Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Hoss is Broke

With rain being expected for the next two days, I wanted to ride another horse out on the trails.  Lostine's arthritis has been making her gimpy and she's not eating as much as she used to, so I didn't want to stress her out.  I contemplated riding Gabbrielle, but feel I still need a little more time getting to know her in the arena, just to make sure that we are communicating clearly before hitting the trails.  That left Bombay.

Don't let that sleepy face fool you.

I walked him around to tighten his cinch a little at a time, and he kept balking, like this...

I felt like I was trying to lead a donkey or mule.  Bombay used to lead so beautifully, so this sudden change in behavior concerns me.

Texting my husband to let him know I'm leaving for a trail ride...

I attempted to mount Bombay and he swung his hind end away from me.  This is the type of crap Lostine usually puts me through, but Bombay and Rock are usually solid about mounting.  When I did get on him, flexed him from side to side, and then cued him to walk up the driveway, he swung his hind end around quickly and did a 180, not moving his front feet from where they were anchored.

Huh?  I wasn't at all ready for a full come about.  I checked my leg position and decided that I certainly hadn't cued him to do that.  I turned him around and tried cuing him up the driveway again.  This time he began side passing into a pile of rocks.  What the...?  I checked my leg positions and considered that perhaps I was applying more pressure with my outside leg.  I cued him evenly forward, he jerked forward two steps and then dug his heels in and refused to move.

I turned him to get him to move, and he hesitantly went where I pointed him, but in a zig-zag pattern like a drunken sailor.  Something was wrong with my horse.  He seemed broken, and not in a good way.  Moving forward with a gentle squeeze or cluck of the tongue has never been an issue with him.  It was automatic.  Now I felt like I was trying to pilot a plane by guessing which dials and sticks do what.

A lot of thoughts went through my head.  Could he be in pain?  His body has changed drastically this past year.  He's a bit skeletal.  You can see every bump of his vertebrae clearly, and his spine has deep dips in it in places.  He's not skinny.  He's just getting the physique of an old horse, despite only being 16 years old.  He doesn't seem to have any problems with his legs.  He only acts oddly when someone is on his back, which leads me to believe he may have back pain.

He's been ridden in three different saddles with a thick pad, and I always check the fit, as well as inspecting the pad for burrs and scorpions, so I don't think it is a problem with the tack.

The horse trainer has been riding him all summer, and from what I hear, he's been pushing Bombay to do things out of his normal realm of experience.  That's usually a good thing, unless you have an ultra sensitive horse who becomes terrified of being ridden because he's been pushed too far.  I got the sense that Bombay did not want to be ridden, while in the past he never protested.  He just took it as a part of his routine.  Perhaps his attitude about trail riding had soured.

It could also be that because he has had a different rider all summer, he was trained to that person's riding style and has forgotten the easy flow that he and I once had when I rode him.  I have ridden him in a group, and he was fine, but sometimes the horse is just following the crowd as opposed to listening to his rider in that scenario, and now that I was trying to ride him out alone, the lack of communication between us was showing itself like a flashing neon sign.  So, I dismounted and led him into the half-finished round pen to do some ground work...

I only have half the round pen covered with a layer of manure and the rest is hard-packed clay.  I'm looking forward to being done with this project of softening the footing in the round pen, but it's one of those things that's taking forever, just like editing my novel.

As soon as I began lunging him, he spooked halfway across the pen.  He wasn't in the right frame of mind for a trail ride.  If he's going to flip out over a rock on the side of the pen that he's seen a hundred times before, I doubted things would be better on the trails, where the monsoons have changed a lot in that environment.

I led him on the trails with his saddle on, and he was visibly anxious until we got to a point where he realized that I was not going to ride him, and then he relaxed.

Then I rode him in the arena when we returned.  I simply wanted to walk in circles, or walk straight toward an object, but he kept doing fancy, somewhat violent maneuvers.  He felt like a horse that had been partially trained for reining exercises, but he didn't quite understand them, so he was just trying out various stunts to see if I would release and tell him that was the correct move.  He side passed all the way across the arena, and did a few awkward spins, but I really wasn't doing much with my hands, legs and seat.  All I could figure out was that he was anticipating for me to ask him to do those maneuvers.

My goal was just to jog his memory regarding my style of riding, so that he would stop acting so weird.  It seemed to work.  I could feel a flicker of recognition from him while I was in the saddle toward the end of the ride.

I thought that having people riding my horses during the summer would keep them tuned up, so that I wouldn't have to retrain them and go through all this preparation work for trail riding in the fall, but it didn't work out that way.  I still have to rebuild our relationship since I haven't ridden regularly since May.

I'm getting nervous that I might be losing my space, peace, quiet, and privacy soon.  Today I spotted a strange man with a tall stick walking around in my backyard.  It turned out that he was surveying the property line between my house and the house that is up for sale.  That makes me think that someone put an offer on the house and wants to clarify boundaries.  I chose to leave a 12-foot alley between my horse fence and the neighbor's horse fence, because I didn't want my horses touching noses with other horses that could be carrying diseases.  That was a problem at my old place.  Anyway, now I fear that by leaving an alleyway, some new neighbor is going to move in and claim it as his, even though we know it is within our property line.

The neighbors to the north of that house had built upon their property, and had to give up some of their land to the people who's land they encroached upon.  So, now I'm worried that some newbie will come in and decide to just start pushing his way onto our land to the south since he had some land taken from him in the north.  My previous neighbors admitted that they thought the land they claimed with their white fence was public domain, and once they found out that it was not an easement, they put a fence around it and claimed it as theirs, so this movement south has already been happening.

Anyway, once someone moves in there, who knows what kind of activities they will bring with them, but whatever it is, I know it will take my horses some time to get used to it all.  For that reason, I want to get in as much riding time as possible now while things are still tranquil and somewhat predictable.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

So, I walked outside this morning and Rock was pointing at something in the field next to the round pen. I had seen him watching something out there for a while, but figured it was just a coyote. I finally went outside to check out what it was that captured his attention, and I found another strange man walking around in my back yard. Second day in a row!

The man spotted me and scurried down into the arroyo, so he obviously knew he wasn't supposed to be there. I walked down to investigate, but didn't see him anymore. Then I turned around and noticed that this abandoned house had new furniture on its back porch and a car in the driveway. It looks like I'm getting new neighbors on both sides of me now. I don't know what makes people think it is okay to explore their neighbors' land without permission. No Trespassing means No Trespassing to neighbors too.

achieve1dream said...

Wow people are rude!!!!!

I don't know what you feed your horses but having a bony tooling on an otherwise fat horse can be a sign ofnot enough protein. It seems too soon for it to be an age thing.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good neighbors!!! Too bad you don't have a ton of trees between you and them like I do. :-(