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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Riding today? NOT!

The culprit~
I was so excited to see the weather report for days & days of sunshine!  Linda & I had planned to ride today...  But - when I went up to saddle Farah - the hind shoe that was loose yesterday - was off to the side today.  I'd tried to tighten the clinches when I noticed it, Farah was very patient with my pounding - but I wasn't getting much done.  The nail heads are completely Gone...  This in only three weeks!  The telling number though, is the one Justin asked me about when I called him...  How many miles?  Well...  with the endurance ride & our somewhat normal trail riding - over 140!
Mesh material used to hold the packing
For the first time, I wanted to try Vettec Equi-Pack - a product designed to act as a replacement for traditional pads, along with other therapeutic uses.  My thought - was that after the ride, I would be able to remove or cut out the sole packing, allowing the bottom of the foot to stay dry & hard as they have been, without having to wait a full shoeing cycle to remove pads.  (I'm no fan of pads, but since the horses on this side of the state live in such typically wet conditions - hoof capsules stay soft longer into the year.  (This was something that Jim Bryant, DVM brought to my attention when he hoof tested Khari during her pre-purchase exam.)  For a ride - I like having that extra layer of protection - lameness pulls are no fun.)

We learned several things - first - the double tube of the product was not enough to fill all four of Farah's feet.  We could have used part of another tube.  Since Justin didn't have another of that product, he used a little of the traditional Equi-Pack to fill in some gaps around the edges, thinking that if anything - it would help the packing to stay in.   As with trying anything new before a ride - I was worried about how well it would stay in - but it did.  It wasn't until this last week that they started coming loose.  I cut off what I could & picked out her feet - noticing that the mesh product being under the shoe - seemed to have loosened the shoes a little.

Of course with the nail heads now gone - there just isn't enough to keep the shoes on her feet - especially since she works so well off her hind-end.  So - today - instead of the fine ride we'd planned, guess those weeds are calling my name!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dappled Sunshine!

As the title says~
It was a spectacular afternoon.  Lynn came up to ride at Bracken with me & Jack again kept an eye on the trailers - which is so nice.  There were a couple other riders there & lots of piles of manure that no one seems to be picking up.  Why - I have no idea...  When we're given such an amazing place to ride, you would think that riders would value it enough to keep it clean...
A view of the Green!
Lynn likes trails, so we took about any trail that looked interesting & went through places that I haven't been in a long while - it was just stunning in the deep woods.  We meandered here & there - finally going out to see my bridge.
The North Fork of the Stillaquamish
There is still a lot of water moving through - still a lot of silt in the water too...  I have to wonder how long it will be before the river channel cleans itself - or if it will have to be dredged in the slide area to handle the flow in the winter months?  We went on across & had our lunch at the current end point of the Whitehorse.  Rumor has it that with some of the federal funds that Darrington will receive there might be enough to do some of the decking on the bridges.  Getting the trail open would be a boon to the local economies of both Darrington & Oso.

Home in time to give Farah her bath & for her to enjoy pasture time in the warm sun.  We'd hoped to go visit Sandy & Ody this week & ride their trails, but the weatherman is saying thunderstorms & rain for the next couple days - which of course was when we'd planned the visit.  Since Sandy has been tempting me with the word "views" - I want to be sure I get to see them when we do go!  Delayed for now - but not forgotten!

