Every time I plan to go for a trail ride, I run into problems. It used to frustrate me, but now I expect it. Troubleshooting is just a part of having the privilege to ride. My first problem of the day revolved around my boots. I've always worn Ariat paddock boots when riding, but I don't think I'll bother wasting anymore money on their $150 price tag. The cushioning they use on the interior above the toe just isn't sturdy enough, so the knuckles on my toes dig holes in it, and then the holes rub me back and put blisters on my toes. They just need to create more toe room for those of us with old, curled, arthritic toes. Anyway, both of my Ariat paddock boots are at a point where I can't wear them anymore, because they cause me too much pain. So, that left me with the problem of which boots to wear.
My only other choices were city slicker fashion booties or my knee-high cowgirl boots. The cowgirl boots rub after a while and they are really too big and clunky to ride in. They're nice to be wearing if I have to dismount and walk this time of year, because they protect me from snake bites pretty well, but they are too wide to fit comfortably in my stirrups. So, I wore fashion booties.
My next problem involved having to take the time to assess Rock's injury. Gabbrielle kicked him last night and took a half-moon chunk out of his flank. He was shaking while I was cleaning up the wound last night, but this morning he was moving well and he tolerated me touching it, so I decided I could ride him.
My next problem was identical the the problem I had the night before when I tried to spray Betadine solution on his wound. The spray nozzle got clogged. Only this morning both bottles of fly spray would not spray. I didn't want to take the time to spray a hose at the nozzle heads to clear them, because I'd probably spray myself and then have to go change my clothes. I figured Rock could live without the spray. I have my limit to how many problems I will solve before a ride, especially when the temperature outside is rising by the minute.
For the past several weeks, every time I walked out to ride a horse, the man who is buying the house next door has been walking around doing stuff. Apparently, he is on the same clock as me, because he's always outside when I'm outside. I looked around for him and didn't see him anywhere. The neighborhood was super quiet. I couldn't believe how lucky I got. I love being alone.
I rode Rock up the driveway, came around the corner, and there were four horseback riders congregated in the street at the end of my driveway. Rock came to a screeching halt. I wasn't wearing heavy boots or spurs, so I had to work to keep him moving. There were two men and two women. One of the men spotted me and rode over to me to say hello. It was then that I recognized his clothes. This was the guy who's buying the house next door. He's worn the same denim shirt with blue jeans every day that I've seen him. Dang! I knew I couldn't avoid running into him. He shows up at that house every day at the same time, which is right when I ride, only he usually drives either a truck or an ATV, not a horse.
He apologized to me for ringing my doorbell the other morning. He said he read the sign after he rang the bell. (He couldn't have been too remorseful, because he came back again that afternoon and knocked, despite the sign also instructing people not to knock.) He said he was just coming over to say hi. I was relieved to know that he didn't want something from me like most people who come to my door, because I can barely keep my own life together none-the-less donate my time and energy to help others. Then he asked me questions about being on well water, and I realized that was probably his main reason for coming to my door. For people who have never experienced having their own wells and septic tanks, it can be scary to buy a home with such archaic fixtures. Wells and septic tanks are all I've known for the past 25 years, so it's normal to me.
We talked a bit and I asked the important question, which is when he's planning to move in. He shrugged and explained that he's a snowbird and will be leaving soon, but will return in the late fall. I asked if he'd be around again so that we could exchange contact info since he won't be occupying the house year round. I like to know who to call if there's a problem. He dismounted and dug around in his wallet for a business card. His horse swung its rear end at Rock's face, and Rock was trying to bite it, so I was struggling to back him up away from the guy's horse. I was embarrassed, so I was glad that the other three riders had moved down the street and weren't watching this incident unfold.
He gave me his card, and I told him I didn't have one, but I'd leave something attached to his front door for him to pick up next time he's at the house. He did say he'd be over there soon for another inspection. I have no doubt he will be over there tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
At this point the other three riders had rejoined us, and someone asked if I was headed out. At first I thought they were going to offer to let me ride with them, but they didn't. Then I realized that they expected me to dismount and go back to my house to get business card to give them. Uhhhhhh, no. It takes so much work for me to mount and dismount with my arthritis. These people were all in their 70s and I'm twenty years younger, but they obviously got the luck of the draw when it comes to getting good genes.
