Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve started out very nicely. SH offered to trailer our horses over to their arena so that he and Foxfire could practice their jousting and I could ride Shadowfax around. Unfortunately, it was very windy. VERY WINDY! A front was coming through and all the horses were a little antsy. I had to ask for Foxfire's help in bridling Shadowfax. I think part of the problem is simply that the bit is longer than my hand and parts of it dangle over the edges so I have trouble holding it properly to put it in Shadowfax's mouth. I'll have to work on that. However, he stood still while I was mounting, and once I was in the saddle he did very well. Even with the intense wind. DA wasn't there because she had to work, so I had a little more room to ride around without running into anyone. I did a bit more trotting than I did previously, but I still didn't canter him simply because it was so windy and even though he was behaving well, he was still just a little antsy.

I did however, practice on the "heads course" that is set up semi-permanently in part of DASH's arena. It's sort of like Western pole-bending in that you have to weave in and out of the poles. But when you run the heads course you have a "sword"(not a real sword) in your hand and there are "heads"(not real heads, of course) on the poles that you try to whack with your sword as you go past. I didn't have a sword (and didn't want one at this point) so I just practiced weaving in and out of the poles at a walk. I would only go down the course once or twice then go back to riding around doing other things because I didn't want Shadowfax to figure the course out and do it automatically. Why not? Because guiding him through it was good practice for me to learn how to give more subtle and accurate direction cues. However, even without doing it a number of times in a row, Shadowfax still seemed to get the idea of what we were trying to do and I eventually had to do a lot less work to steer him through the course at a walk. Of course, maybe my steering was improving as well. That would be nice.

Eventually, after I had done some trotting around in the dressage area of the arena, I decided to try trotting the heads course. The first time I tried it, I missed a turn and went around two poles in a row instead of weaving between each one. I went back to riding around the arena, did a little more trotting around the dressage area, then gave it another go. That time I did it properly! I made every turn even at the trot. It wasn't a very fast trot and I had to push Shadowfax to keep him in a trot for the last pole, but I did it! I did a little more general riding. Watched Foxfire and SH practicing some different jousting stuff, then tried it again. I did it again! It wasn't just a fluke. And this time, I didn't have to push Shadowfax to keep him in a trot. Unfortunately, the boys were focusing on their own stuff and didn't see me either time. Oh well. I know that I did it.

Sadly, after bringing the horses home, the rest of the evening didn't go so well. It wasn't the fireworks. When people near our house starting shooting off fireworks, we went outside to check on the horses and they didn't even seem to notice the bangs. They would occasionally twitch their ears, but that was it. So that was good. However, later in the evening, while Foxfire and I were having our own little private party, we heard a crash from the pasture area. By the time Foxfire had gotten his clothes on and run outside, all he saw were some drunk idiots climbing back over the back fence into the woods by the creek while the horses and donkeys were running around frantically. I made it out shortly after him and heard the idiots thrashing around in the brush, but didn't see them. I ran back inside and grabbed a pocketful of treats then came back out and called the horses and donkeys over and gave them treats. They calmed down pretty well. At least they weren't running frantically around anymore, but they were still very nervous and kept looking toward the creek where we would still hear the occasional noise of drunk idiots trying to get through the brush. A couple of them made it back to the fence and tried to climb back over into the pasture. I ran toward them and yelled that they had better stay out of the pasture or they would get hurt. They stopped trying to climb the fence and Foxfire yelled at them to get off of our property. Some idiot yelled that they weren't on our property since they were outside the fence and Foxfire yelled back that our property extends to the middle of the creek. They shut up and we could hear them making their way back through the brush towards our neighbors' house.

The neighbors were, of course, having a huge out of control party. Our neighbors are actually very nice and in a way, it wasn't them having the party. They were out of town, but their older daughter who does not live with them was house-sitting or something and had decided to throw a wild party. I stayed with the critters while Foxfire walked around the perimeter of the fence to check for damage. It was good thing he did, because he discovered that someone had obviously scared one of our horses badly enough to make him crash through the front gate into the front yard. The chain holding the gate closed was broken and that gate itself was bent badly out of shape and would no longer close properly. Fortunately, whichever horse had crashed through had obviously come back into the pasture. And even when looking over them closely by flashlight, neither Foxfire nor I could find any scrapes or cuts to indicate which horse did it. Neither horse seemed to be in any pain, and since there were no longer people thrashing around in the brush near the fence, they were considerably calmer. We left them in the area near the barn and Foxfire and I managed to force the gate sort of back into position. We had some chain and a double snap in the garage and I made a temporary fix to hold the gate closed.

After we had things as secure as we could make them. I went inside and tried to call our neighbor to complain and hopefully persuade them to calm the party down and make sure none of their guests invaded our property and scared our horses anymore. I thought about calling the police, but they had been very good neighbors up until this point, so I wanted to try talking to them first. However, their phone was apparently disconnected, so I walked over to their front door instead. As I was walking toward their house, the cops started showing up, and I admit, I was VERY GLAD that someone had called them. At the front door, they originally refused to open the door because they had seen the cops flashing lights, but when I banged on the door and yelled that I was their neighbor and needed to talk to them, the daughter finally opened the door. She admitted that her parents weren't there and about then, the cops stepped up and asked me to move so that they could take care of things. I left it in their hands and went back to stand with Foxfire in the freezing cold to help keep the critters calm and guard them from any other drunks.

Very slowly, the cops managed to get rid of most of the people from the party. Anytime anyone even came close to our fence, I would shine the flashlight at them and tell them to keep back. Most people were actually pretty nice about it and apologized and wished us a happy new year. The few jerks who yelled obscenities at us were approached by the police and taken away. Yay police!!! I had earlier told the police about the horses being freaked out and asked them to avoid using their sirens if possible and they actually didn't for the most part. I suppose they had to every once in a while to get rid of the real trouble-makers. Anyway, Foxfire and I stayed out most of the night guarding the critters. Once in a while one of us would go inside to warm up, but we didn't go to bed until almost all the cars that had been parked along the road (and in our yard) were gone. The ones that were left probably belonged to those who had been arrested or were too drunk to drive and had gotten rides with others. Finally about 5 AM, we felt comfortable enough to go inside. We left all of the outside lights on.

The next day while I was in the yard communing with the horses, the neighbors' daughter and her boyfriend came over to the fence and apologized. I believe it was sincere. But I will definitely be talking to her parents when they are back in town, and if we can't fix the gate, I will be asking her (or more likely her parents) to pay to replace it.

But all the critters seem to be fine. Even in the daylight, we couldn't find any cuts, scrapes or signs of injury. One of the horses is probably bruised, but there is no way to tell which one. No one seems to be in any pain and everyone is calm. So everything worked out okay, but needless to say, Foxfire and I were VERY UPSET. What a horrible way to begin the new year.

1 comment:

  1. At least none of the animals were hurt. if you think of it that way it was a good start to the year!