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

Thursday, June 27, 2013

First Renegade Rendezvous!

Warming up - 7-8-2000
"Time fly's" - How many times have we all either heard that or said it?  Probably because in retrospect - it does!   Getting ready today for the road-trip to this ride, I had to go back & look to see when we'd attended for the first time.  I'd heard rumors about how tough the ride was, but it wasn't too far & it looked to be located in the middle of some beautiful country.

This was the best year that I had with Jas.  At twelve, it was her sixth year of competition, she'd completed three-50's so far this season, but it had cost her with continuing concussion cracking on both front feet.  I decided to drop down to the 25 since I had no idea what the footing would be, but expected it to be rocky.
We're Off!
Jas was an incredibly driven mare.  She was so tough & so game to win, that she was sometimes impossible!  Just a small part of why I loved her so very much...  This ride, she let me know - I was just a passenger & she was the one in charge.  OK - she knew the game well enough by now & would be surprised at the shorter distance!
We're a blur!  :-)
 I let her Go!  Go she did!  Staying right up front, right into the out check.  I do remember some amazing views & incredible climbs!  I had to stop once & put the saddle back where it went, even with a breast collar!
Waiting for the timer's OK to leave!
I don't remember how many miles we had left, but we flew.  It was a very hot year, there was no water on the trail, so when we came to the last water tank, there were thirsty horses surrounding it.  Jas pushed her way between two - stuck her nose in the water, took three big gulps - backed out & took OFF!  She knew - even if I didn't - that camp was Close!  We crossed the finish line in first place!  The rest of the top five hot on our heels.

Then... I made the mistake - having ridden 50's & not an LD for quite a while...  We walked directly over to the water tank as the second place rider crossed the finish line.  Before I knew what was happening, I heard  that rider call out for a pulse!  Oh No!  Gail looked up from her seat at the timers table - realized that I hadn't remembered to ask for a pulse & came running at me with a stethoscope!   In seconds & just tenth of a second behind - she yelled "Down"!  My error cost me first place.  It's a lesson I never forgot.  Our time was darn fast though - 2:52!
Jas & Glenda at Renegade
I'd just purchased Glenda, she'd come along for the camping experience!  :-)   There's no picture of us at the finish.  Glenda went on to become a 3,000-mile mare after I sold her to a friend.  (Her story is something for another post.)

Renegade became one of my favorite rides.  It was where Glenda did her second fifty & even in the years when I melted from the heat, I have to say that it's always a pleasure to attend.   Many thanks to Gail & her stalwart crew of volunteers for keeping this Washington ride on the ride calendar for all these years & hopefully many more to come!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lightening Strike!

After my very wet, soaking ride yesterday - Butch & I were sitting out, watching the storm, when we heard a LOUD explosion...  & the "sizzle" of a lightening strike!  WAY too close for comfort!  Next was the crack of the thunder!   We both looked up toward the barn, Farah was standing in the door of her stall - all OK there.

This morning when I went up for my walk in the woods, Nika went running ahead of me, then starting barking!  As I came out on the top of the hill, it was plain that the lightening had stuck this Cedar!
Nika checks out the mess~
This tree was stripped from top to bottom on the east side & the pieces were blown over an area of over 100 ft.  Bark hanging from the surrounding trees!  It was a very scary feeling to be standing there in the woods & seeing the power of that strike! 
At the base~
The fence was still standing~
 I'd always been under the impression that when you're in a fairly thick wooded area, that you'd be somewhat safe from a strike?  Not!  I know that I had that prickly feeling when we were under those power lines yesterday & that storm rolled in so fast!
Big chuck of tree blown away~

The debris field is large!
The plan had been to meet-up with friends today for a nice ride, but we were overly optimistic as to the weather...  After surveying the damage, I decided that the thought of riding this afternoon with those thunderstorms rolling in/out within minutes - that the most reasonable thing to do was to cancel! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Farah enjoys the Greenery
It really did look like it was clearing as we left home.  I wanted to try the Garmin Transmitter V-Max adapter kit that I'd finally ordered from Action Rider Tack.  I've never even tried the human heart monitoring options that came with the 310XT.  I had the watch configured, put the electrodes where they're supposed to be - & obtained NO reading!   OK, I thought - we'd just get out there, do some trotting - work up a little sweat & it would work.  Not...  So I was off the saddle, adjusting, moving, re-clipping the ends etc.   Did it work?  No...  Back to the drawing board.  I've never ridden with one & after all this time I don't know why I want it now!

