Sunday, May 8, 2011

It All Started with a Horse

Let me 'splain.
[pause]
No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
~Inigo Montoya in Princess Bride, 1987

I am writing as fast as I can because I have this really merciful gift of forgetting the details of bad things that happen by the next morning, so I am sure that I am only writing the highlights of what I remember, believe it or not!

Friday April 29th
Friday evenings we have been going to the Miss Annette's to help feed horses and clean the barn and generally do whatever Miss Annette needs to be done. Last weekend we were to have a 4-H Work Day on Saturday, but Miss Annette never passes up the opportunity to begin a job early so she started us all Friday evening. My husband worked with other men preparing to put up new fencing. Began I walking and clearing the fence line of the back pasture of growth and found the breaks and grounds of the electric fence, which would explain why one horse in particular was escaping earlier that week.

Saturday April 30th
Saturday people were assigned all kinds of jobs from putting new fencing and repairing old fencing to cleaning the barn bathroom and moving items up to the loft from out a room to be used as the new larger tack room and making signs for the Spring Fling the next weekend (which was this weekend...but we are not there yet). Anyway, I worked on finishing what I had begun the night before all alone in the back pasture with gloves and clippers enjoying the sounds of nature. I guess Miss Annette thought I was more than capable of handling it all by myself. I was thinking that I should have been somewhat sore from the work I did the night before, but I was not. I was not sore that night either, tired but not sore. In fact, oddly, I have been stronger than I ever remember being since I was a teenager--no kidding! I think it has something to do with just being around the horses. Anyway, I finished and did some cleaning of chairs and started the children on the signs and we ended up being there all day...all day with another all day commitment for the next coming weekend, which was this weekend.

Tuesday May 3rd
Tuesday was the 4-H awards ceremony. The Princess was thrilled to get a larger trophy this year because I actually kept track of the points for when we volunteer time (and all the other things) and we volunteered quite a bit of time this past year.

Thursday May 5th
My husband birthday is exactly one week after the birthday of the Princess. Only was this my errand day and he worked really late, so we planned to celebrate the next evening. Plans are such funny things!

Friday May 6th
The real excitement started on this Friday night. A trainer came to work with one teenage girl and her boarded horse, Duke. He is a large horse, newer to the barn, but generally good-natured. Apparently, though, Duke is a bit on the nervous side about certain things. The trainer worked with a pole that she would use to eventually tap the horse. He is supposed to stand his ground with his rider, but Duke, even after a few training sessions with it, has not yet made peace with that pole. He took a step back, but eventually he stood in place while she tapped him on various places. Although I was busy in the barn, I would look over from time to time and see him shiver with nervousness, but he did well. Then there is an exercise where they place a shirt on the pole. The rider is supposed to take the shirt off one pole and ride up to place it on another. Duke just did not like that idea at all and the rider was down on the ground right after she took the shirt from the pole. The girl was all right with just some bruising and scraps. The trainer calmed Duke and began to use the shirt around him to the point she lightly waved it over to touch him on various places on his body. Again, I could see Duke was tense, even more tense than before, but he stood his ground.

Then I was up by the house and had a bad advantage point so I did not see what happened later. I also am not a trainer, but my aunt trained horses for a mounted women's police group and they could put firecrackers under the horse without it bolting...eventually. I learned much from her, but some of it is just what my grandfather called "good ol' horse sense." I have been raised to appreciate there is a delicate balance in training between challenging a horse and giving him time to get comfortable with something he fears. It is a special relationship and even a good trainer can be surprised by a horse's reaction, but still.... Seeing the building tension in Duke, I would not have done the thing she did next, which was tie on a plastic bag of rocks on his saddle with no rider. This not only makes a get deal of scary, noisy sounds behind the ears of horse, which tends to make them want to bolt, but if he does take off, they hit him on the sides and back as well, which keep him going.

Off went Duke...really off! He jumped the fencing of the inner arena and was out with the other horses, who had not been put out to the back pasture. Then the herd of horses together did what herds do when frightened, which in this case was to run in a frenzy around the outer paddock. My daughter and some other girls, who were in that paddock, were grabbed and pulled into the arena by another mother. At this point I can only see dust but others saw the previous week's fence escape artist, Senoya, a boarded mare owned by another 4-H'er who was there, had decided not to jump the wire fence between them and the miniature horses paddock, but she was too committed and could not stop. She fell into and over the fence, breaking it down and two mini's joined the herd. Senoya got up and was back running with the herd also with Duke's bag of rocks slapping him and making a great deal of noise.

Now there is a danger having miniature horses in with large ones. They can get trampled or kicked in the head, so Miss Annette, a 4'9" woman with bad knees and hips, was working her way to the minis trying not to get trampled in the process herself and I was right behind her knowing that she was determined to separate them from the four large horses and two ponies. Finally the two minis and one pony split off on the opposite side of the arena of the rest on their own. One teen grabbed one mini and Miss Annette, who was smart enough to grab a lead rope before she went into the paddock, got the other. The one mini was not not in the mood to be held and I walked quickly to get a lead for the teen. During that time my husband cut the bag of rocks off Duke's saddle with his pocket knife while the trainer held him.

