Many years ago, I acted as groom for a friend who was doing a three-day event. If you’ve never done a proper three-day, grooming for the speed and endurance is unlike anything you’ve ever done with horses. It requires the organizational skills of an Army quartermaster, the tracking ability of a blood-hound, the stamina of a marathon runner, and lots and lots of ice. (More on the ice in another post. This one’s about Texas.)
Anyway, I was feeling like the “compleat” three-day groom (this was our team’s 3rd 3-day) and I figured I had everything figured out. I figured wrong.
To begin with, Buffalo, Texas, (why in heaven’s name anyone ran a 3-day in Buffalo was beyond me, except that the footing was excellent) is not a major cosmopolitan area. It’s 135 miles SE of Dallas, and 135 miles NE of Houston, and getting there is a trick, because if you sneeze, you miss the exit. Then, you drive miles and miles to get to the showgrounds. Which, I will admit, were civilized. Except:
Once we had permission to unload, the first thing they warned the grooms was about the white, sandy patches in the grass. “Keep your horse away from them – fire ant hills”. OK. Then, and oh by the way, when you walk the cross country courses, stomp your feet and the rattlesnakes will not bother you. Oh, and by the way, when you walk near the woods in the evening, be careful because the wild pigs will go after your little dogs. This was pushing it for big-city girl.
Then, during steeplechase, we noticed a flock of vultures circling over the steeplechase track. Comforting. We also noticed long-handled brooms at every jump on cross-country – to chase the rattlesnakes off the jumps (they apparently liked to sun themselves on the jumps while not in use …).
Then, that evening, as we drove the (it seemed) half a million miles through a bull pasture in the dark to the shed where they were holding the competitors’ party (granted the food was delicious) (and I kid you not, we drove through a bull pasture) two bobcats ran across our path in the headlights.
The final straw was the next morning. As I was getting ready to fill all my buckets and prep for the jog, someone ran a backhoe over the water main, and we had to dip water out of the pond. After (yes after) I’d just done that, they warned over the loudspeaker to beware of the water moccasins in the pond.
Sorry, but I am NOT going back to East Texas – or at least Buffalo. Ever. Again.