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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Squeezing in a Dry Ride!

Bracken Road
I'd planned to ride with Lynn, we were both hoping for decent weather, since she was kind enough to offer to drive up my way for the day.  Early rain dampened my hopes, but within a short time, the clouds parted & sun appeared! 

Arriving early at the parking - there was plenty of space open with only two other rigs there.  Walking out of the PP, always my first stop...  I was just in time to see a truck with camper & trailer, narrowly missing the corner of my trailer - with Farah still inside.  The vehicle stopped & driver appeared.  I knew the driver, but doubt she remembered me.  I spoke to her by name & said;  "M, I guess you don't want me to use my tack room or tie my mare to my trailer?"   She said;  "Aren't you leaving?"  My response;  "No, just arrived."  To which she responded;  "Well then, you can just tie up to my trailer."  Somehow - that just didn't work for me.  I love my little "around-town" Bronco & small horse trailer!  I just got back in, made a small circle & parked a 100 ft. further up the parking lot.  Still amazed me that anyone could be so rude.

Lynn arrived & we were in the saddle shortly after noon.  With me "leading" - don't start laughing!!!  I know those of you who know me well, know full well that I have no sense of direction.  It had been months since I'd ridden these trails, but Lynn is a trusting soul!  :-)
By 3 in the afternoon, the clouds covered the sky~
 Farah was so full of herself that she threatened to buck again, so I took the lead & put her onto a technical trail that would occupy her mind!  Once we were moving out, she settled down.  The trails were in better shape than I would have expected considering the heavy use this area gets now - but there were only a few mud bogs to navigate. 

On the way "back" Lynn wanted to try Sophie's built-in navigation system, which took us on a wonderful loop - but not "back".  :-)  We ended our ride with just over 13-miles, mostly at a good walk with a little trot.  I was very happy with Farah this ride.  She actually collected up, moved into a western jog trot, smoothest ever when I asked her to to back off a fast trot!  Going into the mud, or over an obstacle - I released rein as we'd practiced with Mark Bolender & she negotiated them perfectly without her usual rush at the end.  We had more than one moment of brilliance & I got the feeling that she enjoyed our ride as much as I did!  I Love it when she comes home happy. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another Training Day~

Today both Sandra & I felt that Farah is making progress.  Though we only get up there once a week, Farah is remembering, paying attention & building on what she'd learned.  Last week when I had her out on the trail, I felt that she was listening & paying more attention to me.  That's always a good sign.

As Sandra works with her - she is understanding what it is that we're asking & doing her best to get it done!  As with so many horses, when the speed goes up, the anxiety level rises too.  When Farah starts lifting her head & trying to get away from the bit, Sandra backs off, slows her down & asks for the head.  Once Farah complies, away they go again.

I'm hopeful of getting out on the trail in the next couple days & working with her there too!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Around we Go!

Our loop today
 Today I rode with my Fish Creek friends.  It was wet, it was cold & it did rain - but we really didn't care much - since the idea was to get OUT before the next big storm that is forecast for tonight & tomorrow.  Patty had her new mare, going for only her fourth or fifth trail ride!  What a good girl she was.  I took my turn being Patty's trail buddy, as the others were wanting a fast loop to condition up for the first endurance ride of the season.

Farah is pretty much there - she's been working all through the winter & it takes a while for her to even break a sweat.  We are working on "coming back" a bit - so the combination of new trail mare & second season mare worked out just fine :-)  Farah got a little impatient - but once she figured out that it was going to be a "no-hurry" kind of ride, she settled down nicely - especially since we hadn't gotten out to the trails this week.

When the others caught us a couple miles from the trailers, Dean took over riding with Patty & I got in a short trot with Dory & Linda.  Once at the trail head, I turned Farah around & she had a nice gallop back find Patty & Dean.  I was tempted to go out on my own & do another loop - but I'd had enough of the cold & the weather was only getting more miserable...

