Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Horse Work

I had to alter my weekly schedule, because it just wasn't working out for me. We've had so many 3-day weekends lately when the stores are all closed, and something always has to break down or someone always has to get injured or sick over 3-day holiday weekends, so that come Tuesday morning when the stores and doctor offices reopen, I need their services. However, I could never get these personal needs taken care of, because I always had my weekly photo shoot scheduled on Tuesday mornings.

The entire photo shoot, post processing, and delivery process takes up my entire Tuesday and burns a lot of my energy. I get so focused on photography jobs that I forget to eat and do chores and whatnot. Then I'm behind schedule for my regular chores and spend all day Wednesday and Thursday doing chores and running errands. By Friday and through the weekend I'm just too wiped out to get much of anything done.

So, I changed the day and time of my photo shoot to see if that would fix some of the problems I've been having. I also always know that it is time to change up my routine when my stalkers won't give me two-minutes of alone time outside. They get familiar with my routine and start anticipating when I will do what, and they get there ahead of me.

Anyway, the change is already improving matters. I had the time and energy to work with my horses this morning, and I guess because my nosy neighbors weren't expecting it, they left me alone. I only had to contend with one neighbor repairing her roof, and then standing at the fence watching me work with my horses while she talked on her phone.  Since I spend so little time with my horses now, it attracts even more attention when I do work with them.  Of all the signs we have discussed putting up around my property over the years, I'm thinking the most succinct one I could post to cover all annoying neighbor behaviors would simply say, "GO AWAY."

I groomed and cleaned hooves before exercising each horse. Lostine was a dream and exercised herself. All I had to do was stand still in the center of the round pen while she trotted around me.

Look at that fat belly.  I hung my coat on the fence, and none of the horses were bothered or distracted by it. Bombay helped me coin a new term: "Sleep-trotting".

Lazy horse.  I'd swear he was snoring while trotting.

I was so busy with Gabbrielle that I forgot to take her picture while she was exercising. She kept breaking out of the trot and bolting. The ground was slippery, so I had to yell WHOA at her to get her to stop before she flipped on her side. That was when my neighbor came to the fence to watch, because all my yelling got her attention. After the third time that Gabbrielle bolted, I chastised her verbally with disapproving words and amazingly didn't have anymore issues after that.

She just trotted nicely around the pen, but when I stopped her to pet and praise her, I noticed that she was shaking like she was scared. It was pretty warm out, so she wasn't shaking from cold. I didn't think I chastised her harsh enough to terrorize the poor thing.

She was on high alert during her grooming, hoof cleaning and exercise, which always puts me on high alert, because her spooks are so violent that she can knock me flat in a second. I began thinking about how she used to be such a calm horse and now some of these bolts would win her the Triple Crown.

I certainly don't want to be on her back when she decides to bolt, especially in slippery conditions, so I'm going to have to send her off for training again once I can feel comfortable leaving her outside at pasture without having to be blanketed. It's just too expensive to have her trained in the winter months and pay for a stall and blanketing.

In addition to going through a spooky phase, she seems to attract startling things.  It's strange, because when I work with my other horses, nothing terribly scary or distracting happens, but as soon as I start working with Gabbirelle, birds suddenly burst up in a flock from behind bushes and neighbors start up their lawn mowers and trucks come up the road and the deer cruise past and a whirlwind blows right at us and cars crash in front of my house and helicopters fly low overhead and and hot air balloons blast their gas and earthquakes hit and fire engines race past with their sirens on and someone in the neighborhood starts screaming...  On and on it goes, and the whole time she's jumping this way and teleporting that way.  It's really scary when I'm bending over working on a hoof or attaching her blanket straps, because she kicks her legs out and could nail me in the head if I'm not positioned safely.  I'm at the point where I just expect the worst, but try not to let it become a "I spooked, you spooked, and we ran off together" kind of cycle.

