Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflections ~

The view out the window of the Cottage was white, cold & crisp.  Today it's gray, mild & wet!  What a difference a year makes!  Reaching the end of a year seems the time to reflect on the trail that wove it's way through the past twelve-months.  Making mental notes of the parts I enjoyed most, places I'd like to avoid, many to improve & some to visit again etc. 

Then!  The FUN part!  Welcoming in MMVII with hopeful hearts & new goals!  Or maybe "resolutions"?   A New Year!  Fresh starts to old projects, new projects & the never-ending "To Do" list!  :-)   Famous for a while now, 2012 is prominently featured in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.  The History Channel has an interesting series;  Ancient Aliens, fun watching on dark winter nights!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Poinsettia Tree - Molbacks Nursery, Woodinville, WA
Spirits are high!  Christmas Eve Day is here!  Christmas music, candles burning, good smells coming from the kitchen - family on the way tomorrow!  
Our Very Best Wishes from the Homestead to all of our blogger friends & family!
Here's hoping that your holiday will be Merry & Bright!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My "Seasonal" Employment~

My view from "work"~
I think this is my third year of watching the farm while the Doctor & his wife are away visiting their home in Mexico.  This picture was taken yesterday afternoon.  The first day of Winter was a beauty here in Western, WA.  Sunshine, clouds floating around, brisk temperatures & a view like this!  You can see the Eagles nest to the far left of the photo.  
The Eagle by his nest~
 I was thrilled to see Mr. Eagle visit toward the end of the day - admiring the sunset on the mountains!  This gives you an idea of just how Big the nest is!  Many generations of young eagles have been born & raised in this nest along the Stillaquamish River.  Protected from the hustle & bustle of the "modern" world by it's location on a private farm - these Eagles know when they have it made.
Day's End - Winter Arrives~
 The sky turned pink - the Mountain was purple - last of the daylight brought with it the cold! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

A cold, hard, wearing trip~

Cottonwoods - Along the River
Funny how you can be going along just fine, doing your daily stuff, making plans & then things change...  I'm back from a quick, expensive trip to Colorado.  After hearing about issues with my father's health, I flew out to see for myself.  Without the details - I can say that it was a very stressful trip, wherein I was only able to spend a short private minute with Dad.  

All I can hope is that it was enough to express to him all he has meant to me.  I've always felt so lucky to have both my parents in my life.  Seems that I planned that to be the case forever.  Sometimes forever isn't as long as you hope.

Driven away from the drama, I used the same escape I have since childhood.  Started walking to find private space.  In the middle of Winter, in a small town on the Great Plains - it can be a cold walk & was in more ways than one.  But I did find natures beauty - I wasn't let down there. 
Being the oldest & always close to my Dad - I expected to help, but have been shut-out.  

A word to the wise, no matter how much you think you can trust someone - even family - be sure that you Never sign a power-of-attorney that names only one person!  Also check to see if other documents have already been filed that you know nothing about - such as a living will, etc.  I feel like I've done what I can & my father seems content with that~

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Classic! :-)

Farah waits :-)
It was only about 30 degrees when I headed out to meet Saddle-up riders at Bracken Rd.  Our early sunshine, degraded to cloud cover & some fog, but we weren't dissuaded from a Great First of December ride!  We had a young filly, first time on the trails, another rider who was ponying her young QH, our group sponsor on a beautiful gray, Farah & me :-)

All the horses got on well, we ended up doing a trail that was a bit more "technical" that we'd planned - but making it through safe/sound made for a feeling of accomplishment!  Tamera did a super job of keeping us on dry trails & out of most of the mud!  Always a challenge here in Western, WA!  A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

View of Mt. Rainier from the Homestead~

Mt. Rainier to the South~
It was after almost a year, that we realized we could see all the way to Mt. Rainier!  Seems amazing that topographically - with 128+/- miles between us & the mountain by road, that with we are high enough to see directly that far!  It's more that the mountain is so huge!  :-)  With my zoom - I can capture the view!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Annual Wreath Making!

Fall flag going down~
As I arrived at Sunnyside Nursery yesterday morning - I had to take this shot.  A perfect depiction of how quickly we move through the change of seasons from Thanksgiving to Christmas!
Every year the three of us meet to make our Christmas wreaths.  Sunnyside is such a great place to do this.  We started going here years ago & it's become a tradition.  They supply all kinds of cut greenery, many different kinds of wire backing, hot cider & plenty of room to work inside one of their warm greenhouses.  We usually bring some extra's to use on our projects too.  
Granddaughter Cassidy has been coming with us the last couple years!
Cassidy with her swag
This year Granddaughter Skyla joined us too!  :-)
Having a Good time!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Christmas Pony~

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More from the Trail Clinic~

Mark uses the barrel to keep Farah from evading the obstacle!

