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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting Lost :-)

Heading to the Deep Dark Woods
It had been long enough, the rains stopped & I decided that it would be better all-round if I squeaked in the time for a ride.  After all the rain, I planned to stick to the roads, but got distracted by a trail that I thought would be pretty solid.  It ended up being more like a slippery slide - so we took it easy & sloshed through.  The camera on my smartphone can not focus in heavy woods.  I've tried different settings, using the flash - which I did in the photo above - but I think it's sensors are overwhelmed with the data.

As we worked our way around the mountain, we started the climb for the top.  Farah now really likes to come around the corner off the single track trail & start her gallop.  After five days off, she was feeling very fresh!  I let her go, our top speed to date had been about 23 mph.  Today - less that 1/2 way up she took the bit & dug in for another surge.   It's always so amazing to feel the horsepower.  I knew that we'd broken through that earlier set-point & moved up a notch.   I asked her to start slowing down early enough that if something was going on up there - we'd have space to stop.  After the logging a year ago, I'd hoped things would stay quiet, but seeing all the rock going down etc.,  bodes no good for another section of trees on the ridge... 

We took a short break at the Monument, then started down.  I decided on the spur of the moment to go all the way down - to the bottom & see what traffic looked like on Hwy 9.  Not surprisingly - there was a steady stream both directions, though there was a lull when I took the photo. 
Gate at Hwy 9
My GPS registered over 11-miles at this point, I was thinking that I'd watch to see how far it was to make the climb back to the top.  Sounds good, but when we got to the lower level I'd forgotten which turn that we'd come down on & took the wrong one.
Looking back at the top of the mountain & ridge
We ended up sloshing through lots of water & along a road/trail that hadn't been used in a long time.  For a while it seemed to be going the right direction, but then made a turn & headed south.  Continuing on - thinking I might find something interesting - we finally came to a spot where there was no more going forward.  The only thing to do was turn around & slosh back.

Once on the lower road again, we found the correct turn & started back up!  By the time we were back at the trailer I had 19-miles on my GPS.  Linda was there, she & Del had been scouting to see where to send the trail work parties for tomorrow.  I told her that if she'd ridden with me, I wouldn't have gotten lost!  That will teach her!  :-)  Looking forward to seeing how we do at the beach!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ten-Years Ago Today~

Jasrada, Ben, Dean & Connie
It was a Spring to be remembered...  We were hit hard & hit twice.  Things turned south at the Home On The Range Ride the end of March.  After an uneventful drive over to Potholes, we met-up with our friends & set up camp.  Jas & Khitty were VBF & always enjoyed seeing each other at rides.  We'd had weeks of rain, so when we looked over & saw Jas laying down, at first we just thought she was enjoying the sun.
Khitty & Jas
But that was not the case.  Within minutes of this photo, she got up, we saddled up & headed out for a short ride.   When I asked for a trot & didn't get it, I knew something was WRONG!  We turned back, went to find the Vet & ended up with the treatment Vet that was instrumental in saving Jas's life.  A Very Long story, but we asked Dean Essex, DVM of Granite Falls Thoroughbred Farm, to help us...   Working day & night for over a week, Dean was a one-man-band, orchestrating her treatment & care.  The times I was ready to give-up, he gave me the strength to keep on.   Jas became one of the few, very lucky horses who have survived Anterior Enteritis.  The top photo was taken on the day we took Jas home! (Ben never lost his faith in Jas - he knew - that "his girl" would be "fine".)

Next, I was thrown in our own backyard!  Below is one of the only photos that I saved of the mare who did the deed.  She doesn't look too scary in the photo, but believe me - she was a true nut case.
Jas & Bonnie grazing
Of course in the clarity of retrospect, she was insecure, green broke & was in a full dripping body sweat when we unloaded her after a ten-mile trailer ride home.  While riding her in the lounging circle you can see,  (It was 90 degrees that day!) a friend holding the other end - she reared.   I thought she was going over backwards, (she'd done that before) I grabbed mane.  She dropped back down - but started bucking like a bronco.  About the second or third buck she dislodged me & I knew before I hit the ground that it was going to be bad.
Jas & Connie
I laid on the ground a while & tried to roll over to regain my feet, before I realized that I wasn't going anywhere without help.  Our yard was full of emergency vehicles by the time Butch raced home.  (Luckily he was working in Mt. Vernon.)  The helicopter ride to Harbor View took about 15-min.  I went directly into surgery that lasted over four-hours - to re-attach the top of my femur.  I also had broken ribs & a lung that wasn't in very good shape.  I'm quick though!  In three-days - I was on my way home.  My gray mare was there for me.

