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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunshine on Thanksgiving!
Another cold, brisk morning with a welcome golden glow over the horizon - the sun!   Just the two of us this year, both the girls had plans.  That happens from time to time & though I'd so much rather have them here - or be with them, I've learned to accept that we're not the center of their worlds!  They have their own families, traditions & obligations too.  That's OK... the next photo is for them :-)
Southern Chess Pie
 My pies may not be fancy, but they're always good!  The one above was a recipe that I asked our good friends for - after sampling it years ago after the holiday.  It's a combination of pecans & walnuts that stay perfectly blended even after baking.   My crust is always from my Grandmother's recipe - my favorite so I stick with it!  Butch & I plan to have a piece with our latte's!  Turkey in the oven, cranberry salad chilling, the rest will be simple & Good!
Day's End - Sunset - Three Fingers
A day to be Thankful for the many blessings we all enjoy living in America the Beautiful!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back in the Mountains~

Our 13-mi. loop
It was cold again last night - we were at 26 degrees early this morning.  Another hard frost.  Joyce & I had planned to ride & were leaving from her house by shortly after 11 a.m.  It's lucky for us both - that Joyce's schedule works out so well & we can ride during the warmest time of these short days.
New Clear Cut
 The first surprise was another new clear cut, just since last time we were up this way.  We actually enjoyed it though - the sun was so bright, so warm, that it was tempting to just tie the horses & sit down to enjoy it!  We didn't though :-)  We also wanted to cover some ground & see if any other cutting was under way.  We didn't find any - that was nice.  Farah was happy to be with her friend Target & he puts up with her.  They graze nose to nose :-)  Farah was on her "A" game today too, we had a good run & she really seemed to enjoy being back in open country.  I did too~
Our way up~
The colors seemed so bright - sky very blue, but as we were heading back, we could see clouds moving in from the west.  A couple times during the ride we rode through warm pockets of air.  There have been times, on warm days, that we've ridden through cool pockets too - something to do with the way the air currents move on the mountain.

By about 2:30, the day was already cooling down!  I made a stop at the store, but still made it home in time to give Farah a warm bath - overdue!  At least with the cloud cover, the temperatures have stayed mild - a nice break from the usual bitter cold!  We've covered over 1,300-miles so far this year, with Farah thriving on the work - 4th place this week in the Derby with a month to go~

Monday, November 25, 2013

Redmond Watershed Preserve~

Ice on the Wetland
The morning was cold, but not as cold as it has been!  I was driving down to ride with Lynn & two new to me friends - Mary & Susan!  By the time I pulled in, even though we were in the shade of the tall trees - the day was Warming!  Two of the horses with us were both just getting back on the trails after different issues they're recovered from.  With the trails still very slippery in places, we set a reasonable pace.
Beautiful Home
 We'd ridden past this home last week & today I had to take a photo.  Such a beautiful place with the covered parking for an auto on the front.  Something like carriages used to pull under while their passengers disembarked in the past.

Before long, the day warmed enough that I actually felt warm for the first time in days!  The jacket came off & the temperature was perfect!  We decided to do the four-mile loop on Redmond Ridge & found the trails there in Great shape - perfect for some good trotting!
15-miles of loops
Just as we were returning to the start of the loop, we were jumped by at least 8 to 10 dogs - all off leash!  A lady was with them - obviously someone being Paid to dog-sit.  She was yelling for the dogs, trying to get through the brush that separated the trail we were on - from the clearing around the drainage basin.  These dogs had No Clue & were barking & one big poodle type actually tried to run right at Farah - who was in the lead.  Luckily for us, all three horses were dog savvy & didn't kick out.

After I was done yelling at the woman for her stupidity - I did wonder what the dogs owners would think - if they were returned with broken bones from a well placed & well deserved kick!  Once we came into the open, I rode up to see where the dogs had gone & watched as they were quickly loaded into a van parked by the back of an industrial building.

The day seemed to fly by - Lynn had to remind us that we hardly had time to get back to the trailers before dusk.  I wouldn't want to cross those busy roads in the dark!   We covered 15-miles again & felt very lucky to be getting in such good riding so late in November!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Cold Ride!

