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

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Out From Home~

I use the above title for a tag, but I guess I've never used it for a post.  If I'd had more common sense - I would have broken my routine & left earlier this morning.  The high clouds kept the morning nice & cool.  Instead - it was after lunch & warming up.
Time to hay~
Going through Pat's, I got a peek at the the new little guy - it was his lunch time too - so just a glimpse.  I'll have to to go back for a formal introduction & to get some photos of my own :-)  It's been a long time since there's been a new foal at Pat's.
Connector Trail~
Once we were through the final yard & onto our little trail that connects to the main trails above, it was obvious that Summer is here & the usual early July weed-whacking needs to be done.  I cut the worst of the long blackberry runners that were in our faces.
Beginning of the end~
Getting out the end was difficult - the bulldozer had broken down the small Alder & left the raw ends sticking up over 2 ft. tall.  Others were laying across the trail.  Farah did a great job of picking her way through without getting stabbed.
All the Alder that had almost closed the "trail" are bulldozed now~
At least they'll be no more of us having to saw & prune the Alder through here...
To the pretty trails~
It was a relief to cross the creek & get past the outflow of the wetland & up onto the wooded trails.  So much cooler up here too.
North on the Power Lines~
All the mowing that had been done earlier this spring, really did a number on the Salmonberries.  They were cut so low that it gave the grasses a chance to grow.
The patch of Fireweed that I enjoy so much - survived, it's up on a little hill - away from the lines & near what's left of a good sized patch of woods.
Trail down to the creek~
I didn't have time to go out  farther - though we both wanted to.  Farah was being so very good, moving very nice too - after the ordeal of getting her toes shortened.  (More on that later.)
Mossy Woods~
We looped through the mossy woods, I love the moss hanging from the branches.  A remnant of how this whole area used to look.
The big wetland looked great, water still flowing across the road.  The daisies were blooming everywhere & looked so pretty with the white Foxglove.
At the top of the hill home~
Farah could hear the neighbor's tractor.  I usually walk her down the steep hill & decided to today.  From cut grass to bales of grass hay!  This is one of the nicest fields in our area.
 As we were walking by, one of the bales fell over & Farah jumped 10-feet into the air & almost took me out.  Another reason that I usually wear my helmet even when I'm on foot on paving.  There was the time...  A story for another day.

Depending on what happens between my access trail & the top - will be the deciding factor as to whether I'll be able to continue to ride on the trails I've used for twenty-five years now.  Most are gone - but just to be able to reach the power lines & go a little from there has been so good - for so long...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

CHC - Cinnamon Roll Ride Weekend~

We'd planned to help out at the Cascade Horse Club annual Cinnamon Roll/Breakfast Ride.   Butch made it home Friday afternoon in just over an hour - one of his shortest commutes from Bellevue ever!  We were loaded up & pulled up to the Armstrong tree farm gate, by about 7:30.  With Summer's long days - we had plenty of time to set up our camp.
Farah picking grass out of the Buttercup~
The field by the shelter hadn't been mowed & the grass was very wet from all the rain.  Butch reminded me that years ago, when we had Competitive Trail Rides from here - George used to come in & mow it down.
Just a "reminder" :-)
 That same tall grass - made it a lot more difficult to pick up after the horses too!  All weekend, we were so impressed with our members going above & beyond to keep the area clean!  It was such a beautiful evening, everyone enjoyed the quiet.
Cinnamon Rolls!

Saturday morning, we were up early!  Butch making coffee by the pot full & plenty of Cinnamon Rolls from probably close, to every bakery in the area.  Even the Maltby Cafe was represented.  Several more rigs came pulling in early - ready to enjoy a roll & a ride on a perfect day!  Not too hot, with a nice breeze.
Ready to go enjoy the trails~
Rider's didn't waste any time saddling up - after all - we had all those calories to work off!  Farah got excited - thinking that it must be an Endurance Ride?  It didn't take her long to figure out that it was much more low key :-)  Scott came in with Rico, so the two of us headed out for a ride.  Farah thinks Rico is handsome, the two of them got on well & Rico has such a nice walk!
Farah & Connie, Scott & Rico
 We went out the long way, I told Scott that there was an obstacle that he might want to try :-)
Scott & Rico at Tin Bridge
Rico didn't think he needed to be the first horse, as Farah walked past him & headed across.   We stopped to let the horses graze at Cloverdale.  Returning, Rico lead the way without a pause in his stride.
Our return, Farah sees Butch~
In the afternoon, we all sat around swapping stories, talking horses & snacking.  With a pot-luck dinner planned for the evening - no one was interested in much for lunch.  By mid-afternoon, I was ready to saddle up, along with several other riders.
We watch & get some dirty looks from the mares :-)
 I thought about riding out with these ladies, but all were mounted on mares who are pastured together.  It became obvious in short order that a nice ride would be pretty much impossible if we added Farah to the mix.
Away we go~
At least - leaving from the middle of the tree farm gave us the opportunity to ride some trails that I usually don't when we're making a loop from the Bracken parking.  As we turned north - the sound of gunfire got louder & I decided that I didn't want to risk a stray bullet - by riding any closer to where homes abut the tree farm property.
Reed Canary Grass - yum!
For whatever reason, Farah was higher than a kite.  Of course it was close to her usual dinner time & the gunfire put me on edge, so we stopped for a while for her to graze before heading back.  I was really enjoying the long rays of sun - so late in the afternoon.
On the trail~
By the time we returned, ovens were on & the smell of food filled the air!  
Dinner is served!
 To say that we had plenty to eat would be a terrible understatement!  The camaraderie of this group is really first rate!  Everyone enjoyed meeting new members & getting re-acquainted with others.  We ended the evening sitting around a small portable fire-pit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