In answer to CG's comment, I do think we're lucky to live where we do.  I read somewhere that in Snohomish County we have more horses per capita than anywhere else in the US.  I believe it.  Some really nice stables for about any discipline that you might want to try.  It's only thanks to the tree farms that we have the incredible trails in the foothills.  There are miles & miles of logging roads up there - one of the things on my "list" is to find the names & numbers of the logging operations that have some kind of "control" over those same foothills - to see how we could possibly gain access for horses.  Area's where I used to be able to ride have been closed off with locked gates, rubble on both sides etc., making it impossible to get in.  I'm sure that it's to keep the ATV's out, so maybe there would be some chance to negotiate for non-motorized.

Janelle, organizer of our local Saddle-Up group is an amazing "Trail Boss"!   Now that she no longer works away from home & has two small children, she's turned her talents towards finding us some amazing "stuff" to do both with & without our horses!  She keeps the costs to a minimum - which makes it affordable for those who spend what disposable income they have on their horses!   Another member of our group posted this great video;  Trail Clinic - of different riders & some of the different obstacles.  At the very beginning you'll see Farah, near the end - you'll see us finally navigate the "creek" on our own!  I decided that was a perfect way to end our day!  

(Post Script) Nora hardly recognized Farah in the video, her color actually lightens in the winter!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fun at the Trail Clinic!

Karen & Mark Plumlee
Another Saddle-Up that was outstanding!  It was about 21 degrees this morning when I loaded Farah up & we headed over to Mission Farrier School to attend a trail clinic with Mark PlumleeWe started in the arena, learning to guide our horses over, around & through a course of obstacles that were challenging & interesting!  Mark directed us on the safe way to approach each challenge & we started with our halters & 15 ft. leads.  Next, we mounted up to practice what we had learned before heading outside to a very challenging trail course set up on a hillside overlooking the Monroe Valley.  
Just a part of the course~
We're going to to through the water~!
Entering the creek before it was full of water was a non-issue, we had done it several times in the morning.  But... once afternoon arrived & it was full of water, it was another thing all together!  She watched as other horses went in & out, but was completely unwilling to go in...  Mark worked to send her through first, then I mounted up & we followed Karen's horse in, while Mark applied pressure from behind.  That worked & we made it through!   I already knew that puddles were not her "thing", so it was great to have a safe place to work & Marks experience.  The large stair-step tires were another problem for us.  Farah didn't think there was any reason whatsoever that we needed to climb up those!  But I did finally convince her to go up & onto the biggest one! She did this while I was mounted too. 
Mark used the barrel to prevent Farah from evading

 Later in the afternoon, after we'd played follow-the-leader with Mark in the lead.  I think everyone felt that they'd gained a lot of ground working with their horses,  I know I did!  Farah was tired, I was tired - it was getting cold again & we were ready to head home, but before we left, we did the creek on our own!  Success was sweet!   I was surprised to find that navigating the different obstacles was more mentally challenging than I had expected.  After all, most Endurance riders are a bit extreme anyway :-)  I can easily see that gaining competence for trail classes takes time, patience & practice! Now we're going to ask "Dad" for a tire full of gravel for our very own!  :-)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Going Up / Coming Down!

On our way~
I'm embarrassed to say How long it had been since I'd been up riding on my "own" trails.  Once Art put the rear shoes on Farah this morning, I bundled up & headed out!  Riding through sunshine, sleet, a bit of rain & a little wind -- but all well worth it!  Things had changed a lot.  A gate that gave us access through to one side of where all our trails had been, was shut again.  The little trail that I'd made around it, had been found by ATV's - so the landowner had "closed" it down.
ATV track under the newly moved in debris
Undeterred, we turned back & went out the way I usually come back.  I decided to check on the Wetland, but was amazed at how overgrown the small path was.  It also looked like someone had tried to dig a ditch, but I have no idea why.  We got around the first of the dead-fall & down the path to where small Alders had grown up.  Now they were big enough to stop our progress - so again I had to turn back.  This time, as we tried to negotiate our way around, I felt Farah's rear end drop down.  Then - she reared...  of course we all know the thoughts that race through your brain at such a time...  Just when I thought we'd be going over backward, she managed to find purchase, dropped down & pulled out!  Whew!  I didn't need the adrenalin!  :-)  Was really happy at the way she' actually kept her "cool" though - didn't thrash unnecessarily, just got us out!  Next trip I'll be packing a saw & hand pruners!  (Praise for a borrowed saddle with a secure seat!)  It was a "cookie" moment :-)

