“I’m riding on Saturday, right?” Sammie’s head was tilted to the side and she had a slightly quizzical look on her face. Arya piped up with, “I’m riding too, aren’t I? How many little kids do you have coming out?” There were two “little kids” coming out in the morning, but after that I didn’t have anyone scheduled. Sammie had taken over a couple of her sister’s lessons on Saturdays, but isn’t scheduled to ride regularly on Saturdays and Arya had told me her family was leaving town.
Loath to give up a rare, unscheduled Saturday afternoon, I hesitated for a few moments, but fairly quickly succumbed to the desire to take the kids out whenever there is a chance to do so. If Sammie and Arya were available to do so, they’d be welcome out for a ride on Saturday afternoon. Then I couldn’t find the microchip.
Jazzy, new to the heard as of September, has not been chipped. The chip has to be purchased from my small animal vet and inserted by my equine vet. Kristin, the equine vet, was scheduled to administer vaccines on Tuesday. The chip was not at the barn. I was positive I’d left it in my carry-all basket, which was in the car and would she please let me know next time she was at Westwind and I’d ride Dancer up and get him chipped then.
Shortly after that, Kate’s mom called. Kate was grounded from horses for the week. Then Mikatrin’s mom called asking if Mikatrin could ride Friday morning. Then the vet called saying she’d be at Westwind Friday morning, which was, “great! Mikatrin will get to ride,Dancer will get out and he’ll get his microchip.”
On Thursday, I turned the barn and house upside down looking for that chip. No luck.
There was only one thing for it: Turn Saturday afternoon riding into a barn clean up day in order to find that darn chip!
Then Kate’s mom called again. Kate had stepped up to the plate, the horse ban was lifted and she wanted to ride Friday afternoon. When she arrived I told her she’d have to ride Chavali because I’d ridden Dancer to Westwind to meet the vet for a microchip implantation.
Kate said, “Did Dancer get his microchip?” I explained that he did not because I couldn’t find it. She said, “Doesn’t he already have a microchip?” So it was just as well the chip was lost as yes, it was, and still is, Jazzy, who needs the chip.
Kate then asked if she could finish Dancer’s “trace clip” while were doing the barn clean up and maybe also clip CG? As Dancer and CG live at the Quail barn, Kate said she’d pony CG over and bring the clippers and do the clipping at Campo.
Arya and Sammie were all in for the barn clean up. Sophie, age nine, and seven year-old Lola 2 (as opposed to Lola Bacchi who is Lola 1) rode in the morning, but Sophie came with lunch and the desire to stay and clean till the cows came home. Lola 2, not to be left out, insisted on sweep the tack room as her contribution to the clean up and made me promise that next time we had a barn clean up, she’d get to stay all day!
Kate showed up in time to lead the ride with Sophie and Arya. She was, as promised, leading Cowgirl and carrying the tote bag with the clippers in it. As she rode past the staging area, she said, “Does the microchip come with a blue tag and metal ring?” It does.
Thank heavens Kate was intent on clipping. When she joined us in the staging area and dismounted, she pulled the missing microchip out of the clippers bag, where I’d put it to keep it in a safe spot. No amount of barn cleaning would have found it.
Kate handed me the package with the chip in it and said, “Where do you think would be a safe place to put it?” I handed the package back to her and said, “of the two of us, you are the better one to figure that out!” She put it on the upper shelf of the cupboard above Stoney’s saddle – visible, but secure.
Around noon I got a text from Sammie’s mom saying that Sammie needed to talk to me about the chocolate and that she felt that Arya had betrayed her.
KLH has been having chocolate problems. The chocolate basket lives in the tack shack at Quail. It is generally stocked with their favorite flavors and, for the first part of the school year, they were all pretty good about sticking to the limit of two rows of any bar at a time. But over the past two months, more and more chocolate has been disappearing. Most of the kids have had a hand in it, but it was, of course, Sammie who took it just a little farther than the rest and at the wrong time. This is par for the course for Sammie. It’s just her fate. But the problem was not Sammie. The problem was how to manage the barn chocolate. All of the girls were charged with the task of helping me come up with a better solution.
