Monday, December 11, 2017

Cruel World Blues

Sunday morning I went out at the crack of dawn to feed the horses when I noticed a fancy, brightly painted pick up truck sneaking up quietly toward my backyard.  It's headlights were off with just parking lights on.  I watched as the driver got out and started to walk toward my backyard.  I got ready to holler at him for trespassing when he stopped and whipped out a camera and started either taking pictures of me or filming me.  I stared back in disbelief.  This wasn't the first time someone stood on that hill and filmed me doing my barn chores, but something told me he was not just some city dweller vacationing in the area thinking that seeing someone feeding horses was a novelty worthy of recording.  He was being sneaky.  I continued to stare at him, so that he knew I was very aware of his presence.  When he finished, he quietly and slowly drove off, as if trying to avoid waking anyone in the neighborhood.

What bothered me about it was that he came to my backyard as if it were his planned destination.  It wasn't like he was driving by, saw me, and thought, "That'll make a good picture at 7:00 in the morning."

Rock has the most painful hoof abscess I've ever seen him have, and none of my usual treatments have been doing anything to ease his pain.  I finally gave up trying to give him relief through soaking and packing his hoof, and I started giving him massive doses of Bute, which make him lie on his side and sleep all day.  I was annoyed that this unwanted visitor put my horses on alert while I was trying to medicate Rock.  It made my job that much harder.

A short time after that I looked up to see him cruising very slowly past the front of my house.  He was a young man with dark, wavy hair and he was sticking his head out the window staring at me as I walked up my driveway.  That's when it hit me that this was the same truck I saw loitering around my neighborhood last spring when my garage got burglarized.  I can't believe the shithead has returned to the scene of his crime to rob us again.  He was clearly doing surveillance as he looked over his shoulder to see if any of my garage bays were open.  Normally, the number two bay would be open because I drive my Mule to the barn, but on this morning I walked from the back door, so all the bays were closed.

I went into the house to alert my husband to the burglar's presence, but he was in the bathroom.  I made myself some breakfast when my phone rang.  I was like, "Who the heck calls someone at 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday?  I'm picking up just so I can chew him out."

Then I saw the city the call was originating from was where my brother lives.  I've been anxiously awaiting his call for the past two and a half months.  The last time he called me, I couldn't talk because I had a refrigerator repairman in my house waiting to be paid.  My brother dropped the bomb that he had to go into the hospital for tests because three different doctors thought he had stomach cancer and possibly diabetes.  I told him to call me back and let me know the results of the tests.  I couldn't call him, because he didn't have a phone.  He relied on the kindness of others to lend him their phones.

I picked up, but it wasn't my brother's voice on the other end of the line.  It was his friend.  He said, "Are you sitting down?"

I said yes.  He said, "I have some very bad news."

I thought to myself, "What is it this time?  He's probably in jail and needs to be bailed out."

He said, "Your brother passed away this morning."

I was bowled over backwards.  Of course, I immediately wanted to know what happened.  He said he was having problems with his feet swelling up, and then he got an infection in one foot, and then he died.  It sounded like he did have diabetes after all.  I asked if he had been seeing a doctor about it, and his friend said that my brother never told him anything.  Everyone was in the dark, I guess, including me.

Shortly after that a police officer called me and wanted to know how I already received the news.  Apparently, he had just arrived at the scene.  I asked him all the same questions I asked the friend, and got a little more information.  A few minutes later the police chaplain called, and I asked him all the same questions, and got even more information.  I found out that my brother had been really sick based upon his medical history and all the pill bottles he carried around with him.  He never said anything to me until that last phone call, and even then he said it was just a possibility that he might be ill.  Nothing was definite.

The chaplain was kind enough to read some of my brother's medical history to me, and one of the items listed was liver cirrhosis.  I looked up the symptoms, and that too can cause edema and make it difficult to fight off infections.  Most people don't live past 15 more years once they are diagnosed with it.  Quite honestly, the list of his health problems was so long and all of them were so serious that it's a miracle that he lived to be 55 years old.  My brother was really bad about not letting family know when he was sick or injured and in the hospital, which is frustrating for me because so many of my family members have died without me being able to say goodbye.  Just think how we would behave differently if we knew how long each of us were going to live.  I would have told the refrigerator repairman to wait had I known that was the last time I'd get to speak to my brother.

While I was talking with the chaplain, who was in a fit of tears crying harder than I was when he called me (and as a result I was trying to hold it together for him), the burglar in the pick up truck cruised slowly past my window trying really hard to see inside my house through the tinted glass.  I was thinking, "Are you kidding me?  I just got horrible news and this a-hole is still buzzing around my house?"

This time he was close enough to me that I could read the writing on the side of his truck.  When I got off the phone, I googled it, and saw that the truck belonged to a business that is in a city that is about half an hour down the freeway from where I live.  So, I have a good description of the truck, the driver, and where he works... unless he stole the truck.  I was on the phone most of the morning being interviewed and interviewing others to unravel the mystery of my brother's death, as well as making funeral arrangements, and I had to keep one eye out the window the whole time because of the burglar.  I figured there was no point in calling the local police since he hadn't committed a crime yet, but if he shows up again, I think I will call so that the police can at least stop him and question him.  I just didn't want to tie up my phone line with the local police about the burglar when I needed to be on the phone talking to people about my brother.  I can only tackle so many problems at once.  Honestly, a part of me wanted to say to the police chaplain, "Could you please hold on a moment?" and then go outside, pull the guy out of his truck, and beat the crap out of him.  Then return to the phone and say, "Where were we?"

It had been a rough day to say the least.  In the late afternoon I did my barn chores and decided to do something relaxing to de-stress while waiting for the water troughs to fill.  I strolled around the property looking for smooth rocks to paint, and decided to visit my recently departed Scrappy's grave to pay my respects, but when I got there, I discovered that it had been dug up!

I had heard something walking along our stone wall outside my bedroom window the other night and Stewie growled, but I didn't get up and turn on the lights to investigate.  Now I realize it wasn't walking on the stone wall, it was digging up the stones in the grave.  We've also been hearing coyotes late at night again.  I saw that they did reach the towel that Scrappy was wrapped in, but I don't know if they got his body or not.  It doesn't make sense that they'd dig that deep and then give up.  I limped back to the house to ask my husband to re-bury the grave.  The back door was locked, so I peered through the tinted glass to see if he was around to open it for me.  That's when I saw my husband laying on the floor.

I nearly had a heart attack.  He had been up on a ladder repairing holes in the walls and ceiling that the previous a-holes, I mean homeowners, left behind when they ripped all the speakers out.  My husband is going to install a new surround sound speaker system over the locations of the old speakers as an anniversary gift to us, because we're sick of living in a house with wires hanging out of the walls.  We also can't hear the TV when someone turns on water or the microwave in the kitchen, or gets ice out of the ice maker, so that's another incentive to get surround sound speakers.  It's a bummer when you watch a two-hour movie or the season finale of a show, and you miss the verbal conclusion due to an untimely sound effect over your shoulder.