Once out on the power lines, we found an abandoned Plymouth Voyager Van with current plates.  I called 911 & reported that.   I rode down to the bottom of the hill to see if that gate was open or closed, to find it closed.  That meant going back the way we'd come.  Now I plan to call that landowner & ask for keys to the gates, otherwise my "loop" will be undo-able.  All together we were out for almost 3 hrs.  It was very chilly & very Beautiful!  
South on the power lines

Friday, November 11, 2011

Of Days & Horses~

View from my Kitchen Window~
Yesterday was a special day - special you ask?  Why?  Because I knew, both from the feel of the day & the weather report, that it would be the last of the amazingly gorgeous sunshine days that we have enjoyed so far this month!  Perfection from the brisk, crisp start - to the warm glowing afternoon, then the frosting on the cake... picture perfect moonrise.

Good news for me, when I unwrapped Farah's leg, the swelling was gone!  Once at Dean's, after two trot-outs on the hill with Manuel, my favorite horse handler on the lead - it was obvious that not only was she sound, but that she is amazingly light on her feet for a mare of her size.  I've always admired horses who are light moving, but hadn't owned one until now.  Time will tell if it makes a difference with her long-term soundness.  

When I reiterated how much in enjoy riding this mare, Dean went into gales of laughter!  He reminded me that the reason humankind worked to produce so many varied breeds of horses -  was to suit the horse to the task.  
To be competitive at Endurance, we need those tough, high strung, fly along types that are usually found in Arabians.  But, when it comes to other work that we ask horses to do for us, we can find a breed suited for the work at hand.  Good at that task, suited for it, but not necessarily what we consider a "all-round" animal.  

After coffee, I went out to the stable to collect Farah.  Manuel was with her, (Top groom award at the track last season.) on his knees, at her rear legs, rubbing a salve into her scratches.  He had removed all the scuff, washed her scabs with Castile soap & rubbed in a salve used at the track.  All of this while whispering sweet nothings to her - no fuss, no muss & Ms. Farah standing through it all like an angel!   I think the "blond" girl has a new convert :-)

At this point in my life, trying to let the competitive spirit bank down a little, I've managed to find a mare that is smart, quick, swift, willing & Fun! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another Incredible Day!

Moonrise over Three Fingers~
So far, so good when it comes to November!  Much nicer than last year, who can complain about these clear, mild, beautiful fall days?  I worked raking leaves, waiting for my farrier, who was scheduled to shoe both mares.  When I went up to get Farah, I discovered that she had managed to catch a back shoe in the horse wire between the paddocks & pulled it 1/2 off!  Good timing for the shoes!  Her pastern was swollen & tender to the touch.   Art put new shoes on the front & just pulled the rear.  

I called Dean for an appointment tomorrow.  Putting a poultice on wasn't easy!  She's touchy about her hind legs anyway - so we did some dancing...  Finally - I kicked her!  That settled it!  She stood with the foot on the ground for me to wrap!  (evil grin)  I can't see any lameness whatsoever - my hopes are up that she will be just fine.

Khari's shoes were worn & it was time to get those pads OFF!  I never like to pad, but for rocky rides I do appreciate the extra insurance & the often debated shock absorbing properties of Shock Tamers.  ( I started using them when they first came onto the market, for Jas - who's feet problems were legendary).  Once Khari's feet were trimmed up & before the shoes went on  - I painted her feet with Durasole.  Her hoof walls were nice & thick.

By the time I was done with chores & heading down from the barn, the moon was coming up over the mountains.   Incredibly beautiful evening.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ok, My Mom is Gone...

Skyla & Rascal
Skyla isn't easily fooled!  It didn't take her more than a minute to figure out that her Mom was gone!  Jentry had tried to put her down for an overdue nap - without success.  Skyla didn't fuss immediately - I took her outside & up to the Greenhouse.  I actually had planned to cut & bind dogwood branches :-)  Not!   Rascal came by to check her out, he was only a momentary distraction.  We tried a walk in the woods & swinging on the swing with the dogs, but Skyla wasn't happy.  Papa came by middle of the afternoon, grabbed her up & tickled her with his beard, but when he went to say "goodby" & was giving us a "group hug" I got a look from Skyla;  "You're Not passing me off to Papa are you?!"
After Papa left, Skyla had a little "melt-down" - a real case of the tireds...  Inside we went, I pulled up the warm flannel blanket - we sat in the comfy chair & Ms. Skyla finally went to sleep in my arms.  What a sweet warm bundle.  Thinking back, it had been over thirty-years since I'd held her Mother the same way & over eleven years since I'd done the same with her brother Ben!  Even cousin Cassidy - until now the youngest of our grand-kids just had her eighth birthday!  

