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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Milwaukee Endurance Ride

Milwaukee Endurance Ride
It's my ride & I'm sticking to it!  (Pretty cool looking GPS stats.)   Stories...  Lots of stories regarding this ride!  Accidents, near accidents, long, hard, rock, boring, windy - the list went on & on.  I decided to do it.  I couldn't pass up what would be my last ride on Khari.  Butch offered to come with, the mare was fit, so we headed over Fri. morning.  Arriving right at noon to sunshine & a nice wind.  First one to register for the 50, first one to vet through.  
Pre-Ride Vet in - Butch, Khari, Dick Root DVM & scribe
 Fun to watch people come in & see camp fill up fast!  At the ride meeting, we were all freezing!  The wind came down off the pass & had a chill feel!  Dr. Root warned us of probable cool temperatures, the deceptive 2.2% return 21-mile grade & the rock.
Connie on Khari, Chris on Pistol, just before the start~
 We woke to light cloud cover & temps in the low 40's, much better than expected!  Even so, I decided to leave with a mid-weight jacket & rump rug for Khari - just not familiar with the weather out there.  Felt Very Lucky indeed that my riding partner from Elbe two years ago - agreed to let me accompany her; after my planned riding partners failed to materialize :-)  I'd heard more stories regarding the need for company on the trail!
We leave in a jolly mood!
Once up & out on the "John Wayne Trail" it quickly became obvious that my time training on the STV was time well spent.  Soon Chris & I were out on our own, outdistancing the slower riders & being passed by the faster ones.  It wasn't more than a few miles when the jackets came off & rump rugs were pulled up!  Everyone had overdressed!  The RM had mentioned rocks in the "cuts" & I soon found out about that.  Through these short blasted "cuts" the rock had fallen from the sides, about 10 to 15 ft. higher than our heads on both sides.  Probably basalt - the rock split easily - forming sharp edges.   We slowed to a walk through these areas.  Finally - the river was in view & the trucks waiting at the 21-mile out-check!
Khari sees "Dad"!  :-)  Coming into the VC at 21 miles
 Butch was waiting & zoomed in to get this shot.  I had to LOL, because as I spotted his welcome figure in the distance - I felt a change in Khari!  Her surprise & happiness when she recognized him was just too funny!   We arrive at 9:28 a.m. for our 30-min. hold.  Pistol ate Khari's slop, Khari ate Pistol's all was good, both eating!  

Out on time, it had taken us longer than we expected to do those miles, ahead was the long 21-mile uphill 2.2% grade back to Ride Camp.  Khari soon started outdistancing Pistol, Chris told me to move on, knowing that my goal was to be done & out of the heat/sun that is my usual enemy.  Khari moved out - our only companion was a Coyote that bounded up a hill ahead of us.  Finally, in the distance we saw two riders!  Wow!  Someone out here besides us!  Khari picked up the pace & we caught up to Kathy & Sarah - riding her first endurance ride on Kathy's great mare Sinnamon.  They were kind enough to allow me to accompany them.  So much nicer to have someone to talk to!  We made it to the check-point & water at 33.2 miles.  The horses began tanking up!  Suddenly we heard a sound!  Looking back the way we'd come was an amazing sight to see.  Pistol was coming up the hill at us from a distance of at least a mile in his Full "Brio" Paso Fino gait!  Chris sitting there like she was resting in a favorite easy chair!  Chris reined Pistol up in a cloud of dust to our loud cheers!  :-)  

The four of us continued on & on & on, the never-ending trail...  In the rocky areas, Chis & Pistol would outdistance us like we were standing still, but once the footing improved, we'd catch up.   Pistol would stay with us for a while, then drop back from the speed.  Eventually - the welcome sight of camp was ahead, we came in to the second vet check at 1:26 p.m.

Sarah, Kathy & I leaving the water tank, not realizing that Chris was coming in behind us!  Too good a sport to hail us to wait!
What a relief to have a 45-min. hold!  Butch stripped Khari's saddle, sponged her down, her head never left her slop & hay!  I laid-down for a very short time, until friends who were doing the 25 & trail ride stopped by to see me.   
Heading out on the last loop~
Sarah & I left right on time, on our own...  Neither of us had done the ride, or were familiar with the last loop.  Chris, just 15-min. behind us, said;  "If you get lost, I'll pick you up on my way by!"  :-)  As were were heading in, at the top of the loop, we saw her directly below us, Pistol moving out with incredible Brio!

