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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Riding out 2012~

Farah admires our view~
How did I spend part of it?  Riding of course!  First we had sunshine, then the clouds moved in, but it was still a beautiful day in Western, WA for the very end of December!
Drainage Basin
 If I'd pulled out my camera a minute sooner - I would have had a beautiful photo of a Blue Heron taking flight off this pond!  I enjoyed seeing him, but would have enjoyed showing you a photo too!  
Home Loop
 It was incredibly quiet up in the woods, no other wildlife to report.  Farah was on her "A" game!  We trotted we galloped & we went up to 22.7 mph before the sliding stop at the edge of the large water puddle that pulled off a front shoe!  :-)  
Looking up at the Homestead~
 Art is coming over tomorrow morning to replace the shoe, best farrier in the world & he will be paid with some of my homemade ham salad, made with the huge ham that Butch smoked for our Christmas dinner!  
Butch at our Gates?
 No, you're not seeing double!  Butch is installing a new gate complete with automatic gate opener!  I wonder how many times we'll get out of the truck to open the gate before we remember to push the little button on the remote?  :-)
Farah waits for Butch to open both!
 The gold girl was a bit worried that we would get in?  After all, a warm stall, good hay & home is on the other side!  We're happy to have this year come to a close.  There were some good times, some bad times & too many sad times it seems for us ~  Time to move on into 2013 in the hope that it brings all of us good fortune, more good times & good memories!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Clear & Cold

New Clear-cut & view
Today we saw the blue of the December sky!  The yellow of that glowing orb that we know is the Sun, though we hardly see it often enough this time of year to remember what it is!  Was really looking forward to riding with Linda again.  She was ready & we headed up to check out the changes on the tree farm.  I see clear-cut & say; "ugh".  Linda sees it & says;  "New trail!"   Her positive attitude helped me to gain perspective.  We're scheduling a day to decide what we're going to work on & try to re-open a couple trails that will help to connect one area to another.  Lets call it post-holiday ambition to get exercise one way or the other!  :-)

Roads are taking a beating.
 For the cost of a permit from the farm office, people can come in to cut up the left-overs from the logging operation.  It pays to be extra careful & watchful of these amateur woodsman with full loads going down, or empty heading in - not expecting to see anyone, let alone horses.
We were out for over four-hours, finally realizing that the day was rapidly coming to a close & it was time to head back!   Farah let me know that she's more than happy to be gainfully going out on the trails again!  She loves the mountains & so do I.  We walked the last miles back this afternoon, so both horses were mostly dry by the time we returned.  I used towels to give her a good rub down when we got home.  Happy horse, happy rider!  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ridin' Time Again ~

10-miles today in black/white
The last time I rode at Victoria was the first of October when Linda & I were riding close to 20-miles a day.  I'd planned many more fall rides there, but life got in the way.  The red track you see in the photo above is from that ride & one a few days earlierThis really gives you an idea of how extensive the trail system is in comparison to the logging roads!  Of course we'd been riding beyond the "usual" trails & gone to the old trails on other side that you see down on the bottom of the frame.
Connie & Farah in the fog~
 Even in heavy fog it was good to be there!  The roads were getting heavy use, lots of logging has gone on just since I was there.  It was cold though!  Did I say cold?  Pretty bone chilling - so we did some trotting to stay warm & a gallop or two :-)
Aarene & Fiddle in fog, at the Monument
Was so nice to get out with Aarene & Fiddle again.  Only our second ride together with these two mares, but Aarene's hard work with Fiddle has paid off & she is a much more enjoyable trail companion than in days of yore...   Of course Aarene wanted to put reindeer horns on Farah - I said "no" to that :-)  We're pretty straight laced - then there were the purple fingerless arm length gloves - ok...  they were pretty interesting - I'm sure you'll see where to find them on Aarene's blog :-)

We clicked out a nice ten-miles, it was too cold to lollygag.  Wrapping up the year the right way - IN the saddle :-)  Of course there was New Years Eve 2000, we rode that one in, but that is another long story :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tis the Season~

The Sun wins~
Wrapping presents, baking cookies, making candy - taking time for a hot cider, enjoying a calm day between storms...  It's that time of year, time for reflection, celebration, enjoying Christmas music, time with friends, family & holding close all that is dear to us~
Clouds part~
On my trip north a couple weeks ago, I was very lucky to witness these views.  When we speak of the Washington "Alps" - the title does not go undeserved.  I was spellbound by the rapidly changing vision of clouds & mountain.
The peak appears~
I offer this glimpse of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest Cascades & especially the magnificent Whitehorse Mountain.  On the Homestead, we're looking forward to the holiday with our two girls, sons-in-law & grandchildren!  Amazing how it only took ten-years to go from our first grandson to a second, then three Granddaughters!  Five!  How did that happen?  :-) Our very best to you & yours this Holiday Season! 
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ridin, Ridin, Ridin~

