Thursday, April 8, 2010

hiding in the dinosaur room

Today was my day to attempt to straighten up our house - in one of my many attempts each year to try and organize all of our "stuff" so the house doesn't feel so cluttered. Unfortunately, I am also having an arthritis flare-up on my left side so I felt very gimpy and didn't get as much done as I'd aspired too. Bad arthritis pain feels a lot like a dull ache like the joints affected are broken. It makes me want to whimper.

Speaking of whimpering, I'm as I write this hiding in the dinosaur room listening to Penguin Cafe Orchestra (really loud) so I don't have to listen to my daughter throwing a fit to my husband about how torturous it is to have her hair washed. Sometimes I just can't deal and have to tune out. And yes, we have a room we call the dinosaur room. It is actually a combination family room/dining room off our kitchen. When we built this addition onto our house when my daughter was two years old she was thrilled to stand at her window and watch the backho dig up the ground to put in the foundation of the addition. She called it the dinosaur-digger. After they were done excavating for the foundation she cried because the dinosaur was gone so we explained that he had gone to build other rooms for other little girls like he had come to start the building of our new room ... thus the dinosaur room.

I'm a little concerned that my flare-up may have been brought on by riding my horse yesterday. I haven't ridden much at all in the last month and I knew Girl needed a work-out so I did a lot of trotting work with her and even did a brief canter (once I got on the right lead). But between posting and balancing when she went through a brief period of being pissy and putting her ears back and bucking a little and trying to run off on me I think I may have wretched some muscles in my back a bit which can lead to a flare-up. Blah. I have lesson tomorrow morning in my new Wintec 2000 English saddle and I'm going to have to take a huge amount of ibuprofen and even then I'm not sure I'm going to be up for it.

In the end, once I'd gotten back my riding mojo we did very well together and as always after our ride she gives me snuggles and horse hugs which is one of the things I love the most about her - how affectionate she is. I took her out to the pasture after our ride so she could run with her new friend, Ziggy. Ziggy is about 15 years younger than Doc (her previous pasture mate before he foundered and now can't be out where there's sweet Spring grass to eat). Girlfriend loved Doc, but now she has a buddy that will gallop and play with her in pasture and she really likes that. She still tries to rub up against Doc's stall when I put her in the cross ties outside his stall in the barn, but I can tell she likes having an energetic playmate too.

On my way back to the barn I passed Juan coming out to bring in some horses so I asked if he wanted help. He always shrugs and says sure because he doesn't want to impose but I like getting experience handling other horses and will take any chance I can. I followed him into one of the pasture and he picked up the lead ropes and said, "This is Cody's and this is the wild one's. You take Cody." But the "wild one" is Atlas, Megan's horse that she just adopted from Oregon. Five months ago he was a wild mustang on the BLM lands. So, I said, "I'll take Atlas," and Juan said, "You take Cody," and I said, "You'll be right there if I need you. I'll take Atlas. I'll be fine. Really." Juan gave me that "loco white girl" look and sighed and handed me Atlas's lead rope.

I walked up to Atlas just fine. I was surprised he just stood there, looking at me with a lazy, calm look. I reached up to pet his nose and he tried to nibble at my hand to see if I had treats. But when I reached up to clip the lead rope to his halter his eyes went totally wild and he whipped his head up and off to the side and jumped backwards. He stood like that for a moment with his ears back staring down at me like I was a wolf until I started talking softly to him about how he was just fine and I reached my hand up to his nose. He smelled my hand all over, lowered his head, relaxed, tried to nibble my hand and then was fine. I leaned over and breathed into his nose from my nose and he did that for a good solid minute or two, then his whole body relaxed and he let me put the lead rope on and was fine.

After we got back to the barn Juan went over to get Tyee who is just over two years old and very big for a kid - bigger than my horse(I think they said he's part draft horse) and kind of a pain in the butt. I like him because he's so smart, but he is a handful. He is really smart and very much believes himself the herd leader and he is totally under stimulated right now. I think he needs to be worked every day to get his huge amounts of physical and mental energy out. Anyway, I said I would take him out to the pasture and Juan looked skeptical but handed his lead rope and said, "This horse crazy," and I said, "I know. He's harder than Atlas," and Juan nodded.

He actually is harder than Atlas, partially maybe because he's a couple years younger but also because of his high-strung natural temperament and you constantly have to remind him you're herd leader - not him. And he used to try to bite all the time but luckily he's outgrowing that. Besides being all amped he was doing ok until we went over the land bridge over the creek and his foot slipped a little in the mud and he flipped out and reared a bit, then spun around in a circle so that he was facing the opposite direction on the other side of me. I calmly told him he was fine, but he did a little spooky dance for another few seconds until he decided he'd rather listen to me that he was fine and we should go into the pasture. We walked through the gate into the pasture and I accidentally stepped in a mud puddle up to my shin and my paddock boots are not waterproof so my foot was instantly soaked. I cursed, let Tyee go and went out the gate, pulling at my half chaps and muttering curses. Poor Juan looked horrified for a moment because I think he thought that Tyee had stepped on me! I really need to learn Spanish so we can communicate better. He's an old grandpa and swears he's too old and English is too hard for him. It is a pretty hard language and he doesn't have anyone he has to speak English to on a consistent basis.

So, it helped my confidence that I was able to handle Tyee and his ... Tyee-ness. And it gave me confidence that Atlas was so easy to handle even though a part of me was a little scared to try handling him because he was wild so recently.

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