Sarah & I started "gabbing", getting to know each other - finding we had friends in common at the track.  With rock, paving, holes in the grass, neither of us wanting to risk a completion on the last miles.  We went under I-90 & returned to the trail that circled camp.
Coming in to camp - the final mile :-)
These two tough mares seem to hate each others guts!  We had several good laughs out on the trail at the hateful expressions they threw at each other!  Pinned ears, bared teeth & snaked necks!  Finally - at 3:37 - we FINISH!  Yippee!
Cinnamon & Sarah, Connie & Khari - we Finish!
Both mares had to do their final trot-out side by side & what a scene that was!  Both received high final scores in "Attitude" but it was obvious to all who witnessed - that a score more in keeping with their true "Attitude" - toward each other anyway - would have been closer to "F"!  :-)

It was a Good time!  I made a new friend, got quality time with old friends & rode Khari to her 21st. completion!   I've decided after much thought & soul searching - to give up 50-mile rides & - as the term is defined as rides of 50-miles or longer...  therefore to give up Endurance~

I've ridden well over twenty competitive years & have had a "been there - done that" feeling in my gut for a while now.  My husband has been so supportive of my personal endeavors all these years,  that it's time for us to do some of the things that we've been putting off.  Butch wants to take the son-in-laws & grandsons fishing in Canada.  Maybe a nice "room" on the ocean once in a while?  A "room"???  With a bed?  With a shower???  What would that be like?  :-)  Horse camping with friends, more time with the grand-kids & more time working on our place - the never-ending projects that we both enjoy doing together.

Farah too, deserves her chance to become a good working horse & find her niche.  She's so fun, so smooth & so eye-catching that we might try that new-fangled "Cowboy Dressage".

It's been a Fine ride!  I've ridden some fine horses, seen some fine country, met some fine people & enjoyed some fine rides.  I'm going to look for the perfect home for Khari.  Our best time was the multi-day at Bryce.  Khari just loves new country & having a real job.  She's ready to move onward & upward with a rider that can take her new places & ride her the many miles that she is capable of going!  I would be thrilled to see her name someday at one of those larger milestones of 3,000 or above.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Everybody's doing it!

How's this for "cute"?
Seems that baby pictures are "in" this spring :-)  So - I'll join the craze, feeling lucky to be the chosen one; to take some photos of the new babies on Dean's farm!  Cute is what grabs readers - I know it grabs me :-)
These baby Thoroughbreds are the up & coming winners at the track!  Their dams are race winning mares!  One of them - I've know since she was a foal!  I had faith her & she didn't disappoint me.  I know nothing about how to bet, but even with limited experience at the betting window - I won a couple hundred - & No!  I won't share her name :-)
"Like your hat Polito?"
Now I have to get these photos & others over to their owner so he can brag about them too :-)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Mann" What a View~!

A stellar day for a view like this!  From here we headed back down & onto a "Trail from Hell" that I will never do again when we've had the rain we have had!  Only ten-miles total, but when you see the almost 4 hour ride time, you will get the "picture" of the difficulty of the last half of the ride.  The ride time included our lunch break & several short stops, but to say that the trail to the river was "difficult" would be a understatement. 
Khari & Connie
I'm pretty "game" for most trails, not known for having a lack of "nerve" - had I known what we'd be in for this day - I would have easily turned back.  I never see a point in risking a horse, let alone a "good" horse on a trail that could be physically risky to them.  This one was... the mud was the worst I've ridden in for many years - then cover it with 3 to 5 feet of water in areas 20+ feet across, with a high spot - then another of the same description, over & over again - & you get the idea.

Khari never took a wrong step & willingly entered water up to her chest, that then dropped off even deeper!  Muddy too, so you couldn't see if there were hidden obstacles...  It probably took us well over an hour of this to get to the river.  I was thankful that she's as fit as she is & prayed the entire time that she didn't pull a shoe, or damage a tendon.  
Khari is the gray - of course :-)
 The trails were very muddy, just getting up to the overlook, but once we were down & riders wanted to go to the river, that's where I would have bowed out.  Felt very lucky that Khari picked up her trot, took the lead & got us back to the trailers sound!  All's well that ends well!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Sun Came OUT!

