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

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Two-fer" Day!

Friday was a busy day!  I loaded Farah & headed to Snohomish for our appointment at Fire Run Farm.   We had attended a presentation there by Eitan Beth-Halacmy known as the father of Cowboy Dressage.  This farm is one of a handful that practice & teach the methods of Light Hands Horsemanship.

I have to admit to being almost as nervous as I was at the start of my first endurance ride!  Never much of a fan of arena riding or formal lessons, what formal training I do  have (besides many miles in the saddle) has come from the skilled coaching of my friend & mentor Dean Essex, DVM.   

Arriving at Fire Run - I parked alongside the Peacock enclosure, then headed over to the arena to check-in.  Tara met me at the door with a welcome smile & warm handshake - then introduced me to Teri Rumens, owner of the farm.   Tara pointed out the saddling area & where to bring Farah in.  I declined her offer of help with tack & decided to saddle Farah by the trailer as usual.  I unloaded her & just as I was opening the tack room door on the trailer - we both jumped as one of the Peacocks let out a Very Loud "Yell"?  To our credit, we both kept our cool :-)

Farah walked in like she'd been there 1,000 times before.  I  backed her into the saddling area & she stood quietly while we discussed her prior training & my goals for her & myself.  Next we were invited to warm-up in the very large, beautiful arena.  Farah put on her game face, we made the circuit of the arena & even went down the ramp & into the round-pen that sits below the level of the arena.  

In a very friendly way, Teri started commenting on Farah, her incredible movement, willingness to please, the way she's bonded with me & how we looked as a team.  Her coaching started so smoothly that it very easy to understand & comply.  Especially since Farah would immediately adjust & respond to what I was asking of her.   Our first lesson was a huge success!   We were introduced to family & friends who came by & made to feel at home!  Teri & Tara gave me ideas to work on at home!  I felt motivated & encouraged - what more can you ask from a trainer?

I left the farm & headed back into Snohomish with just enough time to pick up a burger before my friend was there to lead me the back way to Lord Hill. 
Farah, saddled & ready~
 We saddled up & were on the trails by 1 p.m. riding for over three hours!  Lynn was determined to show me that the park was bigger than I thought!  We had a trotting contest on the way back, with her wonderful mare setting a blistering pace!  Fun for us, fun for the mares!   We headed home tired - no better way to spend a day!  I'm definitely looking forward to our next lesson!  Now to start practicing!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

New Page on Tack

Tack room after Spring cleaning!
My choice in tack has changed over the years.  I love buying tack, spending money on tack & putting it to daily use.  What I really like best though - is when it works!  I've donated a lot of used tack to the 4-H used tack sales.  Usable items, but things I'd found didn't work as well as I liked, or didn't fit the horse I had at the time.

Now, I have what I like, what works for me & what works for my horse.  Once you find what works, that's key.  I always try to keep an eye on what's new, what seems to be working for other people, or what just draws my eye.  Taking Funder's idea - I put together a page - check it out  - tab at the top!
 If you ever find yourself near Sheridan, WY - make it a point to stop by Kings Saddlery!   One of the very best places in the world to view authentic western tack, an incredible museum full of the finest old saddles from the past, new saddles that are works-of-art & all the tack you could possibly want, need, or buy!  It's a must see!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lord Hill Ride~

Lord Hill GPS
Lord Hill Regional Park - I hadn't ridden there in years!  Since the day - Liz - you will remember the day - when you, Butch & I went riding.  Don't want to even think about how many years that's been.  Strange too, since it's just a 20-mile drive from home!  With the downed tree, we didn't get to make the loop that my friends, more familiar with the park had planned.  Nonetheless - we did cover a few miles.  It was wet, slippery in places - but over all, not a bad place at all to inhale the smells of a really nice summer day.  When we split up to take different approaches to the outlook - the other two of our party saw two beautiful doe's! 
Looking out~
After talking to Liz yesterday, I hesitated in correcting Farah for her jump over the small ditch with running water...  It was a smoother jump than usual - but she had less distance to cover!  :-)  Cato - the man - walked right across like a gentleman - but Farah refused to follow his lead.   We did enjoy some side-by-side walking without incident & Farah has really improved when following other horses.  Now... it's time for her very overdue bath!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Young Horse Stuff~

Foxglove in Full Bloom~
You know how it is...  you have a great ride on a youngster, then you take them out again & things are not as good?  Well...  I decided to get in a short ride from home & check things out in our backyard.  Overgrown!  That's how things were!  If I don't do some clearing - we won't be getting through in another couple weeks.  What clearing I'd done last season - which was a lot, still hadn't kept up with all the growth! 

