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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Going for Hay

Butch's Construction Trailer
Justin gave us a lead on some nice Eastern, WA grass hay.  I called - it was still available, so we made arrangements to go over yesterday.  With rain coming down in buckets, it wasn't the best start to the day trip!  The camper came off the truck & we headed to Ballard, where Butch is currently working on his latest project.  It was the first time in forever that I'd been in Wallingford or Ballard.  It was nice to go through on a Sunday - when traffic was minimal.   Once at the job site, we picked up a nice big, long trailer!
The trailer
Finally, after some changes to our hitch to accommodate the trailer - we were on our way!  Did someone say "Rain"?
Crossing Lake Washington on I-90
The rain stayed with us all the way over the pass, but by the time we were in the traffic jam created by the highway being narrowed to one lane near Easton - blue sky was appearing!  The leaves are really starting to turn now - it's always so nice to get out into those wide-open spaces!
Butch & Don moving bales!
It wasn't long until we were going off the exit ramp - I placed the call to Don & could see him waving from his field!  What a great field!  What nice grass!  So much nicer & richer than anything we can grow on our wet side.  The price was right too - right enough to make it worth us paying for the fuel & making the trip to bring a couple ton home.
The first bale hits the trailer!
It wasn't long at all before it was all loaded up - tarped & tied!  Now mid-afternoon, we thanked Don, made arrangements for his next cut in June & headed back to Ellensburg for a late lunch/early dinner :-)   Feeling better after our meal, we were back on the road & could see that the clouds were moving east with the rain back behind it.  Hardly any traffic - at least going our direction!  When we got back into the Easton area, the backup on the far side went on & on & on...  We couldn't help but feel sorry for the people trapped in that mess.

The rain hit hard, we took 203 from Fall City & by the time we were close to home, the rain had temporarily let up.  Butch maneuvered the very long trailer into our gate - we were both thankful that we'd widened it this year!  Next was the unloading!  I got on the trailer & pulled the bales toward Butch - he started stacking!  We'd just pulled off the last bale when the rain hit!  It hit hard too!  What a relief to have the job done - just in the nick of time! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Riding the Scott Main Line

My ride today on the left, Centennial Trail on the right~
No one could ride with us again today, so I headed up to the Victoria Tract & decided to go somewhere different.  I wanted to see if I could find the way to what's called the old "Scott Main Line".  Why it has that name I don't know, but once I found it - I wanted to finally go see where it ended.
First we had to go north to go downhill again~
It's almost all the way to the bottom of the mountain.  We headed down, then took the roadway to another down.  At that point, we could finally turn south - where the trail runs pretty much parallel with highway 9.
Lots of leaves falling!
 We found at least four different roads/trails that headed up hill - where I don't know, but a place to do some exploring this Winter when the trails are closed.
Beautiful Wetland on the way~
It was very quiet down here, just the rustle of the falling leaves & smell of Fall!  We continued on & on & on, till we came to a huge clear-cut.
Looking back at the Mountain~
Way off in the back you can just see the rise of the mountain where the Monument & great views reside.
This is where the photo above was taken~
We'd come from the far left, turned up here to take the photo, so I decided to take the smaller trail/road that went straight ahead from here.  That went a long way too.
More clear-cuts
Finally, about when I thought we'd need to turn back, the road turned & headed back the direction we'd come!  I actually thought we might find a loop!  It was disappointing to find that the road/trail we'd been following was reduced to what was a road at sometime, but hadn't been used for a very long time.  Totally overgrown & swampy from the last couple rain storms too.
End of the Road
I called Linda, to tell her where I thought I was & see if she had any ideas of how to proceed?  She just reminded me that it would be easier to find me before dark!  That got me to thinking that the day was actually almost over & it was more than time to turn back!  Farah settled into her traveling trot & we made good time.

We were galloping up our "running hill" when I felt Farah hesitate & in the next second saw three bikes coming down the hill - a t us - FAST - taking up the entire road!  Farah made an evasive maneuver sideways into the Salmonberry bushes as they flew by - with a "sorry" over their shoulders!  Next meeting of the PRA, you can bet I'll be there to talk to the guys who represent the bike riders.  I'm thinking that the "rules of the road" should apply here too?  Like staying to the right?  Just in case someone might be coming from the other direction?!

