Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Long Weekend

On Friday I trail rode Bombay alone.  He was all jacked up after seeing some trail riders pass by in front of our house, so for the first leg of our ride he was jerking his head all around looking for other horses.  There was nothing to do but keep riding him until he settled down and try to get him to focus on where he was going.  I don't care for having to steer a horse because he's gawking at everything and wandering off the trail each time he turns his head.  I want a horse to be zoned into the trail and look straight ahead.  Eventually, Bombay got tired and realized we had covered most of the desert land on the mile-long block and there were no other horses, so he did drop his head and focus.  Amazingly, he didn't have a single spook.  Spookless rides are rare for him.

Friday night I photographed a local poker tournament that was put on to raise money for charity.  Saturday I photographed a gymkhana that was also a part of the charity fundraising event.  P.S. and I trailered Gabbrielle there to give her some exposure.  Gabbrielle was whinnying and running back and forth while tied to the trailer.  All the other horses attending were low key and acting bored with the whole thing.  I doubted we could get Gabbrielle to even focus on us if we rode her.  She was out of her mind with worry.  She did eventually settle down and cock a hoof.  She ate some hay but refused to drink water out of a bucket.

Oh boy, that's another story in itself.  I was diligent about remembering to fill the horse trailer tank with water only to get to the fairgrounds and discover that the hose nozzle was jammed.  I couldn't open it to pour the water out.  So, I ran around with a bucket asking people where I could find a water faucet, and no one could help me.  I was like, "Don't people water their horses when they bring them to an all day event like this?  And shouldn't fairgrounds have water faucets somewhere other than just in bathroom sinks?"  I ended up hiking a long ways and finding a hose with a really bad connection.  If I kept my hand wrapped around the connection, I'd spray water all over myself, but I could get some water into the bucket.  I couldn't detach the hose, because the faucet was too low to the ground to get a bucket under it.  Then I had to hike all the way back to give Gabbrielle the water.

The opening ceremonies were beginning while I was carrying this bucket of water, and I was supposed to be in the arena photographing them.  So, I fast-walked to the trailer, dropped the bucket much to Gabbrielle's horror at her feet, grabbed my camera and ran through crowds of people who were on foot and horseback standing still with their hats over their hearts for the National Anthem so that I could quickly photograph the flag bearers as they were riding out of the arena at the end of the ceremony.

We left just at the end of the final competition.  We had been there for four hours, Gabbrielle refused to drink out of the bucket, and she must have squeezed out a couple of gallons of sweat in her nervousness.  I didn't bring electrolytes with me, and I wanted to get her home where I knew she would drink from a trough because she felt comfortable there.

The next day I photographed a poker ride, which involved multiple groups of riders heading out and heading in from different locations.  I had to run a long ways to try to catch everyone to photograph them.  Then I photographed a luncheon, an auction, and several raffle events.  I think I was on my feet for eight hours straight.  With all my health issues, I really didn't have the stamina for it, but I pressed on.

I kept getting jostled around by the crowds, which made it difficult to take pictures, so I asked if I could be allowed up onto a balcony to take pictures.  It turned out that only a few people at a time are allowed up there, because both the staircase and balcony were collapsing.  This was an old saloon in a ghost town that was used as a movie set for old westerns.  I had to walk up one side of the staircase hugging the wall, and I couldn't lean on any railings.  The balcony was sloped and warped.  It was scary, but I managed to get a few good shots from an interesting perspective looking down on the crowd.

What amazed me was how people could just hobble or tie their horses side-by-side along a bunch of hitching posts for hours on end and not worry about them.  Some horses were kicking other horses.  Some horses got loose.  There were mock gunfights going on right near the horses, loud train whistles, motorcycles roaring past, raucous voices, loud music, and many of those horses just slept.

I never knew horses could be that calm.  This was just a completely different culture from what I'm used to in the horse world, but I loved how all these riders were living the days of the old west by riding their horses to a saloon and tying them up outside while they partied.  Many were dressed in full western cowboy and cowgirl get ups with fringed leather chaps, spurs, and gun belts.  Quite a few were packing guns and knives.  Lots of people I didn't know were getting drunk and giving me hugs too.

