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@SueC, I was with you :wink: Fortunately, she's only bucked with me once. We were riding through some really sucking, sticky mud and she was trying to scramble and hop through it, and I was asking her to slow down and steady, and she was not having it. She did a little buck and since we were already sort unbalanced sloshing our way through the mud, off I launched over her shoulder. Fortunately she sent me forward into soft grass, not into the bog! But she generally isn't explosive, thankfully!

Yesterday afternoon we had a really nice ride with M and Coalie. The weather was chilly but the sun was strong, so it made for a pleasant ride. We did the Newhall loop, which ended up being just over 8 miles and put us over 460 total miles for the year. It was mostly uneventful.



We saw our neighbor S out doing chores when we rode by her farm, and stopped to chat for a few minutes. Neither Fizz nor Coalie are particularly good "stand around and chat" horses- they would rather be moving- but we were pleasantly surprised that they both stood quietly for a good 10 minutes while we talked. S was excited about a lesson she had coming up this afternoon, which M and I were both thrilled to hear. As backstory, sadly S lost her amazing driving pony at the beginning of the summer to some sort of strange autoimmune disease. The disease caused her mare's hair to fall out, and then her skin to start sloughing as well :sad: There were many vets involved in consulting on the case and they were all baffled. Treatments included strong doses of steroids, which in turn let to her foundering, and that was sort of the last blow. Sadly she had to be put down, and S was devastated. They had been competing at a high level nationally and to see such a talented young mare go downhill so quickly, with no way to help, was just heartbreaking. S had actually purchased the full younger brother to her mare in the spring, with plans to drive them as a pair, but when she lost Rory she had a hard time getting excited about getting the younger horse going. Understandably. So M and I were just thrilled yesterday when S came out of the barn to chat beaming, saying she was getting ready for a driving lesson that afternoon and had a trainer helping her get Ricky going again. I really hope they build a strong relationship and S is back to doing what she loves soon!

After our chat, we continued on our way, but soon got stopped again when the horses spotted a couple with a giant mastiff near the woods at the back of a pasture we rode past. I have no idea why, but both horses were absolutely mesmerized by the scene and planted their feet to stare. M got Coalie going again, but Fizz was glued to the ground and would.not.move. even as Coalie got farther and farther ahead of us. I ended up having to get off, and even then I couldn't get her to move. The dog and people were doing nothing- just standing in a field. I have no idea why that was so bothersome!? The whole time we were standing in S's driveway, there were dogs running all around us and the horses barely even acknowledged them. We passed another farm where the very enthusiastic collie Shasta came out and ran around with us like she usually does. Horses didn't care about that either. But for some reason, this dog and couple were VERY suspicious! :icon_rolleyes: After we finally walked away from them and I got back on, we had no real issues, but that was very weird.




Later in the ride, I was very proud of Fizz. The cows that had chased us last time we rode through Newhall Farm had been moved to another pasture, where they were very close to the road. This time, though, they were laying down and not running along the fence with us. Coalie passed with no issue, but Fizz got a bit tense. Still, she rode past without any kind of freak out- though as you can see, she kept a very close eye on them! (They're laying down to the right of the tree, you can barely make them out).





Aside from nice rides, we had more fun this weekend: on Saturday afternoon Hugh had a reunion with two of his siblings- his brother Odin and sister Fern. He and Odin squabbled a bit; at 9 months old, both are still intact so had to work out just who was in charge. I think Odin emerged as the dominant one. However, their sister Fern put them both in their place and broke up any growling matches. Each of the boys took a turn wrestling and running with Fern. Fern has remained with their mother's owner Miriam, so we got an update from Miriam about how the rest of the litter is doing. Four of the pups look just like Hugh/Odin, and four look just like Fern. Most of them live on working farms (sheep, goats) and all seem to be developing really lovely personalities with a good work ethic. Odin and another one of the brothers are "town dogs" and Hugh has a sort of "hobby farm" lifestyle, but they're the only ones who aren't really working dogs.

