Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trail Riding 101: The Art Of The Booze Cruise

I've never been much of a recreational trail rider.  I respect those that do it, both the weekend-warriors and those who actually have the ambition to camp somewhere with their horse, but it's never really been my "thing" per say.  I'm more of the type of rider to have a set plan of goals when I tack up, go into the arena or work area, and I accomplish those goals.  I've always been of the mindset when training that once those goals are reached, we end it on a good note and call it a day.  One brick at a time to build a castle, right?  Some of my workouts have been a simple 20 minutes learning a canter depart on a youngling for the first time, some end up 2 hours or more when teaching a flying change.  It all depends on the horse.  Regardless, I always try to end on a good note.  When I ride, I do productive things.

Lately, since I'm not doing much of anything in the way of productive horse-related activities, I've found myself venturing into this trail-riding thing more and more.  I have a few very close friends in Goodrich who trail ride religiously, and quite frankly, they're a riot.  They're slowly venturing into the horse-showing world thanks to their children who want to do more and more with the horses, so I help them.  In return, they've taught me this whole "relaxation" thing which I wasn't too familiar with.  Apparently, it involves significant amounts of booze, which works for me.  Thankfully, I own 3 phenomenal horses that have made the adaptation from show-toys to "hooved ATVs" rather smoothly, and I suppose this has helped shape my new outlook on the whole adventure, I'm not really sure I'd feel the same if I had a group of chicken-shit bastards.

Here are a few of the handy things I've learned while trying my hand at this whole trail riding thing:

1) Put the slowest horse in front.  This eliminates your need to trot every 10' to catch up to the others.  If the slow horse is in front, the others will simply push him along, or the whole ride will be slowed down, leaving much more time to drink.  Either way, problem solved.

2) When cars pass, its is completely appropriate to scream offensive names and profanities at the driver if they choose not to slow down for the horses.

3) If you choose to do this, make sure you're riding with a police officer.

4) Wave and yell "THANK YOU!" to those drivers courteous enough to slow and move to the far right of their side of the road for you to pass.

5) Your horse does not care how tall you are when on their back.  Overhanging branches are your problem, not theirs.

6) Horses don't come with cup holders for your beer.  Make sure you can neck rein.

7) They also don't come with a restroom.  Plan ahead.  Make mixed drinks stronger so you don't have to consume as much mixer.

8) Don't ride in homeowners' yards, some of them get quite pissed.  Stick to the shoulder of the road, if at all possible. If your horse manages to wander onto the grass before you notice, imitate a struggle with said horse, cuss repeatedly ("God damnit, Seabiscuit!  I thought you could STEER!") and make it look like the horse's fault.  People don't get angry when you obviously can't control your 1,200 lb animal.  They just prefer you keep it as far from them as possible.  Leg yield back onto the shoulder of the road and apologetically yell "I'm sorry!".

9) Neighborhood kids will want to pet your horse.  Don't be a dick, it'll take a minute and a half of your life and probably make their day.  However, if your horse views children as appetizers, it's probably best to wait from a distance and let another horse from the group entertain them.

10) Sewage drains eat horses.  They smell funny and make wierd growling noises and should be leaped away from at every opportunity.  Even from thirty feet away.  Everyone knows this, so be prepared.

11) Dogs are not to be messed with, under any circumstances.  The little ten-pound dogs that are safely confined behind their fenced yard talk a lot of shit, but can't do much about it.  The loose, aggressive dogs are the ones to watch for.  Be prepared to run if need be.  But if running means you'll spill your drink, all bets are off.  Pick the boldest horse and charge the dog if it comes after you and you obviously can't get away safely.

12) Again, make sure you're riding with a police officer if you have to run over someone's dog.  It helps considerably.

13) Yes, its true that horses have been considered a mode of transportation long before bicycles were invented, but give them a break.  These people are riding around peddling their asses into oblivion with lycra wedgies and are probably sweating a whole lot more than you.  They can have the right of way.  Teach your horse to deal with it.  Take this opportunity to drink more.

