Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Mane Event Experience

When I first saw ads for The Mane Event Equine Education and Trade Fair in Scottsdale, I was excited and confused.  I thought I had researched it a while back, and it did not take place anywhere near me.  After going to the website, I saw that this was the 1st Annual Mane Event in Scottsdale.  That explains it.  It originated in British Columbia and has been slowly spreading around Canada and the United States since 2004.

I managed to make it out to the event on Saturday while my husband stayed at home to care for the animals, which freed me up to enjoy the whole day.  I usually avoid driving on the 101 freeway at all costs, because every time that I do, there is a really bad car accident that keeps me stuck at a standstill for hours.  One year I arrived at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show just as it was getting dark out and everyone was going home, because I got stuck in a traffic snarl caused by an accident.  The next time I attempted to attend that horse show in Scottsdale, I took the mountain roads to avoid the freeway, and got lost.

This time, there was an SUV flipped over on its side with its roof up against the center wall divider on the freeway.  Firefighters and police were trying to get to the people inside.  I hope they were okay.  This happened on the other side of the freeway from me, so I only had to deal with everyone slowing down to gawk, but I knew the longer I stayed at the event before attempting to come home, the better.  They'd need a lot of time to clear that wreck.

I suspect a lot of accidents in the Phoenix area are caused by blown tires.  You just can't drive on old or bald tires in this heat.  In fact, I saw on Warwick Schiller's Facebook page that he blew a tire on his way to WestWorld.

I find driving in Scottsdale to be frightening.  There are a lot of wealthy people, including sports stars and other celebrities, who seem to think they are above the law, so they race around in their rare sports cars and luxury cars at 80 to 120 mph in 65 mph zones wreaking havoc.  I feel safer in the ghetto.  I wish it were easier to get to WestWorld.  On the way home, there was a student driver near me.  I stayed with him for a while, using my truck to guide and shield him from all the insanity around us, but after a while, he started being a hazard for me by cutting me off and braking abruptly, swerving into the side of my truck, etc., that I sped up to get away from him.  As soon as I got off the 101, everything relaxed.

But back to the event...

It was considerably smaller than what I was used to with the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, which uses almost all the arenas in the WestWorld.  The Mane Event had a small round pen surrounded by bleachers in the vendor area, two speaking areas with fold-up chairs in the vendor area, and they were using one indoor arena and one outdoor arena.  It was kind of nice, because I could move from area to area pretty quickly while trying to decide which presentation appealed to me the most.

Since the population of Arizona is at its maximum between January and March, with most snowbirds leaving by April, the turnout was sparse at the end of May.  Again, I liked it, because I didn't have to work hard to find a seat or get into the bathroom.  I could walk around without bumping into other people.  It was a relaxing and pleasant experience.  I suspect that once the word gets out, future shows will be busier.

I did think that charging for parking was a mistake, as the price to get in was too high when you consider that the majority of the show was vendor booths, which you have to buy stuff from, and you are forced to buy food from vendors at the show, who charge way too much.  Many of the vendor booths were high end products that the average Joe cannot afford -- custom made hats for hundreds of dollars and handmade one-of-a-kind saddles that were a work of art.  If you are a newbie to horses, the clinics can be very educational and worth the highway robbery, but like at most clinics, the clinicians only have enough time to scratch the surface for the rest of us.

There was a trainers colt starting competition that took place in sessions over a period of three days.  I started out by watching a few of those sessions.  Apparently, the day before, several of the competitors got bucked off.  While I was walking through the vendor booths, a little 3-year-old boy was calling out to me from a booth.  I went over to see what he was saying.  He asked me if I wanted a sticker.  I said, "Oh, no thank you.  I'm having a hard enough time carrying what I've got."

He said something else I couldn't understand, so I looked at the young woman who was with him for translation.  I'm assuming she was either his mother or babysitter.  She was filming him with her mobile phone and laughing at everything he was saying.  I started to walk away when the boy called out, "Do you play Jenga?"

I said, "No, I don't.  Do you?"

He got a dissatisfied look on his face and walked around the table without answering.  Then he picked up a sticker and began peeling that back off it.  His mother was laughing really hard now.  She said, "He's going to make you take one anyway."

He walked up to me and surveyed me.  He started to put the sticker on my walking cane, but changed his mind since the surface space was too small.  His head came up to my hip, so he didn't have a lot of choices on where to stick it.  He ended up sticking it to my thigh.  I burst out laughing and said, "Well, that solves my problem, doesn't it?"

I suspect that incident will end up somewhere on the Internet, because it was just too cute.  I realized later that he was saying, "Why don't you wear it?" after I protested that I didn't want to carry anything else.  I looked up at the name on the banner above the booth and saw that it was colt starting competitor Brendon Clark's booth.  I said, "Is this Brendon's son?"

The woman nodded.  I told her Brendon did a good job in the competition.  He's originally from Australia and is a professional bull rider, team roper and calf roper.  I walked around the rest of the day with that CINCH sticker on my thigh.  I forgot about it and kept wondering why everyone was looking down at my legs.  Ha ha!  I didn't know what I was even advertising until I got home and looked it up.  Men's western clothing and accessories!

There were a couple of time slots during the day where they had two or more clinicians I wanted to see teaching simultaneously in different locations.  I ended up having to watch whoever was in the main arena, because my back was hurting after hours of sitting in bleachers, and I needed the seat backs in the box seats that the arena provided.  At the Scottdale Arabian Horse Show, those box seats are reserved, so it was nice that anyone was able to sit there at The Mane Event.

In addition to the trainers colt starting competition, I watched two problem solving clinics by Warwick Schiller, a saddle fitting clinic by DK Saddlery, a dressage clinic by Nicholas Fyffe, and a barrel racing clinic by Storme Camarillo.  I peeked in on one of Pat Parelli's clinics, but I've been to so many of his and Linda's clinics that I almost know what they say verbatim.

There were several clinics I peeked in on, but ended up leaving mainly because I don't like it when clinicians try to convince everyone that they are the experts by putting down, insulting, and making fun of other people.  I saw several clinicians telling stories about how wrong other people were and how right they themselves were, attacking past clinic attendees and Facebook fans over questions they asked or statements they made or things they did, and then when the clinicians asked if anyone had any questions at this clinic, you could hear crickets chirp.  Gee, I wonder why the audience didn't want to get involved.  Here's an idea:  If you give respect, you get respect.  Bolstering your own ego by talking about how stupid other people are and bragging about how brilliant or how right you are is never attractive nor convincing.  This is a trait I see in a lot of horse people that I find to be distasteful.

