Saturday, May 28, 2016

My New Babies

I have three new editions to my family.  Do you see them?

No?

Let me explain.  So, every time I work with the horses in the round pen, I admire what a nice space it is.  The pen itself is big with nice views in most directions, and I've worked hard to keep the footing soft and safe.  The only thing I don't like about it is that people can sit or stand up on the cliff to the east and the hill to the southwest and watch me.  Their presence distracts the horse I'm working with, especially if my audience is on horseback.

The other day I noticed that the Palo Verde tree by the manure pile had grown and filled out so much this past year that it is creating a nice shady spot in the round pen in the afternoon.  I led my horse over there and we just hung out and enjoyed the shade and cool breeze for a while.  I started thinking about how much nicer the space would be if we had more trees for shade, and I could strategically place them where they would eventually block the views of neighbors who often come around to observe.

So, we picked up three trees at the nursery and transplanted them around the pen.  The saleslady was not happy with us at first, and it took some convincing to get her to sell us the trees.  We wanted low maintenance trees that thrive in the desert.  She was upset with us for wanting to transplant trees going into summer.  I'm sure she has to deal with people from snowy climates all the time who think that spring is the time to transplant.  I understand that fall is the best season for planting in Arizona, but I have the time and energy to do it now.  I don't know what condition I will be in four or five months down the road.  Also, I don't want to plant the trees while all my snowbird neighbors are here, because I wouldn't put it past them to want to get involved and control where I put them.  "But we can't see you lunging your horses if you plant those there..."

I just want the trees to be established and growing by the time my snowbird neighbors get here.  They'll be amazed at how much has changed when they return.  Not only will the trails they've been making on my property be blocked and covered by branches and cactus, but trees will be blocking their view of my round pen.  Well, okay, maybe not by the fall, but in a few years.  They do need to grow quite a bit.  So, without further adieu, meet my new family members...



Just don't ask me what they all are.  I can't memorize stuff anymore.  I think they are Tipuana, Ash, and Acacia, but definitely don't ask me what varieties they are.

We researched which trees grow fast, work well for shade, don't leave a mess, and are not toxic to horses.  One of the trees kept falling over in its pot because it had a root coming out of the bottom, and it fell against the barn panels.  The horses wasted no time eating what they could reach, so I had to trim the branches they chewed.  My husband set up a watering system, but we'll both be amazed if the trees don't go into shock with all the challenges they are facing.  We provided them with plenty of fertilizer and tons of water, but so far they've been dealing with whirlwinds, hot temperatures, and no shade from other trees.  At the nursery, the trees were all crammed together, providing shade for each other and surrounded by high walls.

Technically, if I just wanted shade, I'd need a tree in the NE corner for the summer morning sun, a tree in the NW corner for the summer afternoon sun, a tree in the SE corner for the winter morning sun, and a tree in the SW corner for the winter afternoon sun.  But in order to provide privacy, I need one tree due east on one to the southwest.  I don't want to plant five trees and have them all not survive, so I'll stick with three and see how it goes.

I had a hard time growing privacy trees at our old house.  First, the horses ate them, and then the winter freezes killed them off.  Now I have to worry about the summer heatwaves, monsoon flooding and high winds.  This is my first attempt at growing anything outside of what was already growing here naturally or planted by the previous owner.  Maintaining drip systems is a bitch because the rabbits chew the hoses in the summer to get to the water, so we're trying a PVC pipe bubbling system.  Actually, I have planted saguaro seeds and citrus seeds, but nothing came of it.  My expectations are low, because it's tough growing anything other than rocks and cactus out here, but I want to try.

It's funny that having new trees is just as exciting for me as getting a new pet.

This little bunny was trying to keep cool in the shade under my horse trailer.  I suspect that not just me and my horses are going to benefit from the shade trees.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just Run in Circles While I Stand Here

It was getting late in the day and too close to dinner time to go for a ride by the time I was freed up to work with the horses, so I just lunged each of them.  Bombay mugging for the camera and reaching for the stars...

Lostine getting down to business...

She spends so much time standing around in the shade that I forgot how beautiful and flashy her chestnut coat is.

Gabbrielle doing her bunny hop...

Rock doing his lazy man's rendition of a trot...

I think he fell asleep here for a moment.  The way they move really represents their personalities well.  Ironically, the only horse to spook was Rock, because he wasn't paying attention to all the bunnies flitting around in the bushes and one took him by surprise.

I've decided that I want to transplant trees around the round pen so that there will be shade somewhere in the pen at any time of day any time of the year.  It will also give me more privacy, so that people can't stand up on the cliff to watch and distract my horses.  Digging down into the rocky ground will be easier said than done, though.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sick Ward Central

I've had my hands full with sick animals today.  The new dog food didn't agree with Scrappy's tummy, so he's been having accidents left and right.  It was unfortunate that we ran out of the old dog food and a bottle of insulin at the same time, because Midge's diabetes has been unstable and it's difficult to determine whether slightly different ingredients in the new dog food or old, ineffective insulin are the cause.  I switched her to a fresh bottle, so time will tell.

