Trail riding is such a peaceful and grand experience. I truly believe that everyone should experience trails with a horse at least once. There is something magical and mystical about riding through the snow-covered trails, with big, sky-touching pine trees on either side. There is a certain comfort in having that warm horse beneath you, walking along steadily and surely. And every now and then you have something like what happened to me just this last weekend happen.
My OTTB Nikki and I were guiding a trail ride that was unusually quiet for eight horses. Nikki was ambling along, hardly caring about the world when we crested a hill that leads out into a swamp. Nikki stopped then, and I felt him tense. His ears pricked forward, and while I had been day dreaming up until this point, I looked up with new interest. I was expecting to see a rabbit, or even a fallen tree, or possibly a deer. I was not expecting to see a big gray wolf standing in the middle of the trail.
The wolf stared at us for a moment, and Nikki and I stared back. The wolf was beautiful and so calm that I thought for a moment she must be a stray dog – I have never seen a wild wolf before. But as soon as I urged Nikki forward, the wolf ghosted off into the bush, as if she had never been there. No jingling of tags, and we were too far out in the bush for her to be someone's lost pet anyways.
I knew there were wolves in the area. I had seen signs of them last winter, a deer carcass being one of those signs. But to actually see such an elusive animal was breath-taking, to say the least. And she had been there for so short a time that only the person directly behind me had seen her as well.
Nikki blew sharply as I urged him forward again. But he stepped along the path, somewhat haltingly. I'm sure every instinct in his head was screaming at him to turn tail and run, but I whispered softly to him as we passed the spot where the wolf had been standing, and after a moment the tension in his body eased and we continued on with the wolf all but forgotten.
What a beautiful sight for a warm winter day!