Thursday, July 4, 2013

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.