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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fun, Faster, Farther ~

Our 20-mile ride~
Yesterday I met Lynn in Redmond at Katheryn Taylor Equestrian Park.  Such an incredible asset within an semi-urban area.  There were new houses being built in what was a part of the forest that still covers most of the Redmond Ridge.  It's a Beautiful forest too - still intact enough that some wildlife ekes out an existence there.   A doe with twins crossed the trail in front of us & further on, a Coyote was sitting in the middle of the trail grooming himself.  He was small & scrawny - not like the bigger ones we see in the mountains.
Small, pretty, horse farm~
The farm above is on a corner where we usually stop to let the horses grab some mouthful's of grass.  Looks like these owners have all the "toys" & that includes horses!  Nice!  All in a relatively small space too.  Being right on at least 20+ miles of equestrian access trails has got to be very nice.

We cruised along at a moderate pace, the morning was overcast & cool - so perfect summer riding weather.    We ran into a place with "closed-trail" signs- men working on a drainage basin that was almost finished & full of water.  They were putting down straw to stop erosion until the grass could grow.  We asked if we could go around the trucks & as we did, Farah - seeing a bale of straw - just HAD to take a bite!  She even ate it!  I think it would take some pretty harsh conditions for this mare to starve in the wild :-)

Out just about four-hours, we ran into friends, had a good chat & an even better ride!   Lynn has become such a popular riding partner that I feel lucky when she squeaks in a ride with me!  We covered a fraction under 20-miles in four hours.

Friday, July 26, 2013

New Views!

The Olympics from the Cascade Range
Today Joyce had time to ride, so we met at the Morgan Horse Club camp area & rode out onto the Pilchuck Tract trails.   They've changed a lot since the last time I rode up here & that's been probably a couple years ago!  Overgrown - oh yes!  In places so overgrown that we didn't think we'd get through!
Joyce & Target
In the shade of the stands of trees though - the trails were nice & it was cool & beautiful!  We did more climbing than it looks like from the GPS image below.
Both the lower loop we did today & the high "loop" from 6-22
Someone had marked out a ten-mile loop - we're thinking that Scott needs the thanks for that - will check with him to see.  There's plenty of clearing work to be done.  We even talked about a monthly "trail-clearing" day that would be for whoever rides up our way to come out & have coffee, donuts & spend a morning clearing.  If we did that once a month even - it would sure help!
On down the trail ~
Joyce spoke of her experience crewing at this years Tevis ride, the amazing horses, riders, crews & management that make it a ride to remember.  The California sunshine, the beautiful views - but still - here we have so much & it's accessible pretty much year-round.
Mt. Rainier on the skyline to our south
We covered ten tough miles in about 2-hours.  Farah saved us from a very bad fall when she stepped down & into a whoop-de-doo that was completely hidden by the brush.  I thought I was going off over her head - hard - but she somehow managed to pull us up & lift us out so smoothly that Joyce didn't even realize that we'd been in trouble!  What a Good Girl!  Great day & a really nice ride!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

North Cascades National Park~

Butch on Diablo Lake
This last Friday, we'd packed up & met-up with our youngest daughter & her family for a weekend of camping at Colonial Creek Campground in the North Cascades National Park!  A sleeping gem that can only impress with it's towering peaks, numerous glaciers & incredible lakes & rivers.
Hiking up Thunder Creek Trail
I'm ashamed to say that we've probably only visited here maybe a handful of times over the many years we've lived in WA.  The campgrounds are first come, first serve - so lucky for us, Jentry & Joe drove up on Thursday & picked out spots side-by-side.  Within a few hours, the large campground was full!
Gorge Creek Waterfall
Having a weekend with three of our favorite grand-kids with us was just a blast!  :-)  We hiked, played in the lake, explored, had camp fires, attended the presentations put on by the Rangers in the amphitheater each evening & enjoyed the quiet of Big Country!  It seem that nothing grounds me to the hear & now more than being surrounded by miles & miles of wilderness.  What a magnificent area it is!
Google Earth image with the data from my GPS
I wore my GPS during our hike & here's what it looked like!  Yes, those mountains are big when you're in them, even bigger when you see the bigger picture!  If you haven't been - put it on your list! 
Skyla Jean & Daddy~
Skyla took a Kayak ride with her Daddy out on the big water of Diablo Lake!  She looked perfectly at home :-)
Granddaughter Josie braved the Cold Water too!

