Monday, September 19, 2011

Lostine's No Good Lousy Son of a Gun Day

I took Lostine into the mountains for a trail ride Sunday morning. Even though she loves these trail rides, she always has to run from the halter. I tried to block her and she came to a stop in front of me, but then shoved me aside with her powerful head and neck, and then ran past. I whacked her on the rump for that and she suddenly decided to cooperate.  Getting spanked was not a good start for her day.

All the way to the mountains, we were passing bicyclists in a race. I worried that they might be using the trail head parking lot as the check-in point and starting line, as they have in the past. These bicycle races are becoming more frequent, and I don't understand why they chose our valley for racing, because we have no bicycle lanes. All the bicyclists ride side-by-side in a 55 MPH zone and make it dangerous for cars to pass. Driving a truck hauling a horse in a trailer is a very sensitive process and it is not safe or good for my horse for me to constantly be braking for bicyclists.

I decided that if I got to the trail head and had no place to park, I would complain to the event organizers. After all, the trails are for horseback riders and hikers, not bicyclists, so they should leave the trail head parking lot for the horseback riders and hikers. Fortunately, the parking lot was clear. The organizers were starting the race further down the road.  Perhaps someone complained at past events.

During our ride, several people stopped me to ask how old Lostine is. When I told them she is 23, they told me that I'm lucky I can ride her at that age. Most horses that age are put out to pasture, they said. Nobody ever believes me when I tell them she is 23, because she looks so good. I also had several people ask me if something was wrong with her since she was wearing rubber hoof boots. I guess they think those boots are only for soaking hooves in medicine or something.

Lostine seemed to be on high alert most of the ride. I had hoped to work with her at the river crossing, but she refused to head up that trail. I fought with her until she backed into a trail sign and nearly knocked it over with her big butt. At that point I just wanted her to relax and have a good time. It wasn't worth it to fight over which way we want to go at a fork in the road. Bravery and self-confidence just don't seem to be traits I find in many horses. Stubbornness, on the other hand, is a common trait found in mine.

On the way down a stick-filled narrow trail, I was keeping an eye out for snakes, and that caused Lostine to also start nervously looking around for snakes too. We heard a noise in the bushes beside us, and Lostine reared up and swung her front end 90-degrees to the right away from the sound. At least her self-preservation skills are intact.

There were hikers and loose dogs everywhere. Unfortunately, some of the owners didn't have control over their loose dogs and one of them blocked us from getting down the trail. The dog stood in front of us barking an attack bark. The owner grabbed its collar and let us pass. It looked to be a Pit Bull mix.  After nearly getting gnawed to death by a couple of Pit Bulls at the animal shelter last month, I didn't want this dog chewing on my horse's legs.

I tried trotting Lostine for a ways to put some ground between us and the angry dog, but she came up lame during the trot. I thought that was odd, because I had just been trotting her for a while and she didn't have any issues before. Now that I really needed her to go fast, she couldn't.

I was walking her and leaning from side to side to see if one of her rubber boots was coming off when I heard the dog owners yelling for "Harley". I turned around and sure enough, here came that angry dog charging down the trail at us, intent on attacking my horse. I spun Lostine to face the dog and it kept circling us, trying to get to her hind legs to bite them. Lostine and I just kept spinning to prevent that. I was swinging my riding crop at the dog, ordering it to leave, but it just kept circling us, so Lostine and I charged at it and chased it back to its owners. She was limping after that, so I decided to turn toward the parking lot at the next turn off.

We got to be about 100-yards away from that turn off, and Lostine came to a sudden stop. Her attention was up in the trees high above us. There was a breeze, and she was flaring her nostrils as if she smelled something menacing up ahead. I tried to push her forward, but she refused. Even while both kicking and tapping her with my riding crop, she kept backing up, fixing her eyes on something off in the distance.

I sighed and said, "Okay. I'm going to trust that you are not just being stubborn this time. Maybe there is a mountain lion or bear up there, so let's go back the way we came."

I turned her, and she reacted by bolting. She did not want whatever she smelled and saw behind her where she couldn't watch it. However, the pain in her hoof won out over her fear and she slowed to a walk. The people with the attack dog still hadn't moved off the trail, so we had to stop and wait for the sounds of their voices and dog barking to dissipate.

When we got home, I found that the neoprene part of the boot that wraps around the pastern was degrading. A hole was forming, which was rubbing her fur and skin, making her sore. Bombay has managed to all but destroy those Old Macs in his trailer freak-outs, and now Lostine is paying for it. I guess whenever some money falls into my lap, I'll have to look into getting new hoof boots.