Bracken Route
Listening to the downpour all of last night - really didn't think our planned ride for today would be a "go".  The rain finally started slacking off about 8 a.m.  No calls or email to the contrary - so Khari jumped in the trailer & we were off!  Met with Joyce & Charlotte to see how many miles we could get in & still accommodate everyone's schedule for the remainder of the day.  

Was so nice to have Joyce back in the saddle with us!  Her boy Jesse was full of himself - doing a beautiful sideways lighter than air canter!  :-)  Fancy also was feeling her "oats"!  Khari on the other hand, was being a Very Good Girl!  Just happy to be out with our friends!   We brought up the rear, taking this photo as the clouds cleared to make way for the sun!  When it did come out, it was amazing how fast the day warmed up!  Coats came off etc.

Charlotte on Fancy, Joyce on Jesse
We'd gone ten-miles & were heading back when I realized that I'd left my stick at the side of the porta-potty.  Sent the two of them on, as knew Charlotte had an appointment to make.   When I doubled Khari back, she said:  "What?  I thought we were done!"  Was so happy with her though - she hit her trot & we were moving out when she started slowing down.  Looking back, here came Joyce!  Knowing full well that as she said, I am "Directionally Challenged" - she was kind enough to accompany us back to retrieve my stick!  By the time we'd done that & returned to the trailers our mileage was just at twelve-miles.  Here's my Garmin's stats.

Khari gave me a few moments of "brilliance"!  What a thrill when she took the lead, stretched out her incredible trot & we were flying along!  Nothing finer on a fine day in the Northwest!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

About Farah~

Farah enjoying pasture time at the GFTF
I haven't written anything about Farah for a long while now.  I've not been able to ride her either - so maybe that's why...  Dean has recommended no riding until the leg is completely covered with new hair - no bald patches, no scabs etc.  

At this point - all seems to be good news.  There are only four dime sized scabs left, all toward the top of the white sock.  The rest have fallen off & new hair is finally growing! There's no heat or swelling either - a welcome improvement.

Since rumor had it that my little "sweetheart" had become something of a witch with a "B"- & - we actually had enough dry weather that things outside weren't soaking wet - she has been allowed time in the pasture!   Polito is careful to lightly wrap the leg to keep it completely dry.  If she could talk - she would tell you how happy she is!

When I arrived today, her tail was up over her back & she was prancing & talking to the horses on the other side of the fence.  She saw me pull up & how nice to have her come over to say "Hi"!  She's such a "people" horse & I love it when she wraps her neck around me & gives me a big horsey "hug" :-)   She consumed the dandelions I pulled for her faster than I could pull them :-)

Winter's light gold coat has almost completely disappeared, with the dark golden brown taking over.  Soon, soon now - I might be back to re-conditioning my "retirement" ride!  :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brisk & fast ride :-)

Our route at Victoria
It was a brisk morning, clouds but no rain.  Amanda met me at 11 & we headed out.  Both horses were feeling very "fresh" & seemed to be enjoying themselves!  After a warm-up, we trotted, cantered, galloped & had a blast - blasting along :-)
Connie & Khari
Both our horses are now really fit!  Hard as rock & hardly breathing hard by the time we reached the overlook.  After my lack of ambition at HOTR, have decided to head over to Ellensburg for the Milwaukee ride.   One of the closest to home, that I've never done - since I've heard "rumors" that it's pretty boring & the best way to ride it is with friends.  Lucky for me, have a couple of those, who Khari loves to draft & they've been bribed to let us tag along :-)  
Amanda & Cato
Another plus for us both - is that Butch is coming to crew!  Khari always eats, drinks & rests better if Butch is there.  It's Great for me, as it gives me time to re-coup, eat, drink and all the stuff that I don't do when he's not!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Newbie Endurance Conversation~

Pit crew area~
Through our Saddle-Up group, I've been lucky enough to meet some really wonderful people & been invited to ride with them on the eastside.  Avid horse people, they were interested in Endurance Riding & most had attended at least a ride or two.  It came up in conversation how difficult they were finding it to acquire useful information on what to expect at a ride.  Going into a Ride Camp for the first few times can be an intimidating experience, especially if you have no mentor to guide you.  

