Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Last Ride Before the Storm

I was desperate to get in one more horseback ride before the Monday night storm moved in. The wind was whipping things around, but the sun was still coming and going as clouds drifted past. It was Bombay's turn for some exercise, so I saddled him up and free-lunged him in the round pen.

The wind filled his sails and he chose to go at the fastest pace of each gait, head up in the air, another hand taller than usual. A truck I had never seen before came speeding up the street right when we were walking through the gate, and of course it had to go behind my barn and into my next door neighbor's yard. I thought, "Now what kind of construction project are these people starting? Can't they give it a rest?"

The man in the truck turned out to be a farrier, which surprised me because you'd think he'd know better than to speed around a neighborhood where people may be riding horses, and he pulled his anvil out, so I knew he was going to do some hammering. Once Bombay settled down a bit, I led him over to the the step stool, put my foot in the stirrup and BLAM BLAM BLAM! My neighbor came driving his rickety truck up the street hitting every pothole along the way, pulled into his yard, and proceeded to sit in the driver's seat and stare at me for ten minutes. I said, "I don't believe this! This guy drives up every time I've got my foot in the stirrup ready to mount. Does he have a satellite image trained on my round pen or what?"

Most people go to work in the morning and come home in the evening. These people come and go just about every 15 minutes. I have never seen people who waste so much gas driving here and driving there without seeming to have any plan on how they could consolidate all those trips into just one or two. I wish they'd just either stay in their house or leave and give me some alone time with my horses for a couple of hours.

I didn't want to mount, because then the guy would sit there even longer and stare at me, so I did the most boring thing possible I could think of and walked around my arena picking up rocks. He finally got out of his truck and started shuffling toward his front door, so I mounted... too soon.

He had his hand on the doorknob, saw me mount, turned around and started finding things to do along the fence line so that he could watch me ride. He turned on his hose to water a tree and the hissing noise put Bombay on alert, so I rode him harder, pushing him up to the extended trot and keeping rhythm with my posting. Then the guy walked over to a trash can and started pulling plastic bags out of it just a few feet away from me. You don't do that around horses. Yet these people are always farting around with plastic bags when I'm trying to ride my horses.

They are like pack-rats, carrying things in plastic bags back and forth between their house and their garage and their vehicles just about every 15 minutes. Yes, I use plastic bags to desensitize my horses, but after many years of desensitization exercises Bombay and Gabbrielle are still just as worried about plastic bags as ever, unless they clearly see food inside the bag. Also, I shake bags at them from the ground, not when I'm in the saddle and at risk of being thrown.

I remember being at a horse show years ago when a gust of wind blew a plastic bag out of a trash can into the middle of a group of horses and riders waiting outside an arena. It was pure mayhem. All these riders were trying to control their horses and yelling at me to get that bag. I grabbed it, wadded it up, shoved it under my shirt, and there was this collective sigh of relief followed by a number of thank yous.

I was tired of having to delay my horseback rides because of this neighbor's intrusive and disruptive behaviors, so I just rode harder, keeping Bombay collected so that he couldn't pop his head up and see those plastic bags. Then the farrier started hammering a horseshoe and Bombay broke out of frame to look up to see where that noise was coming from. Now the neighbor was pushing a wheelbarrow around and he realized there was a man in his backyard. He waddled back there and sat down to stare at the farrier while he worked. I thought, "Well, that farrier isn't going to last long."

You see, my farrier trimmed their horses' hooves a couple of times, and the man and the woman bugged the crap out of him. He said they not only didn't help by holding the horses still, but they don't have a clue about horses and kept doing things to get in the way and bother the horses. He didn't want to go back there, because the horse owner was so ignorant that she wanted him to just put one shoe on the horse without a trim since that's all she could afford. He had to educate her on the realities of trimming and shoeing horses.

I opened the round pen gate, rode Bombay out, let the ladies in, and locked it. Then Bombay and I trotted around the paddock for a while. He's much braver now that he's been out on the trails. He used to stiffen up as soon as we passed through the gate, even though he stands around in the paddock all day. I guess it looks a lot different with me on his back. Now I can ride him all around, even in the wind, and he's okay with it.

