Saturday, February 28, 2015

Under the Weather

On Tuesday my husband came home from work early with a fever.  He stayed home sick the next day, which was his birthday.  I knew he wouldn't want to eat a birthday cake, so we just gave him gifts and made plans to really celebrate his birthday on Friday night.  On Thursday I went down to the barn to ride Gabbrielle, and as I was opening the tack room, I got all cramped up.  By the time I got back to the house, I was alternating between shivering and sweating.  I spent the rest of the day under the covers.

Friday morning I woke up to find a message from my daughter.  She had the stomach flu and wouldn't be able to do that tasks she said she would do for her father's birthday celebration.  She was going to buy all the ingredients for dinner and a birthday cake, and then she was going to come here and make dinner for him.  So, that meant I needed to be the one to do the marketing and cooking, which was fine, but I had also bought three tickets to a comedy show that night.  One was for my husband, one was for my daughter, and one was for her boyfriend.  The plan was that I would stay home to deal with the dogs and horses, so that they could enjoy themselves and stay out as late as needed.

However, if my daughter was too sick to attend, I would have to use her ticket and clean up all the dog poopsidents on the carpet when I get home.  I tried to encourage her boyfriend to come with us, even if my daughter couldn't come, but he barely knows us, so I wouldn't blame him if he did not want to make the trek without her.

That morning I had an appointment with the farrier, and he was half an hour late.  Since he completely forgot about our last appointment, I figured the same thing happened again.  I decided to call him to ask to reschedule for another day since I needed to prepare for the dinner party, but it turned out that he was already on his way.  He's not like a vet who is late because he was busy handling an emergency.  I'm his first appointment of the day.  He just can't wake himself up in the mornings.  So, with him being late, I got a late start on my chores and errands.

I'm thinking that if his tardiness gets to be a habit, I may have to get a new farrier again.  Being habitually late is an inconsiderate behavior that throws other people off their schedules.  Since I'm paying him considerably more than what I paid my other farriers, I expect his service to be better.  He's the first farrier I've had who has been late and completely forgotten about my appointments, and I'm not liking the job he's been doing on Rock's feet.  I had to tell him how to trim them so that the horse wouldn't have ridiculously long toes in a few weeks.  He did do what I asked, but he also told me that I may have to have him come out every 4 weeks instead of every 8 since Rock's hooves grow so fast.  Ummm, no.  All of my previous farriers had no problem keeping his feet in good shape for even longer than 8 weeks and I didn't have to pay them extra.  Why do all the good farriers have to retire and move away?

By late afternoon my daughter felt well enough to attend the comedy show, but not to eat anything.  It appeared that while all three of us were sick, we each had different viruses based on the symptoms and duration of our illnesses.  I knew that she was trying to push through it by going to the show so that I wouldn't have to eat the cost of the tickets, but by the time they returned, I could tell that she was in really bad shape.  Her energy was completely depleted.  Hopefully, she didn't breathe on anybody in the theater and pass it along.  Her boyfriend was unconcerned about being around all us "sickies".  He's in really good physical shape and said he has a robust immune system.

I wanted to give my husband an experience that he would remember for his birthday as opposed to just more stuff.  However, you're always taking a risk when you buy tickets for a future event, not knowing if the ticket holders will all be in good enough health to attend.  I find buying airline tickets to be especially stressful since they are so expensive and often non-refundable, so on our last trip I bought insurance that would refund us for the cost of the tickets if something came up to ruin our trip.  Now that I know that February seems to be the month for viruses to have a free-for-all, I'll probably get insurance for whatever tickets I buy for his birthday in the future.

Today I was preparing for Winter Storm Thor.  I filled all the water troughs so that I won't have to wade around in mud to do it later on.  I don't mind rain.  I just can't stand mud, especially after I just spent two days cleaning house.  So far it has been cold, dark and dreary, but we haven't had anything more than a few sprinkles.  The worst of it is supposed to hit Sunday and Monday, and can possibly go all the way through to Wednesday.

I'm writing about this so that when I'm suffering in 115 degree heat this summer and wondering why I didn't ride the horses more often in the winter months, I will remember why.  The theme of this winter has been rain, illness, hoof abscesses, busy followed by rain, illness, hoof abscesses, and being busy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Enlightenment Comes in Time

You may remember my shock when I hiked up to the private property sign at the back of my land to find that someone tagged it in red spray paint with the words "CRAZY LADY".  I found the vandalism last October, but it could have been around for several months.  I had noticed that people would hike right up to the sign, stare at it and then look back and forth between my house and my neighbor's house, but I assumed that they were just looking to see if anyone was around so that they could trespass.  It never occurred to me that the sign was tagged, and they were trying to figure out who defaced the sign and why.