Amanda was gracious enough to offer to host a evening gathering & pot luck so that I could share what knowledge I've learned in twenty + years of competitive riding.  The venue was absolutely the nicest ever!   A perfect spring day, added to the ambiance :-)  Butch, decided to set up his usual "pit-crew" area- so that these "newbies" could get a "feel" of what a efficient set-up included.  I think he stole the show!  :-) 

We had planned two hours, but with the yummy pot-luck food, such comfy surroundings & Butch's display - all were reluctant to leave!  It was fun for us to share what we've learned & we really appreciated the great questions & interest in the sport!  We left for home feeling like we'd made some Great new friends & hope to see them put their new found knowledge to good use soon!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

50-Mile week~

Snoqualmie Valley Trail
Now that Milwaukee seems to be on my new & recently revised plans for this season, Amanda & I decided to do the long, trot flats!  Exactly what the SVT trail is good for.  With my Garmin again doing a great job of recording our ride - I'll set a link here for the stats :-)   From my Garmin "Dashboard".  Cato set a really nice brisk pace & we covered 18.5 miles in under 3.5 hours with a 5.4 average pace.  Neither horse was even "wet" at the end of the ride!  

The sun was shining, lots of people were out, but we were the only horses we saw all day.  Once at the river we took a short break to let the horses eat & drink.  The river was Way down from last time I was there, over a month ago.  Amanda was trying a new saddle, I had Khari's cinch too loose & managed to sheer the hair over her loin...  since it's never happened before, same pad, same saddle - I'm thinking that was the cause.   When we returned home, Khari jumped out of the trailer, gave a big shake, went for several rolls :-) then settled into cruising the yard grazing with her Beagles following :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fun Riding at Bracken Rd.

Our route
From 28 degrees & frost on the windshield, the day quickly warmed with stellar sunshine by the time I met Charlotte at the Bracken parking.  Charlotte brought Fancy today & Fancy can set a pace!  :-)  We went flying around on all the fun trails we could find!  Khari would cuss on all the sharp corners, but quickly catch up the minute she had a little stretch of "straightaway" :-0

Blue & Beautiful
 We found our way down to the river & turned south on the old rail bed that connects to the Centennial Trail just north of Arlington.  Our passage was blocked by a large tree that has fallen across the trail.
Fancy is not impressed~
 Next time, we think the horses will fit under the left end, since there's a ditch that gives a few more inches.  Hopefully someone will come along & clear it!  All in all - there wasn't a minute of riding that we weren't smiling!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What friends are for~

Our Ride
Nothing like planning a ride on a rainy day for the next - then getting up to blazing sunshine!  It was one of those perfect mornings - so perfect that you remember the Why of living in the Great Northwet!
Khari sleeping in the sunshine

Khari & I arrived a little early, it gives us time to kick-back & enjoy the sunshine.  I finished my mug of tea, Khari finished her morning nap :-)  Once our friends arrived, we hit the trails & did a nice pace for 8 miles.  Then - after all that "work" we had time for lunch!
Plenty of parking!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Back in the Saddle~

Hazy, lazy sunshine~
 It had been over a week - since I'd been in the saddle...  With this continuing streak of incredible weather, just had to saddle-up & go out!  Decided to ride from home, taking advantage while I still can.  This time, we went up to the power lines where I let Khari graze, while I returned calls.  The Easter sugar cookies that I delivered to a friend yesterday, were a big hit!  Made me feel good that they were enjoyed. 
Looking South~
Once up on the power lines, we turned south & went back in around the orange gate.  Then, instead of going through the other gate that takes us the "short" way home, we went south again into the paved portion.  There - we found a RV, hooked up to power - with a porta potty & barking dog.   Looks like someone hired to watch over things once construction gets underway.  The area has sat undisturbed for several years now - so I sure someone is more than ready to try to make a return on all the utility & road work that had been done before the housing burst. 

Khari really picked up the pace as we made the turn that she thought would bring us around to where we head back.  I went ahead & checked it out from that side, but knew that we wouldn't be able to get through.  We turned & backtracked to an old trail that has almost disappeared at the foot of a drainage retention pond, along the creek.   It was heavily overgrown & the cottonwoods had dropped some big branches - but we made it through.
We return home to our gate & two Beagles~
The dogs didn't meet us at the bottom corner of our place, but once we were at the gate, it was plain why...  both were sleeping in the sun - waiting near the gate :-)  No, they weren't napping!  They were guarding the gate!  :-)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Coming to Terms ~