I had to work really hard to get this last picture. I kept trying to get Bombay to put his ears forward, and as soon as he did it, a car would drive up or down the street behind him and he'd flick an ear backward. A vehicle drove past literally every five seconds. I'd get him to put his ears forward, and just when I pressed the shutter release, a car drove past and the ear went back. It was crazy. I live on a dead end road with only four other houses. What's up with all this traffic?

I know. I've got to move. Easier said than done for more reasons than I can count. Right now I'm concentrating on changing careers so that I don't have to work such long hours and have half a dozen people all talking to me at the same time while I'm trying to do my job. If I can be under less stress with my job and have more time to work with the horses, I can probably handle all the neighborhood noises and distractions better, because I won't feel so overstimulated all the time and won't be under as much stress to hurry up and make the best out of what little free time I have.


Katharine Swan said...

I love those pictures of him standing beside the trailer. He is SUCH a cutie and you can totally see his personality in the set of that adorable head!

lytha said...

they have horses and they don't know how to hold them for the farrier? wow!


JeniQ said...

I just love Bombay. He reminds me so much of the arab I had when I was a kid. Sassy was a strawberry roan / flea bitten gray type of colour.

Most days she was perfect, other days if the wind blew just right a blade of grass was a deadly predator that was going to eat us!

Have a wonderful day!

Promise said...

I just don't get it.

It's not like they're friendly, waving or saying hi and then hanging out to watch for a few minutes before going in. That I'd be fine with, as a neighbor.

But, they seem to be intentionally disruptive, almost like they dislike you being in your own yard doing your own thing. Or maybe they just need to get hobbies of their own and stop being peeping toms.

Promise said...

Oh, BTW - I've given you a "Beautiful Blogger" award. Come visit my blog to grab the image :)

Lulu said...

I am quite thrilled to hear that you are looking into switching careers! I work in a very high stress environment and have to remind myself often that I work to live....I don't live to work!

Mikey said...

If they're going to watch, then start giving a clinic. You might as well. When they start listening, start charging them for it, lol.
You do have the strangest neighbors...

Grey Horse Matters said...

Great picture you finally got of Bombay. Those neighbors would drive me crazy! I'm afraid I would be hard pressed not to retaliate in some form.

Anyway, good going for keeping at it with Bombay. He must be getting used to all the distractions. It's good you didn't just get off but kept at it.

Good luck with a new job when it comes along.

Rebecca said...

Oh man I would totally have to move. I applaud your patience! I would have gone bonkers by now!

Rising Rainbow said...

Good for Bombay getting more relaxed being ridden in the paddock. I do think trail riding helps them get over other stuff.

Ya gotta love those ears when you're trying to photograph. Personally I think it's some kind of variation on Murphy's law. LOL

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Bombay sure looks pretty standing next to the trailer.

Callie said...

Geebus! These people are crazy, it never ends for you. Well at least by the time you get them out on trails with all that testing around you, they should be relatively spook free! Good grief!

achieve1dream said...

I live next to a dead end road and also wondered what was up with all the traffic, then come to find out there was a meth lab at the end of the road!!!!!!! When they busted that all of a sudden there weren't so many cars driving by! The newspaper said it was the biggest meth lab they'd seen in my entire county. Jeez.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Bombay looks so alert and in doing so looks 10 feet tall! Especially compared to Lostine and Gabbrielle. What are all their heights now? Is Gabbrielle finished growing?

I'm surprised that your crazy neighbor doesn't assist the farrier by holding the horses, even though I know some farriers will work on a horse without any help. I just think it's safer with assistance. But I suppose with the useless 'help' of your neighbors the farrier would rather have no help at all instead. lol!

My hubby and I have been discussing moving for a few months now...not because we don't like the neighborhood or the area, though it is starting to get more crowded out here. But my knee and hips are such a mess that this two story house is only going to cause more damage to my degenerative joints as the years go on. I really need a one story house, plain and simple.

If our master bedroom was on the first floor it might work, but as it is it's on the top floor 'tower' and I have to walk up two steep flights of stairs several times a day to get to my office and bedroom, and my daughter's bedroom, too.
The guest room and boys' bedrooms are downstairs, but are too small to turn into a master bedroom. And there is only one bathroom downstairs, too.

So, we'll probably be moving again in a few years. It's never fun moving, but when it comes to my health it's something I've got to do. :-)


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - Bombay is 15-hands at rest, Gabbrielle is still 14.3 and Lostine is 14.2. I think Gabbrielle is as tall as she'll get, but she's still filling out.