With the new skills we learned at Russell's clinic, it was time to head out on the trails & put them to use.  Riding is an addiction that I've had for so long now...  Just spending time outside - in the woods, or wild places - is something I've craved & enjoyed since childhood.  Thing is - I'm at a point in life - where I don't want or need the worry of getting thrown.  Some would say - that's in direct opposition to my enjoyment of a faster pace than what's the norm for a reasonable trail ride.  Whether Farah has learned from me - or whether we both enjoy the same thing?  Who knows...    
Getting a drink in Harvey Creek
We've been a good team for a long while now - but as with all things - there's always room for improvement.  Taking Russell's words to heart - my new goal - is to spend however much time it takes to fix those small things that can & do - crop up over time.    With several trailers at Bracken, we didn't see anyone at all.  Crushed rock has been added near the hitching posts & by the sign.  The blackberries have been cut back too - all nice improvements!
White foxglove against the forest greens~
We took the long way around the south end of the tree farm.  The trails there are still muddy in spots, the little bridge is repaired.  With our upcoming Cascade Horse Club - Cinnamon Roll ride this weekend - the trails overall -are really in great condition.
Red Elderberry "curtain"~
The berries are weighing the branches down, more pruning :-)  I even had my first taste of our native blackberries!  They're getting ripe!  If Farah made any move toward a shy - I'd move her rear to the left, then to the right - then we'd move on.  We also worked on leg yields, one side of the trail to the other.  I tried to not use the reins at all & it didn't take her long to understand. 
Green Valley~
She was relaxed today, I could see it in her eye & so was I.  Such a beautiful day - mid-70's & a really nice breeze that kept most of the bugs away.  I'd sprayed her, but not myself.
Survey done~
Russ had mentioned at our last meeting that the survey work was finally done at Cloverdale.  The evidence was clear.  He also told us that this section will be the last to get completed :-(  I was so disappointed to hear this, but Butch reminded me that scheduling all the work over almost 30-miles of trail is not an easy task.  We're still looking at a completion date in 2017 - years ahead of the original schedule.
Farah at lunch~
Some mowing had been done around the picnic table, I sat in the shade of the tree.  Grazing near me, Farah raised her head - looked at me - then purposely walked over to the tall grass & grazed there. 
Heading back over Tin Bridge~
Water levels in the North Fork of the Stillaquamish - are whats become the new normal for this time of year.  Nice to see water flowing - there had been tiny fish swimming in Harvey Creek.

The first time we'd passed the stock tank, I'd noticed that the drainage hole was plugged & the water dirty...  On our way back, I tied Farah up & decided that I could try to empty it.  I did get it lifted & dumped out - what a mess.  The slime had clogged the hole.  I broke off some Salal leaves & started scrubbing.
It took a while, I'd add a little water, scrub - dump that & start again.  The leaves actually worked pretty well! I'd love to see some rock added around this area too.
By the time I was done, Farah was standing bored.  I asked her to walk through all the standing water - she put her nose down - you'd have thought it was a raging river - then walked through :-)

We were overdue to head home, but took a couple more trails on our way.  Rounding a wooded corner - three beautiful doves took flight right in front of us.
Our ride home~
I didn't like seeing the Bronco as the last rig at this parking area!  So many break-in's continue to happen.  A friend told me that after Bridal Trails installed a video camera & signage the break-in's there went to zero.  I wish something like that could be done here...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Russell Beatty Clinic~

Last week we met Scott & Karen - newest members of our Back Country Horseman, Cascade Horse Club Chapter.  They mentioned that they were hosting a clinic with Russell Beatty.  Russell was one of the trainers that participated in the Colt Starting Challenge at ButlerHill Equestrian in Burlington.  With our little incident last week - where I unhappily hit the dirt - I thought the timing was right for a refresher course.
Clinic Flyer
The first day I audited, impressed with what I saw.  Russell was so quiet & low key in his manner - I felt totally at ease.  He takes the time that each horse may need to work through whatever issues crop up.  The facility itself was first rate & I felt very welcome.
Farah with Russell
 Tuesday, Farah came with me!  In the morning - everyone worked in-hand.  I turned Farah over to Russell & it wasn't long before our weak spots were revealed.  Farah was very reactive.  I didn't take video of the morning session, but by afternoon - she was much better!

