Monday, May 19, 2008
Three Cowgirls Hit the Trail
Yesterday, Sunday, was a spectacular day and I was really glad to get a call from a cowgirl friend and trail riding companion ordering me out to the barn in fifteen minutes. I made it in 10. By adding another cowgirl we made a threesome and were on the trail in minutes. Their horses were hitting the trails for the first time this spring and both behaved perfectly - in fact it was the kind of ride that makes you keep saying 'perfect' over & over.
The sun was brilliant and the air so clear that we could see all the way across the big lake to Wisconsin. Many other folks were out & about, so in total the wildlife we saw included bicyclists, hawks, mallards, geese, a nervous Airedale seeing his first horse of a lifetime, various golden retrievers, joggers, motorcyclists, families with kids, and about 20 assorted vehicles.
Our boarding barn is on a multiple-use trail system that is being considered for an off-leash dog trail (which it already is by default of leashing). This worries me a little because I'm afraid it will draw ever so many more dogs and frankly, most owners haven't trained their dogs to come when called. So we get a lot of canine meltdown when horses are sighted, and this sometimes turns into aggression. Most of our horses are OK with dogs but I would hate to see someone's beloved pet get a random kick in the head from a dancing horse. Some owners don't even call their dogs, but stand and watch to see what might happen as Fifi or Bobo snap and snarl at horses' legs. So the more of these that come out to the new leashless trail, the more wary we will have to be.
I am not too worried however, because of a story a friend told me about my horse Johnnie two weeks ago. Someone's boyfriend brought a huge Great Dane to the barn and of course, let him run. GD headed out into our pasture to herd some horses. Johnnie was apparently offended by this behavior because he chased this dog all around the pasture, his neck snaked out, head low, tail held high, the very picture of an aggressive 'stallion'/gelding. Then when the dog tried to leave, Johnnie blocked him from the gate like a cutting horse, swinging his forehand back & forth. I would have given a lot to see this. I hope this was a game, but it does reassure me that we won't likely go bolting off if a dog gets too pushy on trail.
And multiple use trails remind me of an episode last fall: S. and I were out on a narrow dirt trail enjoying the fall color when what do we see coming toward us, bouncing and scraping on branches, but a Ford Taurus station wagon up to its hubcaps in soft mud and leaving ruts like you wouldn't believe. Mind you this is a "No Motorized Vehicles!!" trail posted everywhere. We could not get past it so we stopped dead. In this car were two teenage girls. They reported that they were Girl Scouts who had to meet their troop leader down the trail and make a place for a ceremony. We explained that they must have the wrong trail, because this one heads straight down into a creek via a muddy downhill they would certainly not be able to stop on; and they very agreeably proceeded to turn around by driving into the shrubbery repeatedly, and head back to the road. I still wonder about that episode: did they find their ceremony spot? What were they thinking as they drove toward two horses at a good if bouncy clip? And what did dad or mom think about that station wagon when those girls got home?!