Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

It's amazing how much you can get done when you don't have to work. Today I cleaned house, worked on a quilt, read some books, watered some trees, paid some bills, balanced the checkbook, cleaned up some manure, and trained some horses. My poor husband spent most of his holiday weekend trying to scrub one of those nasty computer viruses off his PC. Damn Internet psychopaths! I think when these people who create computer viruses get caught, they should be forced to work the rest of their lives in a labor camp to pay off the pain and suffering of all the people they affected by their viruses.

I went outside to assess the situation in the neighborhood to see if I could ride a horse. One of my two nosy neighbors was gone and everyone was quiet. I purposefully waited until the hottest part of the afternoon when I expected people to be indoors. I saddled up Bombay since it was his turn for a spin. My other nosy neighbor spotted me and came outside to do her usual routine of pretending like she's frantically digging through her car looking for something. She did that every time I walked outside this weekend. I'm so tempted to say something like, "You still haven't found it?"

She'd probably turn around and say, "What?"

"Whatever you're looking for. You've been looking for it for years now and you don't seem to be having any luck in finding it."

That might leave her dumbfounded. While I lunged my horse, she made her usual twenty trips between house and car, slamming each door along the way, locking and unlocking the doors over and over. It's got to be OCD. I can't imagine it is all just a ruse to loiter nearby me. I'm not that fascinating.

She finally got in her car and drove off, but by then my lawn care-obsessed neighbor broke out his weed whacker. The constant noise of tools doesn't disturb the horses, but suddenly turning on tools can startle them, and popping in and out of bushes and out from behind trees always elicits and interesting and often unwanted response out of my equine friends. After my experience of sliding out of the saddle and down the side of my horse when he spooked over a neighbor popping up out from under the hood of a riding lawnmower two days ago, I wasn't in the mood for another incident like that. Still I kept riding, and fortunately Bombay listened to me when I wiggled the reins to ask him to collect each time he popped his head up to look in the direction of the noise.

Eventually, the neighbor traded in his weed whacker for his riding lawnmower with the jet engine. I lost interest in riding since I could no longer hear my horse's hoof beats or my own voice commands, and put Bombay away with some carrots to munch on. I had planned to take Bombay over to the my friend's arena if he did well in the round pen, but I would have had to walk him past the weed whacking lawnmower man to get there, and didn't feel like having my arm yanked out of its socket. I'm unsure why he waited until the hottest part of the day to do his yard work. He usually does it first thing in the morning or in the evening before sunset.

I went inside the house and waited for the jet engine noise to stop, so that I could go back out to work with Gabbrielle. I know people probably roll their eyes when I bring up my irritation with loud noises. I suspect it's all a part of my neurological condition. I'm hypersensitive to loud noises, certain pitches, and repetitious noises. When my husband and I were first married, we lived in a town home down the street from a government building. That building emitted a high-pitched, repetitious beeping noise 24-hours a day. I called them several times asking when what that noise was, and they denied there was any noise. Finally, I told them to cut it out whatever it is, because people have to live in that area and it's driving us crazy. Interestingly, the noise came to a stop after that call. Anyway, this sensitivity to noise is one of the reasons why I live in the country and not a city anymore. Unfortunately, my rural community is quickly turning into a city, so it's time to move on. I'd never survive in Chicago or New York. Every time a cab driver honked or a siren went off, I'd jump out of my skin and be a quivering mess.

Gabbrielle had another good lunging session. As long as I concentrate on her tail and not look at her expression, I can keep her at whatever pace I request. When I look at her head, I'd get distracted and start thinking other things like, "Oh, she looks irritated..." or "she's looking over the rail instead of looking at me..." or "she's holding her head way too high..." Then I start thinking about how to fix those things instead of concentrating on driving her forward, she picks up on the fact that my mind is drifting, and she's comes to an abrupt stop to turn to me to ask, "What are you thinking about doing next?"

I also can't look at her legs, because then I start obsessing over the way she moves and carries herself, and I convince myself that there is something physically wrong with her. I'm sure she's fine. The vet looked her over and didn't have any concerns. She's always had an odd way of moving in the round pen. I never see it when she runs naturally out in the paddock or the pasture. It must have something to do with running in a circle and anticipating cues. Still, when we recover from the kitchen remodel expenses, I will probably hire a professional to work with her on how to carry herself effectively. I know nothing about that. No matter where I string the reins or how I tie them, she always manages to snake her neck straight up into the air.

Despite that, she's made huge improvements in speed. She's showing some maturity by slowing down her paces and moving in a more controlled manner. She's not a baby anymore. She's also responding to all of my cues, not as immediate as I would like, but at least now I know she understands everything I'm asking. She doesn't stop and stare at me while I crack my whip anymore. However, it would be nice if I didn't have to jump up and down in addition to cracking the whip and kissing to get her to lope. Geez.

We did have some fun when I unhooked her from the lunge line and ran beside her while she trotted. That's not the safest thing to do, because sometimes if a horse gets too rambunctious while playing, it will kick out to the side with both hind legs, but she seemed to be more in a working state of mind than a playing state of mind, and she behaved herself.

