Monday, August 31, 2009

Horse Show

It is truly an amazing sight to see your child, on horseback, thundering across a huge green field of dips and hollows and mountains, riding over very large fences and through a big swatch of watery pond and then, jumping her horse over another big fence to exit out of the pond and back into the woods.

We were standing on the highest point of the course, waiting. First, you would hear the cachunk-cachunk of the horse's hooves hitting the ground. Then, a rider and horse would suddenly emerge from the woods, circle up and down the hills over several jumps, disappear down a path, then suddenly emerge again to go through the water element and back down a winding path into the woods again.

It helped that a friend of my daughter's was riding two slots ahead of her. When I saw the friend come through, I had a chance to track the course as well as be ready for my daughter. And she was, helpfully, wearing a cover on her helmet-skull cap, which had white diamonds circling the brim, so I watched for that as well as the sight of her horse. What surprised me most was the predominance and singularity of the sound: nothing else sounds like the echo and depth of horse hooves hitting the ground at a fast pace. Like the sound of an ambulance siren, it was difficult to locate where the sound was coming from at first. We would be quickly walking from one point to another on the course. Then, the sound, and you would freeze for a moment: was there a beast about to mow you down from the front, or was it a horse coming up behind you from the back? Either way, you needed to get out of the way as soon as possible in order to save yourself as well as not interfere with the rider's progress or safety.

The most wonderful thing about being at a horse show - something I did fairly often when my daughter was in grade school, but haven't done in several years - is to see the camaraderie of the riders. I'm told that people who do three-day eventing (I think that's what it's called?) -- dressage, stadium (0ver fences inside a show ring), and cross-country (through the countryside, over logs and fences and ditches and water stuff) -- are particularly nice. But to see such a convivial, supportive group, mainly women, of all different ages, and to shake hands with a number of kind, funny people who are friends with your daughter, is a lovely thing for a parent.

Other than the show, we've been doing lots of good eating. Both of my kids could have a side job, sending tourists from one great eating place to the next. Saturday night we had Ethiopian. Giant, shared platter of spicy chickpeas, tomato salad with jalapeno peppers, and much more. And a dark beer, Ethiopian-brewed, called Hakim. Fantastic. Last night, Chinese. Wok fried salt and pepper shrimp. Also great.

Now, we're going for a walk along the Charles and enjoying some sunny fall weather. Wish that I had my camera to show you all Julia Child's house, which is on the same street that we're staying on.

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