Things have been very quiet around here for the past couple of weeks, and while we’d rather be frenetically busy taking care of guests, I’ve made the best of a little bit of down time and some very nice weather to get out in the jungle on the horses. They need to be kept in shape anyway, so I’m working, not really goofing off…right? Really, the exercise is good for them, it’s good for them to get the complete grooming they seem to only get when we get them ready to ride – and, I love heading out in the jungle.
I have not been disappointed with wildlife sightings. I saw a snake the other day, although I’m not sure if it was a coral snake or a king snake. It was moving quickly to get out of my way (or out of the way of the horse’s hooves), the horse was moving along the jungle path, and I didn’t stop its crossing to see if red touched black or yellow, which is how I remember to tell the difference between the very venomous coral snakes and the harmless king, or false coral snakes: “Red touch black, friendly jack. Red touch yellow, dangerous fellow.” Whichever, it was pretty and didn’t cause any harm.
One day as I was out on Glinda with Recona, I heard a whole bunch of squeaking from the trail around a turn ahead of me. I first thought it was some kind of bird, but as I rounded the turn, I saw Recona leaping, spinning, running and generally dancing and having a wonderful time in the middle of a swarm of coatis. Coatis are like pointy raccoons, and they tend to run in groups, sometimes very large groups. This was a group of probably 20 to 25 coatis, and they were crossing the trail as Recona happened upon them. It was too much fun for a young dog to bounce around amid the coatis, who were intent on getting across the trail and into a grove of scrub trees and away from the annoying dog. They seemed to realize that she just wanted to play, and none of them got aggressive with her (nor she with them), and even as Glin and I came upon them, they just ran around us too, squeaking and hurrying towards their tree grove goal. Glin pricked her ears, got on her toes, and gave them a “What the heck…?” look, but within a few seconds they were well off the trail and in the trees, and Glin, Recona, and I continued down the trail.
On that same ride I saw a white hawk right on the edge of the Pine Ridge and the broad leaf forest. We see them occasionally, but they’re always impressive because they’re so beautiful, and it’s nice to see them in the pines because it’s so much easier to get a good look at them there instead of in the more restricted visibility of the broadleaf jungle.
I’ve also been seeing a lot of tapir tracks in the Pine Ridge. I haven’t yet seen the actual animal, but I’ve been keeping my eyes open, especially on a trail I ride that has a few stream crossings, and tapirs love water. While I’ve seen tracks around the water and on the mud trails, oddly enough the clearest tracks I’ve seen were where the trail crosses the road – but that’s probably just because the road was freshly graded and the mix of fine sand, gravel, and a bit of mud was perfect for imprints. I’m a little nervous about seeing one on the horses because their prints are huge – probably six to eight inches across – and the animals are big enough to be intimidating to a horse. Even our well-broke US horses didn’t like cows, and I’m not sure how our less well-broke Belizean horses would like coming face to face with a mountain cow – but I’d like to find out!
Just yesterday, I took off in the beautiful sunshine and headed out on what has become my normal route. It’s a route with hills and streams, it takes about two hours of walking and trotting with a few places where we can gallop, and it keeps us off the road so Recona can go. When I was about as far out as I get, the wind suddenly picked up and the temperature started to drop. Within a few minutes, it was pouring, which was completely unexpected because it had been so nice when I’d left home, and I’d been in the jungle long enough that I hadn’t seen the fast moving squall blowing in over the mountain tops. Recona wasn’t all that happy about getting wet, but I actually like being out in the rain in the jungle. The acoustics change with things being both louder as the rain beats on the leaves, and quieter as the dry groundcover gets wet and you can no longer hear all the little things scurrying around in the underbrush. The colors also change, with all the greens getting darker green and the grays turning black; it’s just as beautiful as the jungle in the sunshine, and you see and hear different things. Just as I came up a hill out of the jungle and onto the pine ridge, the sun broke through the edge of the squall and a beautiful rainbow appeared, hilltop to hilltop, ahead of me. It disappeared as we trotted towards it – which was fun in itself with Glinda seeming to get a kick out of splash-splash-splashing through the running water on top of the sandy trail – but we trotted back into the jungle and started heading down the hill towards home. Just on a hunch, I decided to take the small detour and check out the vista that looks over MET, a neighboring horse resort. My timing was impeccable! There was a beautiful rainbow rising out of the bottom of the bowl and off over the mountains we’d just traversed. I don’t think Glinda and Recona really appreciated it, but I thought it was well worth delaying all of our dinners for a couple of minutes!