Friday, August 21, 2009

The Magical Tree and the Water Truck

Thursday morning I awoke to the sunshine, meaning I got a good night's sleep and I overslept. I jumped out of bed and started getting ready for work, then a little voice in my head reminded me it was Thursday and no one had told me I had to work. I could actually have the day off! Too bad I hadn't realized that the night before, because I could have called my equitation instructor and set up a lesson.

Oh well. I still loaded up the horses and headed for the Fairgrounds. Gabbrielle self loads now. I don't even have to get in the trailer with her. I can point her at it and she steps right in. Bombay is a safe loader, but he still requires some mild pressure from behind before he'll stop resisting that first step up. He's always got to do a little jig and leave a pile of manure on the ground before he'll get in.

I was disappointed once we got to the Fairgrounds and Gabbrielle refused to get out of the trailer. It was a hot day in the mid 90's and Bombay was trapped in there as long as Gabbrielle refused to get out. That's one of the downsides of a slant load trailer. Normally, she just turns herself around and hops out. We tried to entice her out with treats, but she wouldn't budge. So, I climbed in there with her and tried guiding her out backwards. She kept losing her footing, panicking, and then jumping forward, squishing me against the wall of the trailer. It was getting too dangerous for me to be in there with her, so I threaded a long line from her halter out the back of the trailer and started smacking her side with it to get her to move. Since she couldn't move further into the trailer, she had to figure out that the only way to move was out.

I felt bad about smacking her with the rope, but at this point I was more concerned about Bombay sweltering in a standing trailer with no air flow like they get when we are moving. When she got her head around enough that she committed herself to coming out head first, I put a lot of pressure on and she jumped. All was good after that. I free lunged both of them in an arena for a while.

I love this next picture because it shows me making a move toward turning them in the opposite direction.

Thanks goes to my son for helping load and unload the horses, as well as taking all the pictures. This is his last week of summer vacation, and I know he doesn't want to spend it watching his mother ride. We've been encouraging him to ride with me to make it more interesting, but he'd rather sit in the truck and read a book.

Despite all the running around, Gabbrielle's scar didn't bleed again. The scar itself cracked, but since it didn't bleed that means she's getting some new skin underneath.

Once the horses were sufficiently exercised, I put Gabbrielle into the one pen that had a little shade from a tree.

I'm beginning to believe that there is something special or magical about this tree. I can ride in this arena in a totally still heat, but every time we pass by this tree, a nice breeze picks up and the leaves rustle at us. I feel like the tree is speaking to us.

By the time I started riding, I was fatigued. I spent all my energy on trailering and lunging. Getting Gabbrielle to her pen was no easy feat either, as she was very wary of a picnic bench and trash can. I had to regress to her halter training days to get her past them. I stood in front of her and posed her, keeping her attention on me, then I invited her to take one step forward at a time until we got past the objects.

I had stupidly left the gate to the arena open, because Bombay was tied to a post. However, by the time I got Gabbrielle past the picnic table and trash can, Bombay had untied himself and was headed toward the open gate. I yelled out to my son to grab him, but he was inside the truck with the windows rolled up and the radio blasting. I essentially threw Gabbrielle into her pen and ran for the gate before Bombay reached it.

We mostly walked, jogged, and trotted, but every muscle in my body ached. I was somewhat relieved that I hadn't set up and equitation lesson, because my instructor would have worked me a lot harder than I was working myself. I can see by these pictures that he would have told me to roll up further onto the insides of my thighs in order to get my legs further underneath me and to point my toes forward instead of out. At least my arm position is better. Usually, my arms appear straight in pictures, when they should have a bend at the elbow.

Just when I mustered up enough energy to work on cantering off the correct lead, Bombay's nemesis fired up its engine and started rolling its way toward him. It was the infamous water truck, spraying and ocean wave over the fence into the arena next to us.

I turned Bombay away from it, because I didn't think the engine sound would bother him. He's started to get used to the sound of approaching engines. However, I know from past experience that once he sees that water spraying out the side of it, he makes himself as tall as possible and goes on alert, trying to figure out whether to wait it out or run away.

I didn't think I had the strength to hang on to a runaway horse, so I dismounted before he spotted the water. Right at that same second, he spotted it and pumped himself up so big that I could barely reach the saddle horn to wrap the reins around.

Gabbrielle went on alert too, but fortunately they both chose to just stand tall and watch. The truck driver went by really slowly, and once past us, gassed it to get as far away from us as possible. This picture is a close up of the water tank up on the hill above the Fairgrounds...

Both Bombay and Gabbrielle self-loaded for the ride home. Of course once we were home, Gabbrielle had no problem getting right out of the trailer on her own with no prompting. I suspect she was hesitant to get out at the Fairgrounds, because she didn't know where she was. I think she had a good enough time, though, that she'll be more confident next time.

I am so glad that I remembered to take this day off and spend some time with the horses, because more thunderstorms are expected to roll in this weekend, and roll out just in time for another workweek. Isn't that backwards from the way it should be?


fernvalley01 said...

Glad you enjoyed your day off

S. Lauren said...

Wow, seems like you got a work out! It's good that figured everything out with the unloading and the water spraying, you know your horses really well. They're real beautiful running around in the arena!

Kerry said...

At least your son enjoys his reading....most parents would die for thier kids to read more! Me, I'm with you, get out in the sun and ride!

Paint Girl said...

I am so happy to hear you got to spend a day with your horses! Your son was so nice to come along and help and take pictures!!
I don't think my horses have ever encountered a scary water truck before. Not sure how they'd react!

Suzie (Echo) said...

Sounds like a great day off! I like the sound of a self-loading horse...!

Breathe said...

Isn't it wild when they won't get out? You'd think with the nice open door, they'd be all over getting out of the trailer.

I am so glad you had a good ride! hurray for Thursday!

Katharine Swan said...

I'm so glad you were able to enjoy your day off -- it really sounds like you've needed it lately.

I love those pictures of Bombay and Gabbrielle free lunging! They are gorgeous together!

Mary Olson said...

Wow! You got a lot of work in on your horses. Your son got some great photos too.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Those were some great photos. I know you're going to miss having your son around when you can find the time to spend with your horses. He sounds like such a cool kid. Kind of reminds me of one of my twins, Jem, who would also rather sit in the car and read instead of riding a horse. hehe!

I think it's great that you've worked so well with Gabbrielle that she'll self-load. That's too bad that you were feeling so sore after having to deal with all the horse antics. Is your weather also really hot, too? Good for you still getting out and doing what you love, though.
That water tank mural is so cool!


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