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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Revisited - Cave B Winery~

This night - we'd had the most howling winds of the trip.  Big, huge, long lasting gusts that would have sent anything not tied down - flying!   Even through the worst of the gusts - the frogs at the ponds kept croaking :-)  By morning - the temperature had dropped & it was raining.  Time for rain gear!  Who would have thought?  

 When Butch pulled Farah's blanket off so we could saddle her up - she got cold instantly.  I hadn't brought her rump rug & wished I had!  Once she was tacked - we put her sheet over her, until everyone else was ready to go.  Barb & Scott left ahead of us - Barb wanted Rio to be moving forward. 
Farah waits next to Linda & Count
Once I mounted up, Farah wanted to be with Count - right away!   Though they couldn't see each other - she knew right where he was!  I was really surprised, since she hasn't shown any predisposition to bond with any horse for a very long time.  She was wound as tight as a spring...  
Turning on my GPS
We then had another wait, our riding companions hadn't brought rain gear.  Butch & I both decided that Farah needed forward motion too.  Linda dismounted & found enough extra rain gear to outfit the other two riders.
Linda leads out~
Scott & Barb were waiting - good thing - since I'd already gone the wrong way! :-)
Into the rain~
 The rain didn't look like it was going to let up anytime soon, but we were all determined to make it to the Winery!  We had an extra mile to ride, to get to the entrance gate.  There was a rivulet of water actually running down the trail, through the big rocks on each side of the trail & out across the road.  Scott & Barb's horses went right through & turned up the trail.  Farah next - Refused!  Big Time!  Tossing herself around, nostrils flared, eyes wide - you would have thought it was a horse eating monster!  I tried twice from the saddle to get her across - the saddle bags were right in the way of me effectively using my stick.  I dismounted to lead her over & she made a huge leap, hitting my shoulder on her way - something else she Never does!  Count & the remaining horses walked right through.
Stormy Landscape~
It was really something to see this landscape in the rain!  Another benefit - NO dust!  We were making good time, the rain never did get really heavy - more of a drizzle.
The Gorge Amphitheater & Cave B up above!
We'd passed two hikers & watched another group of riders ascending the climb a way ahead of us.  Soon we were on the waterfall trail - a steep down - good flow of water & up to the far side.  We spaced out, to give each horse a chance to drink.  Farah was fitful & didn't want a drink.  Just a short distance on, there was a small depression in the trail - totally dry - & for whatever reason Farah absolutely Refused again!  This - after crossing the good current at the waterfall!  I couldn't' believe it!  Scott & Barb's horses were already across.  Farah dropped her head - I gave her rein & in the next instant - she made a terrific jump!  Picture a steeple-chaser jumping a water crossing!  I was snapped back in the saddle & Linda said later she thought for sure I'd be going off!  I was furious - but we were over & thankfully - almost there!
New Trail~
We were going up the steepest part of the climb, looking for the little trail that we'd missed last year.  Barb - spotted a new sign marking a new trail - that fallen into the trail.  I dismounted, handed Farah's reins to Scott & moved the sign to the uphill side of the trail.  I heard a squeal & later Linda told me that Farah had touched noses with Kelly - then reared into the air & struck out at him!

This new spur started just over a whoop-de-do.  It was narrow & there was a smashed down sage brush on the track.  I went back for Farah & attempted to lead her a few feet up to a point where I could re-mount.  Suddenly, she leaped to the side & trapped me against her body & the steep hillside!  I couldn't move!  I poked her in the shoulder with the blunt end of my stick & in the next instant - she leaped in front of me - another bound & up the hillside!  

Suddenly - I was in a really bad position.  I looked up to see her belly above me on a soft rock hillside - not a good feeling :-(  Barb was saying quietly;  "Connie the sign is right in front of her...  If she see's it & spooks..."  Well, either Barb would have my mare in her lap, or I would have her on top of me when she slipped...

I still had the rein - thank you Dean - long reins are a great aid!  I quietly climbed up behind her until I was at the same height on the hill.  Then pulled on the rein & moved my stick to try to direct her back down & On to the trail!  Dust flying - she slid down & stopped.  I got up on a rock & back in the saddle - by now - more than ready to be done!

