This year (or at least Spring/Summer) has been full of frustration, disappointment, and ongoing attempts to keep a positive outlook. In July (so far) we have had 248mm of rain, following a June with 130mm of rain, a May with 177mm of rain, and an April of 148mm of rain. For reference, Ottawa usually averages around 73mm of rain per month. In short, it is wet, and it has been wet for months, and it is going to be wet for who knows how much longer. The forest trails are flooded or deeply muddy, the normally-dusty paddocks are wetlands, and the abnormally large mosquitoes are persistent clouds no matter where you go.
All of this has led to a very weird summer here at Wildfire Arabians. While we can (and have) ridden in torrential downpours, it's not really the most fun. While we can (and have) slogged through miles of water over the horses' knees, it's hard to enjoy while being eaten alive by mosquitoes (and trust me, we use all the tricks to deter them. But 1% of 5,000,000 is still a lot of blood being lost to voracious mosquitoes). There are only so many trails in existence, and when all of them are equally unpleasant to ride it not only limits your options but also limits your appetite to grab a horse and go for a good, fun ride.
On top of the soggy condition of the trails, Sasha has also been out of commission for two months. After going through a deep puddle on an often-used trail she came up missing a chunk of flesh from her fetlock approximately the size of a tennis ball, and almost an inch deep. It is likely that the incredible rains led to an old, unknown culvert, long covered with years of soil, to be exposed. While Sasha wasn't lame (thank goodness no tendons or ligaments were injured), it has taken a while for all the tissue to re-grow in the area. Coupled with the fact that Starlet is currently off property, we are down to one Wildfire mare... !
With all the curveballs that have been flying around this summer, just a few of them mentioned above, it looks like a very limited competition season for us (and indeed, a very limited riding season in general). And that has been hard to accept. Waking up on a weekend morning and staring out the window at persistent, cold rain instead of bouncing outside to hit the trails has been hard. Watching one of your horses slowly lose muscle tone while agonizingly slowly regenerating tissue has been hard. Having farm projects and summer plans put on hold has been hard. This summer.... has been hard. And that's okay.
It's okay that we haven't been riding nearly as much, because we miss it, and it will be so incredibly wonderful once the winter hits and we can get out and gallop for miles on perfectly-groomed trails. It's okay that we will likely only get to do two competitions this year, because we're not aiming for the Olympics, and we're not aiming for Year End points, and we're not out to prove anything, and to be honest we have just as much fun drinking wine on trail while cantering through the Maple Farm. It's okay that maybe all our over-achieving farm improvements won't be completed in one season! We are so privileged to look out our window and see our horses. Life is so complex with so many bouncing stars that we're just lucky they have ever come together to give us three happy horses, several riders with enough time to actually ride, and sunny summer days with soft, dry forest footing. It has happened before, and it will happen again. I hate the phrase, "there is always next year." Yes, I know, but I want it NOW! But I'm learning to make peace with the fact that there are times where our big dreams of hitting the trails after work and checking out new competitions and hosting informal events at the farm just have to be put on hold. And that's okay.
This blog is about close-knit friends learning and succeeding together as we achieve personal distance riding goals. It will generally focus on milestone events and lessons learned, and will serve as a diary of our journey through the world of Endurance.
Kelsa Staffa, Owner and Trainer at Wildfire Arabians