Rascal & Mischief watch a pair of Seagulls
The going has been tough - each day a struggle.  I cancelled Cassidy's ride on Farah in the Snohomish Easter parade.  After months of being stalled, I felt that she's just too full of energy to be a reliable mount for our young Granddaughter - inexperienced at riding, in a parade setting with all the noise & commotion.  Instead, we worked at home all day on Sat.  Butch burnt the brush pile that had been accumulating all winter & cleaned out his truck.  I raked up at the top of the woods, finishing the last trail.  We both hauled more of the debris from the storms down & burned it too.  We sat out & watched the fire during the nicest evening we've had so far this year.
Butch & Mischief
Easter Sunday, both our girls
had plans with the "other" Grandparents, we could have fit in by doing a morning brunch, but I couldn't motivate myself, knowing that they wouldn't have had time to spend the day & that it would have been more hectic than restful.  Instead, we put the Beagles in the back seat, stopped for breakfast on the way & drove to Whidbey Is.  It's been our favorite "get-away" for almost 30-years.  Close enough that we can do the drive & still have time to relax.    We hiked the beach for a couple miles, enjoying the sunshine, breeze & smell of salt air.  We stopped a couple times to watch boats going by & I found several small agates.  

A pair of Seagulls flew circles overhead, then settled on a rock just off shore.   Something made me think of Rowdy & Kitt, maybe they were letting us know that they were near...  We stayed until late in the day.  A week since Kitt's passing.  On the drive home, Rascal came up front & laid down in my lap.  He somehow knew that I needed him... 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Home On The Range~

GPS Track
I'm getting through these days one step at a time.  Trying to keep my mind & body busy enough that I'm not overwhelmed by grief.  Wishing that I hadn't gone on this ride & had stayed home to watch over Kitt - even knowing that she had the best of care.

Now - for my "Ride Story" & I'm sticking to it!  The third "Rider Option" pull of my career...  (The first was when Jas was unable to start, so Butch offered me Khaz for the 50 at this same ride in 1999.  I Quit!  Flat-Out Quit at about 35-miles.  Khaz at that age was a mad-man...  I started toward the back of the pack, tried to ride "conservatively" until we were caught by the front running 25's!  Khaz lost his mind - I lost mine & decided to call it a day.  The second time was in 2010 at Elbe Hills.  The undo-able 50 where Lois F. was the last to finish in time - fifth place - that should tell you something if you know Lois F.!  Even though I was top-ten & Khari vetted with all A's - I just couldn't see beating her up with another 25-mi. of slippery mud when we'd not be able to complete in time to get a completion even if we'd finished! 

This ride - was the third...  

We left home at 7 a.m. & made good time over the pass, arriving at Washtucna by noon.  It was raining & didn't take long before the tractor came by - hooked us up & towed us through the worst of the mud.  I know...  you say;  "mud"?  Western, WA?  Mud?   We sat up camp, vetted the horses through & visited with friends.  At the Ride Meeting, the group of Rancher's who hosted our event confirmed that the rainfall was very unusual.  We received some really nice information sheets highlighting the historical features of the area.  Head Vet Dick Root warned us about the cold weather & additional challenges this would present in keeping the horses warm at the VC's.  We were expecting a cold & wet ride.

Surprise!  After raining part of the night, the morning arrived with clearing skies & the light of the sun peeking over the horizon!  Khari had traveled Great, eaten everything in sight & was more than Ready to Go!  Charlotte & I left just behind the front riders at the start.  Before long we were moving up & passing horses.  There were the unusual "obstacles", low underpass that we had to go through, train tracks (the trains were blocked while we were crossing), going through the yard with the barking dog etc.  :-)  Khari felt So Good that when a group of us started galloping up a short hill - she threw in a nice big buck!  

The loop went fast, we were back in camp at 8:43 a.m. & Khari was down!  15 min. hold, just enough time to eat a cookie & give Khari a few minutes to eat.  Charlotte was held up in the VC.  I didn't know why - but it was taking longer than our out time.  I waited & waited, watched as a couple of my friends who had come in just ahead of me left.  I'd lost momentum & decided to go ahead & leave.  Another lady was leaving too.  I asked her if her horse was "forward" she assured me that it was.  After the first mile or so, it was obvious that we were going nowhere very fast.  I went to move Khari around her & realized that I'd forgotten my stick...  

