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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Second Ride with the Reactor Panel - Bracken Rd.~

Sharon, Pat & Donnie
Pat planned to get us all out this week, for me - before the heat turns on!  We headed out from Bracken Rd. - Donnie again ponying Cam on her second time away from home.  Sharon was riding her new mare, who'd been a pasture ornament for a while & was pretty new to trails too.
Why is the water tank spooky?  :-)
I saddled Farah before we left home, as is my usual routine.  Tightening the girth in increments - still getting used to the stretch in the billet straps.
Crossing Tin Bridge
Everyone was nice & let Farah lead - she did do some bucking when I would end up in the rear.  Now, I know it's not the saddle! :-)
Pat walks Cam across the bridge~
It was the first time for Cam, Destry & Sharon's mare.  Once across we were on the heavy rock, it was interesting to feel Farah's movement - more than I ever have before - on the rock it was accentuated.  We let the horses graze at Cloverdale, then headed over to the river.
In the North fork of the Stillaquamish
The water is SO low!  Scary low - but still flowing...  The bank going down was short & steep.  Farah stopped & dropped her head to check it out.  I was thinking;  "Hum... nothing to put my hand on for balance..."  I didn't need it!  I felt totally balanced as she dropped down - hardly moving in the seat!  Yes!
Donnie on Rao with Cam
Donnie found the one deep spot & I missed getting a shot of Cam swimming around Donnie!  She loved the water!  All the horses really enjoyed the coolness on a day that was rapidly heating up!
Needless to say - we didn't go looking for deep water with the RP saddle!
Young fawn~
On the way back, this fawn caused the only spook of the day, Farah was in the lead & jumped sideways - I easily stayed with her!  Yes!  Big move up on my confidence level!  Pat was riding Cam - who followed Farah's lead, spooked & whirled.  Pat only lost a stirrup & Cam settled right back down.

We ended up doing ten-miles in four hours, not a lot in mileage, but a long time for only the second ride in the RP.  I dismounted - again so pleased to not be sore!  Once home, I unsaddled Farah & though I know the value of even sweat patterns is often debated - Farah's was perfect!  No soreness anywhere.  The waves on her withers had been getting better with the new Supracore pad.  They were certainly no worse.  With the way the panels go over the withers, I hope to see them less & less!

It's not as though I do two or three Endurance rides a month - as many do.  This year, with the continuing heat - it may be that the only one we do, is the one we did!  What we do - is miles...  Lots & lots of miles over varied terrain, technical trails, slow, fast & sometimes very fast :-)  I need a saddle that will hold up to that over the long haul.  I do so wish RP had a version with some skirting - somewhere to hang all my stuff from...  But something that works physically - for us both is the goal!

Another very positive ride, this time for comfort over hours of time on the trail~

Monday, July 27, 2015

Saddle Fitting & First Trail Trial~

Checking the tree~
Thursday...  The Reactor Panel Saddle arrived!  First, we were to have a Skype fitting on Fri., my appointment at the Optometrist ran long... & no, the news of another eye surgery didn't excite me.  Next, we scheduled for Sunday - communication was incomplete...
Heraldic - Side view~
 Monday, I had to run Grandson Ben to his drivers training in the morning - by the time we'd finished lunch - I wanted - more than anything - to get the saddle on the mare & Ride!  I tried putting it together on my own & my frustration level went up accordingly...  I called the office & as luck would have it, Carmi was available & kind enough to fit me in to her already full schedule.  I ran down the hill, caught Ben's attention as he was mowing the front yard & he was my horse handler!
Panel's on~
Rather than Skype, which didn't seem to be working for us, we used photos, text & calls... Whatever works - right?  It did - Carmi was precise in her directions, watching all those You Tube Video's really had helped me - we got it done!  Pat came up with a bowl of watermelon just as I was ready to head out from home.
On the trail~
All the photos are with my smartphone, I didn't want to put anything on the saddle, scared to death that something would scratch it etc.  As usual, I walked on foot up the first big hill.  It's a good warm up for us both & gives any saddle time to settle a bit.  Stepping up into it, it didn't roll, no problem with it staying put - good!  The next thing I noticed was that Farah had her head & neck lower than usual, certainly walking in a more collected frame.
New "View"
The View - I admit was a little strange!  The seat though - what a relief to be able to sit straight - without the constant correction that my poor back has had to endure for a long while now.  I felt relaxed - even without the big bucking rolls that have held me in the seat of Linda's saddle for over a year now.
Heading back
Carmi advised me to keep the first few rides short - short?  :-)  Our short is six-miles - so that's what we did.  Farah offered to trot!  Offered!  She loves to trot - I know that well, she loves to Go - but over the past months, I'd had to ask.  She gave every time, even if it was with a buck, or lowered neck, then tossing her shoulders up as she went into the gait.  Now, I had several smooth transitions.  When I asked for a short gallop, she tossed in a buck - almost as though she was checking out how the saddle felt.  :-)

