Archive for March 2011
According to the news, the California drought is over. The snowpack was close to a record, and we’ll have water in the river all summer. That’ makes it odd to see the river going down right now. It was bright and sparkling in the sun this morning, but there were sandbars there that weren’t there a few days ago.
It seems especially odd since there’s more water than this downriver. That water, of course, is being turned into the river farther down, from the canals. Our water is what’s coming down from Isabella, and they’re using most of the runoff to fill the lake.
With all of the worries about Isabella Dam and its supposed vulnerability to quake damage, I don’t suppose they’ll let it fill all the way. There should be plenty of water this summer, probably so much that horses won’t be able to cross again. We can always go upriver and cross at the weirs, so it’s a good tradeoff.
I read a very good book this week. Most of us have read the poem “My Last Duchess”, by Robert Browning, if only as an assignment. It’s a little masterpiece; a whole story in a few lines, telling how the Evil Duke murdered his lovely young duchess. This book is The Second Duchess, by Elizabeth Doupas. Sure enough, it tells the story of the duke’s second marriage. It’s fascinating, not only for the plot, but for the details of the opulent life of the nobility in Renaissance Italy. And it has puppies!
After I read it, I got on Wikipedia and looked up the people involved. I’m glad I didn’t do it first — talk about spoilers.
If you like historical novels, this is certainly a good one. My only gripe was the Reader’s Guide at the back. I hate those “Questions for Discussion” — they are the same uninspired kind of questions that spoiled a good read back in high school. Like, “What book strongly influenced and shaped you while growing up?” I always want to answer, “Mad Magazine”.
I had an “Oh, wow!” moment and an “Oh, dear!” moment today. The “Oh, wow!” moment came while I had Bella up for an overdue wash and brush. I heard an odd noise above, and looked up. This is what I saw.
I wasn’t quite sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing — so I snapped another picture.
This time I was sure. It was the spaceplane! Both of them; the White Knight mothership, like an enormous double-tailed albatross, and Spaceship One looking like a gnat beside it. I couldn’t figure it out; I thought Spaceship One had a rocket engine, which would have been a lot noisier. I looked them up, and it was described as a hybrid. Maybe that means it can do both jet and rocket power.
There’s going to be a lot of history at Meadows Field this weekend, if they’re having everything from World War II warplanes to the spaceplane.
The “Oh, dear!” moment? It came when I looked at Bella’s mane. She has now rubbed a really big chunk of it, kneeling and reaching for grass between the rails of her pen. It looks terrible . . .
. . . but, as Billy would say, it’s a long way from her heart. And she’ll quit reaching as the grass dies back.
It looks like Lori B. and I might be going to the Draft Horse Auction at the Tulare County Fairgrounds this weekend. Tentatively, we are planning on heading up on Friday. I went last year with Marion, but she’s going on an ETI ride Sunday.
It promises to be just as much fun as last year. I’ve looked at the consignment list, and they have everything from Friesan horses to stagecoaches. I doubt that I’ll buy anything — though I’m still in the market for a good harness — but just looking is enough for warrant the trip. Not to mention I’m not sure how Billy would feel if I came home with a Percheron.
It’s getting to be beautiful around here. Though the weather stays a bit hazy, it’s drying out at last. It seems that every time I get a good start working with Duffy and Bella, the heavens open again. It’s been way too muddy to use the arena or the round pen. The roads are so slippery that on my walk a couple of days ago, my feet skated in opposite directions and I nearly did the splits. Which is not at all desirable at my age.
But the green is glorious. The new cottonwood leaves have lost their bronze overtones, and now look like translucent jade carvings.
And the grass is so deep and soft it’s tempting to sit down in the middle of it, and feel like a bunny in a nest. It’s California; soon enough it’ll be dry and prickly with foxtails. For now — well, I succumbed to temptation. And managed to get up again!
Or should it be Creme? At any rate, they were a very handsome and well-behaved team.
Whether we were looking at their heads . . .
Or tails . . .
. . . they were a handsome pair. The sorrel color with cream manes and tails is very typical of Belgian draft horses, at least in America.
Marion, as the helper, had to sit right here.
It was her job to hold the riders in place until it was their turn to be judged. Then she read them a sentence or two about what they were supposed to do, handed me their card to record the score on, and passed them through. I supposed it would have been possible to do this with one person, but it was surely easier with two.
Mary B. was relieved that enough people had showed up to do every obstacle — did I say there were twelve? Later this week she and the other organizers are going to meet and review the whole thing. It was certainly a learning experience for everyone involved.
And it was fun, too!
Yesterday was a lot of fun, and I found the judging easier than I expected. Marion and I judged the wagon obstacle. The horses had to walk along beside the wagon, if they were in the Open division, or circle it, if they were in one of the Novice divisions. We parked the wagon in the parking area right at the entrance to the east side, and that kept it away from the main part of the stables. Our boarders didn’t need the excitement.
It was a large wagon; not a classic type, but one made for hauling people on the road.
It was pulled by an excellent team of Belgians, Peaches and Cream.
Most of the time was spent in waiting for the contestants to come in. We were the second to last obstacle, and the course took at least two or three hours, so it was a long time between customers. But it was a beautiful warm spring day. Here are some riders coming in . . .
These particular riders were on mules. None of the mules were bothered by the wagon; after all, many of them had pulled one at some time!
Tomorrow I’ll feature some of the pictures Marion took. She got some really good ones of Peaches and Cream.
Will we do it again next year? Probably!
The Trail Trials were today, and were a big success considering the weather predictions. It turned out to be a beautiful day!
Right now, though, I’m one pooped petunia. Details tomorrow.
The sun actually came out this morning. It rained a little overnight, but not a great deal, and at the moment the prediction is for no rain until tomorrow night. So, if all goes well, the Trail Trials are on for tomorrow. I’ll be sure to take my camera — and a warm coat — and a chair — and snacks — well, you get the picture.
I fought my way through the nettles to get a good view of the river. It’s not very green yet, but you can see what it’s going to be when all of the trees leaf out.
Here’s upstream . . .
That’s an island with the willow trees in the middle of the picture, with a smaller branch of the river behind it. Beyond that is another island, with yet more river beyond it. It’s a bigger river than it looks, though it’ll be much wider when they begin to let the water down from the mountains. It won’t be long before we have tubers (people in inner tubes, that is) floating by, to the consternation of the horses.
Say — that would make a good Trail Trial obstacle!