It is imperative that horse trainers and equitation instructors understand that they would not be in business if there weren't people with less experience and less knowledge than them.  We are all evolving and growing in our knowledge, and when someone is new to some arena of learning, they are essentially the equivalent of being a newborn baby.  How many of us would call a newborn baby "stupid" or "an idiot"?  No one.  So, why do adults have to put up with this abuse when attempting to learn something new?  I know it's got to be frustrating having to repeat yourself all the time and answer the same questions when you are a teacher, but that's your job.  If you don't have the patience to deal with repetition, it may be time to choose a different career.

Sorry, that's just something I had to put out there.  Food for thought for people working in the horse industry.  I find that a lot of trainers have all the patience in the world for the horses they work with, but very little patience for the people who own those horses.  However, they must realize that it ultimately benefits the horse if the owner learns from the trainer by being taught in a respectful, patient manner.

I enjoyed Storme's clinic.  She was so adorable and positive about everything.  At one point, when working with a rider, she said, "Your horse is trying to poop.  Keep going.  He can trot and poop at the same time.  I wouldn't want to try it myself, though."

Then she burst out laughing and said, "Who says that?  Right?"

The only person she made fun of was herself.  I loved it.

I only had my mobile phone with me, so this was the best I could do for pictures in an indoor arena.  Obviously, barrel racing is nowhere in my future since I can't even walk or mount a horse most days, but it was interesting getting a glimpse into the world of barrel racing and the types of maneuvers that need to be practiced to prepare for competitions.

Warwick Schiller's clinics were why I attended the event.  He has a wonderful way of communicating without a lot of repetition.  He completes his thoughts even if the horse does something to interrupt him.  If he does repeat a point, he finds a new way to illustrate it or say it.  He shows us as well as telling us.

Warwick Schiller on Bundy and Robyn on Petey

He gave a talk on what he calls "direction addiction" for those of us who have horses who go slow in the direction they don't want to go in and fast in the ones they do.  He said, "Choose where you work and choose where you rest."

The new-to-me phrase that I hope to remember every time I ride that he said was "First, you go with your horse.  Then he goes with you.  Then you go together."

In other words, if you have a barn or buddy sour horse who balks when heading out on a trail ride and tries to turn around to head back to the barn, let him head back.  Go with him.  Once you get to the barn or wherever he wants to be, work him hard.  Trot him circles.

Then ask him to go with you where you want to go.  He'll be more willing if you walk him in a straight line and let him rest at your chosen destination.  Soon you'll be going together instead of fighting each other.

He gave a demonstration on how to handle horses who get overexcited about being around other horses on group rides.  He recommends that you start in an arena with a seasoned horse and willing rider visiting.  He recognizes that not everyone can find a willing rider with a seasoned horse to help (Lytha -- this is for you...), so he made a humorous suggestion.

He said that next time you are out on the trail and your horse gets excited over seeing another horse, let him head over to the other horse, and start circling the other horse and rider while saying hello, introducing yourself, and chatting it up.  Just keep your horse's feet moving and don't stop and stand to let him rest.  The other rider will never know that you just used her and her horse to train your horse.  Once your horse learns that it always has to work around other horses, and gets to rest when moving away from them, he'll lost interest in the other horses along the trail.

After he offered that suggestion, I realized that someone did that to me once.  I ran into a group of four horseback riders in front of my house, and when I rode up to chat with them, one woman started circling her horse next to me, and then rode away and let her horse stand still at a distance while I talked to her husband.  She yelled out a few things to me from a distance, but wouldn't come close to talk.  At the time, I thought maybe her horse kicks out at or bites strange horses, but maybe she was just choosing to work her horse near me and choosing to let him rest away from me and my horse.

I know that I always come to a stop when I meet up with other riders, and we let our horses rest while we chat.  That's probably contributing to my horses being so excitable around other horses.  They not only get to meet a new friend, but they get to rest.  Although, in Bombay's case, I think he's mostly worried about where he will end up in the pecking order whenever a new horse comes onto the scene.  He expects to get his butt kicked, so he panics when he sees other horses.  This lesson definitely pertains to Rock, though.

Back to the visiting seasoned horse in the arena... you want to let your horse greet it, but keep its feet moving.  As soon as your horse stops paying attention to the other horse, walk off in a straight line, stop, and let him rest away from the horse.  As soon as he perks his ears up and looks at that other horse or gravitates toward it, go right back to it, and keep your horse's feet moving.  Start with the visiting horse at a stand still, then have it walk, then have it trot, then have it canter, and do fly bys.  Challenge your horse to pay attention to it and make him work near it every time he does.

He wrapped up his clinic by telling us, "If you are thorough, you don't have to be brave."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Starvation, Purgatory, and Other Things

My wish for the dogs to remain stable while I recover was ignored by the universe.  Midge swung in a hypoglycemic direction and was on the verge of having a seizure, so my husband had to feed her in the middle of the night.  I increased her food in the morning, but she was still disoriented and staggering around, so I had to decrease her insulin levels again.  Each time I adjust her insulin, she's fine for a few days, and then she swings in the other direction.  I was supposed to take her in for another blood panel once she was stable for a full week, and that only happened the week that I was sick, so I couldn't take her in to see the vet.  Now she's back to being unstable again.  That means no surgery for her.  At least my husband is home on vacation to help keep Scrappy from licking and chewing her tumor.  Midge has also been vomiting.  I've never had to clean up so much vomit and diarrhea in my life as I've had to do this past year with my dogs.

The horses also took a turn for the worse after their vaccinations and dental work.  The only horse who has been eating all week is Gabbrielle.  The other three are not interested in their food.  Their bad reactions have never lasted this long.  I guess we are all getting older and not tolerating routine preventative medicine anymore.  Poor Lostine begged my husband for a hug the other morning, and she's been hanging her head down to the ground.  Bombay is getting skinnier by the day.  If they don't start eating soon, I may have to go buy a couple of bales of alfalfa just to entice them.  They'll eat their hay pellets, which have alfalfa in them, but they won't touch the grass hay.

This has been the worst year when it comes to my animals getting ill after seeing veterinarians.  Scrappy's treatment for his tumor and kidney failure have been working, and he is now down to the bottom of the bottle of medicine.  If I want him to stay the course, I have to take him in for another test, so I reluctantly set that up.  The vet assistant called me later to tell me I couldn't feed Scrappy anything 12 hours before the test.  He's not going to be happy about that.

I still haven't rescheduled an appointment for my annual hair cut and coloring.  I tried to sneak in a couple of appointments to take care of myself amongst all the vet appointments, but then had to cancel because I was sick.  My pedicure didn't turn out so well.  I was looking for some place close that had decent reviews, but the nail polish they used is starting to chip just two weeks after it was applied.  There's a really good place my husband took me to on my birthday a couple years ago, but it's a long drive and the technicians don't speak English, which stresses me out.  It drives me crazy when people talk to me and I can't understand what they are saying, so going to that particular spa isn't very relaxing.  However, that nail polish stayed on until the entire new nail grew in.