She led our group to the paving & even there - she was so hyper vigilant that I dismounted & let everyone go on.  I made her drop her head & the strange thing was - she did it instantly!  Then - to my surprise - she kept it there!  I put my head down with her & watched as she finally took a deep breath - then started chewing...
Our hitching posts! :-)
By the time I'd met up with my friends, they were trying to find spots at the hitching rails to put their horses.  The other group had their horses at both ends & in the middle too.  Scott tried tying Kelly to the far side, but within seconds, squabbles were breaking out.  In the mean time, I tied Farah to a sage, well below the other horses.  Linda was with me & agreed to watch her while I visited the ladies room!  

I was greeted at the tasting room door by a rider I recognized.   She mentioned that there were other hitching rails.  I didn't think there were - so asked the staff.  No other hitching spots, but they said we were welcome to tie our horses to the pergola.  By now, Barb had joined me - so we headed back out to inform the rest of our party that we had a second option.  Soon, six horses were tied to six posts!  Scott - the great guy that he is, agreed to horse-sit - while we ladies headed for the tasting room!
Linda, Barb, Lorraine & Victoria
Cave B is one of the only wineries around that shares tastes of their iced wine.  I asked for one - it was just enough to take the edge off!  I grabbed a bottle of cold water & went back out to keep Scott company, while my friends did their sampling :-)   When I sat down next to Scott, he informed me that he was trying to sell my mare for $2.!  Explaining further - that after her morning of attempting to kill me three times over - he thought the price was fair!  One couple offered $3. & a ride back to camp!  :-)  Farah was being so sweet to the guy - he was totally hooked!  As we were getting ready to leave, they came back by & told me that she was just having a bad day :-)
Columbia River from Cave B
The view above is from the picnic table where Linda & I had lunch!  It was cool & overcast - a huge black cloud on the horizon - but it only sprinkled on our way back.  Count & Linda went ahead of us & right through the horse-eating divot in the trail.  I fully expected Farah to just follow Count - but NO!  She instantly Refused again!  I tried to turn her back & I do think she would have thrown her self over!  I dismounted, hit at the divot with my stick & asked her to cross.  She leaped again, slamming her shoulder in to me in the process, almost taking me off my feet.  At the waterfall, she stopped & buried her nose in the current, but didn't drink.  

Our lady on the gaited horse took the lead now, then Barb, Scott & me - with Linda & Count behind.  I collected Farah right up!  I kept her nose tucked & kept her off Scott's gelding.  Since our other friend was far in the rear - Scott & Barb decided to ride with her.  That left Farah & Count following the gaited mare.  She was gating, they were walking & I Do mean Walking!  5+ miles an hour & Linda & I were having a blast!  They'd catch up to the gating mare every time she slowed.  Eventually her rider took her to the side & we passed.  From there on Farah & Count were cutting the rug!  I told Linda that the only thing better would have been trotting - but they were both so wired that a fast trot was out of the question - unless we wanted to find ourselves on the ground!
We've returned to camp!
Butch expected us from the other direction - so missed getting photos of us coming in.  These two horses were so pleased with themselves :-)  Count proved that he still has a walk so fast that it makes Farah work for a living!  :-)  Before long, our friends were back & it was THAT time!
Barbara, Linda & Connie
I think I worked harder for my bottle of iced wine that anything else I own!  :-)   We had some good laughs that evening.  Scott said that many of the posts on the pergola were rotten at the ground.  Can you just picture what might have happened if something had spooked them all???  Horses running, pieces of grape vines flying - probably all the way to Yakima!
Our Route~
I have no idea what got into Farah.  She'd done the ride before, Post~ & was not in season.  If I'd had my HR monitor on her - I'm sure she would have pegged it...  