I forgot to turn off the GPS, so recorded a top speed of 55 mph!  Yippee!  Not!  Pains me when I forget & goof up my stats for the ride - but at least it's recorded so I can log it in my Distance Derby miles!  Speaking of the DD - I got in just before the cut-off date the end of January!  I lost my January miles, but even so, am starting to move up in the ranks.  We'll see how my miles hold up against riders from across the country.  Fun stuff :-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bolender Horse Park - Day 2

Farah remembers!
Sunday started with a short "Cowboy Service" by Mark.  A nice way to start the day, enjoyed by all.  After some work in the arena under saddle & over obstacles we headed outside into what was to be a beautiful afternoon.
Katie rides Farah through the water~
The "issue" was dropping back in!
With Mark & Checkers
Mark put Farah back on a lead & helped Katie put her back in the water from a lower point on the edge.   Farah finally enters again -
She exits even faster!
Not what Mark wanted, she was asked to do it again!
With a snarl from Checkers - a controlled entry :-)
I was so appreciative of Katie's riding!  She'd asked to ride Farah - so I picked a "golden moment" to put her in the saddle :-)
The suspension bridge was no problem :-)
 I mounted up for the rest of the course.  In photos this course looks very reasonable, but when you're in the saddle, heading down a steep downhill & Mark says;  "Give her the reins!" I had a hard time turning them loose!
Heading down!
After Farah rushed it & took off at the bottom, which is something that she tends to do...  Mark blocked her with Checkers & our next try - with loose reins - was much better :-)
Over the bridge~
 Other obstacles were "easy" for us, thankfully.  We were all so absorbed in our horses & what Mark was teaching us - that by the time anyone even looked up - it was past three in the afternoon!  We'd started at ten in the morning!

Without doubt I find this new discipline challenging!  It really shows you what weaknesses you have & where your strength's lie.  The goal of completing this kind of course as a competitor & scoring well - has been added to my bucket list!  We'll go back!

Bolender Horse Park! - Day 1

Farah & Connie, end of our second day~
When you're lucky enough to meet Great people, who own & operate a Super facility & plan a weekend for their guests as good as ours was...  it makes for many happy memories!

When our Sno-King Saddle Up group posted a meet-up at Bolender Horse Park for Valentine's Weekend, we made our reservation.  We usually plan a trip this time of year, it's our mutual birthday weekend & February can surprise us with decent weather.  I first heard about Mark Bolender & Mountain & Extreme Trail Courses from a friend.  When we pulled into the beautiful facility on Fri. afternoon, we were met by two interns who directed us to parking & had a stall ready for Farah!  We soon met-up with Leigh & her husband Jeff who had already managed to get a recommendation for what I think must have been the best restaurant in the area for dinner!  Yes!  Our kind of people!  I'd told Heather & George about the clinic - so they'd come too!  We all turned in pretty early, excited to get started on Sat.

Mark & Lee could not have been more welcoming.  On Sat. morning after we'd had breakfast, we met in the arena.  Mark gave us an overview of his plan for the weekend.  His low key, easy going attitude put everyone - including our horses at ease!  There were obstacles set up in the arena & we were to work our horses in-hand - learning to "send" them through the obstacles.
Mark explaining our goals for the day~
There have been many times in my years of riding when I felt like the obstacles we managed to clear were "extreme" - so I was really excited to get out on the course & see how Farah would do.  She was probably one of the younger & less experienced horses.
Mark taking Farah through the first of the obstacles~
Once outside, Mark asked me to send Farah through the first obstacle.  She evaded...  my intent was not clear enough!  He took her lead & she did exactly as he directed the FIRST time.  He handed the lead to me & she did it for me!  Yippee!

Farah Loved the teeter/totter!
I could not believe how easily Farah did the teeter/totter!  No problem!  Both directions & even turning a 180 in the middle!
She rushed the suspension bridge, but soon accepted it easily!
We had so much fun & did so much that it would take a book just to cover what we learned about ourselves & our horses on this day!  From the more experienced riders to we amateurs - everyone went away with a huge feeling of accomplishment!

That was far from the end of our day though - while we'd all be busy out on the course, Lee had been busy setting up for our "Valentine's Dinner"!  How nice, to clean-up, sit down & enjoy the company of some really special people.
Super way to end a Super Day!
We were all excited for the next day & riding our horses on the course!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Horse of a different color~

Khari & Connie at Blanchard
How quickly things change - or at least it seems quick in retrospect...  Last year at this time I was riding a lot, only it wasn't Farah - it was Khari.  I'd decided to get her sold & the best way to do it was to continue to put on the miles & get her as fit as I knew how - ready to move up to the 100-mile rides that I had no ambition to do.  It wasn't until she was sold in June that I had the time to really concentrate on Farah.  I'm always impressed & amazed by people who have several horses & find time to work them all! 

