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October 29, 2012: Bushwacking

Another beautiful day -- cold but sunny. I decided as I was pen cleaning that I needed to take advantage of it. It could now snow at any time, making trail riding difficult, if not impossible. Right now, access is good. All we lack are ice shoes, but so far, we’ve been able to get around ice patches.

Midmorning, I decided to walk Signy up to the trailhead and lead Hrimmi – and then ride Signy and release Hrimmi. It was then that Pete appeared and said that he’d join me. We agreed that he’d ride Siggi and pony Signy, and I’d lead Hrimmi and Rainbow to the trailhead. I’d release Hrimmi and Rainbow once we got on the trail proper. Jenna would, as always, come with.

The road walk went well, I think because the animals all knew that we were heading for the trail. I presumed that it would be a short ride because Pete had things he needed to get done. I figured wrong. Once out and about, we began bushwacking, taking one path then another, in search of more defined trails. And Pete didn’t once mention our going back the way we came.

It was a difficult ride. Ground cover included brush, logs, and ice patches. And above-ground obstacles included tree branches and Devil’s Club patches. I dismounted several times and lead Signy because I feared that otherwise, she might stumble and hurt herself. This didn’t happen. It’s amazing how sure footed Icelandic horses can be. They don’t panic when in a tight spot; for instance, when a leg is caught between two downed branches. Rather, they stop and wait for their human counterparts to tend to the problem. They will also, when given permission, figure out alternative routes.

Hrimmi, now nearly six-months old, is from the same mold as her dam. Today she hopped over logs and picked her way around impenetrable brush piles. And, like Signy, she avoided ice patches.

After about an hours’ travel, we reached the trail that leads up to the bench. It was here that I breathed a sigh of relief. However, my sigh was premature for there was more bushwacking ahead. Rather than ride to the top and down the other side, we instead attempted to cut across the hill. This section too, had its rough areas. But finally, we made it to the main trail. By this point in time, Rainbow’s tongue was hanging out of her mouth, and the horses had worked up a slight sweat. Too, humans, dogs and horses were hungry. So we all in short order hoofed it back home. Even Hrimmi, who usually stops at John’s to graze, moved right along.

I later first took Tinni, and then Raudi, out riding what I call Pat and Ray’s trails. Both times I did a little bit of off-the-trail bushwacking. It wasn’t that the earlier ride made me feel any less fearless, but rather that I now had a better sense of what was okay and what was questionable terrain. I’ll tackle the questionable stuff when riding with Pete but avoid it when riding alone. It would be dumb to take any chances. I don’t want to risk the horses or myself getting injured.

Next: 324. 10/30/12: A Change in Routine