Monday, February 8, 2010

Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away

Even though I have hiked just about every inch of the sanctioned trails of Paynes Prairie, I am always pleasantly surprised and reminded by how special the place is.  On the right day, you forget you are in Florida, and feel transported to another place. 

Our recent hike was no less surprising than others before it, and it had one of the great payoffs for people patient and ambitious enough to rise early and hike farther than the 1/2 mile hike to the observation post:


These are wild horses, often talked about and not often seen, that live and thrive on Paynes Prairie.  They are descendants of a herd of horses brought to the area by the Spanish in the 1500's.  This is only the second time I have seen them in the 15+ years I have been hiking the prairie, and yesterday my kids finally got to see them after hearing us talk about them for years.
About 4 miles into our hike, the kids were growing restless and frustrated, having not yet "seen anything".  We knew that if they could hold out just a few footsteps more, that the odds of seeing something on four legs were pretty good.  So we exercised our parental authority, and commanded them to march, just around the bend and we promised that if there was nothing down the trail that we would turn around and head back for lunch.  As we rounded the bend, we all looked up, my kids hoping the coast was clear, my husband and I hoping for a big payoff.  As I squinted my eyes, I noticed a dark spot moving about a mile down the open trail.  We got out the binoculars, and confirmed my suspicion: HORSES!  

We were able to get alarmingly close to them.  They watched us suspiciously as we approached, but they were calm and quiet.  I snapped a few photos of them, we stood and watched them for a few moments, and then turned around to leave them to their grazing, because they were in the middle of the trail, and I had no intentions of challenging them just to move ahead.  My son periodically turned around to make sure they weren't sneaking up on us, of course. 

My kids' frustration was curtailed, and as we hiked back to the trailhead to have our picnic, talk turned from "my feet hurt!" to "that was AWESOME!".  And it most certainly was.

No comments:

Post a Comment