Anyway, I thought he fell off the ladder, so I knocked on the locked door to see if I could get a response, and he got right up and opened the door for me.  It turned out that he was laying on the floor assembling a wall shelf for the control unit.  So, I suppose the day could have been worse with my best horse being lame and in pain, some creepy guy stalking me, my brother dying, and my dead dog being dug up from his grave.  At least my husband didn't break his neck.  Still, I'm growing weary in this world.  It seems the cruelty is never-ending.  There must be something more to life than being in emergency mode all the time.

My own health has been failing me because I haven't slept much this past week due to leg pain, and I have leg pain because I've been too busy to stretch and exercise.  I'm relapsing back to the way things were before my steroid shots.  The more pain and stiffness I have, the less I can exercise.  It's a vicious cycle.  Every time there's one more disaster in my life, I keep thinking, "This is the last one.  After this I'll get to rest and enjoy my horses and take care of myself."

But it's never the last one. 

The good news is that I think there is more to life than that.  Being a bit sensitive, I have recognized visits from the spirit world from time to time.  I was waiting to hear from my brother, but was getting nothing.  Then I fired up my computer and the screen saver had changed to a picture that my brother had given to my mother as a gift, and she kept it hanging in his old bedroom all those years until she passed away.  It wasn't a photo that I had on my computer being pulled from my files.  It was just a random image imported onto my screen by Microsoft, but the timing was too perfect to ignore.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What a Morning!

It takes me a while to get moving in the mornings due to muscle stiffness.  Stewie helps me do my stretches by moving just out of my reach each time I try to cuddle with him.  That's his way of forcing me to get up to feed him.  This morning I took longer than usual to get out of bed, and I could hear the horses screaming for their breakfasts.  As I was preparing the dogs' food, I heard a chirping noise and thought the dogs had bumped up against the leg of a chair while wrestling.  They stopped and looked at me.  I said, "What was that?''

A while later I heard another chirp and thought, "There must be a really loud bird outside on the porch."

Some time after that, I heard another chirp and wondered if a bird had gotten inside the house, but something happened to distract me before I could reason that one out further.  It was just too early in the morning for me to be thinking.

By the fourth chirp, it hit me.  Somewhere in our house, a smoke detector's battery was dying.  Holy hell!

The last time this happened, I ended up standing on the arm of a couch beating the smoke detector with a broom handle, and then falling off the couch and injuring myself while Midge my Corgi ran around the house destroying everything in sight.  Thank God she's going deaf now.

I looked at Midge, and she seemed oblivious.  I looked at Stewie and saw that he was disturbed by the noise and trying to hide from it.  At least now I knew the problem was that the battery needed changing.  Previously, I just knew that there was this annoying noise coming from the smoke detector that was driving me and my dogs nuts.  So, I was one step ahead in tackling this latest problem presented to me first thing in the morning.

I went on a hunt following the chirps until I found which smoke detector was the culprit.  It was the one in the hallway.  Of course, the smoke detector had to be way up by the ceiling -- too far for me to reach with the help of a chair or step stool.  This meant having to get a ladder.  Choosing which ladder is compact enough to carry through the house, but tall enough to help me reach the ceiling was half the battle.  My husband has different types of ladders all over the property, but most are way too big and heavy for me to carry, especially long distances.  I decided to try the smallest one closest to the house, which just happened to also be the heaviest ladder, because it actually had several layers folded together.  I hauled it from room to room, popping a hernia and dislodging a kidney stone as I went.

Once in the hallway, the other half of the battle was to unlatch it so I could spread the base open to make it look like an upside down V.  I usually have to push in on both sides with equal strength to pop those babies open, but using all my strength wasn't making a difference this time.  I tried leaning it against the wall without scratching the paint, but I couldn't stabilize it that way.  I grabbed the knobs and pulled out, and it unlatched easily.  I must have been thinking about how another ladder works.  I climbed up, but the ladder wasn't tall enough to help me reach the smoke detector, unless I stepped on the top where there is a warning label to never stand there.  I decided to take my chances because the hallway was narrow and I could balance and hold myself up like an American Ninja Warrior between the two walls should the ladder topple. 

I unscrewed the smoke detector, and of course, it turned out to be hardwired.  It just hung there with all these wires attached to it, so I couldn't carry it back to a table with me to sit down and change the battery.  I had to do it from the top of that ladder.  Dang it!

Without my reading glasses, I couldn't see where the battery might be located, so I felt with my hands and pushed every button I found until a battery compartment popped out.  Then I pushed and pulled and twisted and tweaked to try to get the battery out of the compartment, but it refused to budge.  It seemed physically impossible to dislodge it.

The horses were still whinnying for their breakfasts, so I climbed down the ladder and went to the barn to feed them.  By the time I got back, the chirps were getting louder and closer together, so I had to hurry in solving this problem.  I tried and tried, but could not get the battery out.  I gave up and climbed back down the ladder to call my husband.  I didn't want to do that, because he has a special day at the office and he's super busy.  Also, I knew he wouldn't be able to talk me through removing the battery from memory, so he'd probably inform his boss that he'd have to leave his team hanging and come home to change the battery on the smoke detector himself.

I considered just taking the dogs outside to the outdoor kennel and spending the entire day out of the house to avoid having to listen to that alarm, but that didn't seem possible.  The dogs get anxious if they are outside in the kennel for more than five minutes, and I'd have to suffer through a whole day of Midge barking, which is worse than the smoke alarm chirps.  I considered taking a hammer to the smoke detector and beating it until it shut up, but I knew they can be expensive.  I considered cutting the wires in the back and letting my husband re-thread everything when he got home, and figure out how to get the battery out himself.

Then I looked at Midge and realized that she was acting strange.  With this distraction, I had never given her insulin.  I took care of that quickly and began feeling sorry for myself for having to deal with the crappy timing of this problem.  Why did it have to happen first thing in the morning before I've had a chance to take care of the animals on a weekday when my husband wasn't around to help?  Why am I so unlucky?  And why can't I just have a few days off from unexpected problems?  My life didn't use to be like this.  My daughter calls it "adulting". When you're an adult, you have to deal with a lot of crap because you have more stuff you are are responsible for.  However, I've been an adult for a long time, and I don't remember ever having as many "fix me right now" type of problems as I've had in the past five years since we moved into this house.  Like I said, this house is portal to hell.  The problems are non-stop.

A little voice inside me said to look it up on the Internet.  I found a video of a fireman holding a smoke detector explaining how to change the battery.  The majority of the video was him chastising people for not automatically changing the battery every six months so that they don't get into my predicament.  Seriously?  I don't even have time to get my teeth cleaned and get a mammogram every six months.  How am I going to remember and find the time to change the batteries on the smoke detectors?  It seems like the list of things that we adults must remember to do regularly is getting longer and longer.  I have to flush poop-eating bugs down the toilet every month, pour grease-eating bugs into the garbage disposal every night, change filters on pretty much everything in the house that deals with air or water every few months, and now this.  When the fireman got to the point of changing the battery, he just did it quickly without any explanation of how to get the battery out of the compartment.  I was pissed.