I'm hoping to have time to see my general practitioner to get a couple of referrals, one to a specialist and one for physical therapy.  He offered those referrals to me in the past and I turned them down because I had horseback riding on the brain and didn't want any other medical appointments getting in the way of my riding time.  However, now that it is too hot to ride and now that my ability to function is at an all-time low, I may as well get the help I need.  Since I spent a week in bed, now my leg gets super inflamed every time I put any weight on it, so I have to exercise until things right themselves.  I figure I may as well get help from a pro in doing the right kind of exercises.  Maybe they can give me leg massages there too, because I already learned that helps after my spa pedicure.  I was walking without any pain for two days afterward.

I'm also hoping to get to see Warwick Schiller this weekend at The Mane Event in Scottsdale.  It depends on whether my leg is working or not, and I'm still having some trouble sitting for long periods of time.  I need to lie down a lot.  I've also been having bouts of vertigo.  I was trying to clean up dog poop the other night, and something happened to make me turn my head quickly.  Everything began spinning and I felt myself going down.  I was going to fall in a pile of dog poop, so I grabbed the 3-foot high wall next to me, and I must have looked like a water skier leaning back and swinging from side to side while hanging on.  I hoped my neighbor wasn't looking out his window, because he would have really thought I was nuts.

I'm not sure what the vertigo is about.  It could be a side effect of laying down too much or from allergies or from sleeping too much or from not eating enough.  I hardly ate anything during that week I was sick.  I've had to slowly re-introduce my body to food.  The good news is that my pants are fitting looser.  It seems the vertigo always happens to me in the late spring, so I'm guessing it's a side effect of allergies or allergy medications.

This morning I heard sirens, which is unusual for this neighborhood, even though we are only a half mile away from a fire station.  I didn't bother to go investigate.  Then we had two power outages.  My husband called me outside to see that one of our neighbors had a bunch of fire trucks and power company trucks at his house.  These are neighbors I don't really care for, because they have huge bonfires with flames that shoot up taller than their house that create smoke that packs in all over the neighborhood, making it hard to breathe and creating an unpleasant smell.  They've also been doing a lot of construction at their place and the whole neighborhood has been having to listen to tractors and trucks for months.  My attitude is that if the job isn't done within a couple of weeks, bring in more manpower.  I hate it when neighbors have ongoing construction with no end in sight.

It turned out that they damaged some main electrical equipment to the neighborhood, so once again, we all had to suffer because of them.  It's tough not having electricity in the summer.   No fans and no air conditioning.  All I can say is.... Stupid is as Stupid does.  Or... Once a pain in the ass, always a pain in the ass.  I'll bet they are the same people who let their dogs run loose to piss and crap all over my property.  People who don't think beyond the nose on their own face usually never extend their view until they get to the Pearly Gates and watch the movie of their life to see how their behavior affected others.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Out of Order

I'm on the mend after a harrowing week in which I got walloped by multiple pesky health problems all at once.  I seriously thought I was going to die.  Technically, my symptoms can't kill me, but I felt like the intense pain was going to trigger a heart attack or stroke.  Also, no pain pills had any effect, so I had to keep putting myself to sleep with sleeping pills to get some relief, and I was worried that I might overdose, because my body was getting used to them and resisting sleep after a few days.  I felt like I really belonged in a hospital, but these are all symptoms I've discussed multiple times with multiple doctors, and there's nothing they can do for me.  I just have to suffer and wait it out.

My husband just happened to have scheduled a week off from work when all of this started, so instead of him getting some R&R on his vacation, he's been running around doing barn chores and taking the dogs outside on my behalf.  I feel so guilty.  I had set up a bunch of appointments the week before, and since I couldn't sit up or walk, I had to cancel most of them.

I don't like having to communicate with other people when I'm in this state, because no one understands and I just get frustrated.  Most people are healthy enough to have only experienced colds, flus, and possibly the Chicken Pox in their lifetimes.  My research tells me that I'm the only person in the world who has my problem.  I've actually had doctors shut me down when I explain my symptoms and what triggers what, because in their expertise, there is no correlation between the symptoms.  Yet I'm living proof, I'm right in front of them, and for whatever reason, they choose to believe research rather than a patient who lives with it.  I've found some people who have written about similar symptoms on the Internet, but their pain is minor compared to mine.  I have some kind of sensitivity that they don't experience.

Anyway, every time I have to talk to someone and tell them I can't do something because I'm sick, they always ask, "Oh, do you have a cold or the flu?" assuming that those are the only two illnesses in the world.  I suspect that they ask because they are trying to calculate when I will be well enough to reschedule, but the reality is that this can last anywhere from a few days to a few months.  My hair stylist called me back the very next day wanting to set up a new appointment for me, because I made the mistake of lying to her and saying I had the flu, and she assumed that it was the 24 hour flu.  So, after that I'd just tell people that I have 3 or 4 repetitive health problems and I got slammed with them all at once, then I quickly change the subject.  Those who push for more details get the silent treatment.  I don't want to open myself up to unsolicited advice when I know that I'm probably the only person in the world who has experienced this.

I thought I was free and clear to keep on sleeping until the pain subsided once my appointments were canceled, but that missing person in my life suddenly reappeared and contacted me for help.  I was like, "Really?  I've been looking for you for the past four months, and you suddenly resurface right when I'm essentially on my death bed and crippled and totally incapable of doing anything to help?  Really?"

Then my ex-neighbors contacted me to open up their house for a home shopper and show him the property lines.  I was so sick at that point that I couldn't even return their call until the next day, and fortunately they were wise enough to get someone else to do it.  I told them that I'm not in good shape and I should be their last resort.

I had kept my appointment with the equine vet and dentist, because I usually have to wait weeks to months for that annual meeting and because I thought I would be better by then, however I had a relapse on that day and started over from scratch with the pain.  My husband made other plans that day, so I had to push through the pain to feed the horses, clean up manure, and spray everyone with fly spray.  Of course, the ravens are nesting this time of year, so there was a shredded dead bird in the middle of the barn aisle that I had to clean up too.  Every step I took was excruciating.

I knew there was no way I could stand up and hold horses for two hours, so when the dentist arrived, I questioned her about how many people they were bringing to help.  Usually, there's a convoy of trucks and three to five people show up.  This time they had four, and she told me they shouldn't need my help.  I answered all of her questions and gathered supplies that she needed, and then tried waiting for the vet, but she was late, so I hiked back to the house to lie down.  Of course, she arrived as soon as I got into the house, so I had to turn around and hike all the way back down to answer her questions.  But I did get to lie down for most of those two hours, and I really appreciated their understanding.