Our 15-mi. "Loop"
When Lynn called & asked if I was still up for an adventure - of course I said yes!  She'd ridden this area yesterday & had an idea for one long loop!  By 11 a.m. we were at Kathryn Taylor saddling up & it was cold!  Maybe mid-30's in the sunshine.   We were both dressed in layers, but I started out with my jacket on the back of the saddle.
"Welcome Lake"
When we came to the above lake, the bridge was so covered in ice that we took the road.  Of course there was minimal mud - a real draw - but with the recent Arctic Blast - the trails were frozen solid & very slippery in places.  I really didn't expect it - not after just a couple nights of cold temps - but in the woods, where the sun doesn't reach - there's no thaw until the temperatures warm again.
Ice on the wetland pond~
We headed over to Farrel McWhirter Park, I hadn't been there since one of my very first rides on Farah.  We looped the park - then took a short break in the sunshine.  Hoping for a yet longer ride, we toyed with the idea of dropping down the gas line to the Sammamish Valley Trail, but no faster than we could ride, we knew we'd run out of time.
Spectacular Horse Farm
Passing this incredible equine facility - made us both envious!  Here we were on a beautiful wooded trail - peaking out at any horseman's fantasy farm :-)  We had to ride the road on 116th, but not for far, before we were back on the power line.
Frozen winter berries & snowberries
Even in the sunshine, under the power lines - it was getting colder already!  Moving back into the trails at the Redmond Watershed, we soon saw riders up ahead!  Our friends Beth & Diane!  Seems we run into them at least a few times a year on these trails!  Fun to catch up with them both!   Farah was in last place when the bikes came up on us fast!  Farah let them know instantly that they needed to Back Off & they Did.  We asked that they wait to pass & got all four horses up to a clear spot where they could safely pass.

The last of the bridges we had to cross were so treacherous that we dismounted to cross them.  Arriving back at KTP by 4:30 - the cold was coming through my winter riding pants!  Next time I'll have thermals under them too!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Home Before Dark~

Nika watches us leave~
It was one of those on again off again days...  Plenty I needed to do, but not the motivation to do it.  So - when it looked like the afternoon was going to be decent, it didn't take me long to saddle Farah & head up to our trails.
In the Woods~
It's really looking like November now, only the Salmonberry showing any color at all, as the last of their leaves turn yellow.  Once up on the power lines though - there was this one little birch - that really stood out, just as we had a short sunbreak.
The birch
There was a breeze too & the temperature started dropping pretty fast.  My gloves went on.  We took our usual loop, adding in the new trail that we'd found earlier this fall.  That was a mistake.  Someone had drug parts from old cars out there & left them at the side.  Farah though it made horse sense to think about spooking at them - they were strange looking at that.   But it was the deer guts tossed on the trail that really ticked me off.  Fresh tire tracks - so someone decided to hunt up here & left their mess.

About the time I wished we'd gone the other way - we came to the fallen tree.  I got off & tried to push it down - but the stump was on the high side & wasn't moving.  I didn't have my hand saw - that will go Back in my saddle pack! 
My stick shows something of the height~
I tied off Farah's reins & used my stick to show her where I thought she might get over.  She made one attempt, her knee hit the higher piece.  Then in the next instant, she raised up & in one amazingly graceful move - lifted her front & jumped with the rear!  Cleared it easily from a standstill!  Good Girl!  On we went to our usual break spot.
Heading south from the top of our loop~
 We didn't stay long, I knew we'd be running out of daylight.  The creek was running chest high as we crossed at the pond.  Heading back toward the big hill, Farah again started dropping her head, going behind the bit & cow hopping.  She hadn't had her gallop - too wet & slippery.  I decided to point her  up the steep, rocky climb rather than go through the woods - more to occupy her mind.  It worked until we just crested the hill & she bucked!  She got smacked with the stick for it too!
Looking south from our turn for home~
This attitude seems to only kick in when we make the turn for home & are out here on our own.  We continued back through the woods, the darkness was closing in.
Leaving the neighbor's gate!
At the last neighbor's yard, their gate post lamps were already on.  By the time we made it to our own gate, it was too dark for the photo :-)  A bad accident on Hwy 9, just before the turn onto Hwy 92, made Butch late tonight, so we did beat him home!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Out on the Trail~

