Shawntel came up to take Estes out for the first time this Spring. Lots of nice weather last week and this week we have been waking up to new snow every day; it’s called April in the mountains. We had 40” a week ago Saturday. That makes more than five feet of snow just in April! The neighbor plowed the front parking lot and created two huge snow piles, so I had to call Nelle and tell her to bring up the grandkids. We dug out the saucers and they had a heyday! What a great Sunday afternoon, sledding, shoveling, home-made chicken noodle soup and a movie.
A week later we are waking up to 2” of new snow every day. Snow or not, we are going riding today. Tel took the day off work after all the overtime she has been putting in, and stated she NEEDED horse therapy! Understood; Bill had said the same thing the night before and I will always agree with that. She calls saying it is snowing in Ft. Collins and looking yucky. Well, our snow had stopped and the sun was out and the wind was blowing the new snow away. So let’s go riding. The horses agreed.
Now it’s game time. About ¾ of the corral is a muddy mess, leaving just smaller dry patches. Of course, being human, we try to stay on the dry spots and the horses pick up on this quickly, turning catching into a game by wading into the muck and snorting at us. I love it when they are playful; heads and tails up, prancing and snorting. Soon, however, they understood they had to come to us if they wanted out of the corral, because you are only allowed out with a halter on, and they wanted to go, too. This was evident with the frequency of racing to the corral gate and staring at the Lodge hitching post, before racing around crazy again. We don’t have to do round pen work for stress release; we just watch this energy dissipate in the ½ acre corral! Soon they walk up to us and stand quietly for haltering.
By the time we had them brushed out and saddled, the wind had died down and it was a glorious day for a ride. All 4 horses got to go this time (Washoe was ponied) and the trails were dryer than anticipated, although we did get to break through a couple of two foot snow banks. The only near excitement was the horses letting us know “something” has awakened for the spring. About 1/3 of the way down the Rock Creek trail, Ranger was alerted to something below us. Since he is not usually the one to say “not going there” we opted to follow his lead and turn around. We headed off on another trail in a different direction, this time with Estes in the lead after the pivot changed our positions. Now when the trail split, Estes said “nope, something down there in the trees.” We have learned through past lessons to listen to our horses (by checking and finding large animal tracks or fresh kill). So again we take the safer trail, now putting Jesse and me at the end. No sooner were we past the split in the trail than she did a hop, skip, and turn around with the “there is definitely something down there!” message. Well, it is time for the bears to be coming out of hibernation and, come to think of it, we haven’t heard the coyotes lately, which means there is also a mountain lion around. We finished our ride peacefully and safely. Thank you horses!
Later, Bill and I laughed that Washoe was the only one that had not reacted. But then, he wouldn’t notice a mountain lion until it hit him on the nose with its paw.