Monday, May 26, 2014

First View of the Mudslide~

We decided to drive the Loop.  Starting out in Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway we headed toward Darrington.   Most of the holiday campers had moved out & traffic was light.  Huge thunderheads floating overhead, instant cloud bursts - then the amazingly golden sunshine breaking through.
On the Loop~
We stopped a couple times, looking for a spot or two where we could come back with the camper to spend a night.  Once over the top - we dropped into the back side of Darrington.  Talk about quiet - the town was the quietest that we've seen it in a very long time.  The town hopes to promote tourism, but they need a restaurant that's open, maybe a bar & a shop or two would be nice.  The sign at the edge of town heading down toward OSO warned that there would be a delay 9-miles ahead.
Waiting for the pilot car~
The delay wasn't too long, less than 30-min. before we started moving & made the turn onto the by-pass.  I'd heard that it went up to the power lines & up we went.
Starting up~
To the power lines
We didn't know what we'd see - but soon ~
First view of the slide area~
As we rounded a corner - this was the first view of the slide...  Something about the starkness of the slate gray clouds & rain- fitting for how this view impacted us...
Further on the by-pass
The by-pass is rough - but about any vehicle can now travel through.  Further along I could see the piles of debris up ahead.
The slide area~
Once around that corner - we could see the slide....
A stark scene~
We were past the apex of the climb now & as we moved lower in elevation, the size & scope of the mud field was almost too much to comprehend.  Huge - & that after months of work clearing, moving, cutting & hauling.
Final view~
There's something about seeing all this destruction that saddens your soul...  Thinking of the families who've suffered, the lives lost & yet others changed forever...

It will be healing - someday - to see this area when time has closed the rawness of the wound.  Washington is an amazing state when it comes to growing green over the worst environmental atrocities.  Having survived over 100 years of clear cut logging, rampant development etc. - we can only hope that changes will occur that prevent anything like this happening again...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Disney" Dave & Francis - Travel North!

Wasn't too hard :-)  for David & Francis to talk me into a ride!  They were willing to drive up - so that always makes it hard to refuse :-)  The weather too, seemed to want to cooperate - the clouds were clearing & the sun had appeared by the time I arrived at the glass school parking.  (Side note - I was Very disappointed in the shape of the gravel parking.  Several piles of manure left behind - one Full of Worms!  Disgusting on All Counts!)
There was a little delay - they had waited for a third rider - that didn't make the ride.  So, Farah grazed & I ate Salmonberries!  Once they were saddled, horses booted etc. we hit the trails.  As with every rider I take on the tour - we headed for the Monument.
  Even with the low clouds, there were views to be had!
With the Monument :-)
I asked these two how far they wanted to go & they were game for my entire loop - so after the views, we started the long downhill - then onto the green trail & out onto the Scott Mainline.  After that - there's the climb back to the top.  David said he'd been looking for elevation & I've been telling him for a long time now that it was easy to find :-)  This day - his quest was completed by the time we'd gotten back up to the top!

Farah was on the make - I couldn't believe how much I had to hold her back & she blasted up the hill like a sprinter.  I was disappointed that the white peaks of the Cascades were under the clouds.
Final View
Mt. Rainier too, wasn't out...  We covered almost 18-miles & the sun was getting low on the horizon by the time we were coming back.  Once home - it was late enough that I didn't want to wash Farah - so I gave her a quick brushing.  She went into her run - hit the ground, did a very quick, forceful roll - both sides - then jumped up like a cat & was back in her stall waiting for Butch to serve her dinner!  Butch downgraded my dinner out to picking up pizza on the way home :-(

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Meeting Friends & Fluid Plans~

I ended up with a busy week of riding!  First with Dena - who I ride with so seldom, then with Joyce - who I hope will be spending More time in the saddle.  Today I'd planned to head south & meet-up with Lynn & Amanda - who had scheduled a Saddle-Up ride from the Redmond Watershed.  I'm not keen on parking there - after hearing of the break-in's.  The trailer area is surrounded by trees & secluded enough that it makes it a little easier for thieves than the wide-open parking at KTP.  It was too late for Amanda to change the venue - so she left on the Tuscany Loop from there, while Lynn & I left from KTP.  We figured that if we started the loop in reverse - that we'd Have to find Amanda!
Cato greets Farah~
 Farah was in the lead - we were trotting right along - when around a corner came Cato!  Farah hit the breaks & recognized him right away!  It's been a while since these two friends have seen each other - but that didn't stop them from saying; "Hi"!~  Amazingly enough - Farah didn't strike or squeal, very polite howdy do by both!
A new friend - Jan, with Amanda on Kato~
As it warmed up out in the sun, we stuck to the nice shaded trails & admired the incredible fresh green growth of the ferns, smell of the fresh air & beauty of another picture perfect day.  We all rode together to the spot where Amanda needed to make the turn back to the Redmond Watershed & Lynn directed us the other direction to finish out a loop & head back.
Welcome Lake
We ambled through the Lake of the Woods housing area - admiring the Rhody's all in full bloom & so beautiful!  Once back at Kathryn Taylor we climbed the hill to see if it was clear enough to see Seattle.  Not quite - but the Olympics were out!
View from the Top~
Now...  We're taking a few days off so I can catch up at home!  After our weekend at Mt. Adams, we've traveled another 40+ miles on trail.  Friends asked why I didn't give Farah time off?  Short answer - she didn't need it!   For so many years when I was working full time & more - I had to rush to find time to ride.  I never really had a horse in the kind of shape that they should have been - in for the way I like to ride.   Doing Endurance was a strain on them & on me - but hind sight is always 20/20.