Then something clicked in my brain, and I just decided that I was going to climb up that ladder and not come down until I had a battery in my hand.  I pushed and pulled and twisted and tweaked until that damn battery finally popped and slid out.  I climbed down and grabbed a new 9V battery.  As expected, since it didn't come out easily, it wasn't going in easily.  I wrestled with it some more until it looked like it was in, but the smoke detector was still beeping.  "Maybe I have to push a button to reset it," I thought.

So, I pushed every button I could find, and it was still beeping.

"Maybe I have to close the battery compartment."

I closed it, but it was still beeping.

"Maybe I have to screw the smoke detector back into its base."

I screwed it back in, but it was still beeping.

"Maybe the battery is in backwards."

So, I wrestled with it until I pulled it out, flipped it around, and wrestled with it until I popped it back in.  Then I did all the other steps, and it was still beeping.

I wanted so bad to just burn down the entire house at this point.  The beeping was driving me crazy.  My ears were ringing from being so close to the detector and having the beep be so loud.  Why do they have to make it so damn loud?  I know.  It's for the elderly who are losing their hearing, but why make the rest of us lose our hearing in the process?  At least sell two different kinds of smoke detectors:  One for the hard of hearing and one for everyone else, or allow us to adjust the volume of the alarm.  I was also in pain having to stretch so far and stay in that stretched position.  Literally, everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong, taking a simple task and turning it into a massive fiasco.  That's my life story.  That's why I panic every time something goes wrong.  I know that fixing it will never be simple for me.

I considered giving up and performing one of those other options, all of which would make more work for my husband, but make me feel better.  No.  I had to figure this out.  I'm tired of being dependent upon other people's agility and strength and know-how.  I battled with the battery until I got it out, and then returned to the battery bin with a pair of reading glasses.  Well, there's my problem:  The battery expired in 2011!

I grabbed another one and started to head for the hall, but stopped myself and said, "Be smart."

I looked at the expiration date, and this one said 2010.  Sigh!  That was my last 9V.

Now I was in a position where I had to race to a store when I haven't had my breakfast, my shower, and haven't washed my hair.  Again, why did this have to happen first thing in the morning?  I was thinking I'd call my husband and have him pick up some 9V batteries on his way home to fix the damn problem.  Nope.  Can't do that.  I have to figure this out.

I looked over and saw something on our battery shelf that looked out of place.  It was another 9V battery!  This one had an expiration date of 2020.  Okay, I guess things can go my way every once in a while.  I climbed the ladder and it popped right in with no problem, I put everything back the way it was originally, and the beeping finally stopped.  Hallelujah!

Only I couldn't get the ladder folded back up, so I had to leave one job for my husband when he gets home, but that's okay, because the ladder doesn't make any noise.  I just have to squeeze past it all day.

I felt proud of myself for not giving up and sticking through the whole process until the problem was solved, but then it hit me what a true miracle all of it really was.  Just a couple of months ago I would not have been able to carry and climb a ladder repeatedly, nonetheless be able to walk without terrible pain.  Now I can do all of that without even considering how much it's going to hurt.  I looked at the clock and realized that I was an hour overdue in taking my anti-inflammatory medication.  I knew that meant I'd have several hours of pain.  It just hadn't hit me yet.  Oh well, you can't win 'em all.  Joy is such a short-lived thing.  In the meantime, I'd like to ask the powers that be to preferably give me a vacation from all of these home maintenance problems, and if that is not possible, to at least delay them until I've had a chance to give everyone, including myself, their breakfasts and medications on time.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Whatever You Say

I had just washed my hair, but didn't have time to untangle and comb it out when I went out to the barn to let the horses out of their stalls after breakfast.  I was hoping I wouldn't run into a neighbor looking like that, when this lady showed up on the hill with two dogs on leashes.  She stood there and stared into my backyard.  I hate that.  My backyard is not a wildlife viewing vista, but there's really nothing I can do to get people to respect my privacy, so I tried to go about my business and ignore her. 

Next thing I knew, she was climbing down the hillside into my backyard, headed right for the wash.  I had to stop her before she disappeared into the bushes, so I called out, "You're in my backyard!"

She stopped, looked around like she was baffled as to where this disembodied voice came from, and I realized that she had been looking into my yard to see if anyone was around so she could trespass, and somehow she didn't see me moving among the horses.  When she finally spotted me, she said, "No, I'm not!  The sign is right here.  You need to educate yourself.  There's a 30-foot easement from the street."

I said, "I know where my property lines are, and that sign has nothing to do with anything."

She said, "Call the police then.  I know what I'm talking about."

I said, "Where do you live?"

I didn't say it in a threatening way.  I was curious, because if she shared a property line with me, I wanted to know where she got her information, because it was different from mine.  However, her response was, "None of your God damned business."

She then proceeded to walk across the hillside toward my neighbor's backyard, which was also clearly marked with No Trespassing signs.  I wasn't going to debate whether she was past my sign or not because I was looking from an odd angle, but she was clearly headed into the wash at the speed she was coming down the hill.  I know she intended to trespass, even if she wasn't exactly past the property line when I stopped her.  Me stopping her when I did had more to do with not wanting her to disappear into the bushes.  I was also extra motivated to stop her since she had dogs.  I'm sick of cleaning up my own dogs' poop, nonetheless other people's dogs' poop and coyote poop.

When she hit the other neighbor's No Trespassing sign, she hesitated and realized I'd bust her for that too, so she went back up the way she came.  My question is, "Why even come down there if you have no intention of trespassing?"

It's not an easy hike.  It's mostly a vertical climb blocked by dead tree branches and rocks.  Pretending like her 30-foot easement from the street is correct, why even hike just 30-feet down only to turn around and go back up?  What was her motivation?

Then she started walking her dogs up and down the street behind my house.  I finished up and went indoors.  Right then the neighbor behind me drove up to his house, and she waved to him, so I knew she was a neighbor.  She started walking toward him, probably to bitch about me and to clarify where his property line is.  I know for a fact that he is misinformed, because he believes he owns the hillside.  The county has a map showing the hillside as my property.  Anyway, the lady stopped short when she saw that he had company, so she turned around and headed back the way she originally appeared from.  I watched her to see what house she went into.  It turned out that she lives behind the guy who lives behind me.  I'm sure she thinks she knows what she's talking about because he is so sure that he knows what he's talking about.  The silly thing about it all is that my neighbors had a surveyor mark their property lines when they moved out, and the guy behind me went over to talk to the surveyor while he was marking the corner of all three of our properties, so he should know better.  I guess he's in denial.

I'm continually astounded to stumble upon people in my neighborhood who never progressed past the moral development of a four-year-old.  As long as nobody's looking, they'll break the law.  If they get caught, they deny it and even get aggressive and potty-mouthed about it.  I can't tell you how many people have "informed" me about imaginary easements around my property, or if there really is an easement, they always think it's much larger than it is.  I keep waiting for someone to walk through my house and tell me it's an easement, because apparently everywhere else has been an easement so far.  If my entire property is an easement, then what exactly did I buy when I bought four acres of land?

