In which my glass is still half-full, although it emptied out for a while

As most of you know, my life is mostly Good.

View of the Dragon through the tent window:
"Hey!  Get up and feed me!!!!"

My niece Cassidy is a delight.  We had so much fun with her in camp last week.  She always had a smile, even when we were working hard.

Marking the start line

She gained some new skills, like splitting firewood

Her mother says these skills don't actually add to the kid's resale value.
But I think they do.

...and using trail tools.

Three trailworking "newbies" in this photo:
Cassidy, Zack, and David.

And riding, too, of course.
We think Kayla is 25 or 26 years old, but
she's still lots of fun to ride!

The weather didn't help us much in the week before Renegade:  it rained every single day.

Monica and Sirie clearing the trail "ceiling" from the back of Gail's truck

Not just little showers of rain, either.  Huge squalls of wet rain rolled in several times each day--and night.  By the end of the week, we had very few dry clothes left.

Trail crew portrait (left-to-right):
Roo, me, Mimsy, Gail, Jeff, Cassidy, Zack, Jannen, Sirie, Santa Jim
(not pictured: Monica and David) photo by David Lewis

We smiled anyhow.  We don't mind work.

The "photo stump."  This was an important landmark when
marking trails--it kept us from getting lost!

Even the Dragon does her share.

Fiddle is not a spooky horse.

But there were setbacks, too.  Here's my litany of "glass-emptiers:"

Some were pretty small by comparison.  Hana was not 100% sound for most of the week, due to a pasture injury sustained before we left home.  One of Gail's horses was also lame after doing something dumb and tangling in a rope.  That meant that we didn't have as many horses to work as we needed, and we also had to cope with the two most herd-bound horses in the group being left behind in camp.  They were not, unfortunately, herd-bound to each other.  Sigh.

I didn't get nearly enough of the view-between-the-ears

Worse than horse-dingbats was my own disability:  my first real arthritis flare-up.  The day we arrived in camp, I could barely walk, and riding more than 10 miles was agonizing.  The physical pain was bad enough, but I'm sure the horsaii among our readers will recognize the real pain: not riding--and fearing that I would never be able to ride distance again.  Yeah.  It hurt that much.

For the non-horsaii, I can only compare it to the feeling of taking a lifetime-dream trip to drive across country to visit DisneyWorld, and then staying in the employee parking lot for a week.

On top of all that

we learned that Mimsy's recent low-energy levels are due to a bleeding tumor on her liver.  Not immediately fatal...but inevitably, I fear.  She remains a cheerful little dog, but the long morning strolls with me and the other floofs are off-limits now.

Every time we hit an emotional low-spot in camp
Funder and the Dragon

a bright-spot appeared.  Funder came to visit us in camp!  She is such a delight--and (because I was lame and couldn't ride, and the Dragon was DYING to get out and go) she got to take Fiddle out for a spin on the trails.  She says it was the high point of her Washington State adventure.  That makes me smile.

The rain fell throughout the week and on ride day.  I admit that the weather made me not-so-sad to be stuck in camp.
Flower was lame before Patty left home,
so she came without a horse to enjoy the weekend in camp.

And then

riders brought us horrible news:  Monica's horse was injured on the trail.

And, for a lot of stupid reasons (relating entirely to human mistakes), we didn't know exactly where they were for more than an hour.

And, yes: I went with the vet and the horse's owner and the ride manager, and since I knew the trails best, I ran down them, looking for the injured horse.  Adrenaline is a fabulous thing, and I apparently didn't injure my arthritic hips further because of it.  Still, the delay was awful.

When we did find them, the news was bad.  Khema, brave mare, had taken thousands, maybe millions of steps in her life, but that day she took one really bad step.  The trails weren't slick, and they weren't going too fast.  It wasn't rider error, either:  Monica is a skilled and careful rider, and I won't hesitate to hand her the Dragon's reins anytime I'm too lame to ride.

When they finally got Khema off the hill and down to the vet hospital in Ellensburg, the news came back to camp via text:  a spiral fracture, joint-to-joint.  The decision to put the her down was swift, but sad.

Luxury accommodations for the Fish, with post-Katrina inspired exterior decor.

Back in camp, with more than one rig swathed in tarps, the sun came out.

The morning after the ride, a combination of (painful!) deep tissue massage and pain killers and warm weather gave my joints some relief, so I saddled up the Dragon and took Cassidy out to pull ribbons.

