Monday, February 10, 2014

Just Crazy

Beginning this past weekend, I've noticed something in the air -- just a lot of craziness, people driving crazy on the roads, people out in droves enjoying the fine weather, lots of strangers loitering around the neighborhood, etc.  It seems the population exploded overnight, and I suspect it is because tourists and snowbirds are coming into town for a handful of annual special events.  Next Sunday we won't be able to get on or off our street for several hours because of a marathon for charity.  Normally vacant homes are overflowing with occupants now, and some of them camp outside and only go indoors to use the bathroom or get some food.  If we want to get into a restaurant, we have to have dinner at 4:00 PM.  The other night we drove to four different restaurants and were only able to get into the last one.

I've seen dozens of horseback riders, hikers and bicyclists on the trails who are not regulars.  One day when I was driving up a main road, the three cars in front of me slammed on their brakes in order to avoid rear-ending each other, and the cause of the sudden stop was an elderly man and woman on horseback cantering across the street right in front of traffic.  There was no warning.  They just burst out of the bushes and took all the drivers by surprise.  When they got to the other side of the street, they stopped their horses and turned to look at us with startled expressions.  I suspect they weren't paying attention and didn't even realize that they were about to cross a road until they were already crossing it.  I'm pretty sure many of these horseback riders are riding drunk, because their decisions leave a lot to be desired.  In fact, I think their horses are actually the ones making the decisions.

So, with all this activity, I figured that any trail riding effort on my part would be challenging.  Yesterday I saw one lone rider come up the street, and then come to an abrupt stop and wait at the gate while 5 or 6 horseback riders out on the trails passed on wild-eyed horses.  Their heads were straight up in the air, some were jigging, some were spinning, some were rearing over being held back, some were cantering.  I don't think anyone in that group had control of his or her horse, so I didn't blame the lone rider for waiting them out before approaching the trail they were on.

Bombay and I rode out this morning and right when we were crossing the street, a horse whinnied off in the desert, Bombay's head popped up, and his feet came to a screeching halt.  I said, "No way!  We are not stopping in the middle of the street for you to investigate who made that sound.  This is dangerous."

I laid my heels into his sides and got him moving.  We rode through the gate and up the trail surrounded by thick brush, and upon coming out into the open, Bombay's head flew up and he stopped again.  I was like, "I don't even want to know what you are looking at.  Let's just go!"

I laid my heels into him again, but this time he ignored me.  I looked up to see this huge plume of dust rising up and about 5 horsemen galloping towards us.  Oh... hell... no.

When a lone horse sees other horses running out in open spaces, the natural thing to think is that the other horses are running from some kind of threat or predator.  I didn't know if Bombay was going to run from those galloping horses, toward them or with them.  All I knew was that he was going to run.  For a split second I contemplated riding it out, but then remembered that my tarot card reading said I was going to have to be rescued from a life or death situation this month, and I promptly dismounted.

The riders got right up to us and stopped, motioning for me to pass.  I realized that their horses were just as nervous and fresh as mine, and that's probably why they were galloping them.  I was a bit irritated, because once I dismount, I don't have the dexterity to get back into the saddle without a fairly tall mounting block.  If I wanted to try riding again, I would have to lead Bombay back to the barn.  So, we just went for a walk, and then afterward I rode him in the arena with the neighbors' dogs barking at us.

Right when I was about to wrap up, I noticed something out of place right on the top of the bank of the arroyo.  Bombay hadn't seen it yet.  I rode around a few more times trying to figure out what it was.  When I realized it was a small child playing in the bushes, I thought, "Um, yeah, this would be a good time to end."

The worst times at my old house when the horses got out of control happened when my neighbor would pop up out from behind bushes or cars while I was riding past.  This child belonged to some snowbirds who moved in this past weekend.  I'm sure the horses will get used to having children playing in the bushes, but I prefer they do it while I'm not in the saddle.  All I can say is that I'm really looking forward to February coming to a close, so I can return to my regularly scheduled, and predictable, program.


Cindy D. said...

I'm going to send you an email. I have something you need!

fernvalley01 said...

so the horses were jacked up and they ran them?? Okay not my first choice to settle and amped up horse but hey, it wasn't me so...

Once Upon an Equine said...

Neighborhood rides can be the craziest of all. I often ride in a park frequented by suburban hikers, bikers, and joggers who are very ignorant about horses. I'm constantly looking over my shoulder for stealth joggers and bikers. But the galloping equestrians disappoint me the most. They should knoo better. There are a couple riders on OTBs who frequent this park. They think their horses always need to run. They haven't taught them anything else. They are out of control and have trouble slowing or stopping their horses when galloping up on other horses from either direction. I also worry they will run over a toddler or baby stroller. Never a dull moment when sharing multi - use trails. And some scary moments too. Hope it calms down for you soon so you can enjoy some peaceful rides before the heat sets in. I haven't ridden in weeks due to sub zero temps and snow and ice. Warming up this week.Hurray. Only problem...all the hikers joggers, and bikers are just as anxious to hit the trail too.

Sam said...

We've got the same issues on our end of the road. ...and you are right about them being drunk. I had one last night who insisted on getting off her horse and giving me a hug (I nearly fainted from the smell!). I had a heck of a time getting her back in the saddle. Last week I came across two woman who were not only drunk but one had forgotten a saddle blanket and the other one had the rear cinch knotted to the latigo and the unused straps dangling between her horses legs. I jumped out of the truck really fast on that one and fixed it for them. It's nuts out there!