Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Issue Reversed

I talked about trying to keep Bombay's stall locked so that all the horses would stop using it as an outhouse.  The urine build up is so bad that the ground hasn't dried out in months.  However, the horses have figured out how to unlock the gate to his stall, so it's been difficult to give the ground a chance to dry out.  I put a fake second layer lock on his gate just to deter the horses until I find something that is actually impenetrable to horse lips.

This morning I overheard a lot of banging and clanging, and I thought, "Someone's gotta pee really bad."

When I walked out to feed them, I noticed that Gabbrielle, Rock and Bombay were all clustered together and Lostine was as far away from them as possible.  It's not unusual for Gabbrille and Rock to hang out together, but the only time anyone lets Bombay near them is when they need his tail to swish flies away.  Rock won't even play with Bombay anymore.

As I got closer, I saw that the three of them had somehow managed to lock themselves into one stall.  I knew that if anyone was going to start kicking, it would be Gabbrielle.  Rock will bite another horse on the rump, but I've never seen him kick anyone.  He bucks in the air to protest or kick up his heels, but if he's simply telling another horse to move along, he pins his ears back first, and then if he doesn't get a response, he bites.  If Gabbrielle is really angry because a horse she has given a warning shot to has not moved out of her way, she'll make sure that the next kick connects.

So, I had to be careful about how I approached.  If Gabbrielle thought I was going for the hay or grain, the kicking would commence.  I made it clear with my trajectory that I was walking straight toward their stall, and I talked to Gabbrielle the whole time to keep her focus on me.  When I opened the gate, Bombay beat it out of there, but Gabbrielle had Rock pinned in a corner.  So, I shooed her away from me, which released Rock, and all was well.

Whew!  Close one.  I don't need anymore veterinary bills right now.  It's been a week, and I still haven't heard back from the vet about Bombay's test results.  I'll either have to call her today or wait until after the holidays to see what's going on.  Ironically, Bombay is eating really well now, and Lostine is the one who is dropping weight and leaving the majority of her hay untouched.  I'm starting to think that they simply don't like this hay I bought most recently.  There's nothing visibly wrong with it like mold or dead animals bundled inside.  I think they are just sick of Bermuda grass.  Either that, or they are just smart enough to know that I increase their supplements when they stop eating hay.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Playing Hooky

It was too nice of a day to spend it all doing chores and running errands.  I played hooky from my responsibilities by taking a trail ride.

I recently installed an upgrade of software and firmware for my GoPro camera, and I'm not sure what it is doing anymore.  It's putting some pictures in a Time Lapse folder and some in a Burst Mode folder even though I didn't take any pictures in burst mode.  I'm sure there is some logic behind this madness and I just need to learn the new routine, but I'm not interested in taking the time to do it right now.

When we were riding out, I kept hearing the horses back at the barn banging a gate.  When we returned, they had managed to open the locked gate to Bombay's stall.  I've been closing it during the day, because the horses all like to pee in there, and poor Bombay has to stand in urine puddles when he eats.  I don't think the ground in his stall has dried out in months because there is so much urine build up.  Now I have to find a second level lock to use on the gate since the horses have figured out how to open the basic lock.

This is the first time since last winter that I rode at the hottest part of the day.  During the summer I had to get up before sunrise to feed the horses, and then ride them A.S.A.P. after the sun rose if I wanted to ride in comfortable temperatures.  Now I find myself waiting for the chill to dissipate instead of trying to beat the heat.  However, one thing I learned is that if I ride in the mid-afternoon, I have to contend with the daycare traffic because school is letting out.  During summer I had to contend with the trash trucks in the early mornings.

Yesterday I'm pretty sure I saw the same coyote that stalked Rock on our last solo ride.  He or she was in my back yard hunting for rodents and rabbits around my pen.  I followed it to watch it, and it stopped several times to watch me.  It's a young coyote, and its coat is amazingly clean and silky.  The coyote is long and lean and has a face that reminds me of Stewie.

