California is in the midst of a drought that has no end in sight. Some blame hydraulic fracking while others say this is a normal part of California’s climate cycle.

Either way, in the year I have been in SF, the first good drenching rainfall that I experienced was last weekend. At the tail end of it, la Niña started a week of riding lessons at Webb Ranch.

After a couple of days of rain, mud took over Portola Valley and like we were in the midst of a snow storm, tractors were out at the Ranch pushing mud around into small mud-banks on Monday. We couldn’t step anywhere without being ankle deep in muck; dirt took over every aspect of our lives. I had visions of one of the opening scenes from the movie Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang where the kids built mud-men and worked hard in the “land of poo.”

After 5-days the mud passed, but for all these days, la Nina spent time with Artie the Horse… getting dirty and discovering every nook and cranny at Webb Ranch together. I guess you can say that my child spent Valentine’s week with her love: Artie (wearing the jacket in the gallery).

With Artie she began beginner jumping, progressed in Western and English riding, and continued to work on her canter and trot in the arena. Also, Artie *apparently* has a smooth gait that makes him easy to ride bareback. When not riding, she worked hard at grooming and feeding the horses.

She also discovered some new loves: Cowboy the Horse, Willow the Mare (#3-#4 in the gallery), the kitten that lives on the roof of the office, Lily the Sheep who likes to jump in the air when being chased (#12), and Genny the Donkey (#13-#14), who is very friendly and extremely soft.

For an animal lover and future veterinarian OR animal rights lawyer (her current career choices), Valentine’s week was heaven.