I took Charm for a fall ride through the woods over the weekend. We went our normal route. Down the lane up to the top pasture.. canter and trot around the edge and enter the woods at the far end. I was riding her bareback and she felt a little frisky, but not anything I felt worried about.
We entered the woods and it was extremely quiet. Almost too quiet. I know the trails well and like to go down into the ravine and then run up a steep slope that opens into another field.
As we approached the trail that lead down into the ravine. I noticed that Charm was in a bit of a rush. Usually she’s really good about putting her weight under herself and thinking her way down a hill.
As we got to the bottom, she froze and her head went up. She took a good hard look and a listen around. If anyone knows Charm, you know that she’s the type of horse that notices any type of change. And she always has to let me know about it too. It can be rather annoying when you just want to forget what’s around and ride your horse. But I am partnered with a prey animal and she’s not going to ignore her instincts.
So. For those brief few moments as we paused I started to get a little freaked out. The only thing I could hear was a squirrel chirping on a tree nearby, otherwise everything else was still.
I urged charm up the path to the south pasture. I grabbed some of her mane as she took a few powerful strides to the top. She stopped again and looked around, but seemed less worried so we continued on.
We wound back through the woods and around to a high point. I decided to take a different way down and to go back up the steeper trail. As we started up the trail I noticed a small branch was in the way. We approached it and Charm seemed impatient but after a few tries, stepped over it and continued back up to the high point of the woods.
At the top I saw some red leaves laying in the middle of the path. But as we walked closer, it was a gruesome discovery. A fawn was laying there, stripped clean. It’s innards were about 4 feet away.
Charm was upset at this discovery and started shaking her head. I took her hint and turned around and went back down the hill. We eventually headed back to the barn.
As I shared the news of my discovery with the barn owner. She mentioned that it must have been the fawn that was grazing with the herd for the past few weeks. It was an orphan and the horses allowed him in. It was so neat to see this little spotted fawn with these strong powerful horses. But, we all knew this fawn would not learn how to preserve itself and we worried that he’d either be shot, or worse.
Unfortunately I think the worse happened.
After I realized what had happened, and thinking about it, I think this slaying was a professional job. Coyotes? Possibly more than one? Were they watching us as we rode through the ravine? The kill was so fresh.
And Charm knew the whole time. I’m not sure if she could smell it, or heard something.. or just sensed something else that I’ll never understand, but this whole situation gave her more credibility in my mind. Yes she was trying to preserve herself. But she wasn’t over the top about it.
She kept me safe and was thinking the whole time, not just reacting to the situation.