Friday, August 1, 2014

A Sticky Walk

We had a little bit of rain this morning and I wanted to get out and get some exercise while I still had a breeze and cloud cover.  I decided to take a short hike.  I miss being able to walk in the desert for a mile or two each morning.  All that came to an end once summer hit.  I knew there was no point in tacking up a horse for a ride, because by the time I got the saddle off the rack, the sun would come out and ruin everything.  But Lostine hadn't been off the property in a while, so I grabbed a halter and took her with me, communicating with my getting-down-to-business body language and brisk walk that this was going to be a quick, no b.s. spin around the desert, so she had better behave herself.

She led very well.  It was almost as if she wasn't even with me, which is just the way I like it.  All the horses should be past their stage of pulling on the lead rope and leaning on me.  Everything was fine until we got to a point where we needed to walk through a dried up puddle.  By puddle, I mean small pond created by a rainstorm.  So, this was a long, deep dip in the ground with cracked mud.  I spotted a cholla ball with spikes sticking out and dodged it.  Then there was another, and another, and another.  I realized that the rain washes all the cholla balls into the puddles, so you end up with them all piled in that spot once the puddle dries up, and we were in the thick of it.

I was working so hard maneuvering us through this minefield of cactus droppings that I wasn't paying attention to what Lostine was doing.  When we came out the other side, I turned to look at her and saw that she had this huge cholla branch hanging from her muzzle.  I said, "Really?  You tried to take a bite out of THAT?"

Normally, I take a comb or a knife with me for such predicaments, but this was supposed to be "a quick walk".  What could happen on a quick walk, right?  Murphy's Law.

So, I swung the end of the lead rope at the cholla branch, hoping I wouldn't hit Lostine in the face, and she didn't flinch.  She totally understood my intention, so she held still, which helped my aim, and I knocked the sucker off on the first try.  Then I had to pluck all the spines out of her nostrils and lips with my fingers.

Next time I'm going hiking with my golf club, and I'm going to hit those cholla balls and branches right off the trail before they can take root and ruin another good hiking and riding trail.  Unfortunately, this is the nature of the desert, though.  People and animals create ruts and ditches where they walk, and then water collects there because it is the lowest point.  The water washes seeds into the lowest point and provides them with the nourishment they need to grow.  Then the trails get overgrown and we have to create new trails.  I'm just amazed at how quickly it happens in the desert.  I've lived in or near mountains my whole life, and they change slowly.  The desert is like a chameleon -- different in some way every time you visit it.


lytha said...

I like hearing about the desert you live in, and how it impacts your horsey life. And how you said people there aren't necessarily tan, they learn how to avoid the sun. I'm having such trouble with Summer this year, I whine about it every day. I got up at 7 to go clean my pasture and it was only in the 70s but it was so humid I had streams of water running down my face and back. And then the horseflies came to get me, at 7:45, so I hurried back to the house, whining to my husband, "It's not even HOT out, and I can't go out there!" It sounds like you've come to an acceptance and changed your lifestyle to fit the weather.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lytha - During monsoon season, which is now (usually July and August), I am dripping from head to toe with sweat because of the humidity too. It only bothers me when it gets in my eyes and stings, but otherwise, once I get into the air conditioned house, it feels like I just stepped out of the shower. If I didn't have air conditioning, it would definitely suck. I probably take half a dozen sweat showers a day. But flies really can drive a person indoors. Ours are getting immune to our fly sprays. OFF for humans doesn't even phase them. So, I've been ordering more and more Fly Eliminators, which seems to help. I'm guessing you can't get those in Germany? They're expensive, but if you do the math of how much you'd spend on fly traps and fly sprays otherwise, it's worth it and it's less labor intensive.