Bombay has had a poor appetite and it's deja vu all over again.  The same thing happened at the beginning of last summer.  As soon as it starts heating up, he stops eating.  I had the vet out last summer, and she said he was fine, but I could switch him over to less hay and more grain because of his age.  The vet was just here a few weeks ago and all she found was an inoperable melanoma up inside of his sheath against the abdominal wall.  I say "all she found", because melanomas are not indicative of a potentially fatal condition in horses like they can be in humans.  Bombay has had both melanomas and sarcoids in the past, and they didn't cause him problems.  They are common with gray horses.

Bombay is very sensitive and emotional, so it could be that he's feeling depressed.  He's never colicked before, but just in case he had low-grade colic or was feeling blue, I took him for a walk to see if it would help.  My leg was in pain, and I was more worried about not being able to dismount if I rode him than I was about limping my way around on the bridle trails.

I forgot what a wonderful hiking partner he is.  He's such a considerate horse.  He always stays at the perfect distance from me and keeps his head at my shoulder.  He does wander back and forth behind me from my right shoulder to my left shoulder, and he does nuzzle me while we walk, but I don't mind.  I don't worry about him sneaking in a bite like I do with Rock.  Bombay is very gentle and affectionate.

He's also a clown.  I had stopped to rest by this tree that kind of amazes me, because it looks like it is dead, yet it has pink blossoms that remind me of the cherry blossom trees in Japan.  I was admiring the tree, and Bombay was standing next to me feeling bored.  He let out a sigh and took the lead rope away from me and carried it in his mouth to show me that he was ready to keep moving.  I let him walk himself next to me while he held his own lead rope.

Then he began swinging it around and trying to smack me with the end of it whenever I wasn't paying attention.  It was as if he were trying to train me to move my feet.  Ha ha.

When we reached the trail toward home, he paused to look as me, as if asking if it was time to go home.  He's the only horse who does that.  The others just drag me home.  He defers to me in the decision making department.

He didn't mind that I was limping slowly.  He just matched my pace.  When we reached narrow sections in the trail and went through gates, he hung back to let me go first.  It's too bad someone couldn't take Bombay's personality and put it into a human man, because we need more gentlemen in the world.

He was definitely in a better mood after our walk, and so was I.  He ate most of his dinner, so his appetite came back.  I wish my leg would get back to normal so I can ride him.  I'm not sure if my leg needs rest or exercise, because nothing seems to fix it, and both rest and exercise can trigger the pain and make it worse.  It's one of those things I don't want to bother seeing a doctor about, because he'll just order a bunch of tests and imaging that will eat up what little time I have left of my riding season, and everything will come back inconclusive.  Then I'll have all these bills to pay and still have no idea what the heck is wrong with my leg and how to make it better.  That's kind of my life story.

In the meantime, I'm keeping a log of my diet, sleep habits, exercise, and activities each day, and I'm looking for patterns that might clue me in to the cause of the pain and how to prevent it.  It took me a long time to figure out that when I was experiencing arm pain, it was caused by shoveling too much manure.

People keep saying, "I'm sorry you're not feeling well," and "I hope you'll feel better soon," as if I have a common cold or the flu.  Some tell me to tell them when I get better so that we can do something, and I'm at a loss to explain the reality of it.  I can be in pain and unable to put any weight on the leg for a few days, and then it will go away as if nothing ever happened, or the problem can come and go in a matter of minutes.  The pain travels to different locations in my legs, and it can attack both legs at the same time.  I can't seem to permanently get rid of it, and I can't predict when it will return.  I'm scared to schedule any activities at all, because if my leg or legs give out right in the middle of it, that will be a drag for everyone.  So, I'm just going into hermit mode and avoiding putting anything on my calendar.

I called the police today to request that they patrol a certain area after high school graduation, because I don't want to get stuck having to clean up other's people's party garbage like I did last year.  I spent six months cleaning up "Congrats, Grad!" balloons, beer cans, broken beer bottles, gift wrap, plastic bags and whatnot thanks to some carefree partiers.  High school graduation parties are the worst, because those kids have this "screw the world" mentality, and doing things like throwing trash on the ground makes them feel powerful.  I looked up the police department's non-emergency phone number for that jurisdiction and perused their reviews online while I was at it.  There were a lot of people who were pissed at that police department.

Anyway, this one review cracked me up, because I realized that it could have been about me.  Someone was complaining that she called the police because there was someone with a flashlight in her neighbor's house, but the police wouldn't investigate it because she didn't have the exact address of the house.  I shine a flashlight from the inside of my house out the window down to the barn any time I hear a commotion outside.  I want to make sure that an animal isn't attacking my horses, or that a horse isn't caught in a fence, or that someone isn't stealing my horses.  Sometimes I hear grunting and want to see if there are javelina in my back yard, or I want to chase off some coyotes who are trying to steal my Jolly Ball.

I've already had one other neighbor call the police on me for shining a flashlight outside at night.  I told him that since I don't have electricity in my barn, I have to use a flashlight to let the horses out of their stalls after they eat.  It's funny how most people from cities think the only people who use flashlights are burglars.  I guess they've never been camping.