I asked him where they were staying now, and was surprised to find out that he was camping with some locals I know. Small town. I suspected he was probably camping out of a trailer, because that would explain why he spends so much time at the house next door. That's luxury compared to his current living arrangements.
Right then another neighbor drove up the street, and someone yelled at us to move out of the way. I backed Rock onto my driveway, and the man led his horse across the street. He chatted it up with the driver a bit. Once the car passed, the other woman he was riding with came up to me and looked me up and down with this judgmental expression and said, "You must be riding a really young horse."
I felt confused and said, "No, he's about nine."
She looked at me funny and said, "Huh."
Then she looked at her friends and they all exchanged funny looks. I didn't understand why she said that, because for the most part, Rock was behaving himself. Yes, he balked at approaching them, and he did try to bite the other horse's butt, but no one saw that. He wasn't acting like a young horse. Then it hit me that she was referring to the fact that I was wearing a safety vest and a helmet. I always wear those, no matter what horse I ride. I don't like pain, and I especially do not like having brain damage.
My friend who I occasionally ride with has run into people who have made fun of her for wearing a helmet, and she stopped wearing one for a while, which disappointed me, because I worked so hard to teach her about safety, and she actually already experienced one concussion from a fall. I never told her this, but that concussion robbed her of her memory for at least a year. I couldn't have a single conversation with her without her completely forgetting what she was talking about. She was significantly spacey after that horse accident. She's back to normal now, thank God, but I was worried for a while. Anyway, I've never met anyone who gave me a hard time about wearing safety gear, but I think the lady I met today was probably my first. She didn't say anything beyond that. She just implied that a person shouldn't wear safety gear unless they are on a green horse.
I said something about Rock getting excited when he sees other horses, and she said, "Don't they all?"
Then they asked if it would be okay if they moved away from him. I said it was fine, and I just needed to keep him focused. I kicked Rock and headed toward the gate, and the same lady who looked me up and down looked at my boots and turned up her nose. Ha ha! I'm sure she thinks I'm a city slicker after seeing those boots. Of course, they were all wearing Wrangler jeans, boots, spurs, and cowboy hats while I was wearing the only jeggings I had that were clean with fashion booties, a safety vest and shiny helmet. Oh yeah, and I still have that bloody Hitler mustache. Sigh. In my defense, I did not expect to run into anybody on my ride. I usually don't.
The new neighbors seemed nice enough, but I wouldn't mind if I never saw their riding buddies again.
I rode along a ridge and saw that their group was riding up ahead of me, off to my right down in the valley. Rock pointed out something in the distance that turned out to be an endurance rider trotting up the trail. She was trotting up from behind that group I just talked to, and no one in the group was showing any signs of being aware of this horseback rider behind them. I stopped to watch, thinking that surely the endurance rider would slow to a walk and announce her presence. However, by the looks of it, she did neither. All four horses scattered.
They were behind some bushes, so I didn't see exactly what happened. That's one more reason why I stay off the main trails. Those endurance riders are always going fast and since they are in training, they don't want to slow to a walk to avoid spooking other horses. She raced right through them, and then despite the four other riders regrouping and waiting for the endurance rider to get out of range, their horses did take off at a trot. I don't know if the riders trotted on purpose or if their horses were still excited about the endurance horse taking them by surprise. I was glad that I didn't ride with them. Rock was having a hard enough time being far away and seeing that other horse running. He wanted to spin and run for home. This was a case where the other horses' excitement caused him to be scared.
After that he kept tripping and limping, so we headed for home early. I figured he had a rock wedged in his hoof in a sensitive spot, and I was right. One good thing about running into the new neighbor is being able to find out his schedule. Since I know that he won't be back at the house today and that there won't be any big trucks doing jobs next door, I can ride safely in the arena.