Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I know.  That's an odd title for a post, but it fits with what has been on my mind lately.  Just yesterday I was taking Stewie out to do his business, which is not always and easy task despite him being potty trained.  He still has this dependency on having other dogs with him when he goes outside, because in his mind they guard for predators while he poops.  For some reason, he hasn't quite made the connection that I, his human, do even a better job guarding for predators, so he has nothing to worry about.

Every once in a while I insist that he take care of business on his own without a guard dog.  He usually runs from the leash and tries to drag Midge by the ear toward the door.  I got him outside without her yesterday, and he did take care of business, but what really impressed me was that the air conditioning unit turned on right beside him and he ignored it.  For the longest time last year, I could not get this dog to go potty if that air conditioning unit was running.  I had to train myself to turn the thermostat off on our way out the door.

In fact, every little thing distracted him, and I would loose patience, take him indoors, and he'd immediately make a mess on the carpet.  So, it felt good to finally be making progress with this dog.  Thinking back, I don't know how I kept from going completely insane during that potty training period.  I was telling my husband this story when something came on the TV that showed people changing diapers.  He said, "It seems like we were just changing diapers yesterday.  This really brings back memories."

I looked at the TV, and sure enough, all the movements and tactical feelings of changing a diaper came flooding back into my mind.  Then I started wondering how we survived that with two babies.  Yet parents do it every day.  Over the past twenty years, give or take, there has been this trend of grandparents raising grandchildren, because the parents need a joint income to pay the bills, but can't afford daycare.  I always wonder how these grandparents do it, and how more kids don't end up in hospitals because of people who don't necessarily have all their faculties taking care of babies and children.  I'm just middle aged, yet I space out a lot, forget things, drop things, fall down a lot, am on pain killers most of the time, and if I don't get my sleep, my entire body protests, leaving me sick, run down, and grumpy.  I just hope my kids don't have kids and leave them at my place for overnights.

Sometimes when dealing with the dogs and horses, I feel like I'm (symbolically) changing diapers in the middle of the night, always having to sacrifice something in order to get them through some phase that disrupts my life.  And just when I think I've nipped the problem in the bud, it starts up again, like Gabbrielle pooping in my face every time I walk into her stall.  That's her way of saying, "Stay out.  This is my hay.  If you come in here, you have to step in my poop to get to it."

I was telling my farrier about that behavior, and he refused to believe that horses can be that manipulative.  He said that if I moved her food trough over by the gate, she would probably start pooping at the back of her stall because she wouldn't want it near her food.  My husband did move the food trough to the gate, and she's still pooping in the entrance.  She backs her butt up into me and lifts her tail while I'm walking through the gate.  So, I have to start remembering to grab a whip before approaching her stall to get her turned around and facing me.

Anyway, while I was marveling over Stewie getting down to business despite the air conditioner turning on next to him, I remembered what a pain it was having to deal with those people camping in my next door neighbor's back yard last year.  The man was super hyper and kept running between the camper and the house, slamming doors all the way, which distracted my dogs from doing the deed outside.  Then they'd start barking at him, and I'd have to drag them inside.  I spent that entire month scrubbing the carpet, because all three dogs couldn't concentrate on getting their basic needs taken care of outdoors.

With the big trucks dumping equipment, drilling holes, and raising power poles along the bridle trails, I thought, "Well, I can still ride the horses in my arena and round pen at home."

Within just a few hours of me having that thought, those campers showed up at my next door neighbor's house, and they positioned their car and camper in the shape of an L, like circling the wagons for protection and privacy.  The other snowbirds on the other side of them have no air conditioning, so they sit outdoors on the porch in the shade all day long just a few feet from where the campers are camping.  The way they set things up, the bay windows of their camper are overlooking my round pen and arena.  So, there goes my privacy, and I also get to deal with my horses being distracted from their training by every little thing those people do.  I always know when we are being watched, because the horses stop their feet and pop their heads up to see what's going on.  Then I become invisible to them, and if I want them to respect my requests for them to keep moving, I have to utilize a riding crop, which usually gets them bucking.  So, I can't have a pleasant ride anywhere these days.