Time moves on...  Jas & I went back to HOTR range in 04 - wondering if she or I either one would be up to the task.  Our friends were pulled early on, we finished the fifty at a gallop, but didn't get completion - "Grade One Lame."  One of those decisions that has remained a sore spot even after all these years.  She was 100% sound a hour later & had I known then what I know now... 
We're the white spot! 
I'd been trying to retire Jas from endurance since 2000, but hadn't found the horse that could even come close to replacing her & been hurt for my efforts.  I DID - absolutely - want to finish her ten-year career with a completion at fifty!  We dropped back to an LD & completed it top-ten, before the end of the year.
 NW Labor Day Ride
Jas's feet had always been her weak-link, she was getting joint injections by now.  I'd been told that if I wanted her to retire sound to ride, I only had - maybe - one more fifty in our bag-of-tricks.  We decided on Klickitat 05.  Perfect trails, soft footing - if she couldn't do it there, she couldn't do it anywhere...  With help from our friends & the crewing/support of "Dad" - we Finished!   The final completion of her career.

For those of you who are just starting out, or maybe even been playing at it for a while...   Here's a visual reminder of what, this sport is all about.  You can talk the talk, walk the walk, but what you really need to do is;  "Ride Like You've Never Been Bucked Off!"
Says it ALL!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

T-Shirt Quilts

My first 1,000 miles & ten years~
Years ago a friend told me about a quilt she was making using t-shirts from all the states that she had visited on vacation.  I had a huge stack of ride t-shirts put away & the idea was born!  That same friend took those t-shirts & made them into the quilt above.  It represents my first 1,000 of endurance.  I didn't have shirts for every ride & so we had some printed up with photos & for the additional blocks we needed.
Second 1,000 with Khari
When I started riding Khari, I began saving up for the day she would reach 1,000-miles & I'd have enough for a second quilt.  As it turned out, this quilt also represents Khari's entire endurance career with me, since I sold her right after that twentieth, fifty-mile ride.

I'd been looking for a fabric for the background, something Western - when my cousin & owner of the Quilter's Fix in Sheridan, WY called to say that she had found something that I'd like!  The print looks like tooled leather.  I cut out the patterns on all the shirts, ordered some for the rides that hadn't given out shirts & laid them out from our very first fifty at the Bryce XP, to the last at the Milwaukee Rail Trail.

Next was finding someone to do the work!  Again - Jackie came to the rescue & found a super talented seamstress in Sheridan to do all the blocking, binding, etc.  Deb is booked up months in advance, so during the wait, we ordered in the flannel for the back.  I love using flannel - it makes the quilts a little heavier & warmer.

When the finished quilt arrived in the mail last week & I opened the box, it was like opening years full of memories! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day~

George Meade
Memorial Day, observed the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the American military.

They gave their lives for the Freedom we enjoy each & every day~

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I-5 Bridge Collapse

I-5 Bridge Collapsed
We headed up north this morning to our favorite weekend breakfast spot, then drove on up Hwy 9 to Mt. Vernon.  There really wasn't the traffic we expected on 9, but of course that will probably change tomorrow when people are coming back from the three-day weekend.
Truck & car in the "drink"
 We parked near Home Depot & walked over to see the view from the nearest bridge - that is now taking all the I-5 traffic on the detour through Mt. Vernon & back over to I-5.  It was solid with traffic, the wait at the lights was long, but everyone was moving.  When we stopped in at Skagit Cycle, the guys there told us that in the last few days, a motorcycle police officer has been spending his time going back/forth up the center turn lanes, pulling people over & ticketing them for whatever he can find.  Guess all that traffic makes an unhappy group of drivers - he can make even more unhappy with a ticket!
North end of the bridge~
South side
Standing there looking over at the tangled mess of steel - it's really almost surreal that anyone could have survived the collapse.  The scale of the mess can only be realized when you see that the gray truck & red car are still there in the water!  I've seen the interviews on the news, those people are so thankful to have survived!

