Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blazing Tamaracks

Rhio was happy to let Paco lead quite a lot of this ride
Third day out of four that Rhio & I trailered out to ride, this time with Gesa & Paco.  This is our last big work before the last endurance ride of the season, Point Chaser on October 22 - 24.  We had yet another amazing October day, riding in t-shirts and summer tights (and sweating) into the early evening.

Due to Rhio's rubs on the outsides of his hind pasterns, from the Easyboot Glove gaiters, I added a couple turns of vet wrap beneath the gaiters today.  We did about 14 miles, fording the Cloquet River twice, and the vet wrap stayed in place and his pasterns looked great when we were done (well, they were a little bit gray-tinged from the wet black vet wrap, but the already-present rubs were not at all irritated).

Rhio's hind boot configuration with vet wrap for pastern protection and interference boot because he knocks himself when booted. 
We didn't see a single person the entire time we rode, including exploring a couple of new trails connected to the trails we found the previous weekend.  We did find evidence of hunters having some success, one pile of exploded grouse feathers being the most obvious clue, and flushed up at least half a dozen grouse.  Kelso occasionally acts like a bird dog, and did some of the seek-and-scare-up for us.  He was more excited about chasing the red squirrels that would dash up a tree and sit scolding us for disturbing their space, though.

The blazing orange of the tamaracks was breathtaking against the dark green of the pines and the bare branches of all the other deciduous trees which have already shed their leaves.  Tamaracks are plentiful in this area, and really do look like trees ablaze, especially in the fading light of evening.  They vie for the top spot in my list of favorite trees.  Also, their needles are fine, soft, & silky and not at all unpleasant to brush up against while riding.  I brought home my share of tamarack & pine needles in unmentionable places (how do they get there?).

One of the magnificent tamaracks we passed by following the winding 4-wheeler trails.
We were forced to turn back after riding out an hour and a half, knowing we were losing light quickly and not wanting to get caught on the old logging road through the woods in the dark, with its plethora of low-hanging branches threatening to cut, scratch, and poke.  We were heading down as-yet unexplored trail (another old logging road, or as I grew up calling them, tote road) and I hate not being able to find out what's around the next bend!  It's also somewhat ironic that we didn't want to get caught in the dark, since riding at night is something I've developed quite a desire to do (and there was conveniently an article about it in Endurance News this month, full of advice from experienced night riders).  But this was not the place for night riding - I would definitely recommend picking a trail that is mostly free of face-threatening branches! This trail requires a fair amount of acrobatic skill to crouch over your horse's neck for the thick, immovable obstacles and dodge-and-parry the smaller ones with hands & arms.  

We got back to the trailer as the sun was setting, loosing hues of lavendar, pink, orange, and yellow on the world and highlighting the fingernail of moon rising.  

Postscript: Rhio was once again a bugger for trailer loading on the way home.  We had the big, open stock trailer (very horse-friendly) and he completely refused.  This time, he wasn't showing any anxiety, just calmly standing by the trailer with a hoof cocked, making no attempt whatsoever to load.  I was fairly aggravated.  With Gesa leading him onto the trailer, I waved a convenient stick at him and he hopped right on.  ARGH! I guess it's nice to know he's not perfect :)  

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