Sunday, July 15, 2012

Horse antics and gardening

It seems like gardening around our house is a never-ending project.  I'm just about finished with planting in the Secret Garden and am almost finished getting in the stone walkway and the little stepable plants in the walkway and the bench and the trellis and vines ... but I still have a long way to go on weeding and clearing out the community garden and getting the benches finished for that.   I have decided to wait to plant grass until October back there because we're getting into that 6-8 weeks where it doesn't rain a lot here.  Or at least so they say.  It rained yesterday and we had thunder and lighting yesterday and the day before. 

Now on top of the our next door neighbor has given her late husband's house back to the bank and although we fixed up her front yard while her husband was sick, I'm wondering if I should get into the back yard and weed that? Not only does it mean less seeds blowing into my back yard but it will make the house more marketable since it's bank owned and the bank won't do anything to make it look nice to sell.  And they may not even put it on the market any time soon.  And the last thing I want is for the house next door to us to sit empty for years until it eventually becomes "the haunted house" because it became empty after its owner died.  Of course, in my opinion anyone would be lucky to have him haunting their house because he was such a nice man.  But if I may descend into the woo-woo for a second I can guarantee he's not in that house anymore.  I went over there for awhile after he died and the wife was too distraught to be there so that I could feed their cat, and it felt very, very empty.  Yes, I know, I get all up in arms about science and sticking to stuff that science based and can be explained, but I've had too many strange experiences for me to leave the possibility open to just maybe there is something real about the whole ghost thing.   But he was a happy, nice man who I'm sure went off to do whatever it is people's spirits do when they die.  He was not the type to hang around his house and mope.

Meanwhile things have been exciting in the land of horses.  Yesterday a small group of us went to a clinic on rider pilates with Beth Glosten.   That was really beneficial for me and from what I could tell for everyone else too.  It was also fun sitting around with friends in the afternoon and watching the individual sessions on horseback and having it devolve into much silliness and giggling because we were all so hot and tired and punch drunk.

I got to ride Toad again on Friday for about fifteen minutes before I had to run off to take my daughter out to do kid things.  I'm still not riding her alone yet but that is ok with me because it means that she and I won't develop any bad habits together by leaving me alone with a green horse and not knowing how to deal with any of the many situations that could come up.  As long as I'm getting to ride her more often again I'm happy.  The more I ride her the more confident I am with her and the better our connection.  I did realize one day last week that I have gotten to the point with Toadie where I feel very relaxed with her.  I'm no longer on edge with her, wondering what she's going to do and if I'm going to be able to deal with it.

I realized this the other money as I was going out to get her from the pasture.  Trainer K.'s horse, Maddy was in the pasture we had to walk through in order to get out so she came out to hold him while I led Toad through.  When I went into Toad's pasture to get her she was standing off to the side eating her lunch (a flake of alfalfa hay).  I said, "Come on, Toad, let's go," and did my gesture that tells her I want her to come to me.  Trainer K. yelled, "You're going to have to go get her.  No horse is going to leave their food to come to anyone," (understandably - Trainer K. didn't want to waste time standing there holding her horse waiting for me to try and convince my horse to leave her lunch to come to me) but I said, "You'll see," and clucked and did the gesture again and Toad looked up and saw me and immediately stopped eating and walked over to me and dropped her head down so I could put her halter on!  I think it was at that moment that I realized I feel more bonded with her than worried about her.  And I was definitely worried about handling her when I first got her.

I've also been going in to pick her stall before I leave.  I'm getting so tired of having to clean her rain sheets and fly sheets so often that I thought I'd be pro-active and whenever I'm at the barn always pick out the wet stuff and poop that is there before I leave.  She is so polite about it and quietly moves to the other side of the stall from wherever I am to give me room.  Sometimes she comes over and stands next to me with her head down until I pet her and give her a snuggle, then she'll go and politely stand as far away from me as she can.  Yesterday when I went to see her after the clinic and I was petting her, she suddenly backed up, looked at me, looked back at all the poop and wet stuff at the back of the stall, looked at me again, then looked back at the mess again before turning back to me.  I find it amazing that there is even the possibility she was actually trying to tell me her stall needed to be picked out, but maybe - seeing as when she wants to go in after free-lunging she'll walk over and pick up her halter and if I don't act like I get the hint, she'll toss it at me.

The big scary drama on Friday was when Sonny got away from his owner during a panic attack while lunging in the arena.  He apparently freaked out and bolted which pulled the lunge line out of his owner's hands, which then resulted in the lunge line getting wrapped around his legs which made him panic more so he was trying to run but his feet were all tied up.  I was in the grooming room with Toad and heard the commotion and heard the owner scream which made me concerned she'd gotten hurt so I ran over to the arena door and yelled, "Are you ok?" As soon as I got there though I saw Sonny (who is a fairly small Arab) galloping straight for the gate that opens from the arena back into the barn.  He was not going to stop and went up like he was going to jump over the gate but he's so small (I'm sure he's not even 15hh) and the gate is at least 4.5 feet tall.  His front leg caught on the top of the fence which sent him straight down into the gate, which collapsed and he lost his balance and came down on top of it on his side, almost on his back.  This unfortunately made me scream, "Oh no!" despite myself and I hopped down off the gate and was rushing to open unlock it so I could get in to him and his owner.  But by the time I got my gate open Sonny had managed to get up again and run.  Trainer K. came running and I said, "Sonny broke through the gate and he's hurt!" and she went tearing off in the direction he'd gone.  I went back to stay with Toad just in case Sonny came barreling down the aisleway and I wanted to be able to re-direct him away from Toad who was in the cross ties so he wouldn't freak her out and have her panic while in the cross ties.

Luckily, Sonny came out fairly unscathed.  The same can't be said for the gates which were all bent up and lying on the ground in a heap.  The owner offered to rebuild them though.  As for Sonny he was scraped up, had a few scratches and cuts and was sore and bruised but didn't seem to have broken anything.  I was sure he would've broken some ribs or a hip.  I haven't talked to his owner since their vet came out to look at him but I would've heard if he'd been seriously hurt.  It was awfully scary though.  I'm glad I saw it though because it's good to see that then see that sometimes the horse can come out ok.

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