Monday, February 24, 2014

Wildlife encounters & cliff-walking

Sometimes, blogging stalls because the rides are all feeling consistent and not-bloggable, nothing particularly exciting.  Sometimes, blogging stalls because I don't have time to adequately put words to the events.

For once, I had a few days off that coincided with spring break for teachers!  This makes for excellent ride planning.

Tuesday, we saw a coyote, or maybe it was a fox? It didn't stay still long enough for pictures.  Short hour-ride where no one worked too hard.

Thursday led to hopes of seeing the coyote-maybe-fox again to figure out which it is (and pictures!).  Instead, we happened upon a bobcat.  As any sane people would do, we lowered our voices and pointed the horses after the cat, snapping photos frantically as we went.

Bobcat on the trail in front of us.

It wandered down the trail and around a turn - but no, we didn't lose it, there it is!
And.. there is a bobcat on the fence.
Just to the right of the fence, not more than ten feet away.

 Ponies got lots of praise for being excellent tripods - I took at least a handful of photos with the reins dropped, leaning forwards out of the saddle and balancing off Confetti's neck.  She wasn't even remotely worried about the bobcat.  Screaming children, on the other hand, got an ear flick.  Oh, pony.
We were both pretty impressed with how utterly fearless the cat was - the photos show that pretty well, just chillin' on the trail next to some horses and humans, whatev', pause for a photo op, why not?

It pretty well made up for not seeing the fox-maybe-coyote.

Despite fifteen minutes of wildlife photography, there was still time for our seven-mile loop.  Off we went!  It was gorgeous at the top, clear enough to see the beach sand.  Back home and even with a bit of time before it's properly dark.  Confetti led a lot of the way and we kept a fairly brisk pace.

Friday, we took her out with her sister.  Attentive readers may recall that the last time I took her out with just her sister was the day I got bucked off in December.  There has been a bit of lingering anxiety, absolutely.  The past few weeks have done much to settle that and my rideable horse has returned to normal; I figured it would be fine.

It was a bit surprising when Confetti settled into lazy babysitter mode on Friday.  Normally, a cluck sends her briskly forwards.  Instead, it took four or five asks before she'd head forwards into a slow-to-medium trot.  It was exactly what we needed and while I have no idea how she knew that, there were absolutely no complaints that the pony had things figured out.

Our vague goal for the day was around ten miles or so - out to the Deck, then Buckeye if things were going well.  Things were, indeed, going well, so down the steep singletrack we went!

Buckeye is a trail that's frequently not maintained much in the winter or spring.  It's a bit of a pain to get places without a horse, and it's steep enough that once the rains start, it really is not a useable trail.  Granted, we're in February now, and we've had a bit of rain..  but we were not expecting to find a tree in the way.

  Note that the pony's nose is just about level with the fallen tree.  Not shown in photo: the tree ends just out of frame on the left.  The side of the trail.. well, gradually falls off at about the same place.

I hopped off, pondered, contemplated, tried it on foot, and wasn't convinced we could do it.  C did it with slightly more success and thought we could, so I handed Fetti over and told her to go for it (C was already on the other side of the tree, why switch?).

Confetti, being the absolutely awesome pony she is, looked at us, looked at the tree, looked at the trail, and only dropped one foot through the underbrush before leaping her way off the cliff and back onto the trail.  Very good pony.

Her sister wasn't willing to follow me around; I tied her to the tree and switched horses with C to let her do it.  Both ponies successfully around, we hopped back on and proceeded down the trail.  No sense letting a tree get in the way of a good trail ride.

There was one more downed tree later on; luckily it was on the river-beach and not more singletrack, because we were not turning around.  We skirted around that one through the rocks and could have gone over if we had to.  Not bad.

Up the hills, down the hills, next to more cliffs, and up yet more hills where Confetti ran out of energy before her sister, much to my surprise.  She wasn't done by any means, but didn't find it necessary to go cantering up the whole hill.  Okay, pony, you're being polite and calm and mellow?  I'm okay with that.

Three hours, 10.5 miles with a lot of walking.  Good mares!

Due partially to my migraine and partially to two medium-hard rides in a row, my ride Saturday consisted of walk/trot around the barn bareback.

I was pleased to find my forwards horse on Sunday.  I don't mind the occasional Western-pony ride, but it's always a bit disconcerting!  Sunday's ride was notable primarily because of the didgeridoo in the park making funny noises.  I got off and walked her past; I think she would have been fine, but decided it was silly to push my luck.  Nice brisk ride with another friend and her mare.

There's rain forecast again for this week.  I'd be glad to see it; temperatures have been in the 70s the past few days and that's just not right for February.  I am absolutely enjoying it, but none of my usual rainy-day tasks are getting done this year.


  1. What a cool critter! I always thought bobcats were bigger than that one looks?

    1. Me too! Wikipedia says 12-24 inches at the shoulder for a grown cat; we're theorizing this one was younger, definitely closer to 12" though.

  2. That is just super cool. Good tripod-pony!

    (I am already bored with the rain. Whiiiine!)