We made it out to the power lines, the perfect time to enjoy all the color from the Foxglove.  Years ago, it grew all along the trails through the woods, that since have been bulldozed.  Now - it's coming back in the few places that haven't been disturbed.  Heading back - by a trail that we used to call our running hill.   Going down it - rather than up.  Besides being covered with brush, what was left of the trail had a small river of water running down the middle, that had washed a deep v-shaped grove.  Those are hard to navigate - I'd seen them before at Capitol Forest - made by the bicyclists who ride there.  Farah wasn't doing bad, just some slipping - as she tried to avoid the running water.  We came up on a very deep hole & decided to dismount & guide her past it.  That done, I went to re-mount & that's when she decided to make a sharp left & leap - UP the hillside!  I was left hanging from the stirrup, still with the rein in my hand as she tried to plunge through the brush dragging me along.  I managed to get her pulled up after barely missing a tree trunk.  She was barrel deep in Salmonberry & standing over two large partly rotted cedar stumps.  Did I cuss her out?  Oh YES!  I sure did.  She knew for sure that she had been Very Bad!  :-)  

I forged a way back down to the trail - told her to STAND on fear of death & re-mounted.  Now - we will be Standing for Every mount - standing Firm!  :-)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo!

A Yee Haw moment!
We decided to go "overland" from the Big Lake area, to Darrington.  Using the smartphone's navigation, we found the roads, but arrived after the start of the Rodeo.  Just in time for the Saddle Bronc riding! 
Barrel Racing!
Next, one of my personal favorites - the Barrel Racing!  Really fast times turned in by some really excellent riders & fit horses!  
Running for the wire!
 This rodeo boasts some events not commonly seen, one of which is the Girls Cow Riding.  In case you think it's easy - think again!  
These girls took some hard falls!
 Our friend Steve participated in the Gentleman's Cow Milking - really a sport for the toughest guy standing!  He holds the top title several years running - but this year it was not to be...
Manhandling a very Wild cow!
Finally, there was the Bull Riding.  None of the riders made it much past the gate, the bulls won that round - so I didn't get any photos.  But afterward, we got to tour the Bull pens & I did get a picture of the biggest set of horns ever!
Part Brahma & part Long Horn
 Roy, owner of C & C Rodeo's, was the stock contractor for the event.  At 86-years young, he was riding all day, climbing over the stock enclosures whenever there was a need, riding, roping & generally being everywhere!  His horse was trained to a "T"!  It was a pleasure to watch such a fine horseman at work!
Stock Contractor
Even with the torrential downpours on Sat., everyone came back & had a Great time on Sunday!  One of our favorite, small town flavor - Rodeo's!  At only $10. per person, you can even afford to donate for next years event!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Riding in the Rain~

Farah enjoys the smorgasbord!

I actually did try to find someone to ride with - without success.  In retrospect, so glad I didn't!  This ride was all about Farah.  Decided to let her do what she wanted to do & see what it got me.  What I got - was the most fun I've had in forever!  We left the parking area at a trot!  Yes, usually I let a horse warm-up, but she'd been out all morning & wanted to go!  Part of the "deal" I made with her.  What a trot it was!   Over 14 mph  - fast, straight, consistent for just over 2-miles!   She slowed to her walk for a mile or so, then we trotted right up the first two hills - where she took another breather & ate grass while I took pictures :-)  Again we headed up - nice collected trot to the top.  Loose rein with contact the entire way.

