Fresh off of Mikki’s post yesterday about riding with fireflies, the August 2008 issue of Equus magazine arrived in the mail yesterday with an interesting article about horse night vision. In “When night falls” on page 17, Christine Barakat explains that horses are capable of seeing just as well in moonlight as they can during the day, allowing them to explore and play all night long. And while we usually assume they sleep at night, horses don’t always sleep when it’s dark like we do. Although Ms. Barakat offers no source for her information, it’s an interesting suggestion. I’ve heard our horses galloping at night and they have large eyes so I guess it makes sense. Even so, I don’t know how much riding I want to do at night. I’m the driver and I can’t see very well in the dark.
I finally did it! I rode with fireflies!
We tried to go riding after work last night, but as usual the tacking-up process took longer than it should. We had tack changes to make – different saddles on different horses requiring swapping out cinches, etc. – so it got kinda late. We had just tried my Henry Miller saddle on Romeo (it fits!) when Dayle & Katy came over with Dayle’s friend Christy on Dayle’s pony River. Then we sort of had to go. Christy has Paso Finos and expressed an interest in riding Valentine, so I saddled him up for her – with my Henry Miller saddle, since it’s the only one that fits big ol’ Valentine. Dayle said I could ride River, but no one was saddled up for Bill, so he told us to just go without him. 🙁 Poor Bill.
We rode over to Dayle’s house, around her arena, around her pasture, then it was getting dark. Valentine isn’t crazy about dusk, so we had to head on back to my house. Dayle and Christy were kind enough to escort me back.
Side note time: We haven’t mentioned this before, but I’m sure it will come up again so I’d better fill you in. We often ride at our friend Shari’s property. She lives very close by, as the crow flies, but getting to her property involves a ride down our road to a busy road to another busy, twisty, narrow road – all on slippery asphalt. None of us are crazy about that ride, including the horses. We found a partial trail behind Dayle’s property (she lives across the street from Shari) that we thought might go through to the end of our dead-end street. We cleared it as far as their property line went and discovered that it ended up at the property of another neighbor, so we approached him about making a very narrow, rough trail to the road. He was kind enough to let us do it…and it turns out that he has a four-wheeler, his property adjoins ours at the pasture, and he started making a trail on his property and would like to join it to ours (we have about 3 acres of uncleared woods next to the pasture). So not only did we get a shorter, safer trail to Shari’s and Dayle’s properties, but we have a new circuit of trails in the works right next to our house (and we have a better relationship with our neighbor). It turned out really well.
Anyway, so the ride back to our house is partly through the woods, and there were fireflies! Valentine was just fine going through the woods at dusk – at least until Bill, who was worried about me coming home alone in the dark with Valentine, popped up on the trail in front of him and spooked him!
It was very cool and I’d like to get all our horses okay with riding then, so we can enjoy that experience more often. I highly recommend it, but do be careful. As most of you who commented on the last post noted, it’s a rare horse that is okay with heading out into the wild after dark.