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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We Get Through!

Did someone say; "Warm"?  Well, it was!  The humidity was high too or felt so.  I was more than ready to saddle Farah up & go to see if I still had any trails left up on the hills behind us.
Our first obstacle~
 Our trail out from Pat's was somewhere under this pile.  With my hand pruners I managed to cut us around it - but have more work to do.
Final private yard~
 At the top of the hill, our neighbor here too, had been cutting trees & putting the limbs over where our trail goes along the edge of their yard.  We went between the tree limbs & the yard to get by.
"Our" trail~
 Once past the yard, we found our trail - as usual this time of year - no matter how much we'd had it cut back - new growth was in our faces.  I had my hand pruners out again - will have to hope that I can convince Butch to come up with the weed-whacker again.
 Our favorite section - that has stayed mostly open - was.  What a relief, we could even do some trotting!  I didn't want to spend too much time cutting - since I worried that the big fir might still be blocking our way out.
Cut out!
 Yippee!  I was so excited to see it cut away!  With it gone - chances were good that we'd make it to the power lines.
Farah notices!
 In the shade of the woods, it was really nice - once in a while a breeze would cool the sweat.
 Darn, a little blurry - but the Foxglove above was so pretty against all the green & growing in the shade along side our trail.  We got out on the power lines, then went north & did our loop through the little woods.
Seed heads at the wetland~
 Circling back, we stopped at the big wetland.  The water lily's are getting ready to bloom.  It's almost like visiting old friends when we stop here - especially since it had been a while.
Upper end~
 Farah consumed mass quantities of Reed Canary Grass - the cattails are holding their own along the edge.
Heading back~
 A refresher course was needed for Farah to remember that it takes a lot of  side-passing & halting for me to cut all the greenery out of our way & get us through :-)
Water in the Beaver Pond
 There were puddles of water on the trails & still a good level of water in the pond here.
From the top~
I could see the haze moving over when we were almost home.  The day seemed to warm up the longer we were out.  Even so - it felt so good to be in the saddle again!  We both enjoyed it!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sunshine & Torrential Rain~

I had a meeting in Shoreline this morning.  Not having driven down that way on my own - for years - I noticed plenty of changes.  Traffic was moving right along - no complaints there.  Afterward, it was still early enough - that I decided to stop at Alderwood Mall & visit Nordstroms.  Another place I hadn't been to in forever.  The parking lot was full, but when I saw someone leaving - I managed to get the space.  Nordstrom wonders why their sales are falling off?  Well, bringing in more quality clothing for their outrageous prices might help.  I was looking for a trench coat - I've needed one for several years - so was happy when I found a nice London Fog that should last me forever.
The sunshine in the city, followed me home.  I let Farah out into the pasture just as I saw a big dark cloud to our west.  By the time I'd returned to the house - the rain hit!  It was stunningly beautiful!  Not long after - Butch was pulling in the driveway - he said that everyone must have left town yesterday - it was one of his shortest commutes ever!
Climbing Hydrangea
All that rain made for an incredible evening!  The days are getting SO long!
Rascal in the pasture~
I was walking around taking photos - something I've not done much of around home lately - when I saw that Rascal was out for a walk too.
On the fly!
In the next instant - he's flying down the pasture as fast as he could go :-)  Or almost - when a white blur of motion enters the frame!
He was running for his life from the "Princess"!  :-)
Nika was running so fast - the length of her stride is twice Rascals!  :-)  Rascal squeezed under the fence & made his way back up to the house with Nika right behind.
Nika - looking so innocent :-)
Hard to believe that Nika had her fourth birthday on the 17th.  It seems the older I get, the faster the time goes...
The Cottage~
With all the pollen washed away by the rain, the air was so fresh & clean!  I'd just love it if the temperatures could moderate & stay in the 70's rather than jumping back up into the 80's - predicted for next week.
Circle of life~
Even with all the yard work that's stacking up - it's easy to just enjoy being alive this time of year!

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Our trip home was totally uneventful, the very best kind.  We stopped near Chehalis for a late lunch or early dinner.  Once home, Butch unloaded, then washed the truck, camper & trailer!  Later, the evening was so beautiful, we sat out with the dogs & enjoyed being home!