After waking up a couple times, taking a look around - ( I pretended to be "asleep") the sweet little thing slept for almost an hour!  She woke invigorated & ready to play!  OK!  How many baby games do I remember?  Enough to keep her smiling & giggling until Mommy finally returned!  Whew!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"My" Hitching Post at the Redhook Brewery gets used!

My hitching post gets used!
We were So lucky today!  Sunshine, clear blue skies, white capped peaks & good company!   Our SNO-KING Saddle Up group enjoyed a planned ride from Farrel McWhirter Park in east Redmond, along the Sammish River Trail to the Redhook Brewery!  

I met Janelle, our group organizer at the Brewery at 9 a.m.  Heading out, Janelle wanted to set a good pace, so we would arrive at the park in time to collect all the riders.  Farah was wide eyed at her first encounter with civilization!  It was one of those Wow moments for her!  Traffic, noise, people!  Some were running towards her!  Others were riding their bikes toward her!  Some went swishing by from behind her!  She wanted to take the lead, but soon decided that it was a bit too scary, so deferred to the more experienced horse :-)  

We made it to the park just in time to meet-up with the rest of the riders!  By 10:45 we were back on the trail & headed toward the Brewery for lunch!   Once Farah realized that we were heading back the way we'd come though -- all bets were off & she hit her rock & roll walk - along with her new friend Cap, an incredible, solid Paso Fino who matched her walk stride for stride!

Once at the brewery, even though we were an hour later than we'd expected, the staff at the restaurant found us seating in no time & lunch sure tasted good!  So did the Copper Hook that I had to have!  Great way to spend a beautiful day!  Good ride, Cold Beer, in the Saddle!

Side-note.  Butch was one of the Construction Superintendents for Sea Con LLC when the Brewery was built.  I would trailer in when he worked weekends & rode the trail.  When I was asked by the owner at the time if I had any suggestions for the construction, I had to say;  "How about a Hitching Post?"  You can imagine my surprise when it became reality! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Khari's - AERC Equine Mileage Medallion~

Khari's 1,000 mile Medallion
For those of you who haven't seen one - (I hadn't) here it is!  In yesterday's mail was a big fat envelope from the AERC with the medallion & the certificate below.  It's engraved on the back with "1,000" but I plan to add Khari's name & the date.

On Khari's page is a bit about the history that has brought us to this milestone.  I was careful from the beginning with Khari, wanting to do everything as right as ten + years in the sport had taught me.   Going to the Bryce XP for Khari's first fifty-mile ride, the setting was the perfect place to start a young mare on a distance career.  Khari, as my second endurance mare, didn't have to endure the mistakes that a newbie rider with a competitive bent makes early on.  Named after my maternal Grandmother Carrie Fleming - Butch added the "me-home" to her registered name :-)   We both hoped that she would live up to the name & she has!  Never pulled, she has a straight list of completions right up to this milestone.  
Now, if I could somehow motivate her to give a bit more on training rides, life would be grand :-) 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Splendor~

Oak was planted for our 14th Anniversary~
Today was a beautiful, brisk, perfect fall day!  With Butch working such weird hours, we went out for an early lunch, before he left for work.  Once I was home - decided that working outside should be my "gig" for the afternoon.  Started pruning the gold leaf- red twig dogwoods that are planted along the creek in;  of course - Dogwood Gulch.  So much work!  Three bushes, that I'd let go for at least three-years.  Branches on the ground, that had taken root & branches that were almost the size of tree limbs!   Know pruning them just before winter will probably kill some of the branches off, but that would actually be a good thing!  
I planted them originally to hold up the banks along the creek, which they are doing.  With all the moles we have - the soil is loosened by their digging, which gives the low branches a perfect opportunity to root.  We'd hauled several yards of rock for that area too, but most of it has actually sunk in to the point where it's hardly visible.

After all the cutting, it's the uphill climb to the burn pile.  The Bonus - is that I now have more than enough beautiful red twigs!   I'll take the hand pruners out tomorrow & cut off all best pieces to contribute to the stash of plant material that Machias Nursery brings in for the wreath making classes.  I may use some inside for arrangements too. 

I didn't even walk up to the top of the woods today - I sure didn't need the stress.  I'm going to call County Code Enforcement tomorrow & ask how long someone can leave scaffolding up right against our fence.  I doubt anyone has ever asked that before now!   All the trees are being completely stripped of their branches on the west side.  What "buffer" we had that kept us from looking directly at the neighbor's house, is now gone...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Truly Bummed...

