Monday, July 15, 2013

Trying to Out-Smart my own Lousy Memory

If someone told me that more than one year after moving I would still be trying to work out a barn management routine that is efficient, I wouldn't have believed them.  I think most people who keep horses on their own land, unless they recently moved, are already set in their routines and don't face many issues on a day-to-day basis.  They probably don't remember all the problems that popped up that they had to resolve in the very beginning when they moved their horses and themselves to a new property.

There's nothing like extreme heat and humidity that makes you sweat from head to toe, and makes your heart beat hard like it is trying to push sludge through your arteries, to put pressure on a person to work out a fast and pain-free barn management routine.

After making the same old mistakes for the hundredth time this morning, I sat down to make myself a list of what to do and in what order each time I walk out the door to do anything with the horses.  It is yet another effort to save my sanity and keep from getting heat stroke.  The barn is only maybe 25 yards from the back door, but each trip out there and back is really strenuous on an old fart like me in the extreme heat.  I was thinking that I was just being irritable about everything because of hormones and having a lack of time to address the sheer number of hassles that have been coming my way, but when my husband goes out to do barn chores, he runs into many of the same problems I do.  Lo and behold, they irritate him too.  So, it's not necessarily a hormonal issue.  We definitely have more patience when it's not hot.

So, my list of reminders includes simple things that my brain keeps forgetting, such as remembering to take the dogs out to do their business BEFORE going to the barn.  Otherwise, they sit at the back door and bark frantically, threatening to lose their bladder and bowels on the carpet if I don't run back to the house immediately, put on their leashes and take them outside.  I really miss the good old days of being able to just open up the back door when the dogs needed to relieve themselves.  I wish I had dogs that would just hang close to me off leash, but this morning Midge tried to run out into the desert when she smelled something that interested her.  I had to run after her and step on her leash.  In the meantime, I had dropped Scrappy's leash to free myself up to chase after Midge, and Scrappy took a dump on it.  Awesome.

I also have a reminder to check the time, and decide if I should feed the dogs before the horses.  Many times I get outside to feed the horses and run into some snags, and next thing I know my mobile phone alarm is going off to remind me that it's time to give Midge her insulin, and I haven't even fed her yet.  It's important that she eat on time with her diabetes, so I have to drop everything at the barn and run back in the house to deal with the dogs.  The less trips between house and barn, the better.

The other thing I constantly forget is to grab the ointments that I now have to store in the air conditioned house because they melt in the horse trailer.  If I remember to take them outside with me, it is almost a guarantee that no horses will be injured and I won't have to use them.  If I forget, I always find some scab falling off or some new cut or abrasion on a horse, and I have to make the trek back into the house to get the ointments.

Equally aggravating as the trips between house and barn are the trips between barn and tack room, so I have gathered all the basic wound care supplies that can be left in the heat, and I put them in the storage shed next to the stalls.  It's only a few yards difference between the shed and the tack room, but it saves a tremendous amount of energy in the heat.  I previously tried keeping a lot of stuff just outside the barn gate, but when it rains or the wind blows really hard, I find myself having to expend more energy cleaning up the mess done by the weather to my supplies.

The list saves me from having to spin my wheels and go nowhere.  It's not fair to the horses if I run out of gas before they get all of their needs met.  I feel guilty every time I go back to the house to rest or drink ice water to cool my organs before I've give the horses both their grass and alfalfa, or before I've refilled their water troughs or before I've applied fly spray.

I had the foresight to print out the list in big enough lettering that I can read it without having to search for a pair of glasses.  That's a big thing with me.  If I have to search for glasses to read something, I won't read it, and then I get to suffer the consequences of not reading it later on.  That's very painful when what I refused to read was a recipe, and we get stuck having to eat whatever crap comes out of the oven that I threw together from memory.

The list should help me get everything done in the fewest number of steps, and then when I'm back in the air conditioned house I can hopefully exercise to improve my stamina.  Of course, exercising depends upon not having illnesses, injuries, and pain.  I don't know what is up with my body, but I'm starting to coin a new-to-me term:  "Sleep injury."  It's when you go to bed feeling fine and wake up with an injury.  You can either blame it on sleepwalking or being abducted by aliens.

Actually, I just looked up the term and most people associate it with scratching yourself in your sleep.  In my case, I think I lay on my fingers, hands, arms, toes, feet, and legs in such a way that I put stress injuries on the tendons, joints and bones.  I probably don't feel the pain when it is happening because my blood pressure medication knocks me out so thoroughly.

The geldings have started this new behavior that is rather fascinating to watch.  I'll try to get a picture or film it someday, but I'll have to be in the right place at the right time to catch it.  Until then, I'll just describe it.  Bombay picks up the flattened, torn up Jolly Ball in his mouth and backs up so that he is alongside Rock.  Rock bites into the other half of the Jolly Ball, and the two of them take off walking around the arena side-by-side with the Jolly Ball in their mouths, kind of like a team of horses pulling a carriage.  Then they take off trotting or cantering together, trying to keep in rhythm so that the ball stays in both their mouths.

It's really beautiful to watch until Rock gets silly, rips the ball out of Bombay's mouth and takes off galloping and bucking with it.  When that happens, the mares get irritable and Lostine tries running away from Rock.  He interprets that as her inviting him to play, so he chases her.  Then Lostine runs to Gabbrielle and bites her to tell her to get Rock in line.  Then Gabbrielle chases Rock around, biting him while Lostine lays her head across Bombay's back for protection.

Rock just runs around like a galloping fool laughing and bucking.  Despite having Gabbrielle chasing him with her ears pinned back, he still manages to squeeze around Bombay to get to Lostine, who in turn runs for her life.  Then the three of them are chasing each other while Bombay is standing there with the Jolly Ball in his mouth waiting for a partner to join him in carrying it around the arena.  It's no wonder these horses keep getting hurt with all the silly games they play.  I think I truly understand how the term "horseplay" evolved.

Look at this gem I found while searching images of "horseplay":

Hopefully, my new reminder list will guide me to do less work in less time and allow me more time to do more of this.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

All one can do is hope. I'm afraid that my mind is way too far gone for lists. I went outside this morning forgetting to read the list, which was right by the door, forgetting to carry the bag of ointments out, which of course I needed, and forgetting to take the dogs out to do their business first, so I returned to a very stinky house. I'm hopeless.

Cheryl Ann said...

I'm hopeless too. 4 of my horses are in one area, and Gigondas is up in another one. All I do when I go up to the ranch is trudge back and forth from horses to tack room. Really, we both must be losing our minds! :-(
Cheryl Ann
(Sometimes I even drive my car back and forth between horses and tack room so I don't have to hike back to it!)

Dreaming said...

And I thought I was the only one!!!
I made so many extra trips between barn and house, always chastising myself for forgetting something.
Fun picture. I can't wait to see the horses playing - put 'take the camera' on your list ;-)