Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Fine And Pleasant Misery*: Part I

Hey all: I'm going to post the story from the derby in a couple parts. Last time I posted something in two parts was the Inavale camp, and the second part was the story of my broken ankle. I promise nothing bad happens in the second part of the story this time :)

Today is Friday evening, clinic day. We are camping in a tent at Inavale, and true to horse-camping form, everything has been a complete SNAFU. Except the food, but I'll get to that in a bit.

After going to my 10 - 11 Biology lecture like a good student, Mom and I had to rush around like maniacs trying to get together all the things we didn't get together earlier. The original plan was to arrive at Inavale a couple hours before my 3:00 clinic, set up the tent, unpack things, and the like. Now the plan was to actually get to Inavale with at least 10 minutes to tack up for the clinic.

We made it. Barely. I tacked up very quickly (after a momentary tangle when we accidentally switched reins onto the wrong bridle -- McKinna's bridle -- and had Pandora's lips pulled up to her ears) and headed out to the course.

Did I mention that it's been raining?

The course is wet. It is wet and squishy, and without the grace of fantastically maintained footing my horse and I would go slip-sliding away. I am in a clinic with four other people. I know one of them - good sign. Her horse is a bit wild but she's moving up to Novice and he's still looking pretty good. One going-crazy black horse with a too-tight martingale, the removal of which fixes one problem but leads to a bit of another. One slightly less-crazy black horse. One buckskin who was probably the nicest-behaved of the group. And me.

Pandora is relatively nice. I take a moment, in our long warmup, to rejoice in the fact that my horse now has a canter. Do you remember when she could barely canter? Because I can. She could barely hold it for a few strides, and even then her nose was practically on her feet if I didn't hold her up. No longer!

Jumping is reasonable. I smugly note that Pandora is the only one who will calmly trot over the placing pole and jump the little cross-rail we're using for warmup. We add a little table on a bending line. Pandora does not approve of going smoothly and calmly forth, especially when the foooting is wet and squishy and did I mention it rained earlier? Also, by now it is getting warm and muggy and even less pleasant. But I digress.

After many exhortations to KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS UP AND BACK, DON'T LET HER PULL YOU DOWN, we achieve some semblance of pretty jumping and move on to more fun things. Little courses, even.

I discover happily that if I remind myself that I do have abs, and if I pull my shoulder blades back so far they practically touch (I might exaggerate a little), I can actually keep her nose UP when we jump over ditches! And she'll actually jump over them, instead of pulling me down onto her neck and sort of oozing over! How exciting. Also, it helps if I don't look at the ditch. Eyes always up. Didn't I learn that in marching band somewhere?

Splashing through the water is plenty fun. She's quite willing, though she really prefers that we have a bit of momentum coming in. Canter up and through? No problem. Walking is a little more iffy but she'll do it if I insist.

We have a moment at the end of the XC course where we jump a bending line of two stadium verticals. Pandora is not pleased with the idea of going slow (my God, you idiot rider, we're on cross country, what the hell do you want me to slow down for??) and charges through, though she does politely leave the rails up. The instructor has me school her for a moment. Trot-halt. Walk, trot, halt. Trot, canter, halt, reinback. This makes Pandora more amenable to behaving, though I worry a bit about teaching her to back right after I halt. Bad habit in dressage. [I did test this on Saturday and have not installed a bad habit. Whew.]

So, tired and sweaty and mildly pleased with the whole experience, we head back.

NOW we get to set up the tent. And the canopy. And unload all our stuff. And set up the horse's corral. And feed the horse. And cook dinner. And go to the course walk at 7...and it is very wet. Also, the grass in the big field we are camping in in is about knee-height. Argh.

So we set up the corral, and set up the tent, and unload a little, and then it's time to go walk the course. Only to find - hooray - they haven't finished setting it up yet! So, we spend the next hour and a half dragging around standards and flags and numbers and getting our pants soaked halfway up to the knees. Which is all fine and good in the wonderful help everyone out attitude of eventing, but wasn't exactly what we were looking for since we haven't stopped to take a breath since early this morning.


Course walk is rescheduled for 8AM tomorrow. Awesome, since I hoped to sleep in till 8:30 or so, my ride time not being until afternoon. Oh well. Course walks are worth it.

So now we get back and have to figure out how to cook. My pants, both jeans and sweats, are soaked and therefore my attire of choice is breeches. With half chaps to keep my legs dry. We now discover that the nice big canopy, which we borrowed and planned to cook and hang out under, is conspicuously lacking in a rather important rainproof department: the roof.

So what do we do? The obvious answer: we move our camp chairs, portable table, lantern, and propane stove into the back of the trailer! The trailer now becomes our kitchen. Which is super convenient, because the trailer has a light, and one of our propane bottles is empty, so of the propane stove and propane lantern, we can only run one at a time.

But our 10PM dinner is very good. Pork chops and carrots and sweet potato. Mmm.

It is raining. Again. I am sure that by now I've mentioned that my current existence is very wet. Pandora is happily sheet-covered in her little corral, munching on her hay whilst getting rained on. She is wet too. She is a sea-horse, and I am her soggy rider.

Now a retreat to the tent, where the sleeping bag is dry and we have chocolate and horse magazines. We forgot the extra blanket to keep us warm, but Pandora's (clean and laundered, thank you) heavy blanket was in the trailer and serves as a nice replacement.

As I said...this is horse camping at its finest.

Next up: Saturday, the slightly less-wet day.

*I shamelessly stole this post title from a book by Patrick McManus of the same name. He is an outdoorsman and hilarious. I don't hunt or fish or much of anything, but I am still in awe of his humor. Horse camping, much like hunting and fishing and regular camping, is indeed a fine and pleasant misery.


Albigears said...

Love the video of her leap into the water! Too cute.

I hate being wet, especially when camping. On the other hand, everyone got heat stroke last year at Inavale...

manymisadventures said...

OMG I know. We went to watch the upper-level XC and we were sweating just standing in the shade! I can't imagine how uncomfortable it must have been to ride an entire XC course and try to get self and horse quickly cooled out.

Anonymous said...

This had me laughing so hard...could totally picture the fine and pleasant misery of it all. Love the clip!

wolfandterriers said...

It was rather wet this week here as well--luckily the construction party needed to do painting and plumbing, and we got the garage roof on before it poured!

Um, degree question? First English and the second is this weird multidisciplinary thing with bio, psych, and history as minors. Despite the fact that I like physics and have oodles of upper level classes, that wasn't an option. Big sigh. One regret was that I waited too long to take organic chemistry as I would have picked up a chem major instead. It's interesting in a very obsessive compulsive kind of way once you start seeing the patterns of the reactions.

I'm glad to hear that no accidents have happened this year despite the rain! :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed so it will stay that way...

Andrea said...

Hahaha!! This is a great post. I'm excited to hear the second half!!

Anonymous said...

Oh B! If everything went smooth, you couldn't have adventures, let along MISaventures! LOL

It's the PNW. Always expect rain!

Glad things went well the first day and even gladder that Pandora is doing well!

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