14) Having a horse that can back on command is a wonderful asset for trail riding.  Occasionally you'll run out of trail and have to back fifty yards to be able to turn around.  If your horse cannot back under saddle, put him in the front of the line, so he's the last horse out.  He'll figure it out quickly.

15) Following the theory behind #14, the last horse in line is the first horse to get eaten by the forest-monsters.  This indicates that the most obnoxious horse should be last in line, preferably behind a boss mare that has no problem letting a kick loose if it gets too close.  Manners are manners, folks.  No one likes a tailgater.

I hope this has been helpful.  Stay tuned for Trail Riding 102: Off-Roading

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My New Best Friend

Back in April-ish, I wrote a piece about the blue roan quarter horse yearling I had for sale, and the ensuing shit show I accidentally created for myself by putting the ad on Craigslist for the crazies to find. The filly never sold, as a matter of fact she is still out at my mom's place in White Lake, doing god-only-knows what and probably being an adolescent holy terror due to lack of capable handling at this point.  I'm good, don't get me wrong, and I can make a heck of a well-mannered youngling...but I'm not good enough to train and work on it without seeing or touching the horse in 45 days.  I can only imagine how she is now...

But I digress.  Anyway, back in May, I received a few (as in, more than two) phone calls from an obviously crazy man in "riiiight around there South Bind, Eeeendiana" regarding this filly.  The first one was essentially him asking me all sorts of asinine questions which, had he actually READ the ad, he would have already known the answers to.  Did he read the ad?  No.  Why?  Because he doesn't have a computer. Oh we go....

Side note: If I ever find the sonofabitch that keeps giving out my name and phone number to people looking for horses with NO other information aside from "She has a horse you might like!  Call her!" I'm going to strangle them.  They apparently ONLY know idiots without computers.

So after we establish everything that was already mentioned in the ad, (several times, because of COURSE, he's hard of hearing), he tells me that he's sixty-something years old, lives on his pension, and used to drive a truck for a living.  Okay?  This matters to me, why?  Pension = broke or fairly close to it in my book.... you say "Pension" to me, and I automatically end the conversation in my head.  How do you plan to care for a youngster on a fixed income?  Babies have death-wishes, its a proven fact. If you can keep one alive until it turns 3, you're usually home free, but from 4 months till 3 years, you're best bet is to lock them in a padded stall.  One vet bill and this guy's screwed.  Plus, he's 60-something years old....he's going to get KILLED trying to deal with this horse.  

Apparently this information was given to me to supplement his point that along with his lack of a computer, he is also lacking a fucking MAP and could I give him directions from South Bend? 

Ask me if I know where South Bend is....  I know most of Oakland County, and I can get to the Ohio state line from I-75, I-275 AND US-23.  That's pretty much the extent of my travel knowledge, and to me, that's pretty impressive.  While I'm not exactly familiar with South Bend, I know its not in Ohio or Oakland County, so no.  I cannot give him directions.  He says he'll call me back in a few days.  Yippee. 

A few days goes by, then a week, then two....I think maaaaaybe I've lost him.  I thank the Powers That Be and continue fielding calls and dodging potential bullets from various jackasses that think they need a youngling.  Nowhere during this time do I think this guy was ever serious, and pretty much dismiss him from my brain-space.

And then one day the phone rings...

"Hi there darlin!  This is Randy Green from Indiana!"

Oh fucking hell.....

This time, the conversation circles around the fact that this horse is five hundred dollars.  And no, that price is not negotiable.  Yes, I'll take payments, but I charge $250/month board while the horse is being paid for (its wasn't REALLY that high, but I've found that you can sometimes price things out of people's ideals and they might just go the hell away).  Now, to MOST people, this equates to something very similar to highway robbery, and they'd tell me to screw myself and buy a horse elsewhere.  But I've got a REAL winner on the line here, and he tells me this:

"Well, darlin, that's quite okay with me. Ya see, I don't mind payin' ya the extra two-fifty because down here, that's what it'd cost me to board her anyway.  So I don't mind payin' you instead. Then I'll just come up and see her every week or so and pay ya a little bit on her every month when I get mah check."
"So you're going to drive SEVERAL HOURS to come see a horse every week?"
"Yep!  I figure I'll sleep in mah truck at a truck stop or sumethin' 'n just stay the weekend each time.  Ya'll got a truck stop 'round there, right?"

