Saturday, September 5, 2009

When Will I Ever Learn?

I still get excited about three-day weekends, believing that I might actually get all my chores done AND get some riding in. I forget that everyone around me changes their routine on three-day weekends, which can be treacherous if you are riding a horse. All the places you've been taking your horses for years seem brand new because there are different people doing different things, and more people doing more things.

I woke up this morning actually believing that I was going to take a couple of horses to the Fairgrounds to ride. However, my husband informed me that there is a big shindig going on at the motocross track this weekend. It figures. If the motocross shindigs are too big, the motorcycle and ATV riders start spilling over into the horse arena areas.

So, I asked my husband and son if they'd hike with me while I rode on the mountain trails. No. My husband's knee is still bothering him and my son's teachers gave him sixteen hours of homework. I guess kids aren't allowed to enjoy holiday weekends. I'm sure that all of his teachers are out enjoying their time off without any homework.

So, I went outside thinking I'd ride at home, but my construction worker neighbor was working out of his garage. Then my son came out of the house to inform me that our other next door neighbor phoned to warn me that she's got men over at her place doing some work. I don't know if she called because she wanted us to bring in the dogs so that they wouldn't bark, or if she heard me cursing the last time her "workers" spooked my horses when I tried to ride, or if she was warning me so that I'd shut my bathroom window, so that her "workers" wouldn't see me naked or have to hear us farting.

At that point my only other choice was my friend's house. One nearby neighbor, who has garage sales way too often, was having yet another garage sale, so there were people swarming all over the the neighborhood and cars parked up and down the street. I walked Bombay up my friend's driveway right when a man in a truck was backing out. Bad timing. She warned him that a horse was behind him, so that he wouldn't just fly into us.

It was a bit windy, but not too bad. I considered it nice weather, but Bombay was all pumped up about various things rattling in the wind. My friend's colts were galloping around in their pens smashing into the railings while her two foals were loose and playing with each other. Her neighbor's dog was at the fence barking non-stop and lunging at one of her colts. There was a lot of activity, so I had to spend extra time lunging and walking Bombay to each corner of the arena to observe his surroundings.

Before I even got on him, he was spooking at some sprinklers off in the distance. Usually, when you ride a horse, they start out fresh and nervous, then relax as the ride progresses, but on this day Bombay's energy got increasingly more tense. The wind picked up, a neighbor came out and started working under the hood of his rider mower. He'd pop up from under the hood every now and then, spooking my horse to the point where Bombay refused to move forward each time we came around and approached that corner. I'd urge him forward, and he'd side-step across the arena as an avoidance move.

I decided to move him at a fast trot to work out his nerves. Just as I was up in the air while posting, the man behind the lawn mower hood popped up, and Bombay jumped sideways, then ran sideways across the arena with me sliding down his side. I managed to pull myself up and settle into the saddle again once he stopped.

So, I tried just walking him around the arena to get used to everything that was going on again. My construction worker neighbor kept slamming his truck doors so hard that I could hear him all the way over at my friends' house. Then some people showed up to visit my friend and they brought their dog, which promptly ran over to greet Bombay. This was a very little dog that could easily slip under the fence, and Bombay has been known to try to stomp on dogs. I stopped him and waited for the dog to leave. That brought out my friend's neighbor's dog again, and a bark fest started up, which spooked my friend's colts, and got all the horses riled up again. Sigh.

By this time Bombay was convinced that something scary was going on, so the teleportation spooks were increasing to the point where we couldn't make it a quarter of the way around the arena without me having to clamp down with my knees to hang on. I started riding him harder, see-sawing the reins, pumping with my legs, concentrating on where I wanted his feet to move next, and this change in my riding only served to convince him that his life was in danger. No, Bombay, your life was not in danger -- MINE was.

I thought of all of Bombay's flawless equitation lessons and wondered if he would be behaving himself on this day under these same circumstances if my equitation instructor were there. That man has a way of forcing my horse to get down to business with his mere presence.