With horses now standing still and breathing hard, everyone was in the paddock accessing them for cuts and scraps, which thankfully were fairly minor. The three injured horses, including Duke, were brought into their stalls. With the girls holding and talking softly to them, I sprayed every injury with an antiseptic. Duke was last and he was still quite tense, but he allowed the doctoring with only a couple of hoof stomps and nervous snorts. He was also given oral antibiotic, because of the three he had the worst injuries.

My husband, in the meantime, had begun work on the fence as Miss Annette's husband was quite ill in bed and could not. This required pulling a fence pole back over and reshaping wire. I dug out the broken cement and he cemented the based of the wooden post.

With all calm and repaired we went home to what was supposed to be my husband's birthday dinner. I was in a hurry as it was so late. I turned on the oven as I began throwing together my homemade pizzas, one white sauce and one tomato with ground beef, as he requested while he and the Princess fed the rabbits. Eventually, I opened the oven to find...the remainder of the Princess' birthday cake and the partially melted plastic container it was in--No, I am not kidding! I had put it in there to keep safe as it would not fit in the refrigerator and we planned to have it that night, but since it was 9:30 PM before we began eating, that was unlikely anyway. A bit of the icing had dripped down to the bottom of the oven and, as I was cooking the pizzas, it began smoking. I could just see how adding our fire alarm going off would complete the evening, so we opened windows which was all the invitation a few flying bugs needed.

My husband also showed me the handle of a rather expensive paring knife that was in with the cake had some melted areas, but it can still be smoothed out and used, but I was sick about it. This one being a replacement of one that I accidentally threw away with a pizza box some years before.

At that point, I just gave up and just tried to eat my dinner thankfully. My husband, seeing I was at the end of my rope for the day, decided to clean up the oven himself--isn't he sweet? While looking for oven cleaner that I did not even think I had because I rarely use anything besides a good scrubber, he found that water had been leaking under the sink from the connection to the dish washer, the one that is still broken and currently in our garage. He turn it off and pulled things out to dry. After that bit of news, I just pulled the covers over my head in my bed. Actually, we all went to bed as soon as we could because the next day, which was yesterday, we were to be at the 4-H Spring Fling early to set up.

Saturday May 7th
I face painted all day, except for a short time to relieve my husband from supervising the horse and pony ride while he ate during a break in business at my own booth. Duke was not brought but the other two large horses that were injured had been and Senoya probably should not have been as she seem uneasy, but we had no incidents there.

We went back to help Annette pack everything away and feed the horses. Then we went home to have clean up and have dinner. With two showers down and the washing machine working, I decided to hold off my shower until after dinner to be assured of having hot water. We have leftover pizza and the twice baked cake, as the Princess called it, which had a crusty icing that my husband liked. It would take the prize for being the ugliest cake with melted icing blobs off the cake, but the cake itself was still moist--if you can believe it! Anyway, it went well with ice cream.

So, I finally get my turn in a nice relaxing shower and I begin thinking about tomorrow being Mother's Day and then...it dawns on me...the Princess and I were expected at the church right then for the Mother and Daughter Tea. I took a deep breath and resigned to we were not even going to try to make it, even though I really had wanted to go. The past week had been rather busy with 4-H stuff and I was tired. We all fell asleep early and my husband's sunburn looked like he might have a touch of sun poisoning.

Sunday May 7th
Well, we all made it to church and all the mothers received the nicest little notepad to stick in our purses; I so appreciated that. The Princess also made a present of hugs and kisses: the hugs being an outline of her hands attached to the outside of a quart canning jar filled with Hershey chocolate kisses, which I also greatly appreciated the jar and the chocolate as I never have enough of either one.

We stopped at Publix to get a fried chicken dinner as they are so much more reasonable than fast food chicken and tastier. We saw a teenager working there, who used to come to our church but goes to a larger one now and she had been on a short missionary trip recently. She was standing with an icing tube to help children decorate heart cakes for their mothers. We were not planing on another cake, but it was small and the Princess had fun doing it with her. The day's plans were to watch a DVD, mostly likely Avatar for the first time, with my feet up and have popcorn later on, as working outside would not have been good for my husband anyway.

Those, folks, were just some parts of my crazy week. There was more, but I am too exhausted to type it and the memory of all the bad stuff is mercifully fading...except that one thing: My husband put in a different memory card for our camera and told me the camera was already for me to use to get face painting pictures, but then it kept saying it needed formatted and would not let me format it so no pictures. He rarely messes up like that, but when he does...but in a day or two I probably will forget it also...he hopes.

~ My Lord, I am very thankful no one, including the horses, were seriously injured this week and that my husband was there to repair the fence. ~

1 comment:

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.