Thursday, September 17, 2009

Casi una Yegua

Casi, which means almost in Spanish, meaning she was ‘almost a mare but never quite’ - in my mind anyway - was one of the first members of my animal family when I came to Mojacar. Casi was a three week old foal that I bought on an installment plan along with her mother Oli.
Oli or Olivera, because she lived in an olive orchard, belonged to a farmer who just used her as a brood mare and to keep the weeds down around his trees.
We have a local tradition here called the ribbon race. In the ribbon race all the single men get on horse-back with a pencil in their hand and gallop at full speed up the street to try and grab the ribbon of the girl of their dreams. All eligible girls, hand embroider beautiful ribbons with their names and other ornate decorations. A ring is then attached and it is all rolled onto a wire that is hung across the street. The girls all turn out either in traditional Mojacar outfit or in the most glamorous flamenco dresses. The bachelors must show their manliness by galloping up the street and put their pencil through the ring on the ribbon. If they manage to snag a ribbon, the band plays, fireworks go off and the ribbon is placed on the bachelor by the girl along with a kiss and a present. In the old days it was kind if a Spanish Sadie Hawkins, because the boy won the hand of the girl whose ribbon he won. In reality there are one or two men that are great at this game and win most of the ribbons.
Back to Casi and Oli. I was told that Oli could not be ridden because many a man had tried to borrow her for the annual ribbon race and no one could even get a saddle or bridle on her let alone ride her. She was thirteen when I bought her. I went down with my western hackamore and jumped on bareback. No problems at all. I rode her home with Casi following where of course my father was waiting with one of his amusing remarks. Casi always seemed so petite to me, although she was in reality a good sixteen hands by the time she was five years old, and she came everywhere with me along with the calf Petite Suisse, and Negrita the lamb. We would walk in the mountains and take picnics. They never had halters or lead lines, we just talked and they seemed to understand. As the years went by and Casi grew, our girls wanted to start riding her but I was so over protective and never thought she was ready. I never wanted to put a bit in her mouth because I was afraid to damage her. One Christmas, when she was nine, my present to myself was to sit on her back. She was so pleased and seemed to say ‘Well it’s about time!’. From then on I rode her everywhere with no tack and just talking to her. When our girls, already national three-day-event champions, wanted to ride her I decided she should go to a trainer to learn a few aids and to wear a bridle and saddle: I didn’t want her to get mad at me. I rode her out to a stables where she immediately had a claustrophobia attack upon being put in a stall. Remember she had always roamed free on our farm. I was forbidden to go visit her because she went crazy when she would hear my voice. It made me so sad to think of her locked up but dad said she was probably worried about me being locked up in a similar fashion. After three weeks the trainer told me to take her away and sell her for meat and buy a proper horse. He was a great trainer and treated her well but she was so spoiled that he couldn’t even get her to take three steps forward. I rode her home and that is when the girls took over and turned her into the best all round horse. She could jump anything, even flying over the jumps in the paddock for her own pleasure; she learned classical and Spanish dressage; she was a great barrel racer, sorry Patsy, yes bareback, and the only horse in ANIMO that knew the difference when to listen to leg aids and when to ignore them. I continued to ride by just talking to her.

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