Isn't it interesting, how close you can get to wildlife while on the back of a horse... I think we flush deer every single ride. And earlier this week, we rode past a red-tailed hawk just hanging out on a low branch, not 10' away from us.
In my years of trail riding I've seen a ton of deer, a black bear (who was just as startled to see us as we were to see him), pheasants, quail, a bobcat, a fisher cat or weasel (couldn't tell which it was), a snapping turtle, a large variety of different snakes, some little bird that chased my horse's feet until we could get away from what I was presuming was her nest, rabbits, blue herons and an owl.
It is amazing how close you can get to them before they move, when you're on horseback, and how easy it is to see their tracks and patterns.
What have you seen on your rides? What lets you get the closest?
We have often seen a large blue heron, it lets us get pretty close before it flies away. First time we sw it my horse thought it was a pterodactyl! He freaked. Now he knows where it hangs out and is ready for it.
I'm riding my mare down the road past a Hickory tree. There is a squirrel happly collecting his nuts. He didn't run as he didn't notice me-only the horse. My mare stood on a nut he wanted. He squirrel "cussed" my mare ordering her to move that foot! At that point I laughed and he realized I was along for the ride and ran off up the tree.
Other wildlife I see regularly of course are deer. And once in a while in the fall I will see a snake sunning itself on a warm spot of the trail.
Squirrels & deer always... but the coolest was Christmas Eve morning 2009: a red fox & a Barred Owl! The owl came up silently behind me & my mare on the trail, swooped over my head and then flew in front of us about 3 feet off the ground and then up into the trees, where it warily watched us go by. Way cool!
<>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.
Deer, elk (Bennezette PA, too cool!) , grouse, turkeys, two bear (and one during a moonlight ride that we didn't see but that crashed thru the woods RIGHT beside us!) snakes (black and rattlesnakes), porcupine, raccoons...It's a rare ride in Central PA woods that we don't encounter something!
Lots and lots of deer, a red fox and her kits, various birds including turkey vultures and hawks, a flock of turkeys crossing the trail, squirrels, chipmunks, several box turtles including one my horse almost stepped on, frogs, toads, all kinds of stuff.
Lots of deer--they let us get quite close around here, especially the young ones, who are always curious about horses. There's also a white deer in the herd that we sometimes see.
Huge flock of wild turkeys, which seem to start appearing shortly before Thanksgiving, because apparently turkeys are not as smart as Ben Franklin claimed.
Some sort of big turtle swimming across the path in front of us on a rainy monsoony day... great blue heron several times... lots of red-tailed hawks. There's one that we see every time, who swooped down about five feet away from us one day...
Gophers, rattlesnakes, grouse, pheasants, turkeys, herons, eagles, countless other little bitty critters and birds, deer, elk, moose, black bears, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.
The only things they ever really spook at are the grouse or pheasants, we all spook at those! LOL
Horses move pretty quickly-other animals don't usually march down a trail like they're on a mission the way a horse does. And they sound natural (usually) so they don't really trip the warning signs like a person hiking or riding a bike would.
Deer for sure, lots of foxes, a few coyotes, Fisher cats, owls.
Most recently I was riding in our pasture and a young fox was sleeping in the sun. I probably got within 15 feet of him. When I got close he ran off but came back and snoozed some more! He was very cute.
The deer around here don't seem to mind the horses and where we ride, there is a spot in the forest that we can usually spot a few laying down about 50 feet off the trail and just see their heads peeking over the grassy brush watching us pass through.
A friend of ours has a ranch with a few zebra and antelope. That's always a fun safari trail ride. They have giraffe too but keep them in the giraffe barn when guest horses come as not to spook them.
Hummmm....I have seen deer, lots of hogs, coyote, owl, eagle, hawks, pelican's (beach ride!) heron, vultures, all kinds of little birds like cardinals, blue jays, blue birds, crows, little finches, ducks of all sorts, alligators, snakes, opposums, racoons, otters, turtles, and of course different kinds of squirrels. Would love to see more!!!
I've seen a whole lot of wildlife in sixy years of riding trails but three particular times stick in my mind.
One that always brings a smile is the time I was riding alone and came up on a sleeping coyote pup. He was dead to the world until we got about twenty feet from him. He leaped up, took off like a house on fire, ran about fifty feet and stopped. Turned back and stared at us like he couldn't believe his eyes. He then tore off and was gone. I can hear him now telling his Mother about how he was taking a nice nap when a monster appeared.
One that haunts me is once I was riding along a ridge when in the valley I heard something going on that sounded violent. No screams or anything but dead leaves being torn up in some kind of fight. Looked down and a young doe and a large red tail hawk were faced off. When they became aware of me the hawk flew low up the ridge right in front of me and the little doe in hot pursuit. While I didn't see a fawn I've often wondered if the hawk was trying to get the fawn and DID I distract the doe enough to where he actually had it when he flew away. There was a second or two before the hawk flew when I couldn't see what was going on. I hope the fawn thing was all in my imagination but can't imagine any other reason a little doe like that would be willing to fight a hawk and then would run after him when he left. Still makes my heart hurt when I think about it.
You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.
A couple of days a week I ride early in the morning, which has been the best for wildlife sighting. One morning I saw a mountain lion leaving the trail in front of us - that was awesome. Other than that, lots of bobcats, deer, coyotes, birds, rodents, and snakes.
When I ride in Yosemite in the summers, we almost always see black bears. Neither the mountain lions nor the bears seem to concern my horse.
I love love love to see the goats when our local county park brings them in to clear vegetation - does that count?
Last Thursday we came upon two moose who were nestled down in the bushes. They were only about 20 feet off the trail, and when they got up at our approach our horses were watchful but not alarmed. We trotted past one way, and the moose headed the other. It was pretty cool.
We have seen lots of moose and elk over the years, but never quite that close before. Eagles, hawks, grouse, deer, coyotes and a few foxes. I know I'd never have any kind of close encounter like that if I didn't ride.
What have you seen on your rides? What lets you get the closest?
Last year I saw more woodcock on one day than I've seen in my entire life.
(this was out foxhunting).
Bald Eagle (lots)
Hawks (different kinds - lots and lots)
Deer (hell during the rut they'll jump right into you and take you off your horse - really - I've seen it)
Snakes (all kinds)
Owls (all kinds)
Birds birds and more birds - one of these days I'd like to participate in Audubon's Christmas Bird Count on horseback!
That's all I can think of right now. Basically - I see a lot of wildlife..
One of my favorite days was hacking back in from hunting - a few of us went in early.
We were crossing a creek and out of the corner of my eye I saw something very large rise up out of the creek and into a low branch.
It was a Bald Eagle. We stood in the creek and watched him. He watched us. We were very close - he didn't move. Our horses stood quietly. Finally we moved on.
Then I relayed a story a Lakota friend once told me.
He said that when you encounter the Eagle, it means you are on the right path in life.
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.