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Moonlight trail riding, anyone?

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Moonlight trail riding, anyone?
  • Had a rough day at work yesterday and really needed some hippotherapy.  We have been working towards and full moon and it's been nice and bright  so I asked my riding buddy if she'd go w/ me and she was game so we saddled up and away we went.  I wore my hubby's reflective motorcycling vest and we figured Spirit is white so we'd be visible, plus there aren't many cars on our dirt roads.  It was so peaceful out there and the horses were really good:)  It did the trick and I felt soooooo much less stressed by the time we got back.  Tonight we're overcast so no night rides, although we did end up coming back in almost dark by the time we got home today.
    Anyone else like to ride at night?
  • I have done little short rides and we talk about it a lot. Horses have VERY GOOD night vision. Just need to keep in mind it takes their eyes longer to adjust from going from a lighted area to a dark are.
  • We do a lot of full moon rides. It is very serene and peaceful. Even my moon blind Appy does well.
     Do pay attention for skunks. We have seen quite a few without any mishaps. 
    We did do a nerve wreaking night ride one time. There was a miscalculation by the Trail Boss about the moon rise time. We went too far from camp in some pretty rough country. We got caught in pitch black night on the way back. You couldn't see the horse in front of you unless it was white or you were right on top of them. The trail was steep with huge drop offs. I told Pilot to put Jet in front of me on moon blind Tonto, let the reins go loose and let Jet take us back to the trailer. It was so dark it was disorienting but Jet got us back safe and sound.

  • That was stressful to read!  I can't imagine living it!  Thank heavens for Jet-horses!!
    AND if we trusted them more we'd be lost less. [':D']

    I've been watching that moon Dana.  You read my mind!  Not sure if I'll get out or not but it's a great time to do it!!
  • Face-went to a fascinating lecture on horse vision once and learned that the most dangerous time to ride is dusk when their eyes are adjusting so if we're out and it's dusk, we just walk.
    It was funny, someone tossed or lost a hard hat on the road and when we came across that, the horses were all doing looky-loos and when my friend turned on her flashlight, they all jumped and then honed in and wanted to see if it had anything to eat-kinda looked like a bucket, right?  On the way back, they didn't even glance at it and last night, in the dark on our way home, they remembered and just went right by.  They are so amazing with how they remember things and something new on an old path can throw them a little ':)'
    Looking forward to more rides if it clears up!
  • In general I don't ride in the dark. Mainly because I enjoy seeing the country I'm riding thru.
    But as I think about your stories, I'm reminded of all the miles I ride in the dark during hunting season. Bue to the nature of big hunting. We are always trying to be at a location to hunt at sunrise and sunset. Which means we get up early and ride up the trail in the dark and we hunt until dark and ride back to camp in the dark. Also we often have to work and leave to go hunting after work, drive several hours and then have to ride in 6-7 miles to where we camp. With the shorterdays of fall, This often means riding in the dark.
    Since the state dictates the hunting dates, I have no choice about full moon or no moon, rain or snow. So I have ridden up some pretty black canyons with heavy cloud blocking out any stars or moons. I usually wear a LED headlamp. If I turn it on, I use the red light setting so that I don't upset my horses night vision. I usually can't see much with the LED lights, But I can see a branch just before it swats me in the face.  One night after work I was trying to get up to camp.  My friends had gone out the day before, So I was by myself, riding one horse and leading a pack horse with my gear.  I had gotten away late and not gotten to the trail head until almost 9:00pm so by time I headed up the trail. It was real black. I had a 7 mile ride that takes me about 90 minutes to do. It's up a very narrow canyon.  Part way up the canyon the horses stopped. I couldn't see what they were looking at, but they just wouldn not movve forward.  I turned on my flashlight and saw a black blob in  the middle of the trail. The LEDs don't throw enough light very far ahead to really tell what I was seeing. But it was big, dark and moving.  I dug out a real flashlight and turned it on and saw a couple of Black Angus cows. The weather was pushing them out of the high country and they were migrating down hill from the high country. Trail was too narrow to pass and they were too spooky of me and the horses. They soon turned around and went crashing back up the trail ahead of us.  After a while they found a place to get off the trail and we passed by.
    Another ride was during Moose hunting. A friend's son had shot a moose  and hiked back to camp and asked us to bring the horses and come haul his moose off the mountain.  We left the truck/trailer about 1/2 hour before dark and ride the 5 miles up and found the moose.  We had to butcher it and load it into the panniers.   My friend and his son rode horses up, bet we loaded those two horses with meat and they had to hike out while I rode and led the other two horses.  It was a very dark night, No stars or moon. I was in pine forest, so the trees blocked out ambiant light and just seemed to suck up any light the LED put out.  The horses had never been here other than the ride in a couple of hours earlier.  So I turned the light off to perserve the horses night vision and just hung on to my reins in one hand and the lead rope with the other.  I was wearing a large brimed cowboy hat and when ever I felt a twig or branch touch the brim I closed my eyes and turned away.  I could not see anything.  As we proceeded down the trail, I would hear the horses hoofs clicking over rocks and occassionally crossing the small bridges the forest service had built over boggy areas.  The sound of hooves on the bridges was the only way I knew the horses were still on the trail.  I spent the entire 90 minute ride just hoping my horses could see and would follow the trail off the mountain.
    So Yes, I do know that my horses can see very well in the dark.
  • I usually can't see much with the LED lights, But I can see a branch just before it swats me in the face.


    That was awesome, face!  (if a bit nerve wracking)

    Dani is SOOOO night blind.  She's very afraid.  But I love how horses can find their way back so well!  How many times do we second guess them to find out they knew the way all along!  I'm a firm believer in letting the horse lead when I'm turned around!  (sometimes it's hard to convince other people)
  • Many years ago, I borrowed a mare and rode her into the Wind Rivers of Wyoming.    Two years later I returned with that same mare on the same trail. There was  a cut off we had to take..  It was a very obscure little trail. as we were riding along, I was looking for the cutoff and had not seen it yet,  I knew it would come soon. As we proceeded down the trail. The mare, just veered off and heading through the tall grass. After a distance, I spotted the trail.  There had been so little traffic on this trail that the vegetation had over grown it. But the mare knew we needed to go that way.  She had been down that trail Once, two years before and she remembered it.  So yes, I have a lot of confidence in my horses ability to find their  way.