August 9, 2023
As we entered the freshly cut hay field, Dreamer almost immediately began some abnormal behavior. Prancing and kicking and walking sideways type behavior. While he's not exactly an angel when soloing on the trails, this was strange. At first I thought maybe the horse flies were exceptionally bad and he was getting bitten up. I quickly discounted that as the sole reason when his head swung up, his ears pointed forward and he stopped dead in his tracks. Ahead of us was the pasture that sometimes houses mules or cows, and apparently it was a cow day. I could see that some cows were walking along the fence line, but they soon wandered out of my sight. As we stood there and he continued to stare, I knew there was no way he was that worked up over simply seeing a few cows.
Once he relaxed his stance, I urged him forward and he continued to exhibit hyper behavior. As we made the turn onto the dirt path (in the same direction the cows had gone), I spied what I believe was the cause of the excitement. At the end of the path, all of the cows were out of the pasture. There was an Amish gentleman running after them and yelling and waving his arms, attempting to herd them. I stopped Dreamer and watched for a while. I couldn't tell whether the cows were being herded up the path we were standing on. If they were coming towards us, I surely didn't want to walk any further down the path! So, we stood there for some time, and at one point it looked as though they were headed our way. I dismounted and walked off to the side of the path (there is a hay field where we could have gone further off path if we absolutely had to for safety reasons) and we just watched. After a few minutes, and no cows headed our way, I hand walked Dreamer down the path towards the ruckus.
As we made our way closer to the cows, Dreamer was alert, but not nervous. We were making our way slowly at that point since I still could not tell if the farmer was herding the towards us or not. Then, one of the cows broke away from the herd! He did not just wander, oh no. He was trotting off and heading right for us! I stopped a moment and glanced Dreamer's way to see how he felt about it. He was calm, so I decided we would meet this boisterous bovine head on. Thus the game of chicken began. The cow at a trot and Dreamer and I at a leisurely walk. We were several yards apart, when the cow finally admitted defeat and veered off into the field beside us where it stopped to much some grass. Dreamer and I continued on our way as the victors. By now most of the cows, except the rogue, had been successfully herded into the pasture. As we walked by, I exchanged pleasantries with the farmer and said, "Too bad he [Dreamer] isn't a cow horse. We could have helped you out!". We both had a chuckle and Dreamer and I continued on our way. Dreamer was very intent on constantly looking behind him the whole way out to the road. I guess he wanted to make sure none of the scary cows were following us! Once we were passed the pasture and had arrived at a spot with a small incline, I lined him up and hopped back on. Then we were off.
We had a rather uneventful ride on the trail. Dreamer told me where the horse flies landed, and I killed them (#teamwork), we argued about which direction we were going (I wanted to go forward, and he wanted to go home), and we passed, bikers, hikers, baby carriages and dogs. All was well.
When we turned off the road and onto the property, I heard it. I knew Dreamer had heard it as well since he was once again on high alert. It was the unmistakable sound of a cart. There it was in the distance. A piece of farm equipment manned by the Amish and pulled by a pack of mules. I let Dreamer stand and look and I said out loud, "please tell me they are not bringing that thing down here. Please Lord tell me they are staying up there." God must have been listening because as we inched our way forward, they turned into a field that we would not be walking near.
Now, would it have been the end of the world if they had gone by us? To Dreamer it may just have ended his life! We have had multiple run-ins with horse and buggies over the last few weeks and let's just say that he is not a fan. He has seen horses. He has seen buggies. Add them together? It's the scariest monster he ever did see! I always know the instant he hears one. Thankfully there was a large field beside the path, so if it had come at us, there would have been plenty of space for me to let him go into the field to watch it pass from a safe distance (although I don't like to trample the fields if I can help it). But, in the end there was no need. The mules went their way, Dreamer and I went ours, and the cows were once again where they belonged.
After thoroughly washing off the sweat and grime, and giving him a nice face and ear scratching (his favorite!), he was released back into his pasture.