I was aware during the night of some vey gusty weather, with the sounds of the wind whistling outside the window and the scraping of garden furniture moving across the terrace. However it had died down to just breezy this morning, so I decided to stick with my plan to take my horse Liana out for a ride.
I am wary of riding in very windy weather. Many animals react with lots of energy in strong winds, and my horse is no exception. But all was calm when we departed mid morning for a shortish ride down into the valley below Canillas de Albaida to the picnic area at Fuente Santa.
We set off from home at 664 meters above sea level, and drop 90 meters to the start of the track to the valley, and at the bottom of the valley we have dropped another 50 meters. Normal procedure when we reach this lovely quiet spot is to dismount and let Liana take advantage of the grass that abounds alongside the river, whilst Roly is indulged with a supply of dog biscuits from my bum bag. Both animals enjoy this trip and it is good exercise for all involved (rather less for me, but I do regularly walk this route so I can at least empathise with my companions).
Whilst we were all relaxing the wind started to pick up again, so I decided to make a quick exit from the valley, jumped on board and started the climb back towards the village. The first part of the track is narrow and rocky, but half way up, it widens and is an excellent place for a canter (or sometimes a gallop) up to the top.
We reached the point at which I normally give Liana her head at the exact moment that an enormous gust of wind took us by surprise, which was just the excuse Liana needed to change gear and take off with all cylinders firing and we reached the top in record time. She remained ‘on her toes’ most of the way home, calming down just before we reached our drive.
The event reminded me of an incident at the same place last year.
When riding down into the valley in August, I noticed some very lush looking figs growing alongside the path, but had no means of carrying them home. So I returned a couple of days later well prepared with carrier bags. I was able to pick some prime fruit from high in the tree from my vantage point up in the saddle and when I had a good number filling my bags I had to ponder on how to carry them home without the ripe fruit getting squashed.
I finally decided to carry the bags over my shoulder in the style of Dick Whittington, and tied them onto the end of my riding crop, and set off back up the hill.
Unfortunately I hadn’t really thought this through very thoroughly, as the fig tree is situated at the very spot where the track widens and Liana expects to be allowed to break into a gallop. True to form, she kicked her heels and took off. Unfortunately I only had one hand to hold the reins, the other hand being busy holding on to the figs. No worries, I could enjoy a one-handed canter.
However as Liana picked up speed the carrier bags started to sway and rustle, and she could see them out of the corner of her eye. Now horses are flight animals (as opposed to fight), and the faster she went the more the bags swayed and she perceived a predator giving chase at close quarters, and however fast she went she couldn’t shake it off.
It quickly became apparent that something had to go, and it was likely to be me, unless I jettisoned the figs, and however much I love fresh figs, I value my limbs a bit higher. And so the predatory figs were unceremoniously dumped, enabling me to get back in control and bring Liana to a stop just before reaching the top of the hill and the village houses.
So I had to dismount and walk back to collect my rather squashed and sad figs and riding crop and show Liana what she was expected to carry the rest of the way home, albeit in a different position in front of the saddle.
Life is just one big adventure!