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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Flying High - Second ride in the Stonewall~

The way out~
Today, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to ride again.  Short notice - I missed Pat, so out from home.  Jackie called, I'd sent her a few photos & she made suggestions.  No thick pad - just a saddle blanket this time.  I'm so used to using thick pads to mitigate saddle fit that it seemed strange to just have the blanket. 
It was warm today & pretty humid, bugs weren't too bad - the cooler nights have helped that.  I'm enjoying those cool nights & brisk mornings - harbinger to fall.  Once we were on the trails - Farah just took off!  I couldn't believe it!  On a section where she doesn't usually trot - we not only trotted, we flew!  Even on the overgrown, twisty trail almost 10 mph.  She was the happiest I think I've ever seen her under saddle - the most relaxed I've ridden her - probably ever...  I was just along for the ride.
Breeze on the water~
Once we were on the top of the ridge, we picked up a nice cool breeze.  Enough to put ripples on the wetland - beautiful.  Farah broke into a gallop - then picked up speed & when I asked her to slow down for the rock, she dropped down, in one stride & right into a 5 mph. walk!  She felt loose, I felt loose & we were in sync :-)
The road home~
I called Jackie to tell her how happy we both are.  I'm going ahead & placing my order - sadly the trees for the Sport are on order, so that will slow my order down.  I started Farah out in the Meridian Saddle - then, when it was sent to Everett for a new tree, started using Linda's.  That lasted the year wait for the McClintock.  (I was saddened to hear of Garry's passing...  At the height of his craft, I doubt there were many who made any finer saddles.)
Racy sweat pattern too :-)
 Now, I wish I'd followed that nagging urge to order a Stonewall way back when...  It would have saved me a lot of grief & money too. For the first time in our partnership - four years strong, we're finally Good to Go!  Hallelujah!
P.S.  Jackie said today that when I get my new saddle, this one will be listed on eBay.  If anyone in my area would like to try it - I can lend it out.  It would be perfect for a small person or young rider.  The price is really reasonable too.  Try it - you'd like it!  :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

First Ride - Stonewall Classic

Farah in the Stonewall~
The Stonewall arrived in Thursdays mail!  Though I didn't have time to ride, I did take the time to put my saddle bags on it - using the stirrup hangers to snug down the side straps - which worked Great.  Plenty of pommel to attach my front little bag too.  Still waiting - over a month now, for my new reins for the black headstall, breast collar & running attachment - from Hought.  The good news, is that they're supposed to go out in tomorrows mail.
At the power lines~
There's now so much smoke rolling in - that you not only see it, but smell it too...  With the high humidity - it's staying low to the ground.  Today - as I went to saddle Farah - she gave me a look - like "Oh... another saddle."  I was hesitant too, it looks so small & light - which it is!  The minute I sat down - I was relieved that it had the feel & seat that I like!  I missed my bucking rolls, but didn't have any 180's to test it on - that's always fine with me :-)
Smoke over the wetland~
The smoke only got thicker the longer we were out.  With my sister & her family visiting - our time was limited, so we did our short loop.  When I'd spoken to Jackie last week, she said;  "I don't even think about my saddle when I'm riding."  That impressed me - since saddles are about All I've thought about for more time than I Want to think about...
Farah is happy :-)
Funny thing was - we were both happy - enjoying the ride.  I was comfortable!  Comfortable!  Worth saying twice at least!  :-)  It obvious that Farah liked it too - the trot was fast, the walk was fast & the gallop had the usual buck - but then smoothed out.  None of the head tossing or shoulder lifts that I had on my last ride - which acted as a refresher reminding me why we're still on this hunt...   The feel of the seat was different, of course, but nice - very nice - nothing that bothered me & I rode with without any seat pad.  My legs were in the right position - & the freedom of movement was just as good as in Linda's, which has the most freedom of any saddle I've ridden to date.
Water in the new Beaver Pond
It was hot, 80+, humid & with the smoke, it's pretty miserable out - on what should be a beautiful sunny Sunday.
When I unsaddled, there was a very nice, even sweat pattern - the saddle had stayed put & I'd had no problem mounting, even using the woolback.  The rigging is lower than what I'm used to, just low enough to sit on the edge of the pad.  I had to find a 26" cinch, my 28" was too long.  I'm going to raise it just a couple notches next ride & try the Supracore under it.  Since this saddle was completely refurbished - all the new sheepskin will settle in a few more rides - right now it's almost bouncy :-)
Mt. Pilchuck - under the smoke~
 On our way back, the smoke was so thick that I could hardly see a block away.  This view is a first for me - the mountain totally obscured by the smoke...  Seeing all this here - I can't help but continue to worry about all the people on the other side of these mountains - with fires burning & their homes at risk...  Then - if we stop to think of the displaced wildlife...  Lucky if only displaced...

