Monday, December 27, 2010

Predator on the Trail

In the early afternoon of Christmas Eve, with Mrs. BR out for last minute shopping, and DN3 helping her Grandmother bake pies, I concluded that there could be no better way to spend the afternoon that a ride out along the Puyallup River levee. Things were quiet and uneventful until Smokey pulled up to a stop, head high, and ears forward. I scanned the trail ahead, and peered into the brush trying to discern the source of his concern. Seeing nothing obvious, I prodded my trusty steed forward.

He would have none of it, choosing rather to whirl and attempt to bolt in the other direction. With some pressure on the reins, and a well applied spur, I reminded him who was in charge of steering. Or so I thought. More whirling and twirling. Realizing that I would have none of it, he resorted to backing down the trail. To correct this, I turned him 360 degrees.

Finally I was able to get some forward momentum. The horse moved slowly, head craning toward the source of his fear. When, suddenly, something leapt out of the brush at us. Thinking quickly, I reached for the Iphone, and snapped a picture of the ferocious beast.

Yep, that's a log. Pretty scary isn't it? I took him out again today, and returned to the scene of Friday's attack. He walked past it without notice. I will never completely understand this horse.

I counted 36 eagles in a two mile stretch of the river today. I snapped this shot of one that was no more than 20 feet above us.

I'm going to borrow my father's Nikon, and take a hike out there, so that I can get better photos of these majestic birds.


WomanWhoRunsWithHorses said...

Could be it was nothing, could be it was Smokey just yanking your chain. If he was a greenbroke 2 or 3 year old, or even a low mileage 6 to 10 year old ...I'd chalk it up to him just feeling spooky that day. But it sounds to me like he was pretty determined NOT to move on down the familiar trail that day. Probably NOT a horse-eater as Smokey imagined ...but still, could have been something there that day.

If the weather was warmer, I would suspect a snake or a turtle by the log. But in cold weather, I think something furry and prone to burrowing is more likely ...a rabbit or even a rat, some warm blooded varmint.

It's probably too late now, but you might have found tracks or scat if you had dismounted and looked the next day when you went by. Smokey is a veteran trail horse and I haven't had the impression he has made a habit of arguing with you for the sake of arguing in the past. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. Some people we've ridden with in the past advocate putting Vicks Vapo-rub on your hands, then rubbing their hands over their horse's muzzle before a ride. The horse won't smell anything but mentholatum. Personally, I prefer to know if something is in the bushes ...and my horse has a keener nose than I do! LOL

Katie Trimble said...

I had a thoroughbred for 8 years and it was amazing the things he would spook at. We could ride by the same willow tree a million times and still there would be a day where he would not get near it! Of course, he's a thoroughbred so that could be the difference :)

Kate said...

Might of been something there...don't doubt Smokey. I'd love to take a (photo) shot of an eagle. I'd be all over that, you lucky dog.

Andy said...

BR, I know almost zip about horses, but it sounds to me like there was something there.

Animals know junk. Of course, you know Smokey better than I do, so who am I to put in my two pennies? A know it all, that's who!


Dude, I remember the first time I saw a big bald eagle. We had just moved to SW Colorado. I was driving along, and saw what I thought was a short man standing in a pasture. As I got closer, I realized it was an eagle...the darn thing must have been at least 4' high...just sitting there.

I stopped to look at him. After a minute, he assumed the position, and took to flight. I swear, it was one of the most stunning things I'd ever seen.

Thanks for the pix, and the memory. Have a great 2011, BR!

Deb said...

Was fitting a 2YO for halter and putting some miles on her at the same time by going down the trails by the road for about 5 miles a day. One day she came to a dead stop and started looking up the side of the mountain beside us. I started to ask her to move on when I heard a gawd-awful banging and crashing coming down the hill toward us. She stood stock still and followed a black bear's progress down the hill, across the trail in front of us like something was chasing him and on his merry little way. Said 2YO watched him go, licked her lips once and carried on like nothing had happened. I think I'd trust yer horse on this one.

Buck said...

I envy you the eagles, BR. A great deal, actually.

No comment on Smokey... I don't have the slightest clue in this space.

Jessica said...

Smokey just wanted to be sure you were paying attention, Dave. You never know who (what) might have marked that log before you got there.

Besides, isn't that why we ride? Something new every day.

And I've already expressed my Eagle-envy. Sigh.

Logs only spook Lena. Bar is more afraid of small children and other horses. And logs only spook her on every other third Saturday.

Kipp said...

Maybe Smokey got a batch of bad oats for breakfast. Maybe Smokey sees dead people like that kid from the Sixth Sense.
$$ By golly - BR you & Smokey could start your own reality show! Your camera man shakes like the Blair witch project, your horse sees dead people, there is bound to be some legend about spirits wondering on the ground in search of catching a ride on an Eagle sitting in a tree for a ride to the heavens...shazam BR...Cha-ching!! $$

Buckskins Rule said...

Sounds like a plan, Kipp. I'll hire you on as the director, cause this operation will need some creative genius.

Em Tanner said...

Haha, good post! Horses are just awesome! My mare loves to spazz out if the horse in front of her decides to breath, snort, step loudly, or any other silly thing!