Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hoof Day

The universe decided that yesterday was Hoof Day for me, or at least The Day of Discovering Broken Hooves in Need of Repair. I got a few breaks from work and was able to spend a bit of time with the horses and cleaning up manure. On my first attempt to shovel manure, I noticed that Gabbrielle had a chip forming on her left hind hoof. It was like a large hanging chad. So, I haltered her and tied her up, nipped off the chip and filed the remaining part of the hoof wall down.

I released her back into the paddock only to notice that her left front hoof had an identical chip. I repeated the whole process, then double-checked all of her hooves really well. Once releasing her a second time, I checked all of Lostine and Bombay's hooves, and they looked good.

Anytime that the weather changes radically -- in my case, from snowstorms to 80-degree summer heat -- the horses' hooves have a hard time adapting. The hooves are still moist enough to bend easily, while the ground is getting drier and harder.

I made another attempt at shoveling manure when my neighbor drove up. Anytime that I am out doing chores when either the man or the woman drive up, they park their car, open the driver's side door, swing their legs out, and sit there staring at me for the duration of time that I am out there. I didn't feel like being stared at, so I dropped my fork and went into the house.

I used to think that the man just couldn't get out of his car because he is old and has back problems, but the woman does this too. Then I considered that perhaps they belong to a church that makes them pray every time they get in or out of their car, and their prayers just happen to last a really, really long time. And they don't close their eyes when they pray, but stare at the nearest person. They often come out of their house while I am working outside, get into their car, and then sit there staring at me like they are waiting for something or they can't remember where they were going.

Until now I've never known anyone to take so ridiculously long to put the key in the ignition, and then from the point of starting up the engine take several more minutes to put the car in reverse and back up, then from that point to take several more minutes to shift into drive and drive off. Then even when they drive off, they act like they forgot something and park in my driveway or in front of my house for a while. It's bizarre. One day they drove up while I was cleaning manure, sat in their car staring at me for about 20 minutes, and then drove off. They never even got out and went into their house. What was the point of that?

I'm still trying to figure out how they always manage to appear in their vehicles each time I step outside. They must have computers in their cars that display a streaming satellite video pointed at my house. I've inspected my entire body and haven't found a GPS device implanted anywhere, so the streaming video is the only feasible answer. (For those who don't know my sense of humor -- Yes, I am kidding... about the GPS and video, but not about them always appearing in the same moment that I walk outside.)

Hopefully, one of these days they will realize that when they aren't around to stare at me, my yard is magically cleaned. However, each time that they materialize to start their staring routine, I go inside the house without finishing my manure clean-up, and I am sure to leave the manure along their fence line there the longest. If they don't care for horse manure, they might want to give me my space so I can get my chores done in peace and privacy.

Around mid-afternoon I decided to take Lostine for a quick spin. I caught her, tacked her up, and began lunging her. My neighbor came out, took five minutes to lock her front door, took another five minutes to fiddle around in her car, took another five minutes to unlock her front door, came back out empty-handed, spent another five minutes locking her front door, got in her car, took another five minutes to fire up the engine, and then finally drove off. Lord, if I had a spare 25 minutes to waste like that, I'd be in heaven.

But I digress, like I said, I decided to take Lostine for a quick spin, and she decided to take me for a bronc ride. That's typical. Anytime that I ride when no one is home and I've only got a few minutes to spare, she flips out and goes on a bucking rampage. I'm getting pretty good at leaning back and absorbing the buck. I believe she picks up on my time pressures, even though I am consciously moving slowly in a relaxed manner. She probably senses that I'm being more purposeful than usual, and she feels pressure to perform, only to rebel instead. Plus it's springtime and she's fresh. I usually work the bucks out of her by summer.

She's had a tough week with her teeth float and half dozen immunizations, so I'm sure she was plenty sore. I decided to just park her and sit on her and breathe deeply in hopes that I could alleviate her nervousness.

As soon as I took a deep breath, she turned her head to look at me, and then she took a deep breath and all the tension melted right out of her. I gazed at the mountains and felt Lostine breathing beneath me. After only being gone for a few minutes, my neighbor drove back home and did her usual routine of making a bunch of trips between her car and her house slamming door after door after door, pretending like she lost something, but really keeping a close eye on me. Lostine and I just stayed there with our backs to her breathing deeply and ignoring the distraction. Then a school bus drove past and all the kids started yelling "Horsey!" out the windows, and we just continued to stand there breathing deeply together.

I then moved Lostine into a walk, but she kept turning in and trying to walk to the center of the round pen, which I realized, is where I always dismount. That is her way of telling me to get off. Instead, I steered her to the outside of the pen and turned her in the opposite direction that she usually faces when I dismount. I dismounted there in a new spot on the downhill side and took her by surprise. If you get to be too predictable with horses, they'll take advantage of it.

Once I began removing her tack I noticed that she took a big chunk out of the side her hoof wall. It was really sharp and ragged, so I nipped it a little more evenly and filed it down. This is what it looked like after I worked on it...

I know the hoof could be picked out better, but it was a weekday and I was already spending more time away from my desk than I anticipated. I think I need to put learning how to properly trim horse's hooves on my To Do List, perhaps print out Mrs. Mom's posts and read them enough times that the information will stick in my feeble brain. I'm always doing emergency repairs without really knowing what I'm doing.

I think I will also start keeping hoof boots on the horses while I ride at home. It's just one more thing to tack up with, which extends the amount of time I need in order to prepare to ride, but maybe it will cut down on the number of hooves I have to repair. The sand around my paddock has always been soft enough that the horses don't need shoes there, but this year that is proving not to be true. So, I think I'll put those Old Macs and Easyboots to use here at home at least until the horses' hooves harden up enough to stop cracking, chipping, and bending.