Saturday, we decided to head home.  My eye surgery was again re-scheduled from the 4th, to the 24th, then back to the 4th - so I have plenty to get done before I go in.  I also thought that my stalwart companions might have a better final ride without the gold girl in attendance!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Return to Ancient Lakes~

We woke to bright sunshine after a night of a pretty good wind blowing.  Scott had set our start time of 10 a.m. - most of us were saddled & waiting. Last year's ride~
On our Way~
We're on our way!  Six riders, three mares & three geldings.  Farah was very happy that Linda had brought Count along!  She was not happy that there were two other mares.
The first waterfall~
 As we rounded the first of the big turns around the cliffs - again - the sound & smell of the waterfall was so strange in this otherwise somewhat barren landscape.  More green this year - more rain has fallen.
The small pink wildflowers that were blooming everywhere last year - weren't this time - only a few here & there.  Others, that I hadn't seen before - were blooming in profusion!  So bright & beautiful!  In places, there seemed to be more grass than I'd remembered. 
Above the Ancient Lakes~
These trails are deceptive - as is the distance.  The climbs too, are steeper & tougher than they look in many cases.  Farah took up her place from last year - behind Scott's Morgan gelding Kelly. This day's ride was to Burk Lake - with a couple steep uphill climbs through the shale.
Barb, Scott & Linda
The day was getting warm, all the horses were ready for a drink of water - except Farah.  She was out-of-sorts the entire ride & didn't drink until Rio walked right in.  She watched the others drink - then stepped in & took a swallow just to satisfy me.
Heading down! 
Barb was in the lead most of the time, riding her new young horse Rio.  Rio is from Texas - so there was a rock or two that could have been spookable :-)  Otherwise - he was a champ!
Looking down the canyon~
The views here, so different from what we have at home, really do make me feel like I'm in the West - & not just western, WA.  Soon, it was time for our lunch break & Scott has the perfect spot, right in the middle of a large saddle on the top level of the plateau.
 With the horses tied below, my friends enjoyed the sunshine.  I went up to take photos, but soon slid back down the shale, to the cool shade at the base of the cliffs, with Farah.
Good grazing here~
 I was sitting by a large rock, with a small den under it's edge.  A marmot hole I'm sure.  I was wondering all the while what Farah would do if Mr. Marmot came out while she was biting off the grass outside his door :-)

On our way back,  at the second level of the plateau - I zoomed in to get this photo of the Bishop's new house.  What an incredible spot to call home!
Bishop Home~
We had quite a mix of horses this trip & as Scott said;  the larger the group - the more difficult it is to reach that perfect pace for all.   One mare was recovering from abscesses, so wasn't in condition, the other, a nice gaited mare.  Her gait was fast, but her walk wasn't quite the speed of the other horses.  Farah was pretty unhappy that I'd been holding her back all day...  So, once I knew where we were - I let her open up a little & we left the group.
I let her trot, but she was so wired that she was shying more than trotting.  Butch was waiting as we came around the corner & caught a little video clip.  Her attitude is apparent!  You would never know that we'd done those steep climbs!

Another fine evening with friends & another night of blowing winds! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Traveling to Quincy~

Scott in the Lead, Linda next~
We'd really been looking forward to another horse camping trip to the Quincy area.  Feeling lucky again that Scott & Barb included us in their plans!  This year, with her new rig - Linda was ready to join us!
At the Cole's Corner Rest Area~
We also had two new-to-us riders joining our group.  Meeting up in Sultan at 10 a.m. - we made great time to Cole's Corner - where we made our only stop.  Time to let all the dogs out for a break & that was about it!
Passing by Wenatchee~
We were surprised to see all the cloud cover & cooler temperatures when we got to Wenatchee.  The sunshine we'd enjoyed up to then, had rapidly disappeared.  Only another short hop to our camp site, which had changed this year.  Last season, we'd camped right in Dave's front yard - if you can think of any portion of his huge ranch as a front yard :-)
 Our camp~
This time, other BCH members had gotten their reservations in ahead of us, so we had the secondary camp sites just to the north.  Dave has sold the largest portion of his ranch & is in the process of building a new home out on the bluff that Butch & I had admired our last visit.

