I decided to take Rose out for a trail ride this morning. I wanted desperately to ride at Ragle Park in Sebastopol. The trails are generally closed to horses all winter due to mud but I thought (or really just hoped) that the trails might be open since it’s been very dry for a few weeks now.
As I hooked up my trailer this morning I had the knowing that the trails at Ragle were in fact closed but….the little intuitive voice said go ahead and just check. I thought oh that’s interesting since I know I won’t be able to ride there but I’m supposed to go anyway. I thought Ok what ever I’ll go, get turned away and then head over to the Laguna – my back up plan.
So that’s exactly what I did. As I drove up the Ragle Park entrance road I saw the little typed paper sign attached to a saw horse that said exactly what I expected – Closed to horses. The ranger and I had a nice chat and then I continued on my path to the Laguna. I did wonder what the detour was all about. I kind of assumed it was a “timing” kind of detour. One that would make sure I arrive at the Laguna at the exact right time for something. I hoped it was something fun as it sometimes is like running into a friend or two.
When we arrived at the Laguna parking lot all was quiet. A typical weekday morning at the park. We tacked up and headed out. No other horses were at the park today. Everyone on the trail was quite friendly – Lots of smiles, hellos and a few brief questions.
Rose and I rode our traditional loop and then we headed back toward the trailer. As we rounded a curve in the trail that sits just below a small hill my stomach began to churn and my thoughts went to my husbands words. He’s said to me on more than one occasion that he would like me to carry pepper spray when I go out on the trail alone, even if it’s a well traveled and populated trail like the Laguna. I’ve never disagreed with him about it I just haven’t felt the need to pursue it. I figured at some point it would be easy to purchase some pepper spray and that’s when I would handle it – in the future when it would be easy.
As the thoughts of his words are running thru my mind I realize there’s a reason I’ve just had this thought and I just don’t know what that reason is yet. Rose and I began to head up the hill and that’s when I noticed a person with a dog walking fairly quickly and with purpose off the paved trail away from Rose and I. As I looked at the dog and the owner I got the mental image of the dog hanging off of Roses nose and a hideous fight ensuing. I thought to myself now would be a good time to have that pepper spray. Not just to keep me safe which is what I think my husband had in mind but to keep my horse friend Rose safe. My intuitive voice also chimed in that this is why we needed to be here today. My intuition never leads me into damage so I knew we would be fine but I didn’t yet really understand what this was all about.
We continued up the hill both Rose and I taking deep deliberate breaths – we were in sync. When we were about 40 feet from the dog and owner the dog began getting worked up and started to bark and then snarl a bit – Scary enough. Rose was now on high alert which alerted me further. Rose and I were on the same page about getting out of there but trying to do it in a way that didn’t inflame the situation further. No gait change, both of us breathing and trying to just stay grounded.
The dog & owner were standing out in the field a good distance off the trail as the dogs behavior started to escalate. It became very clear that the owner knew her dogs behavior and intended to try and keep us safe – I just hoped she was strong enough to hold onto her dog. It was not a small dog. The dog was jumping, barking, snarling and salivating – yes I could see the glistening strands of saliva as the dog threw its head with force from side to side in an effort to get away from her and get to us. Thank god the dogs owner was in fact physically strong enough to hang on to her animal and that her leash was strong and tight enough to not break apart or come off.
Rose and I just kept up pace, stayed grounded and got out of there. Once back at the trailer I got her un tacked quickly and loaded her into the trailer so we could get out of the Laguna.
To be clear I never really felt any true peril in all of this. My heart rate was rising but I was paying close attention to my intuitive & feeling self and those parts indicated that this was all part of something bigger. I felt it was a lesson, a warning, a reminder.
Our detour from riding at Ragle earlier in the day also now made sense. Had we not detoured when we did we wouldn’t have been in the place we were meant to be at the exact time we were meant to be there.
I suspect there may come a time in the future when I might need to protect myself and Rose out on the trail. I feel quite strongly that today was about just that – getting prepared and not waiting until the future drops the preparation in my lap. Lesson heard loud and clear. Grateful for the opportunity to do something about it with out any harm done today or hopefully in the future.