I mentioned in a previous post that I've only seen two desert cottontails in my backyard this fall, but now I am beginning to see more of them.  Today there were two ravens sitting on the barn railing looking at Rock.  He was face-to-face with them, as if having a conversation.  I tried to get a picture, but the dogs started barking as soon as they heard me open the backdoor, and they scared the ravens away.  The only way to be a wildlife photographer is to go way, way, way out in the wilderness by yourself.  No other people and no dogs, because if anyone is there besides the photographer, they always do something to scare the wildlife off.

This morning I took the trash out and looked up the street.  I thought, "I feel like I could actually go running today."  I couldn't go right then because I was wearing jeans, a belt, and slippers, but I did change into running apparel and go.  I normally hike and jog on the trails in the desert, because I find that when I jog on the street, men often pull up next to me in their vehicles and start asking questions -- usually they ask for directions.  It makes me feel vulnerable when they put me in that position.  I thought that in today's society most men understood that it is inappropriate to approach a lone woman or child when they are a stranger, yet they do it all the time to me.

Also, I wouldn't dream of stopping someone who is jogging or running because many of them are trying to reach time, distance or speed goals, and if you stop them, they have to start over.  The only goals I set for myself are milestones regarding getting further than the last time without stopping or walking, but if someone stops me, then it aborts my efforts and I have to try again another day.  Anyway, I was willing to risk that problem in order to avoid rolling my ankle on rocks on the trail this morning, and it paid off because no one stopped me.  If I can have more good experiences like that where I can jog in the street without getting hassled by men or dogs, then I'd probably exercise outdoors more often.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Got Thanked

When I worked full-time as a software tester, I had a sign on my desk that read, "Thank me.  Don't spank me."

My job was to find bugs in software, report them, and retest the software once the bugs were fixed to make sure every path was covered and that the fix didn't create new bugs.  As you can imagine, being the bearer of bad news made me somewhat unpopular.  However, some of the more mature computer programmers appreciated my efforts because they knew that every bug I found in a beta version was one less bug that a customer or the CEO would find, and that in the end, the work I did made the programmers look good.

I had some good supervisors and some bad ones.  The bad ones always criticized me, or worse yet, punished me by taking my weekends and holidays away if I missed bugs.  They never bothered to check the bugs database to see just how many bugs I did find, and thank me for finding those.  In the end, my entire department got laid off because the powers that be were more interested in releasing crappy, bug-filled software ahead of the competitors than they were in building a good reputation for producing quality products.

Now that I'm a stay-at-home pet keeper, it's been a long time since I've been thanked.  Dogs and horses just take all that feeding a poop scooping for granted.

Each time I go out on the trails either on foot, horseback, or bicycle, I run into more cholla balls scattered all over my path.  Then I have to go around them and return later with a golf club to hit them off the trails.  It seems that at least once a week I find another blockage, and I've been wondering who keeps making these dangerous messes.

I used to think it was the wind, but there hasn't been that much wind lately.  I've been told that park rangers will scatter cholla balls on old trails to stop people from using them, but I didn't think that was the case here.  There have been several batches spilled on trails near The Mad Pruner's house, and I wondered if he might be doing it to stop people from enjoying the public land in front of his place.

Today I grabbed a 9-iron and went out to do some clean up.  I realized that these latest messes have been the result of the power company trucks racing up and down the trails.  They hit the cholla cacti and knock the spiked balls down as they pass.  I discovered that a 9-iron was not the right choice, because I hit one up into my eye.  Thankfully, I was wearing sunglasses, so it just bounced off.  Another ball got stuck in my hair.

Anyway, I was concentrating hard on practicing my golf swing when I heard someone say something.  I startled and looked up to see a woman on horseback leading another horse with two dogs off leash.  I said hello and apologized for swinging my golf club around her horses.  I told her I didn't see her there.  She said, "Thank you for knocking those off the trail."

She understood what I was doing.  Wow.  I'm hoping more people will see me doing that and think to bring a stick or golf club out with them on hikes to knock those boogers out of the way.  Of course, as soon as I started talking to the horseback rider, I shifted my foot just a little bit and got skewered.