One of the downsides of living in such a transient rural neighborhood with a lot of snowbirds who use the houses as time shares is that I always have different neighbors, and they aren't familiar with my routine.  So, every time someone new sees me shining a flashlight, he or she calls the police.  I think the police have gotten wise to the situation, so they probably ignore the flashlight reports.

On another topic, I read an article about a woman who believes that Siri is not just always listening, but is recording data from our conversations and passing it on to marketers.  This topic interests me, because I really dislike the lack of privacy we have on the Internet.  It's almost to the point where I can't shop online for gifts for people, because then I'll be served up a bunch of ads for the gifts I just bought, and everyone will know what I got them.  I absolutely hate it when I have to order more underwear online, because I have to look at soft porn for the next month or so until I order something else since underwear ads pop up everywhere I go.

Anyway, it makes sense that if marketers are tracking everything we do on the Internet, they would also be eavesdropping on us through our phones.  My new iPhone just sits there in sleep mode when I carry on conversations in the same room, but I decided to trick it and see what happened.  I stood across the room from it while it was sleeping and I said, "Hi, silly!", which is something I say to the dogs and horses all the time.

Sure enough, my phone woke up and the microphone turned on and began recording.  I didn't even have to say, "Hey, Siri."

That's scary.

Well, hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for my carpet, for Scrappy's tummy, for Midge's blood-sugar level, and Bombay's mood.  I could use a problem-free day.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trying to Keep the Wolves at Bay

This is not horse related, but more related to one of the many reasons why I'm not out riding my horses most days:  People.  People have a knack for sucking up my time with their own agendas and by causing me problems that I would otherwise not experience had their paths not crossed with mine.  I am so gun-shy that when I see a human being walking toward me, all I can think is, "Here comes trouble."

When my neighbor first approached me about helping her sell her house, I said no.  She approached me again, and again I said no.  She approached me a third time, and I kept up my broken record of no.  She'd ask why, I'd give her just one of many good reasons, she'd find a workaround, and I'd present another reason.  On and on it went.  She would not take no for an answer.  She offered to pay me well for my time, but my time is more valuable than any money she can offer me.

She assured me that she wouldn't ask me to do anything more than to just unlock her house for home shoppers, and lock up behind them.  By this point in time, her constant phone calls begging me to help her were taking up more of my time than just doing the job, so I agreed to do nothing more than unlock and lock her house.  It was supposed to be a short-term, temporary inconvenience.  That was well over a year ago.

A short time after that, she contacted me and offered to pay me if I'd turn on her water, flush her toilets, and turn off her water.  She was worried that if the house sat vacant for too long, septic gases would build up.  I really, really, really did not want to agree to that, because she was breaking her promise of not asking me to do anything beyond unlocking and locking the house.  However,  I understood her predicament, so I agreed to do that.  Big mistake.  That opened up the floodgates, and a series of other extensive requests came in.

Before I knew it, I was her official property manager and caretaker, repairing broken gates, picking up windblown items, doing monthly home inspections, and cleaning her house.  I was also her reluctant real estate agent, meeting with other real estate agents and their clients, showing them the property lines, asking them what they thought of the place, and reporting back to my neighbor about my impressions, but I always refused to give them a tour of the house.  My neighbor had to answer their questions via phone conference, because I was not going to take responsibility for any misunderstandings.  I felt more comfortable just making sure that all the doors and windows were locked after they left.

Doing the home inspections made me crazy, because I'd always see some problem that I knew my neighbor would want to know about, but I also knew that she would ask me to fix it, and I am not a handyman.  If I lied and said everything was fine, she'd come into town and see the problem and confront me about it, so I had to tell her.  That turned into me making trips to the hardware store and researching how to repair this and that online.  I even had to pull my poor husband in a few times because I didn't have a clue as to how to fix something that was broken, or because something was too high for me to reach or too heavy for me to lift.

The lady has these metal statues all over her property, and the wind keeps blowing them down, so I have to keep picking them up.  I got tired of injuring myself doing that.  I either burned myself, got a hernia, or got a concussion from having these damn statue parts fall on my head.  Seriously, it happened twice.  One time a metal palm frond cut my scalp and another time I got knocked to my knees and was dizzy and nauseated afterward.  So, to protect myself, I told her I would not be dealing with those statues anymore.

Then there's the friggin' flag.  She insists on always having a flag flying from the pole on her roof.  However, every time it gets windy, the flag gets shredded or the flag pole breaks, and I have to climb up onto the roof, up and over walls, and walk on a very flimsy surface that can barely hold my weight to repair the pole or change out the flag.  With my current hip and leg issues, I just can't be doing that anymore.  I've told her dozens of times to just take down the flag and forget about it, but she doesn't feel comfortable unless there is a flag flying.  I guess she thinks it makes the place look lived in.  Anyway, I told her I won't be doing flag duty for her anymore.  If she wants to change out the flag, she'll have to do it herself.  She wasn't happy about that.

