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

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fruit's of our Labor~

Blazing Blue Skies!
The morning was already warm - trying to change to Hot!  Joyce wanted to head out & see what work we'd all accomplished on Sunday.  We started out the loop in reverse & went right past where we'd parked & starting hiking.  We also turned onto the "bridge" trail with Joyce in the lead.  I didn't have caution tape - but was willing to follow wherever Joyce wanted to go.  As we dropped down the little trail & got within sight of the bridge (Now that we've clipped it wide open.) Jesse refused & turned back!  Both Joyce & I were surprised, since he'd been tied to the tree all the while we were getting out.  Joyce turned him forward a second time & again he refused!  Smart boy!  Must figure that there's a horse eating troll under that bridge that spit Farah back out! 
The views~!
We decided to turn back, continuing forward on the ridge trail that we'd also cleared.  So Nice!  It was surprising how long our work lasted before we hit the spot where we quit & the shrubbery had grown almost as high as the saddles!  Joyce wanted to take us around to see where we might access this area from the back side.
Jackson takes advantage of the water~
This decommissioned logging road - keeps us from getting to where we'd hoped to go...  It's a shame that they have to make this kind of mess to keep motorized traffic out...  Still - with keys & with more hiking - we might be able to get through.
Another cleared trail!
As we continued our ride, we were thrilled to find yet another trail that had been weed-whacked!  Nice!  Very Nice!  The greenery through here was so thick, that it's hard to tell the work was done.  It's a major trail that goes in/out of the Morgan Horse Club area - so used by riders often.
Sunshine & Daisy's
We've decided to forgo Renegade.  The reason's for staying home outweighed the ones for going.  Traffic, when my husband deals with it for hours weekly - didn't excite us - especially traveling ON the fourth.

The Chiropractor that I'm now seeing has convinced me... & my husband agreed after seeing my x-rays - that I need to concentrate on healing my neck - before I get too carried away with my usual need for speed!  :-)  As a bonus - he's going to work on Farah too!  I've thought of having her checked out - just as a preventative, for a while now & after our fall is the perfect time for us both. Dr. Goodwin believes that once my neck is better I'll no longer have the problems with dizziness/sea sickness, when riding for long hours.  That would be GREAT!

So, we'll spend the holiday with friends - kicking back & relaxing!  Novel!

P.S.  Lest you think the extra $ I paid for pads has gone to waste... Ms. Farah was bouncing up the roads yesterday - bouncing!  I asked Joyce to find us a hill & that helped...  but obviously - the pads with some frog support are the way to go!  :-)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gettin' Er Done!

& the vehicles keep coming!
Scott was thrilled!  Our RSVP list was dismally short - but once we had the gate open - the trucks kept coming!  The weatherman had originally said that today would be decent & it was actually perfect for the work we had planned!  Cool, cloudy & wet!  :-)
Even a lonely bike guy came to help!
As we all said, if we ever admit to being too old - that will be the end of the trails...  It's the same people every year who feel the obligation to do their share, some of them ride this area only very rarely - yet still come to work.  I'd asked Scott early on if Butch & I could tackle the trail where I'd fallen & he readily agreed.  We'd hoped that Joyce would make it - to lead us up - but instead, Scott got everyone organized - then guided us up.  We were just ready to leave, when Rhonda stuck her head in the truck window!  She & Donnie had driven up to help!  So - the four of us followed Scott to where we needed to be & started clearing! 
"The Bridge"
 I was almost sick to my stomach when I saw it again...  At least we Could See it today!   Something Butch noticed right away - the planks were installed going the wrong direction.  Nothing to keep a hoof from slipping forward.  In just three weeks, the Salmonberry was already starting to cover it again!
Looking down~
You could also see the impression made by Farah's body in the mud - now filled with water & the rock, that dented my water bottle.  Scott told us that this was originally a trail - but years of rain & erosion have turned it into a creek & a nasty one it is.
From the creek bed ~
I had to go check out the place where Farah made her jump - again - amazed that she did it - as I looked down at the point where she'd launched herself.
The jumping up spot!

