Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Little Bit of Something Each Day

It seems there's always something getting in the way of me being able to work with the horses, but now instead of just saying, "Oh well, the sun has set and I didn't get in any horse time today again," I am keeping a horse training journal and pushing myself to do something -- anything -- with at least one horse each day, and just feeding them or encouraging them to poop in the manure wagon doesn't count.  I have to groom them, exercise them, take them for walks off the property, do groundwork, or ride them.  Preferably all of the above.  But I'm making it a priority kind of like brushing my teeth and taking the dogs out to do their business.  Just like brushing my teeth prevents cavities and taking the dogs outside prevents accidents on the carpet, training the horses prevents injuries to both me and them.

It's been hard, because right now all three horses are pretty incorrigible.  It's not fun taking them for walks out in the desert, and it's not fun riding them.  Everything is a fight.  I thought they would have settled down by now.  The only improvement I'm seeing is that the horses that are left behind don't scream the entire time we are gone anymore.  They let out a few whinnies as we go, and then they drop the subject.

Bombay pulled a switcheroo on me, and instead of being okay on the way out and trying to drag me all the way home, he now tries to drag me all the way out and relaxes a little when we turn toward home.  Throwing my hand up in his face when he tries to run past me while I lead him just results in him throwing his head in the air and running past me anyway.  Whacking him with the riding crop on the chest has had little effect.  So, now I'm whacking him on the chest with the end of the lead rope, and that has helped somewhat.  I also stop him several times along the way and give him treats for standing still and relaxing.

This morning while we were out walking in the desert, two women on horseback came toward us.  Bombay pumped himself up as big as he could get, arched his tail and neck, did the jig, and balked repeatedly.  Since he wouldn't walk toward them, I pushed him off the trail, so they could walk toward us.  It turned out that the lady in the back had a newborn baby in the saddle with her.  They were walking really slowly so as not to jar the baby's neck.  I spoke to them in part to settle my horse down, but they didn't say much.  I think they were trying to avoid waking the baby.  They must have been riding some really awesome horses if they were willing to risk having the baby wake up screaming on one horse's back.  Newborns can sound pretty strange when they wail.

This afternoon my husband was out in our back yard with Midge off leash when two horseback riders approached our back yard from the bluff.  My husband brought Midge inside before she spotted them and charged.  The woman on horseback stopped when she saw the KEEP OUT sign, but the man rode right past it, and the woman then followed.  We usually don't go outside with guns blazing as soon as someone trespasses on our property.  We want to give them the chance to make the right choice.

After charging down the bluff past our PRIVATE - KEEP OUT sign, they then pushed past my neighbors' NO TRESPASSING sign and came up our property line.  We placed a roll of horse fencing and some tree branches across the alley between our properties along with a third NO TRESPASSING sign, and these two horseback riders jumped it!!!

That did it.  My husband stomped out onto the porch as let loose on these brazen individuals.  While he was yelling at them for disrespecting our private property, the neighbors' dogs charged the fence.  These horseback riders had a dog with them and the neighbors' dogs were growling and barking at it as well as the horses.  The riders' horses started dancing around with all the commotion, and I watched in horror as my three horses charged the fence and began biting their horses over the fence.

The woman's horse was spinning, backing and rearing to try to escape, but it was trapped in this narrow alley with the man's horse blocking her in front, the barking dogs to one side and the biting horses to the other side.  My horses were striking like rattlesnakes, biting its neck and rump.  I was scared that she was going to wreck and really have a reason to sue us, but then I saw that both she and the man had a strong seat and moved with their horses in unison.  There was no way they were coming off.  My husband yelled, "We have that barrier and those signs there, because we have dogs and horses out here."

The man said, "Well, which way do you want us to go?"

My husband said, "We don't want you to come through here at all, but now you are committed, so just go that way," and he pointed them past our patio and up our driveway.

As soon as my husband came inside, the woman started laughing.  I suspect these are the same types of people who speed everywhere they go and just wad up their tickets and throw them out the window after a cop pulls them over.

About an hour later I was out cleaning the paddock, when Gabbrielle charged the fence over by the arroyo.  I figured the horseback riders had found another way into the arroyo and were trying to sneak back up the cliff in our back yard.  I went back there and looked down to where Gabbrielle was pointing, but didn't see anyone.  I fed my horses and when I bent down to get their blankets out of the storage shed, I heard someone yell, "Come on!  Hurry up before she sees us!"

I stood up to see a couple of kids and an adult running up the side of the bluff from the arroyo in my back yard.  I yelled, "You are trespassing!"

They just looked back at me and continued on their way.  My three horses left their food to charge the fence and chase them off.  I watched where the hikers went, and it didn't surprise me one bit that they went to the house where a man lives who collects junk cars and fixes them up, revving their engines all weekend long.  (Yes, I live near another one of those again.  This must be my karma.)  In fact, he was out working on his cars while my daughter and I were re-painting the KEEP OUT sign.

I am always astounded by parents who set that kind of example for their kids, and encourage them to walk right past NO TRESPASSING signs into other people's back yards to play.  Obviously, they were down there hiding from me when I was looking to see what Gabbrielle was pointing at, and just like the wild rabbits around here, they waited for me to turn my back or avert my eyes before running away.

At least I don't have so much property that illegal aliens and drug lords are passing through, shooting landowners who spot them.  But now that my husband chewed out those horseback riders, I'll have to keep an eye out to make sure they don't come back for revenge.  That's the problem with enforcing NO TRESPASSING signs -- these people know where we live.