My husband spray painted over the sign, and we hike up there every once in a while to make sure that our little criminal hasn't returned to exhibit another insult.  Our sign is fine, but while I was up there, something at the back of my neighbor's property caught my eye.  At first I thought it was a large piece of trash.  Since they don't live there anymore and are trying to sell their house, I hiked over to clean it up for them.  They've given me permission to go to the back of their property.

When I reached the trash, this is what I found...

My neighbors' private property sign had an identical tag painted on it, but what was worse, was that the person had run over the sign with a vehicle and bent it all the way to the ground.  Then he left his trash behind, using their back yard as his personal dump.  There were truck tires and ATV tires everywhere.

Then I remembered my neighbor telling me that she had to repeatedly call the police because another neighbor kept trespassing on her property on his ATV and would not respect her requests for him to stay away.  Things escalated after the police visited him a few times, and the guy began stalking and harassing her, so she had to take out a restraining order against him.

Given that the signs most likely got tagged after my neighbors moved out and could no longer protect their property, I think it is safe to say that the "CRAZY LADY" insult was aimed at my neighbor and not me.  The guy probably didn't know exactly where the property line began and ended, so he tagged my sign too.   It's awful to say, but I feel so much better.  I was paranoid for a while there thinking that someone had overheard me talking to my horses or saw me chasing them around when they were misbehaving, and labeled me as the crazy horse lady or something.

I turned around to head back to the house and saw this...

It was a metal no trespassing sign, but the guy spray painted white over it so that that the word "IDIOT" would show up more clearly.  He sure went to a lot of trouble.

I do remember hearing an ATV awfully close to our property one day, and looking around for it.  He must have been hiding in the bushes.  Hopefully, he got his anger out of his system and won't feel the need to do it again.  Next time I see my neighbors or their real estate agent, I'll let them know and let them decide what to do about it.  I don't want to just spray paint over it, because the lady may want to keep the signs as evidence and prosecute the guy since he's caused so much trouble for her.

There is one neighbor who rides her horses fairly regularly and she used to take the trail along these signs, but stopped doing that, so I wondered if the people in the house behind my neighbors' house had put up a no trespassing sign to keep her out.  I remember seeing a sign up there when the sun caught it just right, but it appears that this "IDIOT" sign is what I must have been seeing.

Anyway, this horse riding neighbor had also been riding through the property of some snowbirds two houses down from me.  The home owners showed up last week and stopped her when she was riding through their back yard.  They talked for a while as I was doing my barn chores and I noticed everyone was looking at me.  Of course, that made me feel paranoid, because why would they keep staring at me if they weren't talking about me?  I'm kind of the bad guy who moved into the neighborhood, built a barn and arena over the existing horse trail, and pushed all the horseback riders down into my neighbors' properties.

So, I finished my chores and went in the house, and the lady and a man rode their horses past the front of my house.  I was standing by a window, and noticed that they seemed to be looking for me.  They were looking down my driveway and around in my back yard, and when they didn't see me there, they started looking in the windows of my house.  They finally saw me and stared at me.  Right then another neighbor came racing up the street in his diesel truck and they had to pull over to the side of the road to avoid getting hit, which broke their eye contact with me.  I wondered what all that was about.  They seemed very interested in me and what I was doing.

I haven't seen them ride on the snowbirds' property since then.  They ride the paved roads to get out to the desert, so I suspect the snowbirds told them they couldn't ride on their property anymore.  That would explain why they were looking for me.  They wanted to ask if they could have special permission to ride through my land.

Anyway, I think my assessment of the situation is correct, because I was lunging Rock in the round pen when the lady and her friend rode past the back of my property, and I noticed the friend had a hard time taking her eyes off of me.  I felt self conscious and figured she was mentally criticizing my horse training techniques.  Then I heard her say, "Why don't you ask her if you can ride through there?"

The neighbor said, "I've tried, but I can never get her to talk to me."