 We cleared everything from around both bridges.  Donnie suggested putting up some caution tape so that at least riders would have notice that it was there - since it's really slippery too.  You can bet I'll be doing that next.   We kept clearing forward until we came to a creek & forest - then turned back & started on up the Ridge Trail to where I remembered the trees being down.
Donnie & his chain saw

 Donnie made short work of both - the one above is the one we'd jumped before reaching the bridge.  Butch was doing damage with the weed whacker, while Rhonda & I used our loppers & picked up the mess the guys were leaving behind.  We got a nice long section of the trail done!  Just in time to head back to meet-up with the rest of the volunteers for a lunch break!  It only sprinkled on us - but the brush was so wet we were soon soaked anyway.
Lunch Break!
Sandwiches never tasted better!  Every year, we try to make at least two trail clearing dates, one for the Traildusters & one for Cascade.  We've done this even during the years when I was working full time.  None of the riders I know, that ride here - were with us this day.  Yes - I had my personal agenda - but we would have been here anyway - just working a different trail.  The rest of our group made huge progress on re-establishing the "White" trail through the recent clear-cut.  Still more to do, always more to do, but we all felt like we'd accomplished a lot!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Note:  I revamped the title of this post :-) 
Linda & Count~
Our schedules collided!  Yes!  In a good way & we got out for a ride!  The day looked like it was going to be warm & I was already wondering if my new electrolyte pills would be up to the challenge.  Linda asked me what I planned to do when things really warm up & I didn't have an answer.  I know I rode a lot last Summer & sure hope to do the same this one!
Huge Fungi on a dead tree~
Trails have always been Linda & my thing, with Linda knowing them better than anyone, I'd asked for shade & shade is what I got!  Wonderful!  But after a few heavily overgrown trails - my nerves were up?  I kept trying to see the trail where the trail was not to be seen...  The more I didn't see it - the more I worried to the point of sheer ridiculousness!
At the Monument
As you can tell from the photo above, it was amazingly beautiful up on top.  We had lunch & I took photos of a nice couple who'd hiked up.  Then I begged Linda to find a way onward that kept us off the overgrown trails.  No problem, we're cruising along through the woods when suddenly - Farah does a 180!  I turned her back & asked her to approach the scary object - a hoodie that some one had tossed over a short broken off tree.  Again she flew around, almost knocking into Count - who decided that if Farah thought it was That scary that he should do what she was doing & between the two of them we both about lost our seats!  :-)  I dismounted, took the hoodie & threw it at her - she didn't even twitch a muscle - just looked at me with the "OK- I was pretty dumb..."  look. 
The Peaks~
The peaks that I'd hoped Robin would see yesterday - were certainly out today!  You can almost see the snow melting!  We spent most of the ride catching up on all the stuff-of-life that keeps things interesting.  Linda checked out my shoulder & told me that if I hadn't noticed by now that it's all mashed in - that it was about time I did!  I took her advice & called her recommended chiropractor - actually getting an appointment for tomorrow!
The Meadow & growing bio-fuel hardwood trees~
We finished off our ride by late afternoon.  Farah was again in season & not inspired - just very happy that I'd removed that pack & replaced it with the more streamlined version - sans water bottles.
Farah helping Linda with lawn control~
So, we trotted - did some galloping & all was well with our world :-)  A fine ride with a fine friend is a great way to enjoy a fine day - can't ask for more!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Friends~

The story is a long one, the friendship is too - I referred Joyce to this particular friend & we were both introduced to Robin.  Wouldn't you know?  Robin grew up on horseback - then as with so many of us, life got in the way.  Funny how things sometimes go full circle!
Robin sets up to ride Jesse!  With Joyce's help.
 Joyce offered to take Robin out on a ride & of course I had to tag along!  Robin was very honest with us about her horse experience - her father was in the military & Polo was his sport!  Her parents first date?  Out for a ride!  As a fearless kid, she'd ridden all day - jumped anything in sight & spent all her time in the saddle.  Now, it had been fifteen years...
Joyce & Robin admire the view
Not many women would have the nerve to get on their first Arabian (a top-ten endurance horse) & head out for a ten-mile ride!   Jesse was well behaved, besides thinking that the pace could have been a little a bit faster :-)
At the Monument
Robin did a wonderful job - not grabbing rein or making any "newbie" mistakes!  As usual the three horses moved right out at the walk - cruising along at 4-mph. on a beautiful cool day could not have been nicer.
Target & Joyce
With the supracore pad gone & the sheepskin back on, I was comfortable again!  Farah too, was much happier with just the Woolback!  No inserts!  I'd also changed the saddle pack to one that holds two water bottles.  When I left my camera back at the Monument - (Figured this out when I wanted a photo at the Lake McMurrary outlook.) I turned Farah back to go get it.  We hit a trot - then a gallop - then the bucks started coming!  I reached back & with nothing behind the cantle - the pack was still coming in contact with her loin.  That came off once we were home & we'll go back - to what works!
Stinging Nettle Bloom with the ever evasive Blackberry!
It's always so much fun to show someone new your "backyard".  Even though the peaks were under the clouds, Robin really enjoy her ride & we enjoyed having her with us!

