Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ahhhhh, Relief

Good news! I walked outside this morning and opened Bombay's stall to check on his injured leg, and he busted out like a racehorse out of a starting gate and galloped all over the paddock happy to be healed and free. Fastest recovery ever.

So, I immediately hooked up the horse trailer to my truck and started gathering supplies and equipment to take a trail ride. Gabbrielle stood at attention in detention hoping I was pulling the trailer out for her. Lostine and Bombay raced back and forth along the fence line to avoid getting caught and haltered. I just stood there and waited for them to tire themselves out and for someone to give up and approach me. I always win. I just have to be patient.

Right when Lostine started thinking about surrendering, my neighbor's guests drove up the road, rubber-necking the whole way with their mouths hanging open. I knew I had to catch a horse quickly before they let that little monster out of the van, because he'd come running up to the fence screaming, distract my horses, and I'd have no chance of catching them through a stare down. I need eye contact from my horse in order to will them to do what I want.

As the van pulled into my neighbor's driveway, turning toward my fence as if they were coming to visit me at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning instead of my annoying neighbors, I quickly threw the lead rope over Lostine's neck and haltered her. As I walked her away from the fence to go put on her boots, the kid and his dad ran up to the fence and stood there watching me in my back yard while I prepared my horse for a trailer ride. I know, I should have charged admission. I think of these things too late.

Regardless, we made it out to the trails.

I thought it would be crowded being the first reliably sunny weekend we've had in months. I don't mind the regulars, because you can work out a rhythm with them and work out your own rules on which horses and which dogs need the right of way based upon each animal's training level and personality, but the newbies and tourists can be a hassle to pass on the trails. It turned out to be pretty quiet in the mountains, because there was a parade and carnival in town.

However, the lack of human presence on the mountain usually means a higher presence of wild animals. Lostine and I did hear a couple of scary growls and we were unsure where they came from. She was on alert, but didn't do anything silly like take off running and ask questions later.

I had to tap her a few times on the rear with the riding crop, because she saw something she didn't like and started running backwards. However, I won each battle. I made her walk beside the river where she didn't want to go, because the last time we were there some kids were screaming and throwing boulders into it. I made her assess the wading hole instead of running from it, and I also made her take the scary trail that has a big multi-colored boulder in the shade that looks like some kind of animal on the side of the trail.

The first time I tried to take her past that rock, she spun and cut up the hill across the switchback. I'm okay with letting horses know that they can escape scary things the first time they are presented with something scary. However, the second time they see the same thing, they have to move past it. If you let them turn and run three times, it will become their right to do so in their mind. So, on this second time I just kept tapping her and letting her crow hop and dance around as long as she kept moving forward past that rock. She did it, which means that now she is comfortable with the trail and we have successfully widened our riding area.

There's my truck and horse trailer down there at the trail head.

There were three men with two mules and a quarter horse at the trail too. The mule had Appy spots. I think he had a crush on Lostine, because he and she kept calling out to each other.

We did have the quarantine request lifted for horses in Nevada.  Vets are confident enough that the EHV1 epidemic was contained, so they are holding the annual Reno Rodeo.

We did get presented with a loose dog that began barking and growling at us. We just kept walking toward it, and the dog backed up but kept facing us. The owner freaked when she came around the corner and saw what was going on. She yelled at me to stop, because her dog has never seen a horse before and she didn't know what he was going to do. So, I waited for her to catch up to the dog and put the leash on, and then we stepped off the trail so that she and her dog could pass. That kind of goes against trail etiquette, but considering that the dog owner was the one who was most freaked out, I didn't mind.

She had a friend with her who had two very well behaved white shepherds. The friend stopped to talk to Lostine and just kept telling her how incredibly beautiful she was. I could see Lostine smiling proudly and puffing her chest out with each compliment. The lady kept calling her "baby" and I realized that she though Lostine was a young mare as opposed to the 23-years-old that she is.

When it came time to unlock the back of the horse trailer, my combination lock jammed. Dang. How was I going to be able to get my horse back into the trailer? I didn't bring wire cutters for the cable. Then I remembered that I had a can of WD-40 in the tack room of the trailer.

That did the trick.

When I backed the trailer down my drive when returning home, six people piled out of the house next door and set up shop on their porch and along my fence line to watch me unload Lostine, remove her boots, brush her, and hose her down. These neighbors keep inviting city people to come stay with them a while, and apparently they rely on me and my horses to keep their guests entertained. Well, at least I got out and away from them for a few hours today. Ahhhh, what a relief it is.


Mikey said...

What a nice trail ride! Glad you finally got some relief. Looks like it was a beautiful day up there!

Breathe said...

A terrific ride! Glad you escaped the straight jacket. I'm impressed that Lostine is so good after so much time off.

Jame said...

Yippie! I'm a tad jealous, stuck in the city with the Naked Bike Riders as I am, but awesome for you! And of course everyone thinks Lostine is so young, as well cared for as she is :)

Linda said...

That's horrible that your neighbors watch you like that. Very rude and weird. I'm glad to hear Bombay is better. We had that same thing with the dog happen on our last trail ride. The owner had no control over this big dog who was barking and growling at us. She kept apologizing and running after it, throwing rocks at it. We stood still or it would have followed us further down the trail and away from her. :/

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I admire you greatly for getting out there alone with Lostine on the trails. Just the entire trailering thing seems so overwhelming sometimes. And you managed to be prepared for trouble with your handy can of WD-40 stashed away, too.

Well done! Confident, courageous, independent woman that you are!


achieve1dream said...

Sounds like a fantastic trail ride! I'm so glad you finally got your relaxing time. :D