I feel so lucky now, to be at this place in time - able to enjoy the trails with Farah - who has only gotten stronger & enjoys her work.  Having the time to ride makes the difference.  I truly felt done with Endurance, but after bringing Farah on for almost three-years now, I was curious to know if she had what it takes.  I've discovered that there's a huge difference between riding a horse that is marginally fit & one that actually is.  For one thing - it's easier on us both.   Farah has made it plain that she does enjoy the competition & of course I still do too, especially with her!  I try to keep my plans fluid & hope in the future to do a few of the rides that have been on my bucket list for years.  We'll see where the trails lead~

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


High overcast, cool morning~
When I pulled in at Bracken, Joyce was already there with Jesse, along with three other trailers - so nice to see someone was out riding.  Joyce is getting ready for Klickitat, so the plan was to get in ten-miles at a nice pace. It was such a nice morning - cool, but not cold & the hazy sunshine was perfect - along with the breeze that we've had for a couple days now.  The air smells so fresh & sweet this time of year - like no other!
Farah in the trees~
We were really enjoying our ride - I shared my ride story with Joyce & about all the excitement that usually goes on at a ride :-)  We'd covered a few miles & did a nice uphill gallop - the wind in my hair felt so good!  WHAT?  The "wind in my hair?!"  I pulled Farah up - realizing that I Had Not Worn my Helmet!  No Way!  All the riding I do & always with my helmet!  Joyce pulled up beside me - asking what was up?  I looked over & said;  "No helmet!"  She got a funny look on her face & said something about how she was watching the wind in my hair!  :-)  Neither of us think it's early onset dementia - just two women - too busy talking! :-)-
Joyce - Helmetless :-)
I handed her my camera & told her to take a photo for prosperity.  She tried, but we didn't realize that it didn't take.  Joyce removed Her helmet in salute & I did get That photo!  :-)  We've ridden together for so long now - that yes - we both remember Never wearing helmets!

So, for the rest of the ride, I have to admit - I rode a just a little more defensively - since both horses were going Great & cruising along around ten mph.  Oh it felt So Good!  No helmet hair, no sweaty hair, no sore neck from the weight of the helmet.  Joy - Sheer Joy!

Certainly nothing I will do again - at least not intentionally - but after all these years - it was like a blast from the past to feel that Freedom! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

American Beauty Day~

Clouds over the Cascades
It's been just a perfect day in Washington.  Dena had asked if I had time to ride today - so of course I said "yes"!  We don't seem to get together often enough & when we do, Dena is always game for the longest ride I can toss her way :-)  She & Farah's VBF Bella have come on a couple adventures with us, always up for wherever we go!
Dena & Bella in the Pilchuck Creek
Today, I decided that a ride to the river would be nice, Bella wasn't too sure that she should be going into that moving water - but she did - even shaking like a leaf.  Finally - she seemed to notice that Farah was totally relaxed & began to relax & enjoy the water.  She'd open her mouth & drop her entire nose - past her nostrils into the water.  Farah too enjoyed the water swirling around her legs, but was still alert. 
Thanks for the photo Dena~
Do you see something Farah?
 It was a low key ride, we covered over 16-miles & Dena did some nice trotting even in her western saddle - when she's been riding dressage.  These two mares formed a friendship of sorts when they first met - today there were a couple "I might kick you" threats - but nothing serious - Farah just wanted to be darn sure that Bella didn't steal any of the pumpkin seeds that we were eating.  :-)
Back at the Trailers...
When we got back to our trailers, late this afternoon, I noticed that I had a new neighbor!  Who could it have been?  :-)  Just that red head from Monroe coming up to ride in my backyard!  :-)  I left her a note to call me next time!  :-)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Farah's First 50-mile @ Mt. Adams

