Sunday, September 6, 2009

Easy, Whoa, and No!

With all the motocross enthusiasts in town and all the neighbors doing home improvement projects this weekend, I lowered my expectations on being able to ride my horses. I actually returned to quilting and should have something new to update my Frazzle Frenzy blog with soon.

This morning I went outside to clean the paddock. I've been piling manure against the fence to bury the bottom wire on the chain-link. The horses like to paw at weeds growing near the fence and then get their hooves caught in the wire. Since I don't have extra dirt to bury it with, I use manure. I have explained to my neighbors why I do that, and made sure that it doesn't bother them that I pile poop so close to their property. I only do it once in the spring and once in the fall, and it breaks down quickly enough.

Still I feel uncomfortable piling the manure there while they watch. I had filled the Ursa Wagon last night, but left the manure inside it since my neighbor was out and about. This morning I came out to clean up more manure, but needed to dump the wagon. I was eying the fence across the paddock hoping I could make it over there before my neighbors came outside.

Somehow they always manage to time leaving for church on Sunday mornings with whenever I come outside to clean the paddock or ride the horses. They make their usual twenty trips between house and car, slamming doors and staring until I can't take it anymore and go back into my house. Only then do they leave for church. It doesn't matter whether it's 6:15 AM, 8:00 AM, 9:30 AM or 11:00 AM that I come outside. They somehow manage to adapt their schedule to mine. It's as if they need to hear the jingle of my chain on my gate to wake them up and send them on their way.

Literally the second I got the wagon through the gate and my neighbor heard the clink clank of my chain, he came outside, positioned a chair on his porch so that it was facing me, and sat down to begin yet another stare-a-thon. I wheeled the wagon into the round pen, and went back inside my house. My side door is a sliding glass door. I went inside, hung up my hat and sunglasses, then looked out to see this man craning his neck to watch me through the glass door.

I gave them half an hour, then went back outside to discover that they had finally left for church. Also, every neighbor who had workers at their homes yesterday doing some form of home improvement had gone to church. You could have heard a pin drop in the neighborhood. That's why I say thank God for church.

So, I finished my manure rearrangement, then lunged Gabbrielle in the round pen. She did better than ever. It used to be that when I kissed to urge her into a lope, she'd spaz out and run so fast that she'd either crash into the railing or lose control of her legs and wipe out. So, I had to say, "EEEEEAASY!" She responded to that command by coming to a halt and facing me. Eventually, she expected EASY after a kiss, and came to a halt after just 3 or 4 strides. I never got to the point where I could get her distinguish between EASY and WHOA, so I gave up and just stopped asking for the lope, because I didn't want to risk a leg injury.

Today she learned to do a slower lope and to keep going several rotations until I gave her a different cue. I worked the same commands both on and off the lunge line in each direction, then rewarded her with carroty oat treats. I couldn't ride her, because no one was home to help if I needed it. For a while there, I was riding Gabbrielle alone and she was following all the walk, turn, and halt cues really well, but since her hiatus she's been a handful.

I then prepared Lostine for some groundwork in the round pen. I thought, "Why am I not going to ride her? I can ride her when no one is home."

I realized that I've had three rather unpleasant rides on all three horses recently and I'm getting saddle sour. Unlike barn sour, in which the horse never wants to leave the barn, saddle sour means that I'm sour about getting into the saddle. Lostine lunged beautifully, but started giving me trouble as soon as I mounted. She was pulling the same stunt she's seen Gabbrielle pull on me, which is to keep backing up to the mounting block to tell me to get off. She ignored my leg and seat cues to move forward, so I had to tap her with the riding crop. She then humped her back up to warn me that she was going to buck.

At that point I had two choices: I could dismount and teach my horse that she could get me off her back by refusing to move forward and threatening to buck, or I could be persistent and ride out the bucks until I got what I wanted. Almost by making up my mind that this horse was going to move forward no matter what, she knew there was no point in resisting further, and she moved forward. She did alright for a while, but there was a lot of sassy tail swishing and general disgruntlement. Then she returned to backing up to the mounting block to tell me to get off. I started turning her in circles and doing figure 8's. It's hard for a horse to keep backing up when its head it cranked around to its shoulder.

