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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flirting with Fate~

Heading out on the third loop~
I know, I'm the one who's always saying not to "tempt fate" & here I did it myself!  Seems I was getting overly "confident" in making my ride plans for this year.  I was brave enough to say that Home On The Range would be our first ride of this season.   Note to self;  do Not speak or write in absolutes!  They have a way of biting you in the Blut :-)  Nonetheless, here's a picture of the great time we had LAST season, heading out on the third loop of the 50  :-)

Still sore from our little "parting of the ways" almost two-weeks ago now...  Of course the pouring rainstorms this week, would not have made for any kind of decent riding weather anyway!  Khari is so full of energy that she did a few "airs above the ground" yesterday when I turned her out for a while.  The soil is so saturated that Khari sinks in with every step.   Another Washington weather record has been broken for the month of March - the most rain since 1950.  That's a Lot of rain!  Now, I wonder how my hip, back & shoulder will feel next time I mount up?  I'm not going to plan a "season start" until I'm back to 100 percent.

The Good News!  I get to see daughter Jentry & Grandson Ben today!  Ben is coming home with me to spend the night!  Tomorrow we head to the hospital to be the support crew in the waiting room while his mom has her baby, Ben's sister & our fourth Grandchild!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Other side of the Nest~

Add caption
Here's a view of the nest looking SW.  The Hemlock is the tallest tree on our highest hill in the woods.  The nest is about 100 ft. up.  Still no idea who lives here? 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

MeOhMeOhMy's first foal! A colt!

Me Oh & her new colt!
In a brief sun break, a proud stakes winning mare introduces her first foal to the world at Granite Falls Thoroughbred Farm!   MeOh had a long & distinguished racing record, so now well deserves her new status a broodmare on the farm!  Hopefully to produce more top quality runners!

Who could resist a face like this?  Sire is Tropic Lightening - who graces the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association 2011 Calendar for the month of December!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nest in the Woods!

Hawk nest?
I'm hoping that this is the home of the Red-tailed Hawk that I've seen often, there's a youngster too, that's been around for the last two years.  These views are looking NW, with the nest maybe 3 ft. across in size.
High up in the Hemlock

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Security + Deep Seat = "Ride-Ability"!

Meridian Saddle #120
To borrow the term from my amigo Dean Essex DVM, the saddle that I'm selling, pictured above when it was new -- is a perfect example!  It's incredibly comfortable, no padding needed, the high cantle, combined with nice pommel & large bucking rolls -- kept me ON, even when Khari took a bad stumble on a steep down-hill at the Elbe Hills Ride last fall.  I'd only come off this type of saddle once, one of my first trail rides on Khari, when we were going too fast, ducks flew up off a hidden pond & the horse with us cut over right in front of us, making Khari Hit the Brakes!  I flew over her head, but didn't get hurt.  I've ridden all of our upcoming 1,000 miles of endurance in this type saddle & stayed top-side during some amazing stuff!

My "fat" girl & her new saddle!
Sadly, when I bought this saddle in Aug. 08, it fit Khari perfectly.  We started training mid-05, conditioning in 06, then 3-50's in 07.  We've been lucky to do 5-50's per season since.  Fitness happens over time, she's gone from a "fat" girl, to a "fit" girl.  Her withers slimmed down & the saddle started sitting too low in front.  This kept tilting me forward & over 50 miles, gave me shin splints.  So we padded up the front.  That worked, except that it pushed the saddle farther back & it started to shimmy back & forth over her loins -- rubbing all the hair off & soring her.

