Happy Spring!

Three pads and one girth, I think, have tumbled out of the car and on to the pavement.  There is a second girth, but I don’t know if it is on the ground or in the car.  The girths are black and it’s dark. I’ve brought everything home to be washed, but it was late and I was having a hard time keeping everything together. Kate got a braiding book for her birthday.  She and Sara barely got started in on the braiding last Saturday before they had to leave. I promised Kate she’d have time the next Saturday.  Most of the time, the girls will braid half a mane and then go on to something else or the braids become fatter and fatter and are almost certainly not rolled up.  Or the braid, usually in the tail, starts out perfect, then moves sideways and stops before the dock as the braider maybe decides they’d rather not take any more time out of their riding.  Not Kate’s braids.  Her braiding book gives instructions on how to lace a needle and thread through the braid to pull it up and tie it into a proper little bun.  Sure enough, there’s Kate, needle in hand, eyes focused on her work like a cat on a mouse while controlling her hands and the braid with so much care and precision that Chavali hardly even notices the art being created out of her mane.

“You ready to go yet?” I was about five minutes early picking up Kate.  She answered the door in her tie dye stockings.  Bouncing on her toes, she says, “Can I grab my jacket?” It’s 9:15 and we need to be the barn by 9:30 to meet Sophie, Jaya and Arya, ages seven, eight and seven.  Arya has just recently asked to be able to ride on Saturday again because she misses her friends.  Not only is Kate’s assistance invaluable, Sophie is particularly attached to her and would probably sit like a lump and glare at me should Kate not show up.

Sophie is the first to show up.  She and Kate immediately set to work grooming Stoney.  Arya bounds up moments later.  She has a birthday party to go to later in the day, which, fortunately, doesn’t conflict with riding, but if it had, she informed her mother that she’d chose to ride rather than go to the party.  Stoney is in the middle of his month long spring shed.  A carpet of white hair now covered the ground.

Arya’s mother told me she seems to be allergic to something at the barn.  Seeing as one in five people are allergic to the hay, when we got to Campo, I told the girls they would no longer get to play on the hay bales.  Sophie said, “that’s OK! We can run up and down that hill!”  Mostly they walked up the hill (the short driveway down to the barn) and ran down it while Kate and I sat and looked on in awe at their energy.  Kate said, “The next generation of gallops girls for sure.”

Very soon it was Arya and Sophie being the baby horses and Jaya being the owner, then the Sophie horse got stuck on a stump (the mounting block), though what stuck her there was Arya sitting on top of her, then the Arya horse had to be tied up in the cross ties – lead ropes clipped on to her collar, and so on.  Unfortunately for the play, Sophie had a noon pick up time and if we didn’t get started with the tacking and grooming, we wouldn’t make it.  I told them to start grooming Chavali, but only two of them and the third one should groom Jackson.  This they did not like and ignored, Sophie and Arya on one side, silliness on full blast, and Jaya on the other.  Not quite ready to put the damper on their high spirits by insisting they focus on their work, I let them be and set to work picking Dancer’s hooves, but only for a moment.  Gallop Girls part 2, had been having just a little too much fun and failed to notice Chavali sticking her nose towards Stoney and nickering, which, as most experienced horse girls know, is usually followed by some flirtatious waving of her hooves.  It was Jaya who got kicked; in the thigh.  Being Chavali, she didn’t even end up with a bruise.  The now sober girls were most cooperative with everything else that was needed to get done.

Cowgirl is still recovering from he hoof wound, she’s not sound enough to be ridden, but sound enough that she can and must get out.  She was with us at Campo.  Kate rode Dancer and ponied Chavali who was being ridden by Arya.  Jaya, the most competent of the younger riders, rode Jackson, while I led Stoney, who was ridden by Sophie, and also led CG and Dante.  Cowgirl got loose and got a head of me as we left the Jensen’s.  Then she headed off to Gardner Bullis school when the girls turned left to head to Orchard Hill.   When I got CG back, Dante got away, then Stoney lurched off for some grass, and so it went until we were half way up La Paloma and met Shana on Velvet coming the other direction, returning from her ride.  At this point, Dante was cowering in fear from Stoney who was baring his teeth at him and CG’s lead rope was just about to get stuck under the fender of my bike.  Shana very graciously agreed to take CG back to Campo with her where she would spend the rest of the day hanging out with Velvet, much to everyone’s relief, especially mine.

Sara and Rachel joined us at the arena about the same time Jaya, Sohpie and Arya all left.  Rachel will come out to the horses for any occasion, but Saturday was a special occasion for Sara and Kate.  Jana was coming at two.  “Would any of your girls be interested in a show?”  “Did you know there’s a good schooling show at Garrod’s  next month? Are you taking anyone?” “I’ve got some extra hunt coats for horse shows.  Are your girls going to be needing them?”  For years Jana has been pestering me with these questions.  When she heard that Kate and Sara were interested in showing, she was more than delighted to volunteer her Saturday afternoon to coach them for a couple hours.  Within fifteen minutes they were practicing trot to canter transitions and quarter circles and four square halts and they kept at it for an hour and a half.

Kayla also usually rides on Saturdays.  She had a birthday party earlier in the day and couldn’t show up until 3:30 and thanks heavens she could because Rachel had to leave, making us one rider short from being able to ride home through Clark’s Field. Kayla apologized for her wet hair; from swimming; as I snapped the chin strap closed on her helmet.  Thinking she’d be tired, I asked her if she was OK not getting picked up until 5.  She put her hands on her hips, wrinkled up her nose and gave me an incredulous, “Are you kidding me?!” look.  I said, “So I should tell your grandma to pick you up at six?”  She nodded a vigorous assent, got on Jackson and trotted off to join the rest of the riders.

Kayla, Sara, Kate and I left Rachel putting away jump poles and blocks, me leading Jackson and them riding, and headed off to Clark’s Field around 4.  We had to make it a straight shot through the field as we were running a bit late.  Sara had slept in till 11, but she was still tired and we had arranged for her to be picked up at 5.

By the time we got back to the barns, Kate’s legs were so sore she could barely stand.  She’d been going without a break for eight hours by that time. She collapsed in a heap as Kayla and I got the to horses “lunches” ready and put away tack and mucked.  But she roused herself in a short time and started in on what she’d been wanting to do all day: Braiding.  She braided while be fed.  She braided while we mucked.  She braided while I sprayed weeds with horticultural vinegar.  She braided while I took Kayla over to Quail to get picked up and also to feed Stoney and CG.  She was still braiding at 7pm, when I returned to Campo.  And she was only two thirds done.  Now it was my turn to barely be able to stand.  As I swayed a little, trying to remain upright, I pleaded with her to go.  I didn’t have to pry her fingers off Chavali’s mane, but almost.  There’s about a quarter of the mane left unbraided.  With any luck, Kate won’t have much homework tomorrow and she will be able to finish up after we are done with our ride.  That or she’s going to braid while she rides.  If I know her, not finishing will not be an option.

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