A routine morning walk to the mailbox with the dog turns into a hunt for a mystery horse. Lisa Morrison follows the trail of hoof prints until she finds her answer.
Every morning, I walk to the mailbox with my dog. My driveway is about ¼ mile long so it’s a good walk and a great way to start the day. I live in the country side near Middleburg, VA and my apartment is above a (currently) unoccupied barn. It’s a lovely spot surrounded by woods and a couple of horse farms. The barn is mine to fill, should I wish (and I do) but, at the moment, I am a horseless rider always on the lookout for a (hopefully free) horse to ride.
Earlier this week, as I walked down the gravel laneway, I noticed something different – pairs of marks in the gravel ahead of me. I considered what it could be and realized it looked like trotting hoof prints. Sure enough, when I got closer, I could clearly see the imprints of horse shoes in the dirt.
How could this have happened? Did a random horse come to see me and I wasn’t here? How did I miss it?!? It was a mystery. I looked for more tracks and found some near the woods between the property where I live and the neighbor’s barn. Perhaps one of their horses got loose and stopped by for a visit.
That was my conclusion until I took the dog for a wander through the paddocks. More hoof prints, this time inside a closed paddock. Human intervention would have been required to gain access. My conclusion: the loose horse was halter-less and required containment while someone went to get something to lead it with.
I expect most people probably wouldn’t have given the situation much thought, but I’m always curious about things (and obviously have too much time on my hands). I look at it as a mystery or problem to solve (that’s just the way my mind works – I guess I’m kind of a Nancy Drewor something).
Anyway, it wasn’t until the next day, when I took the dog on another walk through the paddock, that I found the real answer. On the far side of the paddock, there is hunt jump in the fence line and beyond that, lots of hunt trails. Now, although I’ve lived here for 3 months, and walked quite a few of the trails (with the dog, but wishing I was riding), I have never seen anyone riding. But it looks like – on pretty much the only day I wasn’t at home – a few members of the local hunt came by. There were hoof prints on both sides of the jump and across the paddock towards the gate. A big fallen tree which blocks one direction of the trail beyond the jump so I suspect they were looking for a way around the offending tree.
Sigh. I’m sorry I missed the visit but sadder that it wasn’t a free horse looking for a new home.
Photo: My dog, Nikita – the best dog in the whole wide world and almost as much fun as a horse