Finally this January, I attended a saddle-fit clinic with David Genadek of About the Horse.  While there, he tried several different padding options, but could not find anything to solve all the problems I was having.  The saddle just didn't fit anymore.  Since it was expensive, I have to get it sold, before I can order another.  I like Dave's saddles, but don't know about their "Ride-ability".  I would love to try one out & show it to Dean, but these saddle makers just don't seem to want to lend out saddles on trial.  I don't want to spent that kind of big $ for a custom saddle, to find that it doesn't work!
Bighorn Saddle
Compare the saddle I was thrown from, my 20 year old Big Horn.  This was the first saddle I bought when we started doing Competitive Trail in the early 90's.  One problem, was that your upper body tilts forward anytime you try to slow down or stop, making it hard to maintain your seat when anything happens.  The fenders are set a bit too far back.  Without a rear cinch, the saddle doesn't stay "down" on the horses back.  The "seat" looks positively "flat" compared to the Meridian above.

The only other issue I had as far as my comfort in the Meridian Saddle, was the 14.5" seat.  I fit in it, but without much wiggle room.  That may make it slow to sell.  Next time I will order a 15" & have the bit of extra room that makes me more comfortable, if a tiny bit less secure.  I will use one of the new molds to be sure that the fit will work for Khari.  Since we'll still hopefully "start" our fifth season before too much longer... (Heal Connie heal!) I can't imagine that her body will change much, she's mature at 11.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anatomy of a Spook~

GPS Image
Here's how my GPS recorded Khari's "little" spook!@   You can see the red stick pin - that marks the spot!  I don't know where all the wild marks came from, since I still had her reins & she didn't go anywhere.  Some of it I'm sure is from after I got up & was walking around to see if I could :-)  On a scale of 1 (can't ride) to 10 (can ride) I'm at about a five today.  Realistically thinking that I will not be up for a 50 by Sat.  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Welcome Spring!

First photo with my new Cannon
What a magnificent day!  Sunshine, blue sky, white puffy clouds, then later the Huge Moon!  A day to celebrate!  Today, morning sunshine to afternoon clouds, but very mild.  This Hellebore has been planted in the woods for two years now!  A bit "leggy" due to the lack of sun -- but so nice to find fresh blooms to enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Arabian "SpOOk" ~

Patty on the trail~
Why is it that even a good horse, will do a nasty spook?  We were on beautiful trails, really nice morning, looking forward to a nice ride!  But plans can & do occasionally go south...  Khari has always done a pretty good job of keeping me in the saddle, but today, trotting up a nice wide logging road, she looked to the left, where there was a blue/white ribbon blowing in the breeze, then a split second later... spun with enough force to send me flying off her right shoulder!   I was riding in my Big Horn saddle - so no security there... 

My GPS recorded a 7 mph to 0 speed.  It felt like a lot of impact - especially on the hard packed gravel of the old logging road.  After spending due time moaning & groaning... going over a mental check-list of parts & how badly they hurt...  I managed to get to my feet.
Scene of the "Crime"
Patty's nice gelding, seeing Khari's violent reaction to What???  A horse eating bear maybe?   Followed her lead... & tossed Patty too.  Luckily, she was unhurt -- but he did take off down the road as fast as he could go!  Were we having fun yet???
Injured me, lost horse...  We started hiking back, took a wrong turn, realized our mistake & got back on track.  About 1/2 mile from the parking -- here was Patty's horse!  He nickered & came right up to us!  What a good boy!  No injuries, he wasn't wild eyed & seemed happy that we were finally there!
All's well that ends well, nothing broken as far as I know, both horses uninjured.  Now -- can I heel up fast enough to ride next weekend?  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Along the River & Through the Woods ~

Khari's ears & the Stillaquamish River
It wasn't "quite" sun...  but it wasn't RAIN!  Cold, a bit dreary, but had a really good ride with a old friend, Patty - but was the first time we've ridden together.  We covered just over 15-miles, both urban & woods.  Trails were the wettest ever.  Even on trails that are mostly sand - there was standing water.  The snow level has dropped in the mountains after last nights storm.  We listened to the thunder & watched the lightening for over two hours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wicked Weather!

Yesterday's weather included one of the strongest thunderstorms yet. Our sixth storm in eight days!  The above video was taken at 11:40 a.m.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Out of the Rain & into some Sun!

