Saturday, November 29, 2014

The hounds of hell on Harley's heels

Our weather has been a little crazy here in Maine--some early snow that teased us, then the temperatures soared back up into the low sixties bringing rain and lots of fog. We know winter is just around the corner, but it's always nice to squeeze in one more ride when mittens and bulky jackets aren't required!

Oh what a weekend it was--a great ride, and a not-so-great ride. But I think I jinxed myself this time. With the short days our time in the saddle is limited to just weekends and my Monday afternoons. And John's new shift only gives us Saturdays to ride together. So my steed has been spending most of his hours hanging out with his girlfriends, munching hay.

John and I had a nice little ride on Saturday with Rolex and Harley. But when I asked Mr Little Ears to go solo on Sunday, well, his home-bound highness gave me quite the performance. I could tell it promised to be an interesting ride when Harley would not stand still while I tacked up. Back and forth, back and forth, he paced in the cross ties. Once on board and headed up the road, he was jumping at every squirrel rustling in the leaves. But when two dogs came tearing up the trail, that was last straw for Harley. He turned tail and began to run--fast. Now trying to stop a horse in the ring, or in the open isn't too bad, but when it's over undulating terrain with overhanging branches--well, good luck. As I ducked, he veered right, gave a little buck and as I scrambled out of sticks and leaves, I had a great view of his big bay butt galloping off down the trail. Damn, I thought, I need to catch him before he heads for the road. Thankfully, Harley missed the turn for home. There was a chance I could intercept him if he didn't go cross-country as the crow flies. As I hobbled through the woods, whistling and calling, he appeared, trotting towards me, ears up.

I grabbed the reins and led Harley back to the scene of destruction and on up to the house with the dogs. The owner had them tied up, but they continued barking, which was good. Harley had a chance to stand near their yapping maws, and realized he wasn't about to be eaten. I've had run-ins with these tenacious dogs before, and the owner admitted they like to chase and nip (oh yeah), but in the past, I've turned Harley towards them, they've given up. Not so  this time. With the dogs no longer on his heels, Harley settled down a bit. I remounted, and we continued our ride. Jumpy as he was, we needed to work through all this together.

We encountered a couple of other riders, which gave Harley pause, but after nuzzling noses, we continued our ride. All went smoothly until we returned to the road and a bicycle zoomed past. He jumped sideways, and proceeded to prance. For self preservation, and to help cool off my sweating beast, I decided to lead him the rest of the way home. Harley's shaggy coat was going to need a good sponging after his mad dash! I went home, a little beat up with bruises on my shin, ankle, thigh, and derriere, but walking and upright!

Then came the calm before the storm; a lovely sunset before our first really big storm of the year. More on that in my next post.

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