I have to say I was really impressed with this woman's animals.  The horses and dogs were both just moving along with their heads hanging low, totally focused on the trail ahead of them, not paying any attention to me.  They looked like they had been out for hours and all they wanted was to get back home.  I doubted anything could distract those dogs or spook those horses.

I'm used to dog owners who have no control over their dogs and let them run around my horses' legs and nip at their heels, and horse owners who see a hiker or horseback rider and quickly head off in the opposite direction to avoid them -- something I do at times when I'm riding a horse that is acting skittish and I'm just too tired to deal with the horse's fears.  I think next time I see this lady I will ask her what her secret is to maintaining control of four animals all at the same time.  I suspect she'll tell me she takes them out every morning, but I'd like to know how those first few mornings went for her and how she handled any issues that came up.

I still haven't ponied a horse off the property, because I'm not sure what to do if one horse goes one way and the other goes the opposite way.  What happens if the horse I'm riding steps through the gate, but the horse I'm leading balks at the gate, and then the horse I'm riding keeps going and won't stop?  If I drop the rope, the horse on the lead rope will run across the street back to the barn.  If it causes a car accident, I can be held liable.  Some of my horses have been turning a deaf ear to whoa lately, so I really need to make sure I've got one horse that is solid all around before I try taking two at a time out.

Anyway, I know greatness when I see it, and I'm sure that lady has a gem or two of advice that I could use.  Hopefully, I will see her again some day.

Food Aggressive Behaviors

With Thanksgiving approaching, food seems to be an appropriate topic.  I'm splitting our Thanksgiving food shopping into two trips this year.  I collected a list of items we would need, and then went to the grocery store around 8:00 AM to try to beat the crowds.  Didn't work.  I still felt like I was in a pinball machine being batted all over the place by pushy people.  Of course, several shelves were low on stock or empty, and there were other items that I simply forgot to get.  Those items rolled over onto the list for the second attempt at grocery shopping, but I'm keeping my expectations low.  With this being the cusp of when the snowbirds start pouring in to our area, not all stores have caught up with the demand.  I suspect I may have to shop at two or three markets before finding everything on my list.  The irony of it is that I moved to a more highly populated area in part because I thought it would be easier to find products I need.  Not the case here.

But this really isn't about human food aggressive behaviors.  This post is about the horses.  Anytime that an animal needs to see a veterinary doctor, I get anxious, because I know it means change.  Obviously, you have to change something if there is a problem, but usually the solutions to problems just create more problems.  By adding more supplements into the horses' diets as the vet directed, I have created monsters.

At first, I thought it was so sweet how the horses slobbered and gobbled and got that happy little twinkle in their eyes when I introduced new and more feed to them.  They were in heaven, and I realized how boring it must have been for them to be eating the same old, same old every meal.  How could I have deprived them of such pleasure?

Now, the second I walk out of the house at feeding time, the ass kicking breaks out in all directions.  I'm hearing hooves slamming up against iron railings, horses squealing, hooves galloping to get away from gnashing teeth...

I don't even have time to get down to the barn to lock them all up in their stalls away from each other before someone gets hurt.

Last night I was cleaning up manure before dinner and the horses were anxiously milling about, anticipating that at any moment I would be making a move for the feed bins.  I was standing between the manure wagon and a railing in the barn aisle when Rock attacked Bombay with no warning, and Bombay ran straight into me, knocking me off to the side.  It happened so fast that I couldn't yell or wave my arms or make myself bigger to stop him.  He could have easily gone around me and the wagon on the other side, but he chose to show me no respect in his act of self-preservation.  Needless to say, both horses regretted their actions.  I have no doubt that within a few days another "CRAZY LADY" comment will show up in red spray paint somewhere on my property, because of course, all the neighbors were home to witness the commotion.

The last time Bombay chose to plow me down and I chased him around with a pitchfork, some lady stood on the cliff above my backyard video taping the incident.  But what am I supposed to do?  Pet the horse and say, "Oh, it's okay, Sweetie.  You can knock me off my feet anytime."?  No.  There has to be an immediate consequence, witnesses or no witnesses.  There's no time to go get the long whip and lunge him.  I have to shun him from the herd, just as a horse would do.

