Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Bit Frantic, But at Least I Got to Ride

It's been projected to reach 99 degrees F today.  When I felt a nice wind around 9:00 AM, I impulsively decided to go for a trail ride, because soon I won't be able to stand outside for ten minutes none-the-less ride a horse at mid-morning.  I figured I would ride Lostine, but she ran from the halter while Bombay ran right up to me and stuck his nose in it.  I realized that he needs to be ridden.  He's been bouncing off the walls with boredom.

So, I saddled him up and then P.S. arrived.  I asked if she was interested in going for a trail ride with me.  She said yes, so I caught Lostine and saddled her up.  We were debating over who would ride which horse. She prefers to ride Bombay while I prefer to ride Lostine, but we were talking about how we should learn to ride the horses that give us trouble.  I put the reins P.S. prefers on Bombay's bridle, so she ended up riding him while I rode Lostine.

When I mounted, Lostine walked off before I could get my other foot in the stirrup, so I told her that now I was going to have to work her hard away from the mounting block, and try again, only letting her rest next to the mounting block.  I started moving her in circles and she immediately protested, throwing her head in the air, trotting forward, throwing her head down, hunching her back up to buck, and then thinking twice about it.  She knew she'd get into bigger trouble for bucking, so she ran backwards instead.  That didn't get me off, so she went back to threatening to buck, and I pulled her head around.  She spun in a circle and when I released her head, she started jerking me around as if jumping back and lurching forward was going to unseat me.

I threw her a telepathic message that went something like this:  "I trust you.  Don't ruin our relationship."

She instantly stopped and relaxed.  I didn't want to let her relax away from the mounting block, but things had escalated to the point where it was no longer about teaching her to not walk off at the mount.  It was about fixing a bad attitude that could get dangerous for me.

I was also worried about P.S., who was mounting Bombay at the time, and I felt that he was a bit hyper when I did his groundwork with him.  So, I sat there and waited for her to get situated on him, and I decided to just head out for the trail ride instead of sticking around to do more mounting block practice.  I figured I could do that when we got back home.

Bombay trotted through the gate to the public land, and P.S. was wise enough to ask if I could wait for her to work on that with Bombay.  She took him back and forth through the gate several times, correcting him each time he trotted, and only continuing with the trail ride when he walked through.

Bombay kept walking right up onto Lostine's rear, which was making Lostine pissy, so P.S. circled him away from her each time he got too close to her tail.  I felt bad for P.S., because she had to do that for pretty much the entire ride.  I know it has to be done, but I hate circling horses.  It's takes the fun and relaxation out of the ride.

We took a trail back that I usually avoid because it is wide and Bombay almost always tries to make a run for it.  The other reason why I usually avoid the trail is because I have run into a couple of loose dogs on it, and they were quite aggressive.  That was a while ago, but it left a deep impression on me.  The reason why I did choose that trail this time is because it was the only one that didn't ride past trees that are full of bees.  There have been a few stories in the news about bees attacking people and animals recently.  In one case, a man and his dog were killed by bees while rock climbing near Tucson.  It seems like in Arizona I am always having to choose between the lesser of two evils, because everything is dangerous.

So, here we were tooling along down the trail... well, I was on Lostine while P.S. was trotting in circles on Bombay behind us, when Lostine went on alert and I spotted a really long lead rope hanging from a bunch of branches in a tree.  The branches were hanging out over the trail.  I wasn't sure how the horses were going to react to that "snake" in the tree, so I dismounted to investigate.  It looked like someone had broken a lead rope clean in half, left it on the ground, and someone else came along and hung it from the tree so that horseback riders would see it and someone would claim it.  Since it was covered in stickers, I didn't want to touch it.

I was telling P.S. what I was seeing when I suddenly heard a thunk and looked over to see her struggling with Bombay.  He was trotting with a limp down a hill.  She said she was circling him and he tripped over a rock.  She asked if she should get off him.  He seemed to shake off the initial sting, so I told her to keep riding if she wanted.

I found a place on a hill where I could mount -- something that Mikey taught me.  (See?  I learn something from everyone who I ride with.  In fact, Mikey was the first to introduce me to the circling of bushes when my horse wants to run for the barn.  They didn't teach us that in Nevada.)  I've always mounted from blocks, benches, rocks... but she showed me how to put your horse in a ditch while you stand on a hill, something you can do quite easily in desert terrain where there are a lot of washes.

I was about to mount when P.S. said, "There are two dogs over there."

I thought, "Oh no.  I hope it's not the two dogs that tried to attack us in the past."

I looked up and sure enough, it was the same two dogs.  Damn.  I said as calmly as I could, "I know those dogs.  They are aggressive, so lets not move from here until they leave."