I've decided that the best thing I can do to get results with this trespassing problem is to either let the person know that I know where they live, or at least ask them where they live, because that gets them thinking, and they quickly realize that turnabout is fair play and if they don't want me trespassing on their property then they'd better stop doing it on mine.  I'm sure that most of the people who cut through my land would rip me another one if I walked on theirs.  In fact, the one neighbor I kicked off my property last winter had No Trespassing signs all over his own property.

Right after talking about my horse sweating during yesterday's ride, today it is super cold.  I'm wearing a sweatshirt and slippers.  Most of the year I wear sleeveless tops.  Anytime the weather changes drastically like this, not only do we get different wild animals making an appearance, but a new slew of trespassers to deal with.  Every once in a while I get someone coming through who simply apologizes and says they won't do it again, which is the response I expect, but the vast majority argue with me over the locations of my property lines or try to convince me that they have the right to be there for one reason or another.  I've lived here five years now.  You'd think at some point people would stop viewing me as the newbie and stop trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

Monday, December 4, 2017

December Sweats

Here are a few pictures from today's trail ride...

Lookin' both ways before crossing the street.

Alerting on hikers way off in the distance.

Gettin' his pets for being a good listener.
When I unsaddled him, he was covered in sweat.  We're still wondering when it's going to cool down and when we'll get some rain.  The topsoil is so dry that it's like powder.  Just a slight breeze causes a dust storm.  I washed everyone's fly masks this weekend thinking I wouldn't have to put them back on until spring, but the flies were giving them eye infections after just a few hours of having naked faces that I had to put the masks back on.  That's very unusual for December.

Friday, December 1, 2017

My Boot Experiment and Other Stories

The older I get, the more sensitive my feet get, and I've gone up a whole size as my feet have flattened and spread out over the years.  I've learned that if any part of the boot besides the sole touches my foot, it hurts.  I can't let the sides or top press on me.  I remember my mother telling me not to buy shoes that are too big, because they will slip, rub and cause blisters.  However, I'm finding the opposite to be true.  Shoes that are too short or narrow rub and cause blisters.

In the past, I'd buy a pair of boots and wear them until my toes dug a hole in the insulation, and then I'd buy a new pair.  As a result, I've got a closet full of hardly-ever-used boots.  It's hard to throw away or donate what looks like a perfectly good boot on the outside just because a hole in the insulation rubs on me and causes blisters.  I've tried to deal with the problem by changing my boots every hour, so that at least my feet were being rubbed in different places.  The idea was to change boots before blisters formed, and at the same time make use of all the boots in my closet so as not to be so wasteful.  Then I developed the arthritis and muscle tears, and I couldn't wear heels at all, so the boots just sat there untouched.

Now that most of my arthritis and muscle tears have been addressed, I can go back to wearing boots.  I find myself pulling boots off the shelf and thinking, "Where did this pair rub me?  Right foot?  Left foot?  Pinky toe?  Big toe?  Sides or top?"

For the really old pairs, I can just reach my hand inside and feel around for the holes in the insulation, and I'll know, but for the newer pairs that I was wise enough to remove before the rubbing resulted in holes, I just have to wear them to find out.  I'm doing an experiment by wearing a different pair of boots each time I go out, and then when I return, I place a patch of duct tape on the inside where they rub me.  That way I don't have to remember which part of my foot gets rubbed by which boot, and then wrap that part of my foot in duct tape.  Who's got time for that anyway, right?  I'll let you know how the experiment works out.  So far the big challenge has been to get a piece of duct tape inside the boot without having it fold up and stick to itself before I can adhere it to its destination.

And yes, I know that most of you run around in a stream or river when you buy new boots so that they mold to your feet, but that's the exact opposite of what I want and need.  I need nothing touching me beyond the shaft and the sole.  Plus, I'm constantly spilling water all over my shoes when I clean out water troughs, and I sweat so bad in my boots most of the year that I don't need no stinkin' river.

**********

I had planned to write a tribute for Scrappy with lots of pictures of him through the years, but right before he passed, my computer broke and I had to move all of my pictures off it into storage in a hurry.  When I went back to look at the pictures, I discovered that I never took the time to label the folders beyond the default of dates, so it would take me a month of Sundays to locate pictures of him.  I discovered what a horrible business woman I am when one of my old photography clients contacted me for more photos, and I couldn't find them for days because of my inattention to labeling procedures.  I've got pictures scattered all over the house in different computers, different storage drives, and on different DVDs.  I could just smack myself.  I used to be organized to a fault.  People would make fun of me for always organizing everything.  Now I'm a mess.

I've been amazed over how much things have changed since Scrappy's passing.  I didn't think he was that much trouble because he mostly slept all day, but apparently, I was dedicating a huge chunk of time each day to his care.  I know this because now I actually have some free time as opposed to running around like a chicken with my head cut off doing multiple tasks simultaneously.  Simply not having all those disposable diapers to wash and dry each day saves a lot of time.  Not having to chop up prescribed wet food and give medications simplifies meal times quite a bit.  Now I can feed both Midge and Stewie, and give Midge her insulin injection in less than three minutes.  Previously, meal times took a minimum of half an hour, in part because Scrappy refused to eat what I gave him, or he couldn't find his bowl despite me setting him down right in front of it, or he was more interested in bullying the other dogs.  He always had to see what the other dogs were eating before he'd consider what was in his own bowl, and that led to fights, but none of the dogs would eat if I put them in separate rooms.

Interestingly, both Midge and Stewie are well behaved now that Scrappy is gone.  I think his bullying was causing a bad dynamic in the entire pack, resulting in me having my hands full with behavior problems from all three dogs.   Now things are peaceful, for the most part.  There have hardly been any accidents on the carpet recently, and both dogs are good about politely sitting by the door to tell me when they need to go out.  I'm in a better mood overall, because I don't have to constantly be aggravating my inflammation by bending over and crouching down to stop dog fights and carry Scrappy outside and up and down stairs.  Things were so bad toward the end that if I tried to walk him on a leash past the staircase, he would somehow slip over the edge and fall down the stone steps in the one second of inattention I had because another dog was doing something it wasn't supposed to.  It's nice to not have to deal with that chaos anymore.  I hear about these families that adopt several special needs children, and I wonder how they manage since I couldn't even handle caring for two special needs dogs simultaneously.  Technically, I'd argue that I had three special needs dogs, because Stewie is no cake walk with his ADHD.

I've been trying to train Stewie to guide Midge when I need her to come to me, since she can't hear me call her or see me motion to her.  I say, "Stewie, get Midge!" and he runs over to her, bites on her ear, and leads her to me.  Stewie kind of started it on his own, because he feels insecure going potty outside by himself and he always wants Midge to be there with him, so when I'd take him outside, he'd run back into the house to get her.  I'm just capitalizing on that behavior by having him get her for me.  In the evenings, my leg won't bend at the knee or swing at the hip at all, so it's like I'm walking on a wooden leg.  If Stewie can save me some steps by bringing Midge to me, my life will be so much easier.