Once back home, I stepped off & have to say that not feeling the pain that I always do through my pelvis was just Grand!  Butch & Ben were both waiting when we returned & I think we were both smiling.    It was short, but it was positive...

Friday, July 24, 2015

TrailBLAZER Surprise!

Beautiful Issue~
Fellow Washington Trail Riders Distance Derby Competitor & friend Lisa, sent me a short note through Facebook a couple weeks ago, asking if I knew that there was an article on the Centennial Trail in TrailBLAZER magazine?  I had not heard of it, so she offered to send me a copy.
The magazine arrived in today's mail - I leafed through, already having decided to subscribe, since it's been on my interest list for a couple years now.  Almost to the end, page 77 - here we were!  I really appreciate the nomination & receiving the award. Thank You!

Really fun to see us in print & know that our trail has received some notice nationally!  It's really an amazing trail, with an amazing history & how very lucky we are to have it right in our backyard!  If you haven't ridden it - take the time to put it on your list & enjoy at least a part of the 30-mile length.  There's something for everyone & it's a great place to keep our horses in the public eye.

It's becoming a rare thing for children these days to even see a horse close up & personal, so whatever I can do to help that happen & hook the upcoming generations on the wonderful wide world of horses - I will do!  :-)  The trail offers the opportunity to meet & talk with other users, to show the public that horse owners can be considerate & share our multi-use trails with everyone. 

When the Rain Comes~

First Rain~
Finally, Finally, Finally - RAIN!  It's been a long time coming...  The smell, the Sound, the moist air, the relief from the stress of that length of hot, dry days...
Front Yard~
The gold evergreen on the far left, was totally dry inside by the time I saw it droop...  I've been watering it for weeks now to try to save it.  Watering everything that miles of hose will reach.
The Barn~
There's no way to keep everything watered.  Years of planting - scared that we'd start losing the trees.   We've been giving Farah the run of the place, to keep her impact minimal.  Actually happy to only have the one horse now.
Lower pasture too - parched...
It was getting difficult to look around - never having seen our part of the state looking like this~
The Cottage~
Ben's been keeping things mowed short & that's about all we could do.  The three of us have been doing all the yard work we could, but the watering was the highest priority.  Linda reported this morning about 9:30, that she was getting rain.  Since she's about 20-miles north of us - by 10 - it was raining here!
Arizona Glow
I just had to go out & listen, watch & enjoy the show!  Rain!
Back porch~
The dogs were still snuggled into their beds, but they came out to join me :-)
Mini Red Geraniums~
Managing to keep one variety of plant alive over years & years is challenging...   Eight strong healthy plants to enjoy this season.  To keep our acreage, the woods & the plants that exist on it - healthy & thriving over time - takes commitment. 
Smoke Tree~
   Wishing for continuing rain showers for us all!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spada Lake Trail outside Granite Falls~

