January 26, 2009

Moose safari

I got a nice comment from a rider in Alberta, Canada, where they also have moose (and cold weather). She said that the horses get scared and bolts when they have encounters.
So do the new horses here too, they do get scared.
Some of the riders as well.
Problem is, there are so many moose here in the winter time that you just have to handle the problem if you don’t want to stay at the yard the whole winter…
Normally the encounters are uneventful (apart from spooking and bolting horses), but there have been some incidents with the moose chasing horse and rider. Not me though. Yet.
But I had a close encounter a few years ago.

I was riding home very late one evening from a training session at a close by stable.
From that stable we have two ways home; either along the road, or along a path through the forest.
After passing a small clearing the path again winded in between the trees. And there stood a very large male moose, eating, just 4-5 meters from the path. He was huge.
I stopped my horse. Looked at the moose. He just looked back, tipped his ears a bit, and continued eating.
He had not planned to move, that was sure.
So I started with my usual tactics.
Barking like a large, angry dog.
Shouting in my best bass voice.
Waving my arms.
No reaction, apart from chewing and eartipping.
It was mid winter and a lot of snow. I tried to make a detour around the moose but the snow reached to the belly of my horse, so we had no chance to continue. We just had to turn back to the path.
Now my horse started to get impatient. He wanted to go home, have his evening feed and be ready with it.
So basically, I had two options.
Either to turn back, and ride along the road without reflexes. Not very smart.
Or to ride on, and hope for the best.
My horse was not in doubt. He wanted home, NOW.
So I just kept my breath, closed my eyes and rode on.
We survived.

Actually there are so many moose here that they arrange moose safari for the tourists from a nearby camping…

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