Thursday, November 17, 2016

Adventures on Flane

Ellen and I went out for a morning ride, and we had a great time--until we got to the turnaround spot.  It is a section of the trail that we call Flane.  It is actually called Falls Lane because there is a small waterfall at the end of it.  The bridle trail doesn’t go to the falls, though.  It turns there and joins up with a paved all-purpose path that goes along a street and under a couple of very scary train bridges and then crosses a busy road and still parallels the road and goes under more scary bridges.  So we use it as a good place to turn around and go home.  Ellen and I used to ride through all that with Cruiser and Ranger about once a year or so, but we have decided it really isn’t worth the hassle, anymore.

The trail got its silly name because Kevin writes on his calendar where he rides, and he would abbreviate it as F. Lane.  It didn’t take long for us to call it Flane.

The problem with Flane is it has woods on one edge of the trail and a road on the other side with houses facing the trail.  There is a section of grass between the trail and the road with a few trees that the park planted.  The road can be pretty busy at times with large trucks coming from the close by water treatment plant. Often, people are doing yardwork in their yards with mowers or blowers or other scary things.  It can be a tough section of trail to ride on.  In other words, if the horses are feeling overly spirited, we often skip this quarter mile trail since we are going to turn around at the end, anyway.

The horses weren't frisky this day, so we definitely wanted to ride Flane so we could go a little further before going home.  We trotted to the end of it, turned  around and started trotting back.

We were about two thirds of the way back when a big buck did something in the woods.  It was literally right next to Dante.  Ellen doesn’t know if it was running toward him, or if it was laying down and leapt up quickly.  There may have  been more than one deer, too.  I never saw a thing, but I heard the commotion that the deer made.

I didn’t see anything because both horses decided to hightail it out of there.  Dante was more startled than Cole, of course, so he really panicked.  When there is a monster in the woods, the logical thing to do is to run for the street, and that is just what they did.

We both started to circle the horses to stop them before they got to it. I would guess the road was about 25 feet from the trail at that spot.  I was able to get my less panicked horse under control, first, which allowed me to watch Ellen and Dante.  She was doing the best to bend him, and he was fighting her with his iron (Morgan) neck.  As the street got nearer, she leaned over to one side in a final attempt to circle him away in time.  He was down to a very slow trot.  Her saddle started to slip to the side, and I watched in horror as she slowly rolled off onto the pavement.

Dante was stopped in the middle of the street.  I yelled to Ellen that I was coming over to help.  She responded with, “I’m all right!”  I sighed with relief.  She quickly stood up, holding her stirrup leather in her hand.  If you have an English saddle, where the stirrup leathers thread through the saddle, there is a safety mechanism that, if it is open, will allow the leathers to slide off in an emergency.  Be sure to make keep yours open for situations like this.  Once, I was trotting down the trail, and a branch somehow hooked my stirrup leather.  It pulled it right off the back, and Cruiser was none the wiser for it.  If it had gotten stuck to the branch, we could have had a panic moment

I hopped off and held Dante while Ellen pulled herself together.  The oncoming traffic was all stopped, and they waited until we got off the street to proceed.  She led Dante back to the trail.  I asked her what she wanted to do, and she said she just wanted to lead for a little bit.  They started marching down the trail, and I said, “Don’t you think you should fix the saddle?  I think it is making Dante upset.”  

She looked back and couldn’t believe the saddle was halfway down the side.  She laughed and replied, “Now I know why I fell off.  I didn’t feel like I was going to fall until it was too late.”  In the excitement, she didn’t realize the saddle was slipping.

She explained that she had been riding with her saddle a little looser lately because she felt sorry for Dante.  I had been guilty of the same thing.  With their winter coats, it seemed like raising it up that last notch was just a little too tight.  Well, that certainly is going to change.

Her worst injury was where her hand hit the pavement.  Good thing it was a cold day, and she  had gloves on.  Since Dante was going so slow and she was halfway down his side when she came off, it made it one of the better falls.  We were very please that Dante settled down and just stood there when she fell.  I think he was puzzled.

Even the best horses will spook at times, and Dante is one of the best.  Not much bothers him, and he seldom over reacts.  Poor guy thought a deer was going to attack him, so we sure don’t blame him.  We were just glad Bella wasn’t there...

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