Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Back in the saddle again

With my hand and wrist healed enough to ride, I've tried to get out on Harley as much as possible, dodging rain showers, and enjoying the early spring temperatures. The black flies arrived this past week, annoying the horses by day, but abating by dark. And with the black flies, we've seen an upsurge in ticks. I've never been a fan of using the chemical applications, but which is worse--Lyme disease or smelly, oily Equispot?

Wind has been the predominant weather feature of late with extremely windy days with strong gusts rattling the still-bare branches, buffeting the barn, and sending swirling leaves up in spiraling dervishes. All of this is enough to put Harley on "high alert".

As you can see from his pricked ears and giraffe neck, something lurked in the woods along the trail. Sunday's ride was quite bouncy--all springy trots, sideways spooks, and hollow-backed jigging. We did experience of few sudden surprises--wood ducks flew out of the beaver pond, a baby carrier on a man's back, and a dog chasing a ball. The owner caught the dog, but then hauled him into the underbrush off the trail. I explained that lurking in the woods is scarier than facing them on the trail--it would be better for all parties if they came out of the woods. The owner said, "He's never seen a horse, though." Well, there's a first time for everything--part of socializing a dog and de-sensitizing Harley!

I did some yard work over the weekend--a chore I dislike intensely--right up there with house cleaning, just in the outdoors. I picked up a lot of winter's littered sticks and branches, then moved on to cleaning up last year's maple leaf "mulch" I leave around the plantings.

The first spring wildflowers are beginning to open. Bloodroot (named for the red sap in it's roots) is one of the first to arrive. I planted these when a local greenhouse had a variety of native New England species for sale. There used to be a large patch of this growing in the woods along my grandmother's driveway. I wonder if they're still there. Just above the bloodroot is a small trillium, another lovely woodland flower I'm trying to propogate in the shade of the rhododendron. These flowers blossomed in the shadow of an old maple I've since had to take down, so I'm not sure if they get too much sun now. Pictured below is another spring arrival, Hepatica. The leaves (a rusty brown) have barely begun to open, yet the flowers have bloomed. That green leaf is the beginnings of Canada mayflower--another early spring arrival, greening up the woodlands. Lovely!

Monday's ride proved to be just as interesting, if not more so. Harley was full of himself as the wind whipped him into a frenzy. Gates rattled, chickens squawked, shelters shuddered, turkeys gobbled--and that was before we'd even reached Orris Falls! Once we got into the woods, I thought he'd settle. Instead he balked at a fence (he's got some ridiculous fear of this pole fence) and began his stellar backup moves. Harley really would make an awesome cutting horse (if he wasn't afraid of cows--which I'm not sure about). Once I got him to stop, stand still, think a moment and settle, we moved forward. Next, over the two water crossings with strong urging from seat and legs. We made it partway up the trail to Spring Hill when I heard a flapping from his feet. One of the Easyboots had come apart. I dismounted and pulled it the rest of the way off, then stuffed it in the saddle pad pocket. I figured I'd pull the other one too, but Harley would not stand still. Circling me like a demented beast, I walked him further up the trail, trying to calm his nerves. The minute he turned for home, he'd get all agitated again. I finally was able to get the other boot off, after about four attempts, and found a spot to get back on. The minute my leg was over the saddle, he was off for home.

I made him take the side trail along Orris Falls. He always peers into the chasm with one ear cocked to the falling waters. He jigged/trotted whenever he could, spooked at stumps, rocks, squirrels. John called and my response was, "Can't talk now--got my hands full." Oh Harley--what a silly bugger! I'm trying to force the poor guy to be a trail horse when he really needs his support team (aka his girls) to help stave off his fears. We've got a long road ahead, Harley

Can we go home now? There's something behind that tree!

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