Pat on KH Destry& Donnie ponying KH Cam & Riding KH Rao
First, I was so darn mad - forgot my camera!  So I had to use my phone...  Pat had mentioned a couple weeks ago, that she'd found another trail a few miles out of Granite Falls.  Since close to home is always nice we made a plan to go.  Today - our schedules merged - Donnie joined us - we drove to a gravel lot just off the road, parked & started in.  Pat brought her young mare Cam to pony along - her first time away from home.
The river~
When we started it was very warm & sunny - but before long - the trail narrowed, went into the trees & stayed close to the river.  It was a gradual climb all the way - nothing steep - just gradual.
Yes, we were climbing - We think this is Pilchuck Creek
There are a couple bad spots, one short steep climb up around some boulders.  Another section shortly after where half the width of the already narrow trail had crumbled down the hillside.  Not for the faint of heart.  Farah just checked it out & trucked right on by, as did the other three horses.
On the bridge over a tributary~
There were small tributaries feeding into the river in several places.  Most would have been small water falls in a normal year - but it was still really nice to see water still flowing!  All the bridges were concrete & sound to cross.  A couple deep holes, a trail not to be taken for granted.
Large Bridge
 This is where we turned back, at just under 5-miles.  Farah loved it!  She was on best behavior, it had been a while since we'd found somewhere new.  Now I'm anxious to do some more exploring up here.  It's basically an in/out for now - but I can see a point-to-point in the future - all the way to Spada Lake!
Pat on Cam with Destry
Pat, decided to take her saddle off Destry & put it on Cam for the rest of the ride back!  Only the mare's second or third time under saddle, first time on the trail & she did just Great!  Of course a good trainer can always make it look easy & Pat hasn't lost her nack!  :-)
End of the Ride~
Cam came back totally relaxed & looked happy to be out & about.  Great way to end the ride. 
Our Route & Spada Lake
Someone told Pat that it's about 30-miles south to Monroe, Spada Lake looks closer, I'm thinking maybe 15 or 20-miles.  Definitely a place I want to go back to & explore some more - with a good map!
P.S.  My new saddle came today!  I'll be opening the box Soon!  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Back to Bracken & Saddle Trial~

Linda & Count in Harvey Creek~
I talked Linda into trailing over to Bracken Road for a ride today.  Several trucks & trailers were already there, it was early too.  Everyone had the same idea we did, to take advantage of a cooler day!
On my way up Burn Rd., there were actually about 100 sprinkles of wet stuff that hit my windshield!  I was wishing that they would continue - but no - it was even clearer in Arlington...  I'm having a tough time of it, watching our yard & plants drying up here at home...  To see the large trees starting to show signs of stress - I think we're all wondering when it will end & praying we don't end up like CA.  When you think back, we really had no rain last fall, not much rain during the winter - we were happy to have all that fine riding weather, after all.  We went into Spring already dry & now I think the word parched about sums it up.
The north fork of the Stillaquamish~
There's still flow in the river, but nothing like in a more normal year & last year was drier than usual for us, plenty of sunshine days.
 Last year on the 19th~
Linda enjoyed her first visit to the Whitehorse Trail!  Count started over Tin Bridge just fine, but was busy watching the swirling water below :-)  The yellow jacket sign is up - but we didn't see them today - I hope they've moved on!  We had our lunch at Cloverdale & the horses enjoyed the grazing.
Linda & Count
When we turned toward Arlington, Count hit his turbo walk!  It ended when we turned back, but he sure seemed to enjoy seeing new views :-)  Even though cool - it did warm up when the sun broke through & the humidity went up.  I was stiff & got off to walk part of the way back.
Heraldic, No fenders yet~
Arriving home, I received an email from Chloe at Reactor Panel, my trial saddle has shipped.  I'm hoping that this saddle will be the one, if they work - you keep them.  Taking a saddle on trial - costs too - shipping etc., but still better than the year long wait I had last time, for a saddle that I would have never bought had I seen it first!  Both Linda & Diane have ridden years now in RP saddles - so that helped me decide.  It will be a change - but again - if it works, I'm ready!

A few days & we'll be using Skype for the fit session & Ms. Farah & I will be trying it out! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Horse Hunting~