In the evening I went out to try to finish cleaning up the manure, and within 30-seconds the man came driving up the street and did his routine of sitting in his car watching me. What was bizarre was that he called out to his wife, who obviously wasn't home since her car was missing. Only two people live in the house, two cars were gone, he drove up in one... do the math. I don't even live there and I could tell his wife wasn't home. I'm beginning to wonder if they both might be developing Alzheimer's Disease. That would explain a lot.


Mrs Mom said...

Holy crap those neighbors would drive me batty!!! Totally-- like driven to do something off the wall INSANE while they are looking (and looking and looking and looking...) You know, something like yanking my considerable amount of hair up into some wild 80's do, and prancing around the paddock in a thong and sports bra screaming the song "I TOUCH MYSELF" at the top of my lungs while there were out there....

(Well, OK, so.. .maybe not so much...LOL)

I'll zap you and email about your hoof pics here, and bounce and idea off of you. In the meantime, have an amazing day there with those lovely horses of yours!

Kate said...

Your neighbors sound really strange - glad they're yours and not mine LOL! Have you ever met them? Perhaps they're just fascinated by the horses and all the work that goes into horse keeping.

Strange, isn't it, how the horses can immediately sense our moods just from our posture and muscular tension, and how we breath. I use breathing a lot to relax the horse both when riding and working on the ground. Thanks for your interesting posts!

fernvalley01 said...

Aside from all the distractions, sounds like you and Lostine did well after the "deep breathing . Funny how when you let out your tension ,so do they.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mrs. Mom - LMAO.

Kate - Yes, I've met and know these neighbors. They board horses, so they can't be that fascinated with what I'm doing since they do the same thing every day. In posts I've written in the past, you'd see that they are just extremely nosy with poor social skills. I think the woman might have OCD when it comes to getting in other people's business, because she's done way whackier things than this. This is mild and actually a relief from her normal behavior. The entire family is full of starers. Whenever their kids and grand kids visit, they too stand in the front yard and stare at me in what should be my private yard. One time a carload of them drove up, parked right up against my horse fence, and they all got out and lined up to watch me while I shoveled manure. They weren't watching my horses, but were watching my activities. I guess they just really like poop.

Lulu said...

Are you sure the neighbors aren't handicapped? They just sound SOOO odd, it really is hard to comprehend that there isn't something mentally off. Maybe that is just me jumping to conclusions.

We live on the corner of a large field section, so most of the traffic does slow down when I'm out there with the horses. I'm a good 100 yards off of the road, they're just lookie-loos.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lulu - Being handicapped is a possibility. I'm unsure what kind of handicap. They both hold down jobs that require at least an average IQ. I would suspect it would be more in line with either a form of mental illness, Alzheimer's, or perhaps brain damage that affects memory so that they keep doing the same thing over and over and lose track of time. I wish I knew, because then perhaps I could be more tolerant and understanding. It's also strange that all the people in this family have these inappropriate social behaviors, which makes me think it is learned.

Just now I went to the mailbox, turned around, and jumped out of my skin to see that the woman had driven up behind me and was staring at me again. If I'm not already paranoid, I'm well on my way.

Katharine Swan said...

Your neighbors clearly have a lot of time on their hands. Too bad you don't. Otherwise I'd suggest sitting down or leaning against the fence and staring back at them until they go away. Unfortunately they probably wouldn't get it and would start complaining to people about their neighbor who stared at them all the time. :-S

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - No kidding. I have thought about giving them a taste of their own medicine, but I don't think it would have any effect. I'd rather model the appropriate behavior, which is acknowledging the person with a wave and then going about your own business instead of loitering and gawking. Sometimes I say hello and make small talk, but they are in my face so often (like a dozen times a day) that I don't want to have to always be waving. I have other neighbors who I like who I only see once every few months.

Reddunappy said...

Wow I think I would go postal on some crazy neighbors like that LOL it is soooo wierd.
Ya I went out to check feet and found a lame mare, she is still holding it up today.

Molly said...

Oh my. Those odd neighbors again. I'm with Mrs. Mom and was picturing doing the shimmy in between scoopfuls.

One Red Horse said...

"I think I need to put learning how to properly trim horse's hooves on my To Do List"

I have so enjoyed the journey learning to do my own trims. If you visit my blog and scroll past my blogrolls, you will come to some resources I have found incredibly helpful.

Will just mention one here - the hoof forum has a great bunch of folks committed to barefoot trims. Visit, learn how to photograph hoofs, and upload your photos. You will get amazing consultation, suggestions, and encouragement from some very skilled trimmers.

Best of Luck,


Breathe said...

Two words : Gas Light.

Those two would make me crazy. Maybe this is harsh, but could you ask them to leave?

I'm glad I'm not the only person with a bronc. My horse doesn't really have the spring excuse, he's just... emotional. :)

lytha said...

mensch, your neighbors. i *LOL* at your "new religion" comment. too loud, i laughed: )

thanks for the laughter today, i hate to thank the neighbors from outer space, but they're entertaining people around the world with their insane behavior.

i value my privacy so much i just couldn't stand it. every so often when i'm cleaning up poop, i scan the neighbors' yard to see if anyone is watching me. nope, so far so good. i spend a lot of time staring into their yard cuz it's so pretty right now!

hope they don't mind a horse scruffy yard by their pretty one.


Shirley said...

Maybe you should charge a fee for the entertainment:"You can watch, but it's going to cost you $50 an hour!" Then send them a bill.....heeheeheeee