Friday, May 1, 2009

Good Horses and Bad Drivers

I have found that my horses and I have established a rhythm and understanding this spring that we've never had before. It used to be that when I let them out of the paddock onto the RV lane to graze, they'd get into all kinds of trouble, and I'd have to chase them back into the paddock with a longe whip. A lot of times one sneaky horse would always break away from the others and as soon as I'd start herding her, the other two would bust back out of the paddock. It was a mess.

Last spring, I wouldn't have to go so far as chasing the horses around, but only had to open the tack room door. The horses knew that meant I was reaching for the longe whip, and they would voluntarily walk back to the paddock.

This spring, all I have to do is say, "Let's go inside!" and all three horses obediently walk back into the paddock in a calm, orderly manner. It feels so easy, yet I know it took years of work to get them to this point.

This morning I drove into the driveway to find that Lostine had cornered Bombay and would not release him. He was trapped while she blocked his escape and ate what was left of his breakfast. All I had to do was say, "Lostine!" and she knew she was in trouble. She took off, and then Bombay had to squeeze himself out of his corner. There was a feed trough directly behind him, and he had to back out in a very narrow space between the trough and the round pen railing. He managed to do it without hitting anything, so I gave him a round of applause. Horses love applause. Have you ever noticed that?

Anyway, I was impressed, because for many years I could not get Bombay to back up on his own, while leading or from the saddle without him crashing his butt and his hooves into things. This just goes to show you what kind of skills horses can learn from humans if you put enough work into it.

On another note, I'm beginning to feel more comfortable riding a horse than driving a car. My son normally takes the bus to school, but we decided to drive him this morning since we were heading in that direction anyway. I'm unfamiliar with the rules of the parking lot and was nervous about mixing it up with all those teenage drivers and buses, but when I arrived, hardly anyone was in the parking lot. So, I drove up an aisle to a curb, but decided to turn up another aisle to avoid blocking traffic while my son got out of the car.

I looked up the aisle and no one was there, so I stepped on the gas to make my turn and my husband yelled, "Look out!" A big yellow bus was bearing down on us. I slammed on my brakes and since the ground was wet from rain, the anti-lock brake system kicked in, causing a big ruckus of jerking and squealing. The bus blasted past my front end as we skidded to a stop. My son said, "That was cool!"

I had slammed on the brakes so hard that somehow I managed to break a fingernail. I checked my pants, because I was sure I messed myself. That was a close one. Then the anger set in. "Where did that bus come from? I looked and no one was in the aisle!"

My husband said, "He was hauling." That bus driver, who was carrying our precious cargo, was going at least 40 MPH through a high school parking lot! Legally, the speed limit is 10 MPH in all parking lots. He wasn't setting a very good example for our kids, who are just learning to drive. Buses don't have seat belts. Just think of the disaster it would have been had he hit us.

Then I was driving in an area that goes from 55 MPH to 65 MPH, and most people want to go 65 in the 55 zone, but I don't, because I know it is patrolled really well. I was in the left-hand lane and this lady came roaring up behind me, so I moved over to let her pass. She stayed beside me, and then right when the speed zone was changing and I was accelerating, she decided to pass and get in front of me. I mean she totally cut me off, almost taking off my front end as she slid over. Then she proceeded to slow down to 45 MPH in the 65 MPH zone where there was no place to turn. Argh! I promptly passed her. I don't know why she couldn't have dropped in behind me, because there were no other cars behind us for miles. She also left her turn signal flashing long after she changed lanes, which made me suspect that she got a phone call, which made her basically stop driving and start coasting without paying attention to her dashboard or the vehicles around her.

It seems that every time I have to drive somewhere, I nearly get killed. A lot of it is due to an increase in the population in my area. I've been spoiled by being able to drive in a rural community for many years without having any traffic, and now so many people are moving to Northern Nevada that the roads are becoming dangerous. Despite the housing crisis, housing sales are up 60% this year in my area. I often find myself fantasizing about the days of the wild west when everyone used horses for transportation. I don't know if it was any safer, but I'm sure it was more relaxing.


