Yesterday morn Eric told me I’d probably be bleeding from 8 different places by the end of the day. I was bleeding from only 7, so I want my money back. I learned how to remove Sugar’s horseshoes and rasp her front hooves. How incredible to have worked half way under a horse all day, and comfortably too! I have always been leery of horses ever since riding one in a circle once at Girl Scout camp, so this was a big step. Sugar sticks her tongue out all the time. I don’t have the words to describe what her tongue feels like but I like to poke it. It’s really quite something for me to have such physical contact with an animal when even just a year ago I still wasn’t even fond of petting dogs.

My favorite phrase of Eric’s today was “saddle up!” I worked on rasping Sugar’s hind hooves which is scary and tough. It’s not only difficult to break the hard surface of the hoof, but to do so while holding her incredibly strong hind leg out against bruised thighs with sore arms! But we made progress (slowly). Enough progress that I could ride her for impact* today! I got her saddle and bridle all put on and I was adorned with cowboy boots, chaps, and a hat! Because they all serve a function, they aren’t for looks. I was a little nervous but I had to trust her. We put out the protein blocks and then I got to call in the cattle by screaming “HEYYY COWWWS” at the top of my lungs from the hillside. Meanwhile, Jean and Keith went off on their horses to round up the cows. One group came right away and a few came right up to me! With snot dripping from their nose. Jean said they might be gone for 40 minutes, just keep on calling. Well, 3 hours later I’m still screaming at an empty hillside. That was exhausting. I screamed at least 3x per minute for 170 minutes, so over 500 times! Finally they came back and I got on Sugar and headed home, woo! Bout half way there we were coming up to a low juniper branch. I slowed Sugar down and prepared to power through it, but that did not happen – it powered through me. I rolled off Sugar’s hip, hit the ground, and tumbled down the slope about 10 feet. Once I came to a stop I sat up, pulled grass out of my mouth and said “I thought that was going to be a lot worse!” Jean barely blinked, held out a handful of Arnica, said to take this every few hours, and then she rode off. I picked up my hat, got back on, and thought how lucky I was to not have landed on a cactus! All these desert plants are suddenly a little more intimidating when you’re 4 feet above them knowing you could land on them with a lot of force if something goes wrong!

There’s much more I want to write about but I can hardly stay awake. Feels like I fell off a horse today or somethin’.

 

*Impact is where we place protein blocks out in the pasture for the cows. Since cows are matriarchal they respond better to female voices, so I stand on a hillside and call them in, while Jean and Keith go out on horseback and push them toward me. The main purpose of this is to bring the cows to certain areas of the pasture that need grazing, or “impact.” Such as steep hillsides that they prefer to avoid when they have the choice. The blocks also provide extra protein for the cows because sometimes not enough is provided by their natural diet. Lately they show little interest in the blocks, which is good – it implies their natural diet is adequate.
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