My neighbor explained to me that a lot of people around here are under the false impression that no one can own an arroyo.  All the neighbors along my street own a portion of this arroyo.  It is within their property lines.  We just can't build on it, because it is needed to channel flood waters past homes.  What that means is that hikers. ATV riders and horseback riders really shouldn't be going up and down the sides of them, because every time they dig out another section from the banks, they risk redirecting the flow of water towards homes, namely mine, since I have three locations on the bank closest to my house where trails have been cut through by horseback riders.  Hopefully, the flood waters will never get that high, but there's always a first time.

My husband is talking about installing a gate toward the top of the bluff, kind of like the toll booth in the middle of the desert that all the bad guys go through on horseback in the movie Blazing Saddles.  Obviously, they can ride around it, but hopefully the psychology of it might keep people out, since the signs are still being ignored and short barriers are being jumped by some people who obviously feel some sense of ownership over our property.

Maybe I should just start collecting a toll to help pay my property taxes since I'm being forced to share my back yard with strangers.  Either that or the county is going to have to give me a discount since there's nothing private about my property.  Seriously.  Why should I have to pay taxes on four acres of land when it is overrun by people doing recreational activities without my permission?  Shouldn't they be chipping in for the use of the land?  Those of us who use some public lands are expected to pay for permits to help maintain the land.  If the government can charge people, why can't I?

I think what disturbs me the most is just that these people don't have the decency to approach us and discuss why they want to use our land, and listen to our reasons for not wanting to risk letting people use our land.  A few people have done that, but then there are people like these that we encountered today who obviously know they are doing something wrong, do it anyway, and then try to sneak past us so as not to get caught.  It's the sneakiness and the poor character of these people that bothers me.  If they are willing to do that, what else are they willing to do?


Dreaming said...

I like that you have set a goal to work with your horses each day and keep a log. I think you will find that they make great progress. I read on one blog, a long time ago, that the owner saddled her horses every day - even if they just stood tied to the hitching post. I started doing that, too. I'd often saddle them while I cleaned the paddock. A lot of the time, I'd figure that since they were saddled, I might as well hop on, even if only for a few minutes.... it was good for everyone!

I just don't understand why people figure they can ignore signs... and worse, how they can inadvertently teach their kids that it is OK to disregard signs... When I've seen things like that I have always wanted to ask the parent, "Just what lesson do you think your child just learned?"

fernvalley01 said...

that sucks we have issues with snowmobilers from time to time but nothing like the steady stream you seem to suffer

Cheryl Ann said...

...sigh...what to do...I think the idea of a gate is a good one, but honestly, these people will probably just go around it, too. Have you had a neighborhood meeting to discuss this problem? How do your neighbors feel about this constant trespassing? You certainly don't want anybody to get thrown from their horse...

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cheryl Ann - The neighbors are a mixed bag. Some absolutely do not want all this traffic coming through. Some enjoy watching the horses. And some of the neighbors are the ones doing the trespassing, so I'm sure they wouldn't be happy about us putting up more barricades, but it's really not their call.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Just now I was sitting in my office when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. A man and woman and their dog were walking in front of my house. They stopped at my neighbor's driveway and started pointing at things and taking pictures. I thought they were taking pictures of their pretty sculptures, because they have a lot of great art around their place. I kept an eye on them in case they thought about helping themselves to some of it.

Then they walked past my house again and stared in through the window at me. They were acting suspicious, so I kept an eye on them. They stopped at the end of my other driveway and began pointing at things and taking pictures. They seemed very interested in my barn and horses. They then continued walking down the street, but had second thoughts and buzzed my place a third time. This time they stopped at the other end of my driveway and stood there staring in the window at me. I was just about to get up and say, "Can I help you?" but they moved back down to my neighbor's house.

I realized that they were pointing at the NO TRESPASSING signs, and were probably confused on how to get home because they had always walked through my and my neighbor's properties, but now they are blocked off with signs and fences. They ended up going through the gate to the desert. I think we got another wave of snowbirds who are just now discovering that their old haunts are under new ownership and they will have to find another way to hike home, such as walking up a road instead of through someone's back yard.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow. I can hear your frustration through your words.
That would frustrate me, too.
I bet you're almost looking forward to summer coming again so all the snowbirds and tourists will stop trespassing.


Strawberry Lane said...

Past your house, stared in the window?! I'd say they need to find an alternate route very quickly!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Strawberry - Yeah, unfortunately there are a lot of Lookie Loos at my new home too. I'm seeing that there is a definite correlation between being retired and being nosy. Idle hands.

achieve1dream said...

Dude! Get a freaking paintball gun or one of those sand bag gun thingies and start shooting people! That would totally piss me off! If they complain or call the cops tell them you were target practicing on your private property where people shouldn't even be and that you didn't see them. Dumb idiots. That makes me angry for your sake. I can't believe you keep running into these problems!!!

And the riding with a newborn baby??? Really???? Trying to walk slow to avoid jarring the babies neck..... what if the horse steps in a freaking hole and falls down or gets stung and bolts?!?!?!?! I will never understand stupidity. I am all for starting children on horses young but for heaven's sake at least wait until they can sit up and support their own heads!!!!

Whew! Sorry for totally losing it. Didn't mean to rant. I hope you can figure out something for the trespassing. I'm actually proud of your horses for attacking those riders although I guess that's not a great habit to encourage.... maybe you should get a llama that will spit on them! Or a donkey that will bray and give them away....