Down the trail on a gray morning~
It was a heavily overcast morning when Lynn & I met for a ride.  We started at Bracken Rd., but found the trails muddy.  After a short loop, since Jack was with us - we decided to head over to Arlington & ride the trails.  Lynn had wanted to see the west end of the Whitehorse Trail.  We rode out at a walk & walked the entire length to the Tin Bridge & back. The very heavy rock footing makes any faster pace too hard on the horses.
Lynn & Sophie on the Whitehorse Trail
We found what was left of the homeless encampment, a fire pit dug in the middle of the trail & some trash.  Just glad it's gone!  Out at the arch - Farah & I visited our brick's for the first time!  They looked Good :-)
We check out our brick!
We were drizzled on, but managed stay away from the heavy, very dark thunderheads that were moving by overhead.  Once back out on the Centennial Trail - the day started to brighten. 
Farah looks at a bike rider at the far end of the bridge over Pilchuck Creek
Even the trail here was very wet & slippery in places - but oh so improved over a year ago!  We made great time & before we knew it were coming up on the Nakashima Barn!  It was Lynn's first visit on horseback.  (She's ridden her bike the entire length.)
Linnea & Sophie
The Sun was breaking through as we turned back.  A class of students from Skagit Valley College had arrived to walk the grounds & view the plantings & reclamation project included in the trail head improvements.  Both mares set a good pace heading back toward Bracken Rd.
Sun on the river & Eagle in the tree
From an eerily gray morning the day progressed into a gorgeous fall afternoon!  We both commented on how quickly the sun is setting now!
South toward Bracken Rd.
It was after 4 p.m. when Jack met us with the truck & trailer off to the side of Grandview Road.  Farah & I copped a ride back to our trailer at the Bracken Rd. lot.  Really a beautiful ride & we covered just over 18-mi. & both commented how lucky we've been to still have moderate temperatures & a decent day or two thrown in each week to get in longer rides.
(Thank you for the photos Lynn!)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Finally - Moss Lake Trails!

Moss Lake Trails
I say; "Finally" because I'd wanted to ride these trails for a while now.   Lynn had the opportunity to ride there over the weekend & agreed to share her new found knowledge with me today!  The weatherman was correct regarding the quality of the November day - warming to almost 60 degrees!  We were lucky too - as Lisa skipped school to act as our trail guide!  :-)
Lisa & Lucky, Linnea & Bizy
This was such a Nice ride!   The information posted on the link above was a very accurate description of the area.  Wooded, wetland - but with some nice views & reasonably dry footing.  From fog & cold earlier in the morning - before noon we were enjoying beautiful clear sunshine & warming temps!
Trail markings :-)
Most of the trails we rode were marked with a variety of small items that illustrated the trail names.
Loved this one!
We covered a Lot of ground, Lynn wants to learn the trails, I'm - as usual - along for the ride!  :-)  With no sense of direction to speak of, I just have to memorize loops & go from there - that takes a long while!
Beautiful afternoon~
This was a memorable ride for Linnea too!  She passed the 1,000-mile mark for the year, riding both her good mares!  The only other rider I know who can claim that milestone!  I've thought about doing a mileage derby for Washington State riders - but am unsure how many riders would be interested...  It's easy to say how much you're riding - but actually logging miles publicly  & sharing that info. with others isn't everyone's cup of tea.
Ground fog on my drive home~
We stood enjoying the sun & sharing stories for a while after the ride, while our horses kicked back & soaked it up.  I stopped by Courtney's on the way home - a short visit, hot tea & warm hugs from Mason & Cassidy, sent me on my way.  With less than a month to go before the winter solstice - each hour of daylight becomes more precious!