It will continue to create a traffic nightmare for the months ahead until the crews can either get in a temporary bridge, or get construction going on a new section, or a new bridge!  If the bridge is marginal - maybe it's time to bite-the-bullet & replace it!

We've gone over it many times, of those - several with large trucks in front of us that just miss hitting as they go across.  Then there's the days when the wind is blowing too!  Who would think that a hit to one of those upper steel beams could bring it all down?

I suggested to one of the workman that a flag needs to be flying from one end or the other of that open span! 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Life is Good!

Eileen on Cato & Farah
What fun!  When I was asked by Cato's owner Amanda & Eileen, (Who's taken on Cato's training while Amanda is recovering from a fall.)  if I would ride with them at Victoria - how could I refuse!  I wouldn't - ever!  I love this horse, I love his owner & having met Eileen only twice "face-to-face" I'd had the impression that she would be a fine riding partner & wasn't disappointed.  My biggest worry, especially this time of year - is the weather.  It's such a bummer when the mountain gets socked in & the views disappear.   We had rain most of the night & woke this morning to clouds.

Since Eileen lives south of Olympia, it was a two-hour drive for her to come up, she spent the night with Amanda & was again on the road for another hours drive this morning - to meet me in Arlington.  With the bridge out on I-5,  I decided that it would be just as easy to have her follow me on Hwy 9 & not worry about what might be happening out on I-5.  No traffic at all.  Either everyone is staying home, broke, or already where they were going!  We were the first trailers at the parking area, but by the time we left, the lot was filling up.  The trails were muddy on the surface - which made for some slippery footing. 
Cato & Farah enjoy each others company!
Farah recognized Cato right away & he her.  They even touched noses & there was no squealing or rude behavior, more like; "Hi!  Good to see you!" stuff.  These two have always been pretty well matched on the trail, this time - with the training they've both had since their last time out - they did super together, switching lead position, leaving each other - all the tricks we do to poor horses minds to try to train them.  Funny huh?  The way human's think?
Over looking the lake~
At the Monument the sun was out, then a big, dark cloud moved overhead & it started raining...  Time to head for the Big, Dark woods!  Once through there & out on the east side, the sky cleared again & the sunshine, blue sky, white puffy clouds & fresh air made it an incredibly nice day!
Eileen & Cato
 I loved seeing the smiles on the faces of both rider & horse :-)   We covered 14-miles in just over 3 hours & again, enjoyed the ride immensely!   Thanks to Eileen for the long drive up, to Cato - for coming with & Amanda for sending her boy out to see us!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Favorites from Inspection~

Butch & Farah
Anne Johnson of Blacktree Studio was the professional photographer who came to take photos of the AWS Inspection.   Her work is incredible & I was thrilled with the photos that she took of Farah.   The photo above was taken after the branding!  Obviously "Dad" wasn't in too much trouble :-)
Farah - trot!
If you're a fan of fit horses, you'll like Farah's look above, if you like the more well-rounded look of show ponies - then you're going to be disappointed.   We're traveling somewhere between 30 & 50 miles a week & enjoying every one.  It's so nice to not have any particular agenda, we're on the trails for the fun of it & I'm more than happy to have time to be out there as often as we are - enjoying what's been a very nice spring!  
Farah's "English" look! :-)
This is the last of the photos I purchased.  Couldn't resist having at least one with Farah in Sandra's English headstall!  Stacy's braiding really looked nice too!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Art's Day at Stillwater Elementary!

Mason & Cassidy at work with the clay~
I don't know the history of how Art Day originated, but it was a great idea that's much enjoyed by the Stillwater Elementary kids each year.  I've been volunteering since the Grand-kids started at this school, Courtney is the Art Docent & has spent hours keeping the art program alive & well, even with limited funds.  It's so much fun each year to see what's been planned for the students!  During the course of the day, all the students, from all the rooms, get to plan their schedule for the day - which of the many art-class offerings they'd like to participate in - & they choose four.

