ATV in the Woods
Oh, well, it had to happen sooner or later.
My luck with Tucker ran out this evening. We were having a lovely hack through the woods after a nice school in the ring. As I was in the last curve before the little trail heading home, I saw headlights out in the area near the lake. Sure enough it was someone on an ATV (all terrain vehicle) and, unfortunately, they were headed our way. I trotted Tucker down the path to the little trail and turned off, but we weren't fast enough. The ATV bore down on the road we'd just left and Tucker started to get riled up. I could feel his back start to hump and since I know I cannot sit more than one buck, I dismounted as fast as my cricketly knees would allow. He bounced just a little as the ATV went by, and then settled down in my hand. I had to lead him home--a short walk, but surrender nonetheless. With him, it's better safe than sorry.
He was a little silly in the ring because my cousins next door were setting up a target to shoot at with their air rifles--another annoying distraction. But Tucker does not focus entirely on his work, so their activity set him into a couple spooks. I was nearly done by then anyhow, having worked for a bit on collecting and extending both the trot and canter on either rein, so their presence encouraged me to go out on my hack a bit sooner rather than later. Had the timing been different, I might have met the ATV in a spot where we wouldn't have been able to escape.
ATV's are illegal in the State Park, but that doesn't stop them. Signs are posted all over and there is a stiff fine as well as confiscation of the vehicle if they are caught. Trouble is, there is usually no one to catch them. They have ruined some of the trails and, in the summer, often ride around the lake in the back eroding its banks. It's just one more frustration to quiet rides.
On the other hand, I took Chance out again on the longish trail, all the way to the back of the Park. He was amazed to see the field on the other side and had a good time. So good that I'm not sure he really wanted to go home again. He is the first horse I've ever ridden who actually goes slower once he knows he's headed back. We met a guy with a pickup truck--also illegal out there as there are no motorized vehicles allowed--and Chance behaved well. Usually, when Toby and even PJ met such "out of place in the woods" things, it was a bit of an adventure. For Chance it was an interested shrug of the shoulders. Cool. I think he's going to be fun guy to just get on and go whereever I want to go!
I took Toby out to the Christmas tree farm and had a nice little trot on the dirt road out there. It was still sunny then and everything was just glowing. There are still quite a few trees left, and I hope they will grow nicely this summer. Alan, the farmer who runs the farm, works hard and deserves a good crop. He also leases the land to me I use for my pasture. The surrounding farmland, now part of the State Park, used to belong to his grandfather and has been farmed by his family since about 1900. It's great to see farming pass down from one generation to the next as it's a dying "art" here in New Jersey--the Garden State.
Ah, well tomorrow I have to go get hay in the morning. Perhaps if I ride when I get back I won't run into any distractions.
At least the ATV's won't have their headlights on. *sigh*