The trees bear the first faint streaks of Autumn's rust. Hard to see in the picture, a slim stratum of beech leaves begin to lighten towards yellow. Somehow it feels a little early for that to be happening. Wasn't spring late this year? But the crops have ripened and harvest is taking place at a cracking pace.
We walked down the valley. On the dry level floor Brena trotted and then cantered, heading happily homeward. For a mile we were alone, and then we reached the minor road that crosses the trail. A family was riding down the road, parents on horses and two children on ponies. They asked whether I wanted to go first and I said yes, asking whether they minded if we trotted ahead. They were happy so we trotted a couple of hundred yards, then Brena cantered up a rise. I looked behind. The trail was empty, so far as I could see around a gentle curve, so we showed to a walk.
Brena's ears swivelled to the rear. I looked back, to see the family cantering up hard behind me, perhaps fifty yards away. Brena read my mind and transitioned from walk to canter in a stride, then broke into a gallop. "That caught us out and made us run," I told Brena, laughing as I spoke. She had reacted to carry us out of trouble, and I wasn't in the least alarmed by this. In fact it was rather fun. I think that the family must have been hunting types, expecting riders they encounter to be robust and competent. I did look the part. At the top I was told that "your horse has a good turn of speed". Yes, for a draught horse she has.
It was a joy to ride a lively yet safe horse, and a pleasure to enjoy her energy.
Homebound we crossed a field of stubble, alone again. Yes, summer is drawing to a close. The hills are bare again, seasonally stripped of their garments to lie bare, soon to be harrowed into a smoothness both sensual for the rain and ascetic for the snow.