Monday, June 5, 2017

Waiting For My New Reality

It turns out that the new Bermuda grass bales I bought for the horses to get them eating again are even worse quality than the bales I bought in bulk.  I guess it's just impossible to get good quality local hay this time of year.  I may have to outsource and buy my grass hay from out of state.  But first, I've got to figure out what to do with all this crappy local hay to make room in the hay barn for something edible.  The hay I bought at the feed store had zero moisture in its packing process, so as soon as I cut the bales open, the hay fell into one heap of dried blades of grass.  The only way to pick it up is to rake the grass onto a blanket or pick up dozens of arm loads and dump them into a wheelbarrow.  The wheelbarrow only holds enough loose hay for one horse, so I have to make multiple trips back and forth to the barn.  Feeding time takes forever in triple digit temperatures, and then the majority of the hay blows away in the wind.

I like properly packed hay that is sliced evenly and appropriately, so that I can pick up two slices at a time, and make just two trips back and forth between the horse barn and the hay barn, carrying two flakes at a time in my arms without any of it falling to the ground.  Hay that is sliced too thin breaks apart and requires multiple slices for one horse.  Hay that is sliced too thick is impossible to carry and impossible to break into smaller servings.  Hay that has no moisture in it blows away in the wind and cannot be carried in the arms at all.  Another option until the crops improve would be for me to just feed hay pellets, but that requires several trips between the tack room and the horse barn, which is even a longer distance.

If I were confronted with these feeding issues in the middle of winter, it wouldn't bother me because the weather and temperatures are nice, but for some reason I only get hit with them in the hottest months of the year when every step I take puts me closer to heat stroke.

I've been training the horses to stay out of their stalls while I'm cleaning up manure, because I don't want them kicking those nice, neat piles around and making it twice as hard for me to clean up.  The name of the game in the summer months is to get the work done as quickly as possible before I die.  So, I carry the long whip with me to keep the horses away.

This morning Lostine was being a pill, running around in every stall, mashing down and kicking around all the piles of manure, instead of just leaving the barn like I asked.  So, I yelled at her and chased her out by cracking the whip, only to have all the horses stop and point at something over by my round pen.  I didn't see anything, so I just kept cleaning up manure.  When I finished and said "okay" to each horse individually to let it into its stall, Gabbrielle ran to the gate of the barn and continued pointing.  It was like she was saying, "See, Mom?  There really is something over there.  You need to look harder."

Considering that it was 5:30 in the morning and 85 degrees outside, I figured it had to be an animal.  I looked harder and was shocked to see a human sized creature moving around in the bushes.  I had to stare a long time to figure out what it was, but every time I looked, the creature would freeze and try to hide.  So, I pretended to go back to work cleaning up manure, hoping it would come out from behind the bushes.

When it came out into the open, I saw that it was a woman wearing a dress with a camel hair coat draped over her shoulders and a church hat to match.  She appeared to be weeding the back yard of a house that has been vacant for weeks, because she kept bending over and picking up stuff off the ground.  WTH?  Who wears a camel hair coat when its 85 degrees outside?  I was wearing a sleeveless shirt and I was dripping sweat and the sun hadn't even come out yet.  Also, who weeds a stranger's back yard at 5:30 in the morning?  She obviously wasn't planning on weeding since she was wearing a dress.  I wondered if me yelling at Lostine attracted her attention, and she came over to investigate, and was just pretending to weed while keeping an eye on me.  None of this made sense.  I kept an eye on her, and she slowly worked her way across the lot of the vacant house, and into the yard of another neighbor.  Did she live there?  I don't know.  I'll have to keep an eye out for Silver Alerts.

Usually, I have my privacy in the summer since not many people in my neighborhood live here year round, and those who do, tend to hibernate indoors with their air conditioning.  That is why I feel comfortable talking to and yelling at my horses.  I know no one can hear me, but this time I was wrong.  To people who know nothing about training horses, I can come across as being overly aggressive.  I have been known to chase them around with a whip and yell at them, but I never hit them with the whip, and the yelling is my back up cue in case I don't have my whip.  If they associate my yelling tone of voice with being chased with a whip, they'll eventually just respond to my voice.  My voice is something I should always have with me.  There is a method behind my madness, but to a nosy observer peering into my back yard (and we all know I get a lot of those), I appear to be beating my horses out of anger.  I'm fully expecting animal control officers to show up at my house some day telling me they received a complaint over how I treat my horses.

Now that I am crippled and can't actually run and chase my horses anymore, I need all the leverage I can get.  My consistency has gotten them to a point where they now know that as soon as they see me waddle up with my cane and touch the whip, they had better get out of the barn.  Some days, not all days, I can move them out with just my tone of voice and body language.  That's what I'm aiming for.  If I don't push them out, they'll walk all over me, step on my feet, grab my cane away from me, knock me down, and poop on me.