Then there's the rodents.  She's been having me lay down poison and traps in the outbuildings, which requires me to go to the store to pick up the supplies, and then she asks me to remove all evidence of a rodent problem every time someone has a house viewing scheduled.  I keep telling her that she has a rodent problem in her main house too, but she just passes me off to her husband who insists that is impossible.  Yet every time I walk into the house, there are rodent droppings all along the baseboards.  She expects me to clean it up, but no sooner do I sweep it all up, and the next day there are more droppings.  They don't seem to want me to put poison and traps in the main house, and I've spent more time sweeping the floors of her house than I do my own.

Well, she recently hired a maid service to do a comprehensive cleaning for a future showing, and already there are rodent droppings and dead scorpions all over the floors.  I've decided to say nothing.  I'm just going to let her see it with her own eyes, because that's the only way she'll believe me.

Anyway, I've been tolerating all these inconveniences pretty well for about a year, but now I'm at my boiling point because she and her husband scheduled a bunch of service appointments without asking me if it was convenient for me.  They just assumed that I'd be available to handle them.  However, in one case, I have my own appointment at the same time, and in other cases, I just wasn't willing to put my life on hold for these 4 to 6 hour windows to wait for the service men or women to show up.  Also, they keep scheduling all these home maintenance appointments in the spring and fall, which are the best times of year for me to be trail riding.  I told her that, and she said that if I could just unlock the house in advance, and lock up at my convenience after they're gone, that would be fine.

However, I know her, and that's never enough.  In the days preceding these appointments, I got inundated with phone calls and emails from her reminding me of the appointments, and giving me very specific instructions on how to handle them.  If I couldn't be there, I was to leave notes on doors, and was only allowed to unlock or open certain doors and gates.  They had scheduled these inspection and repair appointments after the house cleaning appointment, and so now she's worried that people will mess up the floors.  Somehow that ballooned into me getting roped into escorting people around the property in order to prevent them from walking on the clean floors (which she doesn't know are not clean anymore because of all the rat shit).  I refused to agree to any of it.  She made her bed.  She needs to sleep in it.

I said I'd unlock and lock the doors, and put up notes, but I would not sit home and wait for these people to show up.  What did she do?  She called all of these service people and gave them my name and phone number with specific instructions to call me and meet me at her house.  So, my damn phone has been ringing off the hook and I can't get anything done for myself.

I got so pissed that I just stopped answering my phone and hoped that the service people would go to her door first and read the note instead of coming to my door and getting my dogs all riled up.  I've asked her repeatedly to not tell these people where I live, because it's disruptive having people knocking on my door and ringing the doorbell.  I've also asked her to tell them not to block the gate to the bridle trails with their vehicles, because I'm sick of having to cancel rides because of that problem.  One time I even got trapped in the desert by someone who parked there.  I couldn't get my horse through the gate, so I had to ride half a mile out of my way to get home.  She has a driveway.  People can park there.

These service people never show up within the promised window of time.  They either come early or they come late.  At any rate, they almost always show up right when I'm eating my breakfast or lunch.  I can't tell you how much food I have had to throw out because it went bad while I was handling a service call either for myself or my neighbor.  Don't service people take lunch breaks?  And if they aren't interrupting my meals, they are interrupting my coffee break and as a result, my coffee gets cold.  Reheated coffee just isn't as good as the fresh stuff.

My main issue is that my neighbor can't just ask me to do a job, and trust that I will do it.  She pesters me relentlessly, and all the communications leading up to the appointment take up more of my time than the actual appointment.  I can't concentrate on anything because of all the interruptions.  I feel like I'm being robbed of my time.  No amount of money is worth this.  My end goal is always just to get her off my back, because she won't leave me alone until the job is done.  But then there's another job right around the corner.

So, what do I do?  I'm thinking of taking the route of just totally flaking out and not doing anything she asks so that she will know that I am not reliable, and hopefully, she'll have the sense to get someone else to do the job.  She actually did try to get several other people to do it, but they all knew her really well and just stopped answering their phones.  She used to have real real estate agents do all this work for her, but she was dissatisfied with their performances.  That's how I got roped into it.  Now I'm wishing she'd fire me too since she won't let me quit the dang job.  I think she needs to face reality and recognize that she's asking way too much of me as a neighbor.  She needs to hire a professional house sitter.

There have been a few other incidents of different people imposing their agendas upon me and messing up my own plans as a result.  I've been doing my best to do the least for them.  I think when I get done with all these people who keep adding tasks and appointments to my schedule, they're going to make my middle name "Flaky".  At least, I hope so.  Then maybe they'll leave me alone so that I can have some time to take the dogs to the salon for nail trims, and ride a horse every now and then when my legs let me.

While I was finishing up writing this post, I heard barking in my backyard.  (Teresa - I suggest you stop reading here.  This will bring back bad memories for you.)  I looked out the window to see two Pit Bulls running along my arena fence.  The horses trotted out of the barn to investigate the dogs, and then Gabbrielle went into full-on attack mode and charged them.  There was a fence between my horses and the dogs, so she was running alongside of them bucking.  Just when I was hoping the dogs had the sense to move along, they started chasing Gabbrielle and came back up the other side of the arena around the front to the barn where they could crawl under the gate.