The teachers give up their rooms for the day - allowing the volunteer art teachers from the community, the space to work with the kids.  Courtney was teaching a project involving nice, wet clay!  First it was to be worked flat, then with a variety of different tools, the students were to apply textures to the clay.  Once the textures were done - the clay was cut into pieces of three different sizes with a variety of cookie cutters.
Cassidy working the clay~
The clay was a messy project - those are the fun kind!  :-)  Once the clay was cut-out, the students went around the room , picking out three pieces from large to small - then learning to glue them together with water.  At that point they were done, the pieces will go out to be fired.  I was lucky, as both Mason & Cassidy had signed up for the second period clay class - so I could enjoy watching them work!  I love seeing how creative these kids are!  Such bright minds!

By lunch, we were ready for a break!  The library was set up with an incredible buffet of some of the most delicious hot casseroles ever provided by the teachers!  The dessert table would have put a five star restaurant to shame!  While we were eating, the kids all had their lunch & recess.

In the afternoon, I decided to attend a class with Mason & one with Cassidy.  Mason was signed up for Landscape Watercolors.  This class had a very interesting twist!  The kids were given a drawing, asked to turn it upside down on their desk, then given a blank paper - the task was to reproduce the drawing starting at the bottom (which was now the top) & moving down the paper to the top (now the bottom)!
Mason in the "Landscape Watercolors" class
This was really an interesting mind game!  Once the drawing was complete, the kids learned how to mix the water colors to make their own colors & apply them to the drawing!  Amazing & creative work was done by all the students!
Cassidy, "Painting with Pixels"
Cassidy's last class of the day was "Painting with Pixels"!  The computer room was well equipped, all the kids were anxious to start clicking the mouse & working with a really nice on-line resource;  The National Gallery of Art.  What a great place for kids to explore & learn at the same time!

What a wonderful, fun day for the kids & the volunteers too!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Back on the Trail~

Monday, the weather returned to the sunshine that we'd been enjoying most of May.  Time to get out & do some trail time, on our own.  We did find three horse trailers at the parking when we arrived mid-afternoon.  I love the late afternoon light in the forest, everything seems to have a golden glow...
Where we came out~
We do some wandering when we're out on our own, if we find a trail that looks interesting, we take it :-)  We came out in an area that I didn't remember, but as long as there's a logging road, you know that you'll end up somewhere!  Looking up, I was sure that above us was the Monument.  Eventually the road, became a small trail going back into the woods.  That trail circled us around & we ended up making a loop that put us back on track for the climb.
Small loop at the top~
Farah has enjoyed our runs so much that when we turned to head up the hill, she cut the corner & started to gallop, digging in at every stride & propelling us faster & faster!  I love fast, but as we started to get near the top - the road was covered with a fresh layer of rock with a lot of fines - still soft.  Farah put on one more burst of speed & we crested the top.  As we did, she suddenly almost sat down on her haunches, dropping my butt into the saddle & came very close to sudden stop!  In front of us was a small bulldozer, running, that had been spreading that same rock!  What a Good girl!  A controlled stop from a dead run is my favorite way to stop!

Once out at the monument, for some reason - we pulled off to the side, where the trail comes out of the trees & into the open.  Farah was grazing, I was eating my trail-mix - when suddenly here came a guy on a bike - FAST!  Boy was he surprised to see us standing there watching him!  He could have easily caused a bad wreck - blasting out that fast.  Right after him were four more riders - most coming through so fast that they too didn't see me until it would have been "too late".  Gosh - did they apologize?  No...  I mounted & we moved back into the woods & over to the outlook to finish our break.
Farah catching up on her grazing :-)
On our way back, I heard a hale & the bike riders were coming up behind me - this time they let me know they were there & wished me a nice day.  I did the same...  hopefully they'll think twice before barreling out that fast again.  At least when I find them on one of the places we like to run, I tell them that we'll be coming back fast & they have been very nice about staying over to the side.  One guy said he didn't know that "regular" horses could go so fast!  :-)  Yep - regular horses can & do!