Khari took the lead - where are the ribbons???   I asked myself with that sinking feeling that comes with knowing you haven't seen one for a while...  My traveling companion hadn't seen any either so we split up to look.  This loop was totally different terrain than the first.  Three foot tall Bunch-grass & the going so deep that Khari was sinking in 6" with every step.  Finally - I found ribbons & realized that we'd taken the loop out in the WRONG direction...  ribbons were on our LEFT... Not our Right.  My GPS said that we were about 3-mi. in - too far in those conditions to turn back & start over.  I decided to continue on - to do the loop in reverse - figuring that with the GPS & the time - that Gail would allow me the mistake as long as I'd done the miles & the correct loop.

Within a short time, the front-runners were coming at us.  This actually helped - since I could see where they were coming "from" & get an idea of where we were going.  Finding the ribbons was much more difficult!  Soon, riders who'd been just in front of us on the first loop were coming at us.  This made for some interesting conversation;  such as;  "WHAT are you DOING?!"  "Do you KNOW you're going the WRONG way?!"  At one point, we came to a water tank - relief - still on the trail - took off down a road where there were a LOT of prints in the mud... went on... no ribbons... Demoralizing - turn back...  look & look... FINALLY find a ribbon that was smashed up against the back side of a fence post!  Trail!  This section - which was actually well marked - had NO hoof-prints!  It was somehow being missed coming from the correct direction - but hay - who cared?  

FINALLY - we could see camp!  We arrived at 10:45 a.m.  Charlotte came in just a few minutes behind me.  I'd lost so much time on that loop that her hold up at the VC brought us back together.  Khari vetted through again in Great shape!  All those miles of training had paid off.  With a 45-min. hold, I changed out of my warm clothes into something lighter weight - the day was actually warming up!   (Dick told me that Gail was in the process of making a change to the final loop - that the blue had been so tough on the horses that they didn't want to use it for the last loop as originally planned.)

Charlotte & I left together just a few minutes after our out time of 11:31 a.m.  The lady who'd followed me on the second loop, again "tagged" along.  The good news - was that we went the right way - the bad news, for me anyway - is that I forgot to electrolyte myself...  Heat & humidity are my enemy...  They attacked about 1/2 way through.  I started melting down.  I stopped, got off, removed my helmet & drank a little of Charlotte's electrolytes.  It helped.  Back on & away we went - Khari Very strong & going Great.  Up ahead at about ten-miles in, we could see two men at a water tank.  We got there to find my friend David LeBlanc.  He & his companion had driven out to let everyone know that the last loop had been changed.  Instead of doing the infamous "Blue Loop" Gail had decided to send everyone out on the Red Loop again - but at the water tank, David was to send everyone down another way that would cut-off five-miles of the 15-mi. loop.   I drank part of a V-8 & shared it with my companions.  

Coming back into camp for the third time, at 2:15 p.m. Charlotte discovered that Aliento was "off".  The temperature was dropping quickly & dark clouds were rolling in.  At the VC, Aliento was pulled.  My friend Liz met me at the water tank when we arrived.  She'd driven down from north of Spokane to ride the "Trail Ride" on her young Curly.  I was so happy to see her!  She asked what she could do to help me & I told her to go ahead & vet Khari - which she did.  Khari actually jumped into the air on her trot-out & both Dick & Mike told Liz that I had plenty of horse left!  By the time Liz brought her back, I was shaking with cold & my ankle felt like it was ready to fall off, even with the brace & pain patch.  That's when I found out that Charlotte was done for the day.   The wind came up, blowing the rain sideways...  

At that point, I decided to call it a day...  I had plenty of time left to finish, but I just didn't have the will to go back out.   I changed into warm clothes, walked over with Liz to the barns to pass on the news of my pull.  Liz & I sat down & caught up a bit with each other - before she had to head home.  I walked back to our camp to find that Charlotte had put my tack away & was warming up soup!  Yum!  Time for the Bloody Mary's!  Even with Dr. Jen doing Khari's VC, she finished that 40-mi. with an A in attitude!  Jen had marked her gut sounds at B-, but I don't think they were that low.  We'd stopped several times on that third loop to let the horses graze & Khari had taken full advantage.  She hadn't taken her head out of her food tub since we'd returned to camp.

