The wild stallion Petrichor was still in his enclosure when the girls went to check on him early in the morning. He was eating, drinking...and limping. But if there was ever going to be a chance to get him seen by a vet, it would be this weekend, because the local ranchers and artists were having a gathering - a "Pony party" they called it, and there would be horse people in Chilao. So as Grace gave him his morning feed of pellets, she also gave him Dermosedan; a sedative that he would hopefully eat, and react appropriately to.
The first thing the girls had to do was bring some horses down to the common area where everyone was congregating. There were pipe corrals set up, and the big arena had been opened for everyone. There was no real agenda, and the girls really didn't know what to expect...so they brought along lots of horses and dogs and saddles and gear.
Grace ponied some of the horses down. Even if she did not have a chance to ride all of them, the experience would be good for them. She brought the new Akhal Teke stallion. She brought her favorite Paint, Windy Boy. she ponied them with her faithful, tireless little mustang, Jesse.
Skye got to ride Charmer, whom she dubbed "the super charger." Charmer was probably the most horse she'd ever ridden. He was well schooled and responsive, fast, powerful, and ready to run. He was smooth and easy to sit and very exciting to ride.
When all the performance horses had made their way down, Grace took Spot, and Deer Medicine with her foal, and a large contingency of dogs down to the gathering place. And one cat. Mojo, self appointed leader of the band.
It was a very interesting gathering. The ranch owners were, for the most part, content to socialize, share and work on art projects, and let their ranch hands loose. There weren't any structured riding events.
William Hadsell, member of one of the founding families of the Conejo Valley, came to visit briefly on his new Ducati. It was a glorious day to play Angeles Crest Highway with a different mode of horse power.
Roberto Ramirez brought along a veterinarian and vet tech, as Grace had heard he might. She made short work of engaging them.
She also said nothing about the fact that they were going to doctor a wild stallion.
Using Skye's rope bridle technique, Grace approached Petrichor. Her movements were a mixture of slow and easy...because this thing of slipping a makeshift halter on him had to go right the first time...and because her body language needed to instill confidence in the humans she had brought along with her.
"We gave him Dermosedan" Grace said, "enough for a thousand pound horse and he's probably lighter. And I'm pretty sure he's got something wedged in his hoof. I can't think of anything else that would keep him lame without visible symptoms."
The rope halter slipped easily over his neck and head. He was unstable on his feet. Grace tried leaning in to Petrichor to keep him steady while a vet tech approached him from the other side. Petrichor was none too happy about the stranger, but sufficiently impaired by the dermosedan and his injury so as to pose little threat.
There did appear to be something lodged in his hoof. Petrichor did his best to avoid the tech. After several attempts the tech was able to grasp what appeared to be jagged piece of metal and pull on it.
Petrichor jerked his leg free and tried to rear. The tech made another attempt but Petrichor wasn't having it.
"Can you get a proper halter with a stud chain on him? I've almost got the thing out, I don't want him to drive it back in."
Grace thought for a moment about how she was going to answer that question.
"Let me try" Grace said. The thing - whatever it was - was already mostly out of his hoof. She could pull it out by hand...if she could just get her hands on it.
It took several tries. Finally she made a swift and decisive move, clutching the exposed portion of metal shard with her bare hand and pulling. It came free, with a very minimal amount of drainage and no telltale odor of infection.
Skye missed the whole Petrichor adventure. There was a lot to see at and around the Pony Party.
Not far from where the owners gathered at Chilao School, there was an "Open Barn." Recently renovated by Tara Reich, Skye was just in love with that barn. And there was more. An indoor riding arena.
Tara had more talents to share. Archery! Skye had never seen an arrow fly in real life, and she was intrigued. Tara released one after another into a palm round target. And it turned out one of her ranch hands was a pretty capable mounted archer. But Skye was a bit intimidated by him. He was...loud and a little unpredictable. He was dressed in a cape...she couldn't quite place the genre of his trappings...and it was always hard to tell if he was being playful or serious. Or seriously not quite right. One minute laughing, the next screaming...Tara's horses paid him no mind whatsoever, taking his emotional outbursts in stride, literally.
Skye took the opportunity to get back on Charmer and see how he did with poles. He was enthusiastic and quick. By night, Grace rode the indoor area. Just to do it. As much as she preferred the great outdoors to anything, being able to ride at night in a controlled environment was pretty nice. They met Dahlia, one of Tara's newest ranch hands, an accomplished English rider. While the horses were unflapped by the screaming man in the cape, Dahlia appeared to be less at ease with him.
Altogether, day one went very well. Grace and Skye were both excited about Sunday.
(images include William Hadsell, Clarissa ad James Quinn, Tara Reich, and the art of James Quinn and Julia Turner in progress. Thank you Roberto Ramirez for your veterinarian support staff).