landscape. San Juan Island

Horses, Hounds and Me

Posted by on Oct 13, 2015 in Blog | Leave a comment
Horses, Hounds and Me

The Irish Wolfhounds and I pile into the pick-up truck. Dogs in back, me in front and we head for Plum Pond. The dogs ride in the back because they are the tallest dog there is. They can grab a roast off the kitchen counter without taking their feet off the floor. Wolfhounds are kind dogs and beautiful too. They don’t start fights but they do finish them.

There is a winding dirt road that leads to Plum Pond, heavily wooded and jungle like with tall ferns, alder and fir. At the end of the lane with its abundant potholes is a meadow and a picturesque pond, fruit trees and beautiful pastures. On the way down the hill I pick some fruit from the old apple trees to give to the horses later, and one for each dog. Then I pick blackberries for me. They are sweet and fragrant even at the end of summer.

The dogs and I arrive at the little weather-worn barn. It’s somewhat sagging and missing a few boards but still standing solid. As I prepare saddle and brushes I notice newly hatched swallows in a nest above the barn door. The mama and papa swallows dive-bomb us as we come and go. The babies chirp relentlessly.

We go looking for the horses. Sometimes they are under the big cedars keeping out of the sun and flies, sometimes in the lower pasture where the witch grass grows taller than me. Today is a warm day, so I guess they will be under the trees. And there they are, standing close, tail to nose working cooperatively swishing the flies off each other. The air is thick with pitch and evergreen and horse. I make my way through the herd safeguarding Lanie’s apple. I give it to her and watch how she lustily devours it, juice dripping down her chin.

Lanie is the sister of a movie star. Her brother, Raswan, was the star in “The Black Stallion Returns”. Lanie is a black Arabian, and is a beauty.

Lanie follows me down to the barn; I brush her, enjoying the feeling of her silky coat and noticing her enjoyment. I love her horsy scent. Then I saddle her up and lead her to the nearest rock and climb on.

We begin our ride past the hedgerows of wild roses and blackberry bushes. The quail families scuttle along ahead, and then dodge in to the safety of the bushes. Sometimes we ride through the expansive fields. It is never a relaxing ride however, because the horses are on the alert for creatures lurking in the hedges.  I keep my leg on, for I know in an instant a deer could jump out frightening us both and sending Lanie off at a gallop, hopefully with me still onboard. For this reason I prefer the trails. I whistle to the dogs we start along a wooded path. On this particular day we begin the ride by jumping over a ditch. We head up Jungle Trail at a gallop. Passing by ferns and huge old growth fir trees. I notice alizarin, golds, rust, emerald and forest greens. Colors are so much richer after a rain, like stones under water. Then up to the meadow with a magnificent view of the sound, islands and snow capped mountains in the distance. We pause to take in the view, then ride on through the old growth forest to Lawson Ridge. Trotting and galloping along we weave through gates and jump over fallen trees.

It is important that I trust my horse. I feel her movement under me and keep my balance as she dodges branches and trees and rocks. I have faith that she will get me home safely. The woodsy trails are often grown over, making it imperative that I constantly duck as we approach the low growing branches. The times when Lanie is full on galloping and the branches are coming on so quickly I just give in to faith, grab onto her mane, hug her neck and watch the blur of the forest going by. This is both exhilarating and terrifying. It is like flying.  Sometimes I peek up and lift my head long enough to see where we are going. One of these times on a new trail, I saw only dense trees ahead. It was a little terrifying because it looked like we would crash into them. I remind myself that I can trust my horse, even though we are galloping full speed towards what appears to be our doom!

Suddenly and at the last possible second with out slowing down, she veers sharply to the left, following the trail up the next hill. My heart was beating fast and I was laughing with the pure joy and exhilaration. Another great ride.

 

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