I still haven't received the results of Bombay's blood panel and fecal sample test, but he's still requiring the majority of the day to eat his breakfast and the majority of the night to eat his dinner, even with the yummy supplements.  I have to lock him in a stall to prevent the other horses from stealing his rations, but I don't like to leave him locked up all night, because he sleeps in his manure and then I have to bathe him.  I'd rather he sleep on soft, clean sand in the paddock, so I go out late at night with a flashlight to let him out of his stall, and he still hasn't cleaned his plate.  This behavior is very odd.  I wish there were more answers.

The other mystery that has been on my mind lately is why the horses always start kicking the railings and banging gates before sunrise on weekend mornings only.  This has been going on a while -- before I increased their supplements.  The horses are perfectly polite and will wait quietly for me to come outside to serve their breakfast on week days when all the neighbors have gone to work, but something happens on Saturday and Sunday mornings that triggers the horses to make a racket.  

I get so embarrassed, because I know they have to be disturbing the neighbors, and the neighbors only get to sleep in on the weekends because they work all week.  I feel like I have to shoot up out of bed and run outside to feed the horses to shut them up before they get more obnoxious.  All I can figure out is that some neighbor does something early on the weekend mornings that makes my horses anxious to eat.  Maybe someone else feeds their horses earlier on the weekends.  I know my neighbors' horses used to start whinnying and banging their buckets when I fed my horses.  Any ideas on how to train horses not to kick stuff and wake people up?

Friday, November 21, 2014

My First Trail Ride on Gabbrielle

After the grief Gabbrielle gave me yesterday in the round pen, I was a bit hesitant about riding her on the trails, but my husband finally got some time off from work and could help me out by riding a buddy horse.  I was unsure where Gabbrielle was in her training.  P.S. rode her during the summer along with the horse trainer on a buddy horse, but I didn't go along with them, so I didn't see how she did.  Last I remembered, she was still easily excitable and spooky.  P.S. had a system worked out with her in dealing with those behaviors.  I'm still trying to figure out how to stay balanced on such a tiny horse.

Gabbrielle's history is that I started her under saddle, and she was my first horse that I started, so I probably made a lot of mistakes.  I intended to train her all by myself, but then my mother broke her leg and needed to me move in with her to take care of her.  I didn't want Gabbrielle's training to lapse, so I sent her off to a dressage trainer.  She spent two months with her, and when I picked her up, the trainer warned me not to attempt to ride her out on the trails alone.

I started riding her in arenas, but then she got a series of injuries and had to be put on the Disabled List.  Then my mother died, and the next two years of my life got sucked away in the business of settling her affairs.  By the time we moved here, I had lost all desire to train a green horse by myself, so I hired a natural horsemanship trainer.  I could see that their personalities were clashing, so I decided to re-start her under saddle myself.

The trainer recommended that I sell Gabbrielle, just because she needed a lot of training for my purposes.  That's when I met P.S., and she asked if she could train her.  As soon as she started working with Gabbrielle, I could see that they were a perfect match for each other.  Gabbrielle is a sensitive, reactionary, but intelligent horse, and P.S. had the golden touch with her.  We decided to bring in another trainer to help her carry herself better at the lope.  P.S. and the trainer managed to get the horse to slow down and relax at the faster speeds.

I had hoped that P.S. would buy Gabbrielle, but she bought another horse, so now I'm trying to get to know Gabbrielle again and learn how to ride her.  She's not one of these horses who you can just hop on and go.  You need a plan for every predicament.  You need to understand how she thinks and always be one step ahead of her.  So far, she's dumped riders three times while spooking.

When I began tacking her up, she was very excited.  It didn't help that the other horses were all screaming.  She kept looking up the driveway expecting P.S. to show up to ride her.  I got busy helping my husband tack up Rock and when I looked back at Gabbrielle, she was asleep.  The horse can turn it on and turn it off in an instant.

When I mounted and asked her to walk, she backed up, even with Rock walking up the driveway in front of her.  I didn't want to begin the ride with a fight, so I just sat still on her and waited for her to stop reacting and start thinking.  Fortunately, she changed her mind and switched gears.