Rascal - nose to the ground~

We decided to take Rascal on his first trip to a beach & see if we could find some sunshine! Whidbey Island used to be our "home away from home" during the years we managed apartment buildings.  We had two, three-day weekends a month & usually spent them at Ft. Ebey, back in the day that the campground was almost always empty.  
Our private Narnia where the girls spent their time hunting for agates on the beach, while Butch & I enjoyed Not being "on-call"! 
In front of the Museum, Butch with Rascal & Kitt
When the Island County Historical Society http://www.islandhistory.org/home.htm started to build their new Museum in 1986, part of their fund-raising efforts were to sell personal "bricks" for the walkways around the new building.  Since we were there so often, we bought a brick.  Our first visit after the Grand Opening, we spent a while looking for our brick.  Finally -- there it was!  Literally under our feet, centered right in front!  It's the third row up from Rascal's paw.

Long story short, when family comes to visit, or friends, or pretty much anybody who's visiting us, mentions a day-trip to Whidbey Is., or we can can convince them that they Want to make the trip...  We're Sure to put the Museum on the "tour", then casually mention our brick :-)
Our Brick~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ride with Charlotte

GPS track
I rode today with Charlotte, leaving from the Glass School Parking lot at Victoria.  It was 44 degrees, which doesn't sound too cold, till you add it to the wind & rain!  Fog hanging over the roads between the trees, really pretty, if no views.  
Tree down~
Both mares were doing a super nice trot most of the way, they pace well together.  Both also looking nice & as fit as can be expected to start the season!   Khari was moving much better with her new shoes.  We didn't even come home with wet saddle blankets, just frozen fingers!  :-)

Happy Feet!

I'd scheduled 8 weeks since Khari's last shoeing.  Trying to get closer to HOTR before setting new shoes.  Toes were long, though the angles hadn't slipped much.  Art mentioned that her shoes had been worn any thinner, he could have shaved with them :-)  Don't think we'll schedule this far out next time!
Small hole on the left heel
Under the shoes, feet looked Great!  Just one tiny hole on the left, toward the heel.  There was more than enough hoof to trim off, walls are thick!  I use Durasole on a regular basis, it flows into any holes & really keeps the soles tough.  I also put Dean's "Blue Cream" into the hole.  I've been doing that for months now & by the next shoeing, usually all sign is removed by the trim.
All done!
No, her right front isn't crooked, just the way she's standing!  The feet look good, toes are back where they belong, plenty of heel support & we're on the road again!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Leather Tack~

Windmill Headstall & leather split reins
In the past few months, I've been asked twice, why I use leather tack.  Of course these questions have come from Beta or Biothane "Crazed" endurance riders!  :-)
Leather to me is the smell I associate most with horses, riding & the western way.  The first piece of gear I bought as a kid of eleven, braided roping reins.  I'd been working for my Grandpa cleaning the barn ( It was a Big barn!) & my reward was to buy what I wanted at the sale barn tack shop.  Of course Grandma was very unhappy when she saw that they were closed reins & asked Grandpa why he let me buy them?  His reply;  "She wanted them!"  :-)
Wall of "stuff"
Since my time as an adult with horses, I've run the gauntlet of trendy tack.  When my husband was asked what I do for fun besides ride, he responded;  "Buy's tack!"  Does he know me or what?!   Thankfully, I've gravitated back to the roots of the American West & leather.  Yes, it's work to keep clean & conditioned, but that's part of the fun.  Conditioning tack is something I enjoy.

There are some good reasons to use leather.  Here are a few;  It's form fitting -- conforms to the shape of the horse over time.  It Breaks!  This is my usual answer when asked about using it.  If for whatever reason my mare should find herself tacked up & alone in the wilderness, I would hope that if she got tangled or in trouble, that the tack would break & set her free.  If for whatever other reason I might get entangled on her, again -- I would hope that the tack would break before I do! 

Dean Essex, DVM started me with the 1", six or seven foot leather split reins.  I LOVE them!  The weight is perfect in your hands, signals are clear, reins stay steady on the neck, when I dismount I have plenty of rein to guide my horse, hold my horse, or do whatever I want with her.  Being split, I should never get tangled in them.  Also, on the one or two occasions where we've split company unexpectedly, I still had a rein in my hand when got up!

