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A Brand New Year

WMfeb20161A Brand New Year – Let’s Celebrate and Embrace our Mistakes – Western Mule – February 2016 issue

Nobel Prize and Oscar – winning Irish Playwright, George Bernard Shaw once stated “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”

Another mistake based quote that I often turn to is from the “Wizard of Westwood”, the head basketball coach at UCLA from 1948 to 1975, John Wooden, who said “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

Although some of my former employers might say otherwise it’s okay to make mistakes—everybody does—in fact I’ll so far as to say that ”you’re doing something wrong if you don’t”. It’s easy to expect perfection from ourselves and/or fear the judgment that comes with screwing things up, but even at their worst we learn from those errors. That’s not a new concept by any means, but it’s one often forgotten. Mistakes are an indicator that you’re actually trying to succeed, so without them you’re not doing much of anything at all (and probably making yourself much less happy in the process).

I hope, in the coming year, to make plenty of mistakes because it’ll mean that I’ve been out doing. Doing for me means spending more time on the trail with my riding and pack animals, camping further afield for longer periods, and sharing my passion for these pursuits with you.

TrailMeister-color-logoOne way that I’ve found to share my enthusiasm for trail riding and camping is through my website . What began as a hobby when I wasn’t able to locate accurate trail and horse camp information, and decided to create my own guide, has become a resource that thousands of people use every day. I’m pretty darn proud of what TrailMeister has become in 8 short years. I made plenty of mistakes along the way with the website. First by waiting too long to turn over the programming and coding part and then by choosing the wrong person.  Those mistakes kept me off the trails for more of 2015 than I wanted but I learned from them and the new website is something to behold. Not only is TrailMeister the largest guide to equine friendly trails and camps in the world, it’s full of riding and camping tips, reprints from my magazine columns, gear reviews, and much more. Yep, I’m pretty stoked about it!  With the burden of web coding lifted 2016 has every possibility of being quite the year for equine adventures.

expoOf course making it through winter is a prerequisite before enjoying the trails of summer. For myself winter and spring means attending horse expos and shindigs across the U.S.  From Los Angeles to Murfreesboro, TN, to Klamath Falls, OR, Madison WI and beyond it’s going to be busy.  Talking with aspiring trail riders and horse campers across the nation keeps me on my toes, teaching and sharing how to stay safe on the trails, exploring new ways to do things and above all learning from the mistakes of others. One of my favorite events of the spring is also one of the smaller happenings. The Klamath Falls Wilderness Skills Clinic is organized by the Backcountry Horsemen of Oregon and is held the first weekend of May each year. Trail riders, trailhead campers, and packers alike head to Klamath Falls for an incredible weekend of clinics and learning opportunities.

Of course once I’m able to take off the mic, put my suitcase away, and finally get into the backcountry with my animals, then the real work begins. How to make each trip safer than the previous without sacrificing the fun factor is the first order of the day. After those fundamentals are handled it’s time to find where the trail work will be happening. 2015 found me reporting on trail projects in the Pasayten Wilderness and packing maintenance crews into the middle of the Bob Marshal all while learning from the best in the business. For 2016 I’ve got my sights on visiting some of the areas hit hard by fire this past year and sharing the stories of volunteer groups reclaiming the trails.

I’m sure that I’ll make plenty of mistakes over the coming year. I hope to learn from each and to not repeat too many of them.

As always for more for of my thoughts and ponderings about horse, trails, and camping visit we’re new and better than ever.