Friday, November 8, 2013

On Our Own~

Sunshine & Farah
It was a brisk morning, raining off & on - but by mid-day it looked like there might be enough clearing to get in a ride.  This time of year, riding - at least if you hope to stay dry - is something like playing Russian roulette with the storm systems blowing off the ocean.
We got sprinkled on, but didn't get wet.  Mine was the only trailer in the parking area & that was fine with me.  Farah set a nice pace & we hit a gallop coming up to the views.  It's never disappointing - no matter how many times you see it.  Washington weather can be so changeable this time of year & always so dramatic. 
The Monument
We took our usual break at the Monument, where Farah decided that she likes pumpkin seeds!  Maybe the salt on the pumpkin seeds - but she would have eaten them all!  :-)  As much as we ride on our own, we've been so happy to have the company of Joyce & Lynn over most of the last few months.  We had a really Great run up our hill - lots of horsepower beneath me!
The sun was setting by the time we'd finished our loop, the temperature was dropping too.  When we got back to the truck, I discovered that I didn't have my keys...  Then I remembered hearing a sound when we were just a mile or so into the ride.  Almost dark by now, I walked back the way we'd gone out & before long found them on the ground!  A Very Good thing - even though I had the hide-a-key.  It was dark by the time we picked up a pizza in Arlington!  The days are really getting short now!

Thankful - For a Great Mentor & Good Horse!

First ride on Khari 9-25-05  Dean on Scooter, Connie on Khari, Butch on Jas
When I hear stories of some of the problems riders put up with from their horses, I'm amazed.  I wouldn't have been years ago - before the Greatest Horseman I've been lucky enough to call friend - took me under his wing.

I'd been seriously hurt & still wouldn't give up riding.  ( At 52, I was already older than most of the relatively "new" riders that have come into the sport since.)  Instead of following all wisdom on the topic, to buy a well-trained horse & enjoy the ride...  I went out & bought another young, green, untrained mare.  It was a long process, is a long story - but what I learned - changed the way I look at horses & riding in general.

I'd brought Khari home the day before.  Dean asked us to bring Khari to the farm, so he could check her out.  Next, he wanted us to go riding!  We all saddled up & Khari evaded the bit...  I freaked...  All the faith I had left in the equine species - was in another gray mare - Not this one!  Dean raised his voice saying;  "Get Off!"  I did!  He turned to Butch;  "I'll train that mare, but only if you let me train your wife!"  Loud laughter resounded from everyone within earshot!

I spent the next months re-learning how to ride.  Each morning I would head over - with deep trepidation - scared to death to find out what my lesson for the day would be!  I had to ride about every horse on the farm, I had to do things on a horse that I'd never dreamed I'd do!  The plus side, was getting to see my mare go galloping by ridden by another amazing horseman.  At least it gave me motivation!
Evias & Khari
 There were days that I cried in frustration - the task seemed beyond me - I had no confidence in myself or my riding.  I needed to learn that the horse gained confidence from ME - not visa/versa!  Again - a long story & I'm going to post a page with Dean's "thots on horses" - that he shared with me & is such good basic advice that's too easily overlooked.

The most basic thing I learned though - & the one I'm the most commonly asked about - is why I carry a "stick" or a "bat" or a "whip" or "crop" - whatever your discipline may call it?  It was a couple years later - I'd been riding Khari successfully for a while - when we were on the farm & Dean was showing a young Thoroughbred to it's owner.  The Thoroughbred was to gallop & Khari was to act as the "pony".  Khari had no intentions of being a "pony" on this day & took to bucking when the Thoroughbred flew past us!  Dean started yelling & any of you who have had the pleasure of his company - know that voice!  He said; "Hit that Bit_h with your Stick!"  "Hard!"  I thought I was past freaking - but I wasn't...  a dilemma...  what to do?  Hit the mare & probably get bucked off, or ignore Dean's command? Guess what I did?  I HIT the mare!  Hard!  "Where the colt sucks!"  What happened you ask?  She straightened right OUT!  She went back into a nice gallop & did as she was told!  I'd Won!