I was going to take Gabbbrielle out to inspect the power company's equipment via halter, but Bombay asked nicely if I would take him instead.  I thought, "Why not?  Bombay is just as spooky as she is, so he'll need to be desensitized to it too."

There this one pile of pipes and poles and metal that is around a blind corner on the trail.  I took him there first, figuring he'd jump at the sight of them since it was something different that wasn't there before.  But he didn't react at all.  They put yellow tape around the perimeter of where they've been drilling holes, so I stood him next to the tape while the wind was shaking and flapping it.  I expected him to jump and snort, but instead he wandered over to the poles, sniffed them, and upon realizing that they were wood, he tried to take a bite out of them!  Ewwww.  They were covered in tar.

I thought, "Well, since he's not afraid, maybe I should lunge him and see if he'll jump the logs."

But then I realized that since two logs were lying side by side, he could get his leg stuck in between them, and it wasn't worth the risk.  Today I'll take some other horses out there and see if they handle it as well as Bombay did.  I've learned the hard way, though, that just because the horses aren't afraid of something when I lead them past it doesn't mean they won't be afraid of it when I ride them past it.  They always have more confidence in me when I walk in front of them or beside them than when I'm on their backs.  I think part of it is that they can't see me on their backs to read me, and they feel more out of control when someone is holding onto reins that are connected to a bit in their mouths.  Bringing the subject back to diapers, I feel like I'm taking the horses back to kindergarten by hand-walking them out on the bridle trails to desensitize them to all of the power company's equipment.  But I can see they have come a long way since last year and the year before that.

Last week I had a bone density test run on myself, and am still waiting for the results.  I know that I have been developing arthritis in various joints.  It seems that every few weeks another joint starts aching.  My mother had osteoporosis and one simple misstep could result in turning her bones to dust, so if I start losing my bone density on top of the arthritis, I may have to quit riding horses.  I doubt that will happen any time soon, but as is, my rides are getting shorter and shorter.  Of course, the best defense against osteoporosis is exercise, so I'm still hiking and mountain biking every day, at least until my boots or shoes start rubbing blisters on my feet or my knees and hips start screeching in pain.  This is why I always tell young people to ride horses while they are young, because while there is a good chance they will have more time to ride horses when they retire, there is no guarantee their bodies will let them.


Kate said...

gah, every time I read about your neighbors I just wanna smack em ;) . abut Im glad your dogs are getting on track, and hope your tests come back ok!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Thanks, Kate.

I just got back from desensitizing Gabbrielle from the power company's equipment. She was on alert, but not spooking at the inanimate objects like pipes, poles and metal, but as soon as the wind picked up and fluttered that yellow caution tape, she lost it. After that, pretty much everything spooked her. So, I just kept walking her up to fluttering pieces of trash and saying, "Touch it!" Then I'd pet and praise her if she tried. I picked up the trash and had her help me put it in my trash can when we got back, which meant standing next to a bunch of strange stuff. She was holding it together until she saw the neighbor's guest's camper. This may take a while.

FoxLair said...

you can get a diaper for your dog so you are not constantly cleaning up messes...I had a small one for my female jack russell when they came in great and you can use panty liners on inside so you just dispose of at Petsmart or Petco. It was made of denim and fit well

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

FoxLair - Yeah, I'm very familiar with doggy diapers. I find it easier to take the dogs out to the other side of the house away from the campers and sing at the top of my lungs to drown out their voices and any noises they are making.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

DEXA Scan results were normal. Looks like I've got a few more years of riding available to me. Yay!

Mrs Shoes said...

My Gramma rode regularly into her mid-eighties (when her personal riding horse died & she declined to "train a new one"). My aunties both still ride - one aunty is in her early seventies, the other is in her early eighties (& she rides TWO horses, DAILY!).
I sure do hope I get to do the same.

Kate said...

Yay for good results!!

achieve1dream said...

Yay!!! I'm glad the bone density test came back normal!