The vet called me when they were done and told me that all four horses are in really good health, and other than a few sharp points on their teeth, they didn't need any special care.  That was music to my ears after all the hell I've gone through with my dogs.  Usually, one or two horses are overweight and have sand in their gut at the very least.  Since she couldn't find any problems, that tells me that all the adjustments I've made to their feeding routine are working.

That night I was trying to sleep to escape the pain, and I heard a crash coming from a part of the house that was vacant.  I jumped up and said, "What the hell?"  My first thought was the a dog knocked something down, but all three dogs were accounted for.  Then I thought someone was breaking into the house.  I limped to that end of the house and was hearing a loud noise coming from the guest bathroom, which has no windows.  I came around the corner to find the porcelain top to the toilet tank pushed up and sliding down toward the floor.  I grabbed it before it could break, and threw the T.P. rolls and trash basket sitting on top of it down onto the floor.

Right then this part inside of the tank blew up into the air like a rocket and a fountain of water came shooting out of the tank all over me and the floor.  I started screaming for my husband repeatedly as loud as I could, because I knew he was on the complete opposite end of the house and would have a hard time hearing me.  I tried shoving the rocket part back over the fountain of water, but there was too much pressure.  I then reached down to turn the water off behind the toilet, but the handle was missing!

My husband finally found me and told me to go get a tool.  I was trying to move as fast as I could while in pain, but I kept slipping on the tile floor because I was soaking wet.  I couldn't find the exact tool he needed, so I just grabbed a couple.  He then told me where to turn off all the water to the house, and I had to run outside to do that.  The whole time I was saying, "Really?  Really?  This has to happen NOW?"

The bathroom floor had almost an inch of water on it by the time we got control of the situation, and a bunch of my husband's books got wet along with the rolls of T.P.  It took half the towels in our linen closet to sop up the mess.  Hopefully, we won't get mold in our wood molding and on our carpet.  This makes the second time in a month that this same toilet has flooded our bathroom floor.  Last time the seal broke.  I hate summer, because once it heats up outside, everything mechanical starts breaking around our place.

While I've been out of it, a lot of other repetitive problems have creeped back since I'm not capable of fending them off.  The unknown neighbor who lets her two dogs run loose has started up that behavior again, so my dogs won't go to the bathroom outside because they are too busy sniffing the scents left behind by the strange dogs.  That means having to scrub the carpet again.  My favorite past-time.  Then one day I was lying on the couch writhing in pain while watching the teenage grandson of the neighbor behind me walk around in my backyard with a gun shooting quail and bunnies.  I swore I'd call the police next time he pulled that stunt, but I was in too much pain to deal with filing a report.  The mere thought of having to get up to put the dogs away so I can answer the door was killing me.  So, some poor animals died because of my inability to take action.

So, life's been hard.  It's been hard for a while.  I'm at a point where I'm just happy if I can sit up for a little while to write and do medical research.  I'm hoping the dogs will stay in this window of good health that they've had this past week just a little bit longer so that I can heal.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mr. Trippy

Apparently, we have a low pressure system over us, so we're not supposed to even reach 80 degrees F today.  I had grand plans to ride as many horses as possible, but my body hasn't been cooperating, as usual.  The best I could do was a short, slow trail ride on Rock.

I was in pain, but riding Rock is usually relaxing, so I considered riding to be my physical therapy.  However, Rock kept tripping, stumbling, and even went all the way down on either his front end or hind end multiple times.  I was trying to figure out what was going on in the picture below, and I think this was me trying to pull him up out of a trip...

Obviously, something was going on with him, so I cut the ride short to check his hooves.  On the way home, he whipped his head around to bite something on his side and the reins got caught up on his bit in an odd way, so I didn't have any leverage.  I decided to just not pull on the reins at all until I could dismount and fix it.  I think this is the first dismount that my helmet cam has ever caught...

I set my camera to take a picture every 60 seconds.  The white thing is PVC pipe going out to the trees by the round pen.

I picked out all of his hooves, and did find a pebble in his left front and stickers in his feathers on his right front, but he seemed to be stumbling worse on his hind end.  Maybe another abscess is forming.

I saw a couple of dust devils out on the trails.  Fortunately, they didn't hit us.  A tarantula wasp saw my red shirt and flew at me, so we had to dodge it.  Most of the dangers were in the air rather than on the ground today.  It's too cool for the rattlesnakes to be out.

The dogs are doing 100% better.  No one has vomited or had diarrhea in days, and they aren't asking to go outside more than once every couple of hours.  Scrappy even acts like he's regained some of his eyesight, and he's been chasing Stewie around the house.  They look like a couple of puppies.

For Mother's Day my daughter came over and we went out to brunch, and then we went shopping in the city at my favorite outlet store where I can get the only brand of jeans that fit me for $20 a pair, where they normally cost between $100 and $150 online and retail.  I love the fit on NYDJ jeans, but they don't last more than six months because the material thins out and rips, and then I have to knot the knees and throw the jeans to the horses to play with.  There's no way I'm going to pay over $40 for any pair of jeans, nonetheless ones that wear out so quick.  So, you can imagine my joy when I find NYDJs for twenty bucks a pair.

My daughter gave me a decorative plate with my initials on it, and my son wrote me a story and chatted with me on the phone.  My husband stayed home to deal with the dogs when my daughter and I were shopping, so it was nice to get out and take my time looking for what I need as opposed to having to race home to take the dogs outside.

Oh yeah, and I saw Betsy the Bobcat in my backyard again the other day.  Rock pointed her out to me.  I didn't have time to get my camera, so I'll show you squirrel pic instead...

Hello?  Is anybody home?

Friday, May 12, 2017

One Step (in Poop) at a Time

The past few days have been challenging.  Scrappy got very sick and had all the symptoms we get when we have the stomach flu.  Of course, that happened right after I spent two days straight vacuuming, sweeping and mopping all the floors in the house.  I felt such a sense of accomplishment until I woke up the next morning to find diarrhea, skidmarks, and/or vomit in every room in the house.  Belly bands don't do much to help with those problems.

I was running circles trying to get him outside in time.  At one point I stepped in poo, and when I ran to get a clean pair of shoes to take him outside, I found that he had already vomited on them.  I needed to find a third pair of slip-on shoes and keep them up high.

Since he couldn't keep anything in, there was no point in feeding him, so he had to fast for a day.  I felt so bad for him because he was weak and shaky.  He still wanted to eat, but the only way his stomach was going to settle out was to starve it.  My husband pointed out that all of these health problems the dogs have had lately were triggered by the changes in the dogs' diets and medications made by our vet.  I was chalking it up to the dogs just being old, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was right.  I originally took the dogs in to get some tumors removed.  I've been in several times since them, and still no tumors have been removed.  I don't know how the vet sucked me into treating them for all these other issues, but both dogs were healthy and doing fine until she got involved.  So, I'm using my common sense for now on instead of following instructions from a vet.  I've already missed way too many days of my life thanks to these dogs being sick.

