Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Investigation

After last weekend's traumatic "incident," I remain utterly grateful that no lasting harm befell Red or me.  But I am also a little peeved at having lost the two brand new hoof boots, only on their second hoof-side foray into the wide world.  And so, on Wednesday morning, along with G and Gimi, Rhio and I set off on a search mission.
The short cut trail
It was a brisk morning, and the frost on the grass and dead leaves made the footing occasionally slippery in unexpected places.  But the sun was shining, and the calendar count-down to deer season was on (the two weeks I can't ride in the local woods, for fear of being mistaken for a mutant, English speaking, jingling deer,) so I was happy to be riding, despite the layers of clothing required.
Gimi doing an A+ job!
We decided to take a direct route to the area around where Red and I had parted company, which involved about 1 1/4 miles along the county highway.  The same county highway that sees little traffic these days, with the road block due to the washout from June still in place (and only a little work being done on it so far, apparently.)  We were not so lucky, however, and on this Wednesday morning, we had traffic in both directions, including large trucks from the county highway department building and a garbage truck.  Most of the trucks were very polite, and young Gimi showed very little concern about them.  Having steady Rhio in front of him (Rhio: "Remind me again why we have to slow down for traffic?  or for garbage cans?  The young one should just keep up with us!") I'm sure helped, but so far Gimi is proving to have an excellent attitude about new and potentially scary things.
The open space of the gas line
We turned into the woods and followed a short cut to the gas line, which was mowed/brush-hogged sometime this fall and looked like a broad runway for a galloping horse.  It was my best guess as to where Red had gone on Saturday after our tumble.  We headed left/northeast to start, and walked along looking for signs that Red had been there.  We went as far as a swampy (currently frozen) area with a bold NO TRESPASSING sign just on the other side of it.  To our literate brains, this was a logical turning around point, though I am under no illusion that it appeared so to a horse.  I spotted some frozen manure and Gesa spotted one of the missing boots!  Hallelujah!  Turning around and heading out to the main trail, we didn't see anything further.  We backtracked to the spot where we fell; the skid marks on the small patch of mud are pretty obvious.  We rode up to the spot I found him; 9 piles of manure are evidence enough of his overnight stay.  We checked a bit of the gas line area a second time.  That second boot remained hidden, and with a glance at the time, we turned for home.
The boot!
Friday would be my last opportunity to search until after November 18th, and by then there may be snow on the ground.  Friday was even colder than Wednesday had been, and I was riding out solo.  My motivation was not only boot location, but also to shake the gremlins of having fallen and to "get back up on the horse."  I took Red.  It is true what they say: Get back on right away.  Although I have come off of Red many times, I think this was one of the few times I did not get back on immediately and continue riding.  If we had found him on our walk out on Saturday, I definitely would have climbed aboard.  But since that option wasn't available to me, this day, five days later, I couldn't suppress the tiny voice inside whispering, "The last time you rode him, you came off.  And he got lost."
Last ride before deer season - all is well.
With a few butterflies, I mounted up and we ambled off along our regular route.  He felt fine.  He felt normal.  I felt fine.  I felt normal.  Well, okay then.  I retraced our route from Wednesday, where barefoot and bootless Red preferred the pavement to the gravel shoulder, and we took our sweet time getting where we needed to go.  I tried asking him to show me where he lost the boot, but he wasn't very forthcoming with information.  I only had about 30 minutes to search, and came up empty handed this time, unfortunately.  I peered closely at a possible hoof print in the swampy/frozen area by the no trespassing sign, a hoof print which I am certain we did not leave ourselves on Wednesday, but I am still undecided as to whether it was indeed evidence of Red's passing that way.

The ride home was uneventful, and I was already running late, so detacked and turned him out without any ceremony.  I guess life just goes on the way it was before.  The "first ride after the incident" turned out to be completely ordinary and unremarkable. No looking back, and no regrets.  And maybe I'll find that boot, yet.
So happy to have my boy home where he belongs.

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