Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cleaned Out

When an odd thought keeps popping into my head repeatedly, and it's not logical, I've learned to take notice, because it usually makes sense later on.  For example, I've had this big ball horse toy idea on my brain ever since I saw that huge ball at the dump.  I thought, "What I need is a Toys 'R Us store.  They carry everything."

Then one day I went shopping for something else, and lo and behold, there was this Toys 'R Us store in a location I drive past all the time, but for some reason I've never noticed it before.  I don't know how you can miss a store that big, but I did.  I stopped there and shopped for a different type of ball for the horses, but didn't find one that would work.  The next day I was in the feed store and my eyes were drawn to the beach ball toy with a handle that I already bought for the horses some time last year.  It was still in perfect condition and probably the best purchase I've made regarding horse toys.  My gut was urging me to buy another one.  I thought to myself, "Why?  They already have one.  Why would I need to buy a second one?"

Still, I felt as if something was urging me to get one.  It made no logical sense to me, so I didn't.  Also, my husband had just picked up that playground ball for the horses, and that should tide them over for a while.  They had more toys than most horses.  No reason to get more.

Then one morning I was gazing out the window and it suddenly occurred to me that the horse paddock looked bare.  Where were all the horses' toys?

I could see the new playground ball, but that was it.  Then I remembered that one day a couple of weeks ago I found the piece of drip hose the horses had been playing with for three years lying on the ground outside of the barn broken in half.  It was lying next to the dog bowl where the ravens let their meals marinate, so I figured one of the ravens must have picked it up, flew it out of the paddock, and broken it in half with its beak.  It seemed like an odd thing for the ravens to suddenly start doing, especially since that piece of drip hose had by lying in the paddock for three years, but I tossed it in the trash and didn't give it a second thought.

The ripped up coat that the horses play with was drying out in the sun by the hay barn, because they kept dropping it into Lostine's water trough.  But still something else was missing.  Then it hit me -- their beach ball with the handle was gone.  I walked down to the barn and looked in all the water troughs and feed barrels.  It wasn't there.  I thought back to the last time I did see it.  I thought I had seen it three days before when I was cleaning stalls, and the ball kept getting in my way, so I threw it.  It landed in Lostine's stall, and when I needed to clean her stall, I think I threw it over the railing into the paddock.

I walked the perimeter of the paddock, figuring the horses dropped or tossed it over the fence, but it was nowhere to be found.  Then I remembered the one time I found that very same ball out in the desert while horseback riding.  I thought the neighborhood kids stole it and were playing with it out there, but Christine said that coyotes were known to make off with horse balls and drag them out in the desert.  Both explanations were believable, but I was skeptical that the coyotes would squeeze under the barn railings to get into the paddock.  The paddock fence is 5 to 6 feet high with no gaps or holes where a coyote could get in, so the coyotes would have had to crawl under the barn gate and pass by the horses to get to the ball.  I've never seen a coyote go in there during the day.  They usually see the horses, and cut a wide wake around them.

I remembered that the other night I did hear coyotes in the back yard whooping it up, but I also heard kids' voices down in the arroyo.  I guess I was too busy or distracted to investigate both incidents.  I searched the arroyo for the ball, but didn't find it.  Then I searched the desert, and didn't find it there either.  I don't know why it bummed me out so much.  I guess I'm just feeling frustrated that when I find some toy that the horses enjoy, something or someone has to come into our yard and take it away from us.  Whether it be people or animals, I'm still irritated.  Those horse balls aren't cheap.

Shortly after returning from my hunt for the beach ball with a handle, I discovered that the horses managed to already shred the brand new bouncy playground ball.  Now they had nothing to play with other than the shredded coat, which I don't want to let them play with anymore, because they keep making the water dirty by dipping it in the water trough, pulling it out, dropping it in the sand, picking it up, and dropping it and all that sand back into the water trough.  Bombay likes to get the coat wet, and then swing it in circles to spray water all over the other horses.  It would be funny if I didn't have to keep bailing out that water trough, dumping, scrubbing and refilling it.

At any rate, you can see why I'm not willing to pay a lot of money for horse toys.  If the horses aren't breaking them, someone or something is stealing them or breaking them.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that my paddock got cleaned out of toys the horses have had for years all within a couple of weeks when snowbirds and campers have been occupying the neighborhood, but I can't help be suspicious about it all.  These people sit up on the hill above my back yard watching my horses play.  Rock and Bombay play-fight over the toys.  Maybe some busybody decided to take their toys away to prevent fights.  Who knows?  I've seen people do stranger things.  If there's one thing I know for sure, it's that most people don't hold the same respect for each other's space that I do.  The sad thing is that when the horses don't have toys to be creative with, they actually do start fighting.  Rock wound up with two hoof cuts above his knees this week.  It was totally his fault, because he kept harassing Bombay after Bombay told him to stop.  At any rate, I prefer to spend my time riding horses and not tending wounds.

The ravens are really becoming major pests.  They kill birds, squirrels, and rabbits every day, rip up the body parts, and drop them into the water troughs.  I have to bail the water out and clean the troughs so that the horses don't get botulism.  At first, the ravens just left carcasses in the dog bowl, so I stopped filling the dog bowl with water.  Then they started dumping their meat in the outdoor water trough, so I moved it indoors.  Now the ravens are flying into the barn and leaving their kill in the indoor water troughs.  I decided I was better off dealing with a dirty dog bowl, so I guess I'll have to start filling that again and count my blessings.  I hate to waste a whole trough full of water.  We live in the desert and need every drop we can get.  Tonight I had to dump and clean out two troughs.  That's 140 gallons of water sacrificed.

I prefer not to waste more of my time chasing off ravens and keeping an eye out for what the heck keeps happening to the horse toys, but I'm tempted to throw another toy out there just as bait.  I really would like to solve this mystery.