Monday, April 25, 2011

Scary Cows. Check!

I had two goals for my ride on Hudson tonight.  One was to do some road work.  The other was to pass the scary cows.

Where we used to live, cars zoomed by our house at a rate of about nine per minute in the early evening, going 45 to 55 mph or more.  It was the main road to all the little roads where the houses were nestled, and everyone just had to use it to get home. 

It was NOT conducive to road work.

Now we live on a hard-top road that cars pass at a rate of less than nine every two hours.  Just a five minute walk along it brings us to a dirt road about two miles long that only has two houses.  It’s a perfect place for road work.

One of those houses is accompanied by a pasture of about 300 beefers.   They have been bawling and shrieking and making all manner of strange cow noises right along, and the horses have become accustomed to the intermittent racket (although I don’t think DeCato the mustang slept for the first two days here, since she appeared to be on guard duty against the scary cows that whole time).

It was not raining for a change, and was cool and partly sunny as Hudson and I stepped out up the road.  She was happy to be out, I could tell, especially since tonight’s route did not require her to get her dainty little feet wet.

When we turned up the dirt road, the obstacle course began.  We had to pass several large farm implements (I don’t know one from the next, yet), an aluminum stock trailer and foreign fences and gates.  Not too bad.  Hudson only went into reverse once or twice.   The cows then caught her attention, but since they were trotting, then cantering (gallumping, really) away, she wasn’t too worried. 

So that mission was accomplished, for now.  We had a great ride, walking and trotting up the firm dirt road.  After a while, we turned back and eventually had to pass the cows again.  Hudson was alert to them, but not very concerned.

But this time, I noticed they were doing something funny.  Instead of running away, they were coming toward us, very slowly and in a group.  They moved so slowly and with such solidarity that if you looked at them once, they were in one spot, but if you looked again, they were suddenly closer.

“Hey Hudson, this time they’re coming toward us,” I said to her, wanting her to notice while I was ready for her spook.  Sure enough, when she glanced at them, they had just done their magic moving trick, and she jumped sideways in surprise.

Then she let out a mighty snort, stopping everything, cows, birds, peepers, me and even herself for a moment.  She does have quite a snort.
Starlight tonight, still looking a little dazed from her cow encounter.

But that was it.  No problem.  Good girl.

Encouraged, I put her away with lots of petting and compliments, and pulled out Starlight.   I led her up the same route.  She passed all the farm stuff even more bravely than Hudson had. 

When she saw the cows, though, her head shot about two stories high and her tail flagged up in excitement.  The cows came toward us again, all together in a very intimidating way and I didn’t blame her for feeling anxious.  We found out if we stopped and faced them, they stopped and faced us.

Starlight, too, let out a snort, though not so mighty as Hudson’s.   This is the pony that aggressively chases dogs out of the pasture, and I have no doubt she will be cowy, when she gets her proper chance.

After passing them both ways, we came home, feeling pretty good about the evening’s work, just as the thunder started rumbling and the lightning flashing.

Next time out, I’ll ground drive Starlight and then get back on her again.  I’m basically restarting her.  I rode her in the early winter for the first time, with several walk-trot rides and once, a canter, then let her sit due to bad weather.  So now, we’re dusting off the cobwebs on our groundwork.  Soon, I’ll be riding her past those scary cows!

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