12-mile ride at Kathryn Taylor
Felt darn good to get out on the beautiful wooded trails at Kathryn Taylor.  72-mile drive - round trip, almost three hours saddle time, 12-miles of trail & Farah in the lead for 2.3.  I used the new bit for this adventure & actually - considering how full of herself Farah was & how much I had to rate her - we did OK.  
One of the very nice signposts, damaged by a downed tree~
 The trails were in amazingly good shape considering the rain & wind etc. that we get this time of year.  It was cold in the trees, but out in the sun, it was much warmer & I was removing a layer before we'd gone five-miles.  For late fall & mid-December we couldn't have asked for a nicer afternoon.
Cato & Amanda
 Though both my riding friends had ridden yesterday, the horses were feeling full of themselves, so we had long stretches of nice trotting - Cato & Amanda setting a very nice pace.  When not out front, Sophie was hot on Cato's heels :-) 
A more unusual "between the ears" trail photo :-)
 What I call an "urban" ride;  but after hearing more stories about horse/vehicle accidents that have occurred at the road crossings, I got off & walked most of them.  Today we had several courteous drivers who actually stopped instead of trying to rush the light.
The ground fog was moving in ~
 Even with mostly clear skies, it was almost dark when I pulled in our gate.  Nothing like that good feeling you get after a great ride on a good day with good friends~

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The More I Learn...

Sandra schooling Farah~
...  the less I know!  Watching an accomplished rider & what Sandra can do with Farah is really something to see.  As Dean told me early on, it's much easier to learn things the right way, than unlearn old habits & replace them with new.  Having always admired riders who make it look so easy - I'm now understanding a little more about how difficult it is to attain that level of competence!

To watch how Farah responds to clear signals, gives me the motivation to continue to learn all I can & be able to communicate with her well enough that she can understand me that well!  :-)  The new bit came in the mail in time for our class & worked beautifully.  I appreciated the way Sandra takes the time to answer my questions & her explanation of how the bit works & why it works the way it does.

Not having the time this month to practice between lessons, we have to go back to "refresh" mode each time.  Even that is a good thing for me though - as each time it reinforces what it is I'm working to achieve.  Watching Sandra gives me the visual picture to keep in my mind as I ride, trying to remember how & when to cue!  It could be frustrating - like the first days of any new goal you decide to work toward...  Baby steps - it's all about baby steps.  Again, when Farah does understand my clumsy attempts & I feel her respond & just the feel tells me it's right - another star goes on the plus side of the board :-)

Like Butch told someone the other day;  "Connie's ridden for over twenty-years & now she's taking lessons!"  :-)  It is fun on a cold rainy day to get out, spend the morning working & feel good when we're through!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More on Bits~

Mikmar Loose Ring Ergöm Lozenge Snaffle
Here's the bit I tried yesterday, what a difference it made.  Using different bits on Farah has really been an interesting experience.  I've also learned the difference between "mouthing" the bit & "chomping" on the bit  - which is something that Farah had done up to now.  With the Mikmar bit in, her mouth was much quieter.   She settled in, paid attention & seemed to understand more of what we were asking of her. 

This bit offers the popular 70mm size cheek made of high quality stainless steel and Mikmars Cupreon Ergöm Lozenge Mouthpiece. The versatile loose ring style cheek combined with the double- jointed mouthpiece allows movement along the rings and invites the horse to mouth the bit. It is excellent for softening in the jaw and aids in connection and consistent contact with the rider resulting in proper carriage and balance and equilibrium. This is an ideal choice for all levels of training and competition and is Dressage legal.  (Approved for USEF/USDF dressage competitions.)
New headstall for showing~
 Besides all of it's other attributes, it should look really nice with the new headstall I found at one of my favorite local stores; Beth West - in Snohomish, complete with amber colored Swarovski rhinestones :-)  We've got to look the part - right?  :-)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Khari Completes her first 100!

Khari & her rider~
 February, 2016  Update~  Mohammad plans to retire Khari & will be looking  for a stallion!

I was thrilled this morning to receive an email from Mohammad with the attached photo of Khari!  This picture was taken one week after her first 100-mile ride!   I quote;  "She is a very good horse & has more to show."  Obviously - from the way she's fighting the bit - she is anxious to be off!