Our new camping spots were easy access, with high lines.  Farah has never high lined & has difficulty playing nice with others - so she had her usual hot wire pen.  By the time we were all situated, it was time for drinks, dinner, conversation & talk of the trails we would be riding.  We had a little excitement - when one horse got away - twice - the second time traveling quite a distance before she was recovered!
Out on the living room porch~
Jeannie came by in her truck, loaded us all up - Butch & I rode in the back - FUN -  as we headed over to the new house!  We got the under construction tour at almost sunset!  The views?  Well, when it's the only house perched out on the promontory - you can just imagine.  I didn't want to rudely take photos of a private residence, but you will see it from a distance on my next post.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Good Ole Days :-)

It had to be 2003 when I first met Diane in person.  We'd carried on a long distance friendship through email, while she was still on the east coast. When she & her Navy husband John moved to Whidbey Island, we finally met face-to-face :-)  With four boys, Diane had a sewing business too & it wasn't long before she was horse shopping!  Soon, I was invited over to see the beautiful black mare that she'd purchased from Montana.  Not long after that, she was bitten by the endurance bug!  
Elation & Diane at the NW Labor Day Ride 9-4-03
Just months earlier, I'd had my bad accident & was on crutches for the above ride.  We drove down to see Pan Am in September of that year.   I'd wanted to crew for Tiffany & Glenda (the mare Tiff had purchased from us) but instead - rode around in a truck to the out checks.  Really fun to at least be close to the action!
Glenda & Darlene at Pan Am
Diane helped with the vetting, it was an amazing experience, my second time at Pan Am & we both enjoyed it a lot.

We started riding together every chance we had.  I was riding Jas at that time, still horse shopping, while Diane was conditioning Elation.  Jas was coming to the end of her competitive career.  Diane went with me the day I went to see Khari - with the horse trailer in tow :-)
7-05  Diane checks out Khari's legs~
 Khari came home with me & it wasn't long before we were training together & having some amazing rides!  The two mares were well matched & liked each other.  Diane & Elation were winning rides, while I was getting over my fear issues & conditioning Khari.
Renegade 7-06-06
Our first official ride together was at Renegade in 2006.  It was Khari's first - so she followed Elation's lead :-)  We stuck to the trail, passed a bunch of riders who'd gone off trail & ended up just out of the top ten.  By 2007, we were going to rides together.
2008, our tent at Home On the Range
We made a couple trips up into Canada & really enjoyed the rides there.
Diane & Elation - Molton Creek - 4-27-09
 Today, when we were reminiscing about the rides & the times with Kathy, Susan & Shelley - it just didn't seem possible that so many years have gone by! 
Blanchard 2-17-10

 I was darn sad to see Diane, John & the boys move away to CA.  Khari was too - she looked for Elation for months after they'd left.  Since, we've stayed in touch - Facebook is great for that :-)  Diane evolved her Kozy Kids Company into Crazy Legs Tights.  Now, she & John have a barn full of talented endurance horses.  Times do change, friends remain :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

CHC Dessert Auction~

This was our first year attending the Cascade Horse Club's Dessert Auction!  Held at the Lake Stevens Community Center - with proceeds going toward the building & maintenance of multi-use trails!

With flyers posted all over the area, we filled the room with bidders hungry to bid on a counter filled with a plethora of sweet treats!  Cascade members, Traildusters, local visitors & families.  The desserts?  Well - it was simply a matter of picking-your-poison!
Two of Linda's famous pies were auctioned off!
Linda's pies went for over $60. each!  Then, there was Barbara's homemade Irish Cream Liquor - in a beautiful cowboy boot decanter with two shot glasses going for $75. & worth every penny I'm sure :-)  There was such a variety of items from cake pops, to key lime pie, sweet breads, cakes, brownies, cookies & of course pies!
Steve was our auctioneer!
So many volunteers worked hard & baked up a storm - to make this event a success!  Tammy's boys did a super job of assisting the auctioneer - walking through the crowd & exhibiting each item to the bidders.   The close-up look & smell drove the bidding up!  They also passed around samples of many of the tasty items!

I'm not keen on being in the kitchen - but did bake up five-dozen of my somewhat famous Oatmeal Spice, Chocolate Chip cookies.  I put them in five containers - one dozen per, with pretty western cards on top.  They sold for $15. a dozen!  I hope everyone enjoys them!