We were back at the trailer as the sun was setting, having covered just over 17-miles.  Really a beautiful ride~

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back Under the Gray & a New Saddle Pad~

The Huge Alders are dropping their leaves~
Once home from my visit, I saddled up Farah.  With today being only two forecast without rain for the week & the arrival of my new saddle pad - it was time to get out & give it a try.
New pad out of the box~
I'd done a lot of research to see what the latest & greatest in performance pads seems to be.  A few weeks ago, I found five bug bites along the left side of Farah's spine.  Probably a spider & in almost a row.   These bites have not gone away & using the Supracore didn't see to be helping.  These pads, on back order from most suppliers really seem like a workable combination.  With state-of-the-art & very thin padding on the top, combined with merino wool on the underside.
Merino Wool
The Ultra Thinline pad has contoured relief for the spine & nice quality quilting on top.   Farah noticed the difference the minute I put it on her back.  Then the saddle went on top & after some adjustment, we hit the trail.  The first thing I noticed - was that I felt more comfortable?!   I've always liked the Supracore, for the cushioning effect, but not the thickness of the Western style Cool Grip pad.  These pads are so easy to keep clean too!  I just hose it off, soak it in the cooler with vinegar water & let it drip dry.)  But, I don't get the close contact that I like with just a Woolback pad.  This pad seems to be a nice combination of the wool with the breathable qualities of the Supracore.
Farah seemed to like it :-)
Farah moved freely & once we returned home, Butch was there to lift the saddle off the pad & we both looked under it at Farah's back - which looked Super!  Now - it will be interesting to see if the bumps resolve?
Leaving the woods~
My Garmin decided to act-up this day, not logging my miles until just past the half-way mark on our loop.  It locked up too - but I finally got it re-booted & it did log our miles back home :-)  (I purchased it from Best Buy - March of 2011 - but now they tell me they no longer carry the 310XT & had the nerve to add that Garmin no longer had them!?  A poor attempt to sell us a 210!  Not!)  It was such a gray & ugly afternoon...  I wished I'd taken Jentry's advice & taken Farah up to Darrington with me, for a ride there - at least I would have been in the sun!
Down the final hill toward home~
Just to show me what the day might have looked like, the sun appeared at our backs as we headed down the last hill for home!

Side note- When I got home from Darrington & opened the gate, the next thing I saw was Farah running at the Bronco!  She'd managed to get out of her hot-wire (soon to be fence) run & before I could react, went right along the passenger side of the Bronco & OUT the gate onto the ROAD!  If you have horses, you know all the feelings that race through your mind any time there's a "loose horse"!  I pulled the Bronco forward out of the way of the gate, got out & walked back toward the entry.  Farah had stopped in the middle of our single lane road -  turned back & just taken a bite of of grass from the strip along the edge of the drive entrance.  She turned again, looked down the hill toward the pasture of horses there, up hill...  THEN  - calmly walked BACK INTO our yard!  OH YEAH!!!  ONE IN A MILLION!!!  Carrots anyone?!~

Keeping an "Eye" on the Girls!

Whitehorse wearing clouds~
What an incredible morning for a drive to Darrington!  Once I drove out from under the fog & gray cloud cover around Arlington - the day brightened.  I even had an excuse for the trip, an opportunity to watch our two youngest granddaughters while their mother was away a couple hours.

Well...  It took both eyes!  I thought I was in some kind of shape - but after a morning of chasing after two two toddlers, I felt like I'd ridden the Derby!  :-)
Skyla goes fast!
Then - not that long ago, Josie was just starting to walk.  Now - she's into a full run most of the time!   Two such sunny little personalities, such a joy to see in "action"!   Thank heaven their mother is young & agile! 
Skyla & Josie
I did manage to get the two of them in one spot & grab the camera at the same time :-)  By the time mommy had returned & we had lunch - I think it was past nap time!
Sunshine & flowers~
 It was a absolutely beautiful day.  A little chilly, light breeze, a few gold leaves falling lightly to the bring green grass of the yard.  Tall trees, shedding those leaves against a clear blue sky~

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ode to Fall~

The view out my dining room window~
The rains have arrived, the temperature has turned brisk...  The leaves are just thinking about turning.  It's that time of year, changing light bulbs, cleaning out closets, putting out heavier throws, candles & I love amber seasonal lights on the patios!
The Chickadee's were tweeting at me this morning!  They were busy playing in the Elderberry bush by the back patio, as I was busy loading old clothes in the Bronco - results of my closet cleaning, one of the tasks that I save for rainy fall days!  I had some really nice stuff, mostly Nordstrom bought - that I'd worn when I worked in Bellevue in the early 90's.  Out of style now, but still perfectly good.
My buddies greeted me this morning!
I'd called two consignment shops in Snohomish.  At the first shop, the problem was a lack of space.  This cute little place was literally bursting at the seams with dresses, prom gowns, etc.   This owner said that she'd had no less than seven women come in with clothes in the last week!  Guess I wasn't the only one bitten by the fall cleaning bug!

