Saturday, December 10, 2016

Getting Better Day By Day

My husband surprised me by going straight down to the barn at first light to feed and clean up.  Having an immaculate arena in the morning inspired me to ride in there before letting any of the horses out to poop all over it.  I knew it would be a risk riding on the weekend with all the neighbors out doing yard work, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Having such uncomfortable temperatures for the majority of this year had forced me to ride when I can.

It was Bombay's turn.  We've been having to yell at him a lot lately because he's developing boredom behaviors, and let's just say, he's a musician at heart.  When he's bored, he likes to make noise.

The race car neighbor and his winter visitors came outside and yelled out a conversation to each other, which caused Bombay to grow another two-hands tall as soon as I put a saddle on him.  I said, "Uh uh.  I'm not falling for that.  Those people are always up there making noise and you usually sleep right through it."

Bombay sighed and lowered his head as if to say, "You're right.  I was just trying to intimidate you by acting spooky."

My warm up consisted of lunging him at a trot in both directions on the lead rope and doing a few quick Clinton Anderson exercises.

He was kind of half-heartedly farting around and giving the wrong responses to my cues, so I yelled at him and shook the lead rope to get on his case.  He straightened out in a hurry.

See, Mom?  I'm wearing my halo today.

I worked with him in walking a straight line to a specific post, side passing, jogging, and backing out of a corner.

He got a little nervous and kept popping his head up as we approached the arroyo end of the arena.  I thought it was because of the neighbors, but he saw them walking around up there and was only mildly interested.  I think he was more worried about wild animals popping up out of the bushes, which actually did happen yesterday.  We had four coyotes appear in a single file line from some bushes.  I got a bad picture of it through a fence because I wasn't at a good vantage point when I saw the first coyote appear.

Coyotes passing through the round pen...

Just like dogs, they like to eat the manure I dump in there for dry, soft footing.

Since Bombay was uptight over what might happen as opposed to anything that was actually happening, I made an explosion sound effect with my mouth right when we passed the arroyo.  He jumped in the air and then stopped mid-flight, realizing that it was just me, and I burst out laughing.  It's a lot easier for me to ride out spooks that I instigate myself.  I kept making the explosion noise every few minutes to keep him in check, but I couldn't fool and embarrass him again.  It actually helped him relax because he started focusing on me rather than on the bushes.  He knew I was playing a game, and he wanted to stay one step ahead of me.

Jogging was difficult.  We will have to practice that more.  I used to be able to squeeze him up to the trot and then continue to squeeze, but rein him down to a smooth jog.  But because it has been so long, he kept interpreting my cues as me asking him to slow to a walk.  I experienced a lot of choppy transitions and discovered that I suck at the sitting trot.  I was bouncing all over the place.  The more I bounced, the faster he went, so I just tried to celebrate and praise him if he took a few gentle strides at the jog.  I didn't expect him to stay at that pace for several laps.  That will be my goal next time.  Overall, I felt a big improvement in Bombay.  He's feeling more comfortable with me on his back, and we are developing a riding routine.

Yesterday Stewie and I enjoyed hanging out together and taking it easy on the porch with an Anne Tyler book.

I get so engrossed in her books, because she is the master of characterization.  Her characters come to life more than people you meet on the street.  I'm more of a suspense novel reader, but I can read her character descriptions for hours, even if there is no action.  I hope to write as well as her some day.

While we were lounging on the porch, Stewie and the horses alerted on the hillside, and I saw a lady with a dog looking down at us.  I pulled out my camera and took pictures of her, which is what I always do when I'm at home and people stare at me in my back yard, not minding their own business.  She grabbed her mobile phone and busied herself making a call while walking away.

Then everyone alerted on the junk haystack, and I saw a couple of ears pointed our way.  Someone was very interested in Stewie.

I wish I got this picture more in frame, because the coyote's expression is interesting with it looking up to the sky.  There was probably a bird flying overhead.

Speaking of birds, I figured out that it was an owl making those duck and goose noises.  He came out after dark again, and I saw his silhouette at the top of a power pole.  I didn't realize that owls have such a variety of vocalizations.  They are almost as raucous as the ravens.

This coyote is one I haven't seen up close or taken pictures of before.  It's face is very different from the ones I know.  It's not habituated to humans, because it ran off when I approached to get closer for pictures.


TeresaA said...

I am so glad that you are feeling better and good enough to ride.

Linda said...

We saw one coyote on a ride at Cave Creek yesterday. I've never seen 4 together! We're on vacation right now in your beautiful state and we're enjoying the sunshine.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Teresa - Thanks.

Linda - Well, you picked quite literally the best week we've had all year. I'm looking forward to reading about your ride.

Mrs Shoes said...

Wow, that coyote is pretty healthy looking, nice thick fur & bright eyed. Great pictures, as always.