This was Mr. Muddycheeks good side. His other cheek and eyebrow looked like he had gone to a spa for a mudpack! After brushing the heck out of him, I finally got tacked up and headed down the road towards Orris Falls. That's when trouble started...
The folks at the bottom of the hill have chickens and turkeys--critters Harley has seen and heard all winter long. But top that off with a smoking barbecue, kids on an ATV, and much chatter, complete with gobbling turkeys and it was enough to stop Harley in his tracks. We stood and looked at things, assessed the situation and moved forward a bit. "Nope, I'm not going there. It's time to head home", thought Harley. As he backed up the road, turned around, and backed some more, I decided this wasn't productive. Off I jumped and proceeded to lead him down the road. Once we reached Orris Falls, I clambered back on board. He amazes me that even when he's spooked, he will stand still while I mount. Of course, he immediately turned for home while I picked up my stirrup. "Oh no, pal, we're not done yet!"
All sorts of hikers in soggy sneakers (there was still a fair bit of snow and water on the trail) came our way, heading back to their cars. One family had a youngster on Dad's shoulders. That stopped Harley--a person on top of a person? Yikes! We made our way up to Spring Hill summit, then turned back for home. I think he hoped to sneak past the turkeys without them noticing, but all their gobbling had him peering over his shoulder all the way back to the barn. What a silly bugger!
Easter Sunday required an early start. Our farrier was arriving at ten, and we needed to work the starch out of Harley and Rolex so they would stand still for Saint Butch. We wanted to make it a brisk workout, so we trotted up the roadside where the shoulder permitted, then trotted down the snowy trails behind North Point. Whenever Rolex trotted, Harley broke into a canter, ready to charge ahead. I reminded John, "Bitless bridle equals no brakes", as we steamrolled through the snow and leaped over brooks!
We had taken the edge off Harley and Rolex, but they still had plenty of energy. We're fortunate to have such a patient and good natured farrier. He doesn't get mad when they dance around, just calmly holds on and says "You're o.k., just relax". Ruffy, who had been on stall rest since Tuesday with a big knee and thrown shoe, was pretty good, not her usual quiet self. But she had a right to be antsy after being cooped up for so long.
And today, on our April Fools Day ride, mother nature had fun with us. Rolex and Harley got quick pre-ride baths since both were crusted with mud (again). A nice road walk would dry them off! We put on quarter sheets and headed out with Rolex bravely leading the way past the scary house with turkeys and past a tree crew trimming limbs. Thankfully, Harley didn't see the guy way up in the cherry picker--he was too busy gazing into the maw of the chipper! Then a car backing up gave them both pause. No one moved forward. When they both get "stuck" it's a challenge to get anyone moving again. We passed leashed dogs, barking dogs, junk by the road (toaster oven and a baby seat), trailers, and crowing roosters. I thought we'd never make it home--at least not without us getting off and walking. Once Harley realized we were homeward bound, he stepped out in front, gamely or not, and pranced his way to the trail head that would get him home. Once in the woods, he relaxed, although he still maintained a brisk walk, even through the ice and snow. Rolex finally passed him and maintained her front position with ear pinning and her winning "snake face"--I want to be the leader now!
The thickening grey clouds finally opened up on us in a downpour. Freezing cold rain soaked my sweatshirt, dripped off my helmet brim, and ran in rivulets down into my boots. Thankfully, my quartersheet has a nylon shell which kept most of Harley's backside dry. Both horses dropped their heads in misery, squinted into the rain, and walked home as fast as possible. We rode right into the barn, untacked, and wrapped the horses up in fleece coolers. Then I ran outside to get Ruffy and Vance in out of the rain. Everyone looked miserable and ready for dinner, especially a warm beet pulp mash!
Just as I was leaving the barn, the sky turned all pink and lavender--a beautiful sunset ending to the day and Mother Nature's April Fools joke on us.