Thinking that we'd do our short loop, since there were some really DARK clouds moving around over head - we had to fight our way out to the old logging roads & power lines.  There's just no way I'm getting through again without going up with power equipment & getting some of the brush cut back.
Pouring Rain!
We didn't even make it up the hill before the storm struck!  The wind came with it & it was really nasty.  Farah actually wanted to just hunker down & wait it out - maybe with some grazing while we waited?  NO!  Keep going girl!  Lets at least get back into the trees!
Elderberry in the rain/sun
We got into the woods, it really didn't help any - I was soaked to the skin, but the sun did come back out!  Rain falling & sunshine!  All the rain put all the branches right in my face...  Farah's too.  A couple times she would stop & wait for me to move an especially nasty blackberry vine out of her way.  With this rain & the quick heat that comes with the sun - they're growing about a foot a day!
On the final hill~
Before we even got down the last hill, the clouds thickened again, darkened & the rain came back with a vengeance!  Once you're soaked, it really doesn't matter :-)  Back at the barn, I stripped my saddle & turned on the heat in the tack room to dry things out.   We did log over six-miles on our short loop & are hanging on to seventh place in the Distance Derby!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

To the Top of Our World!

Our first climb of the day~
When my friend Joyce starts talking about a ride up  Mt. Washington & over to Stimson Hill, I'm all ears!  Before long - we had a ride planned.  It's a beast!  No other description does the incredible climbs any justice at all...  By the time you're at the top of the first steep, technical trail - you've just begun... & you'd better hope you've got enough horse for the day's work!
Up Mt. Washington, Rest break~
It was a warm day, humidity high - but with a very nice cool breeze.  Coming off this new, well marked trail put in by Scott of our local BCH chapter - we came out on the logging road.
We come out onto the roads
 Now the real work begins!  We were really lucky, there was still rain water from the last storms in puddles along the road.  Plenty for the horses to drink.  This ride goes up & above & beyond our "Hill of Death" climb on this same mountain.
We're climbing higher~
At each stage, our mouths were agape at the views.  Even with the light haze, we could see all the way south to the skyscrapers of Seattle.
On Stimson, we're up  over 2,800 feet~
Once you're on the top, all we wanted to do was keep going!  You know - to see what's on the other side?  :-)
Joyce & Jesse
So...  we kept going!
We're finding more roads~
As Joyce said about this time, it's fine remembering a left, a right, another right - but sooner or later you've remembered what you can...  Since we were almost ten-miles in at 2.5 hours, we decided it was time to turn back & save more exploring for another longer day.
As we turn around!
We see what's behind us!  Whitehorse Mountain & Three Fingers dominate the landscape.  Still covered with their blanket of pure white snow.
Near the summit of Mt. Washington - Mt. Pilchuck farther south~

 We continued a little further, neither of us ready to leave- still scoping out the country~
More roads out this way too!
What goes up...  must come down...  & the down is almost as hard as the up!  We didn't realize until later that we'd made it to the summit of Stimson.  As we turned back - new views just kept coming.
Heading back down~
2.5 hours going up, 2 going down
We got off several times & walked along side our very good horses!  It gave them a break from the pounding & gave us a change to limber up.
Our route & turn-around point just past the crest~
Over the day's ride, the stats were amazing!
Mt. Washington by hhmstead at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, June 21, 2013

On Our Own~

Foxglove & the Valley
It was one of those eerie days that happen after a big rain storm has moved through, but not yet completely left the country!   I'd planned a ride with a friend, but she had to cancel, so with the new axle on the horse trailer, I decided to head up to Victoria & just do the loop on the logging roads to stay off the trails, that were incredibly wet & muddy after two-days of pretty much pouring rain.

I just let Farah set whatever pace she wanted & as usual she didn't disappoint me.  Her swinging walk was over 4 mph., then we hit a good trot for the beginning of the climb.  Next was the trail where she likes to run - so we did a little of that.  I had a feeling though - that with the logging starting there was bound to be equipment around & how right I was!
Not quite "between the ears"!
Farah literally went from a gallop to a very large hop in the air, both front feet coming down together & we came to a abrupt halt!   All was quiet, the equipment blocking the road, so we walked between the two & on over to the monument.
The tide looked to be way out again~
Staying overcast & cool, only a few drops of rain fell on us while Farah grazed & I snacked on my favorite trail mix.  We've seen the little bunny every time we've been here for the last several weeks.  So cute.  He stays around for a few minutes each time, then darts into the thicket.

