A big thank you to the Harrington’s driver this morning who stopped when he saw our horses in distress, very near my house, on East Road in Alford.
He turned off his engine and waited patiently while we got the horses settled down, dismounted, and led them down my driveway.
We of course thanked him profusely at the time, but I thought he should get some public recognition. His quick action saved us from what might have been a very dangerous situation.
My friend Alice and I had set off a couple of hours earlier on what turned out to be a lovely ride (except for those tense moments at the end). We headed south along the road, at my suggestion, to check out the new trails at what I fondly call “Louise’s” — the Hardy land now owned by the Alford Land Trust.
As we went down the hill from my house, Bill and Lois drove up behind us, heading home. Although we had the horses walking on the grass (off the road, in other words), Bill kindly pulled over into the left lane as he passed us, and was nearly to his driveway when a large truck came barreling toward him. He had to quickly pull over the the right to avoid a collision, and the driver of the truck never slowed down one iota, as if the didn’t see the vehicle in front of him or two horses on the side of the road. He must have been doing at least 50. I yelled “Slow Down!” as he passed, so loudly that my horse jumped.
As we continued our ride, at least a couple of other drivers passed us at high rates of speed. “What is wrong with these people?” I asked myself. Maybe they have never ridden a horse, and don’t realize how quickly they can spook and do unpredictable things. We are fortunate that our horses seem pretty indifferent to traffic noise, but ya never know!
On the plus side, at least a couple of (probably local) drivers did slow down as they passed us. Many thanks to them for their consideration. We tried to wave and smile to show our appreciation.
As we passed John Oliver’s house (about a mile down the road), we turned into the pasture there. Alice looked back at me and remarked that, as much as she likes riding in the woods (which is what we usually do), she really liked being out in the open field on such a bright sunny day. We are fortunate to live in a place where we have to choose between such pleasures.
After going through the first pasture, we did turn into the woods, and I think the temperature fell at least 10 degrees. It is lovely and peaceful back there, moving alongside stone walls, among various growths of trees, including some sections of tall pine forest.
Although I had walked parts of this trail, I had never been to the end. I expected it would turn back toward the house and come out near the road. But, no! Surprise, it emptied us out into another pasture, where we have ridden in the past. We made our way through that one and the next one and another one (below the small cemetery on East Road), finally getting back to near the house, where we were able to pick up the path that brought us into the woods, thence to retrace our way home.
The ride back along the road was rather uneventful until we got almost to my house. When we left, the herd of heifers that sometimes hangs out in the pasture next to me were all settled in the shade of a large pine tree that grows in my yard. As we approached my house, Spot (Alice’s horse) noticed that a couple of them had come up the hill to the edge of the road to forage, and that seemed to make him nervous, being that close to them.
I could see that Alice was about to cross the road quickly to get past them and to my driveway, but I heard a large truck coming down the hill, out of sight. I said something to her so that she wouldn’t walk out in front of the truck. She stopped, but (as she told me later) Spot saw some holes by the side of the road, up ahead a little way, in the direction we had been moving. Nothing strikes terror into a horse more than the sight of a hole (stepping into one and breaking a leg can be fatal to them). So Spot, already nervous at the nearness of the heifers, began to back up in a rather disorderly way.
At that moment, the Harrington’s truck came into view, and I signaled to the driver to stop, because I was afraid Spot might step in front of him. The driver immediately took my suggestion, and when he saw the horses acting up, he turned off his engine. I was very grateful for that, because by that time my horse, Stewart, had begun to get nervous, too (panic can be contagious in herd animals).
I turned Stewart around and moved back down the road a bit, but by now the whole herd of heifers had come up to the road to see what was going on. And they were following Stewart down the road! Which, of course, made him even more nervous.
I could hear Spot doing a little dance behind me, and he was slipping on the pavement. Alice managed to get off before she was thrown.
By this time, Stewart was only slightly agitated, and I managed to calm him down and dismount. We walked the horses past the herd, and thanked the driver on our way past the truck, and headed down the driveway.
All’s well that ends well…