There were so many things that went right at this ride.  The biggest - we had Fun!  I needed to have fun!  Getting the opportunity to hang out with John & Diane was just the best!  The weather cooperated!  I kept my jacket with me most of the ride, thinking of the thunderstorm that we'd driven through on the way to camp!  One light rain was just enough to cut the dust on ride day. 
Diane & Connie
 Too much time goes by - way too fast - but when we do get the chance to catch-up, we do :-)  I do think that these two should move back up here - they'd have more opportunity to use the fireplace that was going most of the weekend!  :-)
Butch & John
I know that Diane would agree that we have two of the very best husbands around!  Without Butch's help - Farah & I wouldn't be able to do the rides the way we do.  I need time to re-coop & Farah loves it when she knows Butch is waiting for her.  I wasn't feeling quite up to the task at hand, but after planning & looking forward to the ride for so long - there was no way I wasn't going to give it my best effort.
The ride captured by my Garmin
 There were a couple of times when I forgot to shut the Garmin off when I was in camp, then forgot to turn it on until we were out of camp & I'd missed the vibration of another mile clicking over.  It really does make for an amazing view of the ride though!  Rides like this one, similar enough to the type of terrain we have at home, yet with miles of trails made for trotting are a horseman's dream.  I still miss Alpine - another ride that went on for years & was loved by everyone.
Farah mowing~
I almost went riding from home this week, I'm anxious to see if the big tree has been cut & hopeful that my access is still there.  Instead, I took it easy - something that I hardly ever do.  Farah has greeted me at her stall door each morning with a nice nicker.  She even put her cheek against mine & let me know that she really enjoyed herself.

We've the beach trip to look forward to & maybe another ride? :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Farah Wins Best Condition @ Mt. Adams 55-mile~

The morning of the ride! Butch was up ahead of me, feeding Farah & going down to watch John & Diane start in the 100.  I finished putting my stuff on the saddle & Butch returned to help saddle up.  Lounging is next - she likes to buck & stretch herself out.  I stepped into the stirrup & we walked down to the start area.  Many riders were already warming their horses up & the usual tension was in the air.
Waiting to go~
I was happy that Farah started grazing - but it wasn't long until she saw horses coming by heading - the old way to start.  This year it had been moved to the main road & we wouldn't loop around the top of camp, but cut across it.  Butch filmed the start.  Once the trail was open - Farah let loose with a small buck - nothing compared to last years antics.  I moved her forward - trying to avoid the other hyper horses.

With about six riders ahead of us, Farah was All business!  I was so proud of her!  A couple of the young FEI riders were in the lead - on the single track trail.  Within a mile or two, we were asking for trail & moved past along with Brittany on her gray mare & the lady on the paint.

By the time we'd reached the first Vet Check for the 100's - at ten-miles - Brittany had missed trail turns a couple times.  It was a busy place, but Max answered my query as to where the Snow King loop continued on, directly across from where we came in.  Farah - soon took the lead & missed the same turn as last year.  She realized her mistake as Brittany whipped onto the trail - cutting us off.  our first clue that it would be a horse race.
Coming into camp at 7:39 a.m.
To say that we were flying - would be an understatement...  Finishing the 15-mile loop faster than last year - one-hour 9 min.   Post~  Farah pulsed down just slightly slower, but ahead of the gray.  Butch vetted her through - with a different vet & had no issues with her kicking out.  We followed our usual routine & were ready to leave after the 30-min. hold.
8:14 & ready to leave~
To this point, the paint had been staying with us, but now dropped back.  Gotchen is my favorite loop - someday I'd like to come back when I have time to enjoy the scenery.  :-)  The burn area had changed, birds pecking holes in the burned trees, tops fallen to the ground & thanks to the great crew that did all the chain-saw clean-up!  With Brittany in the lead, we took a wrong turn & ran head on into a pile of slash.  No fun & I apologized for Farah being too close.  I'd been holding her back every stride & the two mares were as Brittany said;  "loving the competition".
9:43 a.m. - finished with Gotchen - at 31-miles
 Farah took just a couple minutes longer this time than the gray, to pulse down.  She also wasn't drinking as much as I expect her too - but again vetted with all A's - except a B in gut - which was up from a B- the first loop.  I told Butch that I was not going to head back out unless she was totally eating & drinking normally, which he assured me she was!
10:37 a.m. We leave on Ghost Loop~
I didn't know it, but our in/out times were very close to the timeline we'd established in last years ride.  I'd seen Brittany go galloping out a couple minutes before - but was actually glad.  The weather was really changeable, from cold to drizzle, some wind, to sunshine that warmed things up in seconds.  It seemed very humid too & I wasn't comfortable with the two-horse race.

