The Perfect Day

“Should I go to Campo?” Sara’s text came in at 9am. Most of the riders are out of school for the week of Thanksgiving and riding was starting at 10. The answer, of course, was yes.

Me: “I have to meet Rachel and Emma at Quail, but I will send Savannah Yee to join you at Campo as soon as she shows up.”

Sara: “Yeah!”

Rachel and Emma and Allison meet me at Quail. Rachel and Emma start sweeping and raking and tacking. Allison has put the halter on CG and starts to leisurely brush CG’s back. Allison starts in on her favorite subject. “I found a video that actually shows you how to hook up a cart.” This reminds me that I have failed to look at Allison’s most recent set of links about pony carts she has sent me. “They demonstrate with a mini [horse], but it’s about pony carts.” She strokes CG’s back with the brush a couple more times than continues. “How fancy a cart do you want? I think we should have a sun shade. Would you like me to make one?” At the thought of making a sun shade, Allison’s face has brightened considerably. Emma and Rachel have finished tacking up Stoney, have raked the paddock and mucked the stalls. Allison has now progressed to the middle of Stoney’s back with her brushing.

“Rachel, why don’t you mount up and you and Emma can go keep Sara company at Campo while Allison and I finish tacking CG.” It’s now 10:20 and Savannah has not shown up.

“Riding started at 10. We are about to leave Quail. Where is Savannah?” To this text her father replied, “Asleep.” Savannah had assumed riding was in the afternoon. “If she get’s to Campo before we leave, she can ride.” She did. She arrived at 11, shortly after Allison and I finally made it over.

The air was still cool from the cold November night, but the sun was strong enough to warm the skin. The air was fresh and clear. More importantly, for the first time since mid-August, we weren’t in a hurry. Savannah finally uploaded the video of the other Savannah doing her “flippy thing”. Rachel and Emma tried to get a video of Chavali making her fart noises, a source of amusement for years that has never been captured on video. They gave up and settled instead for taking pictures of Stoney sticking his tongue out. Sara and Savannah finished the set of mini, upright ponytails in Cowgirl’s mane that make her look like she’s got a cock’s comb. Allison swept out the tack room and shook out the mats. We were all really just waiting for the farrier to finish with Freedom, but we probably would have dilly dallied for almost that long anyways.

We headed off at noon. Within two minutes, Sara says, “Let’s play the leaf game.” This was followed seconds later with Savannah saying, “No, let’s wait for berries!” to which a chorus of “Berries! Berries! Berries!” was to be heard from Emma, Rachel and Sara. Never was a better use put to the cascades of pyracantha berries that compete with the feral plums for most common roadside shrub in Los Altos Hills. The berry game is a variation on the leaf game, which, as far as I can tell, involves a lot of throwing of berries at each other, while riding.

The girls harvested arm loads on La Paloma, the first good berry site, all of which have been carefully plotted by them, and berry throwing commenced. Even Allison, who usually eschews such frivolity, joined in.

When it comes to order of horses, Velvet is always first, because she fastest and will race anyone in front of her, and Chavali second because she also fast, probably faster than Velvet, but is chicken and refuses to lead. But after that, it’s a toss up, mostly because we don’t know what Cowgirl will do on any given day. Her speed and desired line position depends on her mood, her aches and pains, the air temperature and on whomever is riding her. Being a seriously bad ass pony, she prefers to follow right behind Chavali, regardless of whether she’s up to keeping up or not. She was not. By the time we got to Foothill College, she had to be moved to the back of the line. We took off on one of the many nice “canter up a hill”s, this one being behind the baseball field. We stopped at the top. I turned around and counted four horses behind me. Allison had decided to get off and walk. She and CG could be seen at the very bottom of the hill, taking their own, sweet time. Even mounted I don’t think they would have done better. Much of the time Allison seems to be on another planet. When she rides CG, CG goes and joins her there and is perfectly happy about it.

The berry throwing, and picking, continued till we reached the Rhus Ridge parking lot. Allison, who has a three hour limit, tops, got picked up and Kayla took her spot. Sara traded horses with me because Velvet loves to blast up Rhus Ridge Road and so does Sara, while Freedom and I are content not to.

Being the day before Thanksgiving, it was actually quiet. No gardeners, no construction, no trash trucks. With the silencing of human activity, the natural world delightfully comes alive. You can hear the insects and the birds. You could feel the grass, newly sprouted from recent rain, ecstatically pulling sunlight in for photosynthesis as this would be one of the last days in many where there would as glorious an opportunity to do so. Everything smells wonderful rather than full of fumes. The dirt/rocked road is still slightly springy from the rains as opposed to rock hard or slick as it often can be.

Sara, Emma, Rachel and Savannah made it up to windmill pastures about ten minutes before Kayla and myself; all of them beaming with happiness after flying up the road, while Freedom and Cowgirl were beaming with happiness at not having had to fly up the road.

Cowgirl was happy to fly along the trail that wiggles it’s way between the pastures and the trail into Hidden Villa, as were all the horses. Savannah said she felt like she was running barrels.

Sara and I had switched horses again. I followed the rest of them down the hill, dismounted and leading Velvet as it is not only difficult for Velvet to walk down hills, but it is easy for me to do so. I met up with the girls at the tree covered picnic area next to Adobe creek that is at the base of the Hidden Villa trails. I wasn’t far behind them, but they’d had enough time to bring all five horse’s faces together so that they were in a star shape. They said they made this formation in order to take a picture to use for the instagram profile of KLH. I have yet to see it.

They insisted we get a group picture at HV. Shortly after taking the photo, a truck pulling an empty cart rolled, slowly, down the road. Though we are regularly passed by huge, roaring beasts of vehicles of every make and model, this rather tame, slow moving cart was something Chavali just couldn’t abide. This is only a so-so picture of her response. What’s not clear are the fact that her eyes are totally bugged out:

Chavali and the cart

Rachel, on Stoney, was in the lead now. After the dreadful cart passed, she headed towards the entrance at a brisk trot. There was a herd of pigs that were being allowed to forage in the field next to the road. On seeing the trotting horses, they all lifted up their heads and their tails and trotted jauntily and side by side in a long line, right at the horses. The pigs were obviously as happy about the day as everyone else and more than pleased by the appearance of trotting horses. The horses were not happy about the pigs. We stopped trotting.

There were no pigs along Moody road and though there are times Moody could be classified as a highway, today we had no traffic, except a few cyclists, one of whom being my sister who was on her way back home after going on a bike ride with my husband. She took pictures of us as we zipped down Moody, trotting or cantering most of the way; no one too hot, too cold, too tired, too stressed, too hungry; everyone just plain happy.

The last twenty minutes was spent throwing berries.

When Kayla’s mom came to pick her up, I asked Kayla, “if you were to give this ride a number between one and ten, what would it be?” Without a moments hesitation, Kayla enthusiastically replied, “A Ten!”

The cold weather starts on Friday, with rain on it’s way Friday night and staying for the next week. Chances of a ride this nice happening again anytime before March is slim. Awfully nice when beautiful weather coincides with a school holiday. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, boy is it sweet!

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