Here's a video of when we were hiding from the attack dog.


Breathe said...

OMG, so much for a relaxing ride on your horse! Something must have been in the air, plenty of folks here had a terrible time.

A shame you can't get out when the trails are quieter. I swear, a rear, bolt and attack dog. I hope you got home and ate a cupcake.

Whew!! Glad no one was injured.

Love the video. Lostine on HIGH alert!

fernvalley01 said...

Sounds like an exciting outing ! Glad the lameness not to serious!

Deanna said...

The only time I don't like dogs!!!!! . . . is when they attack my animals!!!!!!! The last time a dog went after my horse like that and we had to circle to keep the dog from lunching on my horse's legs, with the Owener acting all mad at me, while she COULD NOT catch ahold of her dog; I came home from the experience and hugged my horse and cried. It was terribly frightening.
The Owners who let their dogs run off leash, yet have no control - but think that they do . . . .ARG!!! They drive me NUTS!! And they're stinkin' dangerous!!
I commend you for keeping such a good attitude during this ride!! I think I would have been yelling at everyone like a madwoman by the end of ride like that! :-/

Sydney said...

Oh dear. What size are your horses hooves? I have a pair of 00 original easyboots that do not fit any of my horses. They were for Naigen and were used once to try them on. I'll part with them for real cheap.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sydney - Thanks for the offer. If I remember correctly, the girls are size 1 and Bombay goes between a 1 and 2.

Mikey said...

I would be SO mad at those dog owners. Put that dog on a leash and get out of the way! Don't equestrians have the right of way to hikers?
Man, I'm mad for you. That's ridiculous.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

On no...not my cup of tea for a ride at all.
Don't ya just wish you owned a couple hundred or thousand acres of private land where noone but you and those you invited could trample on your land?
Then you'd be sure that when your horse spooked that their concern was real and not just over stupid, irresponsible dog owners, rude ATVers, gun shooters, and bicyclists?

Oh what a dream!


Johara said...

My old Arab mare is about the same age as Lostine, and just as fiery and gorgeous. :) Arabs I've known all tend to become 3 year olds again once they've got a competent rider on their backs lol!
I'm glad you were able to keep the dog from attacking her hind feet, I hate situations like that. :( Like Deanna, the one serious incident I had with an attacking dog left me shaky and in tears afterwards.

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I've been pretty lucky on my trail rides. The only aggressive acting dog I ever encountered WAS actually on a leash and the owner apologized for the dog's barking and growling and she hurried off the trail with it to let us pass.

The loose dogs always cause the horses to go on alert, but the worst I've had to deal with is inquisitive dogs that want to smell the horses. Had one just yesterday that almost got stepped on. The owner thought it was cute her dog was wandering around our horse's feet, but when it came within an inch of getting stepped on by L's horse, I told the owner she had better get a hold of her dog or she was going to end up with a vet bill she probably didn't want. L's mare will kick and my geldings are not afraid to try to stomp a dog.

Trail riding on the weekend is a rarity for me. Usually I try to hit the park trails Monday through Thursday and be done and gone before 3pm. There is a lot fewer people/pets/riders out there then.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

BEC - I agree there are better times to ride than weekends mornings, but those are the only days I have someone around who I can call if I get into a bind. If my trailer dividers get jammed, which happens often, and WD-40 doesn't do the trick, my husband isn't going to walk out of his meetings and drive 40 miles to help me out with his muscle. With my luck, the one time I need people around to help, they won't be there.

whirlwinddals said...

I have the same problem where I board my horse. He lives with a friend, and we have to do county roads unless we trailer the horses somewhere. Dogs everywhere and they are not afraid to come at a horse and the owners just look at us and laugh. Not a very relaxing ride in the country.

TnTConnect said...

I am appalled that ANY dog owner that knows they are in a public area where there are people and other animals would not leash it and keep it controlled. Sorry you had such a crappy ride. Hope next time is better. Good luck with money falling in your lap. Can't remember the last time that happened. :)

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Glad it ended better than my experience with loose dogs. I am afraid now to go out alone because of my accident. Arabians never age. Lostine looks fantastic!

aurora said...

I've not run into biting dogs, "only" loose & barking. Glad it all turned out okay, sounds like a scary experience!

achieve1dream said...

Poor Lostine!! I hate when people don't control their dogs. Do they not have leash laws in your area? Of course I have no idea who you would even report to or if they would do anything. Sad.

I'm glad you both were okay and that the limping was from the boot and not something serious. Lostine sure stood like a rock in that video. :) Such a good girl.