She backed up a second time at the gate.  That was my fault.  She was going to hit my knee on the post, so I squeezed my legs in and she ran backwards.  I discovered that if I attempt to squeeze her forward and steer when she's in that backing up state of mind, she panics.  But if I sit still, give her full rein, and say, "Okay," then she will walk forward.  For now, she's more confident if she's in control.

Going out, we were in front, and you can see that she was on edge with her ears pinned forward, listening for predators up ahead on the trail...

Once Rock got in front, she instantly relaxed...

The cholla balls were obnoxious.  We had to keep steering around them, and of course, every time I picked up on a rein, Gabbrielle's ears shot forward and she started looking around for whatever was going to eat her...

It looked like the horse rescue down the street was having another yard sale, because our horses were getting excited about all the voices and vehicles.  Once we got deeper into the desert away from the activity, Gabbrielle was practically sleep walking...


My husband was pointing out some mountains he wants to ride our horses in...

There's this little ditch that Gabbrielle always balks at.  Despite me visualizing success and willing her to be confident and go straight down it, she ran backwards.  She tried to spin and run the other way, so I had to get contact through the reins again.  I was letting my husband know that he was losing us, but Rock decided to trot up the hill, so the gap was getting wider.  I could feel Gabbrielle panicking over losing her riding partner.  I sat still, dropped the reins, said "Okay" and she walked forward, catching up to Rock.

We managed to pass one trash pile without her reacting, so I was hoping she'd be fine with the recently fallen saguaro.  She did perk her ears forward and slow her pace...

Then I realized that something big was moving around in the wash beneath it.  Despite the noise, she did really well passing both the fallen saguaro and whatever was causing the commotion down there.

At the last little ditch before home, Rock took off trotting and Gabbrielle reacted by running backwards again.  I think she thought he was running from something in the bushes.  Once she rides with him more often, she'll learn that he just likes to trot up hills.  Not everything is a reaction to danger.

I'd call it a very successful ride.  Despite balking and backing a few times, she didn't have any big spooks and she didn't cause a forced dismount.  She did jump a little bit when I burped.  Apparently, P.S. has never burped while riding her.  I told Gabbrielle that if she thought my burp was scary, just wait until I fart.  I scared Stewie off the couch the other night when I let one slip.

I'm thinking she's just not an arena horse.  By riding her in the arena to get used to her, she felt insulted or maybe bored -- like I was sending her back to kindergarten.  I didn't know how to explain to her that I'm riding her in the pen because I need to learn how to ride her -- not because she needs to re-learn how to be ridden.

Home sweet home...


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gabbrielle Gets Cocky

I rode Gabbrielle for a while, mainly working on keeping her on the rail, and then I attempted to move her up to the trot.  She did this weird Lippizaner move of popping her front end up twice while prancing before breaking into the trot.  I've seen her do this before breaking into the lope when I lunge her, but I was clearly asking for the trot.  No need for airs.

Once the trot began, I got popped hard in the crotch and thrown forward over the horn, and she came to a halt.  Ouch.  That was literally the most uncomfortable trot I've ever had to ride.  I thought something must have just been out of whack, so I'll try again.  Same thing happened.  Alright.  This horse is very different from all the horses I've previously ridden in my lifetime, but surely I can ride her at a trot.  I've done it before.  I moved her up to the trot a third time, purposefully leaning back since I now knew that her hind end would try to pop me forward, but it didn't help.  I still flew forward.  She wasn't bucking.  She just can't carry herself well.

So, what can I do with this horse?  I can tell you that I have no desire to trot on her, and she has issues with being ridden on a trail alone without a buddy horse to pacify her.  As I was thinking about her future, she decided it was time to end the session and kept turning toward the mounting stool.

Nope.  None of that.  I let her know we would not be parking next to the stool.  Her next move was to run backwards every time I cued her forward, despite having no problem going forward for the previous half hour after receiving the exact same cue.