Hugh left, Odin middle, Fern right

Odin left, Hugh right

Hugh back, Fern front


Seeing him with the other two did make me realize I need to step it up a bit with training. The other two had a lot bigger "vocabulary" of commands than Hugh does. I also think Hugh just needs a lot more time with other dogs. He loved playing with them and seemed genuinely sad when they left. I think his life probably is a little lonely, since we really just hang out here as our little family and don't have a lot of company. He's been so carsick all his life it's been hard to take him out on many adventures. So we'll have to be more intentional about that as I think he is a really sociable little guy and would enjoy more dog time. This is the only time since lovely husband and I have been married that we've had just one dog, so I have a feeling another one might join us in the not so distant future.
 

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All three dogs are lovely. So nice they could have a reunion.
My Dalmatian used to get super excited if he ever saw another dog with spots. Once he was even crazier than usual, and when we got to talking it turned out the other dog was his sister. They were about 8 yrs old at the time. The funny thing was, I'd named my dog Bucky and her name was Betsy.
 

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I love that story @gottatrot! We had a long conversation about whether or not they remembered each other. Surely they must, right? Hugh has a distinctive little whimper/whine he will do when lovely husband comes home after being out for awhile, and as soon as Odin was out of the car Hugh was doing that whimper. He didn’t react as much to Fern, but he definitely was thrilled to see the family that raised him. Especially their kids (young elementary school age). I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wag his tail as hard as he did when he saw the kids. At one point I looked over and he was blissfully laying in the sunshine between them getting petted on both ends. Turns out he had been the kids’ favorite of the litter, so their reunion was very cute. I remember feeling bad when we picked him up because the kids were crying so hard they couldn’t come outside to say goodbye :sad: Fortunately there were only smiles during the visit.
 

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Our first snow has arrived! It really is a beautiful sight.






However, as I was hauling frozen blankets from the field to the basement to thaw, I was immediately reminded just how much work it is to keep everything going during the winter. But I won't start complaining yet :wink: The chickens, however, were not shy about complaining- they gave the snow a big THUMBS DOWN


The storm started as rain yesterday afternoon, but I was able to move work meetings around so that Fizz and I could do a ride in the morning. It was a really good ride- kept her moving forward and trotted along for most of it.



I couldn't help but laugh at this:


As the underbrush has died back, the pirate dogs' ship has re-emerged! I guess it will stay moored there until the spring melt launches it again next year :grin:


We did have to ride a short section on the paved road, and two cars passed us, which was a bit nervewracking. But the cars were respectful and gave us plenty of room. They could certainly see us! :rofl:


It's going to warm back up so the snow won't stick around just yet, but it is pretty for now.
 

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Beautiful snow and snow-faces! :happydance:

Isn't it funny, I've been back to watering the garden for the last two weeks, and the pastures are beginning to dry off higher in the landscape (still green in the valleys), and I've had a sunburn - and you're getting your first snow! :)

Those colourful roadsides are really spectacular! There's beauty in every season...
 

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Temps stayed chilly yesterday, but M and I met up mid-day for a beautiful ride. There is some hunting allowed this weekend, but it's a bit esoteric: "anterless muzzleloader" weekend, meaning if you can find an anterless deer and you have a gun that you load powder into from the front yourself, it's your weekend! Deciding that we were unlikely to find many of those enthusiasts out, we did spend a little time in the woods. Still, we made sure we dressed so we were pretty obvious to anyone out there!


We went up a snowmobile trail, a short stint on the road, and then turned down the ATV trails. We took a left where we usually take a right, and ended up finding a 2 mile loop that brought us back to the road where we had gone in, which was perfect. Ended up being 7.5 miles, and now we're nearly at 475 miles for the year- 500 here we come! :grin:







 

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Yesterday afternoon we had a short but exciting ride. Poor Fizzy was napping peacefully when I rudely interrupted her to get ready to go.



I set out for the overlook, and was planning to follow @phantomhorse13's good advice about hand jogging down the big Cavendish hill without fussing about riding down it.



