Sunday, March 06, 2005

Got The World On A String

Tying horses in the desert
Tying horses in the desert, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
Interesting past couple of days. I thought that weekends were supposed to be when people unwind. But somehow for me that hasn't been the case for a while. Last weekend was a crazy trip to Sharm el Sheikh for business and an airshow, only to lose my old dog Stella while I was gone.

This weekend there was the National Egyptian Arabian Horsebreeder's Association halter show on both Friday and Saturday at the Club just down the road. We had gorgeous weather for sitting around looking at pretty horses, and I actually did it for about 3 hours Friday afternoon. They were pretty but I doubted that a lot of them could have done the work that mine had to on Saturday morning. Saturday morning is the time that my regular riding clients come to go play in the desert and today the trip was about 35 km to the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur.

Thursday was so dusty that I could barely see the desert from my front door. There was just a grey haze with a few greyer palms almost bent double from the wind. Naturally, I was mopping my floors. That is, after all, just the thing to do on a day when half of the Sahara is blowing past your windows. We were worried that the ride on Saturday wouldn't be possible. The horse show probably would happen even if it were the last day on earth.

But Friday and Saturday gave us the kind of weather that makes us say that we can't imagine living anywhere else in the world. After an hour and a half romp in the desert with my neighbour Janie, I headed off to admire high-priced horseflesh for a few hours. Just before the horseshow finished, a friend showed up with her daughter for a visit and some horse time at my paddocks. Patricia is in middle school and looking for fun things to do, so we did some riding lessons after dark in the paddock. I couldn't see much, but Bunduq cruised her through some exercises with flair. Horses see much better in the dark than we do.

The next arrival was another friend with a six year old son. A single mother, she works harder than almost anyone I know, but this evening an old friend was in town from Europe and I had offered to watch the son for her. Ali and I played a few games of Chowder, a fish-eating-fish game that is about at a clear six year old level, watched a bit of Winnie The Pooh and then it was The Bed Time. Six year olds think that they should stay up until the cows come home. Old ladies who could be six year olds' grandmother think that 10:30 is a wonderful bedtime, especially when they are getting up at 6:30 the next morning to feed the dogs and birds before going riding for about five hours. Old ladies are ultimately both more devious than six year olds and more stubborn, so they get to bed on time.

Riding to Dahshur was utterly freeing. I dropped all the stress and worries behind me for a few hours to search the sand on our route for interesting stone chips, fossil shells, flakes of mica and odd looking potsherds. We picked smooth spots for long canters, talked about archaeology, and discussed my clients' summer trekking plans. When we reached the Bent Pyramid, which is a kilometer or so south of the Red Pyramid, a driver was waiting with a cooler filled with apples, sandwiches and cold water, as well as a large bag of berseem and a bucket of carrots for the horses.

It was at this point that I decided to try to solve an interesting equestrian problem. In most normal environments in which people ride horses, there are objects that can be used to secure horses that are not currently being ridden. The best thing that we could find were some rocks that were too small or a pyramid that was too large. Therefore, being innovative, I clipped the three horses together figuring (correctly at least today) that the likelihood of three geldings all choosing to do the same thing at the same time was pretty slim. Well, it worked this time.

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