Yes, THIS is the guy I want to deal with on a weekly basis when he drives himself up here however many hours just to look at his horse through the fence and maybe pet her.  I ask him how long he's planning on taking to pay for her....

"Oh, 'bout nine months or so I should think...."

So I'm going to keep this hellion of a youngster who doesn't believe that fence lines apply to her, AND deal with Crazy McGee for NINE MORE MONTHS?  Ohnowayinhell.

I tell him that his plan isn't going to work.  And tell him to call me when he's got $500 and is ready to come pick this horse up.  If she sells in the meantime, too bad.  I save dear Randy Green's number in my phone as "Crazy Indiana Guy".  Common sense would indicate that this would be the end of our dealings with one another.  But common sense does not apply in this situation.

Two months goes by...we're now well into July, I've moved from the White Lake facility, and my mother has taken the yearling and that's the end of it.  The ads for the yearling came down at the middle of June, when I first decided to leave.  There is no indication anywhere that this yearling is still for sale.

And then, the last week of July, my phone rings....

"Crazy Indiana Guy".....oh. My. God.

I send it to voicemail.  Afterwords, I listen to his message, saying how he lost the phone number of the horse he really wanted, and he's pretty sure this is it, and could I please give him a call 'cuz he's still REEEAL interested.  

Yeah right, buddy.  Hold your breath.

Now, I'm holding my cell phone next to me as I type this, for verification purposes....

The missed calls from "Crazy Indiana Guy" on my phone read as follows:

July 25, 2:23 pm
August 2, 8:23 am
August 7, 8:19 am
August 12, 9:24 am  AND 2:11 pm
August 13, 11:37 am, 11:38 am (because OBVIOUSLY I'm going to answer a full minute after the first missed call), AND ALSO 4:57 pm, and 5:10 pm
And today, August 14, at 8:56 am.

Now I'm not sure what the legal definition for stalking or harassment is, but I'm pretty sure that COLLECTIONS AGENCIES don't try this hard to get ahold of someone.  Every time he calls, he leaves a voicemail.  And every time he leaves a voicemail, he tells me he's not sure if this is the right number, but could I please give him a call.  


Now I get it, most of you are probably saying "Why don't you just call him and tell him the horse is gone?".  Here's the thing with that scenario: I don't know one SANE person that calls what could POSSIBLY be the correct phone number about a horse this many times, and quite frankly, if I DO talk to this guy, I feel like it's going to open up an ENTIRELY new bag of worms and I just really don't want to deal with it.  I don't know this guy, other than the information he's told me about himself which I've already shared.  I don't know if he's truly obsessed with this $500 yearling, or if he's some sort of serial killer/psychopath that's going to trace my call to find my address and come kidnap me and take me to a truck stop where he proceeds to rape and kill me and cut me up into teeny tiny pieces and dispose of me along the freeway back to South Bend...whichever freeway that might be because, quite frankly, I don't even know at this point.

I don't even like truck stops.  

Pat says I wasn't mean enough to him back in the beginning.  I tell him I generally TRY not to be mean to the older folks that call, because sometimes they just don't know, and how was I supposed to know he was going to be an overflowing basket full of crazy?!  He says he's going to call him and tell him to knock the shit off before we get a restraining order.  I tell him he's better off telling him I died and that he's harassing my family members now.  But then I feel like that might send this guy off the deep end and he'll come searching for my grave to pay his respects to his obviously newfound best friend.  I'm half tempted to tell Pat to give him my mom's address...he can randomly show up to her house if he ever gets a computer and directions...maybe she'll sell him the horse.