Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day Weekend

The temperatures are heating up again for us.  I'm looking forward to next weekend when there *should* be another system moving through.  I tried bathing Bombay because he was all sticky, yellow and brown in places, but the heat nearly took me out in the process.  It's too bad that the cleanliness of a bath is so short-lived around here.  Both Gabbrielle and Bombay were thoroughly cleaned and they are already getting yellow before I've had a chance to bathe Lostine and Rock.  I have to pace myself so that I'm outside in half hour increments, taking breaks to go into the air conditioning and drink ice water in between chores.

P.S. came by to ride and was on a short time limit, and I needed my exercise, so I hand-walked Lostine with P.S. riding Gabbrielle.  I've been riding for years and I know from experience that the worst days to go horseback riding are the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, as well as the 4th of July.  You run into a lot of people who are doing activities they normally don't do, and that often leads to trouble for horseback riders.  I prefer to desensitize my horses in ways that I can control, so I know in advance what is going to happen and I can be prepared to have an optimal reaction to train my horse effectively.  If someone jumps out of the bushes and takes me by surprise, I'm probably just going to scream and spook right along with my horse, which doesn't help my horse any.

But with the heat, I thought our chances were good that we might not run into anyone on the trails.  Wrong.  We were headed back to the barn, because P.S. had to get to work, when a lady emerged from the west with two dogs off leash.  We stopped and waited for them to pass.  Unfortunately, they took the trail we needed to go on to get back to the barn.  As we headed home, we discovered that she had stopped in front of my neighbor's house that is up for sale, and she was taking pictures.  I didn't want to just stand around waiting for her to finish her photo shoot, so we tried approaching that gate out of the desert to cross the street behind her. 

I figured that if she was confident enough to have her dogs off leash, she must have control over them.  Right?  Wrong.  She tried putting her camera away quickly while gathering up her dogs, but as soon as they spotted the horses, their minds were gone.  They weren't listening to her many commands to come to her. 

I thought for sure she would catch them and grab their collars while we passed.  Right?  Wrong.  She just followed them while repeatedly calling out to them, basically herding them right into us.  As the first dog approached Lostine, I lunged at it and the dog spooked sideways to escape me.  Then the other dog came running at Lostine while I was busy trying to ward off the first dog.

The dogs were not aggressive -- just curious, but I did not want them to get under Gabbrielle's legs with P.S. in the saddle.  That's the first thing every loose dog does when it sees my horses -- run straight for the legs and start doing figure 8's around them.  Plus the dogs always seem to sense which horse is the most scared, and make a bee-line for it.

The second dog was short-haired, so I was able to grab its collar.  The dog owner said, "You don't need to worry about that one."

I said, "I need to worry about all dogs because the horse behind me is afraid of them."

The owner was still talking about her dogs but not catching them and the long-haired dog was trying to dodge past me to get to Gabbrielle.  I couldn't see a collar on it, so I lunged forward while the lady was talking, and grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck.  I could tell the lady was pissed at me for handling her dog roughly, but I had every right to protect my friend from getting into an accident.  I know it is risky to grab a dog I don't know by the scruff, but I'd rather get bit than have P.S. fall off her horse.

At that point the lady took both dogs from me.  She held the short-haired one by the collar and draped the long-haired one over her arm, so apparently it didn't have a collar.  Then she stood off to the side of the gate to wait for us to pass.  I thought, "I doubt Gabbrielle will walk past them," and turned around to see that P.S. had wisely dismounted, so we were able to lead the horses past.

The lady said that the long-haired dog should be fine around horses, because she just got him off a reservation where there were lots of horses.  I didn't even bother trying to explain to her that it doesn't matter if the dogs are fine around horses.  What matters is if the horses are fine around dogs.  If a dog spooks at a horse, it's no big deal because no one is sitting on its back, but if a horse spooks and bolts because it is afraid of a dog, the rider could get seriously injured or killed.  Not to mention that a dog could get injured or killed should the horse kick it.  Non-horse people just don't get it.