**********

Snowbird season is definitely in full force, because I've had more random strangers approach me to chat in the past week than in the past six months.  In one case, I was getting out of my truck when a man stopped in the middle of the street in his truck to ask me how I like my truck.  He had other drivers lining up behind him, but he didn't give a damn.  He was determined to tell me about his truck and why he needed to upgrade.  I was waiting for someone to honk, but when no one did, I just started walking away.  He got the hint and began to drive off, but then braked to ask if I'd sell him my truck.  Nope.  It hardly has any mileage on it.  It's worth more to me than how it would be assessed at market value.  Who knows?  Maybe he was trying to "pick up" on me.  (Pun intended.)  Even though I'm a crippled, overweight, middle-aged woman, I tend to attract the attention of older single, divorced and widowed men, because I'm younger than the majority of the population here.

Then a handicapped veteran in a scooter approached me in the supermarket to ask if my husband was my husband.  He made some kind of comment like, "I thought so, because he was hulking and hovering over you like he owned you."

I couldn't hear half of what he was saying.  I just smiled and turned away, because I hate struggling to hear people who don't speak up.  You say, "What?" and they just repeat themselves, but without speaking louder or annunciating, so you have to say "What?" several more times.  Then you start thinking about all these things you've got to get done, and you don't have time for this, so you say something to cut the conversation short and get yourself out of there.  I let my husband talk to him since I'm so deaf, and I thought I heard the man ask my husband if he's made love to me lately.  I stiffened up, thinking he was a pervert, but it turned out that he asked him if he told me he loves me lately.  I figured the guy might have lost his wife and was trying to teach us about appreciation.  When my husband wouldn't say he loved me on demand, the guy kept pressuring him.  It was weird.  Thankfully, our order was ready, so we were able to get out of there.  All I can gather is that the guy had been observing us and making judgments about us, and he didn't like what he saw, so he decided to hassle us.  It's getting harder and harder to just do your grocery shopping and grab some lunch nowadays.

I definitely live in a town full of characters.  What was really funny was that we were waiting to be helped at the counter and when the clerk approached us, we informed her that this handicapped lady in a scooter had been there first.  I've learned that any time I let someone go ahead of me, I almost always regret it, because the person always turns out to be the type who has to make a production out of a simple exchange and take up way more of everyone's time that we can afford to spare.  This lady was no exception.  She rolled alongside the display case asking for samples of this and that, because she couldn't make up her mind what she wanted to order.  In the end, she ate more than she ordered, and the clerk couldn't get the lid on her little tiny carton of food.  I almost went over there and said, "Just give her the bigger container and I'll pay for it so I can get my lunch."

I figured the woman was just trying to get a free meal by asking for all those samples.  She was stuffing her face saying, "Ummmm yummm yummm.  I'm so hungry." and after five minutes of waiting for her to release the clerk back to us, I was starving too.

In a similar case, I was trying to pick up some items from the warehouse at the feed store, and these people from out of state were blocking the aisle with their truck while filling up propane tanks.  Drivers had to keep squeezing past the truck, but still no one would move the truck to a more appropriate location.  I was approaching the truck at the same time that a man on foot was approaching.  He was trying to keep the aisle clear so that his elderly wife could squeeze their car through, but she still wasn't done backing out of her parking spot.  I decided to be patient and back up to let her squeeze through first.  She drove one mile per hour through that tight spot as her husband played traffic cop.  Then, once through, she just stopped.  She wouldn't get out of the way so that I could have my turn at squeezing through.  I was like, "Dang it!  I knew I shouldn't have let her go first."

Just when I was about to get out of my truck and go over to her and let her know that I politely let her go first, so I'd appreciate it if she would now let me have my turn, a feed store employee motioned her on where to pull over, so I did eventually get out of there.  I entertained the fantasy of ramming my truck into the truck filled with propane tanks.  It would have made a marvelous explosion and gotten everyone's attention at the very least.  It's tough living in a town full of mindless "visitors" who don't have jobs or anything to do or any place to go.  They expect everyone around them to have all the time in the world just like they do.

I'm thinking I might start shopping at the big box store to get my feed in the future, because at least they have a parking lot big enough to accommodate trucks and trailers.  I'm getting sick of this local feed shop because every time I walk in and need to order something from the warehouse, there is always some lady showing pictures of her pets or grandchildren to the cashiers, and they all leave their posts to huddle around and ooooh and aaaaah.  And even though the customer and cashiers clearly see that I am waiting for assistance, they just keep on discussing the photos like I don't even exist.  I'm tired of that kind of bull crap.  Socialize with your friends on the off hours, and do your effing job.  If it happened to me just once, I wouldn't complain, but it happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I try to do business with them.  Considering that I usually order over $1,000 in feed from them upon each of my visits, you'd think they'd show me a little more respect.

**********

I wanted to go for a quick hike before doing chores, and not so brilliantly thought, "I should take Lostine with me.  She hasn't been out in a while."

We were barely out of the back yard and the rapid breathing began.  Then she started spooking each time she stepped on the gravel and it made a noise.  Of course, right when we were trying to cross the street, one of the hyper neighbors who must drive past my house ten times a day approached.  I had to settle Lostine down while the car passed.  I waved, but was just stared at in return.

The trail head is overgrown and very narrow, so it is important that my horses wait while I go first.  However, that was impossible with Lostine.  She was so freaked out about being taken away from the barn that she forgot I was even there.  I had to keep snaking the lead rope at her chin to get her to focus.  Another one of those hyper neighbors drove past her hind end and she bolted to the end of the rope.

Once I got her a little ways out into the desert away from traffic, she looked like she was going to relax, so I led her down a trail to begin my hike, but she was pulling me this way and that.  I decided that since she was looking so hard for something to spook at, I'd play the raspberry game, where I blow a raspberry and startle her until she realizes it's just me and settles down.  I blew a loud raspberry and she totally fruck out!  She ran in circles around me while leaping through the air and kicking out at the raspberry monster that was surely nipping at her heels.  I laughed at her, but she wouldn't even look at me.  I no longer existed.  Nope.  The raspberry game wasn't going to work with her.  So, I began leading her home.

However, as we approached the street, I could hear a truck coming closer and closer.  I was like, "I'll just get her to stand until it passes," but for some reason the truck was taking forever to reach us.  It turned out to be the mail truck, and it was stopping at each house to deliver mail.  Once it passed, I tried to get Lostine across the street, but another one of those hyper neighbors came roaring up, so we had to wait.  By then the mail carrier was coming back from the other direction.  Lostine wanted to rip the lead rope out of my hand and bolt across the street back to the barn so bad, but I kept insisting that she stand and wait for traffic to pass.

The second we set hoof into the back yard, her head dropped to the ground and her pace dropped to an easy stroll.  I blew a raspberry and got no reaction whatsoever.

Troublemaker

Next time I'm hiking by myself.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Usual Lessons

Despite wanting to get as much use out of my arena and round pen while I can, I felt that Rock needed a trail ride since my last few rides kept him at home or close to home due to extenuating circumstances.  I didn't want him to get barn sour by always riding him at home.  I opted not to check my brakes, since what he really needed was forward movement.  Heading out, he was a bit sticky, so I kept the pressure on to move forward.

