Fall in the Pacific Northwest is fraught with perpetually gray skies and incessant rain. Once in a while, we get a few sunny fall days. During those rare times when the sun peeks its shy head out of the clouds and graces us with its presence, most of us native northwesterners jump at the chance to be outside.
Last weekend was one of those weekends. It was a low 60s, crisp, but sunny, fall day. If you read this blog regularly, you know my mare has been battling lameness issues. She’s certainly never going to be a dressage horse again, but she appears sound enough for casual riding. With that in mind and a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to take her out for her first trail ride in about seven years.
So I tied Gailey in the crossties and groomed her. I hauled out the western saddle, dusted it off, and heaved it onto Gailey’s back. Dang, but I’d forgotten how heavy that thing is. I probably haven’t used it in seven years.
This would be the second time I’d ridden Gailey this year. With the exception of a short walk through my neighborhood, she hadn’t been out of an arena in about seven years. The cautious side of me heckled my more “reckless” side about how stupid it was to hop on the back of a horse without any preliminary work when the horse hadn’t been ridden more than once in a the past year. Let alone take this horse out on the trails by myself.
Yet, I know this horse. She’s never been one to need lunging before you ride her, always been a bombproof show horse, and a dependable trail horse. I decided to trust her.
I called to the dogs, got on Gailey’s back, and off we went through the gate in my arena which opens onto commercial timberland with miles of logging roads. She walked along, enjoying the day and relishing being outside of her small little world.
We ambled through the clear cut into the woods with Douglas Firs and cedars surrounding us on all sides. The cold bite of fall floated in the air, even though the temperature bordered around 60 degrees. Sunlight filtered through the tree limbs and dappled the gravel road with rays of sunshine. The dogs ran ahead sniffing all great the scents. The yellows and reds of the maple and alder leaves added color to the woods.
On a long rein, Gailey weaved back and forth across the road like a drunken sailor. I’m not sure why walking a straight line was such a challenge to her, but it was. I finally had to take up some rein just to keep her straight. I don’t know if she was sight-seeing or trying to find something edible close to the road which she could grab on the way by. Not that it mattered, we were on a trail ride not a food foraging expedition.
Our little ride lasted only an hour, but it brought back memories of how much I’d once enjoyed rides in these woods, especially in the fall. Of course, the rain has since prevented a repeat of last week’s ride, but I’m hoping for at least one or two more trail riding days before the really nasty weather sets in.
I hope you all get the chance to enjoy a little fall color with your horses.