I flipped out because I knew that either those dogs were going to shred my horses or my horses were going to kick the dogs to death.  I ran outside in my bare feet and screamed at the dogs, who were so focused on the horses that they totally ignored me.  I grabbed some rocks and chucked them as far as I could, trying to hit something that would make a loud noise and scare the dogs away.  When that didn't work, I jumped up and down clapping my hands while screaming, "Go home!"

Fortunately, my commotion caught the horses' attention and they all held still to watch me.  The dogs then passed up my barn and ran around the round pen down into the wash.  I thought they were gone, but they came back up out of the wash and began chasing Gabbrielle again.  Rock and Bombay tried to come to her rescue by running after the dogs.  Lostine was cowering in the barn.  I ran into the house to get my slip on shoes and couldn't find them.  I was so frantic.  I had to stop those dogs.

I finally found the shoes and ran outside to chase the dogs away.  They did run off when I ran at them.  When all was said and done, I managed to twist my right ankle, get a thorn in the bottom of my left foot, and I pulled my right shoulder while chucking rocks.  Once the dogs were gone and I calmed down, I limped into the house wondering how I even managed to run down to the end of the arena with a twisted ankle and thorn in my foot in the first place.  (I started out having a decent "hip" day where I didn't need to use my cane.)  It's amazing how you can block out pain when there's an emergency situation.

I wish people would do whatever is needed to keep their dogs contained.  Not only are loose dogs a threat to other pets and kids, but they are a threat to wildlife and their own safety.  Also, now that there have been stray dogs on my property, it's tough getting my own dogs to focus when I take them out to do their business.  They want to follow the scent of the Pit Bulls.

We just started the dogs on a new dog food, and it makes them poop and pee a lot.  They wanted to go outside, but I didn't want to risk taking them out until I was sure those Pit Bulls wouldn't come back.  I can't manage a five-way dog fight.  It was hard enough keeping those dogs away from my horses.  I was trying to get my dogs to do their business "really quick", and of course, Stewie had to get a turd stuck to his butt.  He's a clean freak, so he get obsessed with stuff like that.  I couldn't get his nose out of his butt long enough to get him into the house, so I had to grab a paper towel off the garage wall to clean him up just so I could get him indoors and back to safety.

Man, I feel more comfortable having a pack of coyotes and rattlesnakes around my dogs and horses than I do having stray domestic dogs in the vicinity.  I hope those Pit Bulls find their way back home and their owner fixes the gate or fence or whatever the problem is that allowed their dogs to escape.  Now I'm back to icing my most recent boo-boos and wondering when I'll get to ride a horse again.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Running of the Bulls

It's not what you think.  For me, today was about the running of the bull snakes.

While driving up the street, we had to stop to let a big, long, fat bull snake finish crossing the road in front of us.  A few hours later, I walked Midge and Stewie to the mailbox, but before turning the corner to the box, I looked down.  A couple of days ago I startled a kangaroo rat and it ran right into my leg in that location.  This time there was no rat, but another bull snake right where I needed to stand to get my mail out of the box.  Had I not looked at the ground -- something you should do at all times when in Arizona -- I would have stepped on it.  I almost didn't see it, because it was flattening itself in the rocks to try to hide from me and the dogs.

The dogs could smell its tracks, but couldn't see it even though it was right in front of us.  I grabbed my new phone and squinted to try to find the camera icon among the glare on the screen.  I realized that I had no idea how to use this camera, and I couldn't even tell if I had the snake in frame.  It was like looking at a black rock in my hand with the sun's glare, and on top of that, I didn't have my reading glasses.

While I was attempting to photograph the snake, which finally moved away from the mailbox once it determined that we were not going to eat it, yet a third bull snake came racing across the street a little further away.  Either they are just coming out of hibernation and are hunting for food, or it's mating season.  They were all headed in the same direction.  So far three is the record for the number of snakes I've seen in one day.  I did see three rattlesnakes in my backyard during a rainstorm last year.  Oh yeah, and I finally saw a red racer yesterday.  It's really snaky around here.

Here are my photos of the bull snake.

Stewie is focusing on the critter hole, but the snake is at the top of the photo on the edge of the road.  It's very well camouflaged.

At this point is was trying to hide.  You can barely see it between the rocks and the asphalt, but once it started moving, it's shadows became more defined...


I got a shot of both snakes just as they were finishing crossing the road, but it's so hard to see them.  It's not worth posting the photo.  I went out with my zoom point and shoot and looked for them, but they were gone.  I hung out in the road for a little while hoping to catch more crossing, but didn't have any luck.

Both of my hips gave out on me these past couple of days, so I've been trying to stay off my feet.  This morning I felt well enough to take some manure to the dump, but when we did the grocery shopping, my right hip gave out again, so I limped over to the pharmacy and bought myself a cane to help me walk.