After our lesson today with Sandra, I think both Farah & I had brain fade!  :-)  Finding out that it's not just one cue that alerts your mount to your wishes - it is - I'm learning, a combination of cues that tells Farah what it is that I'm asking her to do.   At least, when I manage to cue correctly & avoid the bad habits that I am working very hard at unlearning!  Farah is willing, tries very hard & does her best.  Her best is much better when it's Sandra doing the riding!  When I'm on-board - we have moments of feeling everything right & that's motivational - at least for me.

Jentry brought the girls up to meet me & Skyla wanted to ride.  Without much adieu I lifted her up & Jentry spotted from the off-side.  Farah - more than happy to be done with her lesson - walked off with her swinging "I'm going somewhere" gait & Skyla was on her way!  She glanced back once at her mother - a HUGE smile on her face!   Not one to give up easily - I'm still hopeful that at least one granddaughter will want to do some riding as she gets a little older! :-)

As a side note - after years of riding grays - I'm SO Happy to have COLOR!  :-)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Return to the SVT~

Our Route & Stats
It was a cool & cloudy morning, but no rain & people were out & walking this very nice trail "linear" park.  Heather & Rafik were our riding partners today & we both enjoyed their company!  Rafik & Farah are almost the same age, seem to get along well & their paces are well matched.

We started moving right out, had some of the "usual" spooks when the ducks flew up off a wetland & the garbage truck caught us off guard at the edge of town :-)  Otherwise we made good time.
At the Tolt River
Once at the Tolt, we took a short break, the horses had a drink & we explored a little way east on a trail that seems to go along the river.  I'd like to check with the locals to see how far this trail might go?  Would be a great ride for a longer day.
Connie & Farah at the river~
Once we turned back for the return trip, the pace went up :-)  I let Farah loose once & she quickly moved from her 12 mph extended trot, up to & over 14 mph. before the highway crossing came up.   I love riding that trot!   We did the round-trip in under three hours - including two of our three stops.

Great ride, fun day - afterward we stopped to see those Duvall Grand-kids!  I enjoyed a hot cup of tea, Farah a BIG apple! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


We did go to "school" again this week!  I had plenty of excuses to not trailer out over the past couple weeks of not so nice weather...  Slick roads being my primary concern.  Another - was feeling a bit overwhelmed at what I don't know & need to learn...
I had a good discussion with Sandra regarding my somewhat overblown goal of jumping right in to Cowboy Dressage.   Instead, I first have commit to spending some time practicing!  So, we worked on some things that I can work on at home.  Sandra explained that just 30-min. a day would produce some of the reward - that I'm looking for. 
As I rode & as I watched Sandra ride, my inspiration returned.  Seeing how nice Farah looks gives me the motivation to really try to spend that time.  After all, it's the journey & if it's a longer journey than I expected - so what?  Don't they all begin with the first steps?    

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Dance!

If you look~
OK, the sun came out!  It was warm!  I could not do anything but saddle up & ride!  Since the trailer wasn't hitched, decided to ride from home & make another attempt to find the old trails that used to get us over to Paramount Stables on 99th. 

I saw tracks from ATV's & tried to follow them.  I knew they had to be coming onto "my" east side, from somewhere to the west of the power lines.  I checked every opening into the trees that looked like it might possibly become a trail & finally...  Success!
Green, Very Green!
It was absolutely beautiful with the trees covered with hanging moss.  The trail was rough, but nothing a good horse couldn't get through :-)
More hanging moss~
Once we came out of this trail, I finally reconized what we called the "big downhill" which it was then & still is.  Down, down to the creek & old rotted bridge - that had been rotted then.
Old Bridge
 Once across the creek, I was in for a surprise!  Someone had been working on the trails, opening them up & doing some grading.  Trails & more trails - some I'd never seen!  We just kept going & going.  Finally at 8-miles - we came to a gate.
Ben's House
Dogs started barking & a man came out.  Ben introduced himself & professed his surprise in seeing a horse & rider!  He filled me in on what had been happening with the 600 acres that are still - amazingly enough - undeveloped.  It was supposed to all go to houses, but with the economy - just has not materialized - yet.  Ben was the one working with his tractor to open some of the trails & do some repair at the crossing by a large pond.