Katharine Swan said...

NM, the road war stories made me think of something that happened to me on Tuesday.

I was caught in traffic and stopped about 20 feet behind the car in front of me to avoid blocking an intersection, because you know, you're not supposed to do that. Suddenly I heard honking and realized it was the old fart behind me. In the rearview mirror I could tell that in addition to honking, he was yelling and gesturing wildly at me. Basically, he wanted me to move up and block the intersection so that he could have room to make a right turn. I don't think so! And sure enough, a moment later 2 cars came along in the other direction and wanted to turn left. Had I moved up for the self-absorbed jerk behind me, they wouldn't have been able to.

Anyway, it turned out that the lane was blocked further up, so we sat there for 2 or 3 minutes. The entire time, I watched this guy yelling and gesturing in my rearview mirror. Finally -- I admit it -- I flipped him off, which just got him going all over again. I wish I'd had my camera with me, because it was actually quite funny to watch his silent temper tantrum in the rearview mirror!

It's times like that when I'm glad I work from home, and don't have to deal with other drivers' stupidity on a regular basis...

Paint Girl said...

The older I get the more road rage I get at other drivers! I am not an evil road rager, but I will scream, flip off. People DO NOT know how to drive!
A couple that really get to me are the ones that merge onto the freeway doing 30 mph when the speed limit is 70! Hello! How the hell are you going to merge? They are the ones that are going to cause others to wreck!
Another is of course the idiots that can't do the speed limit on the freeway and they are in the fast lane! Why do they make a slow lane?
Sorry, just had to vent. There are so many things that irritate me. I am a good driver, I speed from time to time, and in my 20 years of driving have had only 1 speeding ticket and 1 wreck (NOT my fault) so why can't others drive the same? Plus I live in one of the worst traffic areas!

jen098 said...

I used to commute a great deal. I also used to get P.O.d, not so much because someone drove slow or fast, but when they put my safety at risk. So, in order to not raise my own blood pressure (let's face it, most people don't care if they piss you off, so your anger only affects YOU) these are things I tell myself: 1. Maybe the person is lost, so they are driving slow. 2)I pretend they have a spare tire on, only allowing them to drive 45 mph.3) Some unspeakable tragedy happended and they are trying to get to the hospital. 4) If they are obviously and idiot, I picture a giant penis driving...that one makes me laugh. While I still lose my temper from time to time, like at people who stop short, or pull out when no one is behind me, it has helped me calm down some. I also try to never be in a hurry whenever possible.

If the bus driver was driving like that, find out who has the bus contracts and report him.

Strawberry Lane said...

Ok, that does it! I'm staying home. After reading about your near miss with the car and reading about so many horse people eating dirt lately ... I'm going to learn to be a couch potato.

lytha said...

Your blog and my life are in sync right now (just need to get around to commenting on your posts so you can see why!).

Since living in the country, my man has been using the car everyday, leaving me here carless. It's all good - I hate driving, but now when I get a chance to drive, I realize how out of practice I am.

I think driving takes practice to stay sharp, and apparently weekends is not enough for me.

Also I've been photographed twice now by the speed cameras, and send tickets by mail with my stupid photograph to prove who the criminal was. AGH. Now I'm driving around like a grandma, pissin people off. SORRY! I need a bumper sticker "I get photographed OFTEN for speeding!"

Strangely, bumperstickers really aren't common here at all. I mean, bumperstickers that say things. You'll see dog breed stickers and horse breed stickers (the brand) but no funny clever sayings like you see back home.

"Are you an environmentalist or do you work for a living" was one of my faves from Forks, WA (Logging town where some film called "Twilight" was made.)

"Where am I going and why am I in this handbasket?" and

"Just say NO to one word solutions" ---see how many silly stickers we Americans come up with!

Anyway, driving in Germany is never a relaxing thing.