Stewie is terrified of it.  He runs out of the room whenever I use it, and when I keep it on my right side, he lays on my left side, and vice versa.  I remember when my mother passed, she had a bunch of orthopedic equipment, including a cane, but I donated all of it to a hospital thinking I'd never need it.  Here we are only five years later, and I'm in need of a cane.  I wish I kept her walker, because next time someone asks me to do them any favors, I'd invite them over and answer the door in the walker.  Ha ha.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Coming Together and Falling Apart

I've been having a bit of a grumpfest, and as a result, I've decided that I will no longer give out open invitations.  If you ever hear me say the words "any time", please slap me upside the head.  If you ever hear me offer to do someone a favor without putting a time limit on it, same thing.  Slap me.

I keep getting into these situations where someone needs help, and either I offer to help or they twist my arm to get me to help.  Then, at the absolute worst possible time, they take me up on it.  Then I make all kinds of sacrifices to keep my word... begrudgingly.

I have a set of ideal circumstances in which I like to ride horses.  Some are obvious ones like good weather, me not being in pain, the horse not being in pain...  Others are just perks, like all the neighbors being out of town so that no one can be around to spook my horse, and not having to deal with bee swarms and cholla balls.  It is truly a rarity for all of these things to come together on one day out of the year, none-the-less several days, so when everything does actually come together, I want to ride.  Simple as that.  I don't want anyone getting in my way.

But, true to form, someone always has to cash in their favor on that one special day.  Unfortunately, I can't always know when that perfect riding day is coming, so I make plans other than riding.  Then I'm in a pickle because I promised to help, yet that particular day turned out to be the perfect day for horseback riding, and I can't just go ride because other people are involved and they spent weeks orchestrating my schedule.  Sometimes I wish I had it in me to just blow people off.  Then maybe they'd be less likely to ask me for favors.

I'm a true horse addict.  Whenever I know it's the perfect day for riding, but I can't ride, I literally start shaking all over, as if going through withdrawals.

Anyway, I'm in this situation where I gave some people an inch and now they are taking a mile.  Somehow, one little favor that should have taken up no more than ten minutes of my time has turned into me having to block off days on my calendar to handle items on their agenda.  It's not totally their fault, but I'm still grumpy about it.

We are having such awesome horseback riding weather, and it's not going to last.  I told them that I postponed all of my own appointments until summer, because I don't want to lose my window to ride.  I was hoping they would consider postponing the favors they need me to do for them until summer too, but my desires are not relevant to their schedule and goals, and apparently there is no one else who can help.

I keep telling myself, "Just say no."

However, it's never that simple.  I always have to feel sorry for people who can't do things for themselves, and guilty when I can't or won't help them.  I suspect other people sense that about me, which is why they take advantage of me.

Anyway, the really unfortunate part of this story is that, in the process of helping someone else, I caused two of my most painful health problems to resurface, so now I'm in too much pain to ride even though no one needs my help today.  The effects of being a good Samaritan are far reaching.

I can just see myself the next time someone asks for a favor...

"No, I can't, because it might turn out to be my one perfect horseback riding day, or maybe the next day will be, but I won't be able to ride because I'll hurt myself in the process of helping you.  Can you understand that?"

(Cue the crickets.)  Chirp chirp.  Chirp chirp.

Guilt:  The gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Lied

I said I couldn't ride today, but the morning appointment got moved to the afternoon, so I took full advantage of the situation...

Any manners that Rock lost while on vacation he usually gains back if I can ride him two days in a row.  His only troubles were not softening up enough to let me guide him straight through the gate, so we had to circle a couple of times, and not stopping once we were committed to going back to the barn.

I saw a baby vulture flying around with a huge stick hanging out of its mouth and I wanted to see what it was going to do with it, but Rock wouldn't stop and be patient.  It flew onto a power pole next to a full grown vulture and set the stick down, but I didn't get to see anything after that.  For years, whenever I read articles about softening your horse, I didn't know what they were talking about, because my Arabs never needed softening.  But now that I've got a QH, I totally understand why some horses need softening up.

Bombay didn't eat his breakfast, and Lostine only ate about half of hers, so I just closed the gates to their stalls to keep Gabbrielle out.  However, when I returned from our ride, I saw this...

Someone, most likely Bombay, got the gate to Lostine's stall open and let Gabbrielle inside to chow down.  She's getting so fat that she's going to explode.  Obviously, I'm going to need to just bring a wheelbarrow with me into Bombay and Lostine's stalls and pull all the leftovers out in the future.  I'll probably run Gabbrielle's butt around in the round pen a bit too.

Monday, May 16, 2016

An Excursion

I went mountain biking today and knocked some cholla balls off a trail where one of my neighbors keeps sprinkling them, because it runs in front of his house.  There are bushes and probably about about 500 yards between the trail and his property, but I guess he just doesn't want people using it.  It's public land, and unless the guy is a part of some trail maintenance team appointed by the city, he really has no business doing that.  He can sprinkle cholla balls all over his own property if he wants, but he shouldn't buy a house across the street from hiking, biking and bridle trails if he doesn't want people to use them.  I have enough experience out there on the trails to know the difference between wind blown cholla and human placed cholla.