Seeing these photos is still something that I can't quite wrap my mind around :-)  Remembering the first time I saw her, looking forlorn & sad as a horse can look.  As we took her out, she was sweet, willing & ready to load in the trailer when she heard the sound of grain in a can!
Khari as we first saw her~
Once I had her home, she was thrilled to be turned out on grass.  I was looking at her pot belly, lack of condition & wondering why I'd bought her?
July 05 - Khari knee deep
But...  after a few months at Dean's, she started shaping up.  Her conformation was so solid, she had size, substance, great legs & feet - what I wanted in an endurance horse.  
Sept. 05 - Khari & Evias
Over the following years, we had some incredible rides, rides I will never forget, views I will always treasure & times together where we felt as "one".  To see her now, fit, fast & happy - finally fulfilling the goals I had for her as a 100-mile horse is too much fun!  

I'm hopeful that Mohammad will eventually breed her & someday I'll have foal photos to post! 
Khari's leave taking~

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bits & Bitting~

Mylar Combination Bit
First let me say that I know nothing about bits!  All I know, or at least try to understand - is what seems to work for my mare.  After the early years of making many mistakes, thinking that a harsh bit would give me a manageable horse etc., trying no bit & having a run-a-way in competition, etc.  By the time I bought Khari, I had gained enough smarts to ask for expert help.  Khari was started in the bit above & it worked really well for all the years I had her.

With Farah now though, I'm working with a very intelligent mare, who responds differently to different bits.  Working with more collection & trying to teach her to work off her rear has me trying new bits.  The latest that worked really well in our first level Cowboy Dressage test, but in using it, I'd probably jumped ahead of where we're at in our training.
Curb with shanks
 I've also been trying different trainers & learning lots of new things.  For the second time yesterday, a change in bit was suggested.  There was one available to try, a simple snaffle with rings;
 I hadn't used this type of bit for forever, because you really don't have a stop & I value stop.  This is a learning level bit - one that will make it easier for Farah to understand what I'm asking of her & she was very willing & responsive in it - in the arena :-)  I'm going to go ahead & buy one to use when we practice.  We'll see how well she does in it out on the trail!

After a shorter drive than usual, I had a really good lesson at Ensbrook with Sandra.  She is well versed in both Western & Cowboy Dressage & seems willing to take on a pair of newbies. :-)
I'd love to hear what you use & how you came to use it - why you like it~

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving & The River~

The Sauk on Thanksgiving Day~
Thanksgiving Day we were very happy to be invited up to our youngest daughter's home, to share the day & a meal with her family.  One of our fine son-in-laws, two granddaughters & our eldest grandson!   To walk into a house in the woods, smell turkey cooking & feel the warmth of the wood stove made the day perfect.  While we waited for dinner, we took a hike to see what the river was doing.  
Butch & Ben admired the view~  The "Lewis & Clark" look :-)
 It was chilly, with a fresh blanket of snow higher on the surrounding mountains.  What a magnificent day to enjoy a pristine landscape.   We had a "fly-by" by two very large Eagles, but I didn't get a picture quick enough.  

 I got off "light" in the cooking department with only a pie to bake.  That was good, since the day before I had a little incident with Farah.  I was checking a hind foot, when she decided to drop it on the big toe of my left foot!  Not only drop it, but then proceed to scape it across the hard packed dirt floor of the barn isle.  I had on a pretty tough leather shoe, but it was no match...  I beat on her hip & she finally lifted the foot & gave me a look;  "What is your problem?"  I tell you...  I let her know WHAT my problem was!!!  

I spent that night, taking pain pills two at a time just to be able to lay down.  My big toe joint feels smashed, which did not making walking easy, or baking a pie, or enjoying much of the evening.  At least by Thanksgiving Day, the pain was tolerable.  Now the hope is that I'll be able to ride this coming week!  :-) 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mining for Gold~

Fire Run Farm~
Over the last few months, I've been taking a few beginning steps in the lesson arena.  Lucky for me, I live in an area where we have an abundance of very qualified trainers & where we get visits from top notch people from around the country.

After my lesson Thursday at Fire Run Farm with Suzanne, I came away thinking about the learning process that goes on between a horse & rider - then - what a trainer brings to that partnership.  My last five lessons have been with five different trainers!  Each session has set off light bulbs in my brain & I've learned as much about what I'm doing right, as I have about what I hope to learn.  It feels like a perfect balance, almost like we ride away from each session having picked up nuggets of wisdom to add to our saddlebags.  Farah is such a quick learner - when we get "it", when we get into the "zone" we both feel Great!  Even if it's only for a moment, the moments are getting longer & stronger & a better place to be!  I'm staying motivated, nothing like positive reinforcement to keep me that way & the gold girl too!  :-)

