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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!

((Anybody catch the Sufjan Stevens reference in the title? No?))

Well! I have had two amazingly crazy days, and I have to say that compared to what happened last night, NOTHING seems stressful anymore! This is quite a story, so sit back and enjoy!

So yesterday was incredibly stressful. I pinpointed the origin of my stress: I have no safe haven to retreat to at the end of the day. With the apartment in shambles, and my stuff all in great messy heaps while the demolition happens, I feel completely out of sorts and unable to relax at the end of the day after work, or in the morning when I get up, or ever. Clutter is the very definition of stress, and being on the couch for over a month now has increased it two-fold. (I am not complaining/whining about this, just stating the facts! I've come to terms with it, it's just life right now!) Hopefully this will be all remedied next week, so I will be able to get back to NORMAL LIFE HOORAY! But anyway, I digress. Yesterday was ridiculously stressful, and Shannon and I were planning on attending a community play that one of our old boarders was in (a teen and her ex-hunter-turned-dressage-horse who then went very lame and is now retired and living somewhere else), and Vicki wanted to squeeze in a later lesson at 4:30. But between PM chores, another groom to do, and the prospect of not having enough time to get ready for the play, my stress level increased. And increased. And increased. For whatever reason, I was on mental overload yesterday, and I realized at around 3 that getting on Gogo was THE worst idea, especially so near a show where I NEED to be relaxed and focused, for her sake as well as mine. When I'm that tense and jittery, it just isn't fair to get on her and expect her to get over my mixed signals. She's not that kind of mare, and it's not fair to her. A day off right before a show is not ideal, but it's better than a bad ride because my brain was exploding! I definitely made the right choice, and felt myself relax over it. I gave her a good snuggle, and promised I wouldn't be so crazy tomorrow, and that we'd have a quality dressage ride on Friday, and a very light jump school on Saturday before kicking some major butt on Sunday. We fed the ponies, asked Colleen to do night check for us, kissed Gogo goodnight, prepped for the play, and then headed out at around 6:45.

The play was adorable!! It was a community production of The Wizard of Oz, and the kids were all just adorable and great. However, it was out on a lawn in the middle of a big park, and as the sun set, clouds began to gather on the horizon. And gather. And gather. At intermission, the thunder had already started to rumble, and the lightning began. We nervously waited for the play to start, but kept a very wary eye on the weather. It got uglier and uglier, and about 15 minutes into the second act, the director came on stage and told us essentially that a huge storm was coming and to run for our lives!! We did exactly as he told us to, and booked it back to Patron just in time to avoid THE DELUGE. It POURED and POURED and POURED and hailed and thundered and flashed ridiculous amounts of terrifying lightning! We crawled home (could hardly see out the windshield) and found, back at the barn, this was what was hitting us:

The red area of the storm was at least 70 miles long. THAT'S HUGE. Most of the entire state got totally pummeled. So what would any normal person do, you ask? That's right, hunker down at home. So Shannon and I were quite startled to find Hermione's owners hanging around in the barn at 9:30 at night, all the lights ablaze. Now, Hermione is the event pony who is currently recovering from a high suspensory in her left hind, and her owners are a 14 year-old pony clubber and her mother. Very, very nice people, but they have a tendancy to show up late at night... like at 9:30. We don't have barn hours, but I mean really people. In a giant storm? 9:30 at night? Shannon and I went into the house and hunkered down to weather out the worst of the storm.

