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?  :-)