This demo had so many strikes against it, starting with a cat bite that I got just before the date. It was hardly a serious wound but I work for the Department of Defense which means that the great government bureaucratic machine lurches into motion at the slightest sign that an employee might be injured, not with medical treatment mind you, but with copious regulations and paperwork. True, I did have to go see my doctor for antibiotics and a tetanus inoculation since cat bites are notorious for becoming infected, and this particular feline left a nice pattern of four punctures, one for each canine tooth, on either side of the base of my thumb which did swell significantly and was painful. This was complicated by the fact that I am allergic to the tetanus booster! But all turned out well, tho' I did have trouble holding the reins for several days after and I was not able to practice my ride as I'd intended. But, oh, the paperwork and bite reports and phone calls from the health department and animal control did pester me for the following ten days!
Another hiccough was that my emails to Barb about when and where the event was to take place had failed to go through, so the very morning of the lecture she still didn't know what time to arrive. I also failed to receive her messages (thank you, Verizon!) and not until I was on the grounds of the demo did I get her desperate attempts to reach me. I frantically called her and reached husband Tom instead, who reassured me that one of my emails bravely made it through the webosphere to Barb and she was on her way.
Relieved that I would not be flying solo, I started to set up the sound equipment, only to find that all of the outlets were padlocked and the 4-H leader did not have a key. She started making calls and even sent a mother out to purchase a pack of D cell batteries when we discovered that the lock was a combination one and somehow they got the numbers and unlocked it. Of course, about that time the mother returned with a large bag of batteries, naturally no longer needed.
When I had first arrived Owen was pretty much the only equine around but by the time I was ready to ride several other trailers had pulled into the parking lot, coupled with local folks who were out hacking, so I ended up with more audience then I'd anticipated. I put on yet another new habit, this one a classic Victorian with an asymmetrical front in black linen which I'd been up hemming late the night before, and Owen, despite a nice soft warm up, was a bit of a pest during our ride, deciding that he'd rather swivel his head around non-stop to look at the other horses present rather than listen to my aids.
|Owen, extended trot with the least amount of effort.|
By the end of my ride it was quite hot, and once I'd finished I had to interrupt Barb's lecture to have the bodice peeled off me.
|Owen gives his 2 cents...|
As it turned out, this demo was also to include some riding time for the kids and the sample ponies turned out to be mules. I was a bit taken aback by this because, although I love mules, they are more challenging when it comes to saddle fit, especially sidesaddles since generally they have no withers. We initially tried Barb's Steeles but they were far too wide, and we resorted to using my Manorgrove which fit tolerably well with a few foam shims here and there tho' it had a noticeable lilt to the front. But despite this, the kids rode quite well and the mules were absolute gems.
One of the mules was a darling little chocolate molly mule with big beautiful eyes. I was enchanted by her but Owen was besotted. During our six years together I have never seen him make a fool of himself for any equine but Owen was unable to take his eyes off Fanny, gazing longingly at her as if she were made of peppermints. This was followed by his arching his stud neck and giving soft little huh-huh-huhs whenever she looked at him. Alas, for Owen, she did not return his affection and kept pinning her ears and giving him evil looks when he tried to reach out to her; rarely do I feel sorry for Owen, but seeing his advances rejected did tug at my heart strings, especially when he called to her once she was loaded and her trailer pulled out of the parking lot. It was his first encounter with an "exotic woman" and seeing how he was as struck by her as an 18th century sailor by his first sight of the belles of Polynesia, I expect he is occasionally day dreaming of her while loafing in his shed at home. It got me thinking that perhaps I need to get him a mule of his own. One that can take a sidesaddle, of course.