Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Between Siera's Ears

Every animal definitely has their own character.  Siera is one of those.  

We hadn't ridden off the farm since March 22, 2015 when hubby and I went looking for antlers last year after his cancer diagnosis.  I did take Siera for a short ride on March 29th of last year, but I've only ridden her two other times.
Once with Lily and Fred and once a few weeks ago.

Siera said NO, I am not going into the woods!
I said, yes, we are.
It took some coaxing but we headed down my hiking/riding trail.  

Siera stared at the logs that had fallen into the ditch.  She gave it a once over and then stepped across.  She kept turning her head and looking through the woods towards the summer pasture.  She twisted her head and shook it, nodding her nose up and down.

Siera was protesting leaving her farm/paddock buddies.  She was peeved.  Yet she moved forward.  I wanted to see if I could get her through a section of trail I'd just cleared this fall and winter.  
However she decided she was not going there.

Yes.  Gently I asked her.

NO, I said NO, I mean NO, okay but under protest.

We were able to get through the mess of downed trees and to the first big ditch.  I was slightly surprised by the amount of water in the ditch.  The dirt was black and inky.

NO! Alert! Killer Mule Ditch, eats mules alive, out of shape fat molly mules named Siera.  NO!

Really Siera? However I just walked her along the edge of the ditch and looked around.  She began to sweat behind the ears and act irritated.  I let her stand for a moment before I turned her away.  I'd told my husband that I'd only work Siera on the eastern hillside section.  This path would take us beyond that.  And I could see that I needed to do a bit more trimming to keep the sapling branches from poking our eyes out.

I turned her away and we wove back up in the general direction of the farm.

Thank Goodness, Pony Woman, have you lost your mind and sense of direction? Home, yes, Home!

When we got to the up hill trail, the one I use often to go check for morels, wildflowers, and sometimes the round about way to the road and mail box...I turned Siera.

NO, you idiot.  Home is not this way!

Protest from my mule.  Head bobbing and shaking.  Her ears twisted back and forth and I asked her politely and then forcefully to take the trail.  And we went.
By the time we reached the top of the hill she was breathing hard but still flopping her head up and down and acting a bit homesick.
I decided to tie her up and let her calm down.
This is why I always ride with a rope halter.
I did an equipment check and then sat down on a stump and listened to Fred bray at home.  When in the paddock together he acted as if Siera was his mortal enemy.  When she was gone, he cried like a lovesick child.

Really? Tied to a tree Pony Woman?  Oh never mind, this calms me.  I can stand and relax.  I like this tree, do you like this tree?  It is a friendly tree. Hi nice tree, how are you?  

Siera seemed to calm down once tied to a tree.  Now I have never figured that out. If she is nervous, tie her to a tree and she'll just stand there.  Odd mule.

After she relaxed we rode my eastern hillside trails a few times, making a big circle.  Siera made a nice trail to follow so it will be easier once the leaves start to come back.  At first she tried to charge going down hill.  Each time she did, I turned her around and had her work back up hill.

YES, down down, let's go.  Home, home.  Uh-oh, NO! Not back up. Oh darn.
Okay, you win, I will walk like a sensible mule.  This is hard work and I don't like hard work.

We ended our ride on a very pleasant note, the last time we did the trail her ears were flopping and she was relaxed although a bit sweaty.
We went home.  I had to fill the stock tank and Siera had to cool down.  I tied her to the trailer and turned the hydrant on.

Then I went back and mounted Siera.  It was time for standing still while doing nothing with a rider on your back.

Boring.  I see grass.  Can I have grass? Please?  Oh you won't notice if I sneak forward and grab grass.  Oh darn you!

We had moved the Dexter cows due to give birth in the next few months out of their winter area and onto a grassy area.  I thought I'd ride Siera up between the buildings and up the narrow lane to check on them.
We got between the buildings and Siera froze.  At first I clucked and then tapped her with a foot.  She shook her head and backed up.

YOU idiot!  That could be a monster!  See that piece of nasty orange rusted metal? It could eat mules.  Let me look at it.  Let me look at it!

I sat and wondered why she was suddenly frozen and being obstinate.  I waited. Her head moved up and down, she sniffed.  I then did a slight kiss and she moved on through.

I'd forgotten the golden rule with Siera.  She needs to look some things over and convince herself that it isn't dangerous.  We walked passed Thor who ran and brayed in his paddock, she ignored him.  We went back to see the Dexters.  Siera acted curious.

Stupid cows.  You get the fine new grass pasture.  I get bupkiss.  I am still in a paddock.  Why are you so special?  What? Can't you talk? Dumb cows.  At least I am useful.  See? 

I sat on her and she watched the Dexters who watched her.  Finally we went around the other side to go check on their stock tank of water.

UH oh.  This could be a trap.  No, yes, no.  Maybe.  That black thing, it is a grill. Yes that is where they cook bad mules who don't behave.  Wait.  They don't eat mules.  Nice people don't eat their mules, right Pony Woman?

Siera had to stop and look at the grill that was in the driveway near the outhouse. She was not going to go passed it.  I sat and let her look the situation over.  We haven't done 'yard work' together in a long time.  

We finished all the chores that I could do, riding from one area of the yard to another and then I took her back to the trailer and curried her out.  She was dry and seemed to like it.

Nice lady, you are nice.  Gotta scratch right there, a little to the left please.  Oh much better.  Maybe I'll be good next time we ride together.  Maybe, a mule doesn't always make promises, especially if they are a molly mule.  We are known for having a female temper sometimes.

I turned her out and watched her find a dry spot to roll in.  I felt good.  I hadn't realized exactly how much I loved our forest adventures together.  I really needed to ride more.


Lori Skoog said...

Good for you two! Sounds like it was a good experience all around.

The Dancing Donkey said...

I'm glad to see you two back out on the trail. I'm sure Siera will gain a bit more enthusiasm for it once the Spring jitters have been worked through.