Friday, December 31, 2010

Bye 2010 - Hello 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR ! I don't always take the time to look back upon the year. But when I remember the fact "but for the grace of God go I", then I realize I should truly appreciate the year. I've survived some wrecks & scrapes over the years only because God wasn't done with me yet.

One thing I have learned is people say "I hope you find happiness in the New Year." Well I don't think you find happiness, it's a choice you make. Happiness is what you live & create.

Of course, my happiest place is on a horse in the wilderness some place. I got to ride a LOT this year. HOORAY! For the first time Thunder & I went to Oregon for a couple rides. That led to my number one goal for the year, to ride a 100. The first I'd done in several years. We had so much fun we did two! We did all 5 days of Canyonlands multi-day & Thunder felt good enough for a couple more days! That was truly awesome & left me wanting more!
And another first, I rode with my grandaughter McKenzie. I hope we get to do it again. Dad & Karen came to visit and we all went up to the mine, another first. The girls had more fun trying to catch tadpoles than anything!
Of course everything wasn't a success and life isn't always wonderful, but I take the good & I'm thankful for it.

So I look forward to spring 2011 when I can return to some good rides! I hope everyone has something they enjoy doing & go enjoy! Count your blessings & be thanful!

Live it up in 2011!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Wind Caves


Halloween weekend. The final Northwest ride for 2010. A 2-day event of sand, rocks, gopher holes, gravel roads, sagebrush, canyons and a few stray trees not far from the Snake River and Oregon Trail.
PLUS a history lesson. This was the land of the Utter Disaster, often referrred to as one of the worst Indian attacks on the Oregon Trail. On September 9& 10, 1860, the Utter/Van Ormen WagonTrain engaged in a life-and-death struggle with attacking Indians near Castle Butte.
The assault on the wagon train of forty-four emigrants led by Elijah P. Utter resulted in the deaths of six men, two women, and three children. Indian casualties were estimated at between 25 and 30. Survivors followed the Snake River to near the mouth of the OwyheeRiver. When rescued by the Army 40 days later, only fifteen had survived the ordeal of hunger and deprivation. This sign is posted on Hwy 78 near Wees Rd. It's an amazing story!
I opted to ride the 75 miler because it was a big 55 mile loop out to the Birch Creek Canyon and the Wind Caves. I wouldn't have a bunch of little loops in and out of camp, which for me is a big bonus because I don't like a lot of loops. And my big treat for the day was the Wind Caves along the big sandy wash of Birch Creek. These are awesome formations with big holes a person can easily crawl through. I wonder if the Indians ever used them. The formations resemble a pile of skulls from a distance. Quite fitting for Halloween and it looked like they belonged in an Indiana Jones movie! Birch Creek Canyon and it's many rock formations was great also but I was busy watching trail and footing and found it hard to ride with camera in hand. I'd like to go back for a day ride and take lots of photos.
Thunder gave me a fine ride on the 75. Back in camp for the final vet check my riding partners both got pulled. This left us 12 miles to go by ourselves, creating a new adventure. I wondered if Thunder might miss his buddies and be reluctant to leave camp? Nope! He didn't even look back and cantered happily down the trail. We trotted as much as we could and it got dark on us about 45 minutes out of camp. I'd ridden Thunder in the dark before but not just the two of us. It's a great experience trotting along, trusting your horse to judge the footing and choose the pace. I was pretty proud of him as he did fantastic! John Teeter did a superb job of putting out glo sticks so I never questioned where the trail went. I did finally turn my light on for the last couple miles as we went through some gates and I wanted to be sure to stay out of any wire. I didn't need to worry about gopher holes because Thunder wasn't going near any of them. We finished about 8:50 PM, I think we were 6th out 8. Not great by some folks standards but I'd finished on a sound healthy horse that could have gone farther! True to form he gave me only one buck for the ride - thats my boy! Some days I get several. It was a great wrap up to a successful ride year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall has Fell



Laps in the pasture, what better way to blow off some steam on a cool fall morning. The summer heat has stepped aside. This is the beginning of cooler days. I'm pretty sure a warm day will now be the exception. Even old Zap joined in for a short time.

