He hesitated several times and kept looking over his shoulder as if waiting for his herd to follow.  He lost interest in them once we reached some bushes, and then it was a battle to prevent him from eating them.  I rode him a little ways out and then turned toward home, and as I expected, he sped up.  I kept checking him on his speed, and then when we reached the trail to home, I steered him past it.  His speed dropped considerably at that point.

I kept up this process of riding him away from home and riding him toward home until he kept the same speed in both directions.  Just when I made up my mind that I was satisfied with his improvement and was going to actually ride him home, he halted and threw his head up to observe something on the ridge above us.  There were two cowboys and a cowgirl in hats riding along on their horses and singing.  I let Rock observe for a few seconds, and then I insisted that he get back down to business.  He'd walk a few steps and then throw his head up to gawk.  I got him to the point where he was at least walking while gawking instead of stopping.  Then I realized that the horseback riders on the ridge had stopped and were waiting for me to pass them.

I waved to let them know that I was fine and they didn't need to wait for me unless they were training their own horses over my presence.  They waved back and began walking.  I forget that when people see me wearing my crash helmet and vest, they often assume that I'm riding a fractious horse, so they are cautious around me, but the reality is that I always wear safety gear because I hate being laid up for several weeks with injuries.  If my horses stumbles and falls, and I fly over his neck onto the ground, I want to make sure that my helmet and vest hit the rocks and not my skull and ribs or spine.

Of course, seeing those other horses got Rock riled up, so now he was bouncing all over the place putting on airs.  When I turned him toward home, he had no brakes.  I went against my own style of horsemanship and gave his mouth a big yank from both reins and that got his attention.  He stopped.  The trail we were on had a lot of rock on it and his rambunctiousness was causing him to trip a lot, so I had to be firm or I was going to get hurt.  Once I gave him permission to go, he was still fast walking and throwing his head around, so I rode him past the trail to home.  We had to start over in all the training I just did with him moments before.  This time he learned the lesson a lot faster, though, so we did make it home, as opposed to being out there all day and night.

His crew all lined up and ready to take orders from him.

Snoozing before the trail ride.

Alert after the trail ride.
The sun hasn't come out much at all today.  That's a rarity for us.  Clouds and breezes are always appreciated.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

End of the Line

I had my follow up with my orthopedist regarding the results of all those steroid injections I received.  I was so happy to report to him that I have much more mobility and less pain that I might have misrepresented my situation a bit.  The doctor asked me do one-legged squats, which sent me into a bit of a tizzy because I didn't think I could even do one-legged squats back before I had arthritis and torn muscles.  He held my hands to help me balance, and I was able to do it.  I could only squat down half as far on my bad leg as I could on my good leg, but there wasn't any pain, so he declared that I just had muscle weakness and needed to keep exercising.

He asked what percentage of improvement I've had, and I gleefully said, "80%!"

He looked disappointed and said I should have 100% improvement.

Really?  I was only expecting to get a little relief.  I wasn't expecting to instantly become three years younger.

He asked if I've hit a plateau or if I was still improving.  I wasn't sure, but I didn't want him to feel disappointed after all the work he put into fixing my body, so I gave the optimistic response that I was still improving.

He said, "Good.  Keep exercising, work out a little harder each day, and then you should get up to 100% better."

Really?  I was still in disbelief.  I said, "What now?  Do I call to set up an appointment when the steroids wear off?"

He said, "You shouldn't have to.  This should be a permanent fix."

REALLY?  My previous orthopedist said that steroid shots only last from 3 months to about 3 years.  I wondered why the two of them have such differing information.  I assumed I'd have to go in on a regular basis to get injections.  That's what most people do.  I wondered if there was something special about this doctor's injections that make them last a lifetime.  He escorted me out the door and sent me on my way.

I limped all the way to my truck.  On the long drive to the doctor's office, my leg cramped up so bad that I had to drive with cruise control in heavy traffic, but I didn't mention that to him.  I realized that my 80% improvement was way too generous.  I was thinking about all the times I noticed that I was walking normal and completely pain free, because that was new to me, so I noticed it.  But the reality was that I was still stiff and in pain the majority of the time, so maybe I should have said I had a 60% improvement.

On the way home, I was too stiff to turn and look over my shoulder when changing lanes.  I had worked out harder than usual the night before and woke with a sore back.  So, when I needed to change lanes, I'd keep a close eye on my side view mirror for at least half a minute, and then if no vehicle was in the lane close to me during that whole time, I'd put on my turn signal, turn my head as much as I could, and change lanes.  I hadn't seen any vehicle near me for a long time, so I made my move and became aware that I was hearing an engine that wasn't mine.  Right then a motorcyclist appeared out of my blind spot.  He had been driving the exact same speed as me right beside me in my blind spot for God knows how long!  How dangerous is that?  If I drove a motorcycle, I would constantly keep moving so that drivers would see me, and no matter what I am driving, I always stay out of blind spots, and I never drive next to another vehicle.  Maybe he was trying to ride in my shade?  Who knows.

Anyway, that incident scared me and I thought maybe it was best that I have no more appointments with this orthopedist, because I really shouldn't be driving long distances with my pain.  Driving around my hometown, I know all the least traveled routes so that I can drive by myself with not many other vehicles to collide with.  I'll go the long way around just to avoid traffic and to avoid having to brake and accelerate excessively.  It's a system the works for me.

Despite being in pain after the drive, I took Bombay for a fast hike along the trails.  I walked fast enough that he had to trot from time to time to keep up with me.  I was determined to get into shape.  However, when the pain hit harder, so did the fatigue, and getting home was a challenge.  That night I was so inflamed that I knocked my pain and mobility improvement down to just 40% overall.

But with each new day comes a fresh start, so I was able to ride today.  I've been thinking that I'd better get some use out of riding in my arena and round pen now before my snowbird neighbors move in on each side of those areas.  The neighbors by the round pen should arrive any day now, and the neighbors on the arena side should arrive in January.  Both sets of neighbors like to spend all their time on their patios, which overlook my riding areas, so every move they make distracts and spooks my horses.  That's why I tend to spend most of the winter riding out on the trails away from neighbors.  But for now, it's nice to do a few refresher courses at home with the horses before hitting the trails.

I have no idea how many months it has been since I've ridden Bombay.  I wasn't even sure if his saddle would fit him, because his body has a new topography to it as he ages.

I forgot how awesome he is with mounting.  He squares himself up and doesn't move a hoof until I ask him to.  That's what I need right now, because sometimes it takes a while for me to get my leg muscles stretched out enough to swing over.

Rock and his saddle are kind of like sitting on a couch.  I can be sloppy and sit any which way, and neither Rock nor the saddle care about my posture.  However, Bombay's Arabian saddle and Bombay himself require proper equitation.  I have to sit up straight, but it was difficult because the muscles in front of both hips around my pelvis didn't want to open up.  I had to ride leaning a little forward and off balance.