Another goal I had for Farah has finally been completed.   It took most of two-years of anticipation & planning - the inspection is history, the brand looks nice & it's a done deal!  Next, a trip to the ocean, in June.  Then a friend has invited us to participate in a CMO ride that's actually in our neck of the woods - Harry O's mid-June, so we're going to try that next!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Stacy braids Farah's mane~
This was a whole new "adventure" for us!  Totally unfamiliar with any type of showing, here we were, visiting beautiful Chalice Farm just outside of Port Orchard.  We decided to make the drive on Sat., I didn't want to have to worry about traffic snarls if we drove over on the day of inspection, Sunday.  We arrived late afternoon & what a well managed, quiet farm!  Lea met us as we drove in & directed us to a nice spot where we could set up for the night.   We put Farah in a stall with turnout. 

I learned how much work & preparation goes in to getting a horse ready to show!  Wow!  Then - there's how much preparation & time that goes in to getting a BIG horse ready to show!  We saw some of the most beautiful "big" horses ever!  Even young, soon to be - Big beautiful horses :-)  It was early evening, we were just making dinner - when I looked out to see this handsome horse, ready to be presented out on a walk with his owner.  I grabbed my camera & asked permission to take some photos.  Below - was the result!
The next morning everyone was up & about early!  There were horses to finish buffing & shining, horses coming in & it was easy to feel the excitement!  Beautiful horses everywhere!  Most who had horses to be presented for judging had hired a professional handler to show the horses in the arena, where they are shown "in-hand", unless under two - when they are also shown at liberty.

After watching Patrick Billies show the first horse, I was very happy that we'd made the decision to have him show Farah.  Two times around a large pattern once at the walk & once at the trot was a workout!  Patrick made each of the horses strut their stuff!
Patrick presents Farah
For whatever reason, Farah was not her usual self.  I expected her usual animation collection & lift - but not today...   She was somewhat subdued, maybe wondering what we were up to - after clinics with smoke, fire etc. :-)
Farah at the trot~
Watching her first strides, I knew that being judged to a tough standard & having seem some incredibly nice horses - that she wouldn't score as high has I'd hoped.  She'd also managed to lose about 50-lbs. since her bath on Fri.!  How she does THAT I don't know either!  She can go from looking rounded, to thin in a day & had.
Farah & Butch
 Even so, she did well & received a score high enough to give her the "Red Preferred" status, red ribbon & qualify her for the American Warmblood Society brand!
Kathy was quick & accurate!
The first branding I'd seen & to my mare!  Whew!  Flames!  Smell of scorched hair!  Kathy was very explicit with her directions, cover her eye, the count, the brand & walk her away!   Amazingly enough - she didn't even kick out!
Kathy watches as Butch leads Farah away - still smoking!  :-)
Just a swish of the tail was her only reaction!
Kathy knocked off the singed hair & here is the result!
Beautiful job!  Thank you Kathy!  We really did have a great time!  Nothing like watching beautiful horses strut there stuff & get a first hand look & listen as each horse is judged.  Everyone there had a wonderful time, two horses who had blue status before, again achieved blue, a stallion received blue & another very nice two-year old that showed the animation that Farah usually has :-)

Kathy mentioned - some of  the same area's to work on - that Sandra has told me too - that I need to consistently work on, if I want to shape Farah into the mare that she has the ability to be.  It takes dedication & work - we were incredibly impressed with the time & energy that each of the owners we met, put into their horses.

Side note:  If your horse has no conformational faults that would result in consistent low scores & you have conditioning, carriage,  quality-of-movement, etc. to work on - then you can present at future inspections to try for a higher score.  The highest score holds.