For a number of reasons this lead to some serious miscommunications over text message between Arya and Sammie, which left both girls in tears.
Lola 2 was scheduled to be picked up at 1:30, but her mom was running late. Lola got to ride Jazzy bareback down to the end of Campo. While we were waiting at the end of Campo, Sammie arrived. Lola dismounted and Sammie rode Jazzy back to the barn.
First thing out of Sammie’s mouth was, “I have an idea for the chocolate. You should prepare the chocolate portions of each kid of their favorite chocolate before their lesson and just have that out.” Several parents had offered solutions, but of course, Sammie’s was, by far, the best.
When she got to the barn, she ran to Arya, told her she was sorry and gave her a great big hug.
We then started into the cleaning in earnest, which involved pulling every single item out of the tack room. When the inevitable desiccated rat carcass was discovered, screaming and wailing ensued, with Kate saying, “here, don’t touch it without gloves!” And Sammie saying, “We have to give it a burial.” Followed by Sophie saying the rat needed a name. “We can call it Squeakers!”
It was decided that Arya would be the one to pick up and transport the carcass to the burial ground in the manure mountain. Kate found the gloves and Arya found that she really wasn’t up to picking up something that had died so Sammie did it.
Squeakers was laid to rest with short ceremony and a few tears with the grave marked by a red Christmas bow that had failed to make it back into the Christmas decorating supplies and had been languishing on the floor of the tack room for months. Joining the mourners were six year-old Zinnia, who lives next to the barn, and her visiting cousin, who had dropped in to check out the cleaning party and had stayed to get some time grooming Jazzy.
After their mission was accomplished, the cleaning continued. Sophie, Arya and Sammie set to work washing and scrubbing the grime off all the grooming supplies. Kate, with the help of Zinnia and Celeste, got started on clipping Cowgirl, who’s coat is thick enough to protect her from an arctic winter and suffers terribly if we don’t relieve her of some of it.
Mucking the pasture was next on the list, but Arya was starting to fade. She lay down on top of and under a huge pile of saddle pads and went to sleep while Sophie and Sammie headed down the hill with muck forks and the wheel barrow. After finishing the scrubbing of plastic, mesh, hanging grooming gear pockets, I joined Arya and Sammie and took over pushing the wheel barrow.
Arya is normally a non-stop energy dynamo. Her being asleep came as a surprise to Sammie. “What she doing sleeping?! Did she not get enough sleep?” I told Sammie truth was she had been extremely distressed at the thought of potentially losing one of her dearest friends and she was so relieved that Sammie still loved her that she’d collapsed and gone to sleep. Sammie said, “Yeah, I was feeling the same way. I was so distressed I had to think about math to distract myself.”
Arya had roused herself by the time we returned with the wheelbarrow. She was propped up on one elbow offering Kate advice on what to clip and what not to clip.
But the big question remained: Who was going to get to sweep the tack room, now cleared of all equipment? Arya had no interest in getting off the pads. Sophie was torn, but ultimately decided that getting to finish clipping Cowgirl, Zinnia and Celeste having gone home, was the better option. Sammie, to her delight, got the plumb job of making the tack room look pristine.
The girls ended their day by each picking a saddle pad to take home. There were twice as many pads at the barn as needed. Sending one home with each girl, including sending the camouflage pad with Sammie to take to Lola 1, may not get met with enthusiasm by the parents, but it solved a problem. I expect the girls will keep those pads until they have their own horses. Sophie’s mom, Lauren, told me that Sophie sleeps with a saddle pad in her bed.
Sophie and Arya left with Lauren and Sammie walked with them up the pathway to Campo Vista where her mom was waiting. Always best when girls all leave the barn at the same time.
Kate managed to perfect Dancer’s trace clip before 5:30, which was the time she was scheduled to be picked up and whisked away to a family vacation in Half Moon Bay.
I am going to sleep tonight with the satisfaction of knowing that the barn is immaculate and that it will continue to be so for the next forty-eight hours as there are no lessons tomorrow.
Picture below is of Sammie, Kate, Arya and Sophie in their “cuddle pile” with Dante, my dog, in the foreground.