Well. 10:30 rolls around and we get a knock on the door. It's the mother, who then comes in and says, "Can you guys come help? Hermione is getting attacked by bees." Bees? What do you mean, bees? It's 10:30 at night in a giant thunderstorm, which is still raging outside. We were getting ready for bed you know. Grumbling, we went down to Hermione's stall, the very last one in the aisle, wondering what the heck these people were talking about. And lo, when we got down there, what did we find? That's right, a full-fledged bee attack on Hermione. A bee WAR. And these were not just bees, these were hornets. VERY ANGRY HORNETS. Hermione was frantic, going completely ballistic, getting stung all over and throwing herself against the walls, on the floor, trying to scramble under her stallgate, leaping into the air and twisting like she was made of rubber, wheeling around, biting herself, smashing her head into the wall, kicking frantically, completely out of her mind. Shannon yelled at me to shut all the barn doors, and I sprinted off and did that. She then threw open Hermione's stallgate, and the pony bolted out, blasting down the aisle with a cloud of angry bees in tow. She had been stung all over, and the kid and Shannon also got stung, Shannon on her head and hand (which then BLEW UP and became ENORMOUSLY swollen and red!). When the pony reached the end of the aisle, she then turned around and ran back. Shannon used her Mighty Barn Manager powers and stood in the middle of the aisle, blocking the stampeding pony's path and yelling "STOP." And the pony skidded to a stop right in front of her and let her put her halter on, how about that. The pony was trembling all over, but was not going into shock thankfully, so we told the kid to go walk her. The mother, however, was not going to allow this for whatever reason, so we left the kid and pony in the washstall while we went back down to battle the hornets. Shannon sprayed poison furiously, while I ran around trying to calm the other horses who were also getting stung, all the while trying to avoid divebombing bees. It was utter chaos. Upon returning to the washstall, we found that the pony was breathing hard still and sweating, so Shannon grabbed a hose and sprayed her down, sending her and the kid out into the indoor to go walk for a good long while. There were hornets EVERYWHERE, coating the barn aisle lights and buzzing angrily in swarms. Chaos. Complete chaos. At some point I just stopped and looked at the stamping and sneezing horses and angry hornets and went, wow, is this really happening right now? Crazy. Where did they come from? Why did they come pouring out randomly? One thing is clear... this probably wouldn't have happened if the kid and her mother hadn't been banging around and keeping the lights on late so the hornets had a place they were attracted to. Seriously, chaos.

We got the situation sorted and moved the pony to a different stall, and I am happy to report that with a shot of Dex on board she is feeling just fine today. Everyone else has made a full recovery too, except for poor Shannon, who now has a tomato for a hand. Gogo did not recieve any stings, and neither did I, thank god.

After that whole mess, today's complete chaos seemed totally easy. I think there has never been a more messed up schedule than today, and I didn't end up riding until 2:15 or so, which messed up all the rest of my grooms and afternoon chores, seeing as the other girl who worked today left at 2pm. Still, I was in a remarkably chilled out state of mind, so when I got on my horse, the ride was fabulous. She started out very heavy in the contact, but a whole slew of transitions brought her shoulders up and her butt underneath her. She became extremely responsive to every little move I made, and the contact became very vibrant and alive instead of heavy and dead. We only did walk-trot work and simple figures, but that was all we needed to do. Trot, halt, reinback, trot off, walk, trot off, halt, trot off, walk, trot off, halt, reinback, halt, reinback, walk, halt, reinback, trot off. Mix and match, keep her ready for anything. She was focused and she was ready. She was just fabulous, and I got off feeling completely positive about Sunday. It's gonna be a Riga Redemption, and I'm heading out there tomorrow to get a good look at the course. It was pointed out to me that while I analyze courses in great depth (which is good), I tend to look at certain obstacles and say "well, she's going to pop her shoulder here, and spook at this, so I'll need to do X to prevent that," instead of going, "Oh she can handle this, we'll be FINE!" I'm not trying to be negative at all, just proactive, but when you do that you tend to psych yourself out. I'll have more about this later.

Seriously though? If I can deal with a massive swarm of angry hornets without losing my marbles, what CAN'T I do this weekend? This course is going to be a great confidence builder. I'll have more on it after I walk it!



Nina said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! Sounds like you handled the entire thing very well. I don't think I would have stayed calm!!!!! This is the first time I have visited your blog and GOGO is beautiful!!!!!!

Cathryn said...

Wow, that's absolutely crazy! Almost something out of a horror film.