Lovesick Lovebird, Hippophagic Pig, Dumb Dogs

Do you know how great it is to wake up excited for the day? 

 I lunged Santiago again first thing and told him, “yesterday was my first time lunging. Now I’ve done it three times, and it’s a new day. You won’t be able to pull any crap today.” Either he understood me or my body language was more confident, because we had a great time of it. Even skinny as a rail, he looked beautiful. I passed Dirk when I was walking Santiago to his stall and he asked, “How did he do? Was he supple?” I replied, “I don’t really know what you mean. He did everything I asked, and he seemed less tight than yesterday,” (which means I knew the answer to his question without knowing I knew the answer). I lunged Dodo next and he was a dream. (I learned later that he was just on his best behavior.) 

 My routine of the week would be work horses and assist Sam and Dirk until 1 or 2, have lunch and a break, then clean tack. The late afternoons and evenings were all mine, which ain’t a bad life at all! The farm where we lived and worked was a bit of a menagerie: bunnies and guinea pigs, geese and ducks, a (terrifying to one squirly Arabian) pot-bellied pig that roamed around, parrot and love birds, and dogs that shared their dog pen with tortoises. The dogs have been known to “nibble” strangers and familiar grooms alike, and are let out during the lunch break and at night. 

 As the horses had the previous weekend off, they were only lunged the day before, but today Samantha and Dirk had to lunge and ride all the horses (except Santiago who became my project). I stayed busy fetching horses, tacking them up, walking them to the lunging arenas, etc. As previously mentioned, Zena’s Anglo-Arab Rakbah is scared of new things, including but not limited to the pot-bellied pig. Every morning camels are led through the river bed past his pasture. Dodo, his friend, looks up, thinks to himself, “There go those weird not-horses again,” and continues munching his hay. Rakbah stands and shakes as soon as he sees them and only stops when they are out of sight. I was leading Rakbah to the tack room for Samantha to work with him when he promptly stopped dead in his tracks and refused to move. Sam was watching and said, “It’s the pig!” She came over to help try to coax him into walking past it, but it was a failed effort. We aborted the mission and walked him the other way around, and I muttered to myself in disgust. (Note: the horse pictured is clearly not Rakbah.)

 The sun didn’t feel particularly hot but it is quite strong, requiring high SPF, a hat, and loads of water. It being a desert and all, there are minor dust storms that kick up and leave me coughing. I made a mental note to get my buff (a multi-purpose traveler bandana) out tomorrow to cover my nose. Sun glasses are a must once the morning fog has burned off. After the horses were all worked, I had lunch, goofed around (by which I mean lots of reading: the grand total was 4 books in 8 days) and cleaned bridles.


he first day I took the bridles and saddle soap over to the aviary to hang out with the birds. There was much chirping about their peace and personal space being disturbed, but I did make one friend. There were at least a dozen love birds, a nest in one corner, a pair of sun conures and one ring-necked parrot, who came over to say hello each time I stopped by for the rest of the week. I can’t help but worry that the un-paired birdie may have been inappropriately attracted to me because of my bright turquoise shirt. He whispered sweet nothings to me through the bars of his cage. (I never have been good at noticing if someone is hitting on me.) 

This time I took two more bridles and sat on my porch blaring music while I cleaned the tack. My music was so loud and I was so absorbed in my task that I didn’t notice the groom walk past me until he was right next to me, and my hand flew to my heart as I yelped. The poor guy felt so bad for startling me! If I stayed around long enough, he would realize just how often an occurrence that is… 

 One of the owners of the stables and grounds has a lovely large house at one end at the edge of the river bed. (The “river bed” which Dirk has seen flowing twice in his 10 years living there.) Said owner, having lovely taste, has a beautiful desert-plant garden and pool in her back yard which I was allowed to make use of since she was out of town. I spent at least an hour frolicking in the lap pool then reading with my feet in the water, utterly content. Since there was no hot water at my cottage, I had keys to let myself in the house and use the shower too. I tend to view showering as a waste of my time, since there are so many other things I could be doing with my life! Surprisingly, this was one of the best showers I’ve ever had, doubtless due to the fancy bathroom, fantastically loud Taylor Swift music, and generally happy day. I had a visible pep in my step as I walked in my towel back to my cottage. Until the dogs showed up. 

 From their perspective, some interloper was walking from The Boss’s house after hours and needed to be shredded, pronto. From my perspective, that is the most calm I have ever been staring down two 100+ pound bounding balls of barking teeth.

Let me briefly digress and tell an amusing story of one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever done. 

I visited a dear friend in Amsterdam, Ben, for a long weekend during study abroad a few years back. We had a fantastic time catching up after our 3 years apart. One day we were casually holding hands and strolling down a residential street, as friends do. I looked up from the pavement and saw a large German shepherd loping towards us, and the small reptilian part of my brain took utter control of my body. I pulled Ben’s hand, shoving him in front of me and hiding behind his body from the terrifying creature, which continued on its path beside us without even a passing glance. THAT is how scared I am of strange running dogs. Luckily, Ben is still my friend, but unfortunately he doesn’t hold my hand anymore. 🙂 

 Back to the story. I am so content with life that I am practically skipping on the sand between the olive trees, when I am interrupted by loud hellions bent on a destructive path only 100 yards away. Without panicking a jot, I started yelling in as calming and high pitched a voice as I could manage, “It’s Bimbo and Shackra! Look at Bimbo and Shackraaaaaa! Bimbo and Shackra would never bite such a sweet girl because I gave belly rubs to Bimbo and Shackra just a few days ago!” I had absolutely no idea which one was which, but I figured the only thing that would keep me in one piece was convincing them that we knew each other. I could see the wheels turning in their heads. “Stranger! Dangerrrr! Must protect territory!! Stranger… Is not running? Stranger knows my name??” They slowed their speed down to a trot and gave another halfhearted (yet still terrifying) woof before walking close enough for me to pat them on the heads. I said to them, “Shackra and Bimbo, thanks for not eating me, boys!” They reveled in the attention, tongues lolling, and we parted ways as friends. No harm, no foul, right? I patted myself on the back for handling the situation so well, walked back to my cottage (walking through the door instead of the window), and promptly crapped my pants. It’s much safer to fall apart after the emergency, innit?


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