Part of the reason why I suddenly decided to move forward in getting a pedicure and hair cut this week was because I've spent such a huge amount of time taking care of the dogs these past few months that I'm no longer taking care of myself.  Scrappy was his sickest on the day of my pedicure.  I was stressed out that I would come home to a disgusting mess, so my pedicure wasn't as relaxing as it should have been.  My husband was home, but he was also sick, so I didn't expect him to take the dogs out every five minutes.  The pedicure took an hour and a half, and I did come home to several accidents.  I thought, "At least I'm not having to deal with a hoof abscess in one of my horses, because that would really put everything over the top."

That night I walked out to feed the horses and found Rock limping.  I looked up to the heavens and said, "Really???"

The good news is that the farrier was coming out the next morning, so I decided let him deal with it.  That night I had a nightmare in which Lostine sneezed and some of her internal organs flew out her other end.  She collapsed, and I called the vet.  The vet said she'd cut them off, and Lostine would be fine.  I asked what it was exactly that Lostine expelled, and the vet said it was her uterus and intestines!

The next morning I went out to feed the horses their breakfast and found that Bombay had an injury on his side where someone kicked him, and it was covered in flies.  Again... really???

The horses are always injuring themselves the day of farrier appointments, and I'm usually too busy cleaning stalls before 7:00 AM to get them clean for the farrier for me to notice.  Then the farrier points out the injuries and I feel like an idiot for not seeing them.  He's also good at pointing out that my horses need grooming.  He's like the person who writes "Wash Me" on a dirty car windshield after you just cleaned house for two weeks straight.

He said the abscess had popped during the night, so he just cleaned it out and treated it.  He mentioned that it was good to see me walking without a cane.  I thought about it and realized that I hadn't had any pain in my leg since my pedicure, which included a foot and leg massage.  Maybe getting massaged is the key to being able to walk?

Scrappy got some breakfast this morning and has managed to keep it down all day, so his health is improving, but now I feel like I've got the flu.  Pet moms don't get sick days.  I keep hoping that all the dogs will be in good health long enough for me to focus on my own health.  Things like exercising and eating right have fallen on the wayside ever since this cycle of endless bodily functions with the dogs began weeks ago.  My doctors and dentists are always telling me exactly what I'm supposed to do to improve my health, and I always promise I'll follow through, but then life gets crazy, as usual, and before I know it, six months or a year has passed and I'm back in their offices trying to explain why I'm in worse health than I was in at the last appointment.

Oh yeah, and my market never called me to pick up my order of Kombucha tea, but they did listen when I told them what flavors I like, because the cooler was fully stocked this morning with all the flavors I love.  They even ordered some new flavors and brands they hadn't stocked before, so now our fridge is full of refreshments.  It'll be so nice to drink something other than water for a change.  In fact, with everyone in our household being sick simultaneously, I'm very suspicious of the water.  Time to change all the filters.

Oh no.  I spoke too soon about Scrappy keeping his breakfast down.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mr. Snorty

After having Mr. Tippy Tappy Scrappy keep me awake most of the week with his toenails on the tile, I passed out last night from exhaustion and never let the horses out of their stalls.  That made them restless, so they woke me at 5:00 AM by banging on whatever they could to make noise.  That meant they got fed early and I was able to make it out onto the trails early.

Rock was feeling slightly anxious, which of course, is barely noticeable when it comes to Rock.  He was snorting quietly all the way down the trail and his muscles were tense.  He did alert on something off in the distance a few times, but I couldn't see anything.  That doesn't mean nothing was there, though.  Rock usually knows what he's talking about.  Sometimes I think he is Super Horse, who can see, hear, and smell for miles.

Since there didn't seem to be anything in our immediate environment that should have disturbed him, I chalked it up to him being locked in his stall all night and having to deal with high winds, occasional rain, thunder and lightning over the past couple of days and nights.

My husband had left a wheelbarrow full of dried weeds on the driveway, and some of them had blown out.  Rock stopped to eat them, and he got a couple of spurs in his pits for it.  That didn't deter him from trying to snatch snacks throughout the trail ride.  I used to be able to stop him from snacking by smacking him on the side of the neck with the rein, but he grew immune to that.  Then I used to be able to stop him from snacking my smacking him with the quirt.  Now he just ignores the quirt.  So, I have to spur him, and he usually reacts to that by jumping.

Rock has never been influenced by the other horses kicking or biting him.  It's as if he doesn't feel pain.  He'll just come at them like a bulldozer while they are attacking him.  His persistence wins out and the other horses are intimidated by his toughness.  He's like that monster in the movies that just won't die.  So, that makes it difficult for me to train him.  He acts like a whip is just a fly on his flank.  However, I have noticed that he responds to anger.  If he does something to me or one of the other horses that pisses us off and we come at him with that emotion, he'll respect it and run away.  So, I use my angry tone of voice when he snatches snacks, even if I'm not angry.  On the way home he tried to go for the same dried weeds on the driveway, but I was able to convince him that would be a bad idea.

Our Jacaranda tree is in bloom...

So is the Tipuana Tipu...

I didn't even know that they bloom.  My other one has never bloomed.  Maybe there are blooming versions and non-blooming versions, or maybe they just need to grow tall enough to bloom.  I like the purple Jacaranda flowers better, and I was choosing between a Jacaranda and a Tipu for the round pen shade tree.  I chose the Tipu because it had a little more foliage to create shade.

The tree still doesn't cast a shadow in the round pen until after 5:00 PM, though.  I know some day it will, but I was hoping for now.  Fortunately, Gabbrielle hasn't been too violent so far this spring, so I haven't had to send her to Exile Island.

I was betting that the snowbirds who live in the house above my round pen were going to stay there year round this year, but a couple of days ago I noticed that their shades were closed and realized that they hadn't closed their window shades all winter.  Even at night when I'd let the horses out of their stalls, I'd see their TV set casting light through the window.  Sure enough, their car was gone, so they did go back to where they came from.  So, now with two vacant houses on the block, I'm free to ride on my own property without having to worry about who's going to pop out of the bushes.  Hopefully, the high temps will hold off a little longer so that I can take advantage of it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What a Difference a Day Makes

Last night Scrappy kept waking me up with his pacing.  Usually, he sleeps like a rock and Midge is the one who paces.  The tippy-tapping of toenails on the tile floor is like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.  I took advantage of Midge being sick last week by clipping her toenails when she was too weak to fight back, but Scrappy and Stewie are still a battle.