When you think you put a car in drive, step on the gas, and go backwards, your immediate response is to take your foot off the gas pedal.  The problem is that you can't do that with a horse.  You have to keep cuing her to go forward until she goes forward.  So, I kept my leg on her.  I tried turning her from side to side, but she was adamant about going backwards.

Once she realized that I wasn't going to stop squeezing with my legs, she started trying to crash into the railing and stool on purpose, knowing that would get me to stop squeezing.  So, I kept working the reins to steer her as she was running backwards in order to avoid crashing into things.  When she didn't succeed in getting me off her, she tried to buck.  That made me mad.

It used to be that she would back up if she didn't understand the cue someone was giving her, but this was flat out bad behavior.  She was trying to intimidate me to get off and take her back to the barn.  We were kind of at a stalemate, so I got off, but chased her butt around the pen making her go forward.  She was unhappy about that.

Then I mounted her again and rode her FORWARD for another half hour to let her know that she doesn't call the shots.

Next time I'm putting her through an obstacle course, and if she wants to try it backwards, so be it.  I just find it so annoying when a horse can have a ton of training and/or lots of time under saddle and still be cocky enough to test every different rider who hops on board.  Just do your job, horse.  Stop making simple things so complicated.

Despite all that, I have to say that Gabbrielle is wonderful about holding still for the mount and dismount.  She will not move a muscle until I tell her to under those circumstances.  She's also good about stopping if the rider loses contact with the saddle, which happened every time she moved up to the trot.  I just don't know how I can practice sitting her trot or posting her trot with that behavior.   The other horses just kind of flick their ears around when I bounce in an imbalanced manner, but they keep going because they know eventually I will get into rhythm with them.

Lostine Tackles Some Hills

Lostine was kicking up her heels and galloping all over the place in the round pen yesterday, so I knew she was feeling well enough for a trail ride.  I had an idea of where I was going to take her, but then my mobile phone rang.  I thought it might be the vet calling with Bombay's test results, so I answered.  I usually don't talk on the phone or text while riding a horse, but Lostine is one of the few horses I can ride hands-free.

It turned out to be a wrong number from North Dakota.  But while I was fumbling around trying to get my phone out of its pouch, unlock it, and press the correct button to answer, Lostine went on autopilot.  By the time I got the phone hung up and put back in its pouch, she had us on a crash course with some steep hills.

Usually, I avoid taking her up and down hills and on rocky trails because of her arthritis, but she picked the trail, so we kept going.  She handled all the rocks and ups and downs pretty well as long as I helped by shifting my weight.  Going up one hill, I had to stand in the stirrups and lean over her neck.

She did really well beyond her habitual stunt of speeding up at intersections and attempting to turn toward home.  She always goes in the direction I tell her to, but we have to get about 25 yards beyond the intersection before she'll stop trying to side-step her way toward home.  She's sneaky.

Now it's time to go ride Gabbrielle.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Unique Adventure

Today's trail ride was rather fun in an unusual way.  Whenever Rock and I come across trouble on the trail, he usually takes it all in stride.  I always wonder if the outcome would have been different had I chose to ride a different horse that day.  This was one of those days.

Upon approaching the street, a home shopper came up the road to look at my neighbor's house.

He started to pull into the turnout at the trail head, and I said to myself, "Oh, please don't park there."

Some people will park right in front of the gate to the bridle trails and block my entrance and exit.  Almost as if he heard me or thought better of his actions, he pulled around in my neighbor's driveway instead.  He was just doing a drive by, so I stopped to let him pass.  He waved to me.  Rock was perfectly fine with having a strange car drive just feet in front of him with a hand waving out the window.  I think it helps that the last several times a truck has pulled up next to the barn, it contained treats for the horses.  So, now all the horses run to the fence to greet vehicles.

The next adventure happened as we were heading for trail where we last ran into the trotting shirtless cowboy with his dog.  I could see that Rock was anticipating running into him, so I decided to take that trail to prove to Rock that the trotting shirtless cowboy and his dog do not actually live on it.  He usually rides mid to late mornings, and this was the afternoon.

