Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did I mention the coyote?

No, I see I didn't - can't believe I forgot to mention the coyote!

Sunday's ride included a slight bit of bushy-tailed excitement. We were trotting right along, Sunny in the lead, down a two-track lane with a bit of grassy verge separating it from a barbwire fence on the right and a big, recently harvested field to the left. It was blowing to beat the band, enough so that you couldn't hear the person behind you unless he or she shouted (or rode really close).

The horses were all prick-eared and interested - strange place, wind, etc. All of a sudden this small furry thing popped out of the grass just ahead shot off into the underbrush. Sunny sort of levitated to a stop - just hung in the air briefly, eyeing the thing streaking across the grass in front of him, then settled right back into his trot. There was barely time for the guy behind me to yell, "Coyote!" and it was gone - disappearing under the barbwire and into the underbrush.

He couldn't have been more than 15' in front of Sunny's nose, and when we passed the spot were he'd been there was a neat little round circle pressed into the grass - must have been a favorite napping spot!

J, the vet, who was right behind me - the one who yelled - said it was one of the healthiest coyotes he's seen in quite a while: nice coat, no mange. I know ranchers don't like them, but where I grew up in MI there wasn't much call for hunting them. Less ranching there, and lots more trees than people made for good denning conditions, so we'd hear them sing and yip most nights and occasionally see them crossing the field in front of the house. But this is the closest I've been to one in a very long time.

I honestly would have expected it to be bigger, but from the back of a moving horse, at least, it looked pretty small - about the size of a smallish cocker spaniel, maybe.

Anyway, I was quite proud of Sunny for not being phased when it jumped and ran in front of us. Although I suppose he's probably familiar with coyotes as there are dens of them out in the back pastures where the cows are, so maybe that's not such a surprise.

That one lone coyote, a distant jack rabbit sighting, and a couple of hen pheasants where all the wildlife we scared up the whole ride. Too much wind for even the wildlife to be out and about, I guess.


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

There were finally starting to be some healthy coyotes around home again too. That is good to see.

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

We have ridden some sagebrush trails where coyotes have paralleled our trail off in the distance for several miles.
I dont know how you ride in the wind. I have never liked it.

SunnySD said...

Can't say I'm fond of it either - but I don't get too many chances to ride anymore, so I take them where I get them :)