As we approached the crest of the hill, up ahead I saw the outline of an animal and thought it was the friendly dog from a nearby farm that is sometimes out in the road. Without my glasses on, I don't see details in the distance all that well, but I pretty quickly realized it wasn't the dog. No, it was a little black bear crossing the road :eek: It's sort of hard to explain the texture of the landscape right there, but it's almost naturally terraced- the road is on one level, with a step down from the road to the left into the cow pasture, and a big incline up from the road to the right, into the woods. The bear saw us at about the same time I saw him, and quickly changed direction and darted away from the pasture, across the road again and back into the woods. Fizz, somehow, noticed NONE of this happening. So much for being a prey animal always on the lookout for danger... :icon_rolleyes: Anyway, I decided that particularly since she hadn't seen it, a bear suddenly appearing above us in the woods might very likely send us off the road to the left, through the electric fence and into the cow pasture, so instead we changed plans and turned around. Jogging down the hill will have to wait for another day!

As we got close to home, a big beautiful doe came bounding across an open field and ran in front of us across the road, disappearing into the woods to our left. Fizz definitely noticed that, snorting and coming to a standstill. We were basically in our front yard, so I just hopped off there and called it a day, laughing while I asked her why a deer made her freeze but she was oblivious to the bear :wink: She just let out a big sigh and asked to munch on some of the good grass in the yard, which was fine with me.

No more grass to be seen this morning...
 

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Wow! I am with @carshon; I can’t even imagine it.
Black bears are common in the less populated areas of New England. I only saw one last year (they are quite shy), but the year before Brooke and I encountered several. Brooke is okay with anything that runs away from her, so it hasn't been much of an event. What I really do not want to encounter is a moose.Those guys are much more aggressive than bears.
 

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I can't imagine what Bandit would think of bears. He dislikes coyotes and prefers to avoid them - although his behavior toward loose dogs makes me think he'd fight if cornered. He has no desire to meet javelina. Doesn't seem to care about trucks, cars or equipment, so maybe he was exposed to them on the Reservation. Bears? Pretty sure he'd say "Not a chance in [expletive deleted]!"

Which would work for me, too!
 

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So far whenever I've seen a bear here, they've all been off in the distance, so I've never managed to snap a picture. In this case, I'm just fine with that! The horses definitely don't like them and get really snorty and on alert when they cross around the pastures.

I agree on hoping never to meet a moose while riding. They apparently used to be abundant in the woods around our house because of the wetlands around the beaver ponds, but that was years ago, before we moved in. There is a nature preserve a little way up the road, and it seems they've mostly moved over there, which is probably for the best as there is less traffic.

Seeing a javelina on horseback?! Eek!!

The only other exciting wildlife I've seen while riding was a huge porcupine that ran up a tree when it saw us coming down the trail. I worried about going under it and having it shoot out its quills, but apparently that's really not a concern unless you're up close to it.

Funny how the one universal issue we all have is badly behaved loose dogs...
 

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So far whenever I've seen a bear here, they've all been off in the distance, so I've never managed to snap a picture. In this case, I'm just fine with that! The horses definitely don't like them and get really snorty and on alert when they cross around the pastures.

I agree on hoping never to meet a moose while riding. They apparently used to be abundant in the woods around our house because of the wetlands around the beaver ponds, but that was years ago, before we moved in. There is a nature preserve a little way up the road, and it seems they've mostly moved over there, which is probably for the best as there is less traffic.

Seeing a javelina on horseback?! Eek!!

The only other exciting wildlife I've seen while riding was a huge porcupine that ran up a tree when it saw us coming down the trail. I worried about going under it and having it shoot out its quills, but apparently that's really not a concern unless you're up close to it.

Funny how the one universal issue we all have is badly behaved loose dogs...
Porcupines do not shoot out their quills. The quills are loosely attached and come off if they are touched.This summer there was a porky that would apparently amble around under the car at night, leaving a few quills as a souvenir.

Javelinas would be scary. There were feral pigs where I lived in central CA. You could tell where they'd been as it looked like the soil had been rototilled. They are European wild boar, and get very very big. On a memorable hike my Bonnie dog, who would herd anything whatsoever, had the bright idea to cut out the last little striped piglet of a litter as they were following their enormous mother up the slope, and herded it back to me. NO!! Bad Dog!! She did, reluctantly, let it go before the sow noticed.

I think boars are scarier than bears, to be honest. They can't climb trees!
 

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Wow! I actually heard a rumor of a moose close enough to where I live @Avna. I doubt he’ll make his way this far though. There was a bear once too, not here though but about 100 miles southeast, but I guess he was lost for one reason or another.

