Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Ride AND Adventures with loggers

Yarding entrance in the pasture
As is we didn't have enough going on around the old place, now we've got a full crew of loggers cutting in the woods behind the pastures, in the pastures, and around the property perimeter. We're still waiting for a miracle: floor and electricity. Now we also have to shift horses around between stalls and pastures to accommodate the logging activity! This means keeping the horses inside at times during the day while trees are felled in the pastures, then booting them back out at night. But to make matters more interesting, the logging equipment and trucks are cutting across the middle pasture which meant removing two chunks of fence. This sent John and I on an emergency run to Tractor Supply for 2 tubular pipe gates to keep things under control. They offered to put up snow fence--not our choice for safety reasons. So we now have all six horses down in the lower field, held in with sliding planks, and water trucked down in carriers to fill the tub. Whew! I can't wait until they are done and gone! Hopefully, we'll then have power at the flip of a switch and a completed floor. The mild weather of the last two days hasn't helped. The ground got too soft and the loaded trucks bogged down in the soft ground. The skidder had to push them out onto the high ground. This will probably churn everything into a fine gooey mess and hold them back from finishing--grrrr!

John, keen to investigate the operation, decided we should ride down into the woods on Monday and check it out--Harley (and I) weren't so sure this was a good idea. Not only would OSHA frown on us being in the vicinity of whirring saws and falling trees, but Harley isn't nearly as brave as our curious Rolex, who didn't mind taking a closer look. I pointed out to John that the skidder was heading our way and I really didn't want Harley to see it coming at him. So we turned around and went for a nice canter back to the ring area. John headed Rolex down by the pond, but when I saw the skidder muckle onto a big felled pine and start dragging it away, I decided to keep Harley headed for home. Don't look back, Harley!

Rolex comes to investigate
Everyone seems to be doing fine together. Some excitement ensued when the girls realized they had more male company and decided to lead them on a merry chase, or in some cases, chase the poor old guys. "Oh goody, more boys to play with!" Harley tagged along in the fun, but Rolex and Ruffy like to get the ball rolling. Argos, the yearling, thinks this is the nuts, and try as he might, can't keep up with the girls. He's a QH/Percheron cross and hasn't got the TB speed. But he's having the time of his life.

Our redhead also thinks it's great fun to walk away from you when you approach the pasture. Lucky for us, Harley and Ruffy hear the crunch of carrots and come right up to us. Rolex then realizes she may miss out on snacks and better head over or miss out. But you need to be ready to throw a rope or arm around her neck with a gruff, "Whoa".

The loggers stopped work Wednesday night and won't be back until Monday. That left us with the option to let everyone out in all three  pastures with just the perimeter gates shut for the long weekend. If everyone steers clear of the felled trees lying in piles, awaiting the saw blade, it should be o.k. Our three discovered there was a whole new pasture to run around in. "Oh boy--let's go see", said the intrepid Rolex.

Rolex the woods horse
While the turkey roasted on Thanksgiving, John and I got in a ride down through the woods. He's hoping that the logging operation will give us access to the power line trail while avoiding the bog.
I have no desire to revisit that swampy mudhole! Rolex nimbly picked her way out the skidder path, undeterred by branches, or trappy footing. She's such a level-headed girl, whereas poor Ruffy hates bushwacking through brush or dealing with mucky, tricky trails underfoot. Harley gamely followed, although if he'd been on his own and seen the logging equipment, I suspect he would have stopped and tried to whirl for home. But with his brave girl out front, he walked right past the skidders, fellers, and piles of logs.

We might get some nice trails out of all this. In a couple of spots, the footing is soft and loamy right now. Sunday will be a day of exploration to see if we can hook up with the stream crossing location we used last year (before I landed in the bog hole). We'll need to get the GPS fired up and enter some waypoints to pinpoint our exact location in relation to the beaver pond and stream crossing. Given the waning daylight, I didn't want to wind up bumbling around in the woods. I suggested we get an early start, and maybe head out without the horses. That way we aren't trying to manoeuver through trappy terrain while trying to read a GPS and map and steer our mounts. And, there won't be any hunters lurking about on Sunday. We'll see what we find!

Harley being a brave woods horse too!

All the horses received a little Thanksgiving treat. Besides the usual carrots, I brought over a bowl full of apple cores and peelings from my apple pie. Harley, Ruffy, and Rolex only nibbled on it, but Vance, Argos, and Gator slurped it right up---yummy!

What's out there, Harley?
I've found an alternative use for cycling jerseys--riding! Those nifty rear pockets designed for spare inner tubes, energy bars, jackets, etc. are perfect for carrying carrots. And the vibrant colors are great for visibility if you're caught riding the roads at dusk. One of my pet peeves is the lack of pockets on riding apparel. That sleek, streamlined look may be nice in the ring, but out in the woods, pockets are a MUST!  And why do men's breeches have real pockets,  but women's have tiny zip pockets no bigger than credit card size? How useless is that? I think Kerrits finally put out a tight with a thigh pocket (accessible on horseback). Maybe others will follow suit!

We still had enough daylight remaining for John to get on Ruffy as well. Not as keen to be a woods horse and explore the skidder road, she needed some coaxing. Plus, she had no company. Like Harley, she does better with her "brave companion of the road", Rolex, out in front!

Our elegant Ruffy and John, home from the forest, in the sunset's last rays


  1. Rolex sounds like a little star!
    I'm interested in your bitless bridle, I just started Flurry in one yesterday in the arena & will work with him in the arena a few times before I try him on the trail. Do you ever feel like you have less control than with a bit? I seemed to have less finesse - he was drifting on circles & turns - but i'd imagine a) we'll get used to it & b) I'll start using my legs a bit better?

    1. Yes, definitely less control is a canter becomes a mad dash for home, or when I'm trying to hold Harley back for space and he's going sideways. But the thing I like is when he's pulling his left spin stunt, I don't feel like I'm ripping on his mouth if I'm holding him firm with my right hand. He usually acquiesces and gives up. It's also a great way to let him browse on the trail and give him carrot treats! Come winter, you don't have to warm a cold piece of steel in your hand before putting it in the horse's mouth. And I'm sure they appreciate that as well. As for circles and turns--Harley is still a bit of a one-sided ex-racehorse, so bending is tough for him. But we do work in the ring with both bridles, depending on what my plans are--a little warm up and trail ride, or ring work session (which I have to admit, I've been avoiding). He responds well to legs and seat anyway, but I'm sure the subtleties of a the bit are missing. Harley doesn't seem to care which I use and John has used bitless bridles on the fillies since almost day one when we got them. They actually seemed to go much better/quieter without a bit to fuss with. I'd be curious to know how things go with Flurry! Keep me posted.


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