Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I was itching to get back to the barn after taking a week off at my parents house with the girls. So of course Monday after work I went out there to ride everyone.

I started with Skyy who was really quite good. He only had one bad canter depart, which caused him to get a little fussy when I made him trot and re-do it, but other than that it was a nice ride.

I decided to do easy rides on Kaswyn in Albert and then plan to do training rides on Tuesday. So I got out the bareback pad and rode Kaswyn for ten minutes. He felt quite good I'm pleased to say. Then I decided to ride Albert bareback as well.

As soon as I climbed on Albert he started walking with a purpose. And then when I asked him to trot it was huge and lovely! Susan had mentioned that she thought his saddle was rubbing him funny, and now I think I agree with her. He was so much more free bareback. I worked the canter, leg yields, and trot half-passes too. He felt great. I think I'll have Susan get the saddle fitter out and ride him bareback until the saddle fits properly.

So after such nice rides on Monday I was excited about Tuesday. I watered half the ring while I put stuff away on Monday so that I could water the other half after I rode on Tuesday. But before I could ride I really needed to fill in the groundhog holes. I hadn't taken the time to do it on Monday (and I really should have, shame on me) so I grabbed the rake and headed to the arena.

Marge had hired a trapper to get rid of the groundhogs, which we've seen running between the barns. They are absolutely huge and are a little too brave for my taste. The trapper had caught four of them already, but holes kept appearing. Nobody rode while I was gone so the holes were really quite big, and I spent about ten minutes going along the wall and packing dirt back into them. Then I heard a scratching noise.

I stopped and listened. There are trees along that side of the arena and when the wind blows they scrape against the siding. I thought that's what I was hearing, so I kept hole filling. Then I heard it again, and so I looked behind the kick boards. There I saw a HUGE furry back and I realized that one of the critters was sitting back there. I wanted it out of the arena so I tried to shoo it down the arena wall with the rake, but it wouldn't go. I thought that was odd, until I saw the wire around it's neck. It was caught in a snare, and was certainly not dead.

So then I felt just awful. I drove over to Marge's (she lives next door to the barn) to tell her about it, and she said that the trapper works a day job and couldn't get over to dispose of it until this evening. Well, there was no way I could ride with it trapped in a snare behind the kickboards. I could just see me riding Skyy by the groundhog just as it started to struggle and then finding myself in the dirt. I drove back over to the barn and saw Marge's youngest son outside stacking wood. I told him about the groundhog and he asked "Is it dead?" I said "No." He said "It will be soon!"

I followed him into the barn and he searched for the gun. They kept a 22 out there just for occasions like this, but he could not find it. He said he thought that Susan might have taken it to her house to do pest control over there. He said there was nothing he could do, and left.

So I walked back into the arena and took another look at the groundhog. Then I started to cry.

Listen, I know they are destructive. They dig huge holes in the arena, plus they have also dug tunnels under the ramp up to the hay barn which is causing it to collapse. They also made a huge hole under the concrete floor of Marge's oldest son's equipment building, which could create a problem if the floor collapses. So they can't live on the property, and it's illegal to capture them and release them someplace else. The only option is to kill them. I know this. And okay with it as long as I don't have it staring me in the face, and I certainly don't want to see any animal suffer. Just like I couldn't be a butcher, but I love steak, so I'm glad someone does that job.

So I pulled myself together and went home. I'm annoyed that the groundhog put the brakes on my riding yesterday, so I hope it's gone and I don't have another issue tonight. There is a slight possibility that I might have to work late tonight, so I'm a little stressed. I need to ride Skyy, and I want to ride the other two. The show is this weekend!

Don't panic, right?


craig said...

If I remember correctly, you still managed to get some riding in that evening.

Stephanie said...

oh buggers! Those darn pests... I agree 100% with you about understanding that they need to be gotten rid of but I can't bear to see any animal suffer.
Bummer that it ruined your riding plans.

Interesting about the saddle, i'm interested in hearing what the saddle fitter has to say.

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