As I called Gabe in from the pasture and slipped the halter on, I realized I haven't ridden for over a month.
A long, long month of unbearable, debilitating and dangerous heat. A month of bugs so bad nothing seemed to work to keep them off my horses. After too much money and few discernible results, we finally did find something that has worked and is working well. And is far, far cheaper than the $20 bottles of horse-specific fly spray. A concentrate of 10% permethrin, made for all varieties of livestock: $8 a bottle. One bottle makes about 12 gallons and it WORKS! Not just for a few minutes, but for 2-3 days at a time. It stinks like crazy and probably isn't the gentlest stuff on their coats, but they are nearly 100% bug free all day and all night. It doesn't work very well on those fist-sized horse flies, but really, does anything but a flyswatter?
He was filthy. His greyish-silver coat streaked with dried sweat and brownish dirt came clean with significant elbow grease and about 45 minutes. I found dried blood in his tail which I can only surmise came from the crater-sized holes left in his hide by those nasty, horrible, good-for-nothing green and black horse flies. A pox on them.
He seemed happy to be messed with and stood relaxed while I scrubbed and flicked the dirt away. He is losing his summer coat already...how time flies.
The girth tightened one hole larger than a month ago and the running martingale seemed to fit his chest a bit more snugly. Seems Mr. Gabe has put on some weight despite the heat. I guess 12+ hours a day on thick, lush pasture will do that for ya!
Our ride very nearly ended in disaster before it began. Bad disaster.
Unknown to me, during the month-long hiatus from riding a swarm of wasps took up residence in my mounting block.
A BIG swarm.
I climbed onto the mounting block, pulled Gabe up near it so I could get on and noticed what I thought was about 6 big horse flies swarming his head. I swatted at them and suddenly realized they were NOT horse flies. They were wasps.
Just as this realization hit me about 20 more flew out from beneath the mounting block and swarmed me and Gabe in a buzzing, terrifying cloud. Have I mentioned that I tend to have a very bad reaction to bee and wasp stings? So, not only was I terrified my horse would get stung and freak the hell out and kill me in his freaking out process, I was terrified I'd get stung and have a reaction when no one was home and knew no one would be home any time in the foreseeable future. I briefly wondered how long it would be before someone found my body or figured out things weren't quite right at the ole homestead.
A moment of panic...do I mount and get the hell out of there and risk one or both of us getting stung or do I jump off the block and get the hell out of there and risk the same thing?
I chose the former, jumped on quickly and booted Gabe away from the block before I could even get my feet in the stirrups. Completely opposite of what I usually do and I think he was confused as I usually make him stand there for a couple of minutes before moving away. There is nothing more annoying and dangerous than a horse who won't stand still so the rider can climb aboard safely.
We escaped without either one of us getting stung but my heart was pounding and kicking him off the block so quickly (and rudely I'm afraid) had Gabe wound up for the rest of the ride. He was good, but ready to go and full of himself, especially near the Corner of Absolute Doom, Death and Destruction. It must have been particularly packed with horse-eating monsters last night because he wouldn't get near it and boot-scooted across the arena every time we came close to it.