Monday, June 23, 2014

My "New" Ride & Lord Hill

When you wait four months, have your hopes up & then finally get your saddle back & it's not going to work...  Thinking of the money I've wasted on this quest & some of the ridiculous costs that were included in the rebuild - like $75. for new saddle strings?  Well... It put me in a funk...
Looks like new~
It will make someone a fine trail saddle, but for the kind of riding I do - it's time to give up.  I could have titled this post - the Endless Saddle Quest but so many other riders have been there/done that.  No one would even bother to Read it!   I have to hope - yet again - that someone will find it, try it & enjoy the security of that seat.
Linda's Saddle - my "new" ride~  Made by  McClintock Saddles
With it out to be sold, I'm back riding the saddle above.  Admiring it, as we sat out enjoying a perfect evening last night - if I have Everett build me another - I think it will be styled after this one.  It almost has a Calvary look to it.  A Clean, neat, light weight, deep seat, free swinging fenders & the very Best Part?  It works!  I tried the Supracore seat saver today & that was a Big mistake!  Too much saving can be as bad as not enough!  We'd gotten it on tight enough - that I couldn't take it off on the trail.  Since I'd been using my EZ stirrups, I'd taken them off to put back on my saddle, not expecting to be using it again.  I'd not marked for stirrup length & adjusted that at least three times!  (Lynn was very patient with me!) 

Something else you'd think I'd have learned by now...   If it's not broke - don't fix it!  I decided to put the foam inserts into the Woolback pad.  Farah let me know that she Did Not like that!  I didn't like it either - I'd lost the close contact feel & stability that the Woolback alone gave.  (I'm going to use that as an excuse for her less than ideal performance today.)  (Even though I still worry about the impact of our fall.)
Typical of many of the Lord Hill paths~
Since both Lynn & I have both had to work to find our riding time lately - we met in the middle at Lord Hill.  Not one of my favorites, it's at least mostly shady & the day turned hot & muggy in a hurry.  The bugs were out in force - Farah was constantly tossing her head at one annoying bug that wouldn't leave us alone.  I pulled out my purse sized spray & that finally deterred the bugs for the remainder of the ride.
New trail~
 After all the times we've ridden here - today we got off on a road/trail that hadn't seen much use.  We ended up somewhere that we didn't recognize, with no sure way back to the park - so turned back.  It was pretty though!  I found that I now am on high alert going over terrain that I'm unfamiliar with - gee - wonder why?

By the end of ten-miles, with a sore seat, sore knees & with Farah unhappy with the pad - we were ready to be done. Once home, Farah got a bath, after which she took off down the pasture head up, tail in the air & light as a breeze on her feet...  Really?    I don't think I need worry Any more over the fall!  Butch put the sheepskin seat saver back on the saddle.  We had the rear pack so tight that it took him to get it loose.  As no truer words have been spoken - at least as they relate to me...  I'm Fine, I'm Ridin'~

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Different Point-to-Point~

One of the few remaining trails through the bigger second growth trees~
I'd gotten the idea when I realized how close we come to the Centennial Trail from the old Scott Main Line road at the bottom of my loop.  Today - I met Jack & Lynn at Haller Park, we loaded Farah into Lynn's trailer & left mine there.  Jack drove us on up to the glass school parking lot, where we mounted up & hit the trail.  We started my loop in reverse, getting in some miles on the tree farm, before heading on down to Hwy 9.
The hole that tripped Jesse!
 Today I was determined to fill in the above hole!  It was deeper than it looks - no wonder he couldn't keep his feet!  It took about seven rocks to fill it, I stomped them down & hope it holds.
Hwy 9
It was a tight squeeze around the gate - once out to the highway - it was about 100 ft. to the current northern end of the trail.  I'd dismounted to see how to get around the gate & once Lynn was around, I started jogging pretty fast down that nasty section of road - next to the guard rail, with Sophie trotting along behind us!  We just got off when a Big truck went whizzing by!  Nothing I'd recommend - but for this one time, it accomplished our mission.
North end of the improved trail~
 We rode the mile + of trail that is unimproved & so pretty!  It had been mowed, but the grasses were higher than our mare's heads - giving them ample opportunity to grab mouthful's as we went.  Bad footing was on our minds, along with mole holes, so we did a lot of walking & kept our trotting speed down.  With all the rain - the horse path was slippery too.
New bright signage made from recycled street signs!
Originally thinking that we'd do the ride in about 3+ hours, we called Jack to tell him that we were running behind.  There were a few bikes on the trail, but we were the only equestrians.   There was a Bear warning sign posted just before the bridge over Pilchuck creek.
Bridge over Pilchuck Creek~
From what was really a cold feeling morning - even at noon, the day finally cleared & warmed!  We were removing our jackets in short order.  The closer we came to Arlington, the more people were out enjoying the trail.  Now that the kids are out of school, it was nice to see families out enjoying such a nice day.
Haller Trestle
Our final bridge was the Big one!  The Haller Trestle!  Lots of people were down on the banks of the river, enjoying the water - even as cold as I'm sure it still is!  Both mares had figured out that we were on a point-to-point & I'm sure Farah knew that her trailer was up ahead!  :-)
Our Trailers wait~!
We could see our trailers from the bridge!  Mine still there & Jack waiting for Lynn.  We'd gone just over 17-miles.  Eight on the tree farm & the rest on the trail!  Fun to know that we'd Done it!  :-)  Now - if I can just keep others from trying to steal one of my favorite riding partners!  :-) 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tough Enuf~