I laughed when I heard that.  My first memory of her when she moved into the neighborhood was of her standing up on the cliff on a horse with a Great Dane next to her watching me ride in my arena.  I knew she was waiting for me to come to her and ask what she wanted, but I did not want to stop working with my horse.  I was tired of endless interruptions from trespassers, so I ignored her and hoped that my silence was as good as saying no to her question.  I think if she didn't have a loose dog with her, I might have considered giving her a moment of my time, but I was just so tired of not being able to take my dogs out into my own back yard because of all the trespassers bringing their dogs through off leash.  I don't know whatever happened to that dog.  I haven't seen it since.

When I did see that she was riding without a dog, I did consider letting her (and only her) come through, however she was really bad about bringing lots of other horseback riders with her when she rode.  One day she had a party and brought a group of about a dozen riders through the snowbirds' place when they weren't home.  I knew they wouldn't like that, because CNJ and I got chewed out once for riding our horses too close to their property, even though we were still within my property lines.

I also was kind of creeped out by this neighbor's behavior, because each time she drove past my house, she would slow down if I was outside and stare at me, just like my creepy neighbors at my old place used to do.  At least she isn't as bad as them in that she doesn't actually park in my driveway or right up against the fence to my horse paddock and sit in her car staring at me for an hour while I shovel manure in my back yard.  Part of why I'm not as talkative and welcoming with my new neighbors is because of those awful experiences I had with my old neighbors.  I figure that if I keep people at arm's length, they not only won't feel familiar enough with me to impose upon me, but they can't hold me hostage in my own home through methods of harassment either.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wildflowers

I did get my homework done for my photography class, but I had to skip out on the first field trip, because it was just way too far from home and I suspected that it was going to rain despite the forecast for clear, sunny skies.  I was right.  It rained both here and there.  I just didn't see the point in using up a whole tank of gas, paying to get into the park, and then only having half an hour to photograph the poppies before having to turn around to race back home to feed and let the animals out.  So, I took pictures of flowers at home.  These first few were taken with a telephoto lens.


This next one was taken at night.  A floodlight lit up the flower.

Every picture beyond this point was taken with a macro lens.  I liked the backlight and shadow play of a bud showing through the pedal on this next one.

See the bee in the picture below?

Fill the frame, but don't put the stamen right smack in the center.



This next one did wind up right smack in the center despite the wind blowing the flower around, but the photo comes across as being somewhat surreal with a little help from post processing.

These next flowers were so tiny that I could barely see them with my naked eye.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Wildflower Hunt

My homework for this week is to take a picture of the same wildflower in five different ways.  We are encouraged to take pictures within a few hours of sunrise and sunset, which is right when I am busiest.  I have the added challenge of not finding many interesting wildflowers close to home.  My husband and I went on a bicycle ride to see if we could find something growing in areas I don't normally hike or horseback ride.  I didn't bring my camera because it was the middle of the day.  I just wanted to find some wildflowers so that I wouldn't have to cheat by taking pictures of a flower in my yard.

As we were racing down the trail, my eye caught a long snake in front of me.  I couldn't swerve in time to go around it, so I slammed on my brakes and screamed.  A part of me was hoping my scream would scare the snake off the trail, but it didn't budge.  I stopped just an inch away from running over it, and quickly pushed myself and my bike backwards away from it so that it couldn't bite me.

At first I thought it was a rattlesnake, because it had the markings, but not the deep, vivid coloring that most gopher snakes have around here.  My husband asked what happened, and he couldn't even see it.  He said it was good thing I was out in front, because he would have run over it.  Once I stopped shaking from the shock of nearly hurting the poor thing, I got a closer look and saw that it was non-venomous.  I took pictures with my mobile phone and researched it when we got home.  I'm pretty sure it is a glossy snake.

We found a few wildflowers, but nothing that really inspired me to photograph it.  I was hoping to wait until morning to give them a chance to bloom more, but it looks like it's going to rain.  If it's not raining at sunset, I'll take my shots.  Otherwise, I may have to skip the assignment.

Friday, February 20, 2015

An Eventful Day

Rock came up lame on his right hind hoof.  Since there's no swelling, I'm treating him for an abscess.  He's had two hoof abscesses since I got this new farrier.  He also doesn't fit into his Renegades anymore, so this farrier is doing something drastically different from my previous two farriers.  I don't think he takes enough off the toe and the sole.  I was hesitant to leave Rock to go to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, but then I reminded myself that the show only comes around once a year, and Rock gets hoof abscesses every couple of months.  He'll survive.