Later in the afternoon, we were lucky again in that Lynn & Jennifer had planned to ride & agreed to change their plans to include me at a spot close for us all!  We met-up at Lord Hill & had just a beautiful week before Thanksgiving ride.
Jennifer & Reno
The days are still shortening down for the Winter Equinox.  By the time the fog burned away, we only had a couple hours of that fine filtered sunshine before the heat started dropping with the sun low on the horizon to the west.
Hill at Lord Hill
 Both Jennifer & I forgot our GPS units, we really didn't care, just rode along enjoying the afternoon, the company & our great horses.  Was super nice for me to get out with friends again~ 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grullo Not~

After her bath
I went ahead & asked Cedar Ridge their opinion on Farah's color.  She is not, nor can she be Grullo.  To be Grullo - she would need to have black either in the sire or dam.  As far as we can tell - she does not. Toni's reply is below;

"This may sound crazy, but I believe she is actually a palomino. She is very dark, and may even look as though she has black legs. But I believe she is a very dark palomino shade that some people call "chocolate palomino."
Palominos and buckskins have a cream gene, which dilutes their base color. They often have lighter brown-colored eyes than horses of other colors, and your mare's eye is much like the eyes of many palominos and buckskins.
Her tail is light, and her mane has some light hairs. This would also be a possible characteristic of a cream gene.
Also, if her parents are palomino and sorrel, then she just about can not be anything other than palomino or sorrel/chestnut.  She would not have a black gene, so could not be grullo, buckskin, dun, black, or any other color with genetically black legs.  That leaves a few colors, with palomino and sorrel/chestnut the only very likely options.
That last thought, along with the light and silver in the mane, and the light tail, make me think palomino is her most likely color.
You could test her for a cream gene to learn whether she is a palomino, or just a liver chestnut with a flaxen tail.  This is definitely a possibility, but I think she is palomino based upon her eye color and body color.

If her sire and dam were palomino and sorrel/chestnut, she would test ee for Red Factor (no black genes), so that test wouldn't be necessary."  
Banding on a hind leg~
 I'm going to contact one of the labs that does color testing to see for sure.  It's not expensive & will be fun to know for sure :-)

Monday, November 5, 2012

From Chocolate to Grulla?

Farah Oct. 10th - lightening but still Chocolate
We left home mid-October.  I'd just given Farah a bath & was already noticing that her hair was lightening as the summer coat shed out & winter coat was coming in...  I return a few weeks later to find a horse of a different color!  :-)
Farah, Nov. 6th - the closest color is Grulla
I've done a lot of research on-line, without much luck.  Here's a link to an interesting web site that I found;  Grullo Color Explained.  Farah does have a dorsal stripe, but it's not very dark.  She has the black lined ears & darker brown stripes on the legs that don't have white socks.  I may spend the three dollars, fill out the form & see what an expert thinks her color is :-)  I think we'll stay with what her papers say - Chocolate Palomino.

Today, we rode out from home - it felt so good to be back in the saddle!  It was a perfect afternoon, quiet, cool & beautiful.  Ms. Farah was full of oats, we did some mad galloping & a very nice trot.  Enough that she worked up a good sweat in her winter coat.
Out on our trails~
 When we left Washington, the fall colors were in full swing - now they're about over, but the smell is incredible!  I'm looking forward to riding with friends soon & getting out as much as possible to enjoy the season~

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Khari training in SA

Khari in the lead :-)
While away on our journey to Colorado & then Iowa - I received the above photo from a friend, who has a friend, at the training facility where Khari is conditioning for her first season in SA!  It seems surreal to see her there - actually galloping across the sands of the desert!  She looks to be the tallest of the group she's with, fit, her weight looks good & she looks like she's enjoying herself!  From the little I know, the race season there starts shortly.  I'm hopeful that I'll hear more news & maybe the promised video of her in a race!

We pulled in the gate at home last night after over 4,000 miles & seven days on the road in just under three weeks.  The longest we'd been away from home in years.  The dogs were thrilled to be free at last!  Both had been very good on the trip, but words can't describe their happiness to be running after the squirrels in the woods.

I picked Farah up this afternoon from the farm, she was fat, sassy & really pleased to see me - which made my day.  After I unloaded her, she walked up to the barn, checked out her stall & feed tub to see if there might be some food?  Then galloped out to the pasture with Nika on her heels.  She badly needs a bath - so I'm hoping for a warm day soon, as saddle time is what I need!  The saddle time may come before the bath if I can get my needs doing list at least... down to a manageable length.

