Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Soggy Horse Tale

The Nile Valley is crisscrossed by irrigation canals distributing water to the farmlands of Egypt. These canals sometimes extend through urban areas where pipes have been laid to contain a canal under a roadbed as well. Near the farm where I live, the canals have trails alongside them, making them a favourite place to ride my horses. Yesterday was Friday and I took the morning to go riding with a group of friends through the desert to the northern end of Sakkara village and then home through the farmland to the farm. The ride down in the desert was lovely. A light breeze kept us all cool and my young gelding Fagr was behaving beautifully, keeping up with the older horses and not trying to run off in the vastness of the Sahara.

As we moved into the farmland on our way home, we kept up a brisk pace to be back at the farm in a good time for my friend Cris to be home on time. Our track took us past families in the fields, most of them harvesting forage for cows and donkeys so that they could relax at home on the first day of the feast after Ramadan, which is today. The horses were happy moving down the trail that wound along a deep canal about midway between the two main roads in this area. We were in the middle of nowhere and delighted to be there.

Suddenly, we came around a bend and found that one of the farmers had placed a diesel pump on one side of the trail with the intake hose extending across the trail to the canal on our left. There was room to pass and two of my older horses being ridden by friends hopped the hose and passed safely. When it was my turn with Fagr (aka, Figgy), however, his left hind foot slipped on the edge of the canal and he slid into the 2 metre deep canal. Although I launched myself out of the saddle towards the path as I felt him slipping, I didn't make it and ended up submerged in enough murky water that I couldn't feel the bottom, not that I'd want to anyway. I discovered that Fagr is a very strong swimmer, strong enough to pull me along the canal until I got smart and dropped the reins.
The farmer whose pump had been parked at the trailside reached down and helped to haul me out of the muck and then we had to call to Fagr who was swimming in some bewilderment along the canal. He turned and emerged from the water slightly downstream and on the other bank. Another farmer took the reins and led him along the path to a point just down the trail about 150 metres. We were reunited, dripping and filthy, and I realised that my digital camera and my mobile phone were both in the saddle pack attached to Fagr's saddle. As he'd spent rather longer in the water than I had, I was not optimistic about their survival.

As it turned out, my pessimism was well-founded. Both the Nokia and the Lumix were willing to turn on after about 18 hours sitting and drying out, but their behaviour is very erratic. The Nokia won't dial things and keeps beeping at me randomly, while the Lumix opens the lens and then shuts it over and over. Very sad. And I'd just gotten the Lumix back from being serviced on Wednesday night. Panasonic took over a month to replace two motors inside that had been damaged by dust. Well, at least dust isn't the problem now but I'm hoping that I can convince them to work a bit faster this time.

So for a while, my blogs will either be accompanied by photos I've already taken and stored or they will be photo-less. That is the point of the shaggy horse story, and Cris was late as well.

copyright 2007 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani