Pet Parades

Riding instructors should be able to go all day without food. Today was particularly bad in that regard. I hit the ground running, but still didn’t manage to make it to the barn before the first young rider arrived. Seven year-old Katelyn, the horse lover, had gotten busy brushing the horses and mucking the stalls. Her five year-old sister MayMay and three year-old brother Jack were less content, with MayMay’s discontent being aggravated by my arrival as it was, and usually is, accompanied by Taz and Dante. MayMay is terrified of dogs, but her mother has been working on this. Before getting out of the truck, I hollered to Rebecca (mom) and asked if I should wait until MayMay was in her car. “No”, was the answer. MayMay had worked up her courage and was waiting to say hi to Dante (who is, for the record, a 100lb dog). She did so, without fuss and then went about wandering up and down the driveway while Katelyn let the horses out into the orchard and Jack busied himself with a water bucket.
Moments later, MayMay is wailing and screeching. Tazmania, who is fifteen years-old, covered with tumors (inside and out) and walks about as fast as a drunk snail, was waddling in her direction. I do try to be patient with her, but this really was too much for me. I said, “MayMay, Tazzy has cancer. He’s going to be dead in two months.” She continued to frown and grimace, but stopped her hollering.
MayMay and Jack left with mom and Katelyn and I went about the tasks of grooming and tacking and then schlepping the horses over to the arena (a 30 minute walk). We were met at the arena by Katelyn’s friends Faith and Celeste, their moms and three other younger siblings though I never managed to sort out who belonged to whom or what all the names were, other than the fact that they all seemed to be male. Celeste, Faith, Katelyn and myself got busy with the horses in the arena and the silbings got busy with everything else, which ultimately ended up with about 20 minutes of enthusiastic stabbing of bushes with a broad assortment (all mine) of lunge whips, dressage whips and riding crops.
The madness and mayhem carried on for more than an hour and a half, which was the time it took to eventually sort everyone out and get them headed back to their cars. Katelyn had spent most of the time with the horses helping her friends with their riding by staying on the ground either tapping Cowgirl with her dressage whip or leading her on the lead rope. As she hadn’t had much ride time herself, she got to stay on a bit after the others left. It was at this point that Rebecca pulled me aside and told me about how MayMay, after leaving the barn that morning, had expressed great concern about Tazzy. MayMay said that when they get a dog, which they intend to do, they should name it Tazmania, that way I wouldn’t feel so bad that my own Tazmania had died. That pretty much made my day.
Although we did have more fun. Sammy had arrived towards the end of our little party. She rode some with Katelyn and then got to ride by herself for a while until Helen and Matthieu arrived (the same two kids who’d rounded up Stoney and CG when they’d escaped last week). I’m not quite sure why, but Sammy dismounted when they arrived. Even more puzzling was the the three of them migrated not to the horses, but over to the bleachers where they proceeded to use the horse grooming brushes to brush clean the bleachers, top to bottom. For whatever reason, especially for Sammy, who tends to be hard on herself, the brushing put all three of them in a really good mood. Like birds taking flight, they suddenly popped up on to the horses and had a marvelous time milling about the arena in an equestrian version of a dust devil. Then Helen and Mattheiu decided to switch and this didn’t work at all. Stoney likes Helen and Cowgirl likes Mattheiu, for reasons known only to themselves, and not the other way around. Not that this matters, because it was high time to head home.
We made it back to the barn without incident with Mattheiu managing to make it almost all the way without needing to be on a lead line. (By this time I had the help of Katie D.) Chavali didn’t spook at anything, Stoney didn’t poop anywhere he wasn’t supposed to (on a driveway) and Cowgirl only tried to run away once.
Sammy had to leave shortly after arriving at the barn. Matt and Helen stayed on because they wanted me to drive them home in the truck, but they both had to pee, which they did in the orchard and in the orchard they discovered the “swing”, a contraption constructed and erected by seven year-old Kirstie. I was busy attending to evening chores and came out of the tack room to find a glum Matt, forcibly sweeping the barn aisle. Helen was on the swing and was having a good time of it. (I think it was she who noticed it first.) Being a pleasant sort, she surrendered it soon enough. (She also really likes sweeping.) Mattheiu took one look at the swing and said, “What’s this made of?!” I said, “A lead rope, a lasso, a saddle pad and a couple of polo wraps.” For some reason he thought this was very funny. He also thought it was a very good swing.
Last weekend was the pet parade, which was OK, but today was a lot more fun.

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