Wouldn't you know it, when we reached the spot where we usually run into him, Rock came to a halt because we heard voices rising up over the hill.  They were women's voices, and by the volume, I guessed they were on horseback and not hikers.  Hikers usually stay closer together and don't have to yell so loud.  Sure enough, a couple of ladies on horseback appeared.  Their horses' heads shot up in surprise when they ran into us, and the lady in front started laughing, probably to settle her horse down and let know that everything is okay.

They asked me if I had seen an over-under.  I figured it was some kind of tool, but wasn't familiar with the term, so she made a whipping movement from wither to wither to help me understand.  I said, "Oh, like quirt."  She said yes.  I said I hadn't, but I would keep an eye out for it.  I asked if they ride in this area often, and they said yesterday was their first time.

Yesterday the city had blocked off a bunch of gates to the bridle trails for maintenance, so riders, hikers and bicyclists were detoured to other locations.  I asked how I could get the over-under to them should I find it.  They said not to worry about it, because it was a shoddy old piece of equipment with duct tape on it.  But it must have been something they liked and used if they were out looking for it, so I said maybe I could hang it on a gate if I find it.  We agreed upon which gate.

During our discussion, the Paint mare inched her way forward into Rock's face and they sniffed noses.  Rock is notorious for flirting with girls and causing a ruckus depending on where the mares are in their heat cycles.  He's a bit of a Don Juan in the equine world.  So, I told the other rider that Rock is a gelding, but sometimes he can act like a rig.  She pulled her mare away and said, "Well, I should probably move along because my mare is a slut.  She lets my gelding mount her."

I spent the rest of the ride trying to cover as many trails as possible to look for the over-under.  Rock got a little wary about a saguaro cactus that recently fell over, and he cut a wide wake around it.

It was rather odd looking.  The cactus had a lot of branches, so when it fell, it folded in on itself and looked as if someone chopped it up and left a pile of saguaro stalks.

At one point Rock kept pulling left and I kept pushing him back to the center of the trail.  I don't like it when the horses hug the sides of the trails, because there are cholla balls and rattlesnakes in the bushes.  Anyway, he was being a bit of a stinker, trying decide where he was going to walk, and I was having to pull the reins quite hard because he started ignoring my leg cues.

I should have just looked around us instead of fighting him and assuming he was acting barn sour.  This behavior went on for maybe a quarter of a mile, and when I got to the spot where I wanted to turn around, Rock spun hard and fast.  While he was spinning, I was thinking, "He feels like he's going to run for the barn."

But then he stopped and stuck his nose out, and right there in front of his face, where his tail had just been, stood a coyote.  Rock poked at it with his nose, and it jumped to the side.  I burst out laughing, because I realized that this coyote had been stalking us for the past quarter mile, and that's what Rock was trying to tell me with his stubborn behavior.

I said to the coyote, "You can't eat a horse!  You're too little.  What were you thinking?"

It didn't run from my voice, but just stood a few feet away alternating between looking at me and probably looking at other coyotes in its pack.  Amazingly, I got some pictures.  GoPro saves the day again.


The coyote was probably only about five feet away here, but the camera makes it look more like twenty feet.  When we rode off, it started to follow us again, but then changed its mind.  Every time I run into a coyote like this that has no inhibitions around people and horses, I wonder what it would take to tame it.  But then I remind myself that I already own too many dogs and the wildlife is best left to the wild.  They have such pretty faces with glowing amber eyes.

Yesterday a man in the feed store was looking for some ointment like Swat to put around wounds, because his goat had been attacked by coyotes.  That must mean the coyotes are mighty hungry this year.  There aren't many rabbits.  I think I only have seen two desert cottontails in my backyard, and I usually see dozens of them.  Food supply must be short.  We have a few neighbors who keep roosters and chickens, and I always hope they have them well protected in a strong enclosure.

I never did find the over-under, but it was fun giving Rock the job of looking for it.  We did find a full water bottle that probably fell out of someone's bag, though.

When we got home, look who knocked over my water bottle and tried to stomp on it...


Who?  Me?  I didn't do anything.

He forgets that I've got a camera on my head recording his every move.  (Insert evil laugh here.)