That's the point - to WIN!  Always Win!  Horses only respect those who demand it!  They only respect those who can Win a fight!  They want to survive & they have a better chance of it with someone that they trust to be the leader & keep them safe! 

I do carry a stick & I've used it more than once!  It's quick, swift punishment - there's never a question that I mean business!  It also comes in handy for moving blackberry vines :-)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Rumor is True :-)

Article in November's Horse Source Magazine
While I was waiting at Pilchuck Veterinary yesterday afternoon & reading magazines, I found the article above!  If you look really hard, you can just see Farah's white sock & blaze in the trees - last horse in the lower left photo!  :-)  I'm hoping to see more of us in the upcoming "Lizard Lake" episode of Best of America on Horseback - due to air on RFD-TV, Tuesday, November 12th at 4:30 p.m.

The show was filmed on August 17th, here's my post.   We had so much fun meeting the show host, Tom Seay, his wife & wonderful crew.  Cindi Pendel, owner of Butlerhill Equestrian Center hosted the ride, that was only part of a full weekend of clinics & special events.

Be sure to tune in & see if you recognize us!   Maybe Farah can come in for the show :-)  Or watch through the window!  :-)

Best of America by Horseback HD

November 12 | 4:30 pm
"Butler Hill Equestrian Center", Ep 438

“Lizard Lake & Butler Hill Equestrian Center”. Riding in the Northwest Territory, Mounted Police Horse Training, Working Ranch Horse Clinic

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bite the Bullet~

Farah's check-up
The title of this post is apt in more ways than one.  A old idiom that describes how I felt about today's visit to Pilchuck Veterinary Clinic.  It was time for Farah's follow-up visit after her routine float in August.  During that procedure two small pockets of periodontal disease were found between the back molars on each side of her jaw.   Now - it was time to see how they had responded over the last few months.  Both were still there, but smaller than before.  Dr. Holohan did a slight adjustment to see if she could help those teeth to move into a smoother, straighter alignment - therefore reducing the size of the pockets.  I'm back to squirting the peppermint solution into Farah's mouth twice a week over the next month to help with the healing.

 In February, we'll be going in again.  Dr. Holohan said that over the next 12 to 18 months she hopes to solve the problem & prevent what could have resulted in the loss of teeth later on.  I like that plan - I'd rather stay on top of it now, than have it crop up later & have Farah endure a more complicated procedure to remove rotten teeth.  I think if Farah had a bullet placed between her teeth today - she would have certainly bit down on it!  :-)
Looking for a good old movie?
Since we were going there anyway - I scheduled a saddle fit & lameness evaluation with Dr. James Bryant - an all-round great guy, who's experienced with endurance & performance horses.  There are times when it's worth spending the money to get that expert outside opinion.  (No, ride vets are Not there to give you one-on-one evaluations of your horse!)

Farah had started getting "waves" on her withers & I'd had the issue with loin scuffing off & on since I'd had her.  I'd bought the new saddle pad with pockets for shims & had shimmed up the front of the saddle, which alleviated the scuffing.  My worry was that changing the pitch of the saddle might create other issues.  When Farah walked in with her tack on, I quickly explained to Dr. Bryant what was going on.  He looked at her & said;  "What? Looks great to me!"  Then I removed the saddle & he just smiled.  He didn't think it was the saddle, but more Farah's conformation that contributed to the saddle sitting too low.  He further explained that Saddlebreds can be difficult to fit because of the conformation that gives their shoulder the room to make those big moves that are so exciting to see in the show ring.   Postscript - (My fix - which was adding shoulder shims - only worked for a while.)

Next, flex test on all four legs...  Sound!  Yes!  Lucky for me & lucky for Farah too, though she travels close in the rear, her leg is straight from the hock to the ground - so there is no extra stress on her hocks.  I asked about continuing Adequan & received a resounding "YES"!  Dr. Bryant recommended it on a yearly basis for longevity, following the manufactures recommendation for dosage.

