In December we averaged a crop a week. The first to go was the bright red dressage whip. It matched Maya’s costume. Actually, it would have matched anyone’s costume, seeing as the season theme was red and green, but Maya was on Chavi; horse most likely to need a crop.
Tara Swan and mom Linda had joined us for the official LAHHA ride to caroling at the barn lighting. Weeks of posting and nagging and I had thought it was just going to be us four (myself and three KLH riders) when an hour into decorating I got a call from Tara: “We are on our way! Where are you?” And, “Do you have anything to decorate with?”
The Swan horses are high spirited, high octane Arabs. After an hour spent decorating the horses as if they were Christmas trees, we stuck Tara and Linda in front and headed off to the barn lighting, jigging all the way.
Half way to the barn, a brown Arab; higher spirited, higher octane and green; comes cantering up the trail behind us. “I’ve come for the caroling!”, says Diane, who last I heard was “too busy that day.”
“Diane, you should take the lead.”
“No, no. We’ll be just fine back here.”
Because the two lagging quarter horses have to alternative between walk and trot about every two minutes to keep up with the prancing Arab, after five minutes in the rear, Diane, who’s horse looked like it was going to rear, said, “I just can’t take this start stop start stop!” Diane and Cash, her horse, hopped and popped and spooked their way past the line, setting off each horse in turn, especially the extremely confused Chavali. This took Maya by surprise and she lost her grip on the whip. She looked stricken: “Should I get off an pick it up?” All any of us wanted at that point was to get to the barn lighting intact so the pretty, new, red crop was left behind like a razor cut in the middle of the road.
Crop number two was my maroon, Fleck whip. It was the second week of December. Jillian had asked to be the one to carry it. Half an hour into the ride, for no good reason, she dropped it. She looked surprised and said, “I dropped my crop!” Keeping track of gear; gloves, water bottles, cell phones, lunch boxes; is not the strong suit of the twelve and under set. To their credit, all the kids work hard at keeping track of gear. They just aren’t very good at it yet. Jill and her sister Savannah are no exception, with the added fact that they had managed to recently mangle two of my expensive hoof boots.
I said, “You dropped my crop” and picked it up, figuring I’d be better at keeping track of it than her. I was wrong. We got to the barn and hour later. I still had hold of two helmets, a water bottle and a bag of horse poop. but not the Fleck whip.
Crop number three was lost in Windmill Pastures. I’d just replenished my whip supply. One was at the arena, having replaced the Fleck. The other I handed to Victoria who, riding Stoney, was most likely to need it and who, I guessed, was most likely to keep track of it.
The ride was spectacular. We ate lunch at the pastures and the olive green and brown crop camouflaged perfectly with the grey dried grass with faint green undergrowth that covered the half acre of ridge saddle that composes the pastures.
Victoria has promised to buy me a role of fluorescent duct tape.
I don’t know when the fourth crop disappeared, but it I assume it walked off from the arena in December. It’s like we had crops/whips substituted for advent candles.