While planning to visit the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, I remembered that I also wanted to visit a gluten-free bakery in Scottsdale.  I was diagnosed with IBS this year, and every time, without fail, that I eat in a restaurant, I get sick.  I already knew I developed an intolerance to lactose, so it would totally make sense that my body couldn't process gluten either.  I stopped at Gluten-Free Creations, ate their Monte Cristo with a side of sea salt chips, and felt no kick back whatsoever.  It's so nice not to have a hurting tummy.

At the show I got to see most of the classes I was interested in.  I had planned to take my professional Nikon with the telephoto lens, but both batteries were almost dead.  I was running late and didn't have time to charge them, so I grabbed my Nikon point-and-shoot.  I had to put it on shutter speed priority to get the indoor shots, and it was borderline between having them blurry and having them come out underexposed, but I'm not trying to win any contests.  So, without further adieu, here they are:



Country English Pleasure is one of my favorite classes to watch...


Babies...


Jumping...



I missed the reining and cutting competitions, but was able to watch a bit of the practice.  None of my reining photos came out well, because I didn't have time to set my shutter speed before they started spinning.


More Country English Pleasure...

And a little Western Pleasure...


My battery on the point-and-shoot died before I could even get warmed up, but such is life.  It was getting late and I needed to get home to feed the dogs and horses, but as I was walking through the vendor booth location, I spotted some boots.  As I was getting dressed in the morning, I went to go put on my favorite slip on boots only to discover that they had a hole in the bottom of them.  Argh!  I go through boots so ridiculously fast.  It's because I'm always walking on sharp rocks.

Anyway, I own two pair of black Ariat paddock boots.  One pair is lace up, and they fit really well.  The only problem is that it is time-consuming to get them on and off.  I have to pull the laces all the way loose on each tier or my feet won't be able to get in and out of them.  A lot of times I just blow off the hassle and put on slip on boots instead.  The other pair are zip up boots, but they have always been too tight and I have this one freakish toe that is longer than all the other toes, and it dug a hole in the insulation.  So, now every time I put on those zip up boots, my toe immediately starts feeling pain because it gets shoved into that hole.

I've been toying with the idea of ordering new zip up boots online, but have always been afraid that I'd have the same problem.  As soon as I saw Ariat zip up paddock boots at the horse show, I knew I had to try some on to see if the styles have changed enough to allow more room in the toes.  I walked around and around this one booth looking for help, because they had a sign up telling us to ask for assistance before digging through boot boxes.  However, every employee was too busy gossiping with her friends to help me, so I said fine.  I'll take my $140 elsewhere.  Those boots are expensive and I don't want to give my money to people who ignore their customers.

I found another boot vendor who immediately helped me.  I decided to get chocolate instead of black, and I decided to try half a size larger than normal to accommodate my freaky toe.  The right boot fit great, but I asked to try on the left boot also for good measure.  Sure enough, the left boot was way too tight in the ankle.  Sometimes you can stretch them out and sometimes you can't.  My husband is always struggling with his boots because one is tighter than the other and he's been using boot stretching products, but they haven't helped.

So, I said I wanted to try on another pair to see if they fit more comfortably.  I tried on my normal shoe size, and couldn't even zip them up.  I was right to go half a size larger.  I always thought that half a size larger was just longer, but it actually had more room around the entire foot.  So, I then tried on another pair that was half a size larger, same boot but in black, and there was something bunched up underneath the sole of my foot in just one boot.  I told the lady I could be there all day trying to find two boots the fit the same, so I was going to quit while I was ahead and see if I can just stretch out the first pair that had one boot that was tight around my ankle.  She stretched it out for me, and there was a definite improvement in the fit, so I bought the chocolate Ariat Heritage Breeze Zip Paddock boot that is washable.  It looks like this:

Traffic on the way home was a nightmare.  I don't know how people in Scottsdale even get around.  Every freeway and every street that I got on had road construction and stop and go, bumper-to-bumper traffic.  There are a lot of rude drivers and a lot of clueless drivers sharing the road.  Now you know why I don't like to travel very far in this metropolis.  I spent the previous 20-some years of my life rarely having to use freeways because I lived in such a rural community.  I was spoiled by using rural routes and highways everywhere I went.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and my father designed and helped build the majority of freeways out there, and I think it's safe to say the traffic in the Phoenix area is far worse than anything I've seen in Southern California.  It gets better in the summer though, after we've had our mass exodus.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Update Snippets

The Paranoia Sets In:

Over the past few weeks I have been hearing large packs of coyotes howling around my property, so I'm being more careful about checking what is around before leading the dogs outside on leashes.  Coyotes usually run from people, but I've seen some of them act bolder.  I've seen some stalk the dogs of hikers on the trails.  I don't trust them.