P.S. got nervous and asked if she should dismount.  I said no.  I was thinking she'd be safer on Bombay's back as long as she could keep Bombay facing the dogs.  The dogs were headed away from us, but turned their heads toward us to watch us for a little bit.  As long as they weren't charging us, barking or growling at us, I was going to ignore them.  Only if they got into confrontation mode would I start my routine of yelling at them to go home.  Fortunately, they decided to trot off away from us.

I tried mounting Lostine, but she kept swinging her butt away and I had to keep re-positioning her.  I was starting to regret leaving for the trail ride without practicing standing still for the mount.  When I did get my leg over, she walked off, of course.  But between not knowing where the dogs went and if they were coming back, and knowing how hyper Bombay was, I again did not want to fuss around with mounting lessons out there in the desert.

I don't care for the weekends because a lot of yahoos get out there on the trails and mess them up for the rest of us.  I always see changes from one week to the next.  Us humans just can't seem to go anywhere without having to leave our mark.  Even when we aren't carrying a can of spray paint, we are always leaving some form of graffiti behind.  I saw that someone had written out large words with rocks, but I didn't care enough to go read what they wrote.  That's fine, but what annoyed me was that it looked like someone had taken a stick to a chain-fruit cholla and knocked the spiked balls all over the trail.  So, we had to carefully steer our horses around all that junk.

I used to try to kick those off the trails, thinking of horseback riders, but they just stuck to my boot.  So, now I carry a walking stick with me on hikes and play golf to get them off the trails.  I wish other hikers would have that kind of consideration for me when I'm out riding my horses.

We got home and I had to growl at Bombay a few more times for being rambunctious.  He should be walking with his head low in a relaxed manner, but he was trotting all over with his head stuck up in the air on this ride.  His excitement was rubbing off on little old lady Lostine, and even she was getting a bit silly.

I did finally practice holding still for the mount in the arena with Lostine.  She walked off on me one more time, I pushed her all over the place this way and that, then let her stand still and rest by the mounting block.  She instantly knew what she was supposed to do and didn't give me anymore trouble after that.  I mounted a couple more times and she didn't budge until I asked and after I had my other foot in the stirrup and was situated in the saddle.

Bombay got to get his ya-yas out in the arena too.  P.S. trotted and cantered him until he was tired and realized that walking is better than running, especially on hot days.  I think all he wanted was to go stand still in the shade when she got done with him.

I barely had the strength to remove the tack, because I was weak and my heart was throbbing through my chest.  I realized that I was dehydrated and can no longer get away with taking short trail rides without bringing a bottle of water along.


fernvalley01 said...

sounds like it is stinkin hot! good ride though , you problem solved all through it

Cindy D. said...

I am not afraid of too many things as far as desert dwellers go, but the one thing that I am terrified of is those Africanized Honey Bees. I blame it on the the Killer Bee movies of my youth.

I learned the hard way that they are extremely aggressive if they have set up permanent residence and you invade their territory.

I made the mistake once of walking into an old abandoned shack outside of Eloy where they had set up residence. We were just exploring a little, heard a strange noise, turned around and there was a huge hive built into the wall behind us. We had just invaded their territory and by the escalating sound of their buzzing, it was obvious that they were pissed! We both yelled, "RUN!!!" and high tailed it out of there as fast as we could with an entire swarm of bees right on our tail. I ended up with one tangled in my hair, but we got it killed before it got to sting me. Imagine if you will, 2 women screaming, gravel flying and an old chevy pick up racing down an old dirt road. When I look back now I can laugh at the mental image, but let me assure you, I have never been so afraid in my entire life.

Oddly enough, not too long after that I learned something about those bees that many people are not aware of. They migrate, and if they are migrating, they are not aggressive at all. I came home one day to find that a swarm had taken up temporary residence in a Palo Verde Tree in my front yard. They landed and rested and fed off of the blooms for 4 days, and then they left. We walked right past them many times and they never once acted like they knew we were there. I wanted to kill them because I am so afraid of them, but my neighbor who had been dealing with them for years told me not too. He said that it would only piss them off and then I'd be in trouble. If I just let them be, they would move on, and he was right, they did.

So there is a little bit of "killer bee" trivia for you.

Please don't ride with out water anymore, I would hate to have to read about you getting heat stroke or something along those lines. That in itself is pretty darn scary.

achieve1dream said...

Take water! No excuses! :)

Sounds like they were a bit of a handful on this ride, but I'm glad no one got hurt (by bees, stickers, dogs, "snakes", etc.). Also glad Lostine remembered her standing still for mounting. I really need to work with Chrome on that!