It started as all our rides do, Kessy walking her wonderful soft shuffle down our path under tall pines to the logging road, Saturday trotting behind. But this would prove to be a more adventurous ride than most. Of course a little adventure is always fun, so ride along with us.
It was cool, but the sun warmed the tall yellow wild asters lining the logging road. Butterflies enjoying the warm sun beams flitted about the pretty flowers. Kessy's shadow glided along with us. Saturday is a bit off his game right now, so we did a fair amount of waiting for him, which gave plenty of opportunities to bird and butterfly watch.
|Saturday leading Kessy and me up the trail|
We'd left the logging road to explore one of our favorite side trails, and Kessy and I were waiting for Saturday. I was engrossed watching a sparkling blue butterfly on an orange flower. Kessy was close to sleeping. Without warning a large hunting dog exploded from the brush, almost colliding with Kessy. Kessy spun to investigate. Both Kessy and the dog were as surprised as I, then at a stomped foot protest from Kessy, he dashed away. This is the month hunters around here turn loose their hounds to run the big woods and get in shape for hunting season, so encounters do happen.
Not usually encounters like we were about to have, though. Back on the logging trail moving merrily along, at a slow enough for Saturday pace, we heard a pack of hounds behind us, yipping, howling and barking as they do when they are running on trail. But it sounded as if they were coming our way. I turned Kessy so I could look behind us, and sure enough that pack of about a dozen hounds was trailing us. Coming at us with their best speed!
We were on a long straight stretch of trail, the hounds were perhaps 500 feet away and closing. They can outrun a horse, and in times like this there is only one safe decision. I grabbed my hat, let go a loud holler, "Get it on, Kessy!" and set her in a flat out gallop straight on for the hounds, whooping and yelling. Saturday of course was a safe distance behind.
We charged those dogs, Kessy's ears pinned, her feet pounding the hard packed dirt road and me yelling, "Get 'em girl!"
The hounds collapsed in a pile of yelping, squealing terrorized fur, then regrouped and dashed back the trail. Fleeing, tails tucked and barking in panic. We ran them until the left the logging road for the safety of the dense woods, then turned for home. A hundred yards back we picked up Saturday.
But the morning was still young. We'd heard the neighbor's goat had escaped about a week ago and I'd been asked to keep an eye open for him. A nice year old Nubian buck named Christian. They only had him a week before he set out on his own … The neighbor is my sister, who needed a goat like she needed a leaky roof, but …
Now Kessy and I have ridden up on bears several times, and of course often hounds, so when we rounded the turn, and there stood Christian about 100 feet ahead, I was happy. When Christian saw us, he jumped with joy, and bleated a happy greeting. Then began bouncing our way.
I reckon it was Kessy's first ever, horse meets goat moment, because she launched into a series of twists and crowhops that would have made a rodeo horse proud. Christian just kept coming, and bleating. He was so happy to see someone!
I'm still not sure I know how I rode that little explosion out, but I kept patting Kessy's neck and telling her, "It's okay, he's your cousin." Finally Kessy settled into a slow, bouncing, trembling walk, away from Christian.
It took a lot to turn her around, and when she did, the goat hopped off the trail into the woods. I saw our chance and hurried Kessy past him. At this point we were only about a quarter mile from our trail through the woods to our barn. I wasn't sure Christian would follow, so we stopped and waited … a safe distance ahead. Kessy still trembled. Then Christian stepped from the woods to follow us, Saturday behind him.
Kessy began to settle nicely, in fact as we made our way toward home we would need to stop often to wait for little Christian, who called out if we got too far ahead, and Kessy began stopping on her own! Saturday stayed with Christian.
Christian followed nicely even as we turned off the logging road, and it became clear Kessy had gone from scared as all get out, to worrying about her little goat buddy. At each turn on the tight brushy trail she stopped on her own and waited until Christian was back in sight.
I called Ravishin' Robbie to tell her we were bringing Christian home, and asked her to open both gates on the barn so I could ride through and get Christian in the barn. It worked beautifully, and he and Kessy stood together like lifelong friends. In fact when I rode Kessy out to the mounting platform to dismount, little Christian hollered and hollered from the barn.
We waited all together in Kessy's barn until my sister came to take Christian home again. Kessy and Christian are now good buddies and we'll need to let them visit often, perhaps even take Christian along a ride every now and then. We sure had an adventurous ride, and hope you enjoyed riding with us!
Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry