Spring is just around the corner, and although some days, when the ground is frosty and the rain won’t stop, it certainly doesn’t feel that way, there are days (becoming less rare) when it feels almost something like June. Here at SAFE, we take full advantage of days like this, as well as easy access to the park trails next door – a match made in heaven.
On a few of these days, we saddled up some horses and took to the trails. The order of go as follows:
Bonnie on Owen, bravely leading the way.
Kaya on Jill, comfortable to lead but just as comfortable to follow.
Lily walking Pepper, happy to be middle of the pack, but not necessarily uncomfortable when her leading friends would occasionally disappear from view.
Lexee walking Nyx, content to bring up the rear.
While there are many routes to take, the tried and true staple is a loop trail that takes the horses through all sorts of unique scenery and obstacles.
We start out on a forested path, evergreen branches swaying overhead, the soft earth of the ground muffling the hoofbeats. Birds chirp and plants rustle as we pass, a snapping twig or crunchy leaf adding to the ambiance, but otherwise, the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. The horses are alert, their ears pricked forward, but no one shies or spooks. We round a corner, and the forest opens up, with a thin trail banked by an expanse of lawn to the left. There’s a playground here, and the shouts and calls of children at play reach our ears before the children themselves come into view. The petting farm is in sight too, and roosters squawk as donkeys bray – quite the cacophony after the relative quiet of the forest. But our horses continue bravely on, not always totally unfazed by what’s going on around them, but able to find comfort in our direction. We may need to pause and let them take it in, having them change eyes on the source of their anxieties to show hey now, nothing to be afraid of, here it is from both sides and how you can move your feet. Once we’re past it, emotionally, we move past it, physically. The forest closes in on us once again, the trail winding around trees and stumps until we reach the first bridge we must cross. This could be quite the obstacle, but our horses cross bravely with little hullabaloo (for a brief moment, Pepper is concerned, but it doesn’t last). From there we go up, and for a time it feels like we are no longer in Redmond, but rather deep in the woods somewhere, far removed from parking lots and roadways. We keep a careful eye for anyone who shares the trail, announcing ourselves as we round bends. When others do pass, we turn to face them as they approach and turn to follow them as they leave, in a way giving chase. The trail opens at a point – where it intersects with the powerline – and we embark on a steep downhill journey towards where it reconnects with the park. In summer, the bushes that line the road will be thick with blackberries that we may or may not feed to ourselves and our horses, but for now they sit as brambles, a promise of what’s to come. Then, back into the park we go, this time coming up the side of our neighbors and then the fenceline that our own property shares. We step over logs as we see SAFE horses from a different perspective – Nova and Rae rush towards the fence once they realize who’s coming, and a small chorus of calls erupts from the herd.
And then, we’re home, with a few more trail miles under our cinches, and dreams of summer when we can go out all the time.