Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Grazing Day on the Trails

With all this rain, the horses hit the jackpot as far as grass goes.  We usually do not have grass at all in our area, but it has been an unusually wet winter.  The desert is green for as far as my eye can see.

I took Lostine out in the morning.  She was snorty and jumpy, but she had no problem eating.  In the afternoon, I went out to ask for a volunteer to walk with me in the desert.  I held up the halter and pointed out toward the trails.  Everyone seemed interested, but it was Bombay who followed me to the gate.  Sometimes the horses will all run up and stick their noses in the halter if they know for sure they will get to graze out there.

Before we left, I saw Betsy the Bobcat circling the round pen.  I had thwarted her ability to catch her lunch.  She had been sneaking up on a rabbit that came out to see if I was going to feed the horses some pellets that might happen to fall out of their mouths and onto the ground for bunnies to graze on.  I walked toward her and she turned around and walked away from me.  She looked like a child mountain lion from behind, the way her muscles rippled and she prowled low to the ground.  She stopped one last time to look over her shoulder at me, and then slinked down into the arroyo.  I suspected she was in the vicinity, because the horses kept watching the hillside earlier, but I couldn't see anything moving at all.  The only animal I know who is stealthy enough to evade my detection is Betsy.

It was muddy and quiet out on the trails.  Not another soul.  Bombay was relaxed.  He jumped once, and it turned out that he had put his nose down to sniff a cholla ball that I didn't see.  He jumped like he'd been stabbed by a vaccination needle, and then the cholla ball fell off his nose.  Fortunately, it wasn't a green fresh one, because I would have needed pliers to get it out.

At times, he seemed more interested in drawing pictures in the sand with sticks than he did with grazing.

Okay, so here's a spot that wasn't so green.  It must have been a higher elevation.  See the stick poking out of Bombay's mouth?

I had to teach Bombay not to tailgate.  He wants to walk directly behind me with his nose on my back.  He tries to snowplow me along to make me go faster.  I usually pull him around to walk with his head next to my shoulder, or swat him away, but he just comes back and does it again.  (I swear, I need one of those rainbow Afro clown wigs for him to wear.)  So, this time I kept stopping abruptly so that he'd have to run into me.  He learned to throw his head up over my shoulder and then run into me with his chest instead of his face, so he really wasn't getting enough of a negative consequence for that technique to work, but he did start paying closer attention to what I was doing.

My main problem with that behavior, regardless of how cute it is to have a horse follow you everywhere with his nose stuck to the back of your shirt, is that if something comes up from behind him and spooks him, I'll be roadkill.  Horses will plow right through whatever is in their path if they are scared enough.

One time Gabbrielle climbed right over Rock to get away from something that popped out of the bushes from behind her.  Unfortunately, I was riding Rock when it happened.  We were on a narrow trail, and both Rock and I were acting as a wall, trying to block her from bolting because I didn't want her rider to get hurt falling off a runaway horse.  Gabbrielle was climbing his rump and pushing hard into us, and then managed to squeeze around us through some bushes and take off.  Fortunately, there was some open space a few yards ahead and her rider was able to circle her to a stop before she could get up to full speed.  Of course, Rock just kept moseying along.  I don't think he even looked around to try to figure out what she was running from.  Any other horse in my herd would have taken off with her and asked questions later.  He truly lives up to his name.

Who?  Me?  I just like to sleep.  Standing up, lying down, I don't care.
Three sleeping, one on sentry duty.
In the late afternoon, I asked for the next volunteer to go for a walk in the desert and Rock stepped forward.

He was willing to get right under the bushes in order to reach the longest grass.

I was trying to get a picture of him walking through the water, but he kept trying to drink it.  Yuck.

While Rock was grazing, I looked down and saw something that looked like a pop top buried in the mud.  I dug it up and found a gold and diamond ring that was way too big to even fit on my thumb.

Don't get too excited, though.  I'm pretty sure this is one of those toy rings that you pull out of a plastic egg that you get when you put 50 cents in a toy machine.  Once I got home and washed it off, I saw that it was missing 20 of the smaller "diamonds."

I also found a large, interesting bolt, and I put the ring around it.  It made a tinkling sound that got Rock's attention.

