Harley was full of himself today--a result of the cool temperature and a day off. He stepped right out as we left the barn, eager to go forward. "This is good", I thought. His ears twitched to the side, like radar homing in on the usual "scary things"--boulders, stumps, culverts. As we trotted, I felt him give slights steps to the side as he eyed these objects.
Anticipating his mood, I decided to avoid an issue at the Big Bump/Orris Falls trail junction, and cut off into the woods on a trail that comes out below the falls. With the spring runoff, the water is still roaring through the ravine. Keeping Harley away from the edge (he was busy looking the other way for deer), we emerged on the main trail and headed up the lollipop loop. I figured he'd try to make a stink at the next trail junction (like he did with John last week--that's another story), but I was ready for his shenanigans.
Everything was going along just fine until I reached 3 Maples Farm where a German shepherd came barreling out of the yard, barking at us. Harley whirled around and tried to head for home. With stirrups flapping in the breeze, I brought him under control, halted, and jumped off. I knew I had to make him go back. With much urging, he walked back up the road, balking when he heard the dog again. The gentleman apologized and asked if he could bring the dog out. He'd only had her a couple of weeks and didn't want this kind of behavior from her. I agreed, providing she was leashed. It would be a good experience for both of them. Harley settled while we talked, and the dog lay down and stayed put. But he suggested we call if we planned to come his way so we could both work on the issue.
I got back on board and we had a pleasant ride through Tatnic Woods, with lots of trotting, but still a lot of ear twitching. Harley was wired up now, and knew he was heading for home. We cut in through the Pick & Shovel, down the Nature Trail, still trotting, when a dang squirrel was Harley's (an my) undoing.
You have to understand, this place has a severe case of Maine Yard Disease: piles of TV's, tires, bedsteads in the trees, giant stereo speakers, shacks with no purpose (Take Out Here--not really), bathroom porcelain. The owners are very nice, and the trails are awesome; they're just a bit eccentric. The way I see it, it's great exposure to odd things in odd places for Harley. Well it was just too much for him when a squirrel darted amongst the rubble. Harley performed one of his infamous left-hand spins and we parted company. Thankfully, I was between him and home! He walked back up the trail to me as I hobbled forward. My knee felt twisted--should I ride or walk? Riding felt better than walking, although now he was really keyed up. Every little rustle was an excuse to shy. Then a little yappy dog got away from its owners and ran circles around Harley. Why they let the dog go (I'd seen them walking it on a leash a few minutes ago), I'll never know since it totally ignored their calls. Poor Harley--he'd had enough! We jigged/speed-walked our way back to the barn. I sidled him right up to the mounting block and got off onto it, not wanting to jump down on my knee.
So here I sit, with a bag of frozen peas on my puffy knee, and 4 ibuprofen coursing through my body. I'm hoping it's just a sprain and nothing worse, although my range of motion is now reduced to a fraction of what it should be. Why do these things always happen on the weekends?