As I walked alongside her, I pressed my hand to her girth when I clucked for her to walk. Then when I wanted her to trot, I pulled the stirrup back and let it fall against her side while clucking my tongue faster. I really wanted her to be able to transfer that pressure at her girth to when I'm up in the saddle. I couldn't ride, because I knew that as soon as I mounted, guests for some neighbor's Labor Day barbecue would start driving up and honking, slamming car doors and letting their kids and dogs run wild, as is what happens every year. Plus no one was home at my house to help if I needed it.

The weather has been really nice. It's rare to get a warm, sunny day with light, cool winds. You have to take advantage of it while you can. My dogs are actually enjoying going outside. All summer they would only go out to do their business, and then bark to ask to be let back in because the heat was more than they could bear. Tomorrow I will be back to the grind. I'm hoping I can make it through the day without being yelled at, publicly humiliated, or fired. I had the first two happen to me on Friday, and have been trying to forget about it since. I'm just amazed that I actually got three days off. Maybe if I make a big enough pest out of myself, my boss will want to get rid of me for a few days now and then. ;)


Reddunappy said...

Geez I dont know how you deal with your wierdo neighbors. I sure dont know how I would deal with it. Its bad enough we share property with my hubby brother, and share a lawn mower, and garden space, LOL at least his "new" wife doesnt do anything but water her flowers LOL LOL (((sigh)))

Katharine Swan said...

Glad you had a good day with the horses, even if you didn't get to ride. I spent yesterday and today sick as a dog, so right now even your crazy neighbors and your overly demanding job seem better than my holiday weekend. ;o)

fernvalley01 said...

Glad you got some time off. The downfall with longeing often is if you look toward the horse face they percieve you are "in front of them" and stop. My trick is to form a triangle with the horse asone point me as the second, and the imaginary point where the tip of the whip an about 2 feet behind the tail would meet . You are not a pivot point as you need to keep moving . I find it easier then you are looking at the whip point and still seeing the horse in you perifery(sp) then it is a simple case of whoa and look at the horse for a stop often don't even have to rotate my body.
Hope that came out in english . I can see it , do it , but danged if I can describe it sometimes.
Anyhow ,just a couple thoughts . Glad Bombay and you had a decent ride. You do have some trying nieghbors!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

It's good that you got to ride Bombay and it sounds like Gabbrielle was working well for you. I'm so sorry that the neighbors are so distracting for you and the horses. It must be really hard living in that neighborhood.
Hmmm, focusing on the tail while lunging- I need to try that.

Callie said...

You have got to have the world's strangest neighbors! I contantly obsess over my horses legs and feet too. I think it just comes with the territory, LOL!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I started to respond to these yesterday, but discovered I was late for work and had to hit the road. I'll try again...

Reddunappy - Living with relatives is probably ten times harder than having neighbors you don't know that well who are a nuisance. I'm seeing more and more families moving in together in this economic atmosphere. I always wonder how they manage having so many people in such a small space.

Katharine - I'm hoping its not the swine flu. Viruses always seem to crop up at the most inconvenient times. Get better soon.

fern - Good advice. I always keep my shoulders squared off with the hip or tail of the horse, but all it takes is to look with your eyes at their head sometimes, and they react.

Fantastyk - I wish I could make this neighborhood go back to what it used to be a few years ago when there were nothing but farmers and retirees living here, but the world's a changin'.

Callie - Yeah, a horse without legs is like a car without an engine. A lot of people strain to hear strange noises in their vehicle's engine and convince themselves that something is wrong with their car too.

Breathe said...

It's amazing how much you can get done on a "free" day. Sounds like despite the neighbor challenges it was a great day with horses.

I notice the same thing with lunging - if I don't keep my focus clear on the hindquarters and mind clear on my intention - ie, get ahead of myself - everything comes to a stop.

Horses teach us to be in the moment. That EXACT moment. lol

Andrea said...

I am so sorry your neighbors are idiots. I am glad you got to spend some time with your horses. Sounds like you got a lot done!

Katharine Swan said...

NM, it might have been a flu virus, or it might have been a really bad cold. I don't think it was swine flu, though, as my temperature didn't spike like it's supposed to with that.

Anyway, now that I'm feeling better, I wanted to come back and comment on some of the stuff about lunging. NM, have you considered that Gabbrielle's tendency to stop might be related to her reluctance to move forward when you're riding? It just occurred to me that might be the case.

I'm not sure what I've done differently, but when I lunge Panama it's easy to get him to maintain a trot while I focus on something. This came in handy the other day, when I had to lunge him to try to see where the lameness was coming from. I was able to focus on each leg's movement in turn without him changing his speed or gait.

Again, I'm not sure what I'm doing differently, but I can tell you that I tend to move with the horse a bit, and that my movements change depending on which gait I'm asking for. I also repeat the vocal command periodically (clucks and a sing-songy "trrrrr-ot"). It's second nature to me now, I don't even have to think about it -- but that may be how he knows I want him to keep doing what he's doing.

HorseOfCourse said...

Sounds like a good session with Gabbrielle, NuzzMuzz!