He was awesome about my sloppy dismount too.  The picture above is me laying across the saddle to get a breather after the struggle of hauling my leg across his rump.

A good guy all around.  He was pretty easygoing for a horse who hasn't been ridden in who knows how long.  When I first saddled him up, he was snorting softly and breathing hard, so I knew he was nervous, but once I got on him, he went right to work, collecting himself and following my cues.  He was a little concerned about what might be coming up out of the arroyo, but I don't blame him, because we have a crazy coyote that has been causing a lot of noise pollution back there lately.



This guy is super annoying.  He barks as bad as a domesticated dog with separation anxiety who is left outside all day while his owners are at work.  He makes all kinds of weird noises for hours on end.  We had a rabies problem going on in our area right now, so I kind of wonder if he might have it and be getting a bit loopy.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Too Loud?

Yesterday I went to a painting party, and I was talking with a friend who just got out of the hospital and was recovering from knee surgery.  She's been in medical care hell, dealing with a ridiculous amount of incompetence, everything from them losing her MRI results to them not working with her insurance to get her into physical therapy.  If anyone can empathize with her, it's me.  I was giving her a sympathetic ear when this woman showed up screaming out comments from the parking lot as she walked all the way toward us.  Her voice was so loud that I couldn't hear what my friend was saying or hear myself talk.  I looked around and could see that everyone was annoyed by this jarring interruption in their conversations.

The loud woman was talking about why she was late as if she thought that the rest of us had been sitting on the edge of our seats eagerly awaiting her arrival and wondering where she was.  In reality, most of us didn't have a clue as to who this person was.  She had a toddler with her and the entire time she kept barking out instructions to her kids and other people's kids in her voluminous voice, so nobody could hold a conversation while she was around.  The hostess sensed what was going on and gave the kids a box of rocks and suggested that they hide them around the park, and asked the loud lady to supervise.  That got rid of her for a while so the rest of us could chat.  As soon as her voice was gone, I relaxed and felt like I could breathe again.  A little while later the hostess turned her attention to me and said, "You're so quiet."

I smiled and nodded, and then went back to painting.  I took it as a compliment.  People who only speak when they have something important to say are heard more often.  It's too bad I've got diarrhea of the fingers, though.  I write a lot more than I speak.

Last night I took Stewie out to do his business and the neighbors on the hill started up a loud vehicle engine, which attracted Stewie's attention so that he wouldn't go to the bathroom and allow me to get on with my life.  I said in a normal conversational voice to my dog, "Come on, Stewie.  You can't let every little noise distract you.  Let's get on with it."

I became aware that the driver was revving the engine of the truck repeatedly and I felt annoyed as this was late at night and people were trying to sleep.  I said out loud but quietly to myself, "Oh, stop revving your engine and go away."

He started driving very, very, very slowly.  Stewie was riveted in fascination watching these people's headlights move slowly along the top of the hill behind bushes.  I sighed, as they seemed to be taking forever to go away.  I said, "Come on, keep moving, keep moving, keep moving."

All of the sudden the driver braked when he came into an opening between bushes and I heard a man's deep voice say in a normal conversational tone, "You talk too loud."

Then the truck drove off.  Mind you, this was at least an eighth of a mile as the crow flies from where I was standing and the voice sounded like it was five-feet in front of me.  I startled and felt a rush of adrenaline.  Was somebody in my back yard standing in front of me in the dark?  Did I misinterpret the voice as coming from the truck because it stopped right then?  I quickly dragged Stewie indoors because I was so freaked out.

If it were the driver of the truck speaking to me, how could he even hear what I said an eighth of a mile away over his loud truck engine?  It seemed impossible.  Maybe it was my next door neighbor sitting on his screened in porch in the dark?  No, I know his voice and that was definitely not his voice.  Plus, he's too nice to say anything like that to someone.

I do see people leaving to go hiking and horseback riding after sunset, so it's possible there was a trespasser in my back yard at night, but you'd think he'd want to remain quiet and hide from me rather than to criticize me while he's breaking the law.  The only thing that made sense was that it was the driver of the truck telling me I talk too loud.

My husband informed me that voices do carry around here, and he can hear everything those neighbors on the hill are saying.  I'm usually aware that people are up there, but I can't make out anything specific that anyone is saying.  However, I'm also going deaf.  Perhaps only other people can hear what all the neighbors say outdoors loud and clear.  How embarrassing.  I began thinking back to all the things I've said to my dogs and horses over the years that these people would have heard.  Here's a sample of what I came up with that neighbors would be hearing out of context when I'm in the dog's yard:

Stop farting around and get on with it!

Poo poo goes outside!

Don't pee on the driveway!

Get off the flagstone!

No eat poop!

Wait!  Let me find a stick and get that dingleberry off your butt.

Stop staring at the street!  No one is out there!

Stop pulling on me!

Stop sniffing her butt!

You're peeing on your brother!

Don't knock a dog over who is pooping!

What are you doing?

You dogs disgust me!

You'd better not bug me to take you back outside in five minutes.


And in the barn:

Move your butt!

Stop pissing in my face!

Oh God!  That fart just ruptured my eardrum!

Don't whack me with your tail!

Don't pee there!  I have to walk there.

No kicking!

No biting!

Get out of that stall!

Get in your own stall!

Don't bite my Mule!

Stop pacing!  You're kicking manure around.

Stop kicking your water trough!

Quiet!  No banging the gate!

Knock it off!

Leave the hose alone!

Don't break that!

Let go of my fork!

Alright, who's sick?

Who's blood is this?

Are you limping?

Again?

I'd swear that someone let a herd of horses onto my dry lot overnight, because I know there is no way you four horses could have manufactured this much poop all by yourselves!

Get off the poop!  I need to clean it up.

Don't stand in that pee puddle.  You'll get thrush.

Stop rubbing your butt on the fence!  You'll break it.

No grain for you!

Oh God!  There's a dead body floating in the water!

Who pooped in this trough?  I just filled it!  (Insert wailing noises here.)

(Smack!  Smack!  Smack!)  Get off me!  I'm going to kill you!  (Usually said to fire ants and flies.)

(Scream!)  I almost stepped on a rattlesnake!

Hello, kitty!

Hi there, bunny!

How ya doin', yodi?

Get out of my barn!  (Usually said to ravens and loose dogs.)

Ouch!  I don't need more pain!

Dang!  This hay sucks!  Farmers need to learn how to farm.

Geez!  How many times a day do these people have to drive past my barn?  Every time I walk outside they are driving past.  (Said about the neighbors who said I talk too loud.)

Gee, guy.  Can you drive any faster?  (Said sarcastically to my neighbors two and three doors down who race back and forth in front of my house like they are on their way to put out a fire multiple times a day.)

Now what?  (Said to any unwelcome problem or visitor that gets in my face.)

I'd better get back to the house.  The dogs are probably peeing all over my carpet.

First horse to crap in a stall within five seconds of me cleaning the barn is going to get its butt kicked!

