Friday, October 3, 2008

Peepul R Stoopid

I live smack in the middle of prime, North Texas horse country. Take any road from any direction and the landscape is one picturesque, sprawling equine facility after another, sporting familiar names like McQuay, McCutcheon, Manion, Simons, Hendricks, Knost, Babcock, etc. Horses are a ubiquitous aspect of life and culture here. Horse hauling and horseback riding are not novelties. You can tell half the folks you see (and smell) at the grocery store came directly from working their horses or mucking stalls. Nobody looks twice.

So what the hell is wrong with people?

The last time I took my Boyz up to Heather's, no less than 3 people pulled out in front of me, cutting it so close, I had to apply my brakes, to varying degrees. Now, this pisses me off enough when it's just me in my truck. I become unhinged when people are so stupid, insensitive or selfish, they have no regard for the fact that I'm hauling several thousand pounds of live beings behind me. When it's possible, I try to be courteous and ride to the right shoulder to allow other vehicles to pass me, but I guess some people have important places to be in one hell of a hurry.

Yesterday I found myself thinking of what could happen, after hearing a traffic report about a flipped horse trailer on one of Dallas' busiest freeways. I literally almost vomited. I have a stock trailer and a very vivid imagination, although it doesn't take one to burn a truly horrific image in one's brain. Mine looked like this: trailer on its side, Jazu on the bottom and the much-larger Poco on top, both terrified beyond belief, injuring themselves and each other in their futile efforts to escape, and me, unable to calm them or physically help them in any way. If that doesn't raise a wave of nausea, I don't know what will. And I'd be willing to bet the fault was not with the person hauling the trailer, but some ignorant YAY-HOO, in a huge hurry to get one stinkin' car length ahead in rush hour traffic, that cut the driver off, causing them to swerve and slam on the brakes.

I probably shouldn't even get started on the way people drive around riders on horseback. I'm lucky -- my horses are very comfortable around vehicles, including noisy tractors and riding lawn mowers. A fairly busy road goes past one side of the property, and the Boyz are well acclimated to every sort of mechanized vehicle roaring past. When they are at Heather's, busy train tracks run the full length of their 30 acres. I have actually had to bump Jaz with my car to make him move out of the way, and he's gotten whapped in the head by my side mirrors multiple times. It takes quite a lot for my horses to be upset by a vehicle, but that's not really the point. We all know things can go terribly wrong when you least expect it.

When I first started riding Jaz down our country road, I was appalled at the total lack of common sense, much less courtesy, exhibited by my own neighbors. And it's not just car and motorcycle drivers. The bicyclists and ATVers are just as bad -- maybe worse -- because they're usually kids with no respect for their own mortality, much less anyone else's. The slightest modicum of sense should tell you that you are approaching a (relatively) small and fragile human atop an 1100-1200 pound beast. Whether you know anything about the nature of herd animals or not, it ain't rocket science. You don't have to stop or even crawl by, but you also don't blow by so closely and so fast that you make my horse's forelock fly up. This is especially true on a narrow road with steep shoulders that (in places) drop into craggy ravines and drainage ditches. Just slow down and give as wide a berth as is safely possible. I want a bumper, er, BUTT sticker that says, "If you can see the the mottling on my dock, you're too close."

When I first hear or see a vehicle approaching, I stick my arm out, palm flat, with a slow, pushing-down motion, i.e., "CAUTION, possible dangerous situation here." You would be amazed at the people who fly by, never a pause, shooting looks that say, "WTF is your problem?" I am no longer shy about yelling, "SLOW DOWN!" I can't tell you how often I've entertained the thought that, if I were a better rider, I'd kick my horse into a gallop, chase them to the stop sign, and give them a piece of my mind.

And then we have people who think it's their God-given right, as country folk, to let their dogs roam. My horses generally don't even bat an eye at large, goobery, ├╝ber-macho dogs. We have two that don't have the sense the good Lord gave a doorknob. They run right in front of the horses or under them as they stand. Again, it takes a lot for my horses to get wigged by a dog.
And again, that's so not the point. Most of the time, the dogs are just being goofy and pose no real threat. But there are exceptions, as evidenced by a post on a fellow blogger's site, showing the results of a nasty pit bull bite on a passing horse's neck. Just in terms of the dog's safety, letting them run is a bad idea. We have coyotes, bobcats, wild boars, poisonous snakes, rabid skunks, all of which are a very real threat. Every single day, I see at least one dog and several cats that have ended up as roadkill. When I used to run, I learned to be fearless and firm around loose dogs. I can generally make them back off with verbal commands and body language, but there have been times when I've had to get off my horse, grab a stick and get into it, for the safety of me and my horse and that of the stupid dog. You try to talk to the owners about crap like that, and they get all incensed, like you just told them they couldn't fly the confederate flag or toss beer cans off the deck of the trailer!