It was no surprise to find that the view east was totally socked in.  We headed over to the west side & were rewarded by breaking cloud cover that revealed a soaked landscape.
West from the Monument
Was someone coming?  Not likely!
 After a short break, with heavy clouds moving in quickly from the south, I decided to start back.  Once over the top of the ridge & onto the east side, the sky lightened.  I could have spent the day watching natures show...  instead I pulled out my new waterproof smartphone & tried out it's video to capture this~

On the way back, as we headed up, Farah dropped her head, lifted her back, dropped her rear & moved into a gallop with one of the smoothest transitions I've ever ridden!  We started flying!  Again - straight, true, not even the glimmer of a spook!   Up to 18 mph by the time we reached the summit.  Yippee!  Deep breath & on we went!  All this & only the start of what is her first real year of conditioning!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Riding at Kathryn Taylor

Kathryn Taylor Ride~
Oh what an incredible day!  As I went to turn into Kathryn Taylor, the gates were closed!  Men working inside, grading & re-graveling the trailer parking area.  The gate wasn't locked, so I walked in, spoke to the men working & asked if we could figure something out?  Both were extremely pleasant & helpful.  We decided that if we put our rigs right at the edge, we would be enough out of the way that they could get the job done & we could get in a ride!  
Grading, my truck & trailer~
 Farah handled the noise just fine, after a couple sideways looks.  She grazed while we watched the gate to be sure that Amanda didn't drive right by without realizing that we were there.  All was good!  She & Beth pulled up - we opened the gate & hurried to get saddled up & out of the way.  
Farah watching ~
 With the high clouds, it didn't get as warm as predicted, the woods were lush & cool.  We ran into several work crews spreading fresh cedar bark on trails already graded.  The Salmonberry are the largest & ripest I've seen in years - so it was a contest as to who did the best job of picking on the fly!  :-)  Farah got in trouble for kicking out - wish I could have seen her face, as my friends said her expression said it all.  Now she really knows what my stick is for!  Great Day, great first ride of Summer!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Back in my Saddle Again! Or - the Joy of a Perfect Sweat Pattern!

Nine miles +
It was one of those perfect days that have been all to rare so far this year.  Sunshine, 70 degrees, light breeze.  So nice to have Farah home, also fun to have a mare that actually enjoys being groomed!  Then - of course, there's the lack of gray - how I'm liking that!  

Decided to forgo any shims & go back to what had worked for so very long with Khari.  My Supracore pad & my saddle.  The fit looked good!   I tried to find a problem where I couldn't see any, checked & double checked where the saddle was sitting & where the cinch sat.
Friends arrived & we headed out - how nice to again be able to ride the trails after a long wet winter of riding only the roads.
Photo by Aarene~
 We did a couple good hill climbs, Farah again - stopped for a minute or two about mid-way up, took a deep breath & moved on out.  She's only been out a hand-full of times in the past weeks, but that will change :-)
My saddle~
Art shod Farah yesterday, the first time ever he has done a re-set on one of my horses :-)  (That tells you that I've been busy.)  We made a couple small changes, a slight roll on the toe & larger shoe on the rear with a little more steel under the heel to slow the hind down.  Today she was moving with a very long stride, her best yet.  My surprise came at the end of the ride, when I pulled the saddle & found an EVEN sweat pattern!   Yippee!  So glad that it didn't sell!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Farah gets her teeth done~

Sarah Owens with Farah
After taking a peek in Farah's mouth late last year, we knew that she needed a lot of work.  It took a few months, but finally after meeting Sarah of Owens Equine & riding that last loop with her at Milwaukee, I made the appointment.  My first time looking at a young horses mouth in a few years.  There was plenty of work to do;  low crowns, several transverse ridges & two high crowns on each side.  The left side had a more severe table angle but Sarah easily reduced it.  Farah tends to get caudal lower and rostral upper hooks, which had caused calluses on her cheeks by the caudal molars.  After the work was done, Dr. Owens checked that Farah had good molar occlusion.  (A nice even bite.)   Good news in that there was no deformity or unusual shape to the jaw etc.

 I've been very nervous about having dental work done, since the year that Jas came awake before the equipment was off her head - started tossing it violently & cracked a molar.  It caused us grief for the rest of her life.  (As a heads-up - one of the first signs that something was wrong was excessive slobbering.)   I made Dr. Owens aware of my concerns & was very relieved when it was over!  I asked if I could reach in there to feel the work & Dr. Owens was happy to oblige.  I've been taught that you can feel more than what your eyes can see & how true it is.  All the teeth were smooth against her cheeks, her jaw was freed up & she seemed very happy when she went back to grazing.  Now, we'll check her the first of the year & see how her wear pattern has hopefully improved!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Holding Down the "Farm"!