Zap thought most of it was silly, afterall he is 27 this year. He preferred to keep eating that lush grass while Thunder & Blue ran circles around him.
















Scarlet sneaking up on the inside of her mother, Hollie, trying to steal the lead. And she did. She might be little but she is quick!



















Brother and sister having some fun. I think it's interesting how these two have joined up again after years of being apart.


















Another lap around the field with Hollie out in front. She cheated and cut the corner, enjoying the run!









Lap after lap they ran, then they started to slow down. Trot around. Snort and blow. With all the frivolities over, it was simply time to graze.

















Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Canyonlands

I stir in my sleeping bag as I hear a soft nicker. Followed by a louder nicker. I hear a hoof pawing. Stomp! Stomp! A bucket makes a clang against the corral panels. Stomp! Stomp! Another whinny calls out. There is no doubt in my mind. It is Thunder, calling for room service! "Hey Lady! Breakfast time!"

"Ok Ok" I call to him. "I'm up!" As I step outside the moonlight is casting shadows everywhere. I don't need the flashlight as I give the boys their hay. Thunder continues to paw until I give him his soggy beet pulp with a bit of grain. Then all I can hear is "Slurp! Slosh! Slurp!" Oh yes and the thumping of Molly's wagging tail as she gets her dog food!

At a multi-day ride a routine quickly develops. Feed the horses and the dog. Breakfast. Walk the horses and the dog. Saddle up, pack the water bottles. Get the dog settled for the day. Bridle and interference boots. Ditch the jacket. Strap on the helmet. Mount up and get outta Dodge!



Each day at the Owyhee Canyonlands is a brand new adventure. Promises of old cabins, remnants of wagons, gorgeous vistas and a whole lot of trail! The Castle Creek ride on Day 2 offers some gorgeous views of several canyons where the rock walls harbor caves belonging to some citter. The first part of this ride is pretty hilly and rocky. We took our time, rode easy and got to the halfway vet check in 4 hours. After an hour of letting Thunder suck up all his food and my peanuts, we were ready to circle around back to camp.

It's hard to pick a favorite day because each one is beautiful in it's own way. But I do think my personal favorites were the 3rd and 4th days, Oregon Trail and Sinker Creek loops.







Merri Melde rode Blue on Day 3 and she took this shot of Thunder and I. T
The Oregon Trail 50, goes NW to the beautiful Rio Del Sierra Ranch. The owners amazingly welcome us each year and allow us to invade their pasture for our vet check. And it was our vet check not just once but twice as we had a circle of trail from the ranch that took us over the Oregon Trail. This section was quite rocky and went up a narrow ravine that makes one wonder how they ever got wagons through there. Up on top are some stretches of wagon ruts cut into the rock slabs. We traveled on out to a canyon lip that overlooked the glsitening Snake River far below. It was definitely a WOW moment! The route took us back to the Oregon Trail and the ranch for that second vet check mentioned earlier. Afterwhich we traveled across the varied terrain to Oreana and the Teeter's Ranch once again.








Day 4 is Sinker Creek, where we ride west of camp, with some good trotting ground before dropping elevation and passing through the rocky gates as the canyon walls come together. We crossed the creek about 30 times as we just kept looking up into the gorgeous rock formations and cathedral spires of the canyon walls. Later climbing and climbing back out and topping out on a plateau with yet another amazing view! One vet check on this day and then back around through Pickett Creek drainage and up onto the Hart Creek Rim trail. Thunder was so full of it along the rim that I was tired of him pulling on me. He knew where he was and wanted to go. So I led him for awhile until he settled down. Four days and still frolicking!



Day 5 used 2 loops out of camp so no vet crew bag to pack since we would return to camp halfway through the day. The loop went out across the highway through The Birds of Prey lands near Rye Patch and returned to camp for the first 25 miles. This was easier for crews and vets but a bit hard for the horses because so far each day, once in camp they were finished. But not this day. After their hour hold in the vet check they had to go back to another loop. I didn't want Thunder to think he was done for the day so I left him saddled. The plan seemed to work as we left camp and went out to Hart Creek. The trail took us through an old homestead and a neat dugout! Then farther up we interrupted a napping rattler who was pretty cranky after he almost got stomped on.





