Monday, November 17, 2008

Riding by moonlight

Saturday night I was invited to go on a night ride with Kristina and two women I had not ridden with before (but both of whom have very nice Arabians). I haven't done this since I was 15 or 16 years old back in Colorado, and though it was going to be chilly and the trees around here make night riding difficult I said "you bet"!

First of all let me just say that I did not and would not take Ginger on this just yet. So far she's been out on the trail once, during the day. That's hard enough for a young horses' brain. We were all riding seasoned, older horses who know the trail well.

So, we gather around 10:00pm when the moon is up and saddle up. We have to ride a little ways on a road (I described that in a previous post) and there are no street lamps. Since it was shortly after Halloween we all had glowsticks! We didn't plan it, but each of the four of us managed to have different colors. I had green ones that I attached to the saddle. I also had a couple of bicycle lights that I use when biking to work, I put the flashing break light on behind my saddle and duct taped the front light to my helmet. We were quite the crew. From a distance all you could really see were floating colored glows: pink, orange, green and yellow. Finally we were off, the moon was up and mostly full so the roads were brightly lit. The horses weren't spooky or cranky about being roused from their pens at night and it was a gorgeous (if a bit cool) late fall night.

We decided to stay on the main lumber roads. If you've never ridden out here (or hiked out here) it's worth noting that the vegetation is very thick and the trees are tall and tend to grow close together. In the daytime, with the sun out it can be too dark to ride/hike these trails with sunglasses! The lumber roads are old truck roads that they would cut through the trees to bring equipment up. These are usually 2-3 horses wide and even when it's really wet they aren't muddy. The trees still often obscured the moonlight of course, but that's why we all had flashlights.

We'd been out for about an hour trying to find a particular outlook. Again, trees often obscure views here but in some areas the trees were cut recently enough that you can still see and it's really amazing. We'd gotten up to a small clearing, but it was the wrong one. No view. We were turning around to find the other road when we all got a very strong whiff of cat. Anyhow who hikes, even in wilderness close to towns knows that cougar are more likely to be out and about from dusk until dawn. The horses weren't reacting (they have better noses) so I think it wasn't very fresh, but it was enough we decided to just go home. We had no encounters on the way back, but we were careful to make lots of noise too. Cougars hate that.

At about 1:30am we rode back into the barn. A little cold, tired and hungry but happy. There is really nothing better than an good ride for a girl's mood. Ginger was extremely happy to have us back. She's become quite attached to Ketah (not that Ketah cares). The horses went back to their interrupted dinner, and we headed home for warm beds.

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