Snakes on a Trail

Sunday was our first big snake sighting of the year. We had just finished a lovely ride, and were about 200 yards from the trailhead when Mimi stops suddenly. Naturally, I had chosen this time to ride on a loose (read: practically none) rein, lightly held in between a couple fingers as I faffed around with my watch and figured out our ride time and average speed.

As soon as she clammed on the brakes, I glanced down to see the tail end of a snake slowly slithering away, about six inches from Mimi’s front hoof. First thoughts were very colorful, until I realized the tail didn’t have rattles…*whew* Took another look and saw the rest of the snake attached to said tail — an almost five-foot long king snake, slowly curling up under a scrubby bush before slithering into a hole.

Mimi was more curious than anything — I think her reaction was something akin to, “Mom, the stick is moving.” She’s definitely snake trained, although if that had been a rattler, she would have stopped way further back, since the scent or sound of a rattler causes a violent and abrupt stop out of her, and lots of urgent, worried looks and snorts in the direction of the scaled offender.

Of course, my head was in the clouds to to notice that large of a snake laying partway across the trail. I blame it on the fact that it got very warm, our first really warm training ride of the year, and we had ridden pretty fast in order to beat the beat and create our own breeze. We did slightly over 10 miles, in just over two hours, with time for a potty break and some handwalking. On top of that, we did a longer, slightly slower ride on Saturday, which was also warm, so by Sunday late morning, my brain was insisting that it had enough of the heat and was sufficiently cooked. Desert rat wimps ‘r us.

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