Monday, April 27, 2015
Trail Riding--Expect the Unexpected
Trail Riding – Expect the Unexpected
Our trails are fairly close to the street in places and fairly close to the river in others. There is one spot that it is close to both. It is so close the river that each year, the trail is washed out—leaving large rocks. It usually takes months for the park to repair it, so Kevin created a trail that is right to the side of it where the river washed up a lot of sand. It has small trees on the river side—that can hit your kneecaps if you aren’t careful. The other side goes literally straight up about 10 feet. At the top, there is an all-purpose paved trail, a guard rail and the street. It is at the beginning of a very sharp bend in the road.
This is a tricky spot—since the horses can see what is on the paved trail and hear the traffic very clearly—and then there are the kneecap trees. Just the same, we will often trot it just because it is soft.
Kevin and I were out for a ride in the evening. I was on Cole Train, and Kevin was on Starry, of course. I was in the lead when we reached this section of the trail. We were traveling at qa walk, and Cole had just passed the worst of the knee-cap trees. A car came traveling very fast approaching the bend. It reminded me of the time that Ellen was riding Ranger by herself in this spot. The roads were slippery and a car slid into the guardrail. Ranger had one doozy of a spook. Fortunately, Ellen managed to stay on. I often think of that incident when I am riding in this section of the trail and hear a fast car.
The driver of the car hit the brakes and they screeched. I shortened my reins and braced myself. They were going way too fast. Just ahead, the car crashed into the guardrail. Cole started backing up very quickly. He couldn’t turn because the trail was too narrow—and I was holding him too straight to tempt him to try. I think he took about 10 steps. At that point, Starry decided he should spook since Cole was afraid of something. (Is that horse for real?)
Cole stopped and just stared. He head was as high as Cruiser’s used to be when he was alarmed—and stuck there—a regular occurrence for Cruiser, but something Cole does rarely. Kevin said we needed to get to the car to see if anyone needed help. I asked Cole to go forward, and he went backwards some more. When he stopped, I asked him to put his head down, first, by jiggling my rein. (That is something I trained him for.) He dropped his head, and I told him, “Good boy,” and asked him to go forward. He took a step, I clicked and gave him a bunch of carrots—then asked him to trot. He was hesitant, but he trotted. About that time, I saw 4 young people get out of the car and they looked all right. Even if there was someone that wasn’t, I would bet that at least one, if not all, had cell phones.
We went back to a walk, because I didn’t see any reason to ride to the rescue, anymore, and there were some stones I didn’t want to trot over. We walked over to the accident. Not only did they hit the guardrail, but they plowed right through it and continued down the all-purpose trail for about 20 feet before they stopped. The car was totaled, but the fact that they didn’t roll down to our trail, get hurt or even flip the car over was amazing. We were able to give a little bit of help. The driver was already on the phone, and wasn’t sure of their location. We told them and went on our way.
I was simply so grateful that we weren’t further up the trail where our horses (even Starry) may have panicked terribly and caused us to get into an accident, too.
On the way home, there were 4 police cars, and we were able to give the horses a lesson on blue flashing lights. It is always good to expose them to odd things when you come across them to prepare you for what might happen in the future. Not only should we expect the unexpected—but prepare for it when we can.
There was a large piece of plastic from the car laying on the trail. Cole insisted on sniffing it, and he wanted to pick it up.
One of the rangers saw us as we rode by, and he said, “If more people rode horses, maybe there would be less of this,” and he pointed to the accident.
I replied, “Maybe, but we don’t have airbags.”