While we were out in the desert, I saw my trespassing neighbor rushing across the desert right toward us with his walking stick over his shoulders.  I figured he wanted to talk to me, but he disappeared behind a bush.  I wondered where he went, and a couple of minutes later, I saw him scurry out from behind that bush, across the trail, and behind another bush.  I kept watching to see where he went, but he disappeared a second time.  I figured that he walked off in some other direction, but several minutes later, I saw him pop out from behind that same bush.  He was spying on me!  I mean, obviously, he couldn't have taken a leak behind both bushes, one right after the other.

I've seen him do that in his own yard.  He likes to hide behind trees and pretend like he's pruning them while he watches me in my backyard.  I swear that there is something about being in retirement that makes people super nosy.

I decided to ignore him, and then a few minutes later, Rock spooked and nearly jumped on top of me.  He rarely does that.  He whipped his head around and looked in the direction of what spooked him, and it was my nosy, trespassing neighbor again popping out from behind another bush.  He must have spied on us for a total of about ten minutes.  Most normal people just walk down the trail, say hello, and you never see them again, but this guy cut off trail and kept sneaking from bush to bush to bush, getting closer and closer to us.

I just shook my head in disgust and led Rock back to the yard to let him finish grazing there.  I didn't move 700 miles to get away from one nosy set of neighbors just to fall into the attentions of another.  If he makes spying on me a habit, he will be hearing from me.  It's amazing how all it takes is one loose screw to ruin a whole neighborhood.

The shadows were getting long, so I went to catch Gabbrielle to give her a quick turn at grazing on the grass in our yard, and she ran from the halter.  I had to do some training with her, but in just a couple of minutes I had her sticking her nose in the halter voluntarily.

Rock kept biting her on the butt over the fence and through the gate.  She didn't complain.

I found that some critter chewed my electrical cord in half that goes to the de-icer in the water trough.  I don't need de-icers in the desert, but I don't have a plug, so I just left it in the water trough.

Although, it did get pretty cold last night and this morning.  I could see my breath, and the round pen was covered in ice.

You know what else got chewed through?  The latigo on Rock's saddle.  That bunny who got locked in the tack room did it.  The latigo is nylon. I would think it would be more interested in chewing leather.  I still haven't cleaned out the tack room, but I suspect I'll find more damage when I do.

My husband's car broke down this morning and has an appointment with the mechanic in the morning, so he gets to work from home two more days.  Tis the season for broken shit, I guess.  I won't be surprised if some critter got into the garage and chewed some wires under the hood.  That happens to one of our cars just about every other spring.


Semi Feral Equestrian said...

I think the universe is having a hiccup or something right now.

I was just on a rampage today just knocking over, breaking things, and everything else at work. I needed a bubble.

Love the grazing photos, but what a creepy neighbor. Why have the need to be a creep? Good grief.

Grey Horse Matters said...

That was pretty creepy of the neighbor. You should have yelled the old hide and seek thing kids do " come out come out wherever you are. Or, I see you."

Camryn said...

Sounded like a perfect day, till Mr. Stalker showed up. Very odd & creepy

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I suspect the neighbor was trying to get revenge for me not letting him trespass in my part of the arroyo since it spooks my horses. I actually explained to him how horses fear things that they can hear and smell, but can't see. I said I wasn't concerned about him walking around out in the open in his yard, because the horses can see him and know that he's not a predator. So, what does he do when he sees me out on the bridle trails? He sneaks around behind bushes! The noise I heard right when Rock spooked sounded like the guy had beat his walking stick on the trunk of a tree. He probably did it on purpose as a way of daring me to tell him he can't walk out there because it's spooking my horses. Of course, I wouldn't have told him that, because I actually suggested that he walk on public land instead of in my backyard. Oh well, all I can do is hope that he eventually grows up and realizes that he's been a total ass.

Last year I caught him peering through some bushes at the edge of the road. I looked over to see what was so interesting, and saw my neighbor filling his water tank in his yard. When the creep saw me coming toward him, he suddenly leaped up and rushed away from me, pretending like he was just exercising, by swinging his walking stick from side to side over his shoulders while twisting at the waist and walking briskly. I've also seen him digging through supplies that the power company left in the desert between jobs. Again, when he saw me coming, he sprung into action and left the scene as quickly as possible. He's very nosy.

Linda said...

Darn neighbor! I know what it's like to almost be run over by your horse--not fun! It was a nice idea, though, to take them for a walk and let them graze, that is.