Monday, 31 May 2010

Treading water for the weekend

Well, this past weekend was the first horse show of the season.

I worked for my girlfriend as her groom and go-fer and do whatever is necessary person. I like doing that because I don't ride and show anymore, so I help where I can.

Friday we arrived at the show facility and got all the houses settled in the barn, with hay and water. All the tack was put into two tack stalls close to the horses. Then horses were tacked and saddled for warm up rides in the arena. I spent the day there and wandered home around 5 pm.

For some of the people (and horses), this was their very first show ever. That's where I came in. I helped with advice on show etiquette, wrapping horses' legs, adjusting tack, calming nerves (mostly people) and going in 25 directions at once all day Saturday (for about 13 hours) and all day Sunday (about 11 hours).

Now, it would have been a bit stressful for all involved simply because it is the first show (of the season and for some, of a lifetime). But the organization wasn't the greatest. There were computer glitches in their new system, there was poorly timed (or non-existent) warm-up times for people to get their horses moving after standing in stalls (the horses, not the people) before having to ride in their class.

And there was the weather. Temperature-wise, Saturday was nice. It got up to 21C. That's perfect for both riders and horses... not too hot and not too cold.

However... and this is a really big, mega-sized however... Mother Nature decided to be quite evil. Over the course of the weekend, we got about 100 mm of rain. And not just a steady rain. Nooooooo... it came down from sky-blackening, ground touching clouds that spewed massive amounts of rain in bursts. Winds howling, skies glowering, lightning flashing and thunder cracking kind of rain. Tiny funnel tails were spotted from clouds, threatening to form tornadoes, but to my knowledge we didn't get any in our area.

The barn where the horses were stabled is a metal building. Non-insulated. So you can imagine the noise of that rain hammering on steel... and the fear it would cause some of the horses. After a while, a steady rain just becomes white noise that you can live with and kind of tune out. But when it comes in sheets, accompanied by the cracking and booming of thunder, that's a completely different story. And because some horses were scared, some of their people were also, which just feeds into the loop of 'ohmygod ohmygod!' that some of the horses get into. Needless to day, lots of them were bouncing off the walls.

Even the indoor riding arena, which is also a metal building but is insulated, became deafeningly noisy during the hardest downpours. And you KNOW that's a lot of rain if you can hear it through the insulation! We could watch it cascade off the overhang of the roof over the arena door... it was literally a waterfall. Running the 75 feet between the barn and the arena meant being soaked to the skin. My jeans were wet and mucky almost to my knees from the trips I made back and forth, and because the floors everywhere are sand.

The entire area went from being relatively dry to having standing water everywhere, including inside the barn in areas where it either leaked through the roof or came in under the doors. Driving to the barn Saturday morning (before the worst of the storm) there were a few puddles here and there, but driving home Saturday evening (taking my life in my hands but I had to go because my dog was in the house), the surrounding fields were under water. All homes were now lake front properties. Fields where crops were just starting to show green were drowning under a sea of fresh rainwater. And in the city (which is usually only a 10 minute drive away), streets were flooded, underpasses became swimming pools and water filled everything.

I was concerned that my basement would be flooded but thankfully that was not the case. I'd recently built up the earth around the house and extended the downspouts away from the building, and it looks like it's paid off. I can't get my grass cut, however, because it is still raining (Monday morning) and it's down about 8 inches tall... Does anyone have a goat I can borrow? Or maybe I should just move to Arizona. I hear real estate is easy to come by down there...


  1. i could feel and hear the rain from your writing, sugar! *shiver* glad y'all are safe! xoxoxo

    (JB's blog is gone!!!)

  2. Savannah: It was an awe inspiring display of Mother Nature's force... and totally unnecessary!

    (I know!!!!! I saw... *sigh*)

  3. A few scattered thoughts.

    The storm was unfortunate, especially to the sprouting crops.

    Despite the storm, I think you still enjoyed being around the horses.

    Nervous people should not own horses.

    As you might say, I'm gobsmacked that Jimmy is gone. I hope to hell he had all of his wondrous writing backed up.

    You are quite a writer yourself.

  4. How did the horse(s) you helped with do in the storm and show?

    Austin has two seasons: drought and flash-flood.

  5. Charlie: Yes, I enjoyed being around the horses and for the most part, I like the show environment too.

    Any horse owner can get nervous around a horse that is beside itself with fear. When you get 1200 lbs ready to explode, mortality is extremely evident... especially if you happen to be in the saddle at the time of imminent explosion. Severe storms can make the normally calm horse a basket case.

    Yeah, I think gobsmacked is the right word. I'm saddened and certainly hope he finds his way back to the blogging world at some point in the future.

    *blushes* Why, thank you, sir... I think you have me beat by a long shot, though.

    XL: Some of the horses did well - their personalities were such that they weren't too wound up. Others were terrible - rearing and bucking once in the arena (with a rider on board, of course). There were ribbons won and classes scratched. It was a mixed bag.

    Winnipeg has winter and construction... and construction season tends to overlap spring, summer and fall. So with the standing water everywhere right now, and lane closures because of road work, getting around the city can take some serious planning!

  6. Sounds like quite an exciting day for you and the horses and the riders!

    I think you did great offering advice and helping to make sure that the show goes on, even with the storms.

    That's really smart of you to build up the banks around the house and extend the downspouts away from the house. Prudent planning paid off!

  7. I was hooked by all of it. The rain sounded absolutely wonderful! But then I'm not entirely normal in my choice of weather.

  8. I reserve a special place in my heart for all those who have an affinity for animal spirits - the horse-whisperers, dog-whisperers, cat-whisperers, salamander/turtle/octupus-whispers...

  9. Eros: A little too exciting, thanks! But we all survived...

    Madame DeF: No, you are not normal, if you like that kind of rain... ;-)

    Jonas: I've even done the turtle thing! At one point many years ago, I had three red eared sliders. One was very tame and I could hand feed her and would take her out in the grass to wander about. Her name was Zenobia. The other two bit and didn't like to be handled at all... and now I can't remember their names. Guess they didn't make such a good impression on me...

  10. It all sounds quite exciting to me! I wish you had posted some photos of the deluge.


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