“If you feel along his lower leg, you can feel the cannon bone and then the big tendon at the back of it. Between these two is another tendon that feels like a #2 pencil.” This is the way the vet described it to me and I couldn’t think of a better description. “You slide your hand down the tendon, using it as a line of ‘sight’ to where you feel a grove in which there is a very small soft space that feels like an uninflected balloon.” This is where you feel for the digital pulse, which, at this moment, on Jackson, was throbbing. Shana, Sara and Savannah were all able to feel the pulse. Fortunately, there was an unusual absence of a ride on this Saturday. Jackson was not at all pleased about being left at Campo, but he’d have been a whole lot less pleased if we’d ridden him!

With all the added tasks of caring for Jackson’s abscess, so we didn’t get to the arena till 12:30, just barely in time to meet Savannah Y who was getting dropped off there. Sara and Savannah Yee headed off to the round pen with Cowgirl. Jackie practiced her posting on Velvet. Savannah H worked on having Freedom maintain his gait. Shana set up trot poles and Emma worked on simply riding Chavali in a circle, which, if you haven’t done, must understand is much, much more difficult that it looks as Chavali prefers the amoeba shape.

We had some brief entertainment in the form of two women who showed up with horses, one of whom was a real novice. When she mounted up she reflexively pulled back on the reins for balance. The horse took this as a cue to back up, to which the rider responded by pulling harder, which cued the horse to spin, which panicked the rider who pulled even harder and then did not manage to stay on the horse. Then more experienced rider responded with a number of questionable maneuvers, including, to the astonishment of the girls, ponying the nervous horse by the reins. The two women did manage to complete a short trail ride without incident. Savannah H’s comment was, “Yeah, most of the riders at Garrod’s are like that.”

By this time Rachel and Skylar had joined us and Emma and Jackie had gone home. I’m not entirely sure what happened after that, but it involved Shana jumping Chavali and Skylar jumping Chavali and Skylar jumping CG and Sara jumping CG and Sara jumping Stoney and Rachel jumping Stoney and Sara and Rachel riding Freedom bareback and Skylar roping CG and Savannah H perfecting her mount up which is now so accomplished she looks like she just floats up on to the horse. The entire time, Savannah Y is taking pictures and pictures and pictures and pictures and if you want to see them all you will have to subscribe to her instagram feed, which, I think, is Cowgirlsavy. Her feed puts the KLH feed to shame.

We don’t always have so much fun at the arena. In fact, sometimes it’s downright miserable there; too hot, too cold, too much direct sun, freeway too loud, too much hubbub from the little league fields. But yesterday, it was all good. They didn’t want the party to end, but they also don’t understand that their instructor/supervisor has dishes at home waiting to be done and dinner to make and she simply wants to make it home so she can do these things before collapsing.

I managed to pry them away from the arena by 3:30, but needed to make a pit stop at the toilets before we headed down Purissima towards Clark’s Field. While I used the restroom at the Little League Fields, they decided to park the horses:

park your horse

The only remarkable event associated with riding to Clark’s Field was the fact that, restrained by Dante’s need to stay at a “trot”, I couldn’t keep up. The flew down Purissima and they flew down the path that borders the bike path on Arastradero and they flew up the path into the field. For whatever reason, CG decided to trot Clark’s Field and Stoney, shortly after Rachel got him to canter, screeched to a halt, turned sideways and shoved his nose in the grass. Rachel is remarkably adept as a rider, but for whatever reason, she can’t negotiate this particular situation with Stoney. He only does this with her. I think it’s partly because she wants to let him eat grass because she loves him. But between the two, I finally caught up.

Once across Clark’s Field is never enough. Dante and I sat at the end of the field while Freedom, Stoney, Chavali, Velvet and Cowgirl, with Savannah, Rachel, Savannah, Sara and Skylar up top, headed back across the field. Actually, Skylar wasn’t up top. Cowgirl wanted to graze and Sky had to dismount and drag her. I decided to stay out of it.

Coming back, the girls took the non-trail, long route around the edge of the field. For reasons known only to herself, Cowgirl decided it was just her cup of tea and that it was time to race the other horses. Savannah H said she looked to her side to see CG shoot past her, full speed ahead. By the time they rejoined to main trail, tiny CG was proudly holding the lead. Savannah Y knew this was going to happen and had sent me the text: Camera! By the end of the day I just want to enjoy what I see, not take pictures of it. Savannah Y has decided I’m fired from being the photographer.

The ponies did get to graze after this as an adorable Border Terrier, with family in tow, was let loose in the field. All the girls had to get off and meet him up close, attention the pint sized dog soaked up. Savannah Y said, “We need a small dog also”, as in I should get another dog to bring along besides Dante, who they all think of as an essential participant to their equine adventures.

By this time the light was starting to fade and I told the girls it was time to go. They cried, “No!!!!” I said, “I told your parents to be at Quail at 5:30 for pick up.” Savannah Y, again, said, “Call them and tell them 6:30!” Despite this they did agree to finally return to the barn. I think if I hadn’t been there, they would have returned long after dark.

They were all in such a buoyant mood, which had to do in large part to perfect weather, both for rider and horse, that they willingly agreed to move bales of hay around at Quail, a nasty and strenuous job, so that CG could have her stall, which is often used for hay storage, back. I was stuck at Campo for about half and hour and finally made it over to Quail. Most of the hay was moved, except for two bales out on the drive way. Rachel was making good use of them in practicing “the flippy thing”, a vaulting move that Savannah H has shown them where you push your body up out of the saddle and throw your legs crossways so you end up, in one clean movement, facing the opposite direction on the horse. She had gotten quite good at it.

As the parents arrived, I tried to stop the girls. I said, “It’s time to go home!” They completely ignored me. Finally convincing them to leave may have been the meanest thing I’ve done in ages. I made it home with enough energy to eat dinner, but I passed out before the dishes got done.

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