Pre-Launch: Owyhee Fandango 2012
Well, we’re back from Fandango, and nobody died. As a bonus, we had a good time not-dying. We also learned some useful and challenging things about Acey. But wait. Shall we begin at the beginning?
On Thursday morning, Acey loaded right up behind Consolation. I threw a couple bales of hay in behind her and off we went, down Highway 26 to the cutoff toward Wilder. Rain spattered the windshield as I drove. In the distance, stone-gray clouds lay thick over the canyonlands. Wind buffeted us as we wound along the 2.5 hour drive. I pulled over a couple times and hopped out to make sure Acey, who is sometimes tense during travel, was maintaining her composure. She was.
The sky split as we pulled into camp. Spatters became deluge, then hail. I tested a couple parking spots, looking for somewhere level, not too far from the vetting area, not too crowded, and with plenty of space for Karen Bumgarner to join us with her two horses that evening. I settled on a spot sheltered by creekside trees, hunkered under the rain as I placed the blocks to level the camper, and spun the tires a little in fresh mud climbing up onto them.
I set up the panel pens in a reduced drizzle, thorougly soaking my boots in the process. The girls unloaded nicely, if impatiently. I put Acey in the pen that was anchored directly to the trailer, rather than the second pen that was anchored to the first, just in case she decided to throw a fit. She circled the area a few times, tossing her mane and pausing to test the variety of semi-edible weeds, antsy but not crazed. So far, so good.
Overhead, the sky cleared and the wind began drying things out as I set up housekeeping for myself and the horses. Acey remained unsettled, but not too unsettled to eat and drink — nothing like as bad as Aaruba used to be. (You longtime readers will recall how he’d fling himself back and forth, clattering against the panels, never relaxing until nightfall. Ugh.) I pondered saddling her up for a little test ride across the creek, to see how she’d handle the water crossing, but decided not to given the restless weather and her state of mind. Better to face it in the company of other horses.
Instead, I led Consolation down to the creek to stretch her legs and check out the water level. I was pleased to find it lower than I would have expected after the week’s weather. Consolation, however, was plenty high. She bounced around and hollered for Acey, who circled and screamed in agitation until we returned. Grrrr. This is why I really don’t like taking two horses to a ride. But, it was no worse than I’d anticipated. A pain for sure, but not a real problem.
During the afternoon, I watched part of the Easycare booting demo, standing in the transient sunlight to let my Ariats dry. Kevin and company were showing how to glue on boots. Interesting…good to know… but what a process! I think I’ll stick to Gloves, thanks, as long as they’re working fine for 50’s.
Meanwhile, I pondered my game plan. I had intended to ride Consolation on Day 1 and Acey on Day 2, leaving open the possiblilty of riding Consolation again on Day 3. However, Acey’s level of agitation made me reconsider. Perhaps she would be better served by blowing off some steam early instead of waiting in a pen for a whole day. Plus, the Day 1 vet checks were out of camp so we wouldn’t have to deal with buddy issues at every hold, and there were two holds scheduled instead of just the one planned for Day 2. Given her fitness level — which was on the low side of where I’d want to attempt a 50 — the extra rest time would be a good thing.
The obvious downside was that if I put Consolation off until Day 2, it was less likely she’d be up for a second go on Day 3. On the other hand, that was a doubtful plan to begin with, and Karen had offered the possiblity of riding her backup horse Blue on Sunday if Consolation wasn’t up for it. Hmm.
By the time evening came around, I’d decided. I would saddle Acey up for Day 1. Scary thought. Exciting thought. Plenty of thought to keep my mind busy as I tried to sleep beneath the camper shell hammered by periodic bouts of wind and rain…
I had a feeling Acey’s first ride would be more, ahem, memorable than Consolation’s.
Spoiler alert: I was right.