You may remember that I was stressing over who will trim Scrappy's toenails now that he has that humongous tumor on his toe.  I figured I'd have to pay the vet to do it.  However, the vet put him on a medication that may or may not shrink the mass, and Scrappy turned out to be one of the lucky few who it worked for.  This week I noticed that the swelling was almost completely gone, which is amazing when you consider that the vet was talking about amputating his entire toe a few weeks ago.  I decided to take him and Stewie to the dog salon and say nothing about Scrappy's toe.  I wanted to see if the groomer would notice a problem and bring it up.  She didn't.  She just mentioned that because he's so old, he has a hard time standing up on the grooming table, so she had to get someone to hold him while he got his pedicure.  All's well that ends well.

So, that's happy news.  Since things were going my way, I decided to try again to set up all those appointments that eluded me yesterday.  Someone answered right away at the hair salon, so I was able to get some personalized service.  I was disappointed to find out that the lady who answered the phone will be my stylist.  That means they don't have a receptionist and I'll have to deal with her answering the phone during my appointment.  I also found out that she only works Wednesdays and Saturdays, so I have to wait over a week to get my hair done.  It's pretty ratty right now.

Then someone actually picked up the phone at the pedicure place.  I couldn't believe it.  I've been calling them for over six months without so much as a pulse being at the other end of the line.  I got my appointment for that.  I had the same trouble with them that I have with most people where I say I need an afternoon appointment, and they say, "How about 11:00?"

It's amazing how many people graduated from high school without knowing the range of time that covers an afternoon.  After noon.  Get it?  Noon is 12:00 PM.  After that.  Every one picks appointment times between 9:00 AM and noon for me, and that's right when I like to ride my horses if the weather permits.  I always keep that time clear.  I said, "No, I need an afternoon appointment like..." and I was going to suggest 2:00 PM, because the dogs are always sleeping then and I have no animals to feed or chores to do, but she said, "I have a 1:00."

I took it.  I'll have to feed and potty the dogs early, but it shouldn't be too much of a hassle.  Then I called the vet, hoping for a triple crown, but no one answered.  I left a message and vowed to just keep my phone with me all day... or week.  I tend to catch vets when they are on vacation.  

Last night my husband came home from work with a bunch of new flavors and brands of Kombucha tea.  He shopped at a Walmart in the city where he works.  So, we have some of that in stock now.  I'm not holding my breath waiting for my local grocery store to order it for me.

Going to the dog salon is always a struggle.  Neither Stewie nor Scrappy like it there, so I have to drag them.  Even if I can situate my purse in such a way that I can carry one dog, I still have to drag the other.  Everybody watches me struggle, but nobody ever offers to help.  I keep hoping that one of these days someone will at least hold the door open for me.  Anyway, Scrappy is completely obsessed by the smells of other dogs, so I couldn't get him to leave the planter in front of the salon.  I had to push him along with my foot, and this lady was looking down her nose at me like I was being abusive.

Despite taking the dogs out to do their business immediately before driving to the salon, Scrappy both peed and pooed in the planter.  I've learned to carry plastic sandwich baggies in my purse at all times so that I don't get stoned in public.  While I was waiting for the dogs' nails to be done, a lady drove up in a crossover and pulled into the parking spot right next to my truck.  She parked so close that there was no way that I could open the back door and get my dogs into my truck.  To top it all off, there were dozens of empty spaces she had to choose from.  There was no need to block me like that.  I was going to pick up Stewie and run out there to ask her to move her car when she read my mind and pulled forward into a spot directly in front of the salon.

She then proceeded to step right in front of me at the cash register and throw several twenties down on the counter.  I was waiting to pay for the toenail trims and I had been there about five minutes already.  All the groomers were busy and the owner was on the phone, and this lady just yelled out her dog's name and demanded that someone bring him to her.  They let her pay before me, even though I'd been waiting, and I thought she must be someone terribly important who is in a very big hurry.  However, once she got her dog, she made all of us wait while she exclaimed how wonderful he looked and asked each of us if we agreed.  She then reached down and grabbed Stewie and held him still so that she could pet him without asking me if it was okay.  Poor Stewie was terrified.

She let her dog run around off leash despite my dog being right there.  Her dog ran up to Stewie to sniff him, and Stewie tolerated it for about two seconds before her bared his teeth and growled.  She saw all this, but did nothing, so I had to pick up my dog to save her dog from getting bit despite me being the responsible one keeping my dog on a short leash.  Oh, how I love to crouch down and bend over with my arthritis pain.  I really dislike people in this world who think they are superior to everyone and must have the right of way.  That's the vibe this lady gave off.  The Queen is here.  Make way.

I run into one of those almost every time I go to this dog salon, so as you can imagine, it's not my favorite place.  However, I was so pleased to be free of the tippy-tapping on the tile for a while that I could tolerate dealing with Miss Haughty Pants for a few minutes, knowing that the luxury of a full night's sleep is on my horizon.

Monday, May 8, 2017

In the Twilight Zone

It seems that I have been teleported into another world, because the one I've been in recently is not the world I know.  Things are changing in my community, and I wouldn't say it is for the better.  First off, I wait until May to shop for items I've needed all winter because if I do my shopping before then, I have to contend with excessive traffic, crowds, and competition to grab what I need off shelves.  Sometimes I literally have people take items out of my hands.  I can't deal with all the rudeness, so I just wait for the snowbirds to leave, and then I shop at my leisure.

However, so far the shelves and racks in every store I have visited have been just shy of being empty.  I know these stores are not under-stocked because everything has been bought out.  Most of the snowbirds have flown back home.  That means that the managers of these stores just simply are not bothering to restock their shelves since the population has been cut down to a fraction of what it was before.  That's not fair to those of us who live here year round.  We still need supplies.  It's as if the store managers are saying that we don't count.  They don't want local business.

I recently had to special order Kombucha tea from my local grocery store because I was sick of going there every weekend to find their cooler empty.  My husband even ordered a kit so that we can make our own.  The supermarkets have let us down one too many times.  Everything else I haven't been able to find in local stores I ended up ordering online.  Of course, the stores will offer to order for me, but then I've got to pick it up at their store, and why do that when I can just order it myself and have it delivered to my doorstep?

Then there are the businesses that provide services, as opposed to products.  When I was younger and I needed a haircut, I simply called the salon between Monday and Saturday during business hours and a receptionist picked up and set up my appointment for me.  Well, apparently, in today's world, no one can afford a receptionist, so they just let every call go to voicemail, and then they return customer calls at their convenience to set up appointments.  I, for one, am not willing to play telephone tag.  I call people when I can, and if they don't pick up, I hang up because I don't want them calling at a time that is inconvenient for me like when I'm riding a horse or feeding the animals or giving out medications or driving a car or trying to eat a meal without being interrupted.