Dang it!  Why do you guys always wait for me to drive the Mule out of the barn before you poop?  (At this point you can go back to the beginning of this list and take it from the top.)


So, from here on in, I'm going to train myself to just say no to the majority of misbehaviors and keep the rest of my thoughts in my head, because apparently, I am only quiet when I'm painting.

Friday, November 24, 2017

'Tude

My "man" dwarfed into a toddler with attitude today, so I had to take him to the training pen.  He was acting a bit impatient, so it didn't help matters when the trash truck drove up right when I was ready to mount.  We had to wait it out while it dumped can after can, breaking glass all along the way.  Sometimes the driver pulls into the turnout that has the gate to the bridle trails and sits there idling for half an hour blocking the gate doing who knows what.  I kept saying, "Keep going, keep going, keep going..." in hopes of willing him to pass up the turnout this time and take his break elsewhere.  It worked.

I started to mount but backed off when Lostine began kicking her aluminum water trough.  Really?  You wait until I'm about to swing a leg over and then you make startling noises?  Who does that, Lostine?  I realized, in all fairness, that her trough was low, possibly empty, and she was trying to ask me to fill it before I left for my trail ride.  I considered it, but my leg was already aching and Rock was already impatient, and we weren't going to be gone that long.  She'd live.

But then again, I could always just open her stall to let her out to drink from the outdoor trough too.  I considered it, but knew Rock would pitch a fit because he feels it is his God given right to eat Lostine's leftovers once she's left her stall.  Letting her out would not have been a good strategic move, so I left it at, "She'll live."

I swear, the only thing I do repetitively that is in competition with the number of times I take the dogs outside per day is the number of times I have to clean out and fill the horses' water troughs.  I feel like those two activities are all I do 24/7.  Yes, yes, yes -- get an automatic waterer.  Yada yada yada.  Well, the first person to suggest that can buy me a lifetime supply of them to replace all the ones my horses destroy.  If I simply put my temporary float in a tank, the horses are on it in a second, ripping it to shreds.

So, I mounted Rock and he held stock still.  I was so pleased!  I stroked his neck and praised him over and over until he simply did not want to move at all.  Damn.  I clucked -- nothing.  I wiggled my feet against his sides -- nothing.  I kicked him with my heels -- nothing.  I spurred him, and he started walking... backwards.

I corrected him to go forward and he went up the driveway just a few yards...

...and then turned around and headed back to the barn.

It wasn't really that simple.  He pulled hard to try to turn around, and I pulled hard to keep him heading up the driveway out to the bridle trails.  We got locked in this battle and then I saw the ears go back and felt the back hunch up, and I knew this horse was dead serious about turning around.  He usually has good reason for wanting to do something, so I made the decision to turn him around myself and just keep riding him around the property without letting him rest until I could determine what the problem might be.  If his tack was bothering him, I certainly didn't want to force him out on a trail ride.  So, I assessed the tack, and everything seemed to be in order.

I kept him moving and continued to observe his behavior.

I still didn't have a clue as to the source of his sudden attitude, but he continued to resist leaving the barn and going up the driveway out to the bridle trails.

Then I decided that instead of me taking on the attitude that I was going to steer and he was going to go where I point him, I let him have the reins and I said, "Show me."

That's how we ended up here...

A couple of evenings ago I started collecting smooth rocks to paint and putting them in that bucket.  Of course, Rock saw the bucket and assumed it had grain in it, because his only experience with buckets is that they either deposit grain into his feed trough or they hold water when I give him a bath.  He knew he wasn't getting a bath, so...

I'm sure Rock wasn't expecting a bucket full of rocks.

I wouldn't let him eat the bucket, so he turned around, took me to the trailer, and poked my boot with his muzzle.

Git off my back, Lady!  And take the tack with you.

I considered my options.  He was getting increasingly agitated and I was concerned that he might just be hungry enough to dump me in order to get to that bucket.  The bad news is that he's difficult to ride if he's distracted by food.  The good news is that he will work for food, so I can use it as an incentive to train him as long as I am wise in when and where I give it to him.  He's the kind of horse you cannot feed treats once you get back to the barn after a ride, because he'll try to cut every ride short to head back to the barn to get his treat.  Because of my arthritis and his height, I can't dismount during our ride to treat him on the trails, so I'll have to feed him from the saddle, which means keeping treats in the horn bag.  Knowing him, he'll probably keep turning his head around to sniff the horn bag most of the ride.  I needed more time to think about using treats as an incentive.

In the meantime, my hip was hurting just from riding around the property, so I knew I wouldn't get far if I battled him out onto the trails anyway.  I dismounted and took him to task in the round pen...

I know I'm cracking the whip in front of him in this picture.  There is this thorny sapling growing in the round pen that I need to dig up, and my whip kept getting caught on its thorns.  I was probably yanking the whip out of that tree.

Go, boy, go!

I'm done running.  Do I gets to eats now?

No.  Absolutely not.

Monday, November 20, 2017

First Trail Ride of the Season: Thwarted

This morning I made my first attempt to mount and ride without help since the successful steroid therapy on my hip and thigh.  Rock did walk off before I could get my other boot in the stirrup, but he also stopped immediately when I reminded him to hold still.  He was clearly excited to get going, however once we reached the end of the driveway, he did not want to cross the street to get out on the trails.

Buddy or barn sour?  Maybe he didn't want to leave since the other horses weren't done eating their breakfasts, and he wanted their leftovers?  I was thinking of what what behind us when I should have been considering what might be ahead of us.

I should have clued into the fact that his ears and head were up, and he was doing more of the steering than I was.  You want to go down this trail, Rock?  Okay, fine with me.  I didn't have any plans.

After less than half a mile I became conscious of the fact that I'd been hearing some noise buzzing around us the whole ride and it was getting louder.  As I tried to pinpoint the source of the noise, I finally opened my sleepy eyes and saw the wood chipper truck up ahead on the trail with its yellow lights flashing.  The buzzing sound was chainsaws.

I didn't think the trails needed maintenance this year, but then again, I don't call the shots, so we turned around and headed back the way we came.  I know it would be good "practice" to ride him toward and around the chainsaws and wood chipper truck, like they do on trail trials, but considering that this was our first serious ride out in six months, and the purpose of the ride was for me to see how much control I have over my right leg and my balance, and to see how far I could go before the inflammation and pain set in, I wasn't interested in upping the ante by seeing how brave my horse was around something he's probably never experienced before.

On the bright side, he did manage to make it through the gate in both directions without tripping and falling down.

Also, I was able to lift the saddle onto his back and off of his back without having to stand on a stool.  Apparently, I have been doing something to keep my arms strong this summer.

I still need to get more strength in the right hip and thigh, though, because I struggled to drag my leg over his rump when I dismounted.  It takes so long to lift my leg with my hands and pull my boot across his croup that I'm careful to keep my weight over the center of the saddle and not in the stirrup.  He's such a tolerant horse.  Not much bothers him.  He could probably be in a therapy program working with the disabled.

It was a short ride, but at least I know we can do it, and that Rock is still the gentle soul he's always been.

Who's the man?