Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nearly disastrous

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 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 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.



  1. That's scary! Maybe you should pack whatever it is -adrenelin shot?- that they use for allergic reactions to stings , when you go riding. Specially if no one is around!
    There is a wasp nest in the panel gate in Beamer's pen, they were a little angry with me last night. I might have to spray the hole before I put Beamer away tonight.

  2. I can't think of anything worse - especially if either of you is allergic. Great job cowgirling your way out of that scary situation!

    Ditto on the keeping an epi-pen handy suggestion :)

  3. So glad You thought fast and made fast escape and both you and Gabe not stung. Ditto get and carry epi-pen.

  4. Glad this story ended well and you outsmarted those pesky wasps!! Sorry to hear you've been plagued with relentless heat and bugs...strange weather all over the country it seems.

  5. Yikes! I've seen them flying in and out of the mounting block in our outdoor - good reminder to get some raid and next time I'm there on a cool evening (wasps are inactive when it's cooler, at night) I will check and spray that step. Glad you two survived.

  6. I've considered having an epi-pen around, just in case, but have never gotten around to getting one. Guess it's about time!

    I bought the giant can of foaming Raid to take care of those danged wasps...I just haven't had the guts to go out there and assault them yet...there were a LOT!!!!