Cash is bothered by antelope for some reason only he knows. Antelope are everywhere (not any like @gottatrot’s weirdly gentle elk). He doesn’t seem to appreciate anything where he thinks it should not be, but I don’t imagine coyotes bothering him more than dogs if they aren’t in our field.

Sometimes he’ll snort and snort at some spot were I can’t see anything when we are out, but we do have lions and bobcats, and they are hard to spot, so maybe he sees what I don’t.

I imagine my horses would come uncorked at a bear though. I don’t know why I say that, but maybe it is because it is just so different...
 

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I have encountered bears more than I'd like in Ocala National Forest. So far, the horses seem to ignore them. One time my daughter was about 7, and her pony Tico was the good leader, so she was ahead, obviously daydreaming, when we came around a bend encountering a bear.
"Katie! Turn around!" I hissed. She ignored me. "Katie!!!! Turn around now!" Louder whisper. She did not. "Katie!!!! Turn around!" She did, and we rode quietly away.
The scariest one for me, but not for the horses, was one time when I was in a group of 5 riders, and we encountered a mother bear and 3 cubs as we rounded a curve in the trail. The cubs skittered up pine trees, but the mother bear rose up on her hind legs. She looked to be about 8 feet tall, probably wasn't, but she was very VERY close . . . and MAD. We were on a super narrow trail, appropriately named "the Kneeknocker Trail", and it was hard to turn around. The horses didn't seem fazed in the least.
 

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This week was nuts at work, and with waiting on the election taking up most of my mental headspace, the days seemed to fly by in one big mega-day, and suddenly it was Saturday and I hadn’t been out to ride at all.

The beginning of the week started off like winter, with heavy snow covering everything. Wednesday an unusual warming trend started. When I turned the horses out in the morning, there was snow, but by the end of the day it was all gone.

Since then it’s steadily been 70*F/21*C.

Yesterday I finally managed to ride in the afternoon, and it was basically a comedy of errors. I headed out to the overlook, and instead of bears in the road, this time there were cows in the pasture right up against the road. I swear they were so much bigger and more intimidating in person!!! :rofl:


Fizz was snorty and not at all impressed, so I did get off to lead her passed. Since I was off anyway, it seemed like a good time to follow through on @phantomhorse13 's suggestion of jogging down the big Cavendish hill with her. As we headed down, a middle aged couple was coming up the hill towards us with a loose dog. To their credit, the dog did listen and they were able to hold it as we went by. The woman looked at me incredulously and asked “are you just out taking your horse for a walk?” I awkwardly tried to explain how the cows scared Fizz (while she was snorting and dancing next to me) but it didn’t really compute for this lady who kept asking why a horse would be afraid of a cow. I finally told her I wasn’t sure, because Fizz wouldn’t tell me, and we continued on :wink: I pretty quickly realized that jogging down a steep hill with a snorty, unbalanced horse that wanted to jump into your lap for safety wasn’t the best idea, but we made it. Definitely needs more work!

When we got to the bottom of the hill, the farm dog was loose as usual and came trotting after us. I was still handwalking at this point, and Fizz was nervous about standing for me to get on from the ditch because the dog was lurking around and kept darting off into the woods making a lot of noise. He’s actually really friendly and not aggressive, but she understandably didn’t like him following us. At that point, a truck went by and the dog took off after it (he is really bad about this, which is why he keeps turning up at my house two miles away- it’s the first house he gets to when he’s been chasing cars…). I didn’t love seeing that, but there was really nothing I could do and it did allow me to get back on. Fizz was a little jiggy and wanting to duck out towards home, but we made it to our turnaround spot in one piece and she was much easier to handle on the way back.





When we passed the farm again on the way home, the nice old man who lives there was at the end of his driveway (he drives a little blue Prius, which for some reason is a really funny sight when he’s out fixing fences…) and asked me if I had seen the dog. I told him what had happened and he headed off to find him. Hope he did. We trotted along towards home with no more issues. She didn’t care at all about passing the cows in this direction!