Glider at Frog Hollow
At the back of this photo, you can see our fence, a building & a large scaffold.  The "adjoining landowner" to the west of us, cut down a 40 wide by 190 ft. long swath of the woods that had been fenced with this property since the 40's, a year after we moved here.  He did it while we were distracted by a death in the family.  By the time we saw a huge plum of smoke in the air above the woods & walked up to see - it was too late to do anything.  We had a new fence to build. 
This is the same person who owns the pit-bulls that attacked me in May.  Yesterday morning on my walk, I found that he had raked up all the leaves that fell on his side of our fence & thrown them over to our side in piles, which completely buried my ferns & small bushes that I've planted.  Last year he did the same..  I'd bagged it all & hauled it to our compost piles then, but this time was just too much.  To say I was furious is an understatement.  I drove up there & found him walking down from his barn.  I informed him that I had called the Sheriff & that it was illegal to toss his yard debris over the fence.

He put the scaffolding up shortly after the "leaf" discussion last year - to cut down the trees that now overhang his shop, but it's been there all season.  This afternoon I walked up to find him setting up more scaffolding & now cutting all the branches that remain off our Cedars.  Mumbling that if I'd been "nice" to him yesterday he wouldn't do it, but now it would "All go."   What to do?  Build a 12 ft. tall fence?  Maybe install ecology blocks 20 ft. high?  Sickening...
I also asked for his Homeowner's Insurance information & if/when I get that -- will contact them to request payment on the hospital bills I owe from my injuries in May.  His response was that he'd have to "get back" to me with on that.   Sent the request by certified mail today!

Monday, October 24, 2011

In Awe of Arizona~

Incredible vista's~
It's not that I'm a great one to travel...  at least if it's not on horseback!  :-)  But... when I do get the opportunity to go somewhere, I do my best to enjoy every minute.  Arizona is so different from Western, WA - that it was almost like going to a different planet!  Cactus & Succulents are the plants that fill the ecosystem of the desert!  Would have loved to bring some home, but my 50 lb. bag limit was 1/2 pound over when I checked it in!  That was the 3 t-shirts that I brought home for the grand-kids & shot glass for Butch's collection.
Fountain Hills Golf Course
I was amazed at the amounts of water that it must take to keep these area's green!  No wonder the Colorado River is at an historical low!  Move to a desert, then turn it green?  Sounds typical for we humans :-)

I had planned to stay long enough to do some tourist type things.  One afternoon, we drove out to the old ghost town of Goldfield, on the Apache Trail.  It was laid-out like a mining town of the old west.  Main street was lined with shops, most selling art with a western theme.  One artist made more things out of horseshoes than I had ever imagined possible.  The livery had horses available by the hour or by the day.  Nice looking buckskins were in the corral. 

We also stopped at Apacheland - "Western Movie Capitol of the world", build in 1958.  Only two of the original buildings survived a fire in 1969 that destroyed 18 buildings and another fire in 2004 that brought Apacheland to it's final curtain call. 

"The Yearlings"
Scottsdale was INCREDIBLE!  Plenty of shops full of beautiful merchandise, all with the flair of the Southwest!  My favorite shop was;  Jewels of the West, Old Town Trading Co.  where I ordered some sterling silver galloping horse earrings.  I could have spent a Lot of money there - but have to remember that one of these days I might be able to get a new saddle?  

Anyway, the only thing I really missed - was the opportunity to get out into the desert on horseback.  The weather didn't cooperate, since the temperatures were unseasonably warm - high 90's every day I was there!  When the local's complain... you know you're in trouble!  I did love the horse trail signage though!  This horse & rider looked like they were going somewhere!  Unlike our signs that look like the horse is half asleep!  
AZ "Horse Crossing"!
It was a blast, I had fun - but loved dropping through the clouds to come back to the Emerald City!  It's hard to fly into Seattle without thinking that you're a bit like Dorothy!  I've been freezing since I got home, but think I've finally lost some of the wrinkles!  :-)  Just love this time of year, October is one of my favorite months - all the warm colors,   I've put up our amber twinkle lights on the cottage, front porch & wood shed.   Always so Good to be Home!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Over the Grand Canyon
Thought I've never been there - seeing it from the air was a thrill.  So much fun taking a trip - let alone - when it's to visit my sister's family & attend our niece's wedding!  Starting at the beginning - the flight was just fine :-)  That means I took little pills to keep from getting air-sick...  slept part of the way & took photos out the window the rest of the time :-)
It's hot & sunny here, I'm finally enjoying Summer, even if it's not my usual Washington State Summer!  Since the wedding was yesterday, have time today to work on the photos I've taken to date.  The post-wedding let-down has hit.  Nice to have quality time with family, it's so rare that my sis & I get together, we're making the most of it! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tevis Saturday!