Grandson Ben coming into the dock~
I took a Lot of photos!  With two very cute little girls & a handsome grandson, I didn't lack for subjects!  We enjoyed every minute & are already looking forward to another camping trip in Aug. with both our girls & their families!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thanks to George!

Farah enjoying the bounty of the season~
Yesterday Linda & I again rode at Victoria.  A slightly different approach today & always fun & beautiful.  The Very Best Part though - was that Linda's husband George had taken the tractor up & into some rugged areas - to mow down the rider high thistles, nettles & everything else that was growing along two different sections of trail!  These Trails - are enjoyed by many riders, even more people with bikes & occasional hikers, some with incredibly noisy kids!  Many thanks to George for putting in a lot of work so that others can enjoy the trails!
Numerous cars in the Trailer Parking!
As we were coming up through the woods & could just see the road - we started hearing this loud, obnoxious Sound!  Like a Grizzly Bear in a Lot of Pain - I guess would describe it!  The horses froze in place - Farah in the lead - she went into her "Giraffe" pose :-)   We could just see up through the trees, to where a family was walking back to the parking.  A boy with them was making the screaming noises.  When he stopped for a minute - I yelled through the trees - asking if they were the one's who's cars were parking in the trailer parking?  At my second yell they finally heard me, stopped to see where I was & replied;  "Yes."  At least they were honest.  I told them that the signs were plain & that the gravel area was reserved for horse trailers- whether any were there at the time or Not!  With emphasis on the "Not"!  :-)  Then told them to have a good day & they replied same...

The new clear-cut
It's got to be one of three things - they can't read, or they don't think the rules apply to them, or they choose to ignore them.  Whichever it may be - it's Rude with a Capitol "R"!  Of course what kind of appreciation of nature can you have when you're making more noise than the wildlife?  :-)
Linda on Count
As you can tell from the photo above - there's still more than Plenty of trail work to be Done!   We really had a grand ride, covered a lot of ground & did some blackberry vine clipping - next time it's the saw!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back on the Centennial Trail~

On to the Haller Park Trestle
We hadn't been on this trail since our point-to-point ride the end of March.  It had been awhile since we'd done any long-haul trotting - so today was the day.  Amazing how different things look now that Summer is underway.
The Stillaguamish River
The river was say down, several people enjoying the sun, sandy beach & cool water!  Once across - we picked up the pace.  Someone had taken down the first two mileage markers.  Bryant is a short 3-mi. stretch - then across Hwy 9 & back on the trail.  The prettiest part of this whole trail - at least to me - is just after this bridge.
Bridge over Pilchuck Creek
Looking on North!
Here you get a breeze off the creek if you're lucky & the quiet of the countryside.  The horse path along side is totally firmed up now & easy going.
We're catching the guy on the mower!
When we heard the mower - Farah picked up the pace & we caught him mowing on the horse trail :-)  Nice guy & they've got a ton of mowing to keep the thistles cut back.
The Barn looked so nice against all the green!
Must have been beautiful when the dairy cattle were grazing in this valley.  Rather than take our break at the barn, all full sun, we went on down the unimproved portion of the trail to find shade & fresh grass.
Looking back South~
The day wasn't getting any cooler, so we started back after just a short stop.
Farah checks out the creek below.
It looked like a good place for a cool swim to me!  Not many people out on the trail either.
Farah checks out where our brick will be laid~
We've ordered a brick to commemorate our March point-to-point ride!  First horse/rider team to do the entire 30-miles of trail.  At least to my knowledge & backed up by GPS :-)
Only the Big Trestle between us & Haller Park!
This bridge is impressive from either direction!  Heading south though - you're lulled on before you realize what you've committed to :-)  All Farah cared was that it was between her & the trailer!  She was really thirsty by the time we  returned.  Just a couple tenth's of a mile from a fifteen-mile round trip.  Good outing for a hot afternoon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sports Addictions~

Just part of the trail we cleared on the 4th~
Some people are addicted to the gym - working out every day.  Others to a sport - basketball, running, cycling etc.  For years - when asked,  I'd tell people I was working to support my addiction & it began with "H".  The looks I received were priceless :-)  Ten to twelve-hour days were the norm for many years.  The commutes I did then - probably couldn't even be done now...  