Sticking to the roads, we ended up with just under ten-miles.  Once back at the trailer, we started down the road & something caught my eye.  Two owls sitting up on the lines near a pole!  They flew a few feet away into the trees as I passed - wishing I had my good camera with me.
Meadow - looking south~
On a clear day - from this vantage point you can see Mt. Rainier.  Today the clouds covered the view.  Sure a beautiful afternoon & a really relaxing ride.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cherry Creek Falls~

Ride to Cherry Creek Falls
I'd been waiting & waiting for the opportunity to ride to these falls, after seeing a photo that my friend Lynn posted on facebook!   I'd received a email from Dena, she had a day-off & wanted to ride on Tue.    I contacted Lynn & asked if she'd be willing to guide us to the place in the photo?  Being the super person she is - she agreed!  Of course I had to mention this upcoming ride to Brandi over the weekend & she too was excited at the prospect of new trails & a waterfall!   So!  Our ride was set!

We met-up at Taylor Landing - then drove from there to a wide place in the road where we could leave our trailers, saddle-up & head in.  Lynn warmed us that these trails were not for the faint-of-heart.  Logs, drops, mud, etc. - all the usual stuff, common when riding western, WA trails :-)  Before we were too far in, we came up on the largest of the obstacles that Lynn had warned of!

Riding her very nice QH mare, Bizy - Lynn sat her on her rear & slid down like a pro!  I've had issues in the past with this type of thing, so dismounted.  Farah slid down - I followed her while she waited parallel to me at the bottom - landing with my hands on the saddle to stop!  Next was Dena with her young somewhat inexperienced mare, Bella.  Dena too decided to dismount & let the mare go down on her own.  That worked, until Bella decided to bail & jumped back up the hill - passing Brandi at a trot & taking off down the trail...  Not far!  :-) 
Bella & Dena
Brandi grabbed her up & offered to pony her down, doing a perfect job of handling her mare & Bella too!
Brandi ponies Bella down as Dena watches!
After we were all safely across, Dena mentioned something about having a "collar" in her trailer but not wanting us to use it on her!  :-)

Since Bizzy is a bit slow - this day Farah was allowed to take the lead & lead she did!  It only took to a fourth consecutive day of riding & over 40-miles for Farah to to finally settle in & give me just a stellar ride!  Collected, slowing her gait enough to keep her companions with her - she never hesitated & led like she'd been doing it for years :-)  (I really think the Saddlebred is coming out!)  :-)
First view of the falls!
As you can see from the photo above, the first view alone was well worth the ride!  It was actually only about 3-miles in.  From up here we could hear voices!  As we dropped down the last steep little bit of trail, I hailed - to let several hikers know that that horses were coming down!
Linnea, Brandi, Dena & Connie
They were kind enough to take photos for us with my phone!   Somewhat surprised to see horses in the area, even though it was plain that the local riders do use the trails.  We all said that next time we'll bring some pruners etc.., & do some trail clearing on our way through.

Lynn's photo of our three smiling faces :-)
We did some exploring - as in taking anything that looked like it might be a trail.  We found one that went quite a long way - hopeful that it might circle around - but NO!  We came to a dead-end with a old small fire circle.  We'd done some brush-whacking just to get here!

Finally - after a couple loops - we headed back!  Total mileage wasn't impressive, but the ride sure was!  Once back at the trailers, we settled on lunch in Duvall before heading home.  Again - we have Lynn to thank for guiding us to a really beautiful place & taking us on a Very Enjoyable ride!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Return to Redmond Ridge~

Our Route
This day I met up with Lynn & Eileen at Kathryn Taylor Park on Redmond Ridge.  Another day of continued sunshine & very warm!  Eileen & Amanda have a game plan for Amanda's horse this season & since I'm always up for a ride... :-)  Lynn agreed to be our Trail-master & sat a beautiful route!   The plan called for  faster paced ride, covering at least fifteen-miles.  These trail are so perfectly groomed that the only real obstacles are urban busy road crossings, barking dogs on the inside of privacy fences & many people out enjoying a walk with or without their dog.   As different from our trails of the weekend as you could possibly find.
Wetland area
 Even in such an urban setting, there are still those quiet places where we can stop, let the horses drink & eat some grass.  Lynn set a very nice moving pace, always in the lead - putting me in the position of working to keep Farah slowed from her usual working pace.  Eileen brought up the rear with Cato - doing a beautiful job of rating him, stopping him, turning him, going the other direction - then catching up etc.  All the games we play to teach a horse that the rider does rule!
End of our ride~
We traveled to the Redmond Watershed, through Trilogy, Union Hill & Redmond Ridge too.  We ended the ride up on the small hill above the parking area, where we could see all the way to Seattle & the Olympic Range~!  Just a spectacular day to be in the saddle!   KTP by hhmstead at Garmin Connect - Details