I wasn't planning on riding a horse today because I was sore from mountain biking, but then I remembered that tomorrow I have one morning appointment and one afternoon appointment that are one of these situations where I have to just wait around within a six hour period and the person shows up at his or her convenience.  That means I can't be out riding horses tomorrow.

So, I dragged Rock out of the barn, and I do mean dragged.  Oh my gosh!  He was in rare form when it comes to his laziness.  That's what I get for giving him a week off while I rode the other horses.

As we were going up the driveway, I stopped to listen because I heard a loud engine off in the distance.  Once I was confident that the vehicle was not on our street, I continued on.  Right before we reached the road, my neighbor in the loud truck hauling his big ass trailer came roaring up.  I stopped Rock, waited for him to pass, and then crossed.  Can you tell I'm urging my horse to hurry while he crosses the street?

I've opened up the door.  Go, man go!  The truck driver was turning around to come back our way.  Rock was so distracted that he approached the narrow gate sideways.  I had to pick the lesser of two evils, which was the truck, so I circled him back toward it in order to straighten him out going through the gate on our second approach.

He was snatching branches off bushes all the way out, and no amount of scolding and spanking affected him or changed his behavior.  Sheesh.  I could see it was going to be one of his stubborn days.  I'm not sure why I was looking at the ground here...

He kept tripping.  His toes are getting long and he's due for another trim.

While we were out, I saw that the graffiti artist graduated on from painting religious jargon on rocks to painting it on trees now.  I wish I could throttle some people.  Ever heard of "leave no mark behind?"

I pet my horses whenever they let out a long sigh.

My ankle cramped up and I pushed hard to keep riding.  When we got home, I did this bizarre dismount because my ankle cramp prevented me from pulling my foot out of the stirrup.  Normally, I pull my foot out before hitting the ground, but this time I started going down and had to pull myself back up over the saddle to pull my foot out before I tore my groin muscles.  When I let go, I hit the ground too hard and pulled some muscles between my shoulder blades.  I had planned to pick out Rock's hooves and put thrush treatment on them, but now I can't bend over and hold his hooves, so that will have to wait for another day.

I've been keeping a fitness journal in which I record my diet, exercise, medications, pain level, health problems, and injuries for each day, because I'm tired of getting odd symptoms and not remembering why.  It's a way for me to diagnose why I get such strange muscle and nerve issues and whatnot, so that I can take a pro-active approach to preventing them in the future.

Anyway, now that I've got an iPhone, I've discovered that there are all kinds of apps that can help me track that stuff.  I don't have to start up my laptop and wait several minutes to type into a Word document anymore.

I remembered to wear my Garmin watch and heart rate monitor when biking and horseback riding.  I was impressed that my heart rate was so slow when riding Rock.  I guess his laziness was putting me to sleep.  I released him just inside the barn gate, and he fell asleep right there.  He didn't move a muscle from where I left him.  He's so funny.

Sort-of Summer Happenings

I know that it is technically not summer yet, but it feels like our area is always at least a month ahead in the seasons based on temperatures and weather patterns.  Anyway, every summer is a battle to keep Bombay's weight on and Gabbrielle's weight off.  Bombay just isn't interested in eating in the heat, and he leaves a lot of his hay for Gabbrielle to grab once the gates are open.  I'm trying to combat that with several changes in the feeding routine:

1.  Feed both Bombay and Gabbrielle less grass.
2.  Feed Bombay more grain.
3.  When I open the gates, I spread his leftovers around to all four feed barrels since Gabbrielle can't be in all four places at once, despite her trying.
4.  I feed at the crack of dawn before it gets too hot to ruin Bombay's appetite.

That means getting up at 4:45 AM.

Now, I don't have the fortitude to do that every morning because I need my sleep, but Midge helps by shaking her collar to let me know it's time for her to go outside to make room for breakfast.  I'm finding that I like being up that early, because I can clean up manure during the coolest part of the day and not have the sun boring down on me while I sweat like a pig.  Fortunately, it's still cool in the wee hours of the morning, but that will end soon.  Eventually, I'll be sweating regardless of the time of day.

It appears that we have new neighbors.  I'm unsure as to which house they are coming from since almost everyone from that end of the street is retired, but there's a young woman who takes her toddler for evening walks up and down the street and pulls her baby in a Red Flyer wagon.  Maybe a divorce or the economy got the best of her, and she had to move in with Mom and Dad.

I suspect they like to go past my house to see the horses.  I'm glad I built my barn and arena deep in the middle of our property so that I don't have to deal with strangers and neighbors feeding my horses over the fence and either causing them to colic or get fat.  My neighbors at my old place attempted to feed my horses their leftovers, which included everything from mowed down weeds to a ham sandwich.

Usually, no one passes by our place at night, so I haven't been good about closing the blinds, but I'll have to start.  I don't want her and her kids getting an eyeful of us in our underwear.  It's been hard getting the dogs to focus when we take them outside, because they smell the people who pass by our house and drag me toward the street with their noses in the air.  We've had to double the number of times we take them out in the evening, because they can't just pee and poo and be done with it.