Farah & Khari enjoy the sunshine
What an Incredible day!  Boy did we need one!  I think possibly our first full day of sunshine so far this month!  I took advantage & gave Khari a bath, though in this photo she had already rolled.  I come in the house, check out the Tevis webcast to see how Diane & other friends are doing - then head back outside to soak up more rays!  
Both mares are really growing in their winter coats now!  Khari still has scabs from the girth galls that she had from Bare Bones.  Even with the mohair cinch - the totally soaking wet conditions contributed to the worst soring that she's ever experienced.  I guess it goes along with the rubbing "burns" that I had on the inside of both knees - again - from them being wet all day.  

I did get Farah out for a ride on Thursday.  The replaced shoe stayed on!  She did just Great with the numerous mud puddles - it had rained all night - so she didn't have much choice :-)  She was also bold & forward when leading on the trail.  I see improvement in her every time I take her out.  

Here's hoping that Diane gets her first 100-mile completion at Tevis! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cassidy's 8th Birthday!

Cassidy zooms around on her bike~
Contrary to the Weatherman's dire reports, Sunday was a beautiful day!  Perfect day to celebrate Cassidy's 8th Birthday!  The breakfast brunch was yummy, company great & seeing the kids playing together is always so much fun for us! 
Mason & his scooter
Mason was so excited to show me his tricks, that it took me a minute to realize that he had no shoes!  Even without them, he did an excellent job!
Cassidy, Ben, Skyla & Mason
It doesn't happen often enough...  but when these kids get together - watch out!  :-)  Cassidy now 8, Ben 11, Skyla 6 mo. & Mason 10!  The time seems to have flown by since Ben was born & we began our days as Grandparents...  We enjoy every minute!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pulled shoe...

The offending shoe~
Had planned a nice long ride with Joyce yesterday.  I was there early, we were on the trail early & had hoped to get up high enough to see what should have been some crystal clear views of the Olympics & Puget sound.  NOT!  About five-miles out, doing a nice trot in the lead, it felt like Farah had decided to stop in less than a stride, she almost went down, then down again - until she could recover.  She trotted off about 3 strides when I saw the head bob & felt the shortened stride!  Got off, No Shoe!   Took the photo where we found it, ground into the gravel.
Art leaves just enough shoe to support the heels, but nothing to "hang" out the back!  Even so, Farah managed to catch the back of her left front shoe with the left hind foot!  Luckily, she's not sore or lame today, from the wrenching pull that it took to get it off.  These shoes were new on Tue. & only her second set ever.  I know her stride is lengthening as she's becomming more fit, her angles are good & she's moving great!  Art was out this afternoon to get it put back on.  We both think it was just a "fluke", time will tell! 

Joyce & I finished our afternoon with a nice cold wine cooler while we sat out admiring the horses & enjoying the sunshine!  All & all not a bad way to end a short ride!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Beagles at "Play" :-)

Rascal & Mischief
Rascal has mentioned several times, that Mischief does Not Play Fair!  She tries to take any advantage she can!  You'd think from this photo that she's in Big Trouble...  but not - Rascal will Not let her dominate him & every once in a while he has to remind her who's boss!
The energy these two expend playing is amazing!   One of these days I'll have to try to catch it on video :-) 
This morning the dogs favorite person came to visit!  Art, our horse shoer!  The Candy Man!  Nothing like darting in to get a freshly trimmed piece of hoof - that gives plenty of good chew time!  Rascal was two-years old on April 16th, Mischief just turned a year-old on the 15th!  
Mischief - one year old~
 I'll  have to try to get another photo of her without the wireless collar...  Five fenced acres & we still have to use the "invisible fence" to be sure that they don't find a way out!  Having her almost killed once by the neighbor's pit bull is enough for me..., 

Friday, September 23, 2011

First Day of Fall!

We follow Joyce & Annie
I somehow can't think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of Fall, than with a ride.  From a cloudy, somewhat overcast morning with a good wind blowing, we ended up in bright sunshine, high humidity & temperature over 80!  The mares worked up a good lather & we did too.  
Gorgeous in the woods~
Lots of trailers at the Bracken parking area, plenty of riders with the same idea we had.  We tried some different trails, I worked on getting Farah IN to mud puddles, after a somewhat quick sideways jump to avoid one!  Finally, she was walking through for me & getting lots of praise :-)  If she doesn't get used to them now...  I can't imagine that she would possibly make a trail horse in Western, WA!