Sunday, June 16, 2013

CMO - Day Two~

We head out on Sunday Morning!
This day we had a shorter route, enabling us to be done in time for the drive home.  Many riders had traveled several hours to attend.   Farah was finally getting the "idea" of what we were up to.  She lead, she paid attention - she did ever so much better - which allowed me to actually be a little more help to my team mates!  I actually found some of the clues!  I even shot some lines that looked correct! 
We return to camp!
This day we rode just under eight miles, again finding all the plates & setting a darn fast pace between them!   So - again - we were surprised to find that we'd finished in second place & that by only 20-seconds over the third place team!  We didn't get a photo of the finish board this time, but take my word for it - it was close

Fred was the gentleman who lead the winning team both days!  He rode an incredible big gelding that could really move!  When we spoke with him later that afternoon, he admitted that his knowledge of the trail system was a huge advantage.  Even so - his experience at the sport was impressive.
David, Brandi & Connie
We show off our ribbons~!  :-)  I have to thank David & Brandi for mentoring me through these rides & introducing me to the sport!  Others had told me that it was a great training ground for the horses & I certainly found this to be true.   For a minimal fee, to get in a good ride, have the fun of finding the clues & riding with friends?  It doesn't get much better than that!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

CMO - Continued!

Our Finish!
I wish I'd had time to video the three of us out on the trail!  :-)  It's really such a blast!  :-)  We'd go trotting along, Farah in the lead - since on this day - nothing stopped her!  Steep, muddy downhill to the creek?  No Problem!  :-)  Our job became to set the pace, as David in second told us where to turn & Brandi in the rear - kept us from overshooting our mark!  More of our strategy I will not divulge - since I hope to ride with these two again!  Where it gets tricky...  Is when you run into other teams!  You For Sure do not want them to see what you might have already seen!  You For Sure, want to watch them to see what they've Seen - If they've Seen It!  :-)  Get the picture?!
We're officially done!
 When we found a plate,  it had the name of an historical figure written on it.  We had to write down the initials of the first & last name on each plate.   Once we crossed the finish line, we had to provide the Ride Manger with the list of initials on the plates that we'd found.  Having rode fast & hard, only having made one mistake in our route that cost us some time, we were amazed to find that we'd come in second place!
The first place team beat us by 26-min.
I had my GPS on, it recorded our ride as over 13-miles.  The Ride Manager had thought the route was about twelve.  A good distance when you're looking for those plates!  It is completely against the rules to use any type of electronic device.    We'd had such a fun day & good time!  That evening we enjoyed a really good pot-luck with some really nice people!  Great end to our first day~

Competitive Mounted Orienteering!

Saturday Morning~!
We drove up to the Harry Osborn State Forest, Back Country Horseman's camp & Les Hilde Trail-head late on Friday evening after Butch arrived home from work.  Our first time heading up I-5 since the bridge has been out.  Getting into Mt. Vernon was a challenge, but the hold-up wasn't nearly as long as we could have expected & we arrived at camp with enough time to set-up before dark.

A new friend Brandi was already there, David pulled in shortly after we did, so our little team of three was complete for Saturday's event!  We woke to a beautiful sunshine morning!  People stirring, horses eating, a friendly camp atmosphere all-round.  We were ready for the pre-ride meeting.   The rules of the game, the course, etc. were discussed.  I'm not going to try to explain the sport in detail - I'm too new to it - but everything you might want to know can be found here - Competitive Mounted Orienteering.
Pre-ride meeting
My teammates briefed me on the use of a compass, our strategy for the ride & some idea of what I should expect once we were out on the trail.  Ride teams draw a card for their time out, teams leave in 5 min. increments.  You receive your map just as you cross the starting line & your time starts!  No pre-planning your ride route!
Our map for this day~
David & Brandi were the navigators!
Our Start :-)
It's funny to see teams leaving, all looking down at their maps!  The first thing to do is to plan the most efficient/short way to the circles - within which are three clues!  On the back of the map, you find the clues that you'll look for at each way-point.
Our Clues!
The idea is to get to the circles on the map, then search for the clues, take a compass reading off each clue, they point to where the plate is hidden in the brush.  Believe me - there were some very creatively hidden plates - but all can be found from horseback!  My challenge was to get Farah to stand still long enough to take a bearing!  She was horrid!  Dancing in place, prancing, thinking that we should be flying down the trails, which we for Sure did!  But!  It was between those circled way-points!  That's where you make all the time you can!
To Be Continued!