I was disappointed in myself, but it had been a stressful few days, first the ankle, then seeing Kitt run over - with the heartache & worry involved.  The second loop had really taken it out of me more than the mare.  I was very proud of Khari!  At one point on that loop, we were making our way up a big hill & she started to "bog-down".  I gave her my heels & she began attacking that mud & bunch grass - making huge leaps & taking us right up to the top!  Hardly a deep breath & she was ready to go on!  Meeting all those horses head-on, including her traveling buddy Aliento & still continuing forward without a battle really impressed me.  She listened, did her job & gave me a really great ride!
Waiting our turn to be pulled out, Sunday morning~

Now - my personal "commentary" on what I do & don't like about rides.  My favorite is going out - having one out check & returning to camp!  Think - "The DUCK" & "XP Rides"!  This type of ride is so much more fun!  You see more country & have less distraction.  Second, would be a ride where you head out - have an out-check, head back to ride camp on a different trail - have lunch, then a final loop.   Renegade  & Bare Bones were like this last season & it was great!  What I don't like - are a lot of loops & a lot of VC's.  My personal opinion is that it takes away from the momentum of the ride & is disheartening to horses & riders alike.  I hate repeat loops...
Going over the pass on our way home~

My "companion" on the second & third loops had a younger mare, when Liz returned from the VC, she said that this woman had about come unglued when Liz went to walk away with Khari to go check on her horse, tied to her trailer.  She started saying that Khari "HAD to stay" until her mare was vetted etc., etc.  Here's how I see it --  if you've made a pact to travel with someone - then that extends to the VC.  As most of us know, it can be hard to get your horse to pulse down if the other horse leaves.  BUT - & it's a Big But...  I'd made no such "pact" with this person.  Liz finally told her that if her husband would hold Khari while she checked on her horse, that Khari could stay nearby.  That's what finally happened.  If it had been ME - I wouldn't have been so accommodating...

I'm going to chalk this ride up as another "Learning Experience".   Where to go from here?  
I feel like the wind has been knocked out of my sails... 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Losing our Golden Girl ~

Kittaka was special from the very beginning. Sweet, loving & smart - quick & fast. Beautiful as could possibly be & rare - we now believe she was a Wolf hybrid. I pulled up to our gate one afternoon to see something thrashing at the north pasture fence. It was a deer that Kitt had hamstrung. I got the rifle, asked Kitt to get away & shot the deer. She also loved to hunt Squirrel - then eat them! I understand that Squirrel meat is actually very good. Since ours live on the nearby walnut trees, I'm sure they were!

Raised by our 7-year old Beagle, Abby --  Kitt did her best to dominate :-) As she grew taller, she would stand over Abby & the two of them looked like a dog with 8-legs. When we took the dogs with us to Alpine - she spent the day hopping around the pasture catching grasshoppers :-) She also learned to hunt for grubs. Each spring & sometimes in the fall, she could be found sniffing around the yard. Stopping, digging a bit with a paw - then eating whatever grub it was. I attribute all that fine protein to her longevity.
Kitt & Abby - 2-25-1999
The only time she had an "accident" was when she found & tasted slug-bait. We raced her into Pilchuck & she survived without any problems. That was the end of slug-bait on the Homestead

She grieved with us at Abby's passing in 2004.  When Rowdy came home with us, she took on the responsibility of teaching him our routine.  She loved him as though he were her own & spent hours playing with him - he could get away with almost anything!  We were amazed...
Rowdy & Kitt - 2-10-2004

Kitt & Rowdy - 1-9-2005
At the age of twelve, she suffered with us when we lost Rowdy.  We were all so lonely that we again searched to find another Beagle & came home with Rascal.  Kitt tolerated him, but he couldn't replace Rowdy.  He had to make his own way & find his own path to our hearts.
Kitt with Rascal - 11-1-2009
 We had Coyote's around in the early days, some evenings they would start to howl, setting off the dogs in the valley. Kitt would walk out to the center of our driveway - puff herself up & send off her own howls. They were so incredible that you felt you were listening to the Wolves in Alaska. After her first howl, there would be utter silence!~ Not one more bark, not one more howl, nothing. She would finish her song with a flourish & strut away - Queen.

As she aged & lost her hearing, the howling stopped. We have no idea why - but it was a terrible loss to us. My first cell phone with a video mode, I managed to catch her song one morning when emergency vehicles went by down the hill.  I think I somehow knew that those songs were numbered.

Here I'll share it with you - as a final tribute to the finest canine companion that any mere mortal could ever possibly hope for ~