We were on the road at 7 a.m. heading south.  Traffic is lighter on Fri. mornings through Seattle - so even though it was slow going - it was moving & we'd take it!  With only a fuel stop - on the way down, my girl stepped out the trailer & peed!  We found a spot where we were up & out of the way - without too long of a walk to the Vet Check area.
2:24 p.m. Trot out for Dr. Jennifer
Dr. Jen notated on my Vet card that Farah had a Lot of up & down action over hind end.  That was a first & I mentioned that she has some Saddlebred.  Otherwise, for having just unloaded from a seven hour road trip - she was all A's.
Farah settled in~
 After we completed settling up our little camp, we took the dogs out for a walk to visit our old camping spot at the far end of the valley - up on the hill.
3:30 - Ride Camp
  To our disappointment - the view of the Mountain is now mostly gone :-(  The trees have grown so tall since our first visit here in 2000 - that they now hide the peak.  There's one spot at the highest point - where you can just see the top.  Not like the days when the the Mountain dominated the skyline & we all took photos with it in the background.
2002 My second completion
 Trailers were pulling in non-stop - always a big ride, this year would be no exception.  I put dinner in the oven, then we tacked Farah up & took her for a walk out the way the ride would start.   A couple friends stopped by to visit & it was fun socializing.  The ride meeting was well attended, I made plans to start with my friend Marie & her riding companions.  Soon, it was time to be sure I had all my stuff ready for in the morning & to bed early!

I was awake with the first light - just in time to realize that the alarm hadn't gone off!  We were up, I tried to eat a piece of toast & an energy drink that Joyce loves, but it just didn't want to settle with me.  I decided to forgo the drink in favor of a few pears.  We had Farah saddled, she was calm & ready, so I headed down to were I was to meet Marie.  That was a Big Mistake!  Spotting Marie, I tried to head that direction when the first of the bucking fits started!  Out of nowhere, here came the big buck!  The next one, the front legs came up off the ground, there was a slight rear before the buck & a big grunt!  With the other three horses around me - I thought she'd calm down, but no - another bucking fit & we headed for the starting line!

Butch filmed the start, (first loop - Snow King - 15-mi.)  I don't think it was too pretty for several of us poor riders on fit horses...  Even though it looks like I was on my own, Marie & Leslie were just ahead.  We went down the trail in a loose group - dodging other horses who were having tantrums.  Once on the single track trail, Farah instantly settled.  The Canadian rider in the lead - missed a turn - he & his companion tried to blow past us to re-gain the front.  I let them know as they passed me on both sides - that if Farah kicked them to kingdom come - they'd deserve it!

