I was in Cyra’s stall at 5am this morning. I could see that it had rained overnight. I checked to see if it was still raining. It was not. The sun was not due to rise for nearly another hour. Gray light greeted me as I walked out to fetch the wheelbarrow. The train horn called out from the Intervale crossing. The rich smell of the manure pile came to me as I prepared to do my chores. Cyra nickered to me as I opened her stall door. With her grain tub in my hand, we walked over to the corner where I feed her. She was very respectful of me. She did not try to grab an early bite of her breakfast. At one thousand pounds, I appreciated her good manners.
I decided it was a fine morning for a ride. I kept my raincoat on in case the rain started up again. I gave Cyra’s mane and tail a brush. I brushed her body. She continued to eat her breakfast hay as I attended to her. The sound of her chewing blended nicely with the awakening bird songs. I put her rope riding halter on her. I donned my helmet. I led her to the mounting block in the driveway. She stood quietly as I swung my leg over her bareback. She knew where we were going. She headed out the driveway to the left and up Gloucester Hill Road.
Three houses down on the left, we crossed over a stonewall and onto my neighbor’s yard. We skirted his mowed lawn. We entered the woods behind his house and were in the gray of the forest at pre-dawn. We picked up the path to the Interurban. The muted light of the overcast morning and the hour of the day gave the woods a magical feel. I could see but the light was dim and sounds were also muted.
Cyra snatched a mouthful of ostrich ferns as we walked along. Off to our left a red squirrel scolded us for disturbing her morning. I could here distant crows having a conversation. It felt like a morning where one might catch sight of woods fairies. At the Interurban we turned left into the green tunnel of the old rail bed. I kept my hands and body light and loose (I hoped my mind too!). Cyra did not need directions from me. She knew where we were going and how to get there.
We emerged onto the the Roger’s lawn. We crossed Intervale Road. We entered Grange Hall Road behind the still sleeping houses on Cobb’s Bridge Road. I asked Cyra for a canter. She obliged. Her bare feet rang out on the packed earth of the dirt road. We were headed to Aaron Mosher’s fields opposite Eastgate on Cobb’s Bridge Road. I stopped in Aaron’s field to let Cyra graze. As she did, I took in the misty view in front of us. The far side of the field was softened by the moisture in the air. A hint of pink colored the eastern sky.
We crossed the field and dropped down to Gina and Charles’s fields below Aaron’s. The road down was steep and gravel strewn. It was there to service the haying equipment used to cut the lower fields. This was Cyra’s least favorite part of the ride. She’s not fond of going downhill. Add to that the uncomfortable footing and its no wonder why. I too am not a fan because of the wild roses that reach into the path to snag my clothing. I go this way because at the end of this access road is the most beautiful chain of fields I have ever ridden in.
At the bottom of the tractor road we came out into a rolling hay field green from the summer rains of late. Cyra’s ears pricked up and I followed her gaze to see three deer on the far side of the field. They saw us too. They bounded off, white tails flashing in the mist. I could hear the call of a raptor off in the pines at the edge of the field. I had seen a bald eagle in this field. I hoped I would see it again. We stopped at an apple tree. I picked and apple and fed it to Cyra. We crossed through a break in a narrow brush line into another field. The terrain here was a gentle rolling of the earth. The rounded knoll in front of us gave way the a stand of fir on the far side of the field, conical tops all pointing to the sky in a line.
We picked up a wooded trail that led back up to the farms along Cobb’s Bridge Road. When we entered the trail I collected a handful of Cyra’s mane, shortened my reins and asked her for a canter. She willingly responded and began to charge up the hill. We came to rocky section and her hard hooves clattered and dug in the rocks for traction on the hill. She soon ran out of steam. She came back down into a walk, huffing and sides heaving under me. We got in one more canter before we topped out in the fields behind Shady Lane Farm with its big wedding barn off in the distance. I let her graze as I too let my heart slow down from our mad dash up the hill.
We took the rest of the way home at an easy walk. It was not yet 6:30 and we had already had a wonderful adventure together. I can’t imagine my life without Cyra. As a life long horseman, I feel blessed at seventy years old to have such a willing partner for my morning rambles and a body that still lets me enjoy my passion.