Sunday, January 21, 2007

Free to act...?

Today, YB and I rode to the race track, but it was a marvelous Sunday afternoon as there were in fact no races!
"Ah, Zinder has problems!" YB said as we approached track that seemed deserted apart from a handful horses and their riders. And still, he chose to come back from Dogo (where all the people were today) and come here!

We had a rendez-vous though, because I had said we would be racing 2600m. It's a long distance, too long if you ask the men of the race track, but I love it because no one else does. It's a favorite of Arwen's but then again, any gudu that goes on for an eternity is a favorite of hers.
I knew YB and Sahara would be up for a challenge but I made no illusion of this.
"If we race the 1300m," I told YB on Friday, "you have a good chance of winning and I don't like to loose!" We laughed together - neither of us takes it very seriously, it's a lot of fun developing Sahara from "race horse donkey" to "Arwen wannabee". They (the race track community) are already calling her "Ishtar's little one" and soon they will have a hard time differentiating between my two mares, as Sahara has started to understood the love of gudu!

We did race, and of course Arwen won (despite the weight difference between her rider and Sahara's jockey...), but for the first lap, Sahara remained side by side with Arwen, working full speed without enticement. She did really well! Of course the second lap was too much for her, but I don't mind. I'd rather train her for the longer distances right from the start because I've never liked those 1000m races anyway.

In fact, Sahara did so well that I considered racing another lap after giving them some time to recuperate, but Ali would hear none of it. He did not even want us to go into the bush.
"Listen. All this work kills a horse."
"It might kill a Nigerien horse Ali, but look at Arwen. She's ready to go!"
He still did not want us to go, and being responsible as he is, he followed us with his horse, knowing that we could not ride away from him and yet we would not be able to make him gallop either. Still, he tried to explain to me that it would be best if I stuck to the traditional [boring] Nigerien race horse training.
Finally I said: "Ali, listen. I am 26 years old. I have two horses. I fell in love with horses but I did not fall in love with racing. I do not enjoy the slow-slow walk to the race track which goes on for an eternity, nor do I enjoy trotting. I love one thing and one thing only, and that is galloping in the bush!"
At this, YB said (almost soothingly): "It's ok, let us go."
And Ali smiled, shook his head and said "Sure, go!"
Off we went, and forty minutes later, I was smiling, Arwen was satisfied and YB was in shock because Sahara had kept full gudu for 1min40 seconds at the airfield stretch, which convinced him once and for all that our bush training does indeed work!
"Next time, let's drop the race track and head straight for the bush!" he said.
Ah... now I'm listening!


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