Monday, August 17, 2015

Out from Home~

Water coming off the big wetland~
I hadn't ridden since the 5th & was having withdrawals!  I'd hoped to have a working saddle by now & of course couldn't get up the get-up & Go to ride in the 90 degree heat.  Since today was supposed to be the cooler of the next couple days, we headed out.  I used Linda's saddle, with the new gel seat pad that I'd picked up.  Even though I could still feel the rock hard seat under it, I was amazed at how well it worked!  Just enough cushion to keep my seat bones from hurting!
At Little Pilchuck Creek
Walking up the big hill to the trails, I felt pretty good.  The neighbor who's yard we ride through had cleared all the way to the fence, wiping out our little trail, empty bags, branches, etc. littered our way.  We got through - but now I need to go visit & see if we'll still have our access.  They are such nice people I'm sure we will.  The afternoon just kept getting warmer...  with the humidly climbing as we entered the woods.  It took a LOT of blackberry cutting!  They've loved the heat & rain from last week - growing feet in days!  I didn't plan to make any time & we couldn't.  At one point, Farah stopped, then turned her head to her side.  I looked down & saw where one vine I'd cut was hanging off the back of the saddle & on her side!  Such a good girl :-)
The hill between us & home~
On our way to the far end of our range - we saw just a tiny break in the bushes that looked like a trail?  We dropped down off the road to take it.  It dropped again, but was passable.  Within just a short way - it came to an abrupt end - at a huge dug hole!  Very strange & I decided that I didn't like being there!  We turned back & Farah leaped the short hills to get us up & out!  I started feeling the heat...  feeling sick...  I'd taken an electrolyte, but after I'd started, not before.  I was drinking my water too, but it wasn't helping.
Pilchuck, dry, dry, dry~
For whatever reason, Farah has gotten scared every time we've come out here...  Since she'd been so good the entire way - it surprised me.  From the clear-cut, looking back at our trail I could feel her heart pounding!  Our trail back, in the shade. looked dark & ominous - but I couldn't see a thing moving.
You can just see a tower up Jim Creek~
She'd walk a step or two, stop - look - then walk again.  Once we were back on the trail, she wanted to trot & I was up for that - more wind in my face.  I let her stop for a couple bites & she settled more, finally hitting her we're out of here walk!  By the time we'd reached the new beaver pond, I had to get off & lay flat.  Just slightly recovered, I remounted & didn't get off again until Pat's when I had gates to open.
Our route~
I continued on foot up the hill & home, so very happy that Butch was ahead of me & took Farah.  Shower & collapse for an hour to recover enough to finish up dinner & sit out to enjoy the evening.  Whatever it is that does this to me - it's not gotten any better, even as my fitness has increased...  No Fun...  I did get an email from Jackie, that the re-furbished Stonewall is on it's way!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Early Days~