I do own Beta reins too, custom made to the size mentioned above, they work great in the rain & aren't slippery as leather can be when wet.  I have Beta headstalls too & use them occasionally.  Beta is such a huge improvement over Biothane in my opinion.  It seems softer & looks more natural.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Khari gets a bath!

HH Khari-Me-Home
After that hard ride yesterday & since the sun was shining today -- I gave Khari a "spring" bath :-)  While the mood was upon me, I headed into the laundry & washed up her saddle blankets & the blanket she'd been wearing.  Now, she's clean & happily eating her mash!
It's hard to believe that we're coming up on seven years since Khari arrived at the HomesteadHome On The Range will be the start of our fifth season of endurance together.  We started at the Bryce XP in 07.  Khari did her first 50 on day one, then we went on to finish every other day of the five-day ride.  It was one of those experiences that I'll always remember & hope to someday do another!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hill of Death Ride~

GPS Track

Our ride today, up the "Hill of Death" which is actually maybe half way up Mt. Washington.  The road ends where we did & the horses we were in about 8" of snow at the top.
Siri, Dory, Patty & Connie

Photo above at about 1,600 feet.  We did see the Sun!  Great day to get out!  12-mile round-trip!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Treasure Island!

Papa & Mason
I don't know what it is about me & men with whiskers? :-)  But Grandson Mason is growing them!  :-)  Actually, he'd just come form the final performance of "Treasure Island" at Stillwater Elementary in Duvall. 
Pirates do smile!
Sister Cassidy had a wonderful part & costume to match!  Can you guess what she was?
Cassidy in Costume
As a Seagull, Cassidy had plenty of wing flapping & running around to do on stage!   The Seagulls lead the pirate ship to Treasure Island!    We were so proud of both of them!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Arabian Horse Association - Competitive Distance Program~

AHA Mileage pins
Here's another way to gather some nice memento's for the miles you do in Competitive Riding.  You must be a member to participate.  http://www.arabianhorses.org/activities/incentiveprograms/cdp.asp#ref3
You log in your miles at sanctioned events, with the AHA on-line form, (Endurance rides count!)  Then - at certain levels, similar to the AERC, you receive not only the mileage pin, but something useful like a water bottle, or rain slicker etc.  I've not even finished logging in my own!
Beautiful red barn & gray mare pins are by Rhonda Guilford at;  http://www.cloisonne-art.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Like a Lion!

In the space of an hour this morning, we had sun breaks, a "sneak peek" of Spring, to wind gusts up to 20 mph with wind driven rain!  This video was taken just before the worst of the squall.  We did get a warm-up to 50 degrees!

Pastel Beauty
 Rainbow on the way home from Marysville, about 3:30 this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Endurance Mileage Pins~

Mileage pins on display~
A very nice "perk" for membership in the Pacific Northwest region, http://nwrides.org/ of the American Endurance Ride Conference; http://www.aerc.org/ are the 250-mile pins awarded to any rider who completes five- fifty mile rides in any one season.  Riding five rides in any given year, takes a large commitment not only in time, especially for those who work full-time, or have kids still at home, but also in resources.  Our state has very few rides, so getting to five takes advance planning & some long distance travel.

I've long admired the one-horse, one-rider concept.   I was naive enough to think that the first horse I bought would be the one I'd have "forever".  Right?  Wrong!   After a rough start with a mare that wasn't suited, I stole my husbands!  She was my one-in-a-million & though she was lame more often than sound, it was love!  Incredibly game & a thrill to ride, I just had to keep trying to "fix" the issues.  After five years, in 2000 we achieved our very first pin!  I didn't know that it would also be our last -- until after another five years of trying.  Did I say something about being stubborn?  Now, with Khari, the pins have been stacking up!  I'm still amazed to see the little collection grow!   Whether it's your first, or your tenth -- it's fun!