Finally - things started to settle down, we too missed a turn - but then my friends wanted Farah in the front & once she was there - we were moving out!  Marie & a friend dropped back, Leslie stayed with me & we were able to find clear trail, move out & enjoyed each others company.
8:20 a.m. coming in off the first loop with Leslie
I was being conservative, keeping Farah back off her usual traveling pace, my plan was to save some horse for the afternoon loops.  After five times here - I know they can be long, hard & hot.   We still finished the 15-miles in under 2-hrs.  It was at this VC where we saw a rider take a terrible fall almost in front of us.  The sound of her vest deploying is one I won't soon forget - it was like a gun shot!  When she didn't move - the vet who was doing Farah - ran over to help.  (Luckily - last word was that the rider just had a bruise!)  That delayed us a bit - but that hold had been extended from 15 to 30-min. & that helped.
Farah w/Butch at one of the VC's - Thanks again Jessica Wynn!
(I'd spoken to Mary the evening before & had asked several people what they used to stay strong in the saddle - sick & tired of my propensity for heat exhaustion.)  While I was out, Mary gave Butch some of the electrolyte tablets that have worked for her - for me to try.  I ate, took them & felt darn good heading out on the second "Gotchen" 16-mile loop.  Leslie had told me to go on without her & I wanted to keep up our momentum.  This was a tough, beautiful loop - up & through the area that had been burned a few years ago.  We'd been warned to stay On the Trail - since the fire had burned clear into the ground following the root balls of the trees.  The holes that resulted have trapped Elk.
Gotchen Loop 9:54 a.m.
 This loop, the horses were working, Farah was passing horses & moving powerfully.  The sun had burned off most of the cloud cover & the wind sounded eerie in the burned branches of the trees.  We came around a corner to see a small creek just off the trail.  Farah was happy step in & took a good drink.  I rode with Dale for a while - he invited me to his ride in ID - talking about how beautiful it is there :-)  Around another corner & we saw the sign for the photographer!  
Coming up on Jessica & her camera!
Mare on a Mission!  :-)
 I can't thank Jess enough for snapping that camera button when she did!   Making incredible memories for many riders. This loop - we made it into a nice pocket!  We came up on a few riders, soon moving to the front & leaving them behind. 
Back to camp at 11:06
Farah was loving the trail & we were moving right along - finishing off the second loop again in under 2-hrs.  Time for our lunch break & I was ready for it.  I ate, took another of Mary's magic pills - that hadn't upset my stomach or bothered me at all!  I was drinking my water & doing fine!
11:59 & ready to leave on the third loop
Dale hadn't finished far behind me, but had a couple more minutes to wait, so we left without him - he said he'd probably catch up before long...  Ghost Loop - 13-mi. headed south too & I was familiar with most of it from other years here.  It has some short steep climbs & rock areas.  Farah dug in & at times it felt like we were flying when she bounded up the hills!  During the day - when we'd have the opportunity to ride for a while with other riders, I was thrilled at the compliments Farah was getting.  One rider said that Farah looked like she didn't even know I was on her back :-)  Another said that she just seemed to float over the trails :-)  I know that was how it felt!  Having her on a loose rein - I let her set the pace she wanted to go & Go we did!  It was a Blast!
1:36 & we're back for the final VC!
Now, we'd passed our envelope!  Heading into unfamiliar territory for my gold girl...  More distance than she'd ever done & at a much faster pace than we train.  We had the miles, the hours, the days of saddle time, but not quite the speed work that I would have liked.  I shouldn't have been worried, again Farah vetted through with all A's - except for that nagging B in gut sounds.  She was eating on the trail & eating everything Butch put in front of her during our breaks!  Still riding on our own, I had no idea where in the pack of riders we were, so asked Butch to go check.  It was a very nice surprise to find that we were sixth!
1:55 p.m. Leaving on the Final Loop
My husbands parting words were;  "Get out of here & don't waste time!"  :-)  OK!  We could Do that!   The day had warmed, I changed shirts & took another of those electrolytes - so darn happy to be feeling so good - so late in the ride!  Farah hit her trot & we were out to finish that final ten-miles!

Again - we were on our own, after we left camp & moved past all the riders coming in off their various loops - the trail cleared & we started the climb.  Not the climb from hell that I'd done in 2010 with Khari - when the trail was covered with snow & I'd hiked about half of that 15-mile loop.   This time, we made the turn to head down in what seemed like short order.  Soon though - I could hear riders coming up behind us & we came out on the open stretch of road.  As with every intersection all day - I took the time to be sure of the flagging - or to find it!  :-)

As we turned down the road, I didn't look back, but could hear a horse picking up speed behind us.    Farah was more than up to the challenge & moved so smoothly that she just extended her trot as the other horse galloped along side.  Finally, she broke to the gallop & we galloped to where the trail turned back to single track.  As I slowed to make the turn - we weren't cut off.  Farah made the turn - still in the lead.  New to 50's - this rider said she wouldn't race me to the finish & asked about how that worked - since her experience was with LD's.  I told her that I was not going to give up my position & we left it at that.

