Friday, November 9, 2007

Let's Talk Mud

I sit here at my desk, waiting for rain. Like much of the south and southwest, California could really use a good soaking. Unfortunately, the best I can hope for, according to the almighty weatherman, is some heavy drizzle.

Drizzle would be nice, too. Drizzle puts a light frosting on the tips of my horses' ears and wets the ground to prevent dust, but it's not so wet that I can't ride. And it's not so wet that arenas and showgrounds end up like the one in the photo, above. That was taken a few years ago at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (and racetrack) near San Diego, California. We were all gathered there for our big year-end championship show. My sister, Jill, is there someplace. I was holding the camera so that I could forever immortalize the scene. It rained for three days straight, relentlessly. But since the footing was the same that speedy Thoroughbreds careen around on, regardless of the weather, we kept riding and showing. Slipping or stumbling wasn't an issue. Getting soaked and soggy and miserable certainly was. Competing at that show really tested my committment to showing. Each time I rode in a class with my hunt clothes sopped to my skin I asked myself, "Is this really worth it?"

Of course, being a rabid competitor at the time, all I had to do was glance at the tri-color ribbons and the prizes and I'd immediately answer to myself, "Yes!"

So we had a hair blow dryer hung inside the tackroom. We dried our hunt coats as best we could between classes. We prayed that our tall boots would dry out overnight just enough so that we didn't come down with some crazy flesh-eating toe fungus. And our horses traipsed around in coolers and dress sheets. They were warm and dry, trust me. Us? Not so much. I can recall riding my young gelding down to the first fence in his baby green hunter class, the raindrops slithering off the brim of my helmet, and struggling to see the jump. Finding a decent take-off distance was no longer an issue. Finding the actual jump was!

It was a memorable show to say the least.

So again, I say I'm hoping for rain. I just wish I could get the rain minus the mud.

Have you slogged through the mud and sloshed through rain to ride? Let me-- and the other readers know-- by clicking on "comments" below or emailing me at


Anonymous said...

That is a very interesting story, for when i was at a show with my palomino mare Banner, she decided to take a dip in a large mud puddle right before our first halter class. she almost ruined her new halter to!!!

Anonymous said...

I have a mud story. About five years ago, I was riding my beloved mule, Mr. Two Bits, in a crowded showring. It had poured the night before, and the mud was at least 3 inches deep. Two Bits and I were stuck in a large clump of horses in the corner, and just as we were about to break free, a skittish mare suddenly shied into Two Bits, causing him to shy right out from under me. I slid on my back through the mud in my brand-new hunt coat. Dry-clean only? Please! That thing went through the wash and survived for the next day's classes. I still use it.
--Ellen, NY

Anonymous said...

Every thursday after work I make the 25 minute hack over to my trainers barn for a lesson. Rain had never been an issue until two weeks ago when the forecast didn't look good. Unfortunately, skipping the lesson was not an option because I was heading to a show that weekend and needed a tune up.
My arab gelding and I made the trip over without a drop of rain and the lesson was in the indoor. However, the ride home was quite another story. The rain came in buckets, and we were soon soaked. At one point it fell so heavily I could barely see my horses ears.
But we made it back safely and after careful drying and conditioning my boots and tack were fine. Plus we had an excellent time at the show, picking up 1st place in our training level dressage class!!!

Anonymous said...

The areana at the barn i board my horse at looks just like the one in the pic right now. i just came back from my weekly lesson and my horse dumped me right imfront of a 3 foot fence. It took 30 minutes to get the mud out of my hair and an hour to scraape the mud off my helmet(which i just bought). :(