Great evening, really fun event!  If you didn't go this year, be sure to watch for next time!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rhythm of the Ride~

Farah & I headed out on our own again today.  I wanted to build on the nice calm rides we'd been having with Linda.   I also had a time limitation, with a Centennial Trail meeting tonight.   Our rides, after almost five-years together, have a sort of yearly rhythm to them now.  I vary the places close to home where we ride, keeping it as fresh as I can for both of us.  It's fun looking back over the years I've been doing the blog - to see where we were & the changes over time.
Farah at Harvey Creek~
At the Bracken Trail-head - we found many, many trailers & lots of messes too.  I again put flyers on all the trucks & before I left picked up six piles.  If every trailer there had done the same, the place would have been cleaned up.
White Flowering Dogwood
 We took the longer route around, finding that most of the downed trees had been chainsawed out of the trails!  Thanks to whoever that was!  Del was working at the shelter on getting things ready to install the fire suppression water tank for the tree farm.
Old water tank~

At the horse water tank - we came out of the woods to find Dory & her friends from Fish Creek.  I know Craig through Facebook, but don't think we've ever actually been introduced.  They were running the solar pump to get their horses used to the sound & drinking from the tank.  Farah walked up - took a sip & we were on our way.
Stimson Hill from Cloverdale
 Finally - after spending a lot of time on Google Earth & seeing the view from the top - I now recognize the mountain in the photo above as Stimson Hill!  Mt. Washington - is to the left of Farah's left ear.  Looking up - at where I was looking down from - gave me the full perspective. 
Peak of Mt. Washington to the left of Farah's ears.  Stimson Hill to the right~
 The cooler day that the weatherman had promised, was not much cooler, warming into at least the mid-70's.  Happily the on-shore flow breeze did materialize & what a relief, it kept the bugs at bay.
Side of Mt. Washington & the road we were on - Sunday~
The photo above is fully zoomed in.  The canyon between the two peaks is the one we ride around & where Joyce & I ran into knee deep snow in May one year.
On Tin Bridge~
 We stopped at Cloverdale, then headed back, taking a longer loop.  Twice on the return, Farah wanted to take a different trail - she was enjoying herself.
Siberian Miner's Lettuce, Candy Flower
 I've admired the flowers above for years & finally took the time to find them!  Such a pretty ground cover.  Click on the link for further information.  Enjoy every one of the native plants you see, each is such a natural beauty!
Left over fire debris~
On the main road across the top of the tree farm, we found this :-(  Really disheartening, disgusting & dangerous to say the least!  This is the kind of thing that could get us closed out of these trails forever...  I didn't see any tracks of motorized - hard to believe that fellow horsemen would be so disrespectful - but I do wonder....

Another Summer like Spring day in the Great Pacific Northwest!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ladies Ride~

As I drove up to the Glass School parking - I was halted by a crew working on the lines.  With the stabilizing leg down on the truck, there was no room for me to get the trailer by.  The delay was only maybe ten minutes.  They brought the boom down, retracted the leg & we squeezed by :-)
Crew at work~
I was meeting up with Linda, Kerry & Toni for a mid-week ride :-)  It seemed warmer today than yesterday, the humidity was higher - the haze heavier.  It was a good excuse to get Farah out with more than one horse - a rarity for us & good for her.  Nice for us both to enjoy a group ride.
 Linda, Kerry & Toni
The bugs were again out in hoards - my spray didn't seem to do much, Linda's worked better.  We were all glad to reach the monument & the breeze that is almost always there.
Haze above the Sound~
The horses enjoyed the 6" high grass, full of blooming dandelions.  Kerry & Toni were amazed at Farah grazing on her own, I hope this practice doesn't come back to bite me :-)  Toni had to be back by mid-day, so after we brought them back within easy reach of the trailers - Linda & I left for another loop.
Higher on the mountain
We took the roads & stayed higher on the north end of the tree farm.   Khody seems to be enjoying the work he's been put to & led a lot of the way.  Farah was disinterested - still fully in season, but again I sure enjoyed her quiet demeanor.
Linda & Khody
We did go down one trail a short way - Linda thought there was a blow-down & yes, there was.  More chain saw work.  Farah seems to like Khody - I know she has a preference for buckskins - after her long time friendship with Amanda's handsome Cato.

After listening the the weather report, it sounds like we'll be moving back into temperatures more normal for this time of year & I really don't think I'll mind!  No bugs would be welcome!