Thursday, September 25, 2014

Keeping My Word

I've been keeping my word to myself and my horses that I would take at least one horse a day for a walk in the desert.  I have several reasons for taking a horse along with me on my hikes.  First off, the reason why I am walking and not riding is because I need to get back into shape after a long summer of hibernating inside an air conditioned house, and because I am trying to trigger that undiagnosed problem I have with my right foot before I go in to have a sonogram performed on it.  Once I build up enough energy and strength, I'll start jogging with the horses on the trails.

Anyway, one obvious reason for bringing a horse along is so that I can kill two birds with one stone and let the horse get its exercise too.  Another reason is that horses make for good company when on long walks, and I can use the time to strengthen my bond and my communication skills with them.  Further reasoning is that the horses can get more exposure and training.  But my favorite reason for bringing a horse along with me is that I feel protected.

Horses make excellent bodyguards.  Their senses are far keener than ours, so they can alert on activity all around us long before I hear, see, or smell anything.  On today's walk, Bombay stopped in his tracks and alerted on something up ahead on a trail I was planning on taking.  I decided to hold still with him to wait and see what emerged from the bushes.  I heard an angry male voice, and then saw a head bobbing up and down toward us.  I thought some people were hiking together and talking.

However, this turned out to be a lone man, half naked, talking angrily out loud to himself.  I panicked a little bit inside, looking for an escape route in case he and all his craziness came our way.  When I looked back, he disappeared, and that scared me even more.  Bombay was indicating to me that we should not proceed.  I figured this was either a man who was out taking a walk to clear his head verbally, and he would probably be very embarrassed once he realized he wasn't alone, or it was a homeless person with a mental illness and he might latch onto us once he spotted us.  We were pretty far from home and had nowhere to hide.

The man then reappeared from behind a bush, saw us, and made a quick turn up a trail to the north.  Both Bombay and I let out a sigh of relief.  The stranger was more interested in being alone than interacting with us, so we took a trail to the south, but Bombay kept a wary eye in the direction we last saw him.  Because of this detour, we wound up in a part of the desert I'm not familiar with.  The trail was too narrow for a horse and the sides of the trail were very rocky.  I decided to risk spraining my own ankle as a sacrifice so that Bombay could walk heel to toe in the sand and spare himself from having sore hooves.  I wanted to keep him next to me so that I could watch his expressions in case the man doubled back toward us.

We approached a hairpin turn between some overgrown trees, and I could see all kinds of birds hanging out in there.  That was the only point in which I put Bombay behind me, because we both couldn't fit through side-by-side, and I knew that he was so focused on that man that when the birds flew out of the trees, he'd jump sideways.  I was right.  He teleported to his left and then ran up into my back and snorted to a stop before trampling me.

I knew the man was far away once Bombay relaxed.  There were moments on the hike when I needed room to squeeze around thorny branches, and even though Bombay had his head turned away from me, he was still aware that I had an obstacle in my path, and he kindly stepped to the side without me having to ask in order to provide me with enough space to get around the branches.  I'm always amazed when a horse is that in sync with what I am doing.

One thing I find to be very fascinating about Bombay is that he attracts animals of other species.  Birds love him.  I see them riding on his back from time to time.  Bunnies graze at his feet, nibbling hay that he drops from his mouth.  Loose dogs and coyotes make a beeline for him when they see him, and that doesn't always happen with my other horses.  So, while we were out, a desert hare bounced along side us and then cut across the trail in front of us and Bombay acted like it was just a part of our family.

Then a juvenile coyote sprinted across the trail in front of us and then sat in the bushes and watched us as we passed.  I looked at it, and it ducked deeper into the brush.  I watched out of the corner of my eye as it flanked us.  Bombay wasn't the least bit concerned.  It was like he was aware of the coyote stalking us, but he knew it wasn't a threat.  It was just curious.  Bombay seems to walk taller when he knows he's being watched.  It's as if he understands that these animals and people who observe him are just admiring him.

We've got another storm moving in this weekend.  The good news is that it should cool things down further.  The bad news is that we have to deal with more flooding and mud.  The weeds are totally out of control because we've had such a wet monsoon season.  A migrant worker showed up at our door offering to pull the weeds for money.  I think it would take one hundred men to deal with our mess.  But the good news is that the weeds shrivel up and die just as quickly as they bloom and spread.  No assembly and no disassembly required.


fernvalley01 said...

nice to just walk with them and enjoy. And if you feel safer with them , all the better

How Sam Sees It said...

Do you saddle your horses up when you walk them? Just in case you need to make a quick getaway?

We so can't wait for cooler weather!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam - Sometimes I do saddle them up, sometimes I don't. If it is so hot that I know I'll deplete all of my energy tacking up before I even get out there to take my walk, then I don't. But some of the horses are too tall for me to mount without a block anyway. If I did get into trouble I've got other means to defend myself besides running away, but the horses are very helpful in making sure I'm not caught off guard.

Crystal said...

That sounds cool, I never think of just walking with my horses, but sometimes after a ride i get of and walk home, I should more I wanna get in better shape, but I didn't get this way by being energetic, lol so its easier to just stay on and ride home. I guess if I leave home and have no saddled horse I will have to walk tho cause its way harder for me to get on bareback than just walk

achieve1dream said...

I love walking my horse! It's more fun than walking the dog most of the time lol. I think because our pace is the same.