Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Which Rock Serves a Purpose (or Tries To)

I had a trail ride scheduled this morning with local blogger Christine.  We've been trying to ride together for a while but couldn't coordinate our schedules and have the weather cooperate at the same time.  The deal was that she was going to ride her Friesian out my way with a neighbor, and then we'd all explore the trails together.  I saddled up Rock and got a text message that they were on their way, but muddy ground had both horses behaving badly.

I tried to put the Renegades on Rock, but his hooves had swollen up enough with moisture from standing around in water and mud puddles that I couldn't get the heel supports on.  I needed to loosen the cables even more, but I didn't think there would be time, so I rode him barefoot.  When I got a text message that they were having trouble, I decided to ride out into the desert to look for them.  Rock was doing his usual pussy-footing up the driveway, walking as slow as he possibly can hoping that I would fall asleep and then he could sneak back to the barn and I wouldn't notice.

I was trying to push him to the edge of the driveway where we would stop and look both ways for traffic, but he stopped about 10-feet away from the street and refused to budge.  So much for trying to find Christine and her neighbor in a timely manner.  My horse had already run out of gas.

However, right then I heard the roar of an engine and a red sports car with white racing stripes came flying up over a blind hill out of a dip in the road and blasted past us.  The driver waved and I waved back.  I realized that Rock had sensed the fast moving car before I had even heard or seen it, and he was trying to protect us by hanging back.  Once the car was out of sight, he unlocked his legs and crossed the street.  This is one of the hazards where I live.  The roads are hilly, so a vehicle can be very close to you, but down in a dip for several seconds out of your sight.  That's why I look both ways twice before entering any intersection.

When you are driving a horse, as opposed to just riding a horse, and you've got a specific goal in mind, (in this case finding my trail riding partners who were having trouble with their horses), it's a lot easier to get cooperation from your horse.  It's like he understood that we weren't just going out to wander around in the desert because it was a nice day, but that we were actually searching for someone.  Each time I turned him in a different direction, even if it was one we already came in, he just went without argument.  Rock was looking left and right just like I was and he even seemed to be using his nose and ears to locate them.  He's probably too slow to qualify as a search and rescue horse, but I appreciated his effort.  If I need to get anywhere fast, though, I'll be taking one of the Arabs.

Each time my mobile phone dinged for a text message or rang, he immediately stopped his feet and waited politely for me to finish my conversation.  Someone who rode him previously must have spent a lot of time on his or her phone in the saddle, because Rock seemed very familiar with the noises and the routine.  I called Christine to let her know I was out in the desert looking for her, but couldn't see her anywhere.  She didn't pick up, so I figured she really was in trouble.  I tried following some hoof prints.

I thought I heard hoof steps and female voices on my street, so I headed back that way and called out her name, but got no answer.  Then she called me on the phone and told me she and her neighbor were aborting their mission to get to my house.  They were headed back to their home, because a pack of coyotes surrounded them and scared the horses.  That is strange behavior for coyotes.  Sometimes one or two of them will trot alongside a horseback rider, but they had at least five of them acting stealthy by flanking the horses and then cutting them off on the trail.

We had a coyote show up under our porch after the rainstorms and it looked long and hard at our horses, as if trying to figure out if it could eat them.

I still wanted to ride a bit since I went to the trouble to tack up, but I was keeping my eye out for coyotes myself.  Rock sensed that I was on alert, but instead of getting nervous about it, he seemed to relax knowing that I was paying attention to all the little sounds around us.  Christine came by after they put their horses away, and we decided to try again tomorrow.  I'm sure the ground will be muddy still, but she'll probably bring a different horse and her gun this time around.


Cindy D. said...

Oh what a good boy he is!

One time when one of our dogs was missing, I happened to be on Trax and even though we were finishing our ride, when the only thought in my head was...must find dog...he was more than happy to head out and look, rather than head to the feed bag. Its funny how easily they pick up on our thoughts isn't it?

achieve1dream said...

Aww when you mentioned riding with Christine I was hoping to see pictures of Baron. :( I hate that you didn't get to ride together. I'll keep my fingers crossed it works out better tomorrow and that the coyotes stay away!

fernvalley01 said...

Good boy Rock, what a wise boy

Cheryl Ann said...

What a good boy!