I had to drag out the ride longer than I had planned in an effort to end on a positive note. I think I just need to return to doing groundwork, because I've had such a one-track mind when it comes to riding this summer. I always do a little groundwork before riding, but it's more in an effort to get the horses' ya-yas out than to get some serious training in. However, it's obvious to me that something has happened to make all three horses stop respecting me in recent weeks. I'm tired of being tested, and I need to convince the horses that I will not quit until they do what I ask.

One thing to celebrate is that I found that when I lower the stirrups on Lostine's Tucker saddle, I can mount her from the ground without a mounting block. I was able to mount from the ground on a trail ride when she was wearing Bombay's Circle Y saddle, but I've never been able to mount from the ground using the Tucker saddle. (It just would have been nice if Lostine hadn't walked off while I was still in the middle of mounting.) The next step will be to get strong and flexible enough to mount Gabbrielle from the ground, then Bombay. Each horse is .1-hand taller than the next.

All in all, it's probably a good thing that I'm getting saddle sour, so that I spend more time working with the horses out of the saddle to reinforce the groundwork basics. It also gives me more time to do my other hobbies, such as fabric art. I may as well start getting used to the fact that I can't always have perfect riding conditions since winter will be here before we know it.


Leah Fry said...

LOL Thank God for church. You crack me up!

manker said...

good way to celebrate my bday :) :) Well done... and timing is everything it seems

good that you rode too!!!

fernvalley01 said...

Sounds like a better day!
I too loved the "Thank God for church" comment!

lytha said...

ah, another LOL post from NM. Thanks for that!

your neighbors, omgosh.

but how my life parallels yours, a bit...i always wonder who is watching me clean poop in my field, cuz it's out there in the open and lots of people could watch. and i don't gather manure, i spread it. that is, each pile i find, i take up little bits of it and throw as hard as i can with the rake. in all directions. that is my solution cuz our field is huge, and i have no tractor to spread manure. so weekly i go out there and have a manure hunt, and throw it to the far winds. and i wonder how many neighbors disapprove of this strategy. (hey, it is better than no strategy, after a few weeks, there is nothing to be seen from what i have thrown. in winter it will disappear even faster.)

so i am forever turning around and peering into the trees and wondering if i am being watched. so far, so good.

and your neighbor PULLS UP A CHAIR!!!!!!!!!


one thing you said bothers said teachers are probably enjoying the holiday weekend. well, i used to think teachers had it good, but now that i am married to one, i know better. after work every day he has to work on preparing lessons, and grading papers. and on our weekends, if we want to do something fun, we have to schedule it around his schoolwork. i feel so bad for him cuz coming home from work just means going to his office and doing more. and then there is talking to parents on the phone, and these constant teacher conferences and PTA meetings. i really miss him on those nights.

i feel so bad for him! i don't know about college professors, in your son's case, how much they work weekends and nights, but it is no 40 hours a week for high school teachers in germany. thank you for letting me get that off my chest.


Fantastyk Voyager said...

Funny church comment!

I noticed that Gabbrielle is really lightening up when I saw her standing next to Bombay.

I'm sorry that you are having troubles right now. Hopefully they will work themselves out soon.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lytha - I'm glad you see the humor in my posts. Sometimes I thinks it slips right past people. You cracked me up with your description of how you disseminate poop. I didn't mean any offense about the teacher comment. I used to be a teacher myself, and don't remember ever working weekends and holidays. One place I worked wouldn't all me more than one hour of prep before school and one hour of grading papers after school. We were encouraged not to take any work home.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sorry. I got interrupted and typed the wrong word. It's supposed to be "One place I worked wouldn't ALLOW me more than..." Half the time when I'm typing comments I've got someone talking to me at the same time. That's why I'm not a writer anymore. Can't concentrate.