Thunder was really strong the last few miles in. I was with another 5-day rider, Drin Becker, and we were both certain our horses could have done another day if it was there. Thunder was just full of it! I think he was doing his "happy dance"!

Multi-day rides are so incredibly wonderful. You begin the week camping with a few friends, and before you know it everyone is your friend. It's hard to see the week end. You know that some of your new friends you won't see for a long time, or maybe not at all.



But the magic has to come to an end. And the sun sets on another adventure that goes into my treasure chest of fun and savage amusement!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Owyhee Adventure part 1


Blue: Hey Thunder, whadda ya suppose is down this road?

Thunder: I've been here before. A lot of horses go down this road to a big hill. The humans try to relive the Old West by riding us from here to the Snake River and the Oregon Trail.

Blue: I got to go on the East loop last year but not out to the Oregon Trail. Wow!

Thunder: You'll get to see it this year. You have a rider for Day 1. Follow me kid!

The Owyhee Mountain Range of SW Idaho is flanked by Hwy 78. To some it is a vast brown barren wasteland. To others, the high desert holds a rich history and a hidden beauty that at first you may have to look for. But then as the peace and serenity settles into your bones, you truly begin to appreciate the land. As you watch the sun come up over the horizons and the gold and pink hues in the landscape you begin to see it take on a life of it's very own. Little has changed in the Owyhees in the last 200 years. A few roads have been added but other than that, it is still the Old West where time has stood still. In the silence as you ride, you can hear the footfall of your horse, his every breath, the squeak of leather and if you are lucky, the call of a hawk.



As the sun rises on Sept 28, 2010; 68 riders saddle up and leave Oreana, Idaho. Their destination? Wild Horse Butte, the lands of Birds of Prey and the Snake River. It is more than a new dawn it is the beginning of a 5 day adventure through the Owyhees.



The trail left the Teeter's Ranch and climbed through washes to the open flats, heading east across Hwy 78. The footing was pretty sandy with rolling hills, cow trails and two-track roads out to the Snake River for a welcome chance to cool off and relax in the water. Leonard Liesens took the photo of everyone at the river as he was riding Z Blue Lightening, Thunder's cousin.




The route ambled along the Snake River for awhile then it was a climb up out of the lowlands and soon we were on the Oregon Trail. One can't help but wonder what the pioneers thought as they left that beautiful river behind and headed out into the dust. Perhaps there was more grassland then and less sagebrush but it was still pretty dry. I am thankful for a good horse that can go 50 miles day and not 3 miles a day like those wagons did! UGH!

After the vet check we had 16 miles of trails and two truck with more gulleys, arroyos, hills and sand. Some places were a bit tricky and Thunder felt good and threw in a couple bucks. Once as we were trotting along he leaped straight in the air! I think I heard a rattler but I was pretty busy trying to stay right side up!


I was pleased Blue could give his rider, Leonard Liesens of Belgium, his first look at the Oregon Trail! Leo thought that was pretty cool! There were a few pulls the first day but nothing serious and we were all happy to see camp! The horses vetted through without any trouble and we had a completion for day 1 before 2 PM!

Once finished though the work begins for the next day. Take care of the ponies so they can go again the next day. Go get your vet crewbag and repack it, load it in the rig going to the vet check so you will have all your stuff. Wash out your equipment so it is clean and ready. Feed the horse some more and pay attention to every little nick and bump so he can keep going. Go shower. Walk the ponies and play with Molly Dog. Dinner for me then more dinner for the horses. It never ends but I love it!! Even though I will get up in the middle of the night just to check and be sure the horses are fine. Toss them more hay and tell them good night once more.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Home Scarlet

If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it's yours, if it doesn't it never was.


