Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Fall Colors Between Rhio's Ears

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Hardly Remember the Sun

Despite the title of this post, this pic from the end of our ride shows it cloudy again!
We've been back in Duluth since early June, and it seems we have only seen the sun for a few moments.  In one of those moments, Rhio and I were finally able to sneak in a conditioning ride.  He traveled back from Colorado to Minnesota at the end of March, and was then stranded at a friend's house in southern Minnesota until the first week of May.  He's been back at his former boarding barn in Duluth for almost 2 months now, and settled right back into the herd and the routine.  In all that time, he has been "resting" - or, at least, we were not actively conditioning, nor were we even riding except for a quickie here and there amongst my short visits to Minnesota this spring and the hectic first few weeks of being back.  It doesn't look like we have any competitions on our schedule until August, so I haven't felt much pressure to get him back to work.  Also, luckily for me, being a horse, he actually hasn't lost very much condition in the time he has been off.  All our mountain riding in Colorado is still with him, and it won't take much at all to have him ready for our first 50 miler of 2014. 

We took the only available route at the moment - down the long driveway to Skyline Parkway (which is still mostly closed to motor vehicles due to unfixed flood damage from 2012).  We then do an out-and-back along the road.  It's not the most exciting of rides, but it is quite scenic.  We currently have no other options, except hauling out, because it has been so incredibly wet here.  All the soils are completely saturated, the streams are running high, and the trails are way too wet to ride.  I am thankful just to have access to this quiet road full of scenic overlooks, and a set of shoes on my horse.

As usual, he was fussy and slow to leave the barn, even with Kelso's company, but at about 2 miles from home, he'd given up trying to convince me to turn around and head home, and, of his own accord, picked up the pace, hit his stride, and it was smooth cruising the rest of the ride. 

I am certainly not the only one to have discovered the pleasures of this quiet stretch of road, and we saw a few other folks out and about on this weekday, mostly bikers and runners.  Rhio isn't bothered by either of these, and keeps right on trotting.  The bikers, however, are mostly surprised to see us and often seem a bit confused as to what to do.  Some slow down, some stop, some speak to me and some don't - Rhio really doesn't care, but many horses will be nervous and uncertain around bikes. The trail etiquette is that bikers and hikers yield to horses - almost everyone in Colorado knows this, and there are signs reminding users of this on every shared-use trail I rode out there - but Minnesota folks are much less used to seeing horses on their trails and there seems to be a need to educate other trail users not only about proper etiquette, but also about horse psychology.  For example, if you, on foot or on a bike, approach a rider on horseback, please speak to the rider.  This simple act lets the horse know that you are a human being, and not a scary horse-eating monster.  Also, step off the trail if room is needed to pass, but don't hide behind a bush, a tree, or a rock.  Predators try to conceal themselves before they jump out to eat you, and horses know this very well.  Horses' prey instincts remain strong and intact, despite several centuries of domestication, and this is most often the root cause of spooking or shying in horses.  Non-horse people can have positive interactions when encountering riders just by remembering that horses will always err on the side of thinking something unfamiliar will eat them, and therefore by making yourself known as a human being,  usually all will be well.

Rhio comes to the car before I've even parked it (the horses are loose on grass around the barn, as it is all fenced).

We often practice eating on the trail, an essential skill for endurance horses.  
Kelso cools off in a puddle.

A natural water obstacle.

Hey, if the treats are in here, I'm coming in!

No comments:

Post a Comment