Butch is back at work, slammed I'm sure.  I'm feeling pretty slammed myself, with mountains of paperwork, unpacking to do & piles of laundry.  No complaints... HOME is a Good Place to be!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ride into Sorrow ~

From Harry O's to Birdsview +
Charlotte & I had been trying to get out for a long ride.  We decided to meet-up at Harry O's & ride to Birdsview.  We took the long way :-)  It had been a while since Charlotte had ridden there & months since I had.  We weren't in any hurry, the rain started as a fine mist - but so welcome!  
Out on the trails~
 Neither of us were expecting the riot of color that we rode in to!  Maybe it was because of the otherwise gray day, but the experience took our breath away.  We were in the middle of a fine trot when my phone rang.  I didn't answer - but when it immediately rang again... I pulled Farah up.  It was Butch & his voice was grave, he gave me the news that my father had passed away.  Brutally blunt, it took seconds to sink in.  Grief came over me like a tidal wave...  He continued;  saying that Dad had passed asleep in his chair, absolutely peaceful.  85-years old, Dad had enjoyed a long life, free from suffering, still in relatively good health - except for his heart, that had been damaged when he contracted Rheumatic fever during WWII in Germany.  With nothing more to be said; we ended the call.  I sat there, Farah perfectly still - as the loss began to sink in.  

I was very lucky to have such a good person with me, someone who said just the right thing at the right time.  Words that kept me grounded & brought me back to where we were - right in the middle of the most beautiful woods imaginable, surrounded by a riot of color.  No more fitting a place to honor my father's passing - could I have found.  Charlotte offered to turn-back, but we'd driven a long way & there was nothing that would change.  I made calls to my family - then we rode on.
Rust of Bracken Ferns
We stopped for lunch at the Birdsview Brewery, tying the horses to the cable hitching wire with only their reins - both cocked a hind leg & stood quietly in the rain while we went in to eat.  We took the shorter way back, covering 20+ miles total.  Once back at the trailers, the emotional exhaustion hit.  The drive home gave me time to reflect & begin to plan what the next days will bring - attending to my father's final wishes. 

I'm so glad that I had called him the morning before, that we had a good conversation, me telling stories about his Great-Grandchildren & how they had inherited his "collecting" & "organizing" genes :-)   We both agreed that we collect things, whether they need collecting or not!  He was getting on with his day, heading out to lunch with his friend.  Thankful, for all the years that my Dad was a part of my life & the wonderful memories he left in my keeping ~

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall & Fog ~

Autumn is finally here, but with the advent of the shorter days & cooler temperatures, has not come the much needed rain~  The last few mornings, instead of waking up to see the sun come over the mountains, it's been the gray of fog. 
The Garden Cottage
Yesterday's fog - was the closest thing I've ever seen to a dry fog.  This second morning of the gray - actually had some moisture in it! I enjoyed the sound of drips through the leaves in the woods.
Dogwood Gulch
With some of the brilliant colors that are usually so amazing this time of year, the gray card gray backdrop made me go for my camera.
Rascal on a mission~
By later in the afternoon, it was still a gray day, but the fog had lifted.  I don't think the temperature was much above the mid-60's all day.  I worked pruning the dogwoods in the gulch.  One is almost chopped to the ground.  I'm have a hard time deciding if I want the on-going work of keeping them...  The roots hold up the eroding creek bank, but they just take over everything else.  I love their color too, but could put in something else that would have the color & not the upkeep.  What to do?

Monday, October 8, 2012


Lime Kiln Trails
Today was only my second time on these trails.  The first was in March of 2011, when Khari spooked & threw me!   This time was much more pleasant - but somewhat disappointing.  I'd hoped that some of the trails went someplace...  They really don't now, but I suspect that they have in the past.
Heading out from the trail head~
 We took the only trail out from the trail head & followed it forward & upward.  On the way I saw several spurs, but decided as usual to go up at any intersection that offered the option.  We found a really great view at the top of the climb.
Looking NW through the haze~
 The end, was a blocked off area, where the road had probably continued on.  No way through & no idea what would be on the other side.  So we turned back the way we'd come.
One of the Granite Falls Quarry's
 On the way down, we did get a nice view of one of the quarry's in the area.  I could see the southern side of Three Fingers too.
This is the south end of Deer Mountain
 I can see this logging from home, but I look more at the west face of the mountain, here we were further to the south.  Not pretty...  We took every spur of trail that I found on the way back, all leading to piles of slash & growth that blocked any further travel.  There are still one or two that I could see once I'd downloaded my GPS info. to Google earth.  Want to make another trip up to check those out.  Was nice to be out in the late afternoon.  I don't think I have to worry much about getting lost, as Farah was quite sure when we made the correct turn - finally - back toward the trailer!