I didn't feel quite so stuck-in-the-parking-lot anymore.

And that, right there, is pretty Good.  It's not Great.  But it's Good.

Some days, that's all it takes to get the glass back up to half-full.


  1. Love your attitude, Aarene. :big hugs:

  2. Dear Aarene,
    I am so sorry about all your troubles. So sorry for your loss. It doesn't rain but it pours. Is the arthritis better?
    Thinking of you, and sending hugs your way.

  3. Thanks for the link, and this post was incredibly bittersweet. When I eat chocolate, I like the most bitter dark chocolate I can find. It stays with me longer and that's how I feel about this post. Its one I won't be forgetting about for a long time.

    I'm so sorry about your hips. Even contemplating planned normal life events that will keep me off my horse for extended periods is giving me anxiety attacks. Everyone says that life is previous and death.can come at anytime (which is true) but sometimes I think that.the.horsii aspect of my life is even more fragile, and while I would like to think that nothing would keep me off my horse, in reality a very small injury is all it would take. question. Why are the trailers covered in tarps? I did one season where every ride but tevis was in the rain, and I never covered KY trailer in a tarp, not can I remember anyone else in this area doing so.....have I missed the magical answer to actually enjoying a ride in the rain?

  4. Bittersweet indeed. I'm sending healing wishes to you and hope that your hip trouble gets better soon! I understand that fear of not being able to ride, eek.

    Please let Monica, and the mare's owner know that I'm thinking of them- I've experienced a slightly similar event in the past and it is so awful to go through.

  5. i'm so sorry about khema. i've been thinking about her poor owner and rider since i heard. i hate that i can relate to this, seeing a horse in so much pain you know what you have to do.

    i'm worried about your hip. what are your options?

    all that rain - how did your muddy creek jacket hold up? hot humid and raining, that was a great photo of the people standing in the sunshine in the pouring rain. shorts and sleeveless tops in the downpour.

    that pic of fiddle - omgosh - a nobler horse i've never seen. crop that head and make it a profile image!

  6. bittersweet indeed.... I'm hoping that your arthritis calms down again and doesn't give you too much trouble (I have auto-immune issues that can flare and affect my riding and the long term affects of that are uncertain, so that worries me a bit).

    Sorry to hear about your dog and that poor mare on the trail. :-(

    hugs to you and your friends and family. Heck - hugs to the horses and dogs too. Life is short and we never know what is waiting around the next corner.

  7. It sounds like you had quite the adventure, with ups and downs! I'm sorry about the downs (the arthritis and the nightmare it must have been to find a horse in such trouble). But I want to thank you for volunteering to clear and mark the trail. Competitors in all equestrian events rely so much on volunteers to help out and even though I live on the east coast and will never be able to ride where you are, I know that people just like you make competitions here possible. So, thank you!

  8. Sending you good wishes, Aarene. Our old pal Wally just had his first ride yesterday after partial knee replacement surgery one month ago and it went great. I am hoping that you will have many pain free riding days ahead of you. So sorry to hear about Mimsey and the poor mare who fractured her leg. This is the hard part of loving animals for sure.

  9. It is no good for our pains to put a damper on that which means the most to us... It is terrible about the mare, I send my condolences to both the rider and the owner...unfortunately, s#it happens! And more often then not, it leaves us with tears and broken hearts...

  10. I like you.

    Posts like this, where you are real, and I see how you deal with things, make me like you more.

    Give Mims a hug from me.

  11. Y'all, thank you for your kind thoughts and words.

    Mimsy is stable (for now), and feeling perkier thanks to some prednisone and fancy canned food.

    I've started physical therapy (you know I'll be blogging about THAT soon) and learning how to cope with my new roadblock. Because not riding is NOT a thing.

    As for Khema, she flies ahead of us now. When we see her again, she will wonder what took us so long to arrive.

  12. Aarene, your courage, strength and optimism in the face of such sadness is an inspiration. Wishing you all the best.

  13. So sad about the mare, your dog and your pains. Thanks for sharing all of this. Life is so fragile sometimes and the pains we go thru and live thru to the other side to see the glass does fill up again.

  14. Loved the trail clearing in the rain photos! Good crew there!
    It was Brandi, coming in over time on the 25-mi. who finally "found" the horse & rider just a few hundred feet above camp on the hillside trail. She was appalled, as were we all - that they could be so close & yet so seemingly "far" away...
    Saddened by the loss of a mare with a lot of heart & courage...


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