Since this is the loop with the short steep climbs - I new Farah would do well.  We dropped back to a pace that was comfortable for us both & just kept on truckin'.  We did start running into the 30-mile riders again - I'd ask for trail & most riders were so courteous.  Farah took a couple of the hills with leaps so smooth - her athleticism is just amazing.  I swear she used less energy bounding up - than if I'd asked her to take it slower.  When we'd stop for water or to leave our number with a radio operator - she would listen to see if anyone was coming up behind us :-)  If they had been, I'm sure our little 8.9 to 9.5 trot would have zipped right back up into the double digits :-)  For being on our own - no competition that Farah was aware of - she was just motoring right along.
12:13 p.m. 45-miles gone - we return from Ghost!
Both of us were feeling just fine at this point.  (Just minutes different from last year.)  Farah still not drinking as much as I would have liked - but as Butch kept reminding me - it was substantially cooler than in other years & her vet scores had stayed consistently  A's.
12:50 p.m. Morrison - 10-miles to go!
Farah was not happy to that we were leaving on our own...  I felt sorry for her - since she does enjoy a race so much :-)  But, I was happy that we had not seen the front-runner again & hadn't attempted to catch her.  (I had a plan in the back of my mind :-)  I knew we'd probably opened a decent gap behind us & the rest of the riders - from our morning speed - so when Butch again sent us off with;  "Get out there & don't waste any time"...  That's what we did.

We both know Morrison loop well by now & just cruised along.  I hadn't taken my stick, just didn't want to use it & as I watched my heart monitor show such low lackadaisical readings, I thought maybe I should have :-)  As we got to the last water tank, we met Tani & a friend heading out.  I asked Tani how many 55-mile riders were in front of us & she said;  "No one"!  "Get OUT of here!"  :-)
2:05 p.m. We Finish!
There were so many riders in front of us as we came around the edge of camp.  Even so, I kept up the trot until we were closer.  Butch tried to video our finish - but his camera didn't record.  Our ride time was probably about 30-min slower than last years - but Farah was totally cool & dry.  She felt like we could have gone on forever.

John & Diane were there to see me finish - help with tack & guide me to the scale.  Butch took Farah back to camp & started cleaning her up.  John offered to show Farah for BC & Butch gratefully accepted :-)  He'd had his hands full keeping Mike happy with a supply of red ribbons - though all the other Vets had had no issues at all...
3:05 p.m. John takes Farah~
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to video John's trot-out with Farah.  He did a super job & the gold girl I'm sure was surprised that a human can run that fast!  :-)  It was pretty thrilling for me to see her look so beautiful & trot so sound after our fast 55-miles.
Farah with John~
It was too bad that we didn't have room to do the final trot out in the big grassy field.  Instead, John was asked to use the space across the road & into the pulse/crew area.  Certainly not ideal but he made it look positively easy!
Wowing the onlookers :-)
Her scores were wonderful, she looked amazing & I felt like I'd accomplished my goal of finishing with a healthy, happy horse!  As I've said many times - anything beyond that is the frosting on the cake.  On this day - mine was chocolate!  :-)
Sunday morning, at the ride meeting, I was thrilled when it was announced that Farah had won Best Condition!
American Gothic - Endurance Style!
Butch tells me that he'll hang the pitch fork we received for our award - in a place of honor in the barn.  A good friend - known for her sewing talents - has offered to make something for Farah - to commemorate our accomplishment. :-)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Mt. Adams - Pre-ride~