We've been mountain biking a bit, and "The God Rock" took out the reflector on my pedal.  There's some religious group that walks around the desert graffiti-ing rocks with Biblical and inspirational phrases.   I wish they'd stop, because I don't appreciate them ruining nature and forcing their beliefs on others.  I go out in the desert to get away from their door-to-door preaching and don't want it shoved in my face there too.  Anyway, after having to steer around that rock on both my bike and my horses for three years, I finally dug the dang thing up and chucked it off to the side of the trail.  It was a hazard.

The story behind this rock is that it said something like "God's Park", and it showed up right in front of my house after we closed off our property for recreational purposes.  I felt like it was a message for me, arguing that I had no right to stop people from cutting through my property since it belongs to God.  I might honor that argument if God paid the mortgage and taxes on my property and made sure that everyone passing through behaved themselves.  However, the graffiti-er didn't put the rock on my property, so I left it alone.  But now that it had creeped its way to the center of the trail and had been tripping my horses, as well as caused me to get into a wreck on my bike, it had to find a new plot of ground to sit on.

I kind of suspect that this "religious group" is the neighbors who live in the house two doors down from us for a few months out of every winter, because having new graffiti show up always seems to correlate with their presence.  They are the ones who erect cairns at trail intersections, which I consider to just be unneeded obstacles for horseback riders and bicyclists.  We can see the trails clearly without their help.

They are the ones who take walks in the arroyo in my back yard and spook my horses.  They are also the ones who put up No Trespassing signs all over their own property and stop the horseback riders from coming through there.  I've never met such huge hypocrites.  Well, they'll be surprised when they come back next year to find that we've laid branches and logs across the trails they've made while hiking on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis in our backyard.  If they don't like it, they can take it up with us personally instead of painting messages on rocks.

Sometimes I think that people who feel entitled are the ones who are going to trigger the end of the world whether it be through dumping their own pollution, through pissing off other people and starting World War III, or through just plain stupidity and a lack of respect.  I suppose that comment could be applied to current day politics, but I won't go there.

I'm the type of person who feels grateful for every second of water that comes out of my shower head.  Seriously.  I'll just wet myself down and think, "If the well breaks right now, I'll still be happy because at least I got to wash a little sweat off, even if I didn't have time to wash my hair."

Same thing when I eat.  I have weird thoughts like, "If the house burned down right now, at least I'd have something in my stomach for a while."

I'm not sure if that's positive or negative thinking, but it's how I think, because I know that nothing is guaranteed.  You've got to appreciate what you've been given and not act like the world owes you anything.

We had another breakage.  This month is turning out to be more expensive than Christmas.  We had to buy 80 bales of hay, 12 bags of grains, 2 bags of dog food, vet and equine dental appointments, a farrier appointment, a new fridge, new brakes and battery for the car, a hospital bill, and now new mobile phones.  My phone had been giving me problems with its battery and quality of sound.  It wasn't a smart phone, so it couldn't do a lot of things I needed it to do.  Then my husband's phone fell out of his pocket and shattered, so we knew it was time to just upgrade both of our phones.  Now I have my first smart phone, and I'm blown away by everything it can do.  I'm a few years behind in the phrase, "There's an app for that?"

Who knew you could turn your phone into a flashlight?  Well, everyone but me, probably.  After spending hours digging around on Google on my laptop for places to eat, now I can just push a button on my phone and immediately view all the eating establishments in whatever area I happen to be in along with their reviews.  How awesome is that?

My phone unlocks with just my thumbprint, and Siri answers my questions hands-free.  Just my questions -- not anyone else's, because she doesn't recognize anyone else's voices.  Although, I am planning on having my daughter ask Siri some questions next time she's around, since her voice is very similar to mine, and see if we can fool the computer.

I suspect we'll be paying off the mishaps from this month for a long time coming, but I can't control when stuff breaks.  It's nice to have what we need, though.  It's been Christmas in May.

Oh yeah, and with the population thinning out in the heat, we were actually able to get a table at In & Out Burger.  Not only that, but the employees were waiting on us, offering to get refills for us and take our trash away.  Now that's something.  I've never seen that before in a fast food restaurant.  They are usually racing around in the kitchen trying to keep up with all the orders while they have a line of people going out the door and a line of cars running all the way around the building and into the street.  It's nice to be able to relax and get some service and a space to sit for a change instead of waiting in lines.  This is the time of year that really makes me love being here.  Sort-of summer, but not quite.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Now I've Seen Everything

The heat is bringing out brazen behaviors in the wildlife.  The pictures speak for themselves.


Drinking out of the horses' water troughs...


Enjoying the shade...

Popping a squat on a manure pile...

Rock chases her away...

Oh, the excitement...

I didn't get pictures of the aftermath.  Rock promptly ate whatever the coyote deposited next to the barn, and Gabbrielle ran over to a water trough it had been drinking from and peed next to it as if marking her territory.  The quality of the pictures is poor because I had to snap them off quickly through a tinted window.