Even with a teenage daughter still at home, we found the time to work on our place, take some camping trips & within a couple years - pursue our newest addiction - horse riding!  Maybe it's age creeping up - but looking back, I don't know how we did it.
Fireweed in full bloom!
Now - riding is the addiction that draws me often.  Since I seldom write about private life - it probably seems to anyone who reads this blog - that it's all I do!  Farah & I go out about three times a week & are averaging about 100-miles a month +/-.   Our schedule seems to work for us both - our off time we enjoy & our ride time we enjoy.  Balance?  Isn't that what we're told is something to strive for in our daily life?  :-)
Yellow Yarrow
I left home late in the afternoon, had too much to get done & didn't want to be caught out in a thunderstorm.  It was worth the wait - cool & perfect.
Fireweed & Elderberry~
It seemed everywhere I looked was Color!  Against the gray skies - it popped!
Trail back toward home~
Even after the light rain we received overnight - everything was still very dry.  Footing rock hard & nice to have those pads on.
Reed Canary Grass
I had to admire the sea of green...  even though I know it as a hated evasive...  Of course Farah finds it exactly as wonderful as the reason it was imported here...
Farah's late afternoon snack~
No gym for me, no knees for running anymore - but saddle time gives me that wonderful boost that nothing like a good physical workout in the great outdoors, riding a good horse can provide!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Mountain was Out!

Mt. Rainier
It's not too often that we get a view of "The Mountain" from the meadow at Victoria.  Today though - was one of those days.  The news of the death of an endurance rider at Bandit Springs, saddened me - though I didn't know her personally.   Enough has been written about the frailty of life & finality of death, but all horsemen who heard the news took pause to honor the passing of a fellow equestrian.   I know I did...

Yes, the trail is here & we're on it~
Linda was on another mission I think - to check out the state of some of the lesser used trails.  Now that the spring/summer plant growth is at it's peak.  My stick came in handy to move long blackberry vines out of the way - so that Farah could plow through.  Smart mare, she would stop as we came up on them & wait for me to knock each one down!
More logging~
One of the places we'd parked in the shade of big trees during our trail-clearing a few weeks ago - has now been logged.  Another different look!  We covered a lot of ground, it was warm - but a nice breeze really helped.  We had an interesting moment when Count decided to do a 180 & turn back into Farah & I - instead of continuing forward on a certain trail where the horses always seem to be on edge.  He was quick - but so is Linda!   Before we had to do much in the way of evasive maneuvering - she got him pulled up!
7-15 overlaid onto 7-12
Linda has also had to post new signage at the parking area - it seems that people have decided that it's the place to clean out their trailers & toss the manure into the surrounding bushes.  Unreal!  The more people who discover this place - the more problems crop up.   If you see this type of thing going on - take the person to task!

We enjoyed over four hours in the saddle, ate some ripe native blackberries, checked the growth of the "bio-fuel" now planted in the meadow & just took the time to appreciate such a nice summer day in such a beautiful place.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Riding & Shoeing!

View to the West
Finally, I plan a ride today with Linda!  Life has gotten in the way of all the usual riding she does - so I was determined to get her back in the saddle!  It was a cool, cloudy morning - perfect riding weather.  I was anxious too, to see how Farah's new shoes would work for her...

The shoer that I'd used for the last two shoeings, did not have time in his schedule to come out two weeks early to replace the shoes that we'd worn to absolutely nothing in the last four weeks.  He'd agreed to take me on as a client - which I appreciated, but didn't have the time to keep us on the trail.
No shoe left here...
He suggested that I call Justin - the same Farrier who'd replaced the shoe Farah had pulled off just as we were leaving for the beach in June.  Thankfully - Justin was headed our way this week & could come out.  Otherwise I would have been unable to ride, as you can see from the photo above.  It seemed that this shoeing just fell apart.  Yes, we did 25 at Renegade & yes we'd done another 25 on the SVT, but I expected a shoeing to last five or six weeks, which is our usual summer schedule.