On the trail/road
I didn't want to ride today, I've not wanted to do much of anything...  I still hurt.  When I called Linda - she was already in the saddle!  Lynn had family stuff to do - so I just bucked up, saddled up & headed up to Victoria.  Just as we got out on the trails, the sun burned through the cloud cover, but it was off/on again sun - which was fine, since it was a humid day.
The Goatsbeard is now in bloom~
I think it's a beautiful plant, nice leaves & the blooms are so pretty & give a different look to the woodlands.  I used my Supracore pad today, under my saddle & Farah again seemed to be moving out really well.  What a nice feeling it is to be sitting correctly in the seat, not tilted to the front, as I had been for so long. 
Farah enjoying the grass~
Even with my stopping a couple times to adjust the saddle & check how it was sitting - we made good time.  I found that mounting, annoys the big muscle that must have been pulled in our fall on my left side.  I have a new hard lump at the end of my collar bone on the right side - the side that hit the ground & that's sore too - but heck - I'm Ridin'!
Cloud cover low over the foothills~
The clouds dropped low as we were leaving the top of the ridge.  Then we headed down to the lower section & looped around.  The Salmonberries are So ripe & rain washed!  Farah did some very nice sidepassing so that we could both partake!
Newly dozed road
On our way back, we found this fresh work being done, where there was an old logging road before.  I'd tried to take it once & couldn't get through.  No idea what's up - but I'm sure it will have something to do with more logging.  If it opens up a new route - that would be good too!

We were back at the trailer by 6 - late for us, a few vehicles parked in the trailer parking - all with bike racks - guess none of them can read...  Too tired to write my usual "friendly" note about not parking there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back In My Saddle Again~

My Saddle
It arrived yesterday - back home from it's final visit to Idaho.  Eighteen weeks it's been gone, since our trip to Olson's Saddle Shop, where we began the quest to figure out what was wrong, what was right & what needed to change.  After our accident, I wasn't moving too fast & my right arm doesn't want to be used for much of anything!  So I asked the UPS driver to lug the box up to the barn for me.   When Butch got home, we unpacked it & were both amazed at how good it looked!  A new tree, new seat - padded this time, new fenders, strings, pommel - about the only thing left original is the skirting leather & sheepskin!
Farah Saddled~
 Joyce & I had planned to ride today, I was going to show Joyce my training loop - a first for us, since we all know I'm directionally challenged & anyone with any common sense knows that riding with me - there's always the possibility of getting lost!  :-)  Karissa, a young friend of Joyce's accompanied us - riding Jesse, while Joyce was on Target.  Farah was just flat out thrilled that her two favorite geldings were with us today!  All three horses go so well together & we were just over 3-miles out, when two black bear came out of the brush on one side of the road & ran across to the other!  First time I've ever seen them that close to the parking area!
Joyce on Target, Karissa on Jesse
The views were just outstanding for Karissa's first visit to Victoria!  There wasn't anything about this day not to like!  I was stiff, but the further we went, the better I felt & the more I loosened up.  At one point, going on a trail with heavy growth - I noticed that Farah seemed to be paying a bit more attention to the ground - though we both knew there were no bridges on this trail!
Tide was Way out!
I don't know if we had a minus tide today- but the water was the farthest out I've seen it in a long while.  We stopped for a short break at the Monument, then rode through the Dark Woods, over to the Lake McMurray side.
Farah & Connie
Farah was really moving well...  really well... I was loving my seat, I had worried that the padding would be uncomfortable, or maybe make the seat too small, but it did neither.  The combination of Randy's tree, with the amazing seat that Mike puts in a saddle seems to be working great.  (Last evening - I wrapped my fingers & put on a glove & worked cleaning & conditioning Linda's saddle.  I'd planned to take it to her today, but Butch reminded me that it might be a while before I know if all the issues with mine have been resolved... )
My new seat~
 We were all the way to what I call the Main Line trail & trotting right out - Farah in the lead, when I heard the sound of scattering gravel & hooves...  I turned to see that Karissa had come off Jesse!  Joyce was behind her & had already jumped off Target to run to her aid.  Jesse had stepped into a mole hole - right in the middle of the road.  It took them down & down Hard!  Karissa had hit her head/helmet on the ground, skinned her hand, elbow & hurt her leg through her tights.  Jesse had skin off the point of his hip, but no blood & otherwise was unhurt.  We were both proud of the way Karissa stiffened her upper lip & took the fall in stride!  I pulled out my emergency kit again - freshly replenished from Monday & doctored her up.  We still had about 6-miles to get back to the trailers.
Heading back up~
Our trot up the hill turned into a nice walk, our original good pace, now backed off - the 17-miles took us just over four hours.