Today we met M and Coalie early, to "beat the heat" (yes Gulf Coast people, feel free to laugh at us!! :cool:). We decided to head out and back to Blind Mare Farm. While there was no deer hunting this weekend, this is the last weekend before hunters will be in the woods, and with the very warm weather we were sure there would be a lot of bikers and ATVs out on some of the more popular trails we sometimes do. The Blind Mare Farm trail is generally pretty empty.


We paused at the farm to give the horses an apple from the orchard, and turned around uneventfully


The poor things were dripping with sweat though, and we had no good water options so we just strolled along to try not to get them any warmer. We eventually spotted a ditch that had some clear, flowing water in it, so turned the horses off the trail towards it. Fizz had been unenthusiastically lipping at gross puddle water for the previous mile, but when I pointed her towards the better water she lurched away from it. M moved around us to have Coalie go first, and then suddenly: near disaster!!


In slow motion, I saw him start to buckle, with his hind legs looking like they were folding under and putting him nearly on his belly. But it was quickly clear that what was actually happening was that he was sinking fast in awful mud. I've never seen anything like it- one minute he was starting to drink, and the next I couldn't see anything below his belly. Good boy didn't panic, but flailed his way out of the mud and back onto the trail. M somehow stayed in the saddle, if jolted a bit up onto his neck. It all happened in seconds, and he looked thoroughly surprised about what he had just gone through. Unfortunately the mud sucked two of 4 boots off, but M was not leaving them behind. So I hopped off and held the horses while she checked each deep leg hole for them. The first one was pretty easy to find, but the second one seemed like it had just vanished. She had to get down on her hands and knees in the mud because the holes were so deep, and she was reaching in up to her shoulders to feel around the bottom for the boot :eek: In the very last hole, she found it, and Coalie stood quietly while she put them back on. We mounted up and headed on our way, laughing at how ridiculous it had all been but happy that everyone was ok. And we both decided that when Fizz says NO, maybe we should listen to her!!

No more excitement after that, and we split off to head our separate ways home. With about a mile left, I heard someone yell from behind "hi Fizz, coming up on your left"- and who was it but lovely husband out for a run coming up the hill at the same time. Fizz was thrilled to see him (mostly because she wanted her face scratched :wink:) and also thought it was great fun to race with him. We'd slow down to walk and he'd get a little ahead, and she did not want to be left behind so wanted to trot to catch up. We leapfrogged along home laughing. Maybe she has a future as a ride & tie horse!

 

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Great story, really scary about Coalie and the mud!

That was funny Fizz wouldn't say why the cows are scary.
I've had that reaction from people too, who think you can only ride horses and not take them for walks or jog with them. Mini horses are great to jog with, like a big dog that doesn't pull on the leash, doesn't stop to pee or sniff things, and doesn't bark.

Non-horse people also can't fathom that a big strong animal can be like a quivering chihuahua inside.
 

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@knightrider I cannot even imagine that! Wow!!! That is petrifying.

I can’t imagine the horse just bogging down like that either Egrogan! I’m surprised he willingly stepped in so easily. That’s really scary. I bogged a horse down when I was little, and it was only the Lord that saved that mare. It was terrible and I’ve tried to be cautious since.

Lots of horses are scared of cows. Some learn to tolerate it, but they never seem to completely overcome it. My parents have two currently and one past that were scared of them. They aren’t terrible, but they don’t get ridden much because it’s always an issue and obviously a pressing one for us. Lol
 

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I’m surprised he willingly stepped in so easily.
That's exactly what M said- she was laughing and saying she trusts Fizz's instincts way more than Coalie's. That's the problem with a horse that's generally pretty agreeable I guess- they are willing to listen to their person more than themselves. I believe she referred to him as a "big, goofy dumb-dumb" :rofl: But he really did get them out of that "sticky" situation, even if he didn't know to avoid it in the first place.
Lots of horses are scared of cows. Some learn to tolerate it, but they never seem to completely overcome it. My parents have two currently and one past that were scared of them. They aren’t terrible, but they don’t get ridden much because it’s always an issue and obviously a pressing one for us. Lol
I can imagine it would be quite a problem to be a cow-scared horse in your family @Knave! I do often think of your stories when I'm jumping off yet again to pass a cow, and being amazed that some horses are born ready to boss cows around and some just want to turn and run.
 
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