Yesterday morning we had a nice breeze and my leg was more mobile than usual, so I dressed Rock up for a photo shoot, which you will see in a future post.  I got him into the round pen, pushed the power button on my point and shoot camera, and nothing happened.  The battery was totally dead.  Because of the way I had Rock dressed, I had no way of tying him up, and I had just spent an hour grooming him, so I didn't want him to roll.  I was trying to figure out how I could get back to the house to get my other camera without having him roll and without having to undress him.  My leg was starting to hurt, and I knew that if I did hike all the way back to the house, I might not be able to make it back to do the photo shoot with Rock.  I know the signs of when my leg is on the verge of releasing intense pain and I have to be careful not to exacerbate it.  I was in a pickle.

I ended up "fake tying" him by draping one end of a lead rope around a railing and wrapping the other end loosely around his neck.  Then I said, "STAY!"

STAY is another command I've been working on with the horses.  Sometimes I need them to hold still and not follow me around.

Then I limped to the tack room, grabbed my phone, and called my husband in the house asking him to bring my camera equipment.  Turned out he wasn't dressed yet, so I returned to Rock, untied him, and just let him follow me around the round pen until my husband arrived with my camera bag.  I forgot to ask him to bring my reading glasses so that I could dial in the correct settings on the professional camera.  I decided to just trust that I could use whatever settings the camera was on last.  If not, I'd live and learn, redo the photo shoot another day when I've taken the time to check the condition of all my cameras while wearing reading glasses.  There are many reasons why I don't practice photography anymore.  Too many details to remember.  Something as simple as me not checking the battery levels or not packing my reading glasses can bring a shoot to a screeching halt.  It's one thing if I inconvenience myself with my forgetfulness, but it's another to inconvenience a paying customer.

Rock was so adorable during the photo shoot.  He kept following me around saying, "Aren't you going to ride me?  Let's go play!"

I said, "Sorry, Rock.  I couldn't mount you if I tried, and in another 15 minutes it's going to be too hot to be out of the shade."

He's such a little kid.  He doesn't seem to notice that it's uncomfortable outside.  He just wants to go on trail rides every chance he gets.

I've been having a new problem with my leg in which the muscles seem to get hung up on each other and I can't either bend or straighten out my knee.  Previously, I was just having trouble lifting my leg from the hip, which meant that I had to lift my leg with my hands to get it in and out of cars and on and off horses' backs.  Now the knee is not cooperating.  I suspect I need a knee replacement surgery.  I injured that knee a few years ago when some driver honked his horn because he thought the girl I was riding with was cute, and that sent Bombay flying down the side of the road bucking into a cactus patch.  I had to do an emergency dismount before he bucked me off in the cacti, and I came down on my right leg and slipped on loose dirt, hyper-extending my right knee.  Now that I'm getting older, it's falling apart.

I'm hoping that once all this heat goes away in October, my leg will get better with less factors lending themselves to inflammation, but if not, I'm hoping there will be some surgery or medication that can extend the number of years I have left to ride horses.  If nothing can be done, I'm going to have to sell all of my horses because it's really hard taking care of them while hopping around on one leg.  I'm not looking forward to that day.  I've always thought I'd have all of these horses until they pass away.  It never occurred to me that I would lose the use of my leg and have to find new homes for them.  Especially not at the age of 52.  Right now I'm in a state of denial telling myself this is temporary, and if I hire a helper to feed and groom horses and clean stalls over the summer, my leg will be rested enough to ride in the fall.  I don't know if that's the reality or not.  I have to see how physical therapy goes and get in to see an orthopedist, who will have to run more tests in order to know what to recommend to fix it.  That could take all summer.  So, I'm in another waiting game.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

My husband joked that the trespasser in the dress, camel hair coat and hat at 5:30 AM was Jehovah's Witness, and guess who showed up at my door at 9:00 AM and got my dogs all riled up right when I was running a test for my doctor? I was startled by the dogs barking, and spilled the liquid that was in the test tube, so now I have to go back to the laboratory and collect new supplies to run the test. Thanks a lot, Jehovah's Witnesses. Another delay in my health care. Their God sure has a wicked sense of timing and humor.

Mrs Shoes said...

He also has a sense of irony & direction; the only people that have ever "popped over for a friendly visit" (in 9 years!) are the JH. Most people can't find our place with a map, but the JH zeroed in on us within weeks of moving here. I've tried to politely say we should agree to disagree, but that is no kind of discouragement to them.

Sorry about your leg Nuz; getting old isn't for the weak hearted (as a lady in her nineties I once knew used to say).

Crystal said...

Well I really hope you can figure something out with your leg. You are too young to have to give up all the good stuff (horses) in life now

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mrs. Shoes - The JWs and some scam artists have their fingers on the pulse of houses that close escrow. They started showing up here within a couple of weeks of us moving in too, and nothing could keep them away short of chasing them off the property. The only thing I regret is not having my long whip to crack in the air at them as they go. I can't tell you how many times they got my dogs riled up and interrupted my equitation lessons. I don't even let family come by unannounced. I'm just way too busy for that.

Crystal - Thanks. It's good to know I'm not the only one who thinks I'm too young for all of this garbage.

TeresaA said...

The person in the coat is just weird.