We're DONE with any further accidents now!  Joyce had taken a fall over the weekend, hurting her elbow & leg, then mine on Monday & now Karissa today.  That's THREE by anyone's reckoning!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fallin' off a Bridge~

An Incredible Day!
The day, was just stellar!  Cool, breeze, fluffy white clouds, blue skies - nothing finer!  Joyce & I had planned to ride & I was Not disappointed in the direction we took out of the Morgan Horse Club.  Both horses were working so well for us! 
Meadow of Foxglove
I'd been wanting to see the blooming foxglove & since Joyce had been this way over the weekend, they were in bloom!  We were talking about how darn lucky we are to have the ways & means to do the riding we do - in the beautiful places we have right out our proverbial back door!
Joyce & Jesse
We'd also remarked on how overgrown the trails were getting.  We came to a trail that Joyce wanted to check out, someone had done some light pruning on the Salmonberry.  Farah was in the lead, we'd already had a really nice gallop, both horses had jumped a large dead log that had fallen across the Ridge Trail & we were just walking along.  We'd crossed one small bridge & only gone maybe another 50-feet when suddenly - as Joyce said later - we disappeared from in front of her!
Where we went over~
It was crazy how fast it happened, one instant we were moving through the thick Salmonberry growth  the next - Farah slammed to the creek bed on her right side, me still in the saddle.  As she started to try to regain her feet, I freed myself & started crawling as fast as I could to get clear of her.  (I worried that if hurt - she would start thrashing & I've seen what destruction a horse in pain can cause!)  Once clear, I looked back to see her standing on all four feet.  I CAN NOT tell you how much fear was flowing through my veins at the though of her being possibly injured.  But - as I got close to her - I could tell that she was OK & looking at me with a "What do we do now?" expression.
Our position - not good...
I could hear Joyce, but wasn't making much sense of what she was saying.  She tied Jesse off & was busting through the brush to get to us.  The bank was between 4-5 feet high & crumbling.  After some reconnaissance work - Joyce found a spot where she thought Farah might have a chance of getting out.
One big mess~
I had the tops taken off three of the knuckles on my left hand - blood everywhere.  My right elbow had taken a good hit when we landed, Farah had some nicks on her face & two small marks on her hind legs - that had gotten tangled in roots, but otherwise looked fine & was fully alert.  Joyce found a spot where she started breaking branches & clearing up the hill that we hoped Farah would be able to climb.  (Joyce thought to ask me what Farah's heart rate was...  I looked down at my Garmin & it was reading 74!)  Here she is stuck in a deep creek bed & was that Calm!  Also told us that she was probably OK.  I climbed up, stood by a big Cedar & told Farah to come.  As I've watched her do before - but not in such dire circumstances, she reared onto her hind legs & made a huge jump & was up.  The bank was soft & full of holes, she was sinking in, but it was only a few feet to the trail.

I pulled out my little emergency kit, wrapped my fingers, knocked some mud off Farah & got back on.  We were only a few miles out from the trailers, so no big deal to ride.  Farah was fine, actually trying to nip Jesse on the butt - so I knew she was OK.
Back at the trailers~
Once back, the adrenalin had worn off, but I felt fine to drive - so I called Butch & headed for home.  Linda's saddle is a little bit muddy...  just a little...  I took the tack off, then gave Farah a warm bath - running my hands over her from top to bottom & finding nothing but a small scratch on her hind leg.
At Home~
Butch made record time getting home & found me still in my riding clothes covered with mud, but with a clean horse, now happily grazing in her pasture.

I don't know how many ways I can say; "Thankful" - but I am...  Someone was looking out for us today - our stars were in alignment.  Neither of us were seriously hurt & we rode out.  That - ALWAYS makes for a Good Ride!