I drove home feeling relieved & oh so happy that we've traveled over 1,200 year-to-date miles & I'm still riding a sound, healthy & happy mare!  It doesn't get any better than that! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Snow on the Mountains!

Three Fingers
It is with some sadness that I report the change in the weather that came with the 2nd of November.  Rain, wind & cold!  Along with it, the foothills received their first blanket of white!  In 2010 we received a light first dusting here on the 21st & that soon developed into a very hard, cold, wet winter.  Driving up to Darrington last evening - the snow came about half-way down the sides of the mountains.

Today, there were these three determined women who all scrapped ice & loaded up to ride in those foothills!  It was Cold!  We were layered, but we also wanted to cover some ground so the speed went up accordingly.  Once the sun was high enough in the sky - it did finally warm to maybe 40 degrees.
Joyce on Target, Lynn & Bizy
Leaving from the Morgan Horse Club, Joyce took us on a amazing ride of some of the perimeter of that section of the tree farm.  The route included exploring some trail that she hadn't ridden for a long while.  We expected to find limbs down, but the wind up our way was less severe than what it was further south over the weekend.
Forested & sun dappled
The trails were soft due to all the recent rains, we managed to avoid mud.  The creeks were really flowing, no dry crossings today!  The equine competitive spirit seems to escalate when there are three in the group & that was the case today!  We rode some very fast, hearty gallops, that had our cheeks freezing up from the cold!  :-)
Wide open vista's
First we explored out one way - then Joyce looped us up one of the big climbs.  We thought that might take the "edge" off - but no - all three horses are in great shape & were feeling their oats :-)  (Bizy is a perfect example of a Quarter Horse mare fit as a fiddle!)  Our determination - that I mentioned earlier, came from Lynn wanting to reach her goal of 1,000 miles for the year, Joyce - enjoying the benefit of the miles she's put on Target & me - taking advantage of the weather to rack up miles in the Derby, while I still can...
We covered just under 20-miles & couldn't feel our fingers or toes by the time we got back to the trailers :-)  We started discussing the merits of bringing a thermos - hot coffee, etc. long before the ride was over :-)

A virtual toast... to the stellar summer & fall that we've been lucky enough to ride through!  I'm hoping for a winter that allows me the time in Farah's saddle that has become my personal addiction!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fun With Friends!

Lord Hill & new trail
Friday - Finally Linnea & I get to ride with Amanda!  It had been a long time coming, life sometimes gets in the way of good friends getting together...  On this day though - we did it!  One of those days when there's high overcast, fairly warm, fresh & you know that a storm is just over the horizon.
Linnea on Sophie, Amanda on Bella
Amanda was riding Eileen's fine Arab mare Bella & Linnea was on her main ride, Sophie.  It was so beautiful watching the two of them in front of me, walking through the woods, that I had to get the photo.  Though it doesn't do the colors justice, the woods were all dressed in yellows!  The leaves rustled under the horse hooves & the air smelled so sweet.
The mares enjoy the tall grass~
We weren't in any hurry, just out to enjoy a perfect fall day in the Great Northwest!  I say it as often as anyone, calling the NW the Great Northwet - but that said - there's nowhere I'd rather live.  Growing up in Colorado - I still get the yearning for the high country from time to time, but a visit takes care of that!   When it comes to the sheer lushness & diversity of the landscape, the fresh air & the drop dead gorgeous views - I'm proud to call Western, WA home!
Top of the hill~
Another loop was in the plan, but Sophie decided to leave a shoe on the trail, so we cut our ride short.  Even that was OK though - since we'd planned lunch in Monroe before heading home.  After a friends rig was broken into, then a week or so later - their home, Jack decided to come along with Lynn to watch the rigs & do some reading.  We told him he might make it into a retirement gig :-)  We were happy to have his company!
Connie, Farah, Amanda & Bella - Thanks Lynn for the photo!
Farah & I had to make a couple stops on our way home.  Ben is visiting for the weekend so we picked up some specialty pop (the old fashioned kind) at McDaniel's Hardware, then vanilla ice cream in Lake Stevens - guess what Ben wanted?  :-)