Farah hit that trail with a purpose & I knew that I had more than enough horse to maintain our placing.  What else I knew - was that I'd just used up energy that could have been better spent showing for BC, rather than a short race in the last loop - that would only make one place difference in the final results.
Our Finish at 3:05 p.m.!
As we turned that final corner for home, I was humming a country tune & have never felt better finishing an Endurance ride!  :-)  Farah was amazing all day - ears forward, on the make & ready to continue on!  She never faltered, never quit & let me know that she was having Fun!
Final Trot-out for BC
We went ahead & showed for BC - but our girl was tired & she deserved to be!  We both actually had a little laugh at her expense - since it's the first time we've actually seen her tired at all!   Even so, she showed really well, finished with all A's - except for that B in gut sounds!  :-)  It didn't take her long to remedy that! 
Sunday morning - us with our Loot!  6th Place!
I loved the sound of her munching all night long & woke to her nicker - asking for breakfast!  :-)  This was my sixth time at this ride, with my best result riding Jas in 2002 - 14th place in 7 hours for 50-mi.  Farah had finished sixth - doing the 55-miles in 7:05.

We had a few things that could have been better, I'd replaced the nose band on her Mylar combination bit & forgotten to shorten the cables that go to the chin strap, so all I had was the bit - which I didn't realize until the second VC.  I didn't want to take the time to fix it.  The saddle too - which I do love - sits just a little too low in front - which gave Farah waves on the withers & made it really hard for me on the downhills - my lower back felt it.

In closing, a heartfelt Thank You to Mary Nunn for giving me those electrolytes!  It was so nice to finish feeling strong!  Of course my husband - who's been my go to man for over 30-years now - takes amazing care of Farah & we both can't say how much we appreciate him!  Not to forget Justin Foss - our Farrier!  The padding stayed in until the final VC - when Mike noticed that the RF was partly Gone!  :-)

This morning when I walked (a bit stiffly) up to the barn, my girl greeted me by putting the side of her face against mine & holding it there...  Then did her usual strut out to the pasture!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lord Hill ~

Down the trail we go~
Lynn & I were determined to get in at least one ride this week!  Sophie had pulled a shoe yesterday - so that had to be re-set, I called Garmin - to find out that somehow my data from yesterday's ride was corrupted & had to be deleted before I could add any further tracts.  Bummer - since I'd wanted to see where we'd ridden yesterday.  That took a while - so I was a little late meeting Lynn & Jack at the Lord Hill parking.
Wetland nirvana!
Today, Lynn decided to take us in the reverse direction from what we usually ride - so both mares were distracted by the change :-)  Neither were very motivated & it was Warm!  Should I even mention the word "hot"?  It was for me, close to 80 & very humid - with all the water around.  I did learn that I cannot wear synthetic tights - regardless of how much I'd like to.  Yesterday I was OK, I wasn't hot enough for long enough to have a problem.  But today - it was warm the entire ride & I wanted to rip them off about 1/2 way through.
The next wetland~
It was beautiful - our most incredible time of year, with the ferns opening their new fronds, flowers still blooming & all the trees fully leafed out.  We covered most of the trails & ended up at the outlook, where I proceeded to lay down on the cool grass.  I'd been drinking, eating bites of a power bar & and still went into my melt phase.  After a short time horizontal, I was up & decided to finish the ride on foot.  (After Farah - I think - nipped at my back yesterday when she thought I was walking too slow - I was watching her today!)  There was just one little push on the middle of my back :-)
Mt. Rainier
As often as we've ridden here - today for the first time Lynn spotted Mt. Rainier peaking around the trees that have grown so much that the Lookout is not much of one any more.  After my 1.5 mile walk - I felt better when we returned to the trailers.  Several rigs there today - the most we've seen in a while, everyone out enjoying the sunshine.

Once home, Farah enjoyed her bath - I get wet too & it feels so good to us both!  The rest of this week, I'm going to kick back, run errands etc.  Looking forward to seeing another big snow covered volcano!  Mt. Adams!