You Call This Hunting?
It was a positively lovely day, so I decided to take all the Boys out for hacks. I decided to start with Toby for several reasons. Since I know him best and he is the most experienced trail horse, I would be able to judge the bug annoyance quotient best with him. And, he hasn't been out in a while. And, he like to go on hacks.
Off we went, nibbling tree leaves on the way. We had a super nice ride out, and as we headed for the trail back home, I even let him stop at the "salad bar" mound of dirt and green grass for a nice little graze. Then, we reentered the woods for the trail back to the arena. Snort! Spook! Spin! Try to gallop back the other way!!
What the hey?
A hunter had pitched a camouflage pop tent off the the left, facing a diagonal back towards my house where a little trail goes out to the cornfield. This was obviously a hunter's blind which is legal and OK, though I wish it were not so close to my property. (It is on State land, probably several hundred feet into the woods.) But here's the rub--something I had already seen a few days before--the trail was baited with corn in several piles.
Now, what is is baited for? Deer? Turkeys? And just how fair is that? Make a bait station to lure the animals in days before the season starts so they get comfortable feeding there and then shoot them? Now, in the olden days when hunters depended on game for survival, perhaps...but today, when hunting is a "sport?"
I am seriously considering putting a note in the tent telling him..."Horses and houses just ahead of your line of fire. Please be extra cautious." It just might make him think a little without antagonizing him.
But back to the "Spook" etc. I had to dismount and lead Toby home to get him past the "terror tent."
So that kind of put a crimp in my plan to take Tucker out, because there didn't seem to be a way to avoid the tent, at least using trails I could trust Tucker on. So, I put the bridle on him and led him out to meet TT face to face. Good thing I didn't try to ride him. He was snorting from yards away and quite prepared to head home posthaste if I'd let him.
But horses are actually, by nature, pretty curious beasts and eventually, curiosity and my bold demeanor got the best of him. Soon he was sniffing TT and perfectly content to walk all around it. (Hunter might be perplexed with the hoofprints at his door.) Then I decided that perhaps I should just take Tucker on a walking trail ride instead since we were already out there. Off we went on a little jaunt, cut short by the sound of ATV/minibike engines in the woods somewhere. Once again, I opted for the safer alternative, turned around and headed home again, making sure TT did not upset Tucker on the way back either.
Then I put the bridle back on Toby and introduced him "face to face" with TT as well, hoping that next time out he will walk by without incident. (Mind you, TT is maybe 25 meters off the trail, tucked into the trees.) *sigh*
Done with the big boys, I decided I might as well lead Chance out there to have a look. Well, my goodness. He would have walked right in TT, sat down in the chair and kicked his feet back for a little nap if I'd let him. He didn't even react at all he was so calm about it. What a good boy, and definitely not a Thoroughbred.
Daring soul that I am, I then took him into the arena and decided to try to ride him bareback for a few minutes. How about 30 seconds? The first problem was getting on. Even with the three step mounting block, I couldn't swing a leg over. I had to use the mounting block to get on a barrel and then on to Chance.
Well is a nice round boy and did feel comfy, but all these years away from bareback, slightly slippery breeches, and a horse who really didn't have a clue what to do when my balance shifted the wrong way and I made I half way around the arena at an erratic walk before I decided not to risk it any more and got off. How totally discouraging that I should have felt that insecure. I used to ride Russell R. and PJ bareback all the time. I've ridden Toby a few times, but his spook is so dramatic, I wasn't too keen about it. Needless to say, I never tried "Bucker Tucker" bareback, so it's been a while. Who would have thought I would have lost my knack? Ah, well, that's why saddles were invented, and why I have one...or more, actually.
I went back into the barn, saddled Chance up and took him on a proper, but short hack, taking the "Tucker Trail" just to finish off the day.
Then, I spent the rest of the afternoon mowing the lawn. Took me a bit to get the mower started, but once I did, I even managed to mow the grass in the front area by the road where the water collects after the rain. It was far too wet to mow in there the last time, so the grass was pretty high. I never quite do the most perfect job, but it's mowed, and that's all that matters to me.
I did a bit of weed whacking, came in for a bite to eat and now I have to go back out to feed the Boys.
It's a good feeling to have accomplished so much during the day. And I'm pleased I had the energy and ambition to do it all.