The next shop was really cool, had lots of vintage stuff, 30's, 40's, 50's,  mine was too "new".  Impressed with the labels & quality of my items - she suggested that I go to the Snohomish Senior Center Thrift Store.  At least the clothes would stay in the area & go to local residents.   There, they were happy to accept the donation & I finally emptied the Bronco!   Done!
The beginning of the Color season!
Tomorrow, a visit to see our two youngest granddaughters - then hopefully squeeze in my first ride of Fall!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Last Ride of Summer~

Farah enjoys the day her favorite way~
We headed out on our own this day.  No particular agenda - just enjoying what was supposed to be the last nice day of our incredible Summer.  It was warmer than forecast, high 70's & high humidity.  There were several horse trailers at the trail head, but we didn't see another horseman all afternoon.
Cheap beer at the Monument's base~
At the monument, it was saddening to find that someone had left two full beers & one empty.  This happened about this time last year too - have no idea who thinks it's a good idea to share - but wish they wouldn't...
Between Farah's ears~
It was just a gorgeous afternoon.  Neither of us were too motivated, we checked out some trails, took some photos & I put in some time on the ground.  I walked the very long downhill stretch from the top, down to the bottom of what I call our running hill.  As long as I was walking, Farah followed behind, but once I started jogging - she started her trot, came up along side, gave me a dirty look & had to travel in front of me!  :-)  Once at the bottom I mounted & we did our run to the top.  It was exactly a mile uphill run!
Our route~
We met one gentleman on foot with a basket, looking for mushrooms.  He hadn't had any luck when we saw him, but Linda & I had seen some last week & I wish we'd picked them!  It was pretty late in the day when we started back.  The shadows were getting long~
Bio-fuel trees now planted in the meadow~
The view above will change quickly, as quick as these trees grow...  I'll miss it - I'm sure.  We covered some ground, both had a good afternoon & were looking forward to Friday evening home!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Shoes~

Left rear
Five weeks to the day & the barium nail head on the outside edge heel is worn even with the shoe.  Justin & I both think they are the only thing keeping the shoes on her feet!  The view from the side, shows just how much steel is gone from the shoe.
Right rear
Justin suggested I might try Cutting with Farah?  As you can tell from the next photo & I can certainly tell when riding her - she uses & works off her rear end!  It's her ability to carry herself on the rear that gives her that cat like quality on the trail that I appreciate so much.  She's by far the lightest on her feet of any horse I've owned.
After 159 miles
Farah's point of break-over is just to the outside on all four feet.  Center is ideal, but if you can't have that - it's better than having the break-over to the inside, which you sometimes see with horses who "paddle" or are base narrow.  (I was so spoiled with Khari, her break-over & feet were as close to perfect as it gets.)  I'm told that Farah's narrow shaped rear feet are a Saddlebred trait?

I'm not complaining!  Sound is my favorite word when spoken by a Equine Professional.  Regardless of whether you prefer your horse barefoot, booted or shod.  Here in western WA when it's so wet most of the year, if you ride, you have to have some type of hoof protection.  Farah doesn't have contracted heels, they're nice & wide open - plenty of support.  Justin also said that being ridden regularly, contributes to strong tendons & with strong tendons, the heel tends to stay in the proper position, neither too low or too high. 

Speaking of protection, riding on all the rock roads we do & as hot & dry as it's been this summer I did leave pads on the front.  With them off now, the frogs look good & her sole should have a few more weeks of decent weather to toughen back up.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Even Grand!

Farah & Connie
One horse, One rider, One Thousand Miles to date!  February of this year - when I joined the Distance Derby & started logging our miles - it seemed like a very lofty goal.  With the companionship & support of my long-time riding partner Joyce - Farah & I attained that goal on today's ride!  What a thrill!
The blue hole!
I've managed to maintain our position of fifth place on the leaderboard for a few weeks now, but can't help but be impressed with the riders who've been nipping at our heels!   There are only a couple of us riding one horse in the race & it's a real commitment to keep any horse sound as the miles continue to add up.  Shoeing has been a real issue for me, even at five week intervals, I didn't think we'd get through today's ride with all four shoes still on!   Justin is coming tomorrow & it's sure not soon enough!  
Between heaven & earth~
Yesterday, I was looking for some distance.  I knew how close we were & wanted to be riding with Joyce when the Garmin locked down those last few miles.  With a ride planned for today - even though it was raining, even though we had to start early & even though Farah's shoes were literally held on with a wing & a prayer - we were determined to get the deed done!  Before the end of the month, before the end of Summer & before my closest competition!  :-)

It was such an incredible day!  Which just goes to show that even if you start out with a purpose, you can be surprised at the beauty nature can throw your way!  It was Really Something to see!  The video above shows a little of how we felt somehow suspended both in space & in time...
Kitt's Trail + some exploring!
Now, back home - Farah gets a much deserved warm bath & tomorrow new shoes.  She's opinionated, bossy & classy too - but what means the most to me is her grit & determination.  Nothing phases her, she does her best to keep me topside & she's always eager to trot on! 

