The last few days have been challenging, but in different ways: deer, turkeys and wind have made each ride a little more exciting than it had to be.
Yesterday, it was the turkeys and the wind. It’s courting season for the wild turkeys and they are everywhere. Poor Freedom, who has always had a turkey phobia, has a mating pair living in his pasture with him. I wonder if after they have chicks, the sheer number of them will cure him of his fear. The first day I saw them he had to gallop by them at top speed. By yesterday, he just had to keep an eye on them while he ate.
The courting dance of the Tom is quite spectacular. His feathers shimmer and fold like a magic trick. He has a particularly nice tail, which he spreads like a peacock to impress the hen. I followed them around the pasture for awhile, wondering if they would take offense, but they ignored me.
Freedom wasn’t the only horse to have a close encounter with a turkey yesterday. While I was riding Zelda in the field, worrying about the huge gusts of wind that were shaking the trees, and working on trot surges, a turkey hen darted out of the underbrush and ran right in front of us. Had I been riding Freedom, I might have been somewhere in New Hampshire after that episode. Zelda is more sanguine. She slammed on the breaks, but didn’t spook or try to unseat me. And after she realized what it was, she gamely tried to chase it down!
Today was deer day. I rode mid-afternoon, when I figured the deer would be milling about. That’s true. We woke several of them up. They do a pretty good job of disappearing into the background, so there’s always a “gotcha” moment when they spring up and dart away.
The best part was when we came cantering up a hill and ended up face-to-face with a doe, who decided that if she didn’t move we might not see her. Given that she was in the middle of the trail, that strategy didn’t work. No matter how many times I told her to get lost, she stood like a statue. Finally she deigned to move off and, as we rode by, I saw her companion on the other side of the trail. Thank goodness she stayed still until we past. I’m not sure Zelda even knew she was there.
I need to get a deer whistle like the ones you put on the front grill of your car. Obviously shouting at them has no effect. They simply aren’t scared of us.
What kind of wildlife do you encounter on your rides?