August 18, 2009

Wildlife action

I was to have a dressage lesson yesterday evening, but as it had been raining the whole afternoon the outdoor arena was deep and muddy.
I checked if our neighbour’s indoor arena was free. Since it was a bit late in the evening, it was.

My session was to start 8.45 pm.
When I was making Fame ready, I thought of getting some reflexes. The evenings are getting darker *sigh*. I had stored away the reflexes for the season in the spring, and as I was both pressed on time and really not ready to mentally accept that the summer was over, I let the reflexes be.
I could always take the path through the forest home.

I still have to ride bareback.
I was a bit apprehensive when entering the road. Fame normally behaves well in traffic but the problem is when it’s been raining and there is water on the road, the cars sometimes shower you and the horse. The horse can get a bit skittish.
We luckily had an uneventful way to the arena, and the training went well.
I still struggle with the walk pirouettes though.
I say “I” and not “we”, because I clearly feel that the fault lies above the saddle here. I have lost the feeling for how it feels when it is correct.
After riding youngsters for several years I have gotten rusty. I will ask my daughter if I can lend her pony Charlie one day, to get some refill.
It is a great advantage to have a horse in the family who knows the exercises.

When we got out of the arena, it had turned dark, so taking the road home was out of the question.
I rode Fame towards the Bogey Place where she has to pass in a tight spot between the stable and some houses, and emerged on the other side still on the back on what in the meantime had turned into a slightly kneeling, zigzag-ing and snorting giraffe.
After riding down a small slope we came to the path leading home, winding along the creek.
I gave Fame a pat, and was turning my thoughts to whether there were any sausages left at home, as I was getting hungry.
Fame was probably thinking of her pellets.
Right in the middle of these relaxing thoughts, there is a crash in the wood right in front of us, and out bursts a moose cow with her calf.

They run a short distance down the path, and then stop to look at us.
Fame takes the opportunity to eat some grass. Thanks to some intensive training she has a pretty relaxed attitude towards moose.
So there we stand.
The moose cow is inspired by Fame, and starts to eat from some branches. The smaller calf I cannot see anymore, it is getting too dark.
They are completely blocking our way home.

I start to speak.
No reaction.
I try to get a bit louder.
The moose cow moves a bit further on.
I start to follow the path a bit, but I have difficulties to see where the cow is, and I for sure have no idea where the calf is.
It might be between us and the cow as it was running after its mother.
I am riding bareback.
After a small brainstorm with myself, I find out that I am not interested in laying left in the grass as an overripe plum in front of the moose if she makes a go at us, if I cannot remain seated on Fame through the turmoil.

So we turn.
I cannot ride along the road without reflexes.
The only option left was to cross the creek twice in the dark, where the water level is high due to the rain. We have to ride on a bad, muddy forest path after crossing the water, and also some distance along a gravel road but as there are not many cars there that was a better choice.

So we turned around, and started out.
When we came down to the water, it was dark and flowing fast.
At this passage the ground below the water is not even, there are large stones and it can sometimes be difficult for the horses to keep the balance when passing, so normally we do not ride over there. This time we had no choice.
Fame hesitated slightly, but then marched on out. She was also eager to get home.
I am so grateful for all the trail riding we have done, which makes it easier to handle a situation like this.
Fame was careful where she put her feet, she swayed twice due to the current and the stones, but we got over OK.
After some minutes on a small path on the other side, we came up to the gravel road.
We trotted. As my horse was very eager to get home we had a session with extended trot on a tense horse and some seat training for the rider, lol!
Then it was time to cross the creek again. This passage was easier, with a better ground and a lower water level.
We entered the forest again, and now it was pitch dark. And very muddy. To avoid the worst mud, we had to take a detour with a steep climb through the forest without a path. I just had to give her the reins, grab on to Fame's mane and trust her to find the way.
I couldn’t see where to get down to the path again, so I steered her wrong and we had a large drop down in the dark.
But she carried us both safely through, and home.
Fame was a very good and very brave girl. She dealt with everything that came up, taking care of me along the way.
I was very proud of her.


stilllearning said...

What an amazing tale! Very impressive that Fame handled all of that so well. (I probably would have turned tail and headed back to the arena for help.)

Glad you made it home in one piece!

Anonymous said...

She certainly rose to the occasion for you - what a good horse!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Fame is wonderful and so brave. It's hard to believe you actually ran into a moose and her calf, that could have been very dangerous. Glad you made it home in one piece.

Cabruze said...

Finally made it to your blog. Wow, what an adventure!
And I've ridden with David Oliveira at his place in Portugal on his stallion Opalino. Small World!

Anne i Hannover said...

He he, I can just see her, marching homewards with pellets on her mind while you made her make so many detours to get home;)

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments all!

Cabruze - welcome! It is a small world, lol! Must have been a fantastic experience in Portugal. I envy you...

Anne - yes, I believe those pellets were vivid in her mind. She was ready to take on the moose too, lol! I was the one to turn.
I just have to smile when thinking about it.
You know, she wasn't stressed either as they can get sometimes when they want to get home and the terrain is difficult. I felt that she just without fuzz took on the job of taking us both safely home.
It doesn't sound much perhaps, but as I have been with her since she was a very inexperienced and lively 3 yo I feel as if my kid just has graduated out from school.
She did good. I am a happy Mum.

Stephanie said...

Wow! What an adventure you had after your lesson... I am so glad to read that it all went well and safe.
A little excitment keeps you on your toes, :)
Maybe time to dig out those reflectors after all!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sounds like a scary, but magical experience. You had a ride at 8:45 PM? I'm usually in bed by then. How do you have the energy to ride that late?

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments!

Stephanie - yes, I suppose I'll have to prepare for dark evenings. But I don't want to! *tantrum, tantrum*

NuzzMuzz - after reading about you feeding the horses at 4.30 am, I understand that you are in bed, lol!
Problem is that if we have only access to the indoor arena after they are finished with the riding school there. So, during the winter, I often ride between 9-11 pm. And when I am finished in the stable, it is difficult to relax enough to go straight to bed.
Tired in the morning? Yes. But happy.

Fattern said...

Ho! Sounds like good old outback life.

jill said...

Thanx for visiting my blog and your kind words. We only have deer to look out for. Moose would be a real challenge for us on the trail I suspect! Nice post.

jme said...

wow, what a ride! i'm not sure how i would have handled a moose encounter, but horses never cease to amaze me with their ability to handle difficult situations if you just stay out of their way! fame sounds like such a lovely and sensible mare :-)

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments, all!

Dad - everything's as normal, lol!

Jill - welcome, and thanks for visiting my place!

jme - we have lots of moose here. During the wintertime we have close to daily encounters, fortunately most of them uneventful. I am a bit weary when it comes to a cow and calf though...

Irene said...

Hjälp, vilket äventyr! Både du och Fame var fantastiskt duktiga o båda behöll ni ert lugn. Sådana situationer skulle kunna gå överstyr...

Anonymous said...

I just love your blog. I read it all the time, for many months now. I've tried to comment a few times with no luck. I hope this one gets through.

HorseOfCourse said...

Irene - no, you never know what happens. It was so frustrating; we were 10 mins from home, and hungry and tired both of us - and we just had to turn around and start on the detour.

Anon - welcome, and thanks for your kind words! Hope to hear from you again! Where do you live?