Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Obstacle Course: Day 2

One of the challenges I've been dealing with lately that affects my ability to work with my horses is an insatiable hunger.  It's not really an appetite, but a feeling like my body is starving.  It doesn't matter what I eat or how much I eat.  Usually, within half an hour I'm distracted and feeling the discomfort of more hunger pains.  That's part of why I haven't been trail riding much.  I get so far away from the house and then my body starts shaking and screaming for food.  It's ridiculous.

I decided to try to nip that in the bud today by going to one of my favorite restaurants and stuffing my face for breakfast.  Usually, when I eat at this particular place, I'm good for the next 24 hours.  I literally don't feel hungry until the next day.  However, that didn't work today.  I was hungry again by 3:00 PM. I suspect this is caused by hormonal changes.  But the big breakfast did buy me enough time to work with the horses without my stomach interrupting.

Despite being the middle of the week, the snowbirds are out in full force.  First thing in the morning there was a couple on bicycles hiding behind the tree in my backyard spying on me while I was down at the barn.  They are repeat offenders.  I've tried putting my hands on my hips and glaring at them, taking their picture, all kinds of things to discourage them from obsessing over my activities, but they just keep coming back.

There's another lady who drives her truck up to my back yard, gets out, lights up cigarette, and talks on her mobile phone while watching me do barn chores.  If I ever move to another home, one criteria will be that the house and barn have to be higher up than the land around it, because I'm tired of feeling like I'm in a fishbowl with all these people who come to the cliff in my backyard to watch me the way tourists go to vista points to watch wildlife.  I'm thinking of rigging up a speaker system like a Walkie-Talkie strapped to the tree, so that I can speak into another Walkie-Talkie from down at the barn and say to these people, "Go away!  You are intruding on my privacy."

You see, if I attempt to hike up the cliff to speak to them in person, they take off.  They know they are being rude, and they don't want to be confronted.

Driving to the restaurant and back was a nightmare.  I got stuck behind one of my snowbird neighbors who blasted through a 15 mph school zone at 40 mph, and then for no apparent reason at all, suddenly decided to slow down to 20 mph in a 35 mph zone and drive that speed for miles with me stuck behind him as he glared in his rear-view mirror at me, like I was the problem.  I wasn't even tailgating him, but my truck could not coast that slow, so I had to keep braking.  Every attempt I made to get around him failed.  When I changed lanes to go around him, he changed lanes to get in front of me to block me.  Total control freak.  He obviously had some kind of beef with me.  I'm not surprised when I hear about road rage incidents in the news with so many jerks like that on the road.

Then while waiting in line at the restaurant I had a lady with the full-on flu coughing and spitting all over me.  Why do people with highly contagious viruses go out in public?  Believe me, I was praying it was just allergies, but I could tell that she had a fever and respiratory infection.  Also, the restaurant smelled like someone pooped in their pants and was just sitting in it.  I looked around at the demographic dining there and knew that was a real possibility.

Getting out of the parking lot with all the people fighting over handicapped spots behind me took longer than it did for the waitress to bring me my food.  Then on the way home, I got stuck behind someone who kept coming to a stop at every intersection to read the street signs, and I couldn't get around him.  After miles of this bullshit, I finally decided to just turn anywhere and take the long way home, but the driver turned as soon as I came up with that plan.

Anyway, I had my fill of obnoxious people and could not wait to get some horse therapy.  My plan was to take Gabbrielle through the obstacle course, but Rock gave up his nap time to walk up to me and ask me to choose him.  I could not turn down his willingness and enthusiasm.

Of course, as soon as I started saddling him up, some strangers showed up in one of those loud dune buggies to look at my neighbor's house for sale.  This is the third house I've lived in on a dead-end road, and it never ceases to amaze me how much unwanted traffic I have to deal with under those circumstances.  Most people are polite enough to stop in front of the house in the street or pull off in the turnout, but these people drove right into the driveway like they owned the place, and they loitered with their loud engine polluting the air for a long time.  They had better not buy that house, because I'm sure they're the type who would knock down the barn and corrals to build a motocross track.

Upon mounting, I flexed Rock's neck, and then asked him to walk off like we always do, but much to my dismay, he took two steps backward and hunched up his back.  Huh?

I asked him to walk off again, and he hunched up his back even more while taking steps backward.  Oh oh.  I think I broke my husband's horse.

I must have spent too much time on working on his backing yesterday, and as a result, I lost his forward motion.  I got in this pickle with Gabbrielle when I started her under saddle, only in her case, I had not trained her to back up yet.  Even to this day, Gabbrielle sometimes gets stuck in reverse.  The only way to get her unstuck is to pull her head around, so I tried that with Rock and it worked.  He walked forward into the turn.  I knew this meant I needed to spend more time making the difference between the forward cue and the backward cue more obvious.

I was really worried that I ruined Rock, and panicked thoughts were going through my head that I may need to send him off to a trainer to fix my mistakes, however he quickly picked up on the differences in my cues and it was not a problem after that.

I moved the cones and poles closer together, and he had no problem doing tight turns.  He almost felt like a completely different horse from the day before.  Yesterday, he was actually walking hesitantly away from the barn, and rushing back to the barn even though we were never more than 100 feet from it the entire time.  Today, that was not an issue.  But I did want to work on getting him to walk with more pep at a consistent pace, so I rode in an exaggerated fashion, pumping my abdominals and calves to give him a rhythm to follow.  It worked, and I dropped the reins to let him go where he wanted while I petted and praised him for keeping up the energetic pace.

I was so happy to see such a huge improvement in just two days, even though we back-slid for a few moments there.  Here are some pictures...

Next time I go the The Home Depot, I'm buying more construction cones.

The position of his ears shows he's listening.  Usually, when I ride him on the trails, his ears are forward the whole time because he's more concerned about who else is on the trails with us.

When my horses touch my boot with their noses, they are telling me to get off, because they feel they are done with school for the day.  It makes for fun photos.  I've been limiting the arena work to no more than 40 minutes from the time I mount to the time I dismount, because I don't want to make the horse sour.  Sometimes horses who have been ridden on the trails a lot get frustrated being ridden in arenas.

Backing up.

Pets and praise for keeping a consistent energetic pace.

I've trained my horses to follow me without a lead rope.  It doesn't always work, but when it does, it frees up my hands to do other things, like take pictures.

It was too hot to saddle up anymore horses, but I did lead Gabbrielle and Bombay through the obstacle course just to give them a little attention.  Of course, they were flawless.  Bombay did stop at one construction cone and pick it up with his mouth.  P.S. trained him to that.  I cracked up, because that was something she taught him in just one session years ago, and he remembered it.  So, I let him swing it around in his mouth, and then I had him carry it while we finished the obstacle course.  He's such a clown.


Linda said...

You did the right thing to circle him to get him moving forward. Leah does that to me a lot...or at least she did. That's funny though that you thought you "broke" him. LOL. You're really getting some horseback time in!!

TeresaA said...

I have those hunger pains too. For me it's because of excess acid. It still happens despite medication. I find diluting my stomach acid by drinking water helps.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Teresa - Interesting. Thanks. I'll give that a try.

fernvalley01 said...

I was struggling with my diet as I would eat breakfast then spend the whole morning wanting lunch or a snack. I tried these baked oatmeal "muffins as my mid morning snack and they really help. High fiber,protein and YUMMY . one is about 100 calories and they hold me nicely to lunch and sometimes when I get busy and don't stop for lunch I am still fine