Many thanks to Lea for hosting the inspection & Kathy for her expert judging!  Both these ladies made it so much fun & a learning experience for us all!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Out from Home~

Lush green, sunshine & shadows~
The rain did not continue today, instead we had another perfect Spring day.  I didn't seem to have the motivation to trailer out to ride & hadn't been up on our trails for a month.  As we moved into the trot, there was no problem with forging?  Farah was moving really well, she hit a couple times going over the rock, but not every stride.
Land of the ATV'ers - going north
I rode right on out & north to the area that we found a couple months ago.  All was quiet, early enough in the afternoon, no one was home from work - yet.  The footing above is soft, dry & perfect!
Deceptively deep mud hole~
This was the hole that was full of water our first time through.  The mud is deep & it's deeper bog on both sides.  We sunk in up to Farah's knees - I was thinking;  "Keep your shoes on!"  She did & we did - right on through.  Nice that there's a creek crossing on the way home :-)
False Lilly-of-the-Valley
The ground-covers are in full-bloom everywhere!  Just amazing!  I have these at home too, & really enjoy having them spread rather than buttercup!  A few weeks ago I posted a photo of this hill from the top, below you see it from the bottom.
View of the "hill" looking east.
The weirdest thing about this ride, is that Farah was moving out, really moving-out - without forging.  Why?  I have No idea...  But... you won't hear me complain if she gets through her inspection with her usual huge, collected, big, ground-covering stride!  Hope the handler can run!  :-)

With a loop at the far north, we went out & back on the same trail - the GPS gave us over ten-miles.  Still happy to have found enough "trail" to extend our range.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Are Rare Indeed!

Time for a drink~
Ok, I have Plenty to do here at home!  Plenty...  But there again...  It was another Beautiful day!  After working for two-days, scanning paperwork & emailing it off, I was ready to head to the hills.
Amazing ground covers in full bloom
This time of year, our landscape seems to change daily.  I've always considered Mid-May to be our most beautiful time of year - closely followed by Mid-Oct. - weather dependent for the fall colors I enjoy as much.

Farah is in season again, but instead of the unmotivated ride of last Fri. today - given her head - she started off with a nice trot.  Hitting the right hind shoe to the bottom of the right front at every stride.  Here's an article.  We'd worked through this with Art, just before we did the 30-mi. of the Centennial trail - since it was an issue that was showing up with the flat work.  Art had tweaked the shoeing to perfection & it lasted until we made our appointment with the new shoer.  I was told that we could have gone another couple weeks on those shoes, but that there was no problem putting new shoes on - that a few days wouldn't make that much difference.  I wanted shoes that were a couple weeks old for inspection day - which we will now have.   When he was here last week to re-set the RF that was twisted - I mentioned the problem & was told that Farah had at least 6" of clearance at the walk.  Right - at the Walk!  It's speed dependent, we either have to go faster, gallop, or go much slower to not have the forging...
Fast Trail~
It was so clear that the white peaks of the Cascades stood out against the blue skies & puffy white clouds.  We're within a few miles of breaking 400-miles, year-to-date in the Distance Derby.  It was a surprise to find that we'd made it to 12th place - by a few tenths of a mile on Tuesday's leader-board update, especially since we're competing against riders with multiple horses. 
As we were coming toward the end of our day's loop, Farah gave one of her biggest spooks to date!  I couldn't blame her a bit - since we had come upon what I firmly believe to be the ugliest piece of heavy equipment that I've ever seen!
Obviously able to eat a horse in a single bite!
Farah took us from one side of the road to the other in a single leap :-)  I had to convince her that it was OK to pass & thankfully she knew it stood between us & our ride home!

Once home, I hosed her off & turned her out as I did chores.  (Butch was working late.)   I called her to come up out of the pasture for dinner, but no - it was nice out there.  I walked down to hurry her up & she started up the hill in a nice straight line, light trot for the barn.  "Click, click, click, click" -- Enough to make me cringe & not rider error...  No rider!   Now - what to do?

This Farrier said to ride in bell boots so I wouldn't pull off another shoe, as I'm a bit south of his range & obviously his work unlike Art's - is not guaranteed.  Did that - did I say that they were literally pressed FULL of mud by the time we were back at the trailer???  The mud was stuck hard to her hooves... just what I need!  NOT!  Do I call him?  Offering unlimited cash to FIX the problem?  There's not enough hoof growth to do anything major - but I think that we have to slow the hind feet down, or do more with the toes...

Miss you Art, we really miss you~