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January 22, 2015: Another day on the Trails

This morning I got up and looked out the window – the rising sun had a cloud layer on top of it. By the time I was done with chores the sun was above the cloud cover. So today was uncharacteristically overcast. One of the guys who lives in the weather radio said that there was a weather advisory in effect and that between 4 p.m. today and 6 p.m. Saturday we’d be getting three to five inches of snow. Oh oh. And here I thought that winter was really over. I guess that there’s a difference between being on the flip side of winter and winter being over. Live and learn. Learn and live.

So I decided that I’d go for a trail ride and see if I could beat the storm. I knew that I should take Raudi on the Grizzly Camp trail, doing the route I did yesterday on Tinni. I was hesitant – I could think of more reasons why I ought not do this than should do this. The trail isn’t the best, it’s downhill, there are

critters out there – and too, the trappers set traps, which makes taking the dogs along a dangerous preposition. It also occurred to me that Raudi might spook and do a 360 – she did this once when I rode this trail, unseating me. Or she might bolt – she did this once when I rode this trail and Pete accompanied me on Mr. Siggi.

I decided to go for a ride, head in the direction of Grizzly Camp, and see how it goes. If Raudi acted like an idiot, I’d get off and walk her home. (There was a time when I could not even do this – she was then very bargy). So off we went in a very Hobbit-like fashion, me, the dogs, the horse. We came to the first ice flow crossing – it’s at the place that we now call the mud pit. And proceeded to walk across the ice with me staying put. Of course I rewarded Raudi by giving her a treat once she got across for this was huge. I mean, the ice was so smooth that one could have figure skated on it. And hurrah for ice shoes. There were a few other ice crossings – we rode across most of them. I did ride her half way across the last one, and then walk the rest of the way – the savvy trail horse that she is, walked with her nose touching the ground.

The route is downhill. There are two steep downhill sections. I rode them both. My form was not the best – usually I compensate for Raudi’s not having it together. But today she compensated for my not having it together.

At one point a moose appeared about an eighth of a mile ahead of us on the trail. The dogs took off after it. What always concerns me is not that they will chase it until it drops, but rather that in chasing it, that it expends energy needed to get through the winter. I was (this time) glad they took off, otherwise, it might have headed in my and Raudi’s direction. And, Rainbow and Ryder did what I call a half-hearted chase – that is, they went a ways and came back. This is because Rainbow is old and Ryder is young. Actually, Ryder would much rather herd sheep. As a friend of mine once said, a dog with options is a dog with a future.

There was one bridge crossing. Yesterday I rode Tinni across it. And once we got on it, I got a little unnerved because the frozen boards made a hollow sound. There were no railings, so should a horse shy, it would be bye bye. So I got off and walked Raudi across. As we did this, she did glance over the side, as if to say hmmm.

Yesterday we turned in the direction of home at the trail intersection we call Four Corners. Today, we just kept going. (We were at that point in time trotting down the straightaway). We came out on Murphy Road. Unreal. The animals and I had a really nice walk back up the road – the dogs were leashed. Rainbow spotted a moose by the side of the road. She didn’t act like she wanted to chase it, but she was fully cognizant of the fact that it was out there.

I got to thinking on the walk home – it’s so nice to be able to ride the horses out on the trail on a loose rein. I often hear stories about horses that are not as dependable. The question is, why are mine so well behaved? The answer is in part that they have lots of trail miles under their hooves. Raudi has two major trips and competitive trail ride and endurance ride experience. Tinni has just as much experience, minus the trips.

I don’t think that this fully explains it. I also think that genetics has something to do with it. Icelandic horses are small, low to the ground, have short backs. This makes them agile. And they’re easy to mount and dismount. They’re also calm and not at all reactive.

I didn’t know when I got horses of this breed that they’re ideal trail horses. I guess I just got lucky. I could have ended up with a horse or two or three that gave me a run for my money. My friend Heather owns a quarter horse/arab cross. It’s taken her eleven years, but she’s finally riding Rio. If Rio had ended up in my barn, I would have had to part company with him. He’s quick on his feet and badly wants to move out. I am better suited to my horses who are a bit slower and if asked, will move out.

Snow is on the way. Dick’s coming over tomorrow for a lesson. I don’t know if I’ll get a ride in. Maybe we’ll play the whoa and ho game. If I do decide to go for a ride solo I will need to get up early. We’ll see. Another fun filled day ahead.

Next: 23. 1/23/15: Poultry Reading

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