Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!!!

Amber and I got to go on two lovely and wonderful rides this past weekend. I was so excited to actually be on the back of a horse, and to not be shooting pictures from the ground up, and Amber was happy to be out riding with an adult too--remember she has her step-daughter over right now. She is great though--hi Cheyenne !--but not an experienced rider, so Amber has had to curtail her riding a bit to accommodate that. Take that kidlets!!!! We got to run with the wind in our hair...run like we were on the heals of a storm...well, maybe run like we were being chased by a bear or a cougar, which is what I think the horses were thinking!!!
OK, back to the main story. Sorry! Little did I know--so much for my smugness about being on horseback!--but on our ride on Friday evening, we would spend quite a bit of our time dismounted and investigating the trail ahead. We decided to check out a five to seven mile part of an old railroad track, that was recently cleared to a small footpath, for some relay runners two weeks ago. This trail runs alongside a creek, and Amber had heard that there were some washouts and difficult places to navigate, so her and Cheyenne actually walked some of it earlier in the day, to make sure it was safe to take the horses on. She also heard that a local "backcountry" horsemen, had recently followed it down to the small town where the trail becomes maintained by the county, and that there were some "icky" areas, but that he was able to get through on his horses. Hmmm...we would see about THAT!
I had to take this picture of Sienna's beard for my family. Sienna always has a beard, until at least July, unless you clip it off. Even when she was younger! She is a little miffed at me here, because I shut the gate in her pushy little face. She wants to go out and eat lots of grass, so that she can founder...she never has foundered, but that is because we know about piggy little ponies! Poor thing. I understand the need to eat large amounts of food too!

For some reason, Waska always looked pissed off in pictures. He is actually a really expressive horse, and he always looks at you when you talk to him...unless you have a camera. He looks really thrilled to be going out for a ride, doesn't he?
The horses were both quite on edge along this trail, and I have a feeling that it was because we were in prime bear and cougar country. Waska's eyes were bugged out the WHOLE ride, and Bo insisted on jogging the WHOLE time. You can see how lush and green it was. Surrounded by salmon berries and gorging bears! Bo had one ear nervously cocked back on me the WHOLE time. Did I mention that this was about a two hour ride? "It's OK Bo Bo. I will protect you from the bears and cougars...well maybe not the jumping cougars!" There were lots of old growth tress with limbs that hung over the trail. Perfect for a hungry cougar to attack from. Now I am starting to sound as paranoid as the horses look!!!
Eeeeek!!!! What is this? This was an area that was washed out along the creek/river. It left us about a two foot path to walk across, and it only dropped off about five feet--it was not straight down either--so we dismounted and walked the horses across it.
See Waska's eyes now? Doesn't look so bored anymore, does he? I was standing next to Bo, and holding Waska, while Amber was checking out an area where a small creek ran into the big creek. There was a bridge that was made of two, two-by-fours, and the OTHER horseman had actually crossed with his horse. We know this because of the tracks in the mud. Mud never lies!So...Amber walked upstream a little bit an found a good place to cross...once again though, we were dismounted. Clippety clop, down the trail we went. Well, the sound we heard wasn't exactly "clippety clop," because we were either in mud or in moss. Moss covered trails are beautiful! We felt like little fairies out for an evening ride. We did not see any live beaver, but there were plenty of trees that some beaver family had worked over at one time. Here is a picture of one. It's really impressive to consider that they chew through HUGE trees. If you click and enlarge the photo, you can see their teeth marks.
Baaaaaad picture, but I wanted to show you the end of the trail for us...once again dismounted:) If you look down at Bo's feet--those are the reins, not his legs!!--you will see a six inch board. This board ran along the river, for about 150 feet, and you guessed it, the OTHER horseman rode, or walked, his horse along it. "It," was the board that was bordered by the creek on one side--about six feet down!!--and a muddy hill on the other. I do not know HOW he crossed it with a horse, but he did. We did not, but rode down into the creek to see if there was another way around this area.Waska STILL looks worried, even in the water! There was no easily discernible way around this area of the trail, so we turned around and high tailed it home.
We did let the horses graze for awhile...you know, as kind of a payback for making them venture deep into "death" territory! Even while eating though, they never quite relaxed. You can tell by Bo's ears, that he is zooming in on the rapidly approaching predator!Much to the surprise of Bo and Waska, we made it back in one piece, and made plans to hit the trails the next day as well. Aaahhhhh...there is nothing like a good role in the dirt...when you are covered in sweat and itchy!


Trailboss said...

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my is right. I would have been scared too! Beautiful horses you have there. Cool too that one of you guys was riding bareback, or so it looked to me!

Pony Girl said...

Great pictures, you guys were really blazing trails! Waska has such an expressive face, and beautiful markings!
I know the feeling of bear and cougar country. When I was leasing My Boy, we rode onto some trails that had a bear warning posted. Uh, hello? I was terrified! I wore a helmet on every ride just in case I saw a bear and fell off and then he couldn't eat my head. Wishful thinking. There were a ton of berries all over those trails too, and we saw suspicious scat (poo) all over the trail. We kept saying it was coyote. Hmmm. Anyway, I think horses can sense when they are wild animals around and they can get jittery.

The Knutson's said...

Trailboss-Yep, my sister was riding with her bareback pad only. Waska has REALLY high withers, otherwise she would ride with nothing at all...the horse not my sister!!!:)

Pony Girl-I think that Bo was calmer than Waska, because he is older and has much more trail experience than Waska does, but there was definitely "something" out there! They were acting like true Arabs that night...something they usually do not do (LOL!)

Momma / Cowgirl said...

WOWee! That sounds like a fantastic time. I would not have made it as far as you did, we are just not sure about our handle on our horses yet (that is why we are in horse riding classes *smiles)
It is always so nice to hear about other's adventures with their horses.
take care!

Trail Riding Cowgirl said...

thanks for stopping by my blog All things Horses, drop in any time. Loved reading your post and glad as a fellow mommy you are out getting your free time with horses.
Will have to add you to my regular reads!

The Knutson's said...

Trail Riding Cowgirl-Hey...us mom's--please ignore my grammar!--have to stick together! It is hard to find the time to ride, when everytime I want to go, so do both of my kids, and riding with your kids just is NOT the same as being by yourself or with another adult.

bandcg@comcast.net said...

I'm glad you got some grown-up riding in, I remember how good it feels not to worry about what every one else is doing. Not to mention what their horses are up to.

The Knutson's said...

Mom-THAT is the big thing...not having to worry about what the kid's horses are doing! It's nice to just worry about yourself. You know, you did it with four of us:)
What a nightmare!!!!