Sunday, December 27, 2009

Last Chance Ride

Today is the last day of my 12-day vacation from work. The temperatures have been hovering around freezing during the day, so there's been too much ice on the ground to ride. I kept hoping the sun would come out long enough to at least melt the ice in the round pen, so that I could have one ride on a horse before I have to return to the grind. Though snow was forecasted for today, the sun came out instead. Go figure. I wrapped my arms around Bombay's neck and said, "Will you take me for a ride today?"

He nodded his head up and down.

I watched a movie I got for Christmas while the horses were eating their lunch. I kept checking outside to see of they had finished their hay, and had to cut the movie short once they did, or I would lose my window of sunshine to ride in. I saddled up Bombay and he started getting all jittery, dancing around and snorting. "What is your problem?" I said.

He pointed over to the neighbor's place with his nose.

Sure enough, I heard voices and car doors slamming. They had come home from church three hours early. "You've got to be kidding me!" I exclaimed.

These people must have a satellite trained at my house and be watching me remotely from their pews in church. I can just hear them saying, "Honey! She's saddling up a horse. Quick! Let's race home and see what we can do to disrupt her ride."

See how fat Bombay is from not being ridden or exercised in so long?

So, I walked Bombay out to the round pen and noted that the neighbors left their trunk open again. That means that they will pick the worst possible time to come out of their house to slam it shut. I lunged Bombay for a little while at a walk and jog, waiting for them to come out and slam that trunk. I couldn't lunge Bombay at anything faster than a jog, because he kept slipping on ice and falling.

Then Gabbrielle got the fits. She started galloping around the outside of the round pen baiting Bombay to chase her, and he did. Of course, he promptly slipped on ice and fell on his side. After that he listened when I said, "Easy!"

Just when I was about to mount Bombay, I noticed that one of the belly straps on Gabbrielle's blanket was hanging. I tied up Bombay so he wouldn't roll with the saddle on and approached Gabbrielle to fix her strap. She still had the fits and kept running away from me. I calmly followed her and kept trying to get a hold of that hanging belly strap. I was afraid to reach under Gabbrielle's belly, because if she decided to take off at a gallop in that instant, she'd probably take off my head with her hind hoof.

What happened next is amazing.

Lostine saw my predicament, and she trotted over to Gabbrielle with her ears pinned back as if to discipline her. Lostine then positioned her body to block Gabbrielle from moving away from me. I reached down underneath Gabbrielle's belly to grab the strap, and Gabbrielle started walking away. Lostine swung her hind end at Gabbrielle and backed into her to stop her. She stopped, I reattached the strap, and then Lostine released her. I gave Lostine a ton of praise. She has done things in the past to help me deal with the younger horses, but this was by far the most amazing.

It was time to mount Bombay, and the neighbors still hadn't come out to close their trunk. I mounted quickly figuring they'd choose that moment to shut it since I'm at my most vulnerable being off balance while mounting. Fortunately, they didn't come outside. I rode Bombay at just a walk, because I could feel him slipping on ice under me. Then the neighbor came out. She ducked into her car and dug around in there for something. Bombay heard her shut her front door and became tense. I debated on whether to point him at her as she's digging around in her car, knowing he'd spook as soon as she popped up out of the car, or whether to keep his back to her so he wouldn't see her pop up. I opted to keep his back to her.

Once she started walking her dog around in her front yard, I pointed him at her so he'd be aware of her presence. As we came around, my back was to her, so I figured she'd use that opportunity to run behind my barn, because God forbid -- she can't let her dog take a dump on her own property. I quickly turned Bombay to face the woman, and not surprisingly, she was gone. The only way she could have made it from where she was standing in her yard to behind my barn would be if she ran.

I moved Bombay over a ways and spotted her letting her dog do its thing behind my barn. She looked up, saw me watching her, and quickly yanked her dog along to pretend like they were just out for a walk. She walked her dog toward the end of the street, then came back. I had to keep turning Bombay toward her each time she appeared out from behind a tree or a car or the barn. What I thought was really odd was that she left her trunk open while she took her dog for a walk. Doesn't she know that wears the battery down, because there is a light that gets triggered when you open the trunk?

When she finished her walk, she pulled a white plastic bag out from the trunk and waved it in the air, which made a rattling noise and caused my horse to spook sideways. She then slammed her trunk loudly, causing him to spook again, and went into her house as if nothing happened. After that Bombay was spooking at every little noise including icicles falling from the roof of the barn. I lost control for a little bit and then remembered my equitation instructor's voice yelling, "YOU'D BETTER RIDE, GIRL!"