There were plenty of other paths that we could have taken, but it was getting late & time to start for home.  It was dark when we got to our gate & found Butch home!  Farah was Very happy to have arrived back in time for her dinner!  I was thrilled to find more miles - several more than I'd hoped & more to explore!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sometimes I feel like...

Farah in the fog~
The Lone Ranger...  The best laid plans to ride with others - seem to go astray...  There were plans made to ride with two friends, but they were coming up together & the truck that had the job - had an issue...  So - since I was already on my way - drove on up to Victoria.  The fog was THICK!  Actually glad that my friends didn't make the drive, as it would have been disappointing - if they'd expected to see the views.
In case you haven't seen one of these...
Bet you're surprised to see these!  They must be a "new" kind of horse trailer!  They were parked in the horse trailer parking, which is what the yellow sign that they're parked by - says...  The ONLY place I know of where there is actually designated "Horse Trailer" parking & these cars take up two spots, then - another was parked at the far end.  As I was getting ready to leave, yet another car pulled in.  I said;  "Don't park there!"  They said;  "Where are we to park then?"  I replied;  "Just as the signs say, along the edge of the road!"  Unreal...  Are they blind, dumb or just really stupid?

Since the tree farm has been open for people to come up & cut wood, the beer cans are starting to outnumber the trees!  The mud on the logging roads is getting worse than any mud that the horses might make on the closed trails...
More logging...
On the trail to the Monument we were shocked to find that the far side of the trail had been clear-cut!  In the fog & with the change of landscape - it was almost easy to forget that I was actually on a trail that I know well...  
No way around this - chain saw time...
I did see a lot of hoof prints, so someone has been doing some riding.  No trail clearing though, because the climb to the top was blocked with a fresh downfall.  The temperature was in the mid-40's, but with the fog it felt much colder.

Was happy that Farah is back to acting like herself & not a crazy horse!  She was perfect, great trot, nice canter & we had fun.  I feel very lucky to have a mare that is as happy out on her own as she is with a group.  Have got to get Linda back in the saddle!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Seattle Great Wheel~

We're Ready!
It was just a spectacular day!  I think everyone living in Western, WA was more than ready for a taste of "Spring"!  Grandson Ben & I drove down to tour Butch's work site south of Seattle.  On the way home, we decided to have dinner on the Waterfront & what could possibly be there that we might want to see?  The "Great Wheel"!
A interesting sight against a sunset sky~
OK...  Ben & Butch wanted to take a ride on the wheel!  Me - I wasn't so sure, it's a long ways up there & I'm not much on amusement park rides...  But - they talked me into it!  :-)  There wasn't much of a line, we had a car to ourselves.
Leaving the dock!
The views were breathtaking!
Ferry docks & Port of Seattle
We enjoyed every minute of the ride - which was decent in length.  By the time we disembarked, it was time to go to dinner!  Yum!
Our long-standing favorite!
After too much yummy dinner, it was time to head home.
Final view of the Wheel
We picked up coffee at Starbucks for the ride home, then headed over to where we'd parked the Bronco, off Elliott Ave. & Butch's truck - in a pay-to-park lot just behind.  Ben & I were waiting to pull out when Butch called to tell us he was delayed...  his truck had been broken into...  He' found it locked, but with the drivers side lock missing!  It had been popped out slick as it could have been.  When he unlocked the passenger side door, it was to find his laptop & camera missing...  A call to the Police - yet another vehicle break-in to add to their books...

We'd been approached by a street person just as we'd left our vehicles parked.  I wonder now if he was a "spotter" for the thieves?  That would make it easy...  have a street person scope out the parking - watch for someone coming in that time of day for dinner etc., then rip the vehicle off & walk away.  So - thanks to Seattle for a Great time at the Waterfront, followed by a lot of hassle & expense... 

Video of the Ride~