I have our oldest daughter to blame for this post!  :-)  I was visiting this week on Grandson Mason's 14th birthday!  We were talking about how quickly the kids are growing up.  Courtney asked if next time they visit, I could pull out the old photo albums to show the kids how things were when their mother was their age.  Cassidy will be 12 in Oct.!  I seldom write about the past, or personal stuff - but those albums reminded me of how far we've come~
10/81 Grand Tetons, WY
When Butch & I found each other - lives changed.  He was happy & I was happiest I'd been since the girls were born.  That happiness was so big & wide - that it colored our world!  We decided to make a clean break & leave Colorado for Butch's home state of Washington.  He promised us both mountains & an ocean!  (The girls & I had never seen an Ocean!)  The above photo was taken on our drive out.  (Courtney was 12, Jentry 4)
July 82, Wallace Falls~
By the time we arrived, our funds were running out & we both were desperate for work!  Butch found a job as maintenance on a large apartment property, I found one working for Gloria Marshall Figure Salon, both in Lynnwood.  Luckily - an apartment came with Butch's position.  We were poor, but we had a roof over our heads, food on the table & it didn't cost anything but gas money to go out & enjoy the incredible state that we now called home!
October 82, LaPush, WA
We were oh so lucky in so many ways...  We both worked with some great people - who became life-long friends.  By October of 82, we married - to the great relief of our families :-)  Mom came out for the wedding & we had to take her to the coast!  She's in the red hat :-)
July, 83 The 59 Bel Air - a gift from Butch's grandparents :-)
We left our jobs to move to Bremerton, we both had job offers with a substantial increase in income - but they didn't pan out.  We loved living on the peninsula & were lucky enough to rent a cute little house from a couple who - we scared at first, when they found us tearing apart the kitchen.  Soon though, they realized that it was in fact - an improvement!  :-)  Guy & Mary Ann are to this day some of our favorite people!  Soon - word that we were again "In the market" for a building to manage had traveled & we were offered a property in Bellevue.
February 84, at Bellepark East  (I'd made the "Holly Hobby" dress for Courtney - now it fit Jentry!)
Finally - we had our very own multi-family building to manage!  We took the ball & ran with it, never looking back!  We gained a reputation for turning around the most difficult properties & from that point on - worked at buildings that were owned by the management company that employed us.
Thanksgiving 89 - Harbor Point
A few years went by, we moved up from small properties to larger ones.  Butch left to work in commercial construction.  I continued my education & began managing a large condominium portfolio that included buildings in Mercer Island & Bellevue.  We purchased our own house in Marysville, to use as a rental - eventually turning the gains we made there into the purchase of the Homestead.

We'd written a list of goals, early on in our marriage.  The day we moved to the country, the top goal was crossed off that list.  Now, 34 years later, our two daughters have blessed us with five wonderful grand-kids, who are too busy to come as often as we'd like!   The world, has indeed, moved on~

P.S. I took all the photos with a tripod & the camera's timer :-)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Movin' On - Saddle Wise~

The Heraldic is on it's way back to CA...  I was sorry to see it go - I had such high hopes that it would work for us...  After my ride on Wed. Post~ - I knew for sure that it wasn't going to work for me.
Chloe at Reactor Panel, offered me several options.  I have to say; working with Chloe & Carmi, was great!  So professional, helpful, insightful & instructive too!  I was offered a new prototype to try!
Heraldic Prototype
We all agreed that the first problem was probably that the seat was too small - maybe a 17.5 rather than a 17.  That might have helped move me back from the rise.  I was also getting just a little pinching from the rigging -  that would have been alleviated with the prototype!  It is beautiful!  But after thinking it all over & being the sorest I have in years from that 15-mile ride - I decided that it probably had a lot to do with where I was on Farah's back - further back than I'm used to.  The seat certainly had more rise, I'm used to something flatter.
First time~
 I was struggling - but thought that with more rides, I would get used to the feel.  I didn't - my legs were more on Farah's barrel, rather than in the riders groove.  I was struggling when we galloped & her gallop was much slower than usual - I think she could feel my discomfort.  As I told  Chloe, I'm going to move on for now - but may be back!  It's hard to walk away from such a superior product & customer service!

