Wednesday, August 3, 2016

G Pitches a Fit

This week has offered a nice break from the relentless heat, bringing clouds, wind and some rain.  My neighborhood has managed to avoid the brunt of the storms, yet still benefit from the cooler temperatures.  There was a lot of flooding northwest of us.  The monsoon rains come so quick, hard and heavy that they can turn a freeway into a swimming pool in a matter of minutes.

The horses were fine with being locked up as long as the sun was out and no one had the desire to do anything but sleep.  However, once it got cloudy, they were anxious to be set free.  Gabbrielle threw her toys out of the pram and disturbed the neighbors by banging her hollow plastic feed barrel repeatedly against the metal railings.  I had to stop her, but didn't want to reward her by giving her what she wanted, which was to be set loose in the paddock near the other horses.

So, I haltered her and led her to the other end of the property to roam alone on Exile Island.  She spooked the whole way there.  I figured she'd throw a fit being taken away from her buddies, but she surprised me by calmly walking around exploring the area.  She even hung out at the far end of the round pen away from the barn.  I thought, "When did she suddenly grow up?"

I had let Rock loose in the paddock, but needed to clean Bombay's stall.  Bombay sneaked around me, pushed the gate open and let himself out.  Within seconds, he and Rock were rearing at each other, chasing each other, biting each other, kicking out and bucking.  I cautioned them to be nice and settle down.  They play-fought vigorously, but seemed to be taking care not to actually strike each other, so I let them go.  They were getting their exercise.

However, Gabbrielle got upset about their behavior and she galloped around in her pen screaming at the boys.  I was hoping she'd stay quiet, but I think she was agitated about not being able to control her herd.  By the time I finished cleaning stalls, the boys had settled down and chose to do activities independent of each other.  Gabbrielle eventually settled down as well.  Lostine was content staying in her stall where she felt safe.

The next time I went out to the barn to do more chores, a dump truck driver came up the street and decided it would be a good idea to stop next to the round pen and sit there with his loud engine idling for several minutes.  Gabbrielle flipped out.  She was racing as fast as she could go in circles around the pen, screaming to be rescued from this truck.  She was running so fast that she was tilted at a 45 degree angle, and her legs were sliding under the fence panels, banging up against them repeatedly.  I was worried that she'd slip in the mud and get pinned under a railing or break leg, so I had to help her.

It pisses me off that every time I try to help Gabbrielle break her dependency upon being around other horses, some stranger always has to do something to terrify her.  It happens every time.  I can put any other horse in that round pen by itself, and nothing bad happens, but the one horse who has deep-seated fears always has to be the one to deal with scary stuff.  Either a loud vehicle pulls up near her, or some wild animal comes up out of the arroyo, or a trespasser sneaks around down in the arroyo, or a neighbor sets off a cherry bomb.  It's not doing anything to help her become more confident.

When she gets out of her mind like that, I can't just catch her, halter her and lead her back to the barn.  She does crazy stuff like trying to bust through the gate the second I unlatch it, so I had to throw the lead rope at her to get her away from the gate.  Once I was inside with the gate latched behind me, I had to get her to settle down and focus on me.  I got the halter on her, and tried to distract her from the truck by splashing around with my hand in her water bucket.  All of the sudden, water became the scariest thing in the world and she pulled back, dragging me across the pen.

I took her back to the bucket and tried again and again, and she did relax a little more with each splashing session.  Then I cupped water in my hands and splashed it on her muzzle.  I could see she was coming back to me slowly.  Then someone had to drive up the road next to the round pen and stop to watch, which totally distracted her from focusing on me, and we had to start all over again, because she flipped out.  I need a huge sign that says, "GO AWAY," and hold it up every time some Looky Loos won't mind their own business, or every time some truck driver invades the neighborhood while he makes phone calls and consults maps.

A lot of bored people with cabin fever come out after storms and they just drive around aimlessly looking for entertainment.  Most of the people who show up at the house for sale next door aren't even in the market to buy a home.  They're just trying to kill time and enjoy the cooler temperatures by exploring properties for sale.  There were also several people out on their ATVs.  Some dad bought his little, little girls a tiny toy ATV.  It's real, but it's small with a very loud engine, and those two little girls have been racing it around the neighborhood behind my arena for hours on end this week.  Personally, I think those kids are too small to be allowed to speed around on residential streets by themselves.  Not only are they unsupervised, but they aren't wearing helmets and they are driving in the middle of the streets on blind hills where they could easily get hit by a car.  They've been the biggest cause of all the poopcidents and peepcidents on the freshly steam vacced carpet this week.  The dogs get so distracted by them racing that little ATV around that they can't do their business outdoors.

Anyway, once the dump truck driver and Looky Loos moved on, I was finally able to lead Gabbrielle to the barn in a controlled manner.  She had been running so long that she was covered in sweat and breathing hard, so I had to cool her down before feeding dinner.  I thought she would have learned her lesson about banging her feed barrel, but she purposely did it again before I fed her, and again at the crack of dawn this morning.  She's being a total brat.  I'm tempted to hire someone to ride her out every day despite the heat of summer just to wear her out, because she's wearing me out with all of her misbehaviors.  There's no way I can ride in this heat, but some younger people don't have the sensitivity to the heat that I have.  Or maybe I can just send her off to a trainer who can board her and keep her out of my hair until summer is over.  She needs to be brought down a notch by a different herd of horses who won't put up with her bullying.

The rain has brought out the wildlife again.  I had one incident in which I was walking all three dogs up the back steps on leashes, but Stewie wasn't heeling next to me.  He was pulling on his leash.  I turned around to find him nose to nose with a poisonous toad that was one-third his size.  Fortunately, I got him away before he tried to taste the toad.

On another occasion I heard a bird squawking out front and figured it was pitching a fit over a snake that was trying to get into its nest.  So, I quietly stepped outside onto the front porch and looking all around my feet to make sure I wasn't about to step on a snake.  Then I scanned under the hedge, slowly turning my head, and was shocked to see a coyote standing right next to me on my front porch sniffing around.  I said, "What are you doing, Yodi?"

It looked up surprised like it was so engrossed in following a scent that it didn't hear me come outside.  It ran through the hedge out onto the driveway and then around to my back yard.  It was the pretty female coyote who doesn't cause me any problems.  She's very quiet and respectful of me.  I feel bad for her, because she's so skinny now.  She must not be much of a hunter.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Well, that was scary. I hate to see them get that scared, but I have had somewhat similar experiences in the past with a separated horse. There's not much you can do to calm them in that state except what you did getting her attention.