I also found out that a man in a local photography class got bit by a rattlesnake while on a field trip last week, so that means the snakes are coming out even though it seems too early and not hot enough.  Last week I heard a rattle when I was walking to the feed shed.  I ignored it because I figured that I just brushed up against one of those weeds that rattle.  However, upon coming out of the shed, I realized there were no weeds around, so the rattle had to have come from a snake.  It must have ditched under the hay barn when I went into the shed.  So, that means it is time for me to start paying attention again, and be hyper-vigilant about where I put my hands and feet.

When I take the dogs out at night, I turn on all the lights so that I can see both snakes and coyotes clearly.  This morning I walked all three dogs out through the garage and startled to see a coyote on the driveway just about 20-feet away from us.  I took it by surprise too, so it ran across the street.  None of my dogs reacted, which is amazing.  I think they were all still half-asleep.  But then about a minute later this bunny came bolting across the street and down my driveway with the coyote in hot pursuit.  I didn't want that coyote anywhere near my dogs, so I said something to it in a menacing tone, and it ran back out into the desert.  I'm sure if the bunny could have thanked me, it would have.


More Supplement Experimentation:

I had a number of supplements and grooming products that I was running out of, so I made a trip to the feed store to see what I could get.  My biggest struggle over the past several months has been to use supplements that help my horses put on weight, but without making them more hyper and spooky.  I figured out which products are great for putting on weight and narrowed it down to the least expensive option that also supplies the horses with other benefits.  So, in addition to their grass hay, and mixed hay pellets, I'm keeping them all on Safe Choice Sr., even though I only have two senior horses.  At the same time, I wanted to research calming solutions, because I'd feel better about training my horses from the saddle to accept all the activity on the trails if I knew that they could keep a level head and not just spin and run from whatever worries them.

I remember when I lived in Nevada, I could ride Lostine past all kinds of trail traffic by myself.  She did balk and run backwards at times, but I knew I could easily get her out of reverse and get her past the scary objects without having to worry about my own welfare.  Bombay, on the other hand, needed to be drugged with calming supplements and I always had to have someone on foot nearby to grab his lead rope in case he had a full on panic attack and bolted.  He didn't jig much because those trails were steep, but now in the flat desert, he can easily jig for miles when he's nervous, and I have to cling tight with my thighs or all that bouncing will pop me up out of the saddle and put me off balance.  Of course, clinging tight with my thighs is counter-productive, because he feels my muscles tensing up and that just convinces him there really is something to be scared of.  I used Calm and Cool back then, which is now called Divine Equine.  It worked, but only seemed to take the edge off.  Then I found out that I was supposed to be pairing the pellets with the paste, which I wasn't doing.

So, today I went to the feed store with a list of calming products I wanted to inspect and get the staff's opinions on.  It turned out that they had nothing with magnesium as its main ingredient, but one staff member recommended Mare Magic, which is raspberry leaves.  She said it has made a difference with her mare's moods.  I explained that I would be using it for a gelding who just gets nervous, distracted, and spooks a lot.  She said it should work for him too.  We will see.  I bought it, because it was affordable.  So many of these calming products cost around $70 for a little bag.  It's ridiculous.

I asked why they had me pay taxes for my hay, because I don't think any other hay outfit has charged me taxes recently.  The owner explained that growers do not have to charge taxes on hay, while retail stores do.  Also, the purpose of the hay plays a role in whether it is taxed.  If the hay is going to either cattle or horses going to slaughter, they consider it a part of the food chain, so they don't tax it.  However, if the hay is going to horses that people keep as pets, competitors, or transportation, then the hay can be taxed since those animals will not be eaten.

So, I learned something today.


Getting Busy:

I was hesitant to sign up for that photography class since I was already taking kick boxing classes and had a lot of writing projects in the works.  The class itself was three hours a week.  I decided to take a trial run and see if I can even get all my barn chores done and get myself fed, showered, and dressed before the first class.  It was touch and go.  Things kept coming up and I began thinking I'd never make it out the door, but I did make it to class.

