Memories made with horses

By Mark Pietrowski

It takes a special kind of person to continue riding horses after getting double-kicked and sent to the hospital by one – but Britta Eriksen is that type of equestrian.

Eriksen, a sophomore French translation major, worked in the mountains of Wyoming last summer and gave guided tours on horseback.

“I would take guests on one- to two-hour tours and meal rides telling them different facts about the Snake River, the Teton Mountain Range and native plants and animals,” Eriksen said. “I had to learn all of that information myself in three days, so I was nervous the first few rides I took out by myself.”

Tariq Khan, a junior French language and literature major who worked alongside Eriksen, said the adventure was spiritual.

“The experience brought us closer together; we now have an experience outside of school that you normally don’t get to have with friends from college,” Khan said. “She is a loyal friend and is not afraid to speak her mind.”

Eriksen had a unique bond with her four-legged friend.

“The horse I rode last summer named Jersey was a 16-some hands, 2-year-old draft mutt and only had someone on her once,” Eriksen said. “I had to teach her all of the leg and rein signals, but it was fun because we bonded that way.”

Wild horses aren’t always easy to bond with – Eriksen once had a not–too-pleasant experience with a Bronco.

“I’ve been on one Bronco and tore my calf muscle [as a result of it],” she said.

Eriksen said she knew she was really out in the middle of nowhere during the summer due to the lack of television.

“I found out that Ronald Reagan died a week after the fact when I noticed that the flags were at half staff,” she said.

Eriksen also once received news that a tourist had been eaten by a grizzly bear about two miles from where she was staying. The news did not strike fear in Eriksen, however, she blamed the incident on the tourist not following rules that would ensure his or her own protection.

“Tourists that get hurt or killed usually don’t follow the rules and don’t have the necessary experience to go out by themselves,” she said. “They usually don’t have a guide with them to help out either.”

Looking back on her summer work in Wyoming, Eriksen said her stint in the hospital after the aforementioned double-kick is something that she can now laugh about. Rhe amount of work was not so hilarious.

“The 14-hour shifts, six days a week were pretty tiresome sometimes, and our boss was really hard on us,” she said. “We would get punished for being five minutes late to work by having to do insane things, like walk two miles in the blazing sun along the dinner trail piling rocks so she would know we had been there.”