A great escape into the woods

Published 8:20 pm Thursday, August 31, 2017

Since arriving to HERD Rescue, I have often contemplated what is down in those woods below my pasture. Deer wander up through them, tails flicking as they enter my paddock to share my grass. Occasionally coyotes roam down the bridle path just beyond my gate. This trail takes equestrians and hikers down into those woods. I have heard soulful howls, anguishing screams and sometimes the ground-shaking thunderous crash of large trees losing their grip on the hillside. Then there’s the call of a working woodpecker, navigation chatter of migrating ducks and those noisy geese gathering on the lake at the foot of the woods.

Certain, my pasture mate, tells me that he has seen it all as he has been on trail rides through the woods and around that lake. He has spotted sunning turtles, a lone beaver and wild turkey down there, but I cannot see anything through the fence, from my vantage point of 32 inches at the shoulder.

But today an opportunity has presented itself. Someone left the small gate next to the shavings pile open. Certain is too big to get through it but I am not. Into the woods I shall go. Little Red Riding Hood ventured there successfully and so can I.

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At first, I am hesitant to go too far. I graze on the tender grass that has been just outside my reach, just beyond my gate. Oh no, Heather has spotted me outside my pasture and calls out, “Pebbles how did you get out?” She runs back in the barn for a halter and lead rope but I am in no mood to be caught now. I must go see what is down in those woods! 

As I raise my head and start prancing down the hill, Heather summons Charlie and her husband Scott for help. Three against one, better pick up my pace. Tail now raised for flight mode, I break into my best gallop down the path to the lake and into the woods. Charlie is in full pursuit. Scott has gone to get the Kubota, and Heather is in a tizzy. She runs to the feed room for a bucket of sweet feed as she knows I am food motivated. This is going to take more than carrots to catch me, I am on my mission.

I am down the steep hill and encounter the lake for the first time. Beautiful but there is nothing familiar to me here. This is not turning out to be as much fun as I thought it would be. I have now lost sight of Charlie tailing me too. I am truly alone. Which way to run?

The trail splits. Should I go left or right here at the lake or go straight into the lake? It is big and deep, and surrounded by more woods across the opposing shore banks. I decide to go left. It’s dark down here even in the afternoon light as I follow the trail. I am not seeing anything but water and branches and there are no horses down here or nice grass. In truth, it is kind of frightening.

So, I decide to work my way out of the woods to find home. Something looks familiar to me. This is the back of the neighboring farm and I see pasture, looks promising. I make it all the way to the main road when I hear Certain calling for me in the distance. My girlfriends Sophie and Promise, Heather’s two sister pinto mares, are now running in their pasture as they spot me out on the open lane. I know where I am for sure now. A few feet and I can take a left and head up the driveway to our farm. Oh no, there is Scott in the Kubota, and I gallop past him in a flash. Now hot and sweaty in this summer heat, I need to rest. Please let me back into my pasture!

Almost on cue, there is Heather. She sees me coming to the barn and opens my gate. I trot right back into my field. I want to roll in my shavings and have a good drink. Wait till I tell Certain that I have now been there too, all by myself. That was more adventure than I bargained for today.

To be perfectly honest, it can now be said that Pebbles is not the outdoor woodsy type. I prefer my nice green pasture, big comfy run-in and the creature comforts home affords. No more into the woods for me. •

Pebbles is the “spokespony” for HERD, or Helping Equines Regain Dignity, a local nonprofit that saves equines from dire conditions and in many cases slaughter. She dictates her monthly columns about her adventures and what a rescue organization does to Heather Freeman. Pebbles and Freeman can be reached through HerdRescue.org.