Farah getting shoes~
 Justin had to cancel our shoeing appointment last Fri.  I had no nail heads left & didn't want to pull a shoe, so he rescheduled for Sunday.  Yes - it was Cookin' hot!  Butch sat up one of his big fans to keep Justin cool & the bugs off Farah.  She loved it!  Was so funny watching her - she almost went to sleep!  Justin told me that I'm very lucky that Farah has such great feet - that can hold up to the constant shoeing that all the miles have required over the past couple years.  I know he's going to be lobbying hard for me to let her go without this Winter...  I dread the thought of having to do boots again, so we'll see.
Yes - there's still water!
I knew there would be a lot of riders out early looking for the lost horse, so since I prefer riding in the afternoon anyway - decided to go up later & act as the drag rider :-)  They're the ones that usually find stuff anyway!  People were worried that the horse wouldn't have access to water - but there's still plenty in the wetlands - so if he's smart - he'll find it.
From an overcast morning - things heated up quickly~
Since the parking lot was full & I couldn't go on out to the road without doing major backing - which I do not do...  I parked along the back edge.  I was riding out as Charlotte was riding back in - so she took my keys & parked my rig in a empty spot she found upon her return.  Thanks Charlotte!  There were riders all over the mountain.  I'd stop every so often to listen & we'd usually hear other riders on other trails.  Two groups of hikers stopped to talk & they too were looking for the horse.
Hazy view from the top~
We had our lunch up at the Monument.  No one else around at that time.  Heading down, we ran into another hiker who was taking trails & looking everywhere too.  She lives on the perimeter of the farm & mentioned that she had listened last night to see if her horse called out - but no - all was quiet.
Going to the deep dark woods~
The woods are SO Dry!  The driest I've ever seen them, with the lower branches dropping so low that I had to bend down over Farah's neck in places...
The way back~
We covered just over 11-miles, not a sign of the horse anywhere.  When we got back to the trailers, there were only two left & we saw the owners coming in.  A lady in a car said she'd seen a brown horse going fast - way on up the road.  Katie took off at a gallop that direction.  It was the way I'd just come in - so really didn't think he was there...  Hope so though - for their sake.  Horrible feeling to lose an animal - I just went through it with Rascal & can't imagine the anguish of looking for a saddled horse.  Hope he's found soon~

Update~  Linda texted last evening & Penny posted ~
 The lost horse on Victoria was found by Jennifer and Joe Ridgley at 9:30pm on the road overlooking lake Mcmurray. Seems to be fine. No cuts or marks. Saddle still on. They caught him and led him to their place just outside tree farm. Owner is coming in morning to pick up. Happy ending!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Baby Bears at Victoria~

The Tree Farms reopened today!  The humidity has gone up enough that even with the on-going drought - DNR dropped the fire danger level to two.  Linda & I had planned to ride, maybe driving up to Harry O's, so it was sweet to be able to ride closer to home!
We start down the trail we'd completely cleared last Summer~
No one knows the trails like Linda, so today we took many - that I anyway - hadn't been on for a while.  It's just crazy how fast all our work from last season, has disappeared under layers of green growth & nasty blackberry vines...
Views west~
The trail through one of the latest clear-cuts is at least being used, so we got through it pretty easily.  The view is worth it!
Mt. Lumi
The air was the clearest it's been in weeks - a relatively cool morning with a very nice breeze.  Farah started out with her bug mask, but once we were in the woods, she let me know - with incessant head tossing - that she wanted it Off!
The tall grass is the driest I've ever seen it - beautiful beige's moving in the breeze.  As Linda lead us from trail to trail, we went up Baby Bear Trail & from there headed up toward the Monument.  Farah was in the lead, we were going fast & were cresting the top - when she made a sudden shy to the right!  In the next second - I heard Linda & Count doing the same!  Before I could cuss Farah out for the shy - Linda said;  "Bears!"
First of the young Bear cubs~
Both horses had whirled to face the far side of the trail & here was a bear cub!  The noise of his claws on the bark as he climbed as fast as he could was loud!  Before we had time to think about it - a second bear started up the tree behind his brother!
Second cub behind the branches on the right~
With Farah moving & my heart pounding - it was hard to hold the camera steady :-)  Linda said;  "We need to Go!  Momma Bear has to be close!"  Go we did!  Too fun!  It's been several years since the last time we saw two cubs peaking at us over the ridge on Ridge Trail.
The views from the top were just Grand!  I unsaddled Farah at the Monument.  She's fine at the walk, but it's obvious that she's Not at a trot, even with the new Supracore pad.  Linda's saddle is pinching her now...  I'm waiting for a Reactor Panel to arrive.  I loved Diane's Heraldic when I sat in it - so I'm going to take the plunge & see if it will work for us.  I can get it with fenders & it's very similar in shape & style to Linda's.
Our track
  Today, for whatever reason, Garmin allowed me to view our track on Google Earth!  I've been waiting months for them to fix the glitch that has Not allowed me to do this.  It really gives you an idea of how many trails there are.  Like Linda said; she could use a crew of 30 volunteers for at least three or four trail work parties a season to keep them all passable...

Really beautiful day & what a charge to see the bears!