Who knew that a forecast of rain would have us all going around with goofy smiles on our faces, buzzing with day-before-Christmas anticipation?
The last thirteen months have produced less than six inches of the wet stuff. There are reservoirs so empty that the drowned villages at their depths are now tourist attractions and the salmon can't find enough water to swim upstream for spawning. Farmers have been "harvesting" their herds as the cost of feeding them,when they should be eating grass, is prohibitive.
I rode in the new rain last Sunday. It ended up being a private lesson as, one by one, other riders showed up and decided that, for them, the pleasure didn't measure up against the potential drenching.
Each ride is bitter-sweet just now. There are changes afoot. Our school-horse lesson program is moving. Our trainer has been given an opportunity to run a complete livery and lesson center in a barn that was bequeathed to the city. It's been a community stables for a number of years but had not been managed well by the concessionaires. The selection process was thorough and arduous; from sixteen candidates down to two finalists. The final Town Hall meeting was a standing room only affair, with a line around the room of people waiting to speak for one side or the other.
I was impressed by the perspicacity and depth of the process. The Mayor, Vice Mayor and three Council Members asked good questions and shared their thoughts. When it came time for them to vote they all praised the quality of both applicants. The first to vote went against our trainer. The second stated that in the absence of an obvious difference in qualifications and skills, he would go with the maturity of the older person. The third turn was that of the Vice Mayor, an attractive professional woman, who gave him the Silicon Valley equivalent of a bitch-slap, saying loud and
clear that she had been CEO of her own first company at thirty. Next was the Mayor. He began by addressing the other side, with quite a speech of appreciation for what she brought to the table. It seemed that this would be the third and deciding vote for her, then he began speaking to Torie. He spoke of advice he'd been given early in his career and that had proven valuable, to always try to hire people who were better and smarter than he. Then he said "Torie, you're a Superstar! You have my vote". That meant that there were two votes for each side. It could easily have gone either way. There were no bad choices to be made. As suspenseful as it all was, we did carry the day with the fifth vote breaking the tie in our favor.
Today, barely two weeks later, there was an Open House for the community to be introduced to their new Barn Concessionaire. The school horses will be moving in soon and be given some time to acclimate before lessons resume. The herd is being whittled down. Torie must purchase the horses as part of this transition, so the financial commitment is daunting. She's selected a nucleus of reliable, safe and healthy horses that will fit with the majority of her riders. Unfortunately Chief is not on her wish list.
Chief is still a bit of a wild card. Not everyone can ride him and sometimes those that do end up back on the ground anyway. He's a lot of fun and I admit to some attachment to him but I agree he's not a money maker at this time and she can't jeopardize her future by being too soft hearted. She's already done an amazing job of finding great homes for several old faithfuls to live out their days as well loved family members.
Chief is only eight. He's big and striking to look at. He's a bit behind on his education, as he didn't start work until he was set in his independent ways. On the other hand, he has been started right and can be described as unspoiled and having a great work-ethic. This horse loves to learn. He needs a match with a knowledgeable home and he has only a short time to find one, or he's off to auction.
When my foster dogs move on to new homes, I miss them but know that they are headed for Happy Endings. Chief, not so much.
I've spoken to a couple of the better riding school programs in the area, about Chief. I've even offered to half-lease him from them, to make it worth their while and to keep guiding him in a positive way, for everyone's sake. Someone's trying him out tomorrow. I hope that it works out, for all of us.