Once in class, I discovered that future classes will actually be spent on all day field trips.  My heart sank.  I could only give up 3 to 4 hours a week.  I can't just drive 2 hours to some location in order to get their by sunrise, take several hours of morning shots, stop for a lunch break, take several hours of afternoon shots until it gets dark, and then drive 2 hours back home.  I have animals I have to feed and take out to potty throughout the day.  Their vets just put them on a diet of more meals more often and prescription dog foods.  I have insulin shots to administer at the same times every day.  I have horses I have to lock up when they eat, and cut them loose to get their exercise the rest of the day.  

So, I told the instructor that the best I could do is to be gone from my house for no more than 4 hours at a time.  If we were on a field trip close to my home, I could just drive home to take care of the animals, and then drive back to the photo shoot location, but she says all the best locations are hours away.  I told her I had animals to take care of.  She said, "Oh, I have one of those.  I just get someone to let him outside."

I didn't respond, because my situation is clearly more complicated.  Everyone I know works during the day and can't help with that, and I'm not going to give a stranger the key to my house.  I also don't trust anyone else to have the expertise to care for a diabetic dog.  A little too much or not enough food or a little too much or not enough insulin, and all hell breaks loose.  Vet hospital bills are major financial setbacks.  Midge sometimes has seizures, and there's an art to pulling her out of them.  So, I'm probably just going to do the best I can.  I may simply refuse to travel some long distances, and promise to do my homework closer to home on my own.  Sometimes my pets can feel like a ball and chain, limiting my freedom, but it's the way I like it.  I get way more pleasure out of them than I do traveling.

Between that problem and a certain student in my class, I almost dropped the class all together.  There is this woman who I've had in previous photography classes who repeatedly rubs me the wrong way.  She's one of these know-it-alls who insist on teaching the class and not letting the paid instructor get a word in edgewise.  I am paying to learn from the instructor.  I've seen her artwork, and it is wonderful.  I want to pick her brain and learn her methods.  I've seen this student's work and haven't been impressed.  She may be able to memorize aperture, shutter speed, and ISO combinations, but if her photographs aren't anything special, then she needs to shut up and let the instructor do the teaching.  She even had the nerve to cut off another student's question by telling her to go look it up in her camera manual.  Fortunately, the instructor was kinder than that, and helped the woman figure out the answer by playing with her camera.

I think if I had to sit in a classroom for three hours a week with this obnoxious student, I probably would have dropped the class, but since the majority of our time will be spent in the field, I can just ditch her like I did on our other class field trips and go commune with nature.  Although, I suspect that's how the man in the other class got bit by the rattlesnake.  He was hiking further out alone to escape her overbearing personality.

I've also got a lot of other things going on.  Apparently, the dogs are due for vaccinations because the vet's office has been sending me reminders and calling me.  I vowed to only use that inexpensive clinic for vaccinations in the future, so I need a day in which I can wake up at 4:30 AM to get the dogs there by 6:00 AM, which is their only check-in time.  They spend the rest of the day doing surgeries.  I also have to get some blood work done that requires fasting, so that's another early morning appointment.  The horses are due for hoof trims, and my farrier is an early morning kind of guy.  My husband's birthday is coming up.  Let us not forget taxes.  It's time to meet with the tax accountant.  Yeehaw!  

Among various errands, chores, appointments, and writing projects, I'm hoping to fit in a short, half-day trip to the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.  So far, not a whole lot has been cooperating with me because it seems that unexpected tasks keep coming up every minute.  At any rate, I've been busy and it looks like I will be busy for a while.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Ghost Really Loves My Horses

I jokingly said in my last post, Just Plain Weird, that perhaps a ghost will deliver a heart-shaped Mylar balloon to my horses.  You have to read the previous post to understand the context of that comment.

So, this afternoon Bombay was helping me get my exercise by being my walking/jogging partner on the trails.  We were approaching the property where some strange new concrete building was being erected.  I was trying to figure out whether it was a house, a garage, or a workshop, when Bombay alerted on something in the opposite direction.  At first I thought it was a bicyclist, because I saw a glint of silver, but as I watched the movement, I realized it was a bouquet of Mylar balloons caught on a bush.

