Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rejecting for Respect

The mountains look so different from one hour to the next.  This was the view from my back porch this morning.  The weather has been all over the map this week, but we finally got the cooler mornings and evenings I've been waiting for.  Each time it is cloudy with a nice breeze, I think of saddling up for a trail ride, but usually within a few minutes of having that thought either the sun comes out with its oppressive heat and humidity or high winds come out of nowhere and then it starts pouring rain.

People have been coming out of hibernation, so I'm back in the role of having to stave off the trespassers.  They come in waves once it cools down.  I've seen quite a few bicyclists, hikers and horseback riders.  The old deaf bicyclist who was Bombay's nemesis on the trails last spring came out and rode down my neighbors' driveway to look into the windows of their house.  I know the house is for sale, but after all my experiences with Peeping Tom neighbors in the past, I am still bowled over when I see someone behave that way.

I would never dream of peering in the windows of someone's private home, even if it is up for sale.  If I'm a serious buyer, I'll get a tour from a real estate agent by appointment.  I also caught another neighbor racing out of the driveway of the house next door hauling a bunch of stuff in a trailer.  He was acting so odd that I went over next door to make sure that none of my neighbors' sculptures were stolen and no gates, doors or windows were open.  I suspect the man was just being nosy and peering in the windows too, and when I came outside he knew he had been caught, so he raced out of there in a hurry.  Since I've been parking my truck in the garage, people think no one is home at my place, so they tend to take chances, because they think there will be no witnesses to their actions.

I spend a lot of time outside because of the horses and dogs.  We're still trying to get Stewie potty trained, and if it doesn't click with him before the snowbird campers show up to the south of us, all hope will be lost.  He gets distracted by every little noise and keeps forgetting to do his job.  Each time he doesn't do anything around meal times, we put him in his crate, take him out a while later, try again, and again, and again, until he finally goes, and then we celebrate by throwing the "poo poo outside squeaky toy" around for him to fetch.  A new friend told me that she has a Chihuahua mix that she's never been able to potty train and he's 16 years old.  That's so depressing, because she knows her stuff when it comes to dogs and horses.  As far as basic commands go, Stewie understands "stay", but he confuses "come" with "sit".  Because of his attention problems, I have to get down on his level and get in his face while giving the commands.  It's a lot of work.  Multi-tasking is not an option when training this dog.

I didn't have enough time to ride between feeding the dogs and the horses, so I took Bombay for a quick hand walk in the desert, hoping to find some snakes since it has cooled down enough for them to come out.  We didn't run into any animals at all, but we followed some fresh horse hoof prints in the mud.  Bombay was a bit hyper, occasionally prancing and getting ahead of me, keeping his head high most of the walk and alerting on things way off in the distance.  I came to the realization that if he is 16 years old and he's still such a high energy, nervous horse, he's probably never going to change.  He's had a ton of training, but his personality will most likely remain the same.  I wish I could find a job for him to do that would make him happy, because I doubt he will ever be a consistently relaxed trail horse.  I just find it so discouraging when I have to keep taking three giant steps back, or worse yet, go all the way back to square one in a horse's training.  At some point I feel like I have to give up and get on with other things if I want to keep my sanity.

When we returned to the barn, I was exhausted and still had to feed the horses and clean up manure.  I looked over to see all four horses pacing and circling their stalls, smashing the manure into the ground, making it ten times harder for me to clean up.  The hay has been falling apart the second I pick it up, so feeding time has been expanded to a half hour production in my efforts to get the hay off the bale and distributed to the horses' feed barrels and hay bags without spilling any on the ground or down my bra and underpants.

I knew that by the time every horse got its ration of hay, the manure would be an insurmountable problem, so I grabbed the long whip and chased all the horses out of the barn.  However, Lostine refused to leave and just kept running out of one stall and into another.  She knew exactly what I wanted, but she refused to get out of the barn and join the other horses so that I could clean stalls.  I had to actually tap her with the whip several times before she gave in and cooperated.  Usually, just a crack of the whip, or better yet, the sound of whipping the aluminum roof of the barn is enough to get the horses out.

Then the entire time that I was cleaning stalls, Lostine kept galloping around, trying to charge her way back into her stall.  I blocked the entrance to the barn aisle with the manure wagon and long whip, but they didn't deter her.  Each time she approached, I chased her off.  Rock saw her challenging me and decided to creep up on me in order to sneak past while I was busy chasing Lostine off, but it didn't work.  I was on top of things.  Bombay creeped forward a little, but halted as soon as I said whoa.

I knew that both Lostine and Rock were sure that they would be allowed to go back into their stalls as soon as I finished cleaning stalls, but I wanted them to learn to wait for me to give them permission.  As soon as I cleaned up the last pile in the barn, both Lostine and Rock came running and I chased them off again.  Then I started cleaning up manure outside the barn.  Lostine broke into a gallop as soon as I got far enough away that she knew I couldn't outrun her, and she charged into the wagon handle and pushed right through it as if it were a turnstile.  I chased her back out and she finally gave up.

When I was ready to let the horses into the barn, I directed Gabbrielle to go in first since she was the only horse who didn't try to sneak past me.  All the horses understood that they were to wait until I pointed at them and said their name.  The next least offensive horse was Bombay, so I sent him to his stall, followed by Rock.  They all entered in an orderly fashion.  Then when I gave Lostine permission to enter her stall, she turned her nose up to me and refused to go in.  Typical.  I ended up having to herd her into her stall, and she ran instead of walking.

I call that type of exercise "rejecting for respect", a play on Clinton Anderson's "lunging for respect".  Only you don't need a round pen or a long line.  You just chase the horses off whenever they are misbehaving or in your way, and don't let them near you or near the object of their desire (their stall, another horse, or their hay) until you explicitly give them your permission.  It's the same thing that horses do to each other in a herd.

The yellow butterflies showed up this week.  I'll know it's really cooling down when the multi-colored ones appear.


Cheryl Ann said...

I read on AZ Central that there was flooding north of Phoenix. Were you okay? We might get rain here the next couple of days.
Cheryl Ann

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Cheryl Ann - Yeah, that didn't affect us. We almost always get flooding during storms, but the sun comes out and dries everything up just as quickly as the floods begin. Thankfully, we've only had our garage flooded in the past and nothing has gotten in the house. I think that because we live in an area near the mountains where it rains more often than other parts of the desert, the natural washes are our saving grace.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Bombay's personality and needing a 'refresher course' on manners, relaxing or everything horse is not something I would be too overly concerned with.

It could be worse. A lot worse. You could have one of those horses that it seems like you have to start over at day one, every. damn. day. Those type of horses are tough eggs to crack. You feel like you finally break thru and tomorrow- right back to square one and they forgot everything. That my friend, is VERY frustrating.

HHmstead said...

What part of AZ are you in? That first photo is just stunning of the storm on the mountains. How long have you been there? So many want to move to AZ for the "weather"...