So, I kept better leg contact, better rein contact, collected my horse, and kept him moving at a swift walk in different directions. That kept both his feet and mind busy, so that he couldn't look around for things to spook at. It was a bit of a pitiful ride, since all we did was go in circles at the walk, turn, back up, and sidepass, but it was better than nothing. If I went my whole vacation without at least being able to sit on a horse, I would have been very sad. By the end of our ride, Bombay was more relaxed. He gave me his usual nicker of appreciation when I dismounted, and happily ate his peppermint reward.


fernvalley01 said...

Yay Lostine !! As for your nieghbors...I don't know how you stand the idiocy!Glad you got a ride anyway.

Stephanie said...

SO glad you were able to fit in a ride before heading back to work!
Just catching up from being AWOL from bloger world for a bit and I LOVE the pictures in the past couple of posts!! They look so happy rolling around in the snow :)


Maery Rose said...

Good for you for riding through the anxiety. It doesn't have much "fun" factor to it but it's still an accomplishment. I remember when I used to board and I'd ride in an indoor arena where the snow would start to melt and slide off in huge sheets from the roof. You'd get the long sliding sound, followed by the big kerplunk when it hit the ground. Made for some exciting rides.

Katharine Swan said...

I loved the story about Lostine! She sounds to me like she is incredibly intelligent, plus she has a few years of experience over the young pups she is forced to babysit. ;o)

Glad you got a ride in, despite your stalker-I-mean-neighbor.

Breathe said...

Riding on ice! and with your nutty neighbors! You get the medal this week for sure.
Amazing about Lostine helping out. Just amazing.

Susan said...

Next time, decide if you want to ride your horse or watch the neighbors. If it's ride your horse, then keep his attention on you, and you on him. If this happens all the time your horse should be used to it. If you aren't worried the neighbors are going to hurt you, which I doubt they are, then relax and I guarantee your horse will too.

Mikey said...

All I can think is that your horses are going to be bombproof one of these days. I swear your neighbors do it just to see what will happen. Maybe they like snorty horses? Who knows. Kudos to you for sticking with it, and in the COLD!! That's dedication right there.

Paint Girl said...

Glad you were able to get a ride in, even though the neighbor had to make it miserable!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yay for Lostine! What an amazing moment!
I'm glad you were able to get up there and ride before you vacation ended. What happened to it, by the way? How did it slip away so fast?! gah!

I hope you enjoyed a wonderfyl Christmas with your family.


RiverBend Farm said...

Love the story about Lostine. That is one for the books! Glad you finally got a ride in..I'm still waiting. Seems if the weather is pretty, we have something planned to do. Good for you for turning and watching your neighbor as she walks her dog behind your barn. I think I would plant myself and just watch as they did anything outside. Maybe they'll keep all their outside activities til you are inside!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Susan - I agree that the horses should get used to it, but it's been three years now and they are only slightly better. I have suffered broken bones and other injuries in the past thanks to these neighbors doing thoughtless things that spook my horses while I'm working with them. I have to be on guard. Relaxing doesn't work, because I was relaxed and oblivious to what my neighbors were doing when I got hurt. So, I've learned to keep my eye on them, and that is what has worked out and prevented further injury.

Leah Fry said...

That is so cool that Lostine was looking out for you.

Kerry said...

sounds like you need a bigger place away from neighbors. Don'tcha wish you could wave a magic wand for that (or any thing else for that matter). As for Lostine, I am still amazed at how much the horses pay attention to the little things, my mare does a lot of the same things like making sure Tobi doesn't push me around when I'm feeding them. The mares watch out for you. (mothers that they are)

Kerry said...

Sounds like you need a bigger place with no neighbors. Dontcha wish you could wave a magic wand? And Lostine! My mare Harmony always seems to be watching out for me too. Love them mares, they are such mothers.....

Shirley said...

Lostine is super! I'm sure you know best how to handle the NN's and their deliberate attempts to annoy you,but kudos to you for getting the job done with Bombay. It's tough to ride when you know that your horse is on edge, sometimes we just have to cowgirl up and focus on getting the horse to listen to us.

Anonymous said...

I'd say get a super huge flood light with motion sensors and put it behind the barn. Every time she goes back there she'll be ratted on by the light and it'll sure startle her. Good luck!

Katharine Swan said...

Oooh, NM, I had another prank idea. How about this -- find somewhere to duct tape a walky talky to the side of your barn where your neighbor hides. Then, when she goes back there, start making heavy breathing noises into the walky talky on your end. Maybe it'll freak her out, but at the very least, it'll be fun. ;o)