Thursday, August 8, 2013

Haystack Adventures

I needed a change in my hay barn management routine after several monsoons flooded and saturated some hay bales we had knocked to the ground, and they molded in just a few short days.  Normally, my husband, who isn't afraid of heights, climbs a ladder and knocks down a couple of week's worth of hay to the ground where I cut the bales open as I need them.  We can't get away with that in the summer months in Arizona anymore.  The ground gets so flooded with rain that the hay doesn't stand a chance.  I have to keep the hay above ground on wooden pallets under the roof of the hay barn at all times.

So, my husband created a natural staircase of hay bales up the side of the stack, and all I need is a step stool to get to the first level.  I climb to the top each time I need a new bale, cut it open, and drop four flakes at a time down to the first level of hay where I can reach it.  This routine has made a huge difference in keeping the hay dry.  However, I find that there are a lot of hazards in the haystack.

First off, we've run into all kinds of wildlife up there:  Birds, lizards, mice, scorpions, and quail eggs.  You've got to watch where you put your hands and where you step, even without the wildlife hanging around, because you can easily slip a limb down in between hay bales and pull a muscle.  My husband tore his groin a few years ago when one leg broke through between two bales and the other leg stayed up.  This morning I woke up with a bump on the side of my wrist, and the tendon felt like it had been twisted.  I was sure I injured it when trying to keep a 100-pound bale of hay from falling all the way to the ground out of the hay barn.  I'm also learning that I have to remember to take an antihistamine before climbing the haystack, because otherwise I will be sneezing the rest of the night.  The things we do to feed our horses.

P.S. and I got in another trail ride today.  The temperature seemed cooler and the horses had more stamina, so we went twice as far as last time.  She rode Gabbrielle and I rode Bombay.  Lostine is getting time off because of her skinned knees and arthritis, while Rock is getting time off until his hooves toughen up.  I almost rode him today, but I had an incident with him yesterday in which he reverted back to his biting behavior and I know we need to do some groundwork and get him acting respectful again before working from the saddle.

The horses were amazingly good.  We had a few spooks, but there are legitimate spooks, and then there is spooky behavior that horses do to get out of work, and these were all legitimate spooks in place, so we just ignored them and kept on riding.  In one case, Gabbrielle was worried about a tree stump on the side of the trail, which in turn caused Bombay to be concerned.  We walked past it, and then I guess a truck made a loud noise, and Bombay thought the tree stump was attacking him from behind, so he jumped forward, which sent Gabbrielle into one giant leap forward, but they both stopped as soon as they realized nothing was going on.  Another time Bombay jumped because some birds burst out of bush in front of him.  But the horses were really relaxed and cooperative most of the ride.  They didn't even try to turn up the trail to home when we rode them past it.

When we got to the place where we ride past a corral filled with mares, Bombay popped his head up and thought about strutting his stuff, but I kept reminding him to straighten up and keep his head in the trail ride.  He did really well.  Just a few months ago, I couldn't get him to stop craning his neck at those mares even when I led him with a rope and carried my big stick.  I knew he would turn into a great trail horse if I just gave him time.  Gabbrielle is also doing amazingly well considering that this is the first year of her life she has been trail ridden.  She has a good head on her shoulders.  When she sees something that worries her, she gets a little tense and snorty, and weaves her way up to it, but she's not turning and bolting or trying to throw her rider so that she can run back to the barn for safety.  

I'm not bringing my camera on these summer trail rides because I don't want to overheat it.  It's already acting up because of heat damage, so I'll have to save the pictures for cooler temperatures.  I bring a bottle of ice cold water with me on the rides, and after just 10 minutes out in the sun the water gets hot.  We've been hosing down the horses after riding them, and they are getting so much better about accepting the spray.  I think they are learning to like it.

But I did get some video of the horses being rambunctious the other day.  Lostine was in heat, and Bombay and Rock were sparring a bit more than usual.  There was a lot of rearing, bucking, biting and chasing.  Of course, as soon as I get my camera, they tone it down.  Rock has started a new game of throwing the Jolly Ball high in the air, and then he and Bombay have to take off running to avoid having it come down on top of them.  It's really funny to watch, but I haven't caught a good one yet on film.  I love this video because Gabbrielle breaks up the boys' horse play at the end:

Scrappy barks when I walk outside without him.  He's got some serious abandonment issues.  But then again, he's part Chihuahua.  


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

OMG! Some guy just drove up to the cliff at the back of my property and peed in my back yard!

Cheryl Ann said...

You'd be surprised (NOT!) by the number of cars I see pulled over driving to the horse ranch and people off alongside the road...Heck, I even had to stop once!!! 35 minutes was too long to wait! If I can make it to the campground, I will, but once I couldn't...

strivingforsavvy said...

I am so happy for you that your horses are getting better and better. Your hard work is paying off!

achieve1dream said...

Bombay is so gorgeous!! I love his floaty Arab trot!