“Do you really need a truck tire?” Shaliza, Arya’s mom, was crouched on the verge just outside the barn aisle at Quail. I was standing in the aisle holding the hay room door open in order to better supervise Sophie and Arya who were making supplemental feed “buckets” for Dancer and Chavali.
“Yes. I need a truck tire.” I replied.
“That’s what Arya said. She said, ‘We need to buy Miss Deb a truck tire for Christmas!’ ”
“You don’t need to buy a tire. You get them for free. But I don’t need one any longer. Sophie’s dad is bringing one this afternoon.”
I got the idea from “Snowman.” Truck tires are, supposedly, used to train horses to ground tie. That didn’t work for Snowman, who managed to jump a series of pasture fences with the truck tire still attached to the lead rope and halter, but I think, for my purposes it will do very well as a fourth tie up, of which we are always in need of at Campo. One horse gets tied at the cross ties, another at the rail next to the paddock, a third clipped to the high tie in the barn aisle and the fourth horse can be tied to the tire in the staging area across from the barn aisle making something of a square, leaving ample room to maneuver and face most of the horses butt out rather than in.
Arya hadn’t planned on coming out this morning. In fact, we hadn’t managed to make plans for Arya to come out at all. The whole of California now seems to manage all it’s business via texting, which has left me scrambling. Arya’s aging and ailing grandfather has moved into her house to be cared for by Shaliza, which has left Shaliza scrambling. Between the two, we forgot entirely to put her on the schedule.
I had intended to have Arya come out yesterday. When Savannah heard this, she said, “I love Arya! I will come out tomorrow also no problem.” Shocker of shockers, Savannah has lots of time on her hands. This is like the earth stopping or the Red Sea parting. Savannah with lots of time on her hands has, to my knowledge, never happened. She has decided to spend that time this break out at the barn with Dancer. And also mucking and helping put boots on horses and riding double on Jazzy with small bodies and putting Dancer and Stoney through their ground work paces, etc… Merry Christmas to ME! and Arya.
Just after giving Chavali and Dancer their buckets, Chaitra and Kimmie arrive. And so does Savannah. Chaitra is somewhat subdued as the presence of Savannah, a teen, has her taken a back a bit. Kimmie is still at half mast, having just rolled out of bed half an hour before
After tacking up Dancer and sending Savannah off riding Dancer and ponying Chavali over to Campo, Chaitra, Sophie, Kimmie and Arya all pile into my car to get squished by Dante the dog as we drive over to Campo. Between long days and loaning out my car to house guests, Dante didn’t get to come out to the barn for a whole week. He has a sore on his foreleg that the girls keep pointing out. The compulsive licking that created the sore is his way of expressing his distress at having been left at home so many days in a row. When he finally got to come out yesterday, he spent an hour going from Erin to Kate to Savannah to Lola to Sammie, rubbing up against them and making them pet him; he was just so happy to be out amongst “His girls.”
At Campo, the girls spill out of the car to open the gate for Savannah. Of course it takes all four of them to open the gate. Then they run, en masse, down the hill to the barn at get to work; Kimmie helps me muck, Sophie and Chaitra tack up Velvet and Arya braids Dancer’s tail. Unfortunately, when it comes to putting on the boots, the nastiest task of all, I’m one of the few people who can do it. The girls pick the hooves and fasten the velcro, but the rest is up to me. However, for the first time, the boots are color coded! Lola dragged her dad to the barn yesterday. We put him to work installing hooks and bridle racks. He also brought blue, pink and orange spray paint for the boots. Lola did the spraying. Jazzy’s boots got sprayed with the pink, Lola’s favorite color for Lola’s favorite horse; “Jazzy is a lot like Bella,” she says. For Stoney’s boots, Lola sprayed blue on the front of the front boots and on the rear of the rear boots. Velvet’s boots got the neon orange; not very attractive but surprisingly and delightfully visible, so much so it’s almost worth getting her a pair of rear boots too.
If putting boots on hooves is a dreadful task, at least now, thanks to Lola and her dad, getting the right boot to the right hoof to the right horse is a breeze. More Merry Christmas!
