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Great trail ride - saw mountain lions

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  • Great trail ride - saw mountain lions

    My Dad and I went out trail riding tonight around 8 pm. The sky was quite nice as it's been stormy - a mix of purple, grey, pink and orange as the sun was setting. The wind's been up all evening, causing our foal to run around (and me to refrain from hand-grazing my horse!).

    The two horses are fairly quiet although Dad's horse, Spook, will often jump at scary things real and imagined (usually cows). Our two border collies were with us, and as usual they were running after each other and real and imaginary marmots. We started off as usual, walking on a loose rein across the big field by our house, admiring the group of 3 cranes that usually takes flight towards the lake and greets us as it goes.

    We took a trail down by a stagnant lake which has some Ducks Unlimited nesting squares in it, and I remarked that we don't often go on that path - it has some funny sections and it's not great for trotting and cantering. Dad said, "True, but it's nice for a change of scenery once in a while." With the sky becoming more and more interesting as the sun went down, I had to agree. We rounded the corner, and the two big cats ran out in front of us, probably less than 40 feet away. They'd obviously been down for a drink. The dogs were chasing them right away, although the cats probably would have run anyway. I called the dogs and after the second time they came back. It all happened so fast I didn't have time to really think, just to react. I was standing in my stirrups calling them, one hand on the buckle of my reins, thinking I didn't want them to be a cougar treat.

    The two cats were gone so quickly - I maybe saw them take 6 or 8 strides, and Dad saw one or two more as he was in front. The strangest thing was that the horses didn't even blink. They are used to the dogs running around, and used to us yelling (at dogs or cows or other horses) - but they didn't notice the mountain lions??? We crossed right over their path seconds later, and they didn't seem to smell anything either. In contrast, there is a section of our usual trail that we're convinced has a bear nearby, since they get all alert and spooky there every time we go by.

    Anyway, that was one of the coolest rides I've ever been on. I've grown up at this house, and seen tons of wildlife while riding, but this is the first time I've seen a mountain lion. Ironic, since I've been recently telling a bunch of foreign friends that I've never seen one and never expected to (!) - trying to convince them it's pretty safe to walk around the trails while in Canada!
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng

  • #2
    Very cool. It must be awesome to live in God's country. Too d--- cold for me, but must be absolutely gorgeous.

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    • #3
      That is awesome! But I think I would have peed my pants.

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      • #4
        Amazing. Thanks for sharing.
        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
        -Rudyard Kipling

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        • #5
          Awesome ride, was it.

          That is the way we see mountain lions around here, you see something running and by the time your brain thinks mountain lion, they are long gone.
          They are so neat to watch running, are they.
          We rarely get to see one standing there.

          If our horses know something is there, they don't shy, but if they are not sure, they can shy over the silliest things.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
            Awesome ride, was it.

            That is the way we see mountain lions around here, you see something running and by the time your brain thinks mountain lion, they are long gone.
            They are so neat to watch running, are they.
            We rarely get to see one standing there.

            If our horses know something is there, they don't shy, but if they are not sure, they can shy over the silliest things.
            OP: That sounds really cool.

            Bluey, you have Mt Lions in Texas? I wouldn't think that.

            Why is it cool to see them run?

            I love their faces.

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            • #7
              I'm still dying to see one.

              A little worried about seeing one on a horse, tho.

              A vet I worked for's wife got very very injured falling off her horse. She had a helmet, and was on a very, very steady edy horse, but was badly injured (but luckily eventually ok). They are older and lifelong animal people- not weekend warriors- and not faint of heart.

              She didn't remember a think that happened. In the decade + she had the horse, he never did anything like that. A few days later, someone in the area riding saw a lion. They are very unusual in that area. The only thing they could imagine is that's why her horse threw her. Eek!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RidingAllDay View Post
                OP: That sounds really cool.

                Bluey, you have Mt Lions in Texas? I wouldn't think that.

                Why is it cool to see them run?

                I love their faces.
                We do have some here, in the canyons, most tan, one black one that we know of, that has been reported by many that have seen him.

                Mountain lions have a range of some 150 square miles, so they are not many in any one area, although some areas tend to overlap some.
                Ours come by around every three weeks, checking their territory, I guess.
                We are almost on the North edge of the black one's territory, as he has been seem some 30 miles North of here and in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park, some 100 miles down there.
                We lose about two steers a year to mountain lions, although not every year we lose some and they tend to run cattle thru several fences when they are active, that is a nuisance.
                They love young horses and ran our geldings thru a fence once, although neither the lion or fence did any damage to them, thankfully.
                We had one horse that never would get over that and would not leave the pens any more, to go graze with the others, was really scred out of his wits and we finally sold him to someone in town as a pasture ornament and for light riding at their place.
                He is an old horse now and sill living there happily, but he was dangerous to handle whle here, as scared as he was.
                He must have been the one the lion chose to chase, as he was a light palomino and I guess the easiest to see in the dark.

                We don't see lions often, maybe once or twice a year, but one time, a fourth of July about 2 pm and a very hot day, as we were going to check a windmill, we came across a tan mountain lion chasing a big, #600 steer right down the road.

                Looking at the tracks later, he had been chasing him at least one mile.
                He had scratched him on his hind end, where he had several 3-4" strips of hide hanging down and a hole on his right flank.
                The steer was very hot and mad and very tired.
                If we had not come up on them, he would have been lion dinner soon.

                As we drove up, the lion took off down the barditch, in the weeds and was quickly gone.

                We penned the steer, treated his wounds and made a report to the game warden, that came and took pictures.
                Don't know why we didn't think to take pictures also.

                The steer made a complete recovery, but hair didn't grow back in those strips on his behind, you could recognize him for his bare behind.

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