Wednesday, October 1, 2014
In autumn I'm always struck by how much Spaniards are like Southerners regarding the weather. Except where Southerners totally freak out about snow and seem to have had no prior experience negotiating it, Spaniards freak out about rain. Driving in the rain? If you venture out at all (people will actually call in late to work because "it's raining too hard, I can't drive") you have to go like 35 mph on the interstate, and people dodge puddles and do other crazy crazy stuff with their cars like, well, like Southerners in the snow. No one dreams of walking without an umbrella even if it's only drizzling and once again, lateness due to "waiting for the rain to stop" is completely acceptable in social situations, since if your hair gets wet you are doomed to die of pneumonia. And riding? Forget about it!
I will say in the folks at my stable's defense that since it only rains like 15 days out of the whole year it doesn't make much sense to have things like covered or self-draining arenas and the sand's kind of thin on the ground. Add that to the fact that the ground at our stable has a lot of clay in it and you get dangerously slippery footing even in the arena for a few days after a downpour, especially if your horse is both clumsy and prone to spooking. It rained all day Sunday and Monday, so even though it was nice yesterday, riding in the fenced arena was out of the question and a couple of friends suggested going out on a trail ride. Now I was at a wedding all day on Saturday and due to the rain, Starbuck hadn't gotten out of her paddock since Friday. So I was a liiiiitle apprehensive about taking her out (roads! motorcycles! manhole covers! bikes! farm animals! trucks! barking dogs! big white canvas bags full of rubble on the side of the road!) after so many days without any exercise but wanted to get the "rainy" season off to a good start and said yes.
I shouldn't have worried. Aside from a few snorts at some gigantic and fantastically smelly hogs we encountered and a few strides of "collected canter" on the way home she was as cool as a cucumber, even when we trotted along a gravel road passing people out walking with strollers and dogs (sometimes she gets a little strong at the trot out in the open). She was relaxed - even lazy - on the way out and we practiced going first, second and last in line, passing the other horses and having them pass us, and the only worry she seemed to have was snatching fennel flowers as we rode past them. I tried to remember to praise her as much as possible and we ended up having a really nice time.
I'm so proud and excited that we have reached this point and am looking forward to NOT having our training schedule put on pause for 3 days every time it rains this winter!
By the way on Sunday I have my first show jumping competition - not with Starbuck since she's still not 100% fit after taking time off for her backache / lameness thing, but with Vent, one of Marina's horses. He's a stubborn little beastie right on the height line between pony and horse who I really adore riding - for a lesson horse, he's got a fair amount of "spark" and will dump you (or try to) if you piss him off. Strangely enough I'm not nervous about this (yet).