Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Equine Ambassador

A week ago, Rhio and I took a long solo road ride (11.5 miles) and managed to get dirty, sweaty, sunburned, and happy.  The day was unbelievable for March - in the low 70s (and humid!), sunny, and no wind.  So guess what?  The bugs are out already!  Flies, ticks, and mosquitoes all made their presence known, though fortunately in very low numbers thus far.

We set off up the very narrow shoulder of the paved road, and Rhio didn't fuss at all about going off by ourselves.  About 1 1/2 miles north, we can cut across on a quiet gravel road, then head back south for about a mile on a wider-shouldered and less-vehicle-traffic road, all to achieve our goal of a wide gravel road that gives us access to a big loop of quiet gravel road.  Essentially, by the end of the ride, we'd made a large, squarish figure 8.
70 degrees but still some snow around.
We met lots of people also out enjoying the day - the first group being a family out for a walk, grandparents, parents, and kids, plus a large Airedale terrier (barking her head off at Rhio).  Rhio and I crossed to the other side to avoid them, but I could tell as we approached that they were intent on chatting.  I always try to be friendly and accommodating, hoping to make a good impression on non-horse people who may someday be asked to vote on a measure that would limit horses in some way.  Sometimes, though, extricating oneself from the conversation because one has miles to ride can be difficult!  This was one of those times, as I chatted with these nice fellows about cowboys, parades, and various other equine events which had occurred in their long lives.  For once, I was grateful to have a car come along, to give me an excuse to move off the road and keep going!

Our next encounter was a lady riding a bay Quarter Horse mare, traveling along a route opposite ours.  Rhio REALLY wanted to go with her.  This was a situation in which, a couple of years ago, he probably would have bucked.  This day, he spun, backed up, violently tossed his head, but did not buck.  I did have to get off him and hand walk for a bit - which gave us the opportunity to interact with a young mother and her two kids.  Back aboard, with the mare long out of sight, we had no trouble continuing on, meeting up with several other walkers and, indeed, the rider and her mare once more.  This time is was no problem to pass her and keep going, as Rhio "knew" he was going home.

Back to our second paved road, Rhio had every intention of turning right and heading back the way we'd come, and tried to convince me to do so.  I disagreed with his choice, as that route gave us another 3 1/2 miles to get home.  Turning left, however, was only 1 1/2 miles to get home, although it required 1 mile along a very scary road.  I prevailed, and we survived the scary road (bikers, traffic, bridges, and barely any shoulder), returning to the barn, where Red greeted us with his trademark whinny.
Rhio's hoof boots kept his pasterns clean, which really shows how filthy the rest of him was!

A sponge bath in March?  Yep! 

No shampoo, just water - kinda clean.

And now worse than before - of course he rolled ASAP once he was turned back out.  The dirt will groom off so much easier, though, since I got all the sweat off first.  It looks way worse than it is! 

Red got to go out for a short ride as well, about 4 miles mostly walking.  He fussed a little at leaving the  barn (I hope he gets over this soon - he was always my horse that didn't care one whit about going out alone), but we had a nice, relaxing ride and he coped with all the new scary things to see very well.
Red's first view of our short-cut trail.

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