Sunday, April 15, 2012

Two for Sunday

Bath time for Ruffy
We tried to get an early start this morning. John was out at the barn by 8 a.m. to take care of Ruffy's  frog, which seems to be doing much better. I finally arrived by 9:30, got saddled up, and we headed out.

Ruffy is loving her Easyboot Backcountry Gloves--some cushion and plenty of protection. What she still doesn't love is crossing water. Harley was the man and led the way, back and forth a number of times over a small drainage. Ruffy insists on jumping it and will not walk across--she's a jumper all right! Unlike Rolex, she hasn't had as much time out in the woods, but she also doesn't have the same mind set--more like Harley, "Oh my God, yikes, we need to get out of here!" She gets agitated when the footing is dicey and just mashes her way onward in hopes of ending the "crisis". Harley used to be much more like her, but with time and experience, he's made great progress. He still has his panic moments, but he takes a lot more in stride. We only rode for about an hour, then Ruffy got a nice bath, especially her tail, as you can see John gathering up in the picture.

After lunch, it was back to the barn for ride number two. The horses were enjoying a siesta and their own lunch in the barn, plus a break from the bugs. Today's heat brought out the black flies (Maine state bird) and voracious mosquitoes. Rolex and Harley were in lollygag mode. So we decided to take the nippers and make it a relaxing trail trimming ride. Rolex disproves the "hot-headed chestnut OTTB mare" stereotype all the time. But today, she even boggled my mind.  She stood  placidly, while John snipped branches that rained down around her, sometimes landing on her neck and backside. What a level-headed girl! Even the black flies didn't seem to upset her too much. I must say, Harley behaved quite well too. He didn't mind stopping every so ofter and just standing still while John trimmed. Even once they realized they were heading home, both horses slowed enough for John to continue snipping away as we went.  Harley stood like a rock as four ATVs passed us. Rolex was a little concerned about them, but maintained her composure. Big pats for both horses!

Heading home

Yesterday I flew solo with Harley. We went out to the Tatnic Woods region via the Nature Trail where the footing is nice and soft. There are some great spots for trots and canters, except Harley kept spooking at large piles of fire wood where there's been some cutting going on. Since they are right along the trail, he was weaving side to side, arching his neck, and looking hard at these "demons".  

Giant wolf pine in the woods
I read an article in Northern Woodlands magazine about "wolf trees"--those left standing by the settlers because they delineated a border or corner, and we often of little use for lumber due to their branching structure. We came across such a tree on our ride in Tatnic--a lone white pine in a stand of much younger growth. I recommend you go to the link (be patient while it loads if you've got a slow computer like me) for the photographs of some stunning trees. Seeing old trees like these, I imagine what the surrounding woodland must have looked like over 100 years ago. Adding to the magic,  are old stone walls, marching off into the woods, crumbling cellar holes from long-vanished hamlets. When the west opened up, many farmers threw in their lot to head for more fertile, less stony soil. All that remains are their tilting headstones, lilacs and day lilies gone wild,reaching up for the sun, flanking the front dooryard marked by a granite chunk in the middled of the foundation wall. The historical scenery is one of the many enjoyments of our trails around here.

I tend to be more contemplative when I ride alone, hence the long-winded history lesson. But I also wondered how this dry weather may affect the spring breeding season for frogs, salamanders, and turtles. If the vernal pools dry up too quickly, will breeding/egg laying territory be lost? The Tatnic Woods region is dotted with vernal pools and thin soil covering a large amount of granite. I did hear peepers singing in this pool,  but I pondered the drought-like situation we've been in all spring due to lack of snow melt and/or rain.

All that day-dreaming almost unseated me on the way home. As Harley picked his way home, with me riding on the buckle and sing my version of Handsome Molly, aka Handsome Harley, something large in the woods, possibly a deer, rattled the leaves and Harley took off with me picking up the slack reins. Yee--haa, and we're off! He came back down to a walk, albeit more of a jig, until we were well away from the "scary noise". That'll teach me to not pay attention!


  1. I totally enjoyed this posting of events, chuckling here and there, in accordance to how I or the mare too, have similar thought and action with certain things.
    The Slick and or, thick woods...mine does the "I am fending for myself quick- get- m- outa- here" mode...which certainly has proven hazardous for staying upright!

    Nothing like a little heat to make the horses a bit lackadaisical about reacting. I always like it when that happens...but so out of character, sometimes I wonder if something is wrong!

    I really am shocked at your early in the season. The state bird comment made me laugh, but I know it is a pain to have so many. I have only had them in the extremes of our country, and they can be TERRIBLE.
    Glad you stayed on the spooky buckle I did a few weeks ago. I actually am rethinking the "buckle" rides...mine are not quite out that far...but far enough to really enjoy and relax.

    That tree and it's history is very awesome!
    Great to catch up some with you two!! Neat to have an equine loving husband! I keep trying to get mine there!

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