Laying awake that night - my mind went for whatever reason - to Stonewall Saddles...  I've looked at them off & on for years.  There was always a saddle that seemed more appealing to me, maybe fancier, prettier, or more "Western".  But the riding quality that I found in Linda's McClintock has changed my views about pretty!
Stonewall Classic
Friday morning I called & spoke to Jackie.  I was very upfront with my wants & needs...  At this point there's just no other way to be.  Years ago I had ordered the boomerang fitting angles.  I dug them out of the drawer & tried them on Farah, who measured a medium tree.
Medium works~
 I tried one under Linda's McClintock - no surprise - it measures a narrow tree ...  Only the supracore is keeping us on the trail.  To think that Farah has gone all these miles in a too small saddle is like thinking of running in too small shoes...  I know she has dramatically muscled up since I first tried the boomerangs on her when she arrived & measured narrow through the wither.
Stonewall Sport
Jackie has a older Classic saddle, medium tree, 14" seat that she's now refurbishing for us.  I had to purchase it - if I order a custom saddle, those funds will be applied.  Jackie pushed it to the front of the line in the shop & I hope to get it in the next couple weeks.  From our talk, I have to hope that it's pretty darn close to what I've been hunting for.  If & I say if it works for us - I can lease it for $60. a month until a custom one can be made.  Pretty reasonable all round.

I like having the pommel, the flatter seat, dropped rigging, fenders & room for my back saddle bag.  It will be easy to outfit it with the packs that I've been using on Linda's.  I'd taken Linda's saddle back to her - so on Fri. we went to lunch & I picked it up yet again :-)  It might be jinxing my luck - taking it back twice now - both times thinking that the other saddles would work!    Now, I've told her that she's NOT getting it back!  (Maybe that will help!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

On Our Own - Victoria~

Again...  Are people able to read?
The note I found
It's just hard for me to believe that a fellow horseman wouldn't realize that just one car in the trailer parking - will multiply - as more people coming up see it & think - "Oh I can park there too."  I've seen four cars parked all over the lot - making it impossible for the trailers to pull in or out...   In the last couple weeks, there have been several days - with the closure of Mann Rd. that the lot has been totally full of trailers...  Of course, there's even more signage too - asking hikers, bike riders, etc. to park along the edge of the road, or on the new gravel area that was put in for cars.
Gray & Overcast
It was one of those eerily quiet days...  I was in an off mood. I'd manged to upset a friend & I never like doing that for any reason - even when I feel strongly about something.

The front pack started bugging me right away...  banging around too much...   I have it tied down about every way but loose - the water bottle hung too low & hit me in the knee when we were galloping...
New logging area~
 I wanted to do a decent pace, a lot of trotting & some galloping to see how the Heraldic felt.  The problem I'd first noticed, pressure from the rise of the front of the saddle, has not gone away...  Yesterday - it didn't seem as bad, but we were doing a lot of short up & downs at Lord Hill.  Today - was more of the long downs & long ups.  The entire ride, I felt the pressure - enough that I couldn't clear my mind of it.  Farah seemed to be moving fine, though her reduced speed tells me that something isn't right.  Smooth transitions, no bucking, no shoulder lifting, no head tossing.
Big Cedars went down~
It started drizzling on us - once we were all the way to the bottom of the mountain.  The roads are just as hard as concrete now... I won't do this loop again for a while.  We did go off onto the trails for the return, but the surface even there is very hard packed, lots of bike use & so very dry. 
A gray horizon~
We returned to the trailer just as the drizzle was turning to rain.  We'd covered 15-miles at a good pace, probably too good for the hard footing...  Disappointed that I can't make this saddle work for me :-(  I'll be calling to discuss my options tomorrow~

