Great Outdoors


Thursday, June 25, 2020

I plan to ride again on the beautiful trail my horses crossed yesterday, a path clear and easy to follow but seemingly little used. It took us over a huge and impressive rocky ridge, a bit scary for one concerned about a lurking cougar, or a coyote angry at dogs wandering near its den. All else was good, tall grasses for horses to nibble, bunches of wildflowers colorful and in full bloom, and feelings of sheer joy in riding high!

The main trail has side-trails that go higher and toward the ridge-top. I didn’t explore by taking them. It seemed wise on this first trip to stay on the main trail, managing my three equines and three dogs (Osix earlier disappeared and returned to the trailhead). This first pass would reveal any trail interferences or touchy spots.

Once long ago, while riding near a massive rocky rise, a riding companion and I experienced an almost-cougar event. Our horses were moseying toward the ridge when suddenly both went into full alarm mode. Their heads shot up, necks shifting and wide-eye staring. Against the reins, my mare’s dancing body turned, every tense muscle.”Maybe a cougar!” said the other rider. Our horses started to spring away. No alternative, horses and riders turned and took off.

I’ll never know if a cat had been present. Since then, I’m wary when riding near big rocky conformations. One thing I’m certain of is that my horse will let me know if anything seems seriously amiss.

I once had a situation while on horseback between my dog and a coyote. My elderly Cattle Dog was following when the coyote appeared from nowhere. It gave a gap and went after my dog. She dodged and managed to keep away from the aggressive pursuer. I helped by turning my horse toward the coyote to interrupt its lunges. This continued for awhile until finally the coyote gave up. What stays in my mind are memories of its relentless focus and determination.

Someone later explained that coyotes can be aggressive around a nearby den with pups. That long ago episode with my Cattle Dog occurred somewhere in an area near where yesterday my dogs followed the horses.

We did cross that ridge safely, and happily, and we’ll return to try some of its offshooting trails.

Dear Friends: The photo is of our very protective donkey following us on horse trails. Diana

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