Monday, August 16, 2010

Trail Riding With Sticks in My Legs

Anyone who follows Mikey's blog, Postcards from Arizona, knows what I'm talking about with these titles regarding sticks in my legs. Basically, I've got a problem with being over-scheduled and over-worked and over-stressed and every time I try to do something to fix it, I somehow end up with an even heavier schedule. The more I fight it, the worse it gets. That's a problem... or a stick in my leg.

Anyway, I woke up late Sunday morning, fed the horses late, and got a late start on my trail ride. A number of ridiculous things kept happening to make me later and later. I lost a piece to her Old Macs and had to search for it, then I discovered that the leak in the water tank hose had gotten worse, so I had to dump out a trash can filled with water before I drove off and it spilled all over the carpet of my tack room. It was already quite hot, so I ran in the house to get some electrolytes for my horse.

Lostine refused to get in the trailer, which is very unusual for her. It was after 10:30 AM by the time I got her loaded up. I'm used to getting to the trail head between 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM and being one of two horseback riders there. However, when I pulled into the parking lot, the entire horse trailer side was in use. I had to park on the car side, which probably ticked off a lot of hikers who could have parked four cars in the space my truck and horse trailer were occupying.

Unfortunately, this parking spot was a bad one, tipping the horse trailer to the right, which caused the center divider and saddle rack divider to swing closed on both Lostine and I as we were trying to unload and load her. I already had problems getting her loaded at home, and now suddenly I had this problem of having to stand with my back against the dividers while begging Lostine to self-unload and self-load. Somehow we managed, but I was hoping for a nice, quiet, relaxing trail ride and really didn't need this puzzle to solve.

Normally, I hike the first mile beside Lostine to get my exercise before we reach the bench where I mount. The last time I hiked it straight through without having to stop to rest. However, on this morning I had to stop to rest five times before we reached the bench. I didn't know if it was because I was just so wiped out from being in overdrive all week or if I was coming down with something. I mean, this was pathetic. I had senior citizens with walking sticks and obese people passing me up while I struggled to catch my breath. I think my heavy breathing was making Lostine nervous. She kept looking around trying to figure out what was causing me to be so physically stressed.

The trail was loaded with hikers, dogs on and off leash, and horses. I'd never seen so many horses on this trail in my life. When all was said and done, we passed 15 horses and riders, some of them several times. Each time Lostine sensed horses up ahead, she'd lock up and refuse to move forward. I suspect she was overly concerned about where her place might be in the pecking order of a new herd, regardless of how temporary the herd may be. When horses pass each other on the trail, that's a 10-second herd. I say forget about the pecking order in that case, but Lostine feels she must be the alpha mare in every situation. She scared one horse so badly by taking a step toward it as it passed us, that the horse bolted. Fortunately, the rider was a pro and was able to get the horse under control.

At one point we had a duel with a lone dog on the trail. We stopped walking to wait for the owner to claim the dog, but there didn't appear to be anyone with the dog. We'd take a few steps forward and the dog would take a few steps forward. Finally, the dog thought better than to try to approach us, so it trotted off into the brush and went way around us. It was a good dog, but I did worry where its owner might be. I didn't want to find a hiker up ahead dead from a heart attack or passed out from heat exhaustion.

Lostine was being such a pill by spooking or balking at everything. At one point she balked because there were more horses and hikers and loose dogs up ahead. All of the sudden I heard hissing and rattling in the bush beside us. I kept kicking her and smacking her with the riding crop to get her out of there, but she wouldn't budge. I know you are supposed to hold still when you are on top of a rattlesnake, but I was kind of hoping Lostine could outrun it. The rattling stopped, and getting her legs unlocked was like giving birth, but she did finally move forward when the other parties moved on to other trails.

Here's a picture of all the horse trailers in the parking lot...

The silver truck and white trailer facing the wrong direction with all the yellow tractors behind it is mine. I went through way too much work to get Lostine loaded in the trailer to just turn around and go back home because the parking lot was full.

I fielded several more questions from people regarding why I put boots on my horse's hooves. Apparently, Nevadans think that is the strangest thing. I'll bet most of them haven't heard of the Internet yet, because if they simply searched for horse tack, they'd see these types of boots all over the Internet. I've had more people laugh at me or sneer at me for using Old Macs. I think it is so stupid that horse people often think that if you don't do things their way you are doing it the wrong way. I just don't see any point in paying $120 every six weeks for metal shoes when I only ride on sand and don't ride that often at all. The Old Macs protect her hooves really well and she doesn't have any trouble walking in them. The splint boots or wraps protect her legs from scratches, so I put them on all four legs. Some of the bushes on the sides of this trail are quite sharp.

