Getting the Bugs Out

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Dressage judges need to possess a streak of etymology in their background. that's because judges? boxes are often older wooden structures that are usually occupied by a variety of creepy crawlies when they're not occupied by judges (no rude comments accepted here). The long-term residents need to be ejected before the short-termers take temporary possession. A can of wasp spray is part of the standard show-manager kit, and a frantic call for the spray inevitably will go out about mid-day when the bugs are seeking relief from summer heat. I was reminded of some of my buggier adventures when I was trying to rescue my bogged-down trailer this weekend, a minor casualty of Hurricane Irene. While I was enjoying perfect weather and nice hotels in Detroit last week, my family and boarding barn were without power. In the run-up to Irene, it was decided to move the trailers away from a large willow nearby that looked like it would come down any minute. With the ground already soft from the torrents, however, my trailer got stuck in mud and was left to fend for itself. A hunk of the willow did indeed come down, but it killed the gate and five sections of fence in the outdoor ring, sparing other structures. However, I now needed to bring out my truck and hitch to unstick my trailer. I took one look at the morass and decided to wait until maximum dryness, which was Saturday, since another storm was now headed our way. One thing about most horsewomen ? they can back up a truck and trailer in nearly any space. (I hate it when I start to parallel park my car and some male passerby thinks the little lady needs his help and starts shouting ?right? and ?left? and waving his hands. Whose right' Whose left' If you really want to help, keep your mouth shut and just point. Better yet, go on your way ? with my smiled thanks ? and leave me to it.) I had to negotiate a right angle in mud to position the truck, then had a harder task getting the rig out uphill without taking out another section of fence ? fortunately the path to the barn was graveled and provided traction or I might still be there. The real hazard happened with I started to lower the trailer hitch onto the ball. Apparently a family of wasps had taken up residence in the trailer hitch. My hand is still swollen as I type. However, based on past experience, I had a can of wasp spray in my truck and dispatched the swarm of big buggers so I could finish rescuing my trailer. My wasp-removal prowess became a source of derision in Detroit. My scribe and I were settling into a box at B on the side of the ring after lunch when we noticed a stream of wasps heading with seeming sense of purpose up under the ledge holding our laptops and papers. Bending over, we saw a fist-sized nest located about two inches from my scribe?s knee, behind a support piece that had obscured it from view from the folks who had already sprayed and occupied the booth for the two previous days. I had even checked the booth for wasps myself an hour earlier. We held up the show while I carpet-bombed the booth, with wasp bodies soon littering the floor. Apparently it looked like some sort of bizarre dance routine to the spectators, and I heard my antics described endlessly and hilariously later in the day. Wasps I mind, spiders not so much, as long as I can determine what kind they are. I recall a beautiful small spider that stayed on the ledge in front of us all day when I judged a show in Texas last year. It was black and white and had turquoise eyes. My scribe said it was a jumping spider and was harmless. I looked it up when I got home. Turns out the turquoise eyes were really its fangs, and the genus was Phidippus, which in Greek means ?one who spares horses,? so I guess we were right to leave it alone.