Justin told me that the shoes that had been used were "EZ Keg" shoes, not known for durability...  Angles had dropped & there were several issues that I'd never had before.   Luckily there was enough hoof growth that Justin had something to work with & we needed those angles back up where they belong.  The rear toes were squared off the way Art had always done them.  New shoes are the Eventers that have worked so well for me, more wear-ability too.  Justin suggested pads, there was some very slight bruising from the worn down shoes.  I would have padded for Renegade - but actually didn't think of it - since Farah has tough feet & we were only doing 25.  Since these new shoes will hopefully take us into Bare Bones - I'm sure we'll get the use out of the pads.  He also used barium nails at the heels, with the idea of decreasing the wear on the hind shoes, at least for a while. 
Freshly trimmed w/squared off toes
I failed to take photos after the shoes were set, but they look SO nice!  Will try for photos over the weekend.  Anyway - today was the test & boy did they pass with flying colors!  Farah was moving better than she has since Art's passing...  Great break-over, no forging & moving like a bat out of you know where!  :-)  I could actually tell that she was happy & moving so effortlessly!  Big heartfelt Thank You to Justin for taking us on as clients!  I think he'll be stuck with us for a very long time!  :-)
Linda & Count
By mid-day the sun popped out, but the peaks of the mountains were still shrouded with clouds & it actually looked like rain!  At least in that direction!  Linda took us on an unusual loop - that hadn't been used in a long time, Farah had difficulty finding the trail, so Count took the lead & even then we got off trail once.
Today's route
We covered just under ten-miles, in under four hours, taking a break at the monument.  Only saw one other group of riders coming in as we were heading out.  Linda mentioned that two of her kids had called & she was hoping the others would.  When I asked why - she said today was her Birthday!  That's what I get for not checking facebook this morning!  :-)  I had a Great ride, think Linda had a Great ride & I can't think of a better way to spend my good friends birthday than riding with her!  :-)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gorgous in July~

Dappled Shade in the trees~
I was happy to hear that Joyce had time for a ride today.  It was another beautiful morning, cooler than yesterday.  Sunshine, a light breeze & clouds floating by overhead.   No traffic, no school buses - summertime!  Still not used to the ugliness at the Bracken Rd. parking area of the tree farm - it's hard to pull in & remember it as it was...  I'm sure it will take years before any of us who knew it before - reconcile to the new look.  We headed over to a trail through one of the few remaining stands of nice trees - then wrapped around to the creek crossing where the Beaver Pond used to be.  I think the Beavers were trapped, hopefully relocated & the dam removed.  This all makes for a beautiful crossing for the horses, without what had become a swim across in early spring.
Creek Crossing~
Joyce was riding Target, who hadn't been out much this season - so we took it easy.  Farah had checked him out - almost falling on her face as she exited the trailer :-)  She's always interested in who we ride with & she'd only met Target once that I can think of. 
Joyce & Target
She allowed me to rate her without too much head-tossing or threat of a buck :-)  It's not that I don't see the head drop, neck curl, back come up & feel the power coiled there!  :-)  Thankfully - she's a good girl!  One of her very few bad habits - I say few because it's only happened twice now - is running off when I've been mounting up.  I get a foot in the stirrup & start the swing & she takes off.  Both times, the second just this past weekend - I stay in the stirrup, pull her up & smack her hard with my stick!  Today - when I was ready to re-mount after a short break - I said;  "You'd better Stand - or No Cookie!"  When I say that she "stood like a statue" - it wouldn't be an understatement!  I reached into my pack for a cookie, but hadn't put them back in!  I borrowed one from Joyce - since she's used the cookie as reward for no movement during mounting, for years - very successfully :-)
Starting to flower~
We really had a fun ride, some good trots, did the sand loop a couple times & since Joyce had to work - we quit at just over ten-miles.  Once home,  I untacked Farah up at the barn, our usual routine.  Then - as usual, she walks two steps into the tack room to remind me that she needs one of either the mint or carrot cookies that are stored in the can!
This is the cookie can!
This mare would come in the house if there was something to eat inside!  She loves standing there - looking around, then resting while I put things away.  Next - down to the house for a shower to wash the sweat off - feels good to us both.  Finally, fly spray/mask - & her pasture time.  Spoiled?  No way :-)

Distance Derby Update:  Holding onto seventh by a wing & a prayer - over 650 YTD!  Shoes rattling & ready to fall off after under four weeks!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quiet, Hazy Day Ride~

Farah hears some;thing :-)
Butch was busy at home,  I managed to squeeze in another ride with Lynn.  This time at Lord Hill.  The day started out sunny, but within a short while, we could actually see a haze move across the trails.  Very high humidity too, with the river so close.  It didn't take much trotting to work up a sweat.  There were families hiking on the trails, ladies walking, more people on foot than we'd seen in a while there.
At the River~
We headed down to the river, thinking that we'd all cool off, but the "beach" was still under water!  It was Aug. last year last time I'd been here with Lynn & we'd waded the horses in - so still a month or so to go.
Our Route~
Covering most of the park, we rode about ten-miles & called it good.  I've about worn this set of shoes off Farah's feet.  Called the farrier to ask about moving our scheduled appointment up a week.  Fingers crossed he'll fit us in!