinquish control, Walker consistently challeged me to gain control. Whew! It was draining, but on a happier note I quickly learned and became more comfortable at steering a horse.

One thing that never failed was the consistent support of the SiStars riding in front and behind me. Their encouragement kept me going.

Halfway into the saddle ride, we finally reached our most yearned location - The Chasteen Creek Waterfall were we also caught up with the hiking Ch8sers. Thrilled to jump off their horses, the riders ecstatically made their way to the waterfall and I was probably the most over joyed! The coolness of the cascading water sprinkling and splashing on the bottom rocks contributed to the feeling of relief, it was so refreshing! We took many pictures and relished the moment!

Once our time at the waterfall came to an end, we mounted our horses for the ride back to the stable. Lo and behold my horse Walker was actually walking and kept in perfect sync with the line. Not sure what triggered the difference in Walker’s behavior, but I was grateful that he gracefully allowed the second part of my journey to be more enjoyable and relaxing. I was able to destress and fall in love with horseback riding all over again. I was able to appreciate the peaceful views of mountain scenery and delight in the sounds of streaming water as we rode past the creek.

Studies do show that riding horses improves physical and mental well-being. Not only does it offer a chance to enjoy the great outdoors, but exudes a calming effect. Maybe Walker was a bit difficult, but I like to think that I created a good partnership with my horse after-all. One thing’s for certain, whenever I hear the words, “He eats like a horse”, I will definitely remember Walker. No regrets, overall it was a memorable experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

This was chapter 58 on 6.4.22, where there were 20 ch8sers on horseback, and 10 or more hikers to the waterfall. It was another lovely day to #Embr8ceTheCh8se.


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