Monday, September 19, 2011

Harley & Nina: Peak Baggers!

Harley tacked and ready to go
Our Saturday ride included summiting Second Hill (we were only on a sub-summit on Tuesday's ride) and a picnic lunch for all. With temperatures hovering in the low 60's and no humidity, the weather was perfect for a long ride. What a wonderful vacation week we've had thus far--riding all but one day.  If I ever plan to do an excursion in Wales, I'll definitely have to be sure I've got myself conditioned for it!

With sandwiches, water, carrots, and apples packed, we headed out. The horses felt sparky with the cool weather--primed and ready for a long walk in the woods. Harley was happy to follow Nina most of the way. When asked to step out in front, he balked. Only taps from the crop would convince him to take the lead. I think he'd rather let Nina deal with the demons residing behind the boulders and stumps. If they stopped together, it was a tie for who would be least willing to lead. What a pair! When out front, Harley's ears are up, he's watching his surroundings, and peering around corners. But when he's following, the ears flop to the sides and he shuffles along like a dude-ranch horse. I can't help but laugh at his behavior. Much to his chagrin, I made him lead a few times, as a confidence-builder (I don't know if he'd agree).

Our peak baggers
The last pitch up to the summit of Second Hill requires a bit of scrambling around granite boulders, but both horses seemed to manage just fine. Though Second Hill is only 555 ft., and lower than its neighbhor, Mt. Agamenticus, it's probably the highest elevation Harley has ever achieved being a Maryland-bred flatlander!  Surprisingly, we encountered no people on this beautiful, sunny Saturday until we ate lunch. When a couple appeared out of the woods, it gave Harley a start, interrupting his noshing in the grassy patches. He whirled around thinking, "Where the heck did they come from?"

En route back down, we heard voices below. Harley and Nina, unable to see where the chattering children were hiding, tentatively picked their way down the trail, peering through the trees. The hiking group, taking a break at the trail junction, admired our horses as Harley and Nina looked sideways at everyone, fearing woods trolls. Pointed in the homeward direction, Harley stepped out at his fast walk,, telling himself, I'm going home, I"m going home with each step.

Ah, lunch!

Sunday was a short ride day--only an hour and a half of meandering through the woods. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes seemed to have appeared with the warmer weather. Our plan is to hack Nina home on Monday. Echoe will miss her company, as will Vance, he beau in the neighboring paddock. It's been such an enjoyable week for all--John, myself, and the horses.


  1. Sounds like you had a perfect excursion. I know this leading-following behavior you describe. When my mom stilled rode with me (before she fell off last July) our horses did the same thing. The horse that was in front was "on guard" with ears forward and neck high and the "follower" was suddenly transformed into a rental horse - head down, ears loppy and eyes asleep. If we would change positions, they would switch personalities! So funny!

    Glad you had such a great week - cool weather, no bugs, great adventures on sweet Harley!

  2. p.s. I have to go back and read your older posts to see what you feed Harley. He is the perfect weight and you guys really ride him far! My little angel, Foggy, could use whatever Harley is eating!

  3. He eats 3 lbs. of Nutrena Empower Boost with his blend of Nutrena Safe Choice, Triple Crown 20%, and oats. In a perfect world, I'd like to feed him 3 times a day due to the large amount he is dished up morning and night, but since we don't have that option, he gets an extra serving of lunch when our schedules can fit it in. He's no easy keeper, by any means, and could stand to put on a bit more weight with winter coming on. Oh, and he LOVES the Empower, nosing everything else out of the way to gobble it up! He could be the Empower Poster Child!


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