As if the universe was just toying with me to see how much I could take, some tourist turned up the street, apparently thinking our dead-end road with the PRIVATE DRIVE sign at the entrance was some kind of shortcut to town. Of course, it had to be one of those souped-up diesel engine trucks with a motorcycle in the back. The jerk drove as fast as he could right up to the garage of the last house on the street, which was right next the riding arena I was in, then he did a doughnut on the neighbor's front driveway, and raced off revving his ridiculously loud engine. Why do men have to drive vehicles with loud engines? Are they trying to compensate for something that isn't big enough? It's nice to know that I didn't even have to go to the Fairgrounds where the motocross jerks were in order to still have them invade my personal space and spook my horse. I don't have to go to them, because they come to me wherever I am.

I really wanted Bombay just to follow my directions for one full rotation of the arena before dismounting, so we could end on a positive note, but that wasn't going to happen with all the holiday weekend activity around us. So, I lunged him some more. I was surprised when my friend's foals approached me and let me pet them, and then politely walked away when they were satisfied that they got to know me. I'm used to foals either running away or approaching only to turn and buck at me. These two were real sweeties. They even introduced themselves to Bombay by clapping their mouths in subordination. Unfortunately, now I'm in love with one of these little fillies, but I'll have to be careful not to let my friend know, because she jacks up the price of her horses each time they receive a compliment.

As I was walking Bombay back home, there was yet another construction worker up on a ladder at a different neighbor's house. I was like, "What's the deal? Don't construction workers take holidays?"

I know that they've been hit hard by the recession and are probably glad to take any work they can get at any time. This guy waited until we got right up to him, and then he turned on his power drill. Great timing, guy. After I got Bombay under control and yelled out an expletive, I thought the guy might wait for us to pass. As soon as he was behind us, he dropped something metal on metal, and I almost got my arm yanked out of its shoulder socket yet again.

So, I think I will just spend this three-day holiday weekend cleaning house and getting caught up on paperwork: Something boring, safe and unchallenging.


Katharine Swan said...

Oh, NM, I am so sorry. That sounds so frustrating. Too bad you can't offer to work through the holiday in exchange for taking time off during the following week instead. (Or can you, next time?)

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - Unfortunately, my company has booked three major deadlines over the next four weeks, so I couldn't have any time off this month during weekdays. Just getting each Thursday off was such a struggle this summer. I think I got less than half of those Thursdays off. I usually schedule my vacations as far away from holidays as possible so that others will stick to their normal routines and I won't have any surprises with my horses. If I do have another three-day weekend coming up and no deadlines, I could try to strike a deal in the future. I miss the good old days when all my neighbors used to leave town on holidays. Now they just stay home and get caught up on home improvement projects, and invite all their relatives to vacation here.

Katharine Swan said...

Yeah, that's what I meant -- to strike a deal in the future. I figured it was too late for this weekend...

Good luck with the rest of your weekend. There are still two days left -- hopefully an unexpected opportunity will present itself.

Cheryl Ann said...

Our son, who works for Marriott, always has to work holiday weekends, but then he gets days off mid-week. And, yes, everybody is staying home because NOBODY can afford to go to hotels! Business is way down. Go figure. Hubby has to do 10 1/2 hours of pool duty, outside, in the heat today. Nice job for a 59 year old man, right? He'll probably pass out from the heat!

Leah Fry said...

I'm sorry you aren't getting to ride this weekend. We are now having to deal with construction noise from the McMansion next door. The good news is, most of it is on the inside now, so a bit muffled.

fernvalley01 said...

Hate to pull a Pollyanna on you here ,as I know you are frustrated,but ... Way to go stickin with him through all that! distractions like that distract you as well as your horse and you seemed to hang in there and keep yourself as focused as possible. Guess I am feeling your pain a little and trying to find you a silver lining. Hope the next long W/E is better

allhorsestuff said...

Darn it all NUZZ! I am frutrated-for you and with you...!!!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Fern - That's no Pollyanna. That's encouragement.

KD said...

I'm with Fernvalley..... looks like you got lots of training opportunities and worked them out. Way to hand in there!

You certainly do seem to attract activity every single time you try to ride, almost like a neon sign goes on at your house whenever you come out. :-)