She was showing me some attitude today too.  Picking up the speed of the trot  & resisting when I asked her to slow it down :-)  Of course with all the  bravado of youth, on her side - the gold mare prefers to be in front!   What she found out today though - is if you're in front - then decide to stop or avoid a mud puddle, the other horse gets the lead!  We're working on getting the rear-end disengaged too!  What?  Move my rear end???   I'd rather be moving forward!
Rose Hips~
I would have taken the day a few degrees cooler, but that will come soon enough!  Leaves were already flying through the air, in a couple more weeks & with a few more cold nights the colors will start to show!

As a post-script to those of you with Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS units...  It seems they are NOT waterproof :-(  At Bare Bones, when I first looked down at mine, I thought the water was just on the lens...  not... it was all the way inside.  Once home, I plugged it in & it actually downloaded my data from the ride.  I could see the moisture inside, so put it out in the sunshine each day & really thought it had dried out.  Today, when I went to turn it on, nothing...  This is my favorite gizmo... so I sure hope it recovers!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer...

Ben fishing the Sauk
Summer?  Where has it gone?  It seems as though we only had a few weeks of incredibly nice weather, before the days started getting shorter, nights cooler & sunrise later!  Even the air is starting to smell like fall!  At least in the mountains! 
Ben gets off the bus~
Ben is back in school, so his days of doing what he loves are shorter & shorter!  Even so, once he's off the bus, he asked to go fishing!  He caught a big humpie by snagging it on a gill!  They were that thick in the water! 

It was just an amazing day to be outside!  I love making the drive up to Darrington, even if it cost me $100. to not quite fill the tank in the Bronco!   (That with my grocery store discount!)
Skyla at 5 1/2 months
Skyla is growing by leaps & bounds!  She can now roll-over, but once over - the fussing starts, because - now she needs to learn to flip back!  Mommy has taught her to go 1/2 way :-)  That way you can reach other toys & not get frustrated!  The best part of any little sister's day though, is having big brother come home! 
Ben greets Skyla :-)
The best part of mine, is spending time with these two & their Mom!  All too soon, the leaves will be gold & that crisp feeling in the air...  will be Fall!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bare Bones Ride ~

We spent most of Thursday packing, shopping, washing, doing all the stuff that seems to take forever when you're getting ready to go to a ride...  It's always been difficult for me to understand Why it takes so long to pack - yet half the time & effort to unpack?  It rained off & on, but we woke up Friday to a beautiful morning.  The 2.5 hour drive down was uneventful, so nice to only have a short distance to travel!  

We arrived in Ride-camp to the sound of Loud gunfire!  Wow!  It's a gun club - but gee - isn't this supposed to be a "horse" weekend?  It was - until the club double booked our ride on the same weekend as a long standing black powder shooting event!  Oh well, we have neighbors at home who on occasion fire off high powered rifles, so Khari took it in stride.   Still, less than relaxing for the horses & riders alike.
Sirie braids Khari's mane
We sat up our little camp next to Aarene's Pirate encampment & the Fish Creek Team.  Pulled out chairs & enjoyed the sunshine!  Registration was really organized & I was first to sign-in for the 50, giving Khari #100!  Butch vetted her through & she received her usual all A's :-)

Heidi was hoping for the 80+ riders who had confirmed that they would be attending the ride, so held off on the ride meeting until about 8 p.m.  We had really nice maps of our route & everyone was looking forward to a good ride.
Ride Info. sheet
We had fun catching up with everyone's news & meeting a new friend too!  Karen, owner of the Wren Loop Thoroughbreds blog!  Was so much fun to see the big bay Cartman in person!   His owner too of course :-)   We'd watched him vetting in, admiring his shiny, big Thoroughbred form!

