Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A weekend of horses. Part 1.

First, a complete non-sequitir.

I just opened up a pack of seaweed snacks for the kids to put in their lunches. The package is labeled in Japanese (no surprise there), and underneath, there is English and French.

English: No MSG added.

French: Aucun MESSAGES ajoutes. (No added messages) Hmm. Guess there are no hidden agendas there...

Reminds me of the time I bought something in Quebec that claimed to be "fabrique au Dinde" (dinde being the French word for Turkey - the kind you eat, not the country)

Anyways, I was just realizing that I'm so focused on my stinkin' travelogue, I'm ignoring what's actually going on in my life.

So... a little bit of Modern History.

Last week, Kelly started asking when she might get to go back to the ranch and ride again. Actually, to be more accurate, she's been hounding me to check on a lottery ticket that I bought on a whim when we were in Palm Desert, because I told her that if we EVER won a lottery, we could do a 'private lease' through the ranch, where, for $500/month (so you KNOW it's not going to happen unless the Lottery Fairies come visiting) you can reserve any horse at the ranch for your personal use whenever you want.

So, partly to silence her, and partly to reward her for making such a smooth transition to Middle School, and partly as a bonus for her being so helpful around the house lately (she got Every Last Responsibility Urge that might have been distributed to our children. Skip? Not so much. Nate? Still too early to tell.), I said "Well, it looks like it's going to be good weather on Labor Day Weekend, so why don't we check the weather on Saturday morning, and see if it's worth going over to the coast."

Because you don't want to be heading over the hill to the coast if it's at all foggy at our house, because you'll be riding through 45 degree Fahrenheit fog at 8am there, if it's anything other than brightly sunny here. But the weather had been looking up towards the end of last week, and I had a bit of hope that we might have a good weekend.

I woke up on Saturday morning at 7 (ouch! Too early!) to see Kelly standing over me, fully dressed in her riding clothes, holding her helmet and lead rope, and asking what time we'd have to leave in order to get the early bird special. Oh, and by the way, mom. I already ate breakfast, just in case we need to leave now, so you wouldn't feel rushed....


I looked outside.

I couldn't see the back of our yard.

Yes, the fog was that thick.

Kelly looked heartbroken when I said "I think it's too foggy to go out there today"

"But mom! What if it's only foggy here?"

And because I'm covered in a thick coat of Sucker Paint, I got up, pulled on some clothes, rifled through Ken's wallet for some cash to pay the guide, and was out the door by 7:45.

Was it clear out at the coast?

Oh, no. But the temperatures weren't in the 40s, which was a miracle. I'll take 53 over 45 any day of the week.

I guess with it being a holiday weekend, there were a lot of folks who had the idea that it would be fun to go riding on Saturday morning. There was quite a crowd gathered, and many of the horses were already gone. When Kelly and I got to the front of the line, I asked if we were too late, and the fellow recognized us, and said "oh! Hi! No. But I don't know what we've got left for horses. Can you ride anyone?"

Music to Kelly's ears! She'd get to ride a horse that maybe she hadn't ridden before.

By this time the first (very large) group was leaving the ranch for the coast, and a smaller group was getting ready to mount up. The ranch foreman asked Kelly if she minded riding a new horse. Hah! You have to ask?

Hello KC. You were a horse that she wasn't allowed to ride at camp...

And look how spunky you are!

Kelly says "Whoa, maybe this isn't my best idea ever..."

But KC settled down almost instantly, once she started walking him around the saddle-up area, and by the time they left the ranch, they were fast friends.

In fact, Kelly got a little more than she bargained for. Turns out they were a little short on guides, so the guide on Kelly's ride asked if she'd mind being a "Guide In Training", and help out.

She was in HEAVEN!

It was her job to bring up the rear, and wait with any horse that pulled aside to pee or poop or eat the grass at the side of the path, and make her special kissy-sounds to get him to re-join the group.

Then I ran to the beach, so I could see them there. I was testing out a new lens, borrowed from borrowlenses.com. A Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8. It's about 30% the cost of the Nikkor equivalent, so if I was going to buy one (which I would have to save up for for quite some time), I wouldn't have to save up quite so long. Alas, I wasn't all that thrilled with the performance. The lens seized up on a number of occasions, and I missed several fun shots when I had to shift to manual focus and back to auto-focus, just to get the lens to talk to the camera body. Oh well. At least there weren't porpoises to photograph.

But there were pelicans!

And for a while, I could see a dark shape under the water just beyond where the waves were breaking. No fin ever broke the surface, and of course, the lens crapped out for about 5 minutes at that point, but I can't help but think that i might have seen a great white shark. It was about twice as big as the porpoises that I'd seen on that beach in the past.

But look! Here come the riders.

At this point, Kelly's group has caught up with the large group in front of them, so they all came down to the beach in one clump, but then Juan separated Kelly's group, so they'd have a bit less chaos.

Kelly waits for the groups to sort themselves out...

(My mom saw this photo and said it was a shame that she didn't have a cowboy hat on, because it looks like something out of the Wild West. Yes, my daughter the outlaw... heh)

There was a photographer from the other ranch on the beach, and I tried to stay out of his way while he took photos of all the other riders from both ranches as they trotted up and down the beach. I mostly stayed out of the way, but I bet I show up in a few shots. Like this one:

And he didn't just photograph for the other ranch, he photographed our riders as well. And poor Kelly, you know how much she HATES to have her photo taken...

"Oh! Are you looking at me? I'm just so NOT used to having my photograph taken..." *grin*

Heading back to the ranch, she took her 'junior guide' job seriously. Apparently, stirrups are for n00bs.

Back at the ranch, after she'd helped take the bridles off the horses, and watered them all, she asked if she could go out to the pasture and visit with Eddie, her most favourite of the faves. Of course, they said, so off we ran.

Hello, Eddie

She would stay there forever, if we let her.

It's just a shame that it was so foggy, because the coast is glorious when the sun is out.

Oh, and she made a new friend.

One of the ranch mares introduced her foal to Kelly on Saturday. She's really skittish about too many people touching her baby, but she let Kelly come right up (the carrots might have helped as a bribe).

The mom was always right there, keeping a watchful eye on things, and snuffling at Kelly's hand, wondering if there were more carrots in it for her. her little baby is so cute. He's entering the awkward kid stage, and is kind of shaggy. Kelly offered him a little chip of carrot, and he sort of flopped it around in his mouth before ptooy-ing it out onto the ground. He'll learn, but for now, it must be mostly about mom's milk and a bowl of oats and molasses every once in a while.

We stood at the edge of the corral for a while talking, once the carrots ran out, and the mom and baby walked away. And then, while Kelly was chatting about how great this morning had been, Little Guy came back...

Hey, pretty lady... I like how your hair smells.


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