This weekend found me at my sister-in-law’s (SIL) house, having departed after our new heating/cooling unit was installed Friday morning. It was grand time, as is all time spent with this SIL. We had an aggressive agenda for the weekend.
SIL owns two horses, Hope & Shiloh. Both are Draft Horses, one is a Clydesdale and the other a Belgium. They are ENORMOUS! One of them is 17 hands high. Whew! At the barn where SIL stables them, a local competion was being held and SIL had been asked to be a “jump judge.” A jump judge is one who stands near a jump and watches the competing horse and rider clear the obstacle, or not as the case may be. If the obstacle is not cleared, there are penalty points attached. The object of the competition is to get the least amount of points to win. There were three phases to competiton: dressage, jumping, and course jumping. SIL (and I as a tag-a-long) was to judge jump #3 on the course.
Saturday morning we were up and out the door at a reasonable time. The day was hot, hot! The humidity was very high, leaving a heavy haze over the tree tops so thick you could almost see the water droplets hanging suspended in the air. We arrived at Stable #35 and were greeted by the owner’s new Black Labrador puppy (who is going to be enormous when grown judging by the size of his paws!). The competitors, both horse and rider, were being groomed in preparation for the contest.
SIL loves being at the stables and upon walking into the enclosure I could see why. I’ve never been to a stable before except for in my imagination through what books I’ve read. It is like another world that has its own smell, sounds, landscape, and language. My nostrils were assaulted by the smell of old urine. My eyes needed a moment to adjust to the darkness of the walkway, keeping the area cool I suspect. My ears heard the many horses snuffling their hay, clomping a hoof, or neighing their greeting to SIL as she walked down the way saying hello, the clink of a harness, or a rider talking softly to their charge.
SIL took me outside to introduce me to Shiloh and Hope, who came over to her call. Both horses had fly-masks on to keep the flies away from their eyes and ears. They looked funny but I could see how irritated they were with the flies buzzing all around them. Their tails were in constant motion and their flanks always twitching. It was obvious to this neophyte that they love their owner and she, them as they nuzzled her hand and neck. Afterwards SIL got her instructions from the trainer on how to judge the horse/rider at Obstacle #3.
We got our gear, which consisted of a pen, a book to write on, the “official” judging sheet, sunscreen, bug spray, chairs and a bottle of ice water, and started our trudge across the lot, over a fence, across a shorn hay field, and up the hill to the edge of the cornfield. We plopped our stuff down on the trampled area near the jump, got ourselves doused in sunscreen and sprayed with bug spray till we felt sticky! Then we sat and waiting for the first horse and rider.
What an exciting time it was! We could hear the horses clop along the path in a canter or gallop, depending on the skill of the rider. We could hear the respective riders encouraging their ride to “git” and telling them what a good job they were doing. Then they came ‘round the bend and galloped up the hill and jumped the small obstacle. It was so cool! I was astonished at the seemingly careless and confident way these riders went sailing over the jump. Yes it wasn’t high but no matter. It still took guts to do what they did and there were a couple horses who, when they got up to the jump, stopped dead in their tracks and backed up (which is called a “refusal,”) thereby earning themselves 20 penalty points. But the rider kept encouraging the horse and eventually every single one went over the jump! I was very impressed.
In spite of the annoying flies, gnats, and whatever else was buzzing around our heads, the sweat that was trickling down our backs and fronts, the burrs in our socks, and the hot walk back to the barn, it was a great experience! And it gave me a greater appreciation for my SIL and her courage to haul herself up onto Shiloh’s back and train him to respond to her instruction. She claims to be a non-athletic person. Harrumph, I say! She has to be strong and athletic to do what she does. She has enormous guts. I admire that deeply. As well as the generous and kind heart she has to care for God’s creatures no matter their size or stature or condition. She is a grand lady, my SIL, and I am honored to be related to her.
As to the remainder of the weekend and the main purpose of my visit, we spent 6.5 hours going through all of her bookcases in her house. We pulled out all the books she will never read again and boxed them up for donation to the library (11 boxes worth)! We put all the books she hasn’t read yet onto one bookcase. Yes, you read that right – we filled one whole bookcase!! And we sorted out the remaining books and shelved them. It was hot, sweaty, sneezy work, but we got it done. We enjoyed one another’s company, good food, good wine, and good conversation all weekend!
I made SIL promise to not by anymore books until she’d made her way through half of the “unread” bookcase. But tonight a little birdie told me while at BJ’s Warehouse, SIL ended up at the book section and BOUGHT ANOTHER BOOK! Ooooohhhh!
She’s addicted! What can I say?! Weeeeellll, so am I since I brought home 2 bags of her discarded books to read myself! Ha!