This morning I attempted to set up several appointments before going for a trail ride.  First I called the vet and no one picked up.  My call was routed to voicemail, so I hung up.  Then I called my hair stylist and got a recorded message saying that they are only open part-time over the summer, and that they relocated to the city.  Ummmm, the only reason why I was going to that particular salon was because it was nearby.  I don't like to waste a huge chunk of my day driving long distances, so I crossed them off my list of service providers I'm willing to use.

I searched for another local salon I kind of liked, and found that it went out of business.  In its place, however, is a new salon with better reviews.  I called the number repeatedly throughout the day, and got routed to voicemail every time.  Their message claimed that if they don't pick up, it's because they are on another line or helping another customer and will get right back to me.  The fact that no one picked up any of the times that I called made me suspicious that they either do not have a receptionist or she is out sick today.  I do not like going to salons where my stylist has to keep abandoning me to answer the phone.  I'm paying for an hour or more of that stylist's time during my appointment and I don't want to have to listen to her chat with other customers on the phone on my dime.  That's like having a riding instructor who talks on the phone during your hour lesson.

Then I called a nail salon to set up an appointment for a much overdue pedicure, and got a message that they are closed on Mondays.  This is another place that never picks up their phone.  However, there aren't many good choices in my area for that kind of service, so I may have to bite the bullet and leave a message and play telephone tag with them.  I just hate it when it takes longer to set up an appointment because of all the phone calls than it does to actually do the appointment.

Anyway, I am curious how things are in other parts of the world.  Do the rest of you have to leave a message and wait for a call back in order to set up an appointment?  Or can you rely on someone to pick up the line at your convenience?  Also, can you generally find what you need in your local stores or do you have to do all your shopping online?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Sunday Ride

I was looking forward to Sunday because our temps were forecasted to drop drastically.  On Friday we set a record high at 107 degrees for May 5th.  However, on Sunday a cold storm moved in, dropping the temps down into the 70s, and busting my belief that once it gets into the triple digits it stays there for the next 4 to 6 months.  The temps have been really extreme and unpredictable this year, offering one more argument that global warming is happening and is an imminent threat to life as we know it on earth.

In addition to the drop in temps, I was looking forward to Sunday because my neighbor who has been fixing up the house next door for the past four weeks was scheduled to fly back to his new home, which meant that I would no longer have to contend with him popping out from behind things, climbing ladders, and running power tools right when I ride past his house.  However, wouldn't you know it, the neighbor on the other side of me decided to do some work on his well, which is right next to my driveway, on Sunday morning.  Weekends in general are usually not a good time for me to ride, and then add in that we are in that time of year when cool temps are few and far between, so when it is nice out, everyone and his brother is out.

The dogs got me up before my body was ready to wake up, and they were peeing on the carpet while I was trying to gather them to take them outside.  There was no time for me to get dressed, use the bathroom, or brush my hair before taking them out, and sure enough, I ran right into my neighbor at 6:00 AM.

I caught a break in the activity when Rock finished his breakfast.  He was a stinker about holding still for the mount.  All it takes is one week off from riding and we have to start all over with that training.  Once I mounted, he rushed up the driveway and ignored my cues to stop so that I could get my boot in the other stirrup, so I pulled his head around and made him walk around the property a little bit.  I wasn't happy about having to do that, because I heard a rattlesnake rattling while I was mounting, but could not locate where it was.  The sooner we got off the property, the better, but I couldn't let Rock get away with calling the shots.

Once out on the trails, I was frustrated to see that someone tore up the desert on his ATV, which is illegal in this location.

All the places where the tire tracks veer off the trail and where the axle width is narrower than that of a truck is where they drove.  There were several places where they did donuts over and over and just completely shredded the plant life.  The only way someone can get into this part of the desert is if they cut a fence.  I had heard an ATV engine one night in front of my house, but didn't investigate, because sometimes those engines can be so loud that they may be a block away driving up and down a street and sound like they are doing donuts in front of my house.  Well, this time I probably should have investigated.  Oh well, now that I'm aware of the problem, I'll be ready for them next time.

There's just no excuse to do that, because there are so many designated locations around here where people can legally drive their ATVs away from horseback riders.

I had to keep the ride short, because something snapped in my hip when I mounted.  What happens is that my muscles get used to stretching a certain way when I limp, and then when I need to throw my leg over the saddle, the muscle isn't flexible enough to do so.

When I returned to our backyard, I was taken by surprise by Stewie barking and charging us.  Midge was also there, but she was too blind and deaf to notice us.  My husband had taken the dogs into the backyard off leash.  He ordered Stewie to sit, and Stewie stopped in his tracks, and then ran to my husband.  Rock wasn't scared, but I was worried that Stewie would get stepped on.  He's a small dog as is, but from horseback he looks really tiny.

Love those clouds.

Lostine has been taking forever to finish her hay, so I'm thinking she may have dental problems.  I remember last year Bombay had a lot of dental problems, and I was warned that the following year it would be Lostine's turn to get a lot of work done.  I don't know if my vet even has an equine dentist to assist her this late in the spring.  She only partners up with a dentist in the spring and fall.  I'll just call on Monday and try to set something up.  It's really hard to focus on the horses when the dogs are requiring so much veterinary attention.

I've tried explaining to people how hard it is for me to get anything done or go anywhere with the dogs in their current states, but nobody really gets it.  I've been having miserable acid stomach issues, and have been trying all these different things to stop it.  Then it hit me that my problem is that I can never just eat a meal.  The dogs are constantly interrupting me to take them outside, and then my food gets cold or warm or soggy or whatever, and I don't want to finish eating or drinking it.

It's really important that I get to eat a meal in peace every once in a while or all that acid is going to chew right through my stomach.  My husband tells me to just eat and ignore the dogs, but that's hard to do when they are peeing or pooping or vomiting on the carpet right in front of me every time I eat.  If I put them out in the kennel, they bark the entire time, so I can't relax.  If I go into a separate room and close the door, they scratch at the door, so that I can't relax.  If I put them in crates, they chew and scratch at the bars until they bleed, so I can't relax.

My neighbor's wife was trying to get me to make time to go out to dinner with her husband, because she was worried that he was lonely, and I tried explaining to her how hard it is for me to leave the dogs alone in the house for very long.  I do go out to eat every once in a while, but only in local restaurants and only when it's not storming, and only when the dogs are stabilized.  She and her husband will only eat in restaurants in an upscale neighborhood that is an hour drive away one way.  I would need three hours and a spare $100 to go out to eat with him.