Despite all the people, animals, and challenges, I could have stayed in those mountains all day. Lostine and and I kept stopping in the shade to just hang out and enjoy the view. Many people passed us and questioned me on why I wasn't riding. (I'm sorry. I didn't know that having a horse means I have to be riding it and moving every minute.) Lostine likes to stand around and do nothing just as much as I crave the time to do nothing. When you are over-stimulated and on sensory overload as much as I am, you learn to stop and appreciate things like silence or the sounds of nature and a cool breeze in the shade. I just wish all these people didn't have to be there pestering me with questions. Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that? I probably should have just said, "Why are you so concerned about what I'm doing?"

Like I said, I could have stayed in those mountains all day, but someone was coming by my house to pick up the manure and I needed to get home to deal with him. That's a whole 'nother post in itself. Of course, wouldn't you know it? I got home to find a message that he couldn't come by after all. I think in the future I'm going to just say no to people who want to schedule something with me on my trail riding days.

On the way home some guy in one of those bicycles you pedal while lying back came shooting out off a side street right in front of my truck and turned into my lane while I was going 45 MPH. Even if I was willing to risk slamming on my brakes and injuring my horse in the trailer, I still couldn't have stopped in time to avoid hitting him. So, I swerved into the oncoming lane and fortunately, no other car was in it.

I passed him and saw that he had headphones on and was listening to music. A part of me wanted to blast my horn at him so badly that he'd have to clean out his pants when I was done with him, but I didn't want to scare my horse even worse. That bicyclist by law was supposed to stop at the stop sign, look both ways, and then proceed into the intersection if it is clear.

That's one of my main issues with all the Californians who keep moving here. They think Nevada is so spacious compared to San Francisco or L.A., and so they get here and take liberties on the road, believing they are the only ones on the road and therefore won't affect others if they don't stop at intersections or if they drive straddling the center line. These bicyclists are making a bad name for themselves. I don't give a damn if you are training for the Olympics -- you had better follow the rules of the road just like everyone else. I think it's high time that bicyclists be required to pay registration fees since they hog the road, and sport license plates so that we can report them when they break the law.

I think in the future I am going to have to set my alarm to get outdoors before all the yahoos wake up.

Lostine agrees.

Oh, and I think I called Bombay's bluff. He's been limping around and feeling sorry for himself, but when I returned home with Lostine in tow, Bombay galloped full-tilt across the paddock to greet us. If he keeps moving like that, he's going to find himself in the trailer next weekend.


DeeDee said...

Hey Sticks!
I know what you mean about people asking about boots. I have started using Renegades and the main guy said forget black (my favorite color) cuz of the heat. So I have orange and dragon red. I have always called horse boots Air Jordans. This week someone commented that the Renegades look like Croks, which they do. So while you use Air Jordans, I am now booting up with CROKs.;->

I always take to opportunity to explain to ANYONE who asks about the boots how barefoot is healthier for the horse. Makes me feel so righteous! haha.

By the way, we have a park near our stable that has great trails for people, bikes and horses. Even on Wednesday afternoon we call it 'bowling for humans'. Sounds like your ride.

And if the California bicyclists pull that again, you have my permission, at least, to run them over. They make me crazy and I live in Califoria!

Dreamy Horse Crazy Gal said...

Maybe just use a simple comparison, that metal horseshoes are like a typewriter and hoof boots are a computer. You are just progressing with the better technology and leave it at that! How frustrating!

Leah Fry said...

I'm with you: get out and git er done before the whole world knows you did it. Ha! Sounds like you've got Bombay's number!

Mikey said...

I laughed as soon as I saw the title :) You poor girl, you just can't catch a break on anything.
I've had to park like you did, fighting the dividers and trying to back a horse out isn't easy. I keep thinking I'll put up something to tie those back, then I think it'd just be something for the horses to hang themselves up on.

Yep, you're going to have to pull a stick out of your leg, but danged if I could tell you which one. For the moment, just say NO to everything that comes your way. No more!!!

I'm using Wade for the ones I struggle on, like the job offer of cash under the table, 2 days a week, watching dogs... I wanted to say yes, but said no, let me think on it and ask Wade. These ladies were being VERY persuasive/pushy in trying to hire me.

He said NO, NO AND MORE NO, so that's it. In all honesty I can do what I want, but it's easier to say that he said no for me.

Have you started photographing your neighbors yet? lmao, I CANNOT WAIT to see what happens when you do that :)

JennyB said...

"I think it is so stupid that horse people often think that if you don't do things their way you are doing it the wrong way."

I could not agree with you more! Horses are individuals so while some things may generally work for most of them nothing is going to work for every single one. We have to just know our horse and do what's right for each one and to hell with what anyone else says.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I'm glad your ride went okay after all the obstacles you had to face.