Is it asking too much for common sense and common courtesy from the common man?

9 comments:

cdncowgirl said...

I feel ya! Where I board we are surrounded by roads, thankfully the dog issue isn't much of one though.
There is one particular gravel road that Kimfer and I ride down that seems to have the most asshattery. What we've learned is that if we're riding and there is a car approaching we take up the whole road. Seriously.
We put both horses in the middle of the road so there really is no easy way around us. When the driver slows we move and let them pass with a smile and a wave.
It usually works, but occassionally the driver's return our wave with only one finger.

manymisadventures said...

The thing I've learned to say when things like this happen -- "People suck." Unfortunately, in many cases, it's true.

I figure, I will do what it takes to protect myself and my horse. If that means chasing after a dog on horseback with intent to trample, so be it. If that means changing my route to avoid busy roads, I will.

I wish people would just be a little more respectful!

On the other hand -- last time we went on a trail ride, there were these two young boys on quads, maybe 7 and 10. Every time they passed us, they slowed to a crawl and stayed on the opposite side of the road, and didn't speed up until they were well clear. I couldn't help but smile every time they drove past in appreciation at how considerate they were being. Clearly their parents taught them well!

smottical said...

People are indeed stupid, rude, and generally unpleasant, especially en masse or behind the wheel. But then again, this is all coming from a misanthropist who will probably live out her later years in a tiny shack on a mountain top with 10 cats and a couple of horses!

Tuffy Horse said...

The one thing that infuriates me is people that pull out in front of a truck pulling a trailer, thinking that big rigs stop faster because they weigh more. Idiots!

I used to live in the area you are in now and even with the large percentage of horse people there are enough citidiots to make things crazy!


Tracy M

Mrs Mom said...

Like I said in a comment somewhere this week: A line from one of my favorite movies comes to mind again:
"A person is smart. PEOPLE are stupid."

So darn true... *sigh*

When I hauled Standardbreds all over Tundra Country to the neat tracks there, we got into some darn hairy situations with people being total jagoffs with their driving. I decided that the insurance on the rig was good. The horses were expensive. If some jagoff in a little tiny car wanted to try and cut me off, they sure were not going to like the end result of their bumper being in the back seat...

Hang in there.

Stephanie said...

Ya good post! I get people pulling out in front of me all the time in the horse trailer. It like they see the trailer and think "Ah oh better get in front of the slow horse trailer!"

And I really don't drive slow with my trailer - so once that happens I usually end up passing them at the next passing lanes, sometime they will protest and speed up trying to not let pass (because you know, I still may go slow - even though I am passing them with ease) but 9 times out of 10 I pass anyways and if they made me haul on my brakes and throw my horses into the dividers and bulk head then they get the good old one fingered salute as I go by.

I know, I know as a girl traveling all by myself I shouldn't be doing that but sometime I just can't help it.

And on people's people's dogs...you are so right I have heard all kinds of crap, like "he's only playing" when their dog is chasing my horses - in our county I have the right to shoot a dog on my own property if it is bothering my livestock. Usually after I inform the said neighbor of such thing I nasty remarks and comments of what they think of me but I have yet to see the dog on place since...

Grrrr...

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

We live in open range country and it is legal to shoot dogs that are chasing stock. I would hate to think of shooting someone's pet, but when dogs get into packs, they lose their docile nature. Neighborhood dogs are responsible for the loss of expensive sheep, cows, and even horses around here and, with that knowledge, one would think that dog owners would confine their pets in some way. Most dont.

Leah Fry said...

Steph, the pain meds haven't muddled your brain at all, because you nailed it: better hurry and get in front of the slow horse trailer. I just KNOW that's it. The speed limit on the road to Heather's is 70mph. I'm hauling 2 horses in a stock trailer with a Nissan Pathfinder. It will do it, but no way am I gonna do it at 70mph. Just watching the tachometer, it's best for the vehicle if I stay around 60-65. Not to mention that any faster, you can pretty much hear it sucking fuel as you watch the gas gauge drop! And, obviously, the faster you're going, the longer it takes to stop and the harder you're going to have to brake.

Tracey said...

Leah...where in N. Texas do you live? I live in Euless, but board my horses in Ft. Worth and I know too well what you mean about idiot drivers when you are trying to haul a trailer!

Thankfully I've got a one ton dually truck and good sound trailer brakes on my 3 horse gooseneck but still people are stupid!

You can always spot a horse person though even if they are not in their truck as occasionally some sweet person will slow and wave me in and I just know it's because they "know" what I'm dealing with and I make sure to do the same when I'm in my car instead of my truck.

email me sometime if you want since we are both in N. Texas. My email is txdistancerider@gmail.com.

I love your blog and you can check out mine at http://traceysrandomramblings.blogspot.com/

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