Frosty morning!  Very!  Cold, crisp fresh air & sunshine again!  Such an incredible place to enjoy such a day.  It wasn't long before we'd saddled up & were riding out to check the trails~
Through camp~
The start had been changed, to go right through the middle of camp - so that's the way we went.  With all the moisture, I was amazed at how dusty the roads in camp were.
On our way~
It's hard to believe the number of years that have gone by since I was on a trail with these two!  We wanted to see the trail markings to the north & to the south.  John soon left us - he'd already been out, so Diane & I continued on.  We rode the three-miles to the first water tank, then a little further.  Last year there had been many wildflowers blooming in the woods.  This season I really didn't see any - except of course the dogwood trees in full flower.
Diane & Titan check out the map~
Soon, we found out that the trails were dusty too, but such soft footing feels so nice when you've been used to rock logging roads.  We had to check out the big tree :-)
At the Big Ponderosa Pine
It was hard to have to turn back, but it was getting close to lunch.  The plan was to get registered early & try to get through the pre-ride vetting before the lines got too long. Well, of course we weren't the only ones with that idea :-)
Registration line~
 I had sent my paperwork in early, but there was only one line.  It was really no surprise how quickly we moved forward.  Anna - as usual had things totally under control!  It was going to be a huge ride, there were more rigs already in on Thursday, than there usually are on Friday!  It seemed there were so many new faces that we didn't recognize.  Always fun to catch up with old friends we only see at rides.  Since we go so seldom - there's always lots of news :-)
Butch trots Farah~
I'd brushed Farah & she was in her usual rare form for the trot-out!  Butch had his hands full!  It's a good thing that he feeds her - because she looked ready to rip!  She was so excited to be here - she knows that it's the place that she gets to GO!
Coming back~
No lack of impulsion!  She also didn't like the way Mike had approached her & kicked out!  That had never happened before & we didn't like it at all.  No excuse for bad behavior.  She pulsed in low & had her usual A's.  Mike said that he wanted a red ribbon in her tail~

More socializing - then back to our camp for dinner & bed.  I was concerned that the new pad would stay in place & hopeful that we wouldn't be riding in rain!   Trying new?  At a ride?  No, I haven't learned that yet :-)   
To be Continued~  Next - Ride Day!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

RoadTrip to Mt. Adams~

It's a good story, so as with any good story, I'll start at the beginning~
405 South Bound
It really doesn't matter when you leave, unless you want to head out about 4 a.m.  We left home about 8:30 - made one stop & were on the road by 9 a.m.
Pouring Rain~
The weather didn't improve as we drove south...  Diane & John were driving up from CA - they'd made a stop-over in OR.  We were texting back & forth - our timing was almost perfect - by the time we made the turn onto Hwy 84, they were only 20 min. ahead of us!  Of course - anyone who's made the drive to the Mt. Adams ride camp - knows whats coming next!
The Bridge~
Butch waited for a Semi to get across before we started over...
The expanse of the Columbia~
You do get the breath-taking views of the river, right out your window...  It's a narrow bridge & it does flex in the wind!
Past mid-span
Once you're past the middle, you start to think that you're actually going to make it over :-)  Sweet relief!  Not long after, we pulled into ride camp to find that we already had neighbors!
Titan & Fonzi
At least they added a touch of class to the hillside :-)   The sunshine was so welcome, after the wet drive down & listening to the dire weather forecast!
Farah in her pen~
Farah instantly recognized her friends from our visit to Diane's last spring, when Patty & I had been on our way home from the Southern, CA trip.  She checked out each horse & still seemed to like Fonzi the best :-)
Close to our usual spot~
 It's so nice to get to camp a day early.  Just over a six-hour drive down, we still had daylight to get set-up & enjoy the evening.  Diane & John took the horses out for a spin.
Diane & Titan, Fonzi & John on Justice
We took the dogs for a walk around the valley & admired the snow on the mountain.  Just a beautiful evening that soon turned really cold!
Mt. Adams~
 By time for bed, Farah had her winter blanket on & I was so glad I'd brought our heavy comforter!  Morning was frosty- probably low 30's & it felt cold until the sun warmed things up!  Nice to think that we had another full day before the ride!
To be Continued~