Christine & Tomas with Killian in the background - enjoying the sunshine & relative warmth of a February afternoon while gazing across the white landscape of the hayfield, now carved up with plowed "roads" from the logging equipment - giving us great riding opportunities!
It's been a tough week for Christine with the passing of her beloved dog Diego. He was one of my favorite patients, and one of the first dogs I did acupuncture on. He was a really great dog and ruled the farm, telling everyone (including the 4 wheeler & the Ranger) what was what. We all miss him.
She really needed a good ride, and I insisted we go out for an adventure. The loggers are done with the work they were doing on the farm, opening up some previously heavily wooded areas as well as clearing the property line shared with the owners of Red's barn. We've snowshoed out there, but hadn't ridden back there yet. It's amazing how different everything looks!
Heading out along the trail - this part looks the same, although a few scary grouse were hiding in the pines to startle us.
Rhio is still on the injured reserve list, so I put the bareback pad on Cricket for his 2nd ride of the week. I don't think he knew what he was in for! Kelso chose to stay in the car, so it was just Killian along for the ride. He spent much of the time nearly underfoot, as he would run ahead, then plop down to chew snow balls out of his paws - right in the tractor track we were riding in! The area between the tracks was difficult to cross & quite deep, so we had to either wait for him or get him to move. Silly dog.
Riding along the west edge of the hayfield. To our right was a heavily wooded area that has been significantly thinned.
We rode along the hayfield to Red's barn's property, along the newly-cleared property line, and a little loop around the trails on Red's barn's property (in the tractor tracks.) There were lots of overhanging branches to negotiate around and a small pine tree down to carefully step over. This was all excellent practice for Tomas, who is still fairly green out on trails. He was happy to be out today & didn't hesitate to give Christine a little guff! He kicked at Killian a couple times, and threw in a little buck or two. It's definitely been too long since we've been out & about!
We returned along the east side of the hayfield, and decided to follow the logging equipment track where it crossed a very swampy area. Wow - look at that! It comes out in the gravel pit! Too bad this will be completely impassable except in winter when it's frozen solid. Around the corner in the gravel pit, we see the neighbor Katie aboard her horse West with her dogs Gunnar (Beagle X Basset Hound) and Cash (Cattle Dog.)
The dogs exchange happy greetings while the horses stare at each other over the distance.
Katie & West
Katie, West, & Gunnar after Cricket squealed & struck at West! Geez, old man, what were you thinking?!
We rode out the gravel pit & crossed the road to see if we could get around the gate & into the county gravel pit (the road is plowed all winter, but the gate is locked.) Cricket & I attempted to use a snowmobile track to cross over into the neighboring gravel pit's driveway, then cross back across the snowbank onto the plowed county pit road. That wasn't such a successful venture! Cricket got bogged in the deep snow & fell, which dumped me into the snow as well. We managed to struggle through the snow & across the snowbank onto the county pit road, but despite my efforts at kicking & tromping a path around the locked gate, Cricket refused to traverse it.
Cricket standing by the gate post, calming refusing to go around it & clearly thinking I was nuts for even asking.
So, we had to go back the way we came. Cricket was willing enough to tackle the belly-deep snow again and we emerged onto the plowed entrance area wet & snowy but no worse for wear (other than I probably went down a few pegs in Cricket's assessment of my intelligence.) He sidled up to the gate, with Christine & Tomas urging him close enough to it for me to mount again.
Patiently waiting for me & Cricket to reemerge on the accessible side of the gate.
We headed back home the way we came, this time accompanied by Katie, West, Gunnar, & Cash. After encountering yet another unexpected person, this time on snowshoes with an English Setter, Tomas was on sensory overload and gave Christine a very animated ride home (yes, this horse can do a beautiful sidepass at the canter & a piaffe to die for!) - maybe not exactly what she was planning, though! I couldn't help but let Cricket do his wonderful lope where the footing was good. We came home all smiles - horses, dogs, & humans.
Cricket enjoying a nice big drink after our ride.