Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Surprise Ride

I considered riding on Friday, but I was so stiff and sore after riding all three horses during the week.  I decided to give my body the day off.  Once Saturday and Sunday get here, I usually lead the horses around on the trails to socialize them.  Then once they settle down after enough exposure, I'll ride them out.

However, my friend texted me and said that she was going to attempt the 1.3 mile ride down a residential street to reach my section of the desert, and did I want to meet up with her to go for a trail ride?  She recently moved her horse to a new boarding facility that is fairly close to my place, but there are some yards filled with barking dogs and traffic to get past.

I'm a worry wart, so I worried for her the entire time I was waiting for her to text me to let me know that she safely reached the bridle trails.  I had Rock saddled up and ready to go so that she wouldn't have to wait for me.  She was willing to ride all the way to my house, but I knew my Arabs would act like idiots and gallop around in excitement to see her horse.  I thought it would be safer if I met her on the trails.

Rock seems to know when I'm planning a ride, because he always lies down flat on his side, closes his eyes, and descends into a deep sleep at those times.  I usually let him sleep, but because we were doing a meet and greet with our horses, he had to get up.

On the way out I had a "first" at the gate.  There were two riders on gaited horses gliding across the trail up ahead, and Rock was so focused on them that he wasn't paying attention to his position in the gate.  These poles on each side of the gate only give enough clearance for a horse and two human legs, however Rock turned his body on an angle to face the other horses while stepping through the gate and I could see that my leg was going to be trapped.  Either that or the metal post was going to take out my knee.  I instinctively pulled my foot out of the stirrup, tucked my knee up and in, and swung my lower leg over the post, praying that the stirrup would not come down over the top of the post.  I know people who have had that happen to them.  The horse panics when it realizes it is tied to the gate by the stirrup, then there is usually a big wreck.

In my case, we made it through, but then I couldn't get my foot back in the stirrup.  I was hanging down his side twisting the stirrup and trying to get my boot in it, which is easy for young, flexible people, but not so easy for me.  I almost pulled out my phone and called my husband to ask him to come out of the house and across the street to help me.  But I finally got just the tip of my toe in there and decided that was good enough.

My friend's horse is a Missouri Fox Trotter, so I could see her up ahead coming fairly fast toward us.  Rock's head shot up and his feet shut down...

She knows how my horses get freaked out around fast moving gaited horses, so she slowed down as she got closer.  We talked a little bit while the horses faced each other, so they could check each other out.  Rock got super silly once we moved out.  He was throwing his head and the lead rope around and trotting to keep up.  I was worried he might try to bite her horse on the rump, so I had to keep holding him back.  He didn't like that.

At some point we switched and put Rock in the front and her horse in the back, and Rock would instantly slow waaaaaaaay down, which would drive her horse crazy.  She had to keep circling her horse to put some space between us.  I said he was like one of these super slow drivers who blocks traffic, and then as soon as someone tries to pass him, he's suddenly in a race.

I was trying to find a balance in my disciplining of him, because we could tell that he was getting mad at me for asking him to speed up and slow down so often.  He's not used to being micromanaged like that.  I just wanted a normal pace out of him.  I didn't want him to stagger around like a drunken sailor, nor did I want him to take off trotting without a cue.

We went down into a ditch with her horse in front, and I tried so hard to make Rock walk, but even with another horse right in front of him, he trotted through it.  I know I should just stop and make him go back and forth in both directions multiple times until he walks it, maybe stopping him at the bottom and making him stand, but I didn't want to make her wait.

I was getting tired of wrestling him, so I tried to set him up for success in our positioning.  Her horse could be in the lead moving away from home, because it would make Rock walk faster to keep up.  Then as we approached trails that turned toward home, I'd have to put Rock in the front, because having a horse behind him would make him focus more on what's going on behind him, and he'd be less likely to run.

Can you tell that I like purple?
We rode until I got a cramp, so I dismounted and led him home.  I used to only be able to ride for one mile before I got a cramp, but now I can do two.  I'm the same way on my mountain bike.  I have to alternate between riding and walking.

My friend decided to ride her horse to my barn to see how all the horses would react to each other.  Mine did get excited and come to the fence.  Her horse whinnied a few times for them.  Then my horses galloped around a bit.  Now we know that her horse can handle the excitement, and my horses are now familiar with her horse, so future meet ups should be easier.

I walked with her part way across the desert as she rode home.  I started worrying again about her safety going a mile up that long, hilly road.  There are a lot of blind hills where drivers can't see her.  She texted me and told me that she was chased by three rogue Pit Bulls that the owner had no control over.  Her horse was good, though.  He didn't spook or bolt and didn't kill the dogs, even though he easily could have done so.

Oh yeah, and remember when I said that now that I'm finally making use of my riding arena, someone will probably buy the house next door?  Well, yesterday and today there was a sudden influx of home buyers checking out the place.  I saw that some people had left a gate open, and we are supposed to get some high winds soon, so I went over next door to latch it.

It turned out that the real estate agent left a whole bunch of gates open and the back door unlocked.  These people think that it's okay to be lackadaisical when a home is not furnished, because there's nothing to steal, but they don't know about the bums around here who will camp out in vacant homes, and the bored kids who will vandalize and spray paint walls if you give them a chance.  I've seen so much negligence from real estate agents that I just automatically go over there now, assuming the doors, gates and windows have been left unlocked and open, and that someone has shat in the toilet but was unable to flush it since the water is turned off, so now the house stinks.  This is why it's important to have good neighbors like me.  You may need them someday to watch your back when you can't watch it yourself.


Crystal said...

How fun to have someone to ride with! That makes it so much better. The more you ride together the better Rock should be, maybe even venture out with your other 2.
I cant imagine a real estate agent being so lazy! Even where I live with very few neighbors and no homeless the doors and gates are always locked. of course if you don't take care of the place no one may buy it (mean but...)

Mrs Shoes said...

"because the water is shut off"
You should definitely be paid for your trouble.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Crystal - When I first moved to Nevada, a man got mad at me for locking my car doors. He said, "What do you think this place is? California?" Ha ha. Of course, shortly after that we had a ton of Californians move in and our crime rate suddenly rose. Lots of car burglaries.

Mrs Shoes - Oh, they do pay me well, but I do a lot without their knowledge because I don't want them to go bankrupt. Their house has been on the market for a year and a half and they are losing money fast.

achieve1dream said...

That's so gross about the toilet... seriously people are just.... ugh.

I'm glad you got to ride with your friend! It is normally so much more fun to ride with someone, but when the horse isn't used to having a buddy it leads to so much more work. Sorry he was such a pain. I feel fortunate that when Chrome is out with other horses he's so excited that he just walks out ahead of them and leaves them behind haha. I think he forget they are there because he's so excited about getting on down the road. I bet Rock will get much better with some practice. I'm glad she moved closer!