From Endurance to Dressage
Not Enough Water or Too Much Water
Unless you just arrived to this country, you probably know that California has been battling a severe drought for half a decade. Even last year's much anticipated El Niño couldn't help us out. The Pineapple Express, combined with some atmospheric rivers, has finally brought enough water to California to remove nearly all of the drought designations from most of the state.
For those who aren't familiar with California's weather patterns, the winter rain and snow are what hydrate us through our rainless spring, summer, and fall. The California State Water Project redistributes the water from the wet, northern part of the state to the much drier south via a system of reservoirs, aqueducts, and canals.
When it doesn't rain in the north, or anywhere for that matter, the water stored in our reservoirs gets used up with nothing to replace it. This year, the winter rain and soon to be melting snow are causing many of our reservoirs to overflow, which is mostly a good thing.
Having lots of water is great, except when it's not. You might have seen or heard about the issues plaguing the Oroville Dam, the nation's tallest. It's a mess up there. Here in Kern County, we have dam troubles of our own. A an earthenware dam was built across the Kern River in 1953, creating the Isabella Reservoir.
In 2006, cracks were found in the dam which means that it can only safely hold approximately 60% of it's intended capacity. For many years this hasn't been too much of a problem because it never rained. This year, it's starting to be an issue.
As of right now, 4,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) of water are being released from the reservoir. The ranch where my boys live is on the Kern River. Here's what that volume of water looks like from the pastures.
All of the homes built along the Kern River are required to be positioned above the 100 year flood mark. While the river is close, something catastrophic would have to happen to flood any of the houses, including my ranch owner's home. They're safe.
While it's frustrating to see so much water being let out of visual storage, the good news is that this water will be allowed to flow out to the Kern River's alluvial fan where it will seep back into the ground to be "banked" as ground water.
Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. Literally.
The flooding has been crazy in San Diego too. Any time we get this much rain the Tijuana River floods. Several years ago it killed dozens of corralled horses when the river experienced a flash flood.
3/10/2017 05:11:13 am
That's the problem with living in dry areas isn't it? Our land can't really cope with extra rainfall. We lost a tree down by the river pastures earlier in the winter. It landed on the fence and crushed it. Everyone was fine, but pipe fencing isn't exactly cheap to repair. I'll be glad to get back to normal as well.
It totally burns me up inside to see all the water being let go too. I know it's a safety thing but damn - that's a lot of usable water.
3/10/2017 05:15:41 am
Here in the valley, water banking is our best friend! We draw a lot of water from the underground aquifers so recharging them is a high priority here and one of the reasons that Kern County was the last to be removed from the drought designation - our underground storage hadn't yet been replenished. I think we're fixing that right now though.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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