Then I talked to her husband and I was explaining how hard it is for me to take care of all these horses and dogs with my arthritis pain, and he said that he noticed that every time he drove past my house, either me or my husband was outside with the dogs on a potty walk.  That's saying a lot, because he did a lot of driving back and forth when he was here.  When my hip is locked up and my leg can't move, it's difficult getting up and down, going in and out every few minutes with those dogs and their incontinent bladders and upset stomachs.

But, people just don't get it.  When I bring up the subject, I'm not looking for sympathy.  I know nobody cares.  I also know that talking about your health problems is the quickest way to clear a room.  However, when I do bring it up, it's because I'm looking for some understanding so that people will stop asking me for favors and stop expecting me to operate at a faster rate or on a level higher than I am capable of doing.  I can't do what most people can do, because I'm handicapped by both my health and my circumstances.  Still, I find that after I explain my situation, people still pressure me to do things that are out of my realm of capabilities.  Sometimes these favors are stuff I can do, but not without sacrifice.  I pay for it in some way -- either through pain or through loss of time or through having to deal with the consequences of not being home to handle the constant dog problems.

I'm at a point where I don't want to let anyone inside my house, not just because of the mess and stench, but because when people see my dogs, I get comments like, "They look fine to me."

I want to respond by saying, "Oh, then you wouldn't mind dog sitting for a while?", grabbing my keys and telling them I'll be back in an hour or two.  See how well they handle it.

I'm thankful for that occasional horseback ride so that I can get away from it all.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Add a Rat to my List

I didn't aspire to reach this goal, but I can now add petting a kangaroo rat to my list of wild animals I've "tamed".  Tonight I was in the barn with the horses checking their vitals because Bombay is sick, and while I was bent over listening to Rock's gut sounds, I saw a kangaroo rat munching away on the bits of hay that fell onto the ground under the feed trough.  I was wearing a head lamp, and the rat was sitting in a spotlight.  I took a step toward it, and it didn't move.  I realized that it couldn't see me because I was outside of the light, so I reached behind it and stroked its body, and it didn't react at first.  I thought it was interesting that it didn't immediately jump and run away.  Its cheeks were bulging out as it continued to stuff its face.  I petted it a little more freely and then it saw my hand in the light and scurried a few feet away.

I don't know what is up with Bombay.  He was waiting for me at the gate this afternoon and "talking" to me with his eyes.  I knew something was up.  Then when I checked on him tonight, he hadn't eaten most of his hay.  He does have gut sounds, though.  Hopefully, this too shall pass.  I don't need anymore sick animals.  Because I'm so busy with the dogs, I considered pushing the horses' annual vaccinations and teeth floats off until the fall, but now I'm not so sure.  I cancelled Midge's blood panel, because I knew it would just be a waste of money with useless results after having no consistency in her diet and insulin levels over the past few weeks.  The vet said that was the right thing to do.  We need consistency for at least seven days to get the information we need.

I knew there was one other thing that happened this week that bummed me out when I wrote my last post, and now I've remembered it.  My neighbors got burglarized two more times in the past six months.  They were burglarized a couple of years ago and I felt guilty for not paying closer attention.  I had seen a man in a white pick up truck casing the neighborhood, and I heard someone using power tools, but I didn't investigate, and they ended up having a bunch of statues stolen out of their yard.  This time someone stole a wreath sculpture off their front door, and someone stole tools out of their garage.

When I was taking care of their place, I had noticed that they left their garage door openers in a kitchen drawer, and I was thinking of telling them that they should hide those because someone could snatch one during an open house or home viewing, and come back later to let themselves in.  I don't know if that's how someone stole the tools, but I plan to ask next time I see the owner if he can account for all the garage door openers.  I know they've also had a lot of home improvement service people come into their home and some of them were acting sketchy, so it's possible that one of those people stole the tools.  We think the guy who made an offer on the house and then backed out was the one who took the wreath.  He practically lived over there, because I saw him on the property just about every other day over the past few months.

The neighbors had cleaned out the house for the most part, but they kept a few things there for when they came into town.  I think a lot of people have this attitude that if a house is mostly empty and up for sale, then anything left behind is a free for all.  Not true.  If it doesn't belong to you, leave it.  Anyway, in light of these burglaries, the neighbors are putting up No Trespassing signs and putting locks on all their gates so that people can no longer even get to the front door to peer in the window, and they've given me permission to hassle anyone who lets themselves onto the property, and tell them they have to leave.  That will make my life much easier, because I was at my wits end with all the trespassers and squatters hanging out over there next to my riding arena.

I put up with a lot of nosy people because I knew that in order for the neighbors to sell their house, they have to let people look.  However, despite having strangers traipsing all around their place on a daily basis, and having weirdos doing surveillance on the neighborhood, there hasn't been one single serious offer on the house.  There was one offer, but it wasn't serious.  They guy just wanted to see how much he could get for nothing.  I also found out that of all those people who looked at the house this past year, only three of them went through the proper channels and were shown the house by a real estate agent.  All the rest were just nosy trespassers.

In fact, one neighbor who has a history of sticking his nose where it doesn't belong had been bicycling up to the house and peering in the windows, as well as chasing down prospective home buyers to question them, and I wanted to confront him and tell him to mind his own business if he doesn't plan on buying the house.  I was concerned that he might have been chasing off potential home buyers by telling them bad things about the neighborhood.  Most real estate agents discourage home shoppers from talking to neighbors for that reason.  They don't want a neighbor to blow a sale for them.  Anyway, I found out later that this man's wife is a real estate agent, and she had shown someone the house.  I thought, "Oh, I'm so glad that I didn't tell him to mind his own business since it turned out that his wife did have business with the home sellers."

Still later, the sellers found out that his wife didn't actually show the house to anyone.  She just took advantage of there being a lock box at the house, and toured it herself because she was curious.  She lives right down the street and isn't in the market to buy a house.  She's also not really a real estate agent.  She just has some kind of connections with people in the field.  I have no respect for people who misrepresent themselves.  At any rate, because I'm sensitive about my privacy, I don't appreciate people coming around that house who have no business being there.

One of the sellers has been staying in the house all month.  He showed up just about the time most of the snowbirds were leaving, so he didn't get the full impact of all the people flocking to his property, but one evening a couple of guys on a motorcycle showed up for the umpteenth time when he was in the garage.  He stopped them and asked if they wanted to buy the house.  They started giving all kinds of excuses, which surprised me, because that particular motorcyclist had been driving by the house every night over a period of a couple of weeks.  If he wasn't serious about buying the house, why did he keep coming back?  Maybe he was the one who broke in and stole the tools.  After the owner spoke with him, he never came back, which restored some peace, because his motorcycle engine was quite loud and getting on my nerves.

So, I'm going to have to be more vigilant about chasing off repeat offenders now that I know it is more likely that they are casing the neighborhood to commit a crime than it is that they are actually interested in buying the house.