Holding down the farm, it's hard to call it work!  Especially when I'm met each day by my girl - who comes running to the gate to see me!  Farah has been on the farm for a while now - a big dry stall for those pouring wet days & a big dry grassy paddock when the sun is out - or almost!   Khari had decided that she didn't like Farah...  After, kicking our pasture gate right off it's hinges & ten-feet into the yard!  This in an attempt to kick Farah with both hind feet!  It made it easier all around to keep them apart.  Since I knew I'd be spending most of my days here for a couple weeks, I've enjoyed Farah's company :-) 
Tropic Lightening
Then...  there's the Big Guy!  Senior stallion Tropic Lightening!  Now 14, he's still always on the muscle & what better place in the world to be a stallion?
Tropic in his racing days!
Finally - there's Baby Doll!  My work day wouldn't be complete without taking a walk with Baby!  Now ten, I met him as a tiny puppy & watched as he matured into a Big Handsome Guard dog.  My only "pit" friend in the world, I still get butterflies when he jumps in my direction... but I love him.  
Baby Doll

In case you think I don't really work at all...  I do take calls, make appointments & hand out flea med's :-)  I've even developed my own set of clients - those that seem to always need something when the Doctor is away!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Khari's Leave-Taking~

Khari - ears in question?
No, I'd said I wouldn't cry...  I didn't either - until later.  As the trailer left down Dean's driveway - it was easy to be happy that this mare would finally get to move away from the cold, gray, damp, Great North Wet!  Heading for TX first, for a layover & to begin the process of acclimatizing to the heat - then by mid-September, on to Europe & from there her new home in Saudi Arabia!

I hope to receive updates from time to time on how she's doing.  We'd put a few extra pounds on her for the journey.  Diane, at the Arabian Horse Association called me yesterday - to discuss the final information needed for her registration transfer.  I was told that Khari is only the second Half-Arabian in the history of the AHA to be exported to Saudi Arabia!  That was pretty amazing news!  (They're making changes to the way they handle paperwork for the Half-Arabians due to more world-wide interest.)

It was Very quite at home last night...  The first time in many years that there hasn't been a horse on the property with us...   Both Rascal & Mischief missed their second dinner up at the barn standing under the feeders! Rascal walked around "looking" for Khari - he checked out the trailer twice...  was she still in there?   No...

Khari's leave-taking represents the end too, of many years of my life with Arabians & Endurance.  The rides, the miles, the scenery, the friends, the dreams...  all now saved in my memories & gone, as she is...  from the present.  Tomorrow, Farah comes home & a new chapter will begin! (I hope my old endurance friends will keep me on their list!)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Farah Funnies :-)

Gold Creek Ride
Yesterday, drove down to Woodinville to try out a friends saddle.  Ann was kind enough to take me on a really super ride that included steep ups, steep downs & with a destination at a very nice facility with a nice sized arena!  The saddle seemed to fit Farah's back, but there were several things that I would have to change for my personal taste & to get wither clearance.  We were both surprised though - when I removed it - that Farah had the same two dry spots at the wither that she'd had when I used my saddle on her!  

This saddle has a "flex-core" & is supposed to fit any horse, which Ann said that it always had until yesterday.  Farah's back is not unusual in any way - a pretty standard horse back - but she certainly needed more wither clearance from the pommel. I didn't like the balanced placement, or seat, which seemed to let me move too far back.  My legs were nowhere near the Rider's Groove, at the narrowest point of the horses barrel, but further back - where the barrel widens.

 This saddle had installed bucking-rolls, installed to help on the steep downhills.  I could see where that had been a big improvement.  Ann's horse is an incredible big moving guy.  Otherwise, you'd feel as though you'd tip right off the front.

Now, for the Funnies :-)  I'd parked along a grassy strip in front of the barn.  Farah was loaded & I was saying good-by when Ann looked down & realized that I had a flat tire on the trailer!  Much better there, parked - than on the highway!  Her husband graciously left his Sunday project & changed out the tire - what a guy!  We'd unloaded Farah, she was tied to a post.  The next time we looked, she was loose & having a wonderful roll!   So - Ann tied her again, this time with a double knot!  A few more minutes went by - something caught our attention & Farah was loose again & happily grazing next to my friends mare - still standing tiedFarah had lifted the entire loop of the lead rope off the top of the post!  OK ...  time to admit that this is a SMART girl!  :-)   Yes she does tie, but I'll now have to add, until she unties herself :-)