The zig-zag obstacle was Great!  We're going to set one of these up at home.  What a super tool for teaching a horse to move the parts of their body.  Farah has done this type of thing before over the years, but it was obvious that we don't do enough.
 Russel rode her in the afternoon, she had so much difficulty moving her rear, but once she understood what was expected - her attitude changed.  By the time the other horses had their turns, Russell again took her through backing up.  She did a beautiful job & was so relaxed it was a pleasure to watch her as she thought her way through.  As they finished the obstacle, everyone applauded & Farah looked so pleased :-)
Farah & Russell
We were told more than once, that when working with our horses, to take all the time that they need, to never try to rush & keep low key, relaxed & reasonable.
By the end of the day, rather than the usual;  I'm done & I want out-of-here!  Farah has exhibited at past clinics, she was totally relaxed, calm & really seemed to have enjoyed the day.  I know I did!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Not If... When~

When I arrived at the Victoria parking about noon - it was full!  Just enough space for me to pull in between to other trailers.  Several riders were there I knew - Charlotte was kind enough to come over & say; "hi".  Overcast - with big thunderheads rolling by overhead - I put my jacket on the back of the saddle.
Foxglove & daisy's
We were only a mile out when Farah stopped - I couldn't see a thing & she moved on without urging.  Shortly after that, two deer appeared then disappeared into the woods.  We were staying on the roads, I wanted to move out & was short on time, with a Centennial Trail meeting at 5:30 in Snohomish.

About to reach the bottom of Fast Trail - without any warning - I was thrown!  Farah had suddenly gone into a violent spin & nothing was keeping me topside!  I'd grabbed mane - which allowed me to stay on her side until the edge of the road came up - which is where I hit - hard!  First my lower back, then my left shoulder & finally - the side of my head with a dull thud!  Farah ripped the last of the rein from my hand & took off at a trot back the way we'd come.

Realizing that nothing was broken, just blood dripping from a gouge in my hand - I crawled to my feet & called her name.  She stopped & waited for me to come up.  Once I had her - I was Furious!  She knew it - as I yelled & screamed at her - she took it with a look of stoic intensity.  I called Butch - told him I was in one piece & that HIS horse was in Big trouble!
Gee Mom...
I'd remounted & gone a short way when I realized I'd lost my sunglasses.  Dismounting - I started back down the road kicking at the low growing weeds trying to find them - when suddenly Farah blew herself up & stared at the woods!  In the next instant I heard a distinctive, loud but low huffing!  Branches breaking - the unmistakable sound of a large bear coming our way!  OK!  Forget the glasses!  I mounted fast & we booked it out of there!  Our last visit from the Bear cubs~
Mt. Baldy with rain moving in~
Once through Fast Trail - now almost totally overgrown, we galloped to the top of the mountain - a few raindrops falling by now.
Stunningly beautiful~
By the time we came out at the Monument - the sun appeared.
Olympics & Sound
I was still pretty shook, sitting down to eat my grapes, a bike rider appeared.  Holly asked me;  "What happened to you?"  I looked at her?  How did she know anything had "happened"?  She said;  "You're back is covered with dirt!"  Oh!  I told her my story - it was nice to have her company.
On our way down~
Starting back, the sun-breaks would come & go.  I missed my sunglasses - my favorite pair :-(
Mt. Baldy again~
There's something about the way the storms hug the Cascades through here - that I always find somewhat mesmerizing...
Sun & showers
Ever changing - fascinating - a landscape that I could watch for hours on end.  We got back to the trail-head in one piece.  As usual, ours was the last trailer in the lot.
Our ride home~
Dismounting - the stiffness hit...
My helmet - not quite "fine" but OK!
Just a scuff mark...
Back of my vest~
I had to rush to get ready for the meeting, Butch drove us to Russ's office at Willis Tucker.   We had our usual full agenda, but Duane didn't make the meeting - as representative for the tree farms - the largest of our adjoining landowners.  After hearing my story - everyone agreed that it was a shame he wasn't present - since he needs to be reminded to keep his Bears under better control!  :-)
Where Mr. Bear found us~
A good ride is one where you can ride &/or walk away - I do think my helmet helped with that!