I also need to work on getting her to pay attention and listen to me, because it is obvious that her attention is always elsewhere. She's more concerned about what the other horses are doing and what the neighbors are doing. I thought about how she was bred in part for halter competitions, which makes her hot. I decided to try out our old halter cues to see if that would hold her attention, and it did. She wouldn't take her eyes off me when I was getting her set up like I taught her in the past for halter classes. It's funny how old training comes back so easily sometimes for some horses.

A few weeks ago I horked up the knee I usually put pressure on when I mount. I blame blogging for it, because I had sat down to blog, and when I pulled my laptop toward my lap, the corner of it nailed my knee. I remember it hurt really bad, then I forgot about it, and then it started throbbing and making it difficult to get into comfortable sleeping positions. I figured I hit it hard enough to form a pocket of liquid and it would eventually dissipate, but it's taking a long time. So, I wasn't sure about trying to ride. I worried that I'd go through all the trouble of tacking up a horse only to find that I can't mount.

I decided to deal with my home search problem by lowering the minimum number of acres from 3 to 2, and that opened up a whole new list of possibilities.  My husband pointed out that our current property feels so small, because we've got the horse paddock and barn crammed up against the neighbors' place, then our house takes up space in the middle of the lot, then we have a lot of lawn and pasture to the west that we don't use often, mainly because they are on a busy road and it's just no longer pleasant being out there with all those trucks roaring past.  He said that if our house was on the edge of the lot instead of in the middle, then we would have room for a huge riding arena, and we are only on 1.3 acres.

I began looking closer at the aerial views and saw that most of the Arizona horse properties are more intelligently designed to allow for riding arenas, so I realized that I could have plenty of room with just 2 acres.  I do feel so sorry for some of the homeowners, because I can clearly see that when they moved in, their area was rural, so they were able to get a couple of acres and set themselves up for horses.  Then someone came along and built subdivisions all around them, so they are stuck in the middle of a metropolis now.


Mikey said...

Yep, that's all we have is 2 acres, and I think it's plenty. At least when I'm picking up poop every day.
I'm one of those who has a wash running thru the property, and because of that can't have a full size arena. I would stay away from properties with washes simply because manure can't be allowed to go down the wash, or it's a big fine.
My "arena" is just big enough to work a horse, and the rest is pasture/pens, etc. I like to keep it open feeling and clear. And yes, try to find a place that isn't going to get crowded up again, that happened here. It's not subdivisions, but it's more neighbors than I wanted.

Dreaming said...

I am so glad that you had a chance to work with all three of your horses. That must have created a great brain vacation!

fernvalley01 said...

Ouch on the knee, yay on the horse time and new options for land. and cool that the neighbors left you alone awhile.

Breathe said...

Great day with horses! Hope the place of your dreams appears soon.

Crystal said...

Wow cant imagine living on oly 2 acres. But I guess land is plentiful where I live so quite a bit different.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

We're on a little over 3 acres here and it's just fine. But I would like to have about 20-40 acres to create a trail course to ride when I can't leave home for a trail ride.

Also, the way that the neighbors homes are situated on their own properties makes a huge difference, too.
Our closest neighbor's home faces south, while we face southeast. None of their windows face towards our own windows, and that makes a big difference. All of our other neighbors homes are far enough away where we don't feel crowded and we have enough privacy, too. Behind our barn we have a neighbor, but his house has a huge buffer of trees, so we can't even see his house. And Val's house is separated from our house by our bigger pasture and her large horse arena.

Trees make a huge difference in privacy level, too. We have an orchard around our house that gives us lots of privacy, as well as evergreen junipers and pinons, as do our neighbors.
And we have lots of trees in our pasture which provide shade and a buffer from the wind for the animals.

If I could change anything, I would have our house back up to BLM land or National Forest. As it is we are only about a mile from the National Forest land, but there are fences in the way, so we have to trailer or ride along roads for a couple miles to reach the trails there.