I didn't check to be sure our alarm was set correctly, so found myself waking up at 5:30 instead of 5!  That put me under pressure to get ready & get Khari warmed up for the start at 6:30.  Linda had told me her ride plan for the day, which was similar to my own.  Go out, make time - get our completions.  We decided to leave together & see how the ride went.  
Linda & Connie before the start~
 It was cool, cloudy & very overcast - but believing the weatherman, neither of us took rain gear, thinking that by the time the rain was forecast to move in, we would be in camp for a hold & could pick it up then...   Not!  We left in the front & started making time, heading up the long climb to the top of the mountain when it started to mist.  The mist turned to drizzle...  Linda said;  "Aren't you glad that we're used to Western Washington weather?"  The words were hardly out of her mouth - when it started to Rain!  The rain turned into a Downpour!  Within minutes we were soaked through.  The trail had turned into a mud bath, water was standing several inches deep in the trail furrows.  We continued to climb - right up into the rain-making clouds - we couldn't see anything of the view - it was a complete white-out.  I started watching my GPS.  We were only about 7 miles into the ride!  We knew we'd be coming up on the trot-by at Fall Creek.   The Vets gave a wave & we passed them by - both mares moving really well.  
Bare Bones per my GPS
After a few more miles, a rider caught up with us, the trails continued to deteriorate.   Khari hates being tail-gated & totally stopped paying attention to what she was doing to worry about the horse behind her.  (She slipped hard once, caught herself just in time to keep us from taking a bad fall.)   I moved aside & asked the rider to move ahead.  If I was going down, I didn't want to get stepped on!  The three of us continued on & on & on.   My GPS was reading over 20-miles & still no out-check in site.  Suddenly - no more ribbons!  Oh NO!  We didn't want to make a mistake in that weather!  We turned & went back to find the last ribbon & ran into other riders trying to make a decision as to which way to go.  Kathy was somewhat familiar with the trails, we followed her advice & found ribbons again!  The out-check came up quickly - we were in at 9:54.  Butch was waiting for Khari & dropped a blanket over her.  What was to be a 45-min. hold time was shortened to 15-min. due to the cold.   We'd ridden 25-miles & the horses were hungry.  Khari ate all the time we were there, but we decided to go ahead, leave on time & finish the ten-miles back into Ride-camp for the 45-min. hold.  Due in part to the fact that we were soaked to the skin, dreaming of changing into dry clothes & rain gear!

As luck would have it, that ten-miles was the nicest of the day.  The footing improved, horses knew they were heading back & we clicked right along.  We did run into several groups of trail riders & a few of the riders on the LD.  That slowed us down in places, where we were on single-track - but everyone was so courteous about moving aside as soon as space allowed.

At 11:39 a.m. we arrived back in camp!  What a relief, the rain had stopped!  Time to eat & find those dry clothes!  The break went quickly, but we were ready to leave again at our out time.

12:26 p.m. Ready to leave on the last loop
Back out on the blue/pink loop for the last 15-miles.  We weren't on the trail for more than five minutes when directly in front of us there was a loud "BOOM!"  Freebie threw on the brakes & tried to whirl!  Linda managed to keep her seat!  There was a man with a Huge black powder rifle firing just around the trees from where our trail merged & turned away.  Nothing like a little adrenalin to keep you moving!

The three of us continued on.  We were drizzled on a few times, but by the second half of the loop the sun came out!  That's because we'd all worn our rain gear!  The trails were still slippery, but were actually drying out in some areas.   I'd so looked forward to this ride, hoping for a bright sunny day...  Even with the rain -- it always feels So good to get out there & GO!  Khari was strong all day & as per usual - didn't spook once!  When she puts on her game face - she's as professional as it gets.  Drafting the leaders, she can set her own pace, stop to poo or grab food as she wants, then move out & catch back up.  This doesn't win us any rides, but it's sure a nice way to travel :-)

We crossed the finish line at 2:16 p.m. in 3rd place!  
2:17 p.m. Our Finish!
Sweet!  After sixteen-years in the sport - I have a mare that's reached 1,000 miles.  20-fifties without a pull.  Not bad for a backyard horseman :-)  I reached my personal goal of 2,000 endurance miles at this ride too.  Butch was waiting, we took Khari back to camp & washed all the mud off before presenting for her final VC.  Her only low was gut sounds...  which is not like her - but she just didn't have the time to fuel-up that she usually gets.  
Butch trots Khari for completion~
Only one rider out of the 14 who finished showed for BC.  It was a really tough trail.  The rain & cold temperatures didn't make it any easier on horses who'd just acclimatized to our short summer of 80's.  When we returned to our camp, the sun came out & it actually felt warm again!  Khari laid down, then began eating her hay :-)  Dory came over with her camera, saying that her 3,000- mile retired endurance horse FT, used to do the same.  She took some cute photos that she's going to forward to me.  I'll post one.  Sirie came over & laid next to Khari,other friends stopped by.  Poor Khari - she gave us all a look like;  "You know...  I was trying to take a nap here!  :-)  I wasn't as honest with her as I should have been going into this ride.  I should have & could have done more conditioning - but was distracted by the fun of riding my new girl.  I won't make that mistake again.  

Heidi & her crew did a first-class job of making everyone feel welcome, marking a super beautiful trail & arranging a beautiful ride-camp!   With four Vets, there was No Waiting!   It didn't feel a bit Bare Bones!  :-)  But... I'm still going to hassle her to have the logo made for t-shirts!  :-)