I was wondering why she was even taking pictures of my neighbor's property, because it is horse property.  I wish non-horse people would stop buying up great horse properties and turning them into something else.  Also, I can't say it enough, if your dogs don't come when you call when they are distracted or excited, keep them on leashes for everyone's safety.  It doesn't matter how sweet they are.  There are coyotes, javelina, sharp cholla balls, and rattlesnakes in the desert, so protect your dogs at the very least, even if you don't give a damn about the horseback riders. 

I'm getting nervous over who is going to buy that house next door, because so far most of the people I've seen looking at it have appeared to be potential trouble for me.  They look like they aren't interested in preserving the peace, quiet and privacy everyone in the neighborhood currently enjoys.  For instance, one day I was working in my office writing my novel when I heard this deep rumbling noise and felt a vibration through the wall.  We actually have more helicopter and airplane traffic in our neighborhood than car or truck traffic, so I looked out the window and there was this man in a big diesel pickup truck with all kinds of construction doodads attached to it idling in the driveway.  He just kept driving back and forth through the driveway and in front of the house.  I thought, "Oh gads, I don't want to have to listen to that engine being fired up every time that man leaves the house to go somewhere."

But my biggest fear is that a construction worker will move in next door to me and start building stuff out of his garage or barn, and I'm going to have to spend the rest of my life listening to his power tools and hammering.  That's what happened in the last neighborhood I lived in.  It started out as a rural area with livestock.  The only sounds you heard were goats bleating, horses neighing, and roosters crowing.  I loved it.  Then the banks started handing out home loans like candy, and all these construction workers and mechanics bought up the houses around me, and it felt like I went from living in a ranching community to living in an industrial zone overnight.

If I had a spare million dollars, I'd buy the house myself, but I'll have to win the lottery before I'll be in that position.  Right now I'm just enjoying being able to ride my horses everywhere on my property without having dogs charging the fence and barking at us.  I wish it were winter so I could enjoy the peace and quiet outdoors every day, and not just on the cooler mornings and evenings.  I suppose the good thing about the house going up for sale at the beginning of summer is that most people don't want to live here in the summer, so not many people are house hunting.  I'm sure all that will change soon, though.


How Sam Sees It said...

Amen on the dogs!

I've managed to get Baron out both days this week for rides, and luckily enough, had no issues with anything at all. No walkers, dogs, dirt bikes, bikes, nothing. I'm hoping I can keep my streak going and try again tomorrow.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam - I know you are getting out there earlier than I do right now, but I hope we can ride together when the temps cool down.

How Sam Sees It said...

Yes! Definitely. I'm looking forward to it.

fernvalley01 said...

I agree, care enough about your dogs at the very least to protect them. All dogs should know and respect the words come, and sit. My dogs are careful and respectful of horses,but we still practice that always , if I need it it should be second nature to them. I have had cause to use it, and the practice paid off, I still have Winston to prove it

FoxLair said...

I am petrified of dogs, and currently of riding too! In January my horse was attacked by a loose pitbull and I was thrown...broke 4 ribs, 4 vertebrae, and punctured and collapsed a lung. I am still in daily pain, but have so much fear. I bought a very expensive air vest, but it is so hot to wear. i've only gotten on three times since the accident and still am nervous....I was a trainer and rode hunters and jumpers, but now am 61 and not as agile.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

FoxLair - I am so sorry that happened to you. Sometimes I feel like us horseback riders are playing with fire, and I always wonder if it is worth it. There were two dogs, one of which was a Pitbull, who kept getting out of their yard and sniffing around the bridle trails where I hike and ride. I was running into them fairly regularly and I had to really commandeer the situation and demand that those dogs go home, because otherwise they would stalk my horses. I got in the habit of dismounting as soon as I spotted them, and eventually I just stopped riding in that direction because I was worried that one of these days there wouldn't be a good outcome.

achieve1dream said...

Wow it always seems so quiet during the day on the fourth of July here... I guess because everyone is at the lake lol.

I'm hoping someone nice bought the house next door.... going to have to stop commenting and keep reading. It's going to take me forever to get caught up lol.