No, it's not AERC miles, nor Limited Distance miles, but they're Our miles & we've enjoyed each & every one!  I'm sure this is the most I've ever ridden in any given year & with the year far from over,  we both love heading back out to see what's over that next mountain!   

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Red, White & Blue Would Spook you too!

Then there are those Sheep...
Just had to get out!  Cloudy all morning, but it looked like it was going to stay dry.  Farah had escaped from her run last night & woke us munching outside the bedroom window at 3 a.m., so decided that she needed some exercise too.  Heading up the hill, she always has to stop & check out the neighbor's sheep.  She's finally used to them now, so they're not as interesting as they were, but still worth a stop.
I wanted to see what the wetland to the north looked like, beautiful as always, but still overflowing the powerline access road.
Swamped out~
I bet this is really going to be looking full in a few weeks when we start getting more rain.  I can't get much further anyway - as the easement is blocked with barbed wire in just a short way.  We turned back & took the way to the northern most point of our loop.  There's a nice stretch for trotting & we were...  when...
Horse Eating Monster!
We came up on this!  A red, white & blue monster!  Really did look weird I do have to say!  It was some type of flag ornament, made from paper on a wire hoop that had managed to hang up perfectly at the top of a small Alder!  It was even moving a little in the light breeze!  At THIS - any self-respecting horse would turn & run!  Farah tried!  I pulled her up, she was snorting, I hit it with my stick & it stuck to the stick!  Wow!  Now we're really excited!  I got it unstuck, tore it off the tree & wadded it up to show her.  Result - "Oh, I wasn't really scared of it, I'm going to graze now!"  :-)  Lucky for the mare, there was a very nice bunch of blackberry, ripe for picking & I picked & ate!
Each year when I mention eating blackberry to my high school girlfriend in CO, she comes unglued at what she pays in the store for them! 
South on the power lines
It was looking dark & we'd felt a few rain drops by the time I turned back toward home.  It was really quiet & I value that so much!  Just the clip clop, cling of my mares feet & loose shoes!  Even at a five-week schedule, we run out of steel & have a day to go!
No mountain to greet us today~
 No view of Mt. Philchuck today, just the heavy clouds hanging low.  So close now to the beginning of Fall, my favorite season of the year.  The Big Leaf Maples are starting to turn gold now, so it won't be long...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Charlotte's Web~

Ode to Fall~
Friday the 13th - not superstitious - or so I say, but I still drove carefully, paid attention & was happy when Linda & I were in the saddle & out on the trails.  The day started out overcast with heavy fog at home.  During the drive north - nothing changed.    When Linda asked me which way I wanted to go, I said;  "The Waterfall Trail".  I hadn't been on it in years & Linda didn't know what kind of shape it would be in.
The creek, silt over the bridge
It was as steep & technical as I remembered, when we slid down the hill to the crossing, the culvert was partially blocked & the slit had covered the top.  I dismounted to see if the little handmade bridge was still solid & it seemed to be.  Farah paid attention to where she put her feet & made it over, Linda rode Count over without incident.  We kept expecting the day to clear, but instead the fog just seemed to thicken.
Fog in the Woods~
It was almost oppressive...   We were circling the mountain & staying on trail.  Some places actually muddy & slick from the recent rains, other places, bone dry.
The "view" of Lake McMurray
By mid-afternoon, we were still riding trail.  We came to a switch-back where horses had cut up the hillside rather than taking the trail.  Something that always makes a trail steward mad.  We dismounted, I tied Farah off up the trail a way, with Linda just below us.  We started tossing limbs back over the area that was torn up.   Suddenly Linda yelled; "Bees" - "Run"!  I climbed up to Farah - untied her & took off at a run up the steep, narrow trail.  I heard thrashing behind us - Count was getting stung!  Next, Linda said;  "I've got to let him go!"  This was not good...  he's big & powerful & was coming right up the trail at Farah.  Farah - didn't move a muscle - just stood there on the trail, alert.  As Count pounded toward us, I watched to see what side he would take to get past - the uphill - steep, or possibly push her off the downhill side.
Our route~
I wish I'd had the presence of mind to pull out my camera.   As Count came up behind Farah's rear - his expression changed from panic to "OH!@  Farah!" as he applied the brakes & stopped shy of running into her!  Guess if it was a choice of being stung or Farah's wrath - he chose the bees!  :-)  Linda caught up to him & as she did, the bees came behind her!  Still on the warpath!  We both took off running up the trail until we were out of breath, mounted still on the run & took off to the top!  Finally...  there...  the bees gave up!

No excitement in our lives!  Linda had two really huge sting welts that we treated with Dean's anti-itch cream.   Later Linda found welts on Count.  Good horses both!  Of course we looked at each other & said;  "Gee - wonder why those other riders had gone off trail on that corner?!"  Yea - we can be a little dense sometimes!  :-)