On Monday P.S. and I took Gabbrielle and Bombay out for a trail ride.  As we were tacking up, the club's president called and asked me to be somewhere to do a publicity photo shoot in three hours.  I was frazzled, because P.S. had the whole day off and I was hoping we could go for a long ride and maybe cross some streets.  We barely got out into the desert when Bombay's head shot up in the air and his hooves came to a screeching halt.  Floats from a Veteran's Day parade were passing by on the street ahead of us.  This one was covered in flags.  I thought, "Oh man!  I should know better than to ride on a holiday."

Just then a horseback rider with a loose dog was coming toward us in addition to all those flags flapping around, so we headed in a different direction.  I can deal with one scary stimulus at a time, but if that dog ran up to the horses, that might just put them over the top.  No sooner did we turn in the other direction, and here came an endurance rider trotting fast on the trail beside us.  Our horses slammed on their brakes and threw their heads up in the air, trying to figure out what was going on.  I thought once he passed, we could unlock our horses legs and get them moving again, but instead both Bombay and Gabbrielle decided they wanted to run too.  I suspect they thought the other horse was running away from something scary.

So, we had to gather up their energy, get control of them and head in a different direction.  There we saw a bomber plane flying low, probably for the parade, and I was hoping it would keep its distance.

We made it a short ways without further incident until we came around a bend and spotted a loose horse running around at a gallop in the desert.  The heads went up and the legs locked again.  The horse looked like an Arab with its tail up over its back.  Then a rider on another horse came into view.  I wasn't sure if she was ponying the other horse without a lead rope on purpose or if the horse got loose and she was trying to catch it.

At any rate, I had enough.  I expect the horses to get riled up occasionally over something, but we weren't having any luck getting a quiet trail ride in any direction we went.  I just wasn't feeling good about the whole situation, and when that loose horse looked at us and started to run toward us, I knew there was no way I would be able to regain control of Bombay if the loose horse charged up to him.  He just gets way too excited over seeing other horses.  So, I dismounted.  P.S. did too.  We led the horses toward the loose horse, but by the time we got there, it and the rider were gone.  P.S. remounted, but I didn't feel like struggling to get back on Bombay.  He's tall and I'm a tired old woman.

Right after P.S. mounted, that bomber pilot came back and turned right toward us flying low over our heads.  P.S. was trying to tell me a story and I was just shaking my head because I couldn't hear a thing over that plane's engine.  My usually quiet abode was a madhouse on that day.  I knew it was only a matter of moments before we'd run into the next thing that would send our horses running for the hills.

On Tuesday I had my first photography class of the year and got to listen to critiques of pictures of horses.  I already understand about half a dozen things I've been doing wrong with my own photography.  I signed up for all these classes because life had finally slowed down enough to give me room to breathe, and quite literally all in one day, I got several new jobs in addition to some challenging and time consuming homework assignments.  I definitely bit off more than I can chew right now, so I'm trying to politely back down from requests for additional services and favors.  I'm totally over-extended and my body has been making a gallant effort to fight off the flu for a while now.

It's been a long weekend and its turning out to be an even longer week.  Needless to say, I had to abandon my work on writing the novel during NaNoWriMo, because I've barely had time to take bathroom breaks for five days straight, and the dogs are keeping me awake again, which makes me dingy.  In the meantime, I'm off to chug some NyQuil.


fernvalley01 said...

what a weekend! glad you got the jobs but way to much at once!

achieve1dream said...

I'm so sorry you're sick and had to abandon your NaNo. I've seriously considered abandoning mine too, but I'm going to try to stick with it a little longer.

The events sound fun, other than Gabrielle's panic attack and the water problem. The drunk hugs would have freaked me out, but it's kind of funny. :)

It's too bad about the trail ride... I hope that rider was trying to catch her horse because ponying loose just seems so dangerous to me on public land like that and in a desert no less. *shudder*

I hope you feel better soon!