Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's a Predator, Stupid

It's been pretty hot all weekend, but I got to the barn on Saturday morning to have my lesson a little later than usual since Gayle had gotten back from 4th of July festivities in Ventura quite late. I was making pretty good time on getting things together, but then I got to my bridle and discovered that the reins had been disconnected from the elastic rein extenders that keep me from being too hard on Ace's mouth. While I was fussing with them, Gayle showed up so I didn't get on early. This was probably for the best, in light of what happened later.

We got off to a good start during warm up. He was paying attention, despite the fact that a number of folks had shown up early that morning and were sitting on the patio watching us. We moved up to some really nice trot work and then headed for the hula hoop for a break.

Ace went into the hoop and I was praising him as Gayle came over with my water. All of a sudden, he twisted his head around and I could see white all around his eye. Then I felt him get really, big and ready to fly without wings. I'm trying to shut him down when the mother of a girl who has two horses in the barn shouted out "oh, he must be smelling the ferret."

These folks have a pet ferret, which is pretty much illegal in California. It's a very cute albino and they've brought it to the barn before and I didn't think too much about it. I didn't think too much about it that morning until Ace caught the scent of what is a member of the weasel family and 40 million years of conditioning set in.

Did the woman pick up the ferret and move him into the building or elsewhere? No. Everyone just jolly well sat there playing with the ferret while Gayle and I worked at moving Ace away from the source of the scent and getting his mind on something else.

Gayle tried getting Ace to do his trick of pulling the water bottle out of the hip pack for a peppermint treat. He gave her a really dirty look and grabbed the bottle and threw it. I mean threw it. He could not have been more clear that he was pissed off that we would not let him run to safety. It was a clear statement of his state of mind.

Gayle grabbed his lead halter and walked him with me in the saddle until he lost some of the tension in his body and he learned that just because he was pissed off, he wasn't getting me out of the saddle. Then I did get off and we made him run in the arena until he would go back into the hoop--at first he connected the smell with what had been his place of safety, a bad combination.

There was no apology from the woman. I guess the sign only says no dogs, so you can bring other things that might cause problems. I'm feeling quite resentful because I pay for those lessons and I had to pay for someone else's lack of consideration. I can't really expect too much. The daughter constantly leaves gates open or unlocked, she leaves the hose a filthy mess rather than cleaning off the dirt when she drags it through the mud, she doesn't wear her helmet (she's 13 and the rules require a helmet of under-18 riders), and her horses don't even stand still to be mounted. Her poor little Arab is totally upside down when she's on him, and he's pretty much out of control most of the time. A disaster in the making.

On Monday, I'm going to have to talk to the barn manager about this and I'd rather not. We just got rid of one problem boarder and I hate feeling like I'm Miss Goody Two Shoes. I pay my board on time, keep my space clean, try to mind my own business (even when I want to scream at people "the rules say wear a helmet), and I read and follow the rules and requests. It seems pretty futile to try and set a good example.

So, it was just as well I didn't get on Ace's back early and have to deal with him trying to get away from a domesticated wolverine. At least I stayed in the saddle, even though that was the last place I wanted to be.

On a somewhat more amusing note, I went to the barn on July 4 to give Ace his lunch and clean his stall. I turned him out in the arena for a while and decided to turn on the spray along the paddocks while he was out. Much to my amazement, it turned out that Ace's need to be near the other horses outweighed his need to stay out of the water and he stood along the fence as the mist went over him. Just stood there with the other horses (who like to stand in the artificial rain to cool off) until I turned off the water and went to get him inside his home. I guess I might actually be able to ride him with the misters on one day. We'll all be a lot more comfortable in this triple digit heat if that's the case.


Grey Horse Matters said...

What a day! Poor Ace and you too. The inconsideration and stupidity of some people is amazing isn't it? These particular people will never get it, because it's all about them, one day that girl will get hurt without a helmet and it will be everyone else's fault of course.I can't believe they let her get away with that offense, it's for the barn's own good they should enforce it. As for bringing a ferret, that's not an option, dogs are bad enough.
Don't feel like a goody-two-shoes, you are within your right to say something about this flagrant disregard for the other people and horses at the barn. You could have had an accident and been hurt and so could Ace.There's no sense in having rules if no one follows them.
If it were three digits here and I had a misting system,I'd ride right through it everyday if I had a lesson.

M. C. Valada said...

Thanks, Arlene. I appreciate it.

It's not exactly a misting system, but the blow-back into the runs for the stalls makes it feel that way. It's actually the sprinkler system for the arena. I've watched people happily ride their horses through such systems, but the Arabian Prince has never before stood in it--it is usually his habit to run to the areas of the arena which are not getting wet. That's what made this event so notable. We'll see what happens the next time.