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

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!