It was August 7, 2021.
Skye left before dawn, slipping quietly past Grace who had spent half the night staring at her new resin horse. Her theory was, to catch up with a mustang, you should ride one; so she took Ladyhawk, and let the spirited mare more or less lead the way.
Thunderstorms earlier in the week had left pools of clean water in the rock outcroppings of the high desert and conifer forest interface. Petrichor had come for a cool morning drink.
Ladyhawk seemed distracted by something on the ridge above. And there he was! Petrichor!
Skye had hoped to catch a glimpse of the stallion. She was getting an eye full as the stallion approached, snorting, shaking his head and displaying, but not showing aggression. Ladyhawk was tense beneath her, but she also seemed distracted. As if they was more than just the big appaloosa stallion to keep an eye on.
And then, just as the sun crested the ridge, the sound of hooves against granite, and Grace's calm, even voice.
"Get up on higher ground."
Sweeping in between Skye and the stallion, Grace and Cookie locked on to their target. Stallion...steer...whatever. Cookie was ready to outmaneuver her subject. A high desert dawn dance ensued
They drew closer, wary but ever less tense. as if the stallion would soon reach out his nose again, as he had the first time Grace came close to him. But just as Grace thought he might, Skye startled all three of them.
Ladyhawk saw it first. All eyes now fell upon the big cat. While the mountian lion focused on Ladyhawk and Skye, Petrichor circled behind it.
The cougar moved swiftly to face the stallion, crouching again. It was no small cat. And it was not backing down.
Petrichor circled the cat, always facing him, moving ever closer. Still, the mountain lion held its ground. The seconds seemed like an eternity. Grace nudged Cookie forward, and she went willingly.
Still the cougar did not move. Skye rode in on Ladyhawk.
For a fleeting moment the cougar focused its attention on Skye and Ladyhawk. Petrichor seized his chance, lounging at the big cat, striking with his powerful front hooves. It was over in a second, the cat spinning and bounding away, over a steep granite precipice and away.
Snorting and shaking his head, Petrichor trotted toward the edge of the rock face, as if to make sure the big cat was gone. Then he relaxed, dropping his head, moving away from the girls, back up the water pools to fill hiself with cool, precious water.
Back at home, the girls were a mixture of exhausted, and very awake.
Skye bubbled with youthful enthusiasm. "I think that was the most exciting ride yet..."
Indeed. What a morning it had been!
(A little fun fact. You will always see the Frenchie and the Sheltie together because they both have vision issues and they rely upon each other to see. The Frenchie is almost blind, but we may be able to correct it with surgery. The sheltie is older and probably has cataracts, but still gets around pretty well).