As skilled a rider as Arya is, she’s still just a tad too small for going solo on Jazzy. We are waiting for Chavali to heal up. But in the mean time, she rides double with the older girls, which, today, is Savannah. Chaitra rides Stoney because she has a strong enough personality to read the riot act to Stoney when needed. Kimmie rides Velvet and Sophie, who wants to have someone hold the lead rope, rides Dancer because whoever is riding Dancer who is not Savannah or kate, needs to have me holding the lead rope, which I am happy to do.
On the way to the arena, Chaitra had to wrestle with Stoney six or seven times over grass. She triumphed every time, which is no small feat. Kimmie had to maintain control of Velvet so she didn’t try and race Dancer. Sophie had to work to keep Dancer moving at a decent walk. It took superior effort and determination on all their parts. I was very proud of them. However, by the time we got to the arena, they were all ready for a break. This was fine with me as Dancer and Stoney needed ground work performed by Savannah. Arya grabbed the giant, purple, rubber, exercise ball, threw it over the low, baseball field fence. Arya, Chaitra, Kimmie and Sophie clambered over the fence after the ball and all four girls ran, with ball, to the back stop where they played an exceptionally fun game of dodge ball for half an hour while Savannah worked first Dancer and then Stoney in circles at a canter and over the pinwheel of ground poles that Kate had set up.
Kate had her lesson at Westwind in the morning and got dropped off at the arena. She had ample time to indulge her ground pole design whims and had set up an elaborate course. The last time Kate was at the arena she put the girls to work setting up the ground poles. Victoria, who is home from vet school in Scotland for winter holidays, was watching. As a rather extraordinary arrangement of poles and blocks started to emerge, Victoria said, “What is she doing?!” Truly I had no idea. Kate is clearly on her way to taking arena pole and block design to a new level.
Chaitra and Kimmie got picked up at one. This left Sophie and Arya putzing around with hula hoops and using Jazzy as a jungle gym while Savannah got Stoney to behave himself on the end of a lunge line and Kate schooled Dancer through her poles course.
At one thirty, Rachel arrived. Savannah was sitting eating a container of almonds that had been left by one of the young riders in my bike bag earlier in the week, or maybe the week before or the week before that. When her mother learned she was planning on staying out till five without eating, she blew a gasket so it was stale almonds or go home. When Savannah saw Rachel, she abandoned the almonds. “Rachel!” she yelled and started to run to the fence, but not as fast as Sophie and Arya who got there first bear hugged Rachel right through the fence.
Arya and Sophie didn’t get to play with Rachel for much time as I had promised to have them back at the barns by two thirty. Rachel, Savannah and Kate headed off on a trail ride past Byrnne Preserve and Sophie and Arya and I; Sophie riding Velvet, Arya holding Velvet’s lead rope and sitting on my bike rack and me riding my bike; headed back to Campo. Sophie and Arya sang every Imagine Dragons song ever written, and probably some not yet written, on the way back.
As we got close to the barn, I got a text from Sophie’s mom: “I have the truck tire. Please send the girls up to the top of the pathway so they can help get the tire to the barn.” I waited at the gate in the fence at Campo while Arya and Sophie gleefully sent the truck tire flying down the pathway. I think it will do just fine as a tie down.
Arya had a friend waiting, which left me with all the barn chores. I was just finishing up, with the help of a Campo neighbor, six year-old Zinnia, when Rachel, Savannah and Kate returned to the barn. I thought they must have ridden very fast to make such good time. Rachel assured me they had not. “It’s berry season, you know” she said. “We spent most of our time throwing berries at each other.”
Zinnia got to ride Chavali bareback back to her house as Chavali had to return to Quail and Zinnia’s house is en route. Rachel went to Quail with Kate and Savannah where Savannah and Kate stayed and did God knows what to Dancer with the clippers. I will find out on Monday, but i don’t know now as I left long before the clippers were even plugged in.
Most of winter break has been this way. As winter breaks go, this one was a veritable bumper crop of good times. We should all now be well stocked up with horse happiness, which will hopefully keep us all going through most of the rest of the school year until the summer horse party can begin.
I don’t have any pictures that will go well with this story. It’s hard to take photo’s when you’ve got a lead rope in one hand and a bike in the other. But I did get one pretty photo of Stoney. In his latter years, he’s gone from looking rather motley to a stunning white. Nothing special about the photo other than that it was taken today and will serve as a memory for some really good times.