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Lord Hill - Revisited~

OH MY GOSH!  There are Sheep over there!
It had been a long while since I'd ridden at Lord Hill...  When Lynn & Amanda invited me I was looking forward to seeing those trails again.   Yes - we're stylin' now :-)  While we wait for the new breast collar, using our western one :-)
The giraffe look was evident - the neighbor's sheep were making sheep noises through the trees :-)  Today - our third ride with the Heraldic.  When I saddle Farah up at the barn, then go to walk her down to the trailer, she has always waited until the pressure hits her halter before stepping forward.  This morning, I said my usual;  "Let's Go!" & she moved out instantly!  Such a small thing - but it blew me away!
Farah & the handsome Cato!
Farah was very pleased to see her friend Cato again!  Sophie was the third wheel as far as she was concerned & she made it very clear - if Sophie even tried to get close!  So, Cato led on the way out - Sophie, as usual on the way back.
A very dry wetland~
Even though this park has so much shade, leaves were falling & the drought conditions were evident.  This was a good test for the saddle.  Farah being in the rear - she did do a few of her antics, but no bucking & only one shy.
Both Amanda & Lynn said that they really thought Farah was the most relaxed they had seen her.  They were with us on some of our very first rides, so should know.  I could feel it too, as I told them - very nice to ride & be comfortable!
Another very low river...
Farah's face is the driest I've ever seen it - she has matured & come into her own this year...  The horses really enjoyed standing in the river, the morning clouds had burned off & the humidity had gone up.  All three had a sheen of sweat.
Great Blue Heron
 We were thrilled to see this Great Blue Heron enjoying the extremely low water in the wetland.  I'm sure food is getting scarce, but what there is - probably easier to catch!
Amanda, Cato, Lynn & Sophie
We were heading back when Amanda & I realized that it was the first time this year we've ridden together!  Even Lynn & I haven't gotten in that many miles, I've been staying closer to home.  Hopefully cooler weather isn't too far away & I'll feel more like traveling farther.  I've yet to ride most of the Fall City trails~
Heading back down~
Once home, Farah enjoyed her bath.  Afterward I turned her loose, she had one big roll in the yard, then took off at a full trot to her pasture, where she rolled again, leaped five-feet in the air & took off with a short burst of speed!  I don't think I have to worry about any pain issues!

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Up front~
Well, it's been HOT!  Just too hot for me to want to ride...   There's Tevis - my favorite horse/rider team were unable to start, but I still have several friends riding to keep an eye on!  One of our WTRDD riders, Lisa Preston is currently at 89th!  Go Lisa!   Bare Bones going on down in the Capitol Forest - the first time since it's inception that I've missed it.  The heat of course is a factor, not having a saddle ready is the other.
Rear of the panel~
Reactor Panel asked Tolklat to make fitted booties/pads for the panels.  Woolback on the bottom, with a Cordura top.  My saddle came with a used set to try & they seem to work great.  The best aspect is that they completely cover & protect the panels.  Once the break-in period is over, I plan to keep them on & start using the Supracore pad under - next to Farah.  Still love the way the Supracore performs.
Front of the Panel~
I couldn't get the Stowaway front pack in black, Riding Warehouse said the manufacturer is unable to get black fabric currently, so had to settle for brown :-(   Could not find it through any other source either...  It's almost more bag than I want - but that's the choice if you want to carry water bottles up front. 
Yes, brown trial fenders don't look good... Will replace with black.
There was more than enough room for the stuff I carry.  May order the streamlined version - if I can get it with a bottle holder on one side.  Bony Pony received my order from Tory yesterday.  Love the grab strap, the headstall crown piece has to be shortened - that will take a full week.  I returned the breast collar - holes were punched unevenly & just didn't like the "English" style. 

Spoke to Gail Hought just before she left for Tevis & if you can believe - she was out of black beta strap!  My reins - are special order, since I like 1".  I added a breast collar & running attachment.  Hope I don't have to wait forever for those.  It's a good thing we had our booth at the tack sale this spring & made enough money to cover all of this!
From the front~
I decided to insure the saddle too...  My insurance agent with State Farm, was able to offer me some comprehensive insurance at a reasonable price.  Call Andy @425-742-9304 - (tell him I sent you) if you would like more information.

Look forward to my next ride to see how all this works on the trail!