Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Pony & Me

All suited up for a summertime ride (though yesterday still felt like spring, & early spring at that!)
Despite the oppressive humidity, Rhio & I geared up for a nice, long, sweaty, and, it turned out, buggy ride.  I had difficulty convincing him that we really did want to leave the lush green grass he'd been grazing for the previous couple of hours (lucky boy got a pre-ride treat today, and was happily stuffing himself full of the green grass in the round pen when I so rudely decided it was time to work), but once we'd passed the 2 1/2 mile mark, he was eager to move on down the road & trail.

Our route was nothing fancy - the same loop we've done a few times already this year, although the last time we did it there was still snow on the ground!  You never know what you'll encounter, however, and this day that included a bulldozer in full dirt-moving mode.  Rhio barely batted an eyelash at the thunderous, stinky bulldozer and, although I had him walk until we were past it (we were moving much faster than it was), there was really no need to do so.  Crossing the busy road, we made our way through the closed gravel pit (I had an alternate route all planned, as I'd expected the pit to be open & working on a Friday) and Rhio was able to pick out our cut-through trail, which I was completely unable to locate through the new foliage - he knew where we were going, and I just let him go.  We did surprise a few deer, does with fawns would be my guess as the trail we pop out onto is very infrequently used and the area is pretty secluded, shady, and seems like a perfect fawn nursery to me.
The bright green of spring has finally arrived here in northern MN.
We pass the halfway point of our loop somewhere on the snowmobile trail; I like to think of the 1+ mile of gorgeous trail with excellent footing, steeply rolling hills, and big mature trees as the whole point of the entire loop - the best 10% of the ride by far.  Sadly leaving the trail behind, we have two less-than-stellar dog encounters but with no harm done to any party.  A collie burst out of the woods at us and proceeded to attempt to chase us, and at first Rhio was thinking full-flight mode was a good idea (could be a big scary! must run!), but I got him turned to see it was a dog and he immediately agreed with me that we should chase it instead of run away from it.  I used my best growling "Get outta here" and the collie chose the safety of barking from the woods.  A mile later, one of the bulldogs on the corner raced out the driveway with what appeared to be full intent to bite Rhio's leg.  I'd stopped and turned to face it, as I am familiar with the two bulldogs that live here - one is horse friendly and wants to say hi, the other just wants to bite legs - and an associated human yelled at her and got her to leave us be.  I know Rhio didn't see her as a threat at all, and I actually think she is more likely to be a problem than the collie that chased us, who was clearly afraid of, or at least leery of, the horse.  The bulldog is not at all afraid.

We had to pause for traffic before crossing back to "our side" of the busy road, and there was a guy on a bike waiting to come our way.  He was extremely polite and waited to see that we were mostly across the road before crossing himself - again bikes are not an issue for Rhio, but it was really nice of him to be so considerate (and it seems somewhat horse-savvy).  At this point, we were faced with the long trot down 2 miles of straight-as-an-arrow shoulder with a somewhat busy road.  This is the spot where Rhio was acting up on our previous rides of "the loop" this spring, wanting to race home and not listen.  Today, he was perfect - giving me a huge but perfectly steady trot, not faltering once even with big trucks, trucks pulling boats, and multiple cars whizzing by.

We continued the rest of the way home along our familiar quiet gravel roads, and came on home with an overall average speed of 5.6 mph, distance 10.8 miles, and ride time 1:56.  It was a great solo ride, despite the bugs (mosquitoes the size of 747s, plus deer flies & horse flies ALREADY!) and the incessant clicking of the loose buckles on his front boots (I had to use Red's Epics instead of Rhio's Renegades as the Renegades are in need of a little repair - see future post!).  Rhio got a much-needed thorough hosing when we got home, his first of the year, and he *was* shiny & clean when I put him back in the pasture (you all know how long that lasted!).

Look! Wash your horse's legs and what do you find?  White stockings!

And if you look closely you'll see he has a blaze hiding in there somewhere, too.  It's actually in the shape of a ?. 

The boys having some free grazing while I chatted with my barn buddies

Clean boots, ready for our next adventure!

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