I got really excited, because I knew the Rock would have so much fun playing with those.  However, I also knew there was no way Bombay would tolerate me carrying those home while leading him at the same time.  So, I ran him back to the barn, hopped on my bike, and raced half a mile to the balloons, trying to reach them before some hiker or bicyclist came along and snagged them.  I also wanted to grab them before some unsuspecting horseback rider on a green or spooky horse stumbled upon them blowing in the wind.

Fortunately, they were still there.  When I rode up to them, I burst out laughing to see that they were all heart-shaped balloons.  Some were just pink hearts and some had the word "Princess" on them.  There were nine all together.  I raced back to the barn, hoping I wouldn't run into any horseback riders and cause an accident along the way.

As I was riding down the driveway, the bouquet of balloons flew up into my face so that the horses couldn't see me.  They just saw this blob of hearts flying at them.  The Arabs ran out of the barn and froze to stare in horror, but Rock panicked and ran back and forth in his stall, crashing into the railings.  I stopped before he hurt himself, and got off the bike.  Then I walked with the balloons behind me while calling out, "Rock!  It's just me!"

He looked at me and came out of the barn.  I tied the bouquet to the fence, and Rock happily trotted over to play with them.



He worked one loose and it floated away...

Now there were eight.  Two for each horse.  Bombay finally approached when I set them on the ground after Rock popped most of them with his teeth...


But Rock made it clear that this latest gift from the ghost was all his, and that he is the only Princess in this herd.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Just Plain Weird

A few days ago I noticed the horses stretching their necks over the fence toward the neighbor's back yard.  I wondered if some home buyers were feeding them carrots or something, so I went outside to investigate.  I purposefully built the fence to my horse paddock 12-feet away from the property line fence so that neighbors couldn't feed my horses or let their horses be nose-to-nose with mine in case one of them got sick.  They colic a lot less since I moved them into this setup.  At the old house, I had to constantly be asking different neighbors to stop feeding my horses.  People who didn't even live on my street would walk up it to feed them, so it's nice to finally have my horses in a space where the general public doesn't have easy access to them.

When I walked out onto the porch, I didn't see anyone, but there was something that looked like a toolbox or caddy sitting on the ground near the fence.  I walked over to get a closer look, and it turned out to be a Mylar balloon.  Rock gets particularly excited about playing with balloons, so I contemplated climbing through the fence to get it for him.  The only problem was that I would have had to let myself through three gates to get to it, and if any of the gates were padlocked, I'd have to climb them.  I've had to deal with my neighbor's gates in the past when they were temporarily boarding my horses while we were having sand dumped in the arena, and all of their gates are heavy, they drag on the ground, and they get jammed easily.  I decided it wasn't worth the effort, and I went back in the house.

Some time after that, my husband went for a bicycle ride.

Some time after that, I walked into the garage and found that same Mylar balloon leaning up against my husband's bike.  I figured that I told him the story about wanting to get that balloon for the horses, and perhaps it had blown out of the neighbor's yard and he picked it up when he was out bicycling.

A few days later, I saw the balloon still in the garage and remembered to ask my husband where he found it.  He looked startled and said, "I thought you put it there."

We both were quite a bit stunned over the mystery, because in order for that balloon to fly from our neighbor's back yard into our garage, it would have had to fly south, then west, then north.  In other words, a whirlwind would have had to carry it.  The other odd thing was that on the day it showed up in the garage, we had kept the garage door closed most of the day and night.

I decided to chalk it up to the paranormal.  Anyway, here are some pictures of the horses having their fun with the stray balloon that a ghost delivered to us...

Rock is always the first to possess toys.  He's still a little boy at heart.

Lostine doesn't play much, but she's fearless about most objects, so both she and Rock let me rub the crinkling balloon all over their bodies.

Gabbrielle, of course, was horrified.  And fascinated at the same time.  If I shook it anywhere near her, she ran away...



Bombay and Gabbrielle always huddle behind Lostine for protection.

Lostine snapped at Bombay for being chicken, so Bombay finally decided to strap on a pair and approach the balloon...


That made Gabbrielle feel braver, so she took a few more steps forward.  Eventually, the boys began their usual game of Take-Away...

And since the balloon says HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I'll dedicate this post to blogger Cheryl Ann, whose birthday is on Valentine's Day.  Happy Valentine's Day to everyone too.  Perhaps tomorrow the ghost will deliver a heart-shaped Mylar balloon to the horses.