Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Company I Keep

January 26 2008

So, last year at the 3-day Eastern Mojave ride in southern California, Gretchen and I were making our way along a deep sandy wash that went on for a couple of miles. It was either that or weave sometimes treacherous paths through multiple forms of cactus (including Joshua trees, that stab you with poison, or leave star-patterned club marks when you are run into them) just waiting to attach their thorns to your horses' legs, or catch you if you got stumbled off or bucked off. So we opted for the wash.

We were in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve desert (the middle of nowhere, mind you), when we realized there was something coming up behind us, something big, and something fast.

It was not only a truck; it was a truck pulling a horse trailer. They were going fast, because they were in deep sand in this deep sandy wash, fishing-tailing about, and if they slowed down, they'd sink down into the desert and petrify.

"What the ??? Who are these crazy fools? Who would be out driving in a sandy wash in the middle of nowhere?" we exclaimed as we hoofed it out of the wash in a hurry before we were run over. They waved, smiling, like they knew what they were doing. We waved back and watched their dust in astonishment.

And rode on.

Nearly a year later, I am sitting in Kevin and Rusty's house visiting with Leslie Spitzer and her mom Linda. Kevin bought his beloved Far from Leslie last year; she came down here to see Far, and ride Kevin's horse Redford beside Kevin and Far in this weekend's Land of the Sun ride in Wickenburg. When it turned out our horses here all had strangles, and nobody would be going anywhere on four legs, Leslie and her mom came down anyway for a visit.

One evening we were talking - naturally - about endurance horses and endurance rides, and the Eastern Mojave came up, and bad crew directions, and driving down a sandy wash with a truck and trailer, as fast as possible, fishtailing so they wouldn't get stuck... "That was you!" It was Linda in that truck, with Leslie's husband, heading to the out vet-check. They'd been given the wrong directions, and once they found themselves in this wash there was nothing to do but gun it and hope the wash ended somewhere before they got stuck.

It was good to know that the crazies driving down that wash were endurance people just like me, people who next time might be on a horse waving at me doing something crazy like that.

Another evening disintegrated into a superb meal of Indian curries, good wine, fabulous dessert (the best pies in America, picked up by Leslie and Linda in Rock Springs, AZ, smothered with real English Bird's custard, made by Kevin), and topped with more sordid endurance tales with 8 endurance people from around the endurance world, from (loosely) California, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, London, Canada, Oregon, and Washington.

What better company could one ask for?

No comments: