Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lucy and the Arena of Death

Weather permitting, I am working with Lucy in the Pessoa during the week and riding her on the weekends.  We've been using the small fenced arena behind the barn because the dressage court was frozen, then soggy, and then nicely damp but full of gorges carved by the water coursing down the middle during the last storms.  While using the small arena is useful, it isn't ideal.  The sand is really thin; almost non-existent.  Also, it is currently where Lucy and Pistol are living since the oak trunk is still laying across the fence -- or what is left of it -- in their usual pasture.  If I want to work with Lucy, Brett has to move Pistol somewhere else (usually hand grazing).  It works but it isn't the most convenient, if Brett is busy on one of his projects when I'm ready to work with Lucy.


Wednesday, Brett spent hours working on the dressage court.  He pulled sand away from the bottom of the court, where it had piled up, and tried to level things out with the tractor.  After three hours of work, the sand was nice and fluffy and the gorges were gone.  It wasn't perfectly even; it will take more time and work to get it perfect, but it was very inviting nonetheless.  When I got home from work, I got Lucy ready to go and headed up to the court.


Meanwhile, a neighbor was blasting his radio so loudly that we could hear every word of the soap opera he was playing.  It was disruptive and annoying and I was happy to be walking toward the other end of our property.  Did I mention that it was early evening? Feeding time.  ...the time of day that parents with small children refer to as the "witching hour."  Everyone is grumpy, and tired, and hungry.  Its prime time for drama.


Lucy doesn't like the dressage court.  She's a funny horse.  Unlike our other horses who love wide, open spaces, she prefers defined boundaries.  She loves her stall and is very relaxed working in a small arena.  In the dressage court, she is more often than not, on edge.  And that was the case Wednesday evening.  Her head was high as she trotted around me and she wasn't stretching at all. 


A gunshot rang out.  Lucy bucked and bolted forward.  Fortunately for me, she never pulls on the lunge line.  Another shot.  And another. And another.  I stopped counting.  Our gun crazy neighbor must have been engaged in target practice.  It finally got quiet, but I had a wild-eyed mare careening around me so fast that I was getting dizzy, turning in the middle to keep up.  I stayed calm and projected an air of "no worries" and she eventually settled.  At that point, my goal became getting a relaxed and stretching trot.  That's it. 


Thank you Mr. NRA nut. 


When we stopped, Lucy was wet with sweat and her chin was covered in lather and spit.  But, she had relaxed.  As I leaned against her shoulder and reached under to unclip the Pessoa, the gunshots started up again.  Lucy jumped and quivered -- but she didn't buck or bolt.  She spooked in place. 


One of the things I love about Lucy is that she takes care of me.  Even if she is on edge, she doesn't explode if I am on her back -- or, in this case, leaning under her belly.  She really is an awesome mare.







8 comments:

  1. She is an awesome mare. The gunshots would unnerve me. And look at the bright side, now even the mentally ill can own guns! We have a lot of shooting during hunting season and the horses don't like it either. We also have a neighbor across the street who is on his very noisy snowmobile every time he gets the chance. Zipping around for what seems like forever. I can't wait til this guy goes back to work in the summer working for a landscaper.

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    1. I think there are "challenging" neighbors where ever you live. We hear gunshots pretty often but the combination of being in the arena that Lucy distrusts, plus being much closer to the gunshots, was not a good thing for poor Lucy. I have to admit that I jumped as well. They were really loud.

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  2. the regular ground work in the ring should help her quite a bit!

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  3. Uh oh. Guilty as charged. We have a shooting range on our property, as do all of our neighbors, so our horses are acclimated to the noise.

    When we were test riding the new mare (30 miles away on a weekday morning), however, someone was firing off a gun in the distance, and she was reacting. New people, first ride + guns = a little nervous. (She passed the test though, thank goodness.) There's a point along the river where we ride a lot where there is a large shooting range across from it. Whenever we get to that point, the horses get nervous--the water, plus the shooting, plus the cliffs, is a little challenging at the start of spring. It definitely makes me nervous, though I try to hide it so as to live through the experience. ;)

    I guess you could say, we live in a very gun loving part of the country. Mounted shooting is even really popular. I'd never heard of it until we moved up here!

    Now, the radio playing soap operas...that is an unforgivable offense!! Lol.



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    1. There are a lot of people/neighbors who have guns and hunt. I don't object to that, but I do resent having the peace and tranquility I so treasure, shattered. This guy is the only one who does target practice on his property. I really wish he would practice somewhere else but I realize that isn't going to happen. The gunfire doesn't bother Flash, Tex or Pistol in the least. Jackson just pricks his ears. But Lucy, ...she hates it as much as I do.

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  4. What a good girl! And thought you were in a state like me with minimal guns...there always has to be one right?

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    1. We live in rural California and people in our area love their guns. This particular neighbor is pretty representative of most of the people in our zip code.

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  5. An American in TokyoMarch 20, 2017 at 6:02 PM

    Wow, Lucy is really smart! I can't believe she just stayed and spooked in place when you were right there. I think I would have been spooking as well!

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.