“Where do I put this?” Victoria (who just turned thirteen) held up a rubber curry comb. It was very hot. Lessons were cancelled, but they all missed the horses. That left only one thing to do: wash; wash the horses, wash the tack and wash the curry combs. The comb belongs with all the other grooming supplies, hung up in a cloth trailer tack room organizer that is nailed to the wall in the aisle where the kids tack up the ponies. When reminded of this, Victoria says, “Oh, right!” It’s not that she forgets. It’s that organizing and cleaning makes her so happy and bubbly she periodically loses focus. Or it’s just her way of sharing her joy at getting to really have at the tack room.
Lexi (age nine) and Kyra (eight) have joined us as have also Jillian and Savannah (both eleven). Jill and Savannah have ridden their horse, Freedom, over from Campo Vista (about three blocks away). Freedom was turned loose with the other ponies, who were grazing in Jan’s orchard and Jill and Savannah got to work scrubbing girths and breast collars in a plastic flexitub full of soapy water and using upside down recycle bins and bales of shavings to sit on.
“Hey don’t spray me!” Kyra was delegated the task of rinsing the scrubbed gear, which meant using the sprayer attached to the hose. Not wanting to miss anything, she remained facing the scrubbers, which ended up getting more water on Jill, Savannah and Lexi than on the girth she was supposed to rinse. (Victoria was still having at the tack room.) Fired from the job, Kyra hopped over to where I was sitting and said, “I’ve got another imitation for your! Watch this!” She proceeded to kick her feet, wave her hands and spin. “See, that’s what my friend Susie and I were doing when they turned on them music at school!” Then she shoved her hip to one side, rolled her eyes, tossed her pony tail and said, with a slight lisp, “Have you seen my decohrating?” and then, “That was Evie!” Kyra’s specialty is imitating, which she does with a kind heart and in fun, not ridicule. Her contribution to the day’s activity is entertainment and she manages to amuse us all.
Lexi, was not enthusiastic about putting her hands into a bucket of soapy water. But for whatever reason, when I pulled out the saddles and showed her how to clean them, the usually lackadaisical Lexi came to life. I’ve heard rumors that there were people who liked cleaning tack, but it is a chore that is generally as welcome and anticipated as cleaning the refrigerator. Lexi came to life. “I love scrubbing saddles!” She proceeded to attack the leather like a matador challenging a bull. With only two saddles to clean, she quickly moved on to the bridles.
“Ahhh! Stop!” Jill and Savannah were getting sprayed again, this time by Lexi. Kyra was mid-skit and I hadn’t noticed that Lexi had decided the best way to get the soap off the bridles was to hold them in the air and hose them down (which is NOT how you clean leather). The bridles survived.
Moments later, Victoria emerges from the tack shed, a greenback held tight between her thumb and forefinger, hand thrust high in the air. “I found it!” The $100 bill, lost on Saturday and not found after hours of searching, had finally been uncovered through Victoria’s diligent and thorough excavation of the tack shed. It had managed to somehow get lodged in between the water bottles. (?) This is not the first time Victoria has taken on the organization of equipment at Quail Lane. When she arrives for lessons, her first stop is always a peek into the tack shed to which she either responds with a frown or a delighted, “it’s still clean!” Though I can’t do this often, this week her efforts were rewarded with a new helmet cover.
As the soap suds and water flew, I’d gotten busy sweeping Jan’s driveway. By the time their mother’s came to pick them up, Kyra and Lexi had taken the broom and dust pan away from me and were scooping leaves and debris into the yard waste bin.
Now near seven in the evening, the temp had fallen to a comfortable 78 and Jill, Savannah and Victoria got busy tacking up the horses. I ran (literally) along behind them as they took the long route through the pathways, which made for a short trail ride, back to Campo Vista. Victoria’s dad picked her up promptly. Jill and Savannah stayed at Campo tending wounds, sweeping hay scraps and growling at Forest, who kept chasing Freedom away from his food. Their father, who’d arrived shortly after Victoria’s, finally pulled them away.
I returned to the paddock at Quail, where the broom and dust pan were lying in the middle of the driveway, where the buckets of sudsy water, like a stage set and ready for the actors, sat posed surrounded by the upturned bins and empty juice and water bottles, one girth, clearly forgotten, hanging half out of the tub. Since they have to be removed before a saddle can be cleaned, there were stirrups and stirrup leathers cast about; all of it evidence of an afternoon of horse girl happiness. The intent had been to wash the horses, but we never got that far.