Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Got Thanked

When I worked full-time as a software tester, I had a sign on my desk that read, "Thank me.  Don't spank me."

My job was to find bugs in software, report them, and retest the software once the bugs were fixed to make sure every path was covered and that the fix didn't create new bugs.  As you can imagine, being the bearer of bad news made me somewhat unpopular.  However, some of the more mature computer programmers appreciated my efforts because they knew that every bug I found in a beta version was one less bug that a customer or the CEO would find, and that in the end, the work I did made the programmers look good.

I had some good supervisors and some bad ones.  The bad ones always criticized me, or worse yet, punished me by taking my weekends and holidays away if I missed bugs.  They never bothered to check the bugs database to see just how many bugs I did find, and thank me for finding those.  In the end, my entire department got laid off because the powers that be were more interested in releasing crappy, bug-filled software ahead of the competitors than they were in building a good reputation for producing quality products.

Now that I'm a stay-at-home pet keeper, it's been a long time since I've been thanked.  Dogs and horses just take all that feeding a poop scooping for granted.

Each time I go out on the trails either on foot, horseback, or bicycle, I run into more cholla balls scattered all over my path.  Then I have to go around them and return later with a golf club to hit them off the trails.  It seems that at least once a week I find another blockage, and I've been wondering who keeps making these dangerous messes.

I used to think it was the wind, but there hasn't been that much wind lately.  I've been told that park rangers will scatter cholla balls on old trails to stop people from using them, but I didn't think that was the case here.  There have been several batches spilled on trails near The Mad Pruner's house, and I wondered if he might be doing it to stop people from enjoying the public land in front of his place.

Today I grabbed a 9-iron and went out to do some clean up.  I realized that these latest messes have been the result of the power company trucks racing up and down the trails.  They hit the cholla cacti and knock the spiked balls down as they pass.  I discovered that a 9-iron was not the right choice, because I hit one up into my eye.  Thankfully, I was wearing sunglasses, so it just bounced off.  Another ball got stuck in my hair.

Anyway, I was concentrating hard on practicing my golf swing when I heard someone say something.  I startled and looked up to see a woman on horseback leading another horse with two dogs off leash.  I said hello and apologized for swinging my golf club around her horses.  I told her I didn't see her there.  She said, "Thank you for knocking those off the trail."

She understood what I was doing.  Wow.  I'm hoping more people will see me doing that and think to bring a stick or golf club out with them on hikes to knock those boogers out of the way.  Of course, as soon as I started talking to the horseback rider, I shifted my foot just a little bit and got skewered.

I have to say I was really impressed with this woman's animals.  The horses and dogs were both just moving along with their heads hanging low, totally focused on the trail ahead of them, not paying any attention to me.  They looked like they had been out for hours and all they wanted was to get back home.  I doubted anything could distract those dogs or spook those horses.

I'm used to dog owners who have no control over their dogs and let them run around my horses' legs and nip at their heels, and horse owners who see a hiker or horseback rider and quickly head off in the opposite direction to avoid them -- something I do at times when I'm riding a horse that is acting skittish and I'm just too tired to deal with the horse's fears.  I think next time I see this lady I will ask her what her secret is to maintaining control of four animals all at the same time.  I suspect she'll tell me she takes them out every morning, but I'd like to know how those first few mornings went for her and how she handled any issues that came up.

I still haven't ponied a horse off the property, because I'm not sure what to do if one horse goes one way and the other goes the opposite way.  What happens if the horse I'm riding steps through the gate, but the horse I'm leading balks at the gate, and then the horse I'm riding keeps going and won't stop?  If I drop the rope, the horse on the lead rope will run across the street back to the barn.  If it causes a car accident, I can be held liable.  Some of my horses have been turning a deaf ear to whoa lately, so I really need to make sure I've got one horse that is solid all around before I try taking two at a time out.

Anyway, I know greatness when I see it, and I'm sure that lady has a gem or two of advice that I could use.  Hopefully, I will see her again some day.

1 comment:

achieve1dream said...

Awww!!! That's so nice that your good deed was recognized and appreciated. :D

I used to pony horses all the time and yes it helps if the one you're riding is very well trained, but I have had horses get loose when they stop and my horse doesn't. In my case the horse that got loose stayed with us (we were on the roads). I'm not sure what to do about a horse that runs home.... I've also had a horse rear up trying to get away, but I looped the rope around the saddle horn and Lady held her for me. You have to trust your mount though. There are dangers such as if the horse had reared onto me or even getting kicked in the leg by the one you're ponying. I think what made it work out so well for me is because the mare I was riding was without a doubt the herd leader. She made sure the horse being ponied was on it's best behavior. I also did a lot of practicing at home before leaving a fenced area. I hope you can do it someday. It's a great way to exercise multiple horses. :D

P.S. The horses I was ponying were not mine. They were horses I was training. It's normally easier to pony a horse that lives with your mount and knows and likes them than to pony an unfamiliar horse. Lady was a great horse (still is actually, but I don't have her anymore). :)