It wasn't long until the locals started talking about "the weather moving in." I've been checking the weather faithfully all week... weather? What weather? Oh...severe thunderstorms between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. with chances for hail. I'm thinking this is great. Journey is penned next to a steel trailer (lightening rod!) and I'm in the trailer. WE WILL SURELY DIE. But it is only two hours of suffering. We can suffer for two hours. After all Journey is a livestock animal and I am "Endurance Granny". So I figure the rain, hail, and trailer tumbling wind will be over in time for the ride management to call us to the ride meeting. It was raining by this time and I was huddled in my trailer waiting to here the signal (blowing car horn) that the meeting was going to start. It rained.....and it rained....and thunder was rumbling, but I'm thinking no hail this is good! I had a contingency plan to load Journey into the trailer in the event of large diameter hail. I'd put my helmet on, we'd survive the day. So boredom set in as 4 p.m. became 7:30 p.m. and it was still raining buckets. Finally at 7:45 I crack open the trailer door thinking it was clear enough they should be having a meeting soon. Only to discover they had already had the ride meeting. Early. No horn blowing. In the rain. Early onset heart palpitations. So I scramble to find an LD rider to discuss the order of the loops, the time of departure, and something about clothes pins. Clothes pins? The way the route was configured we were to ride out, go to a designated place off the loop, retrieve a clothes pin from a bucket, and bring it back as proof that we did the entire out and back loop. My mind reels. WHAT IF I LOOSE THE FREAKING CLOTHES PIN? Back to my trailer to figure out a bullet proof method of getting the holy grail (I mean clothes pin) back safely to ride camp. Then I find out that not only do I have to bring it to the in timers, I also have to collect it from the out timers and take it back from whence it came with my info on it in ink. O-M-G! What if I loose the freaking clothes pin! So I select clothing with sturdy zippers.
Eight o'clock still raining. Journey is starting to shiver as the temp has dropped suddenly. I get her "rain proof" blanket on her, and she looks happier. Sort of. Nine o'clock, now it is raining, no that is an understatement, it now pouring buckets of rain....ten o'clock, yeppers....still pouring. Journey is looking rather dejected, head down, river of wet misery dripping off her nose. I finally dozed off at midnight as things began to lighten up....only to awake to an even heavier onslaught at one a.m. Journey is in the same sad position, hasn't moved a muscle, just looking at me like " you can't be serious" I've never been rained on in my life. Journey will not eat food that has been rained on. By two a.m. I'm getting concerned that my horse will not have sufficient bulk in her gut to make the 25 mile ride come later in the morning. So I start handing it out to her a bit at a time. Three a.m. I figure I can try to get some sleep now, the alarm is set to go off at five a.m. I drift off into exhaustion to realize that I've missed the start! No! Wait! I wake up. Four a.m. Thank goodness, I haven't really missed the start, but if I go back to sleep I might actually die, and miss it. Decision to stay up. I have a bowl of cereal in the dark only to discover the texture isn't completely right. Journey's hay has fallen into my cereal bowl in the earlier feeding through the door episode. Nothing like a little fiber to get you going in the morning. Chug a bottle of Frappacino for my caffiene fix. I eat a banana. Did I mention that it is STILL RAINING. Maybe I should think about rain gear? By five a.m. I've tried on a slicker, a rain poncho, and a disposable rain poncho. Choice A is heavy, choice B is light, but I'm hot, choice three makes scary ruffling sounds and I'm getting my body parts wound up in it. Heat exhaustion or hypothermia? I choose hypothermia and put on two tank tops, and a nylon vest with zipper pockets for the clothes pin. Oh, and the zebra tights. They are slick nylon and should at least not cling to my skin too bad. I use the ripped up plastic disposable poncho to make a plastic cover over my helmet. By now it is time to get Journey ready. We had the foresight to boot her the night before. She looks a little soggy, but the boots are still on tight. I get her tacked up and strip off my sheepskin as it is STILL RAINING and that would get soggy. Cover my saddle temporarily with the remainder of the disposable rain poncho. The fifties are soon heading out, so time to start warming her up.
Who is this horse? She is goosing along, head up in the air, and we are doing one-rein stops in the wet grass, and yes...IT IS STILL RAINING. I maneuver her up to the front gravel lot and we start doing circles until her brain kicks in gear. After all she is sleep deprived, spent her night with torrents of rain channeling off her nose, and hasn't eaten anything dry in the past twelve hours. It is time to start, and we must go in search of the elusive clothespin...it is barely daylight, and I'm not wearing glasses as it is STILL RAINING.
Okay. Let's make this simple. It rained the WHOLE TIME. Temperature in the mid sixties, and we are slogging through slickened clay mud, slipping uphill, and sliding down hill. Journey has suddenly developed a 10 mph trot that has never been seen in the previous year. She tries the old I'm gonna gallop and you can't stop me trick, and I retaliated with the yes you are going to trot or else trick so that we both survive the day. We worked it out. I kept Journey's rump warm with a rug. Can't have the horse getting hypothermia.
We slip and we slide, and the ribbons take us where we need to go. I grab a clothespin and secure it into the zippered pocket, and check that it is still there multiple times coming back. We present it to the in timers, and it takes her about ten minutes to reach pulse criteria. She has an appetite but she wasn't drinking and we were half-way now. The truth is she probably never wanted to look at water again in this life time! Her impulsion is lack luster at the trot out, but they pass her to go back out. We collect the clothes pin with our letter "C" on it and head back from where we came to take it back. The going is a little slower this time, but that means more time out in the mud and the rain....we deposit said clothes pin into the bucket to prove we rode the out and back to the end, we reverse, we come back. Half naked in the rain woman is starting to develop cramping calves as I'm kind of braced up against the cold, but we manage to make it back.