This would be the tale of Z Blazen Scarlet. I bred and raised her along with a few others. I wanted to breed Arabian horses of Crabbet and Davenport heritage. Then circumstances forced me to disperse most of the Rushcreek mares and a couple foals. It was hard to know what to sell, I just priced most of them and let destiny takes it's course.
Scarlet was sold as a yearling and went to live near Portland wtih Jessica Anderly. Then roughly two years ago when Jess moved, she was purchased by Karen Steenhof and was in Idaho. A year later she was purchased by Cindi Hein, and went to Utah.
A couple months ago, after acquiring a gaited horse, Cindi made the difficult decision to sell Scarlet but felt no one would come view her there. So I said bring her here, lots of Arabian lovers, endurance and trail riders, and I'll find her a home. Fate and God have a way of working things out and you don't even see it coming. Scarlet came and it was like an old friend showing up. You just take up where you last left off. Then McKenzie and Riley started riding her. Before you know it that little red mare had worked her way back in.
It appears that Scarlets life has completed the circle, she is back home with her family. Where she was evidently meant to be. The girls love riding the cute little red mare who turned out to be just their size. Life is good and all things happen for a reason. We set her free, and now she is back.




Saturday, September 11, 2010

Riding Old Selam

The Old Selam endurance ride near Centerville, ID, just North of Idaho City, is one of my all time favorite rides. The ride always delivers good footing, hills, scenery and creeks. Plus I love Idaho City, another old mining boomtown with many historic buildings. It’s always fun to take some time and check it out. I usually see something I haven’t paid attention to like the pictured jail, or as the sign calls it “Pest House”. Hard to believe these tiny towns had populations of around 3000 in their prime during the gold rush.


The ride camp is on Oscar Baumhoff’s property on the banks of Henry Creek, a mining hot bed in the 1860’s. This has been home to the ride since 1996. The ride was first held in 1976, when camp was near one of the old barns at the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise, which closed in 1973. I first rode it in 1979, and we took a tour of the old prison which is now a museum and all the houses have since been restored.
“What an odd place for a ride?” is perhaps what you are pondering, and you might be thinking that I misspelled the name too. The ride name, Old Selam, is no mistake. Selam was a cart horse used at the prison. In his day he was a fine carriage and riding horse. But in 1901 the aging grey gelding was used as an escape vehicle; not once but twice!

On Christmas Eve in 1901, "Bob" Meeks, a member of the Butch Cassidy gang, was working around the hog pens in the prison complex when he unhitched Selam from the wagon and literally headed for the hills! Trackers found the harness Meeks cut from Selam and also where Meeks had gotten off Selam and walked alongside him as they climbed the steep hillsides. Meeks was re-captured on Christmas Day, and both he and Selam were returned to the prison.

The second escape was on December 30, 1901. As the lights in the prison began to dim that morning, an investigation showed that trustee Sam Bruner was not at his duty station in the power plant. A check of the prison revealed that Old Selam, as well as a saddle and bridle, were missing. The sheriff’s posse never caught Sam or Selam, who together made a rare and successful escape from the penitentiary.

Over the years I have ridden this ride about ten times on several different horses, usually a 50 miler but also as a 2-day 100 in 1980 on Sunny Spots R. The ride was darn tough as we left the old prison and traveled up the Boise Front, and it was easy to see why it was a 2-day 100 and not a one-day. The first day we had gorgeous warm weather and the next it was cold and raining! about ten years ago Andi & I rode it together and Steve Bradley's photo of us made the cover of AERC News.

Two day rides have gained popularity here in Idaho. The last few years the club that puts on the ride, Southwest Trail and Distance Rides (SWIT&DR), has taken advantage of the holiday weekend and provided riders with two days of trails! I had planned on riding the second day, just like last year, so I didn’t have to take any time off work or fight holiday traffic on Labor Day weekend. I tripped upon the post on Facebook to enter Easyboots free entry contest, and I was fortunate to be chosen. Thank-you Easyboot!!!!!

I drove up the winding mountain road to ride camp Saturday morning so I could volunteer and help with pulsing or whatever was needed. I arrived, set up camp, and then 50 mile horses were coming in off of loop 2. Taking pulses in vet checks is always a great learning experience and a good way to meet new riders. Awards and a tasty potluck dinner took place after the ride, followed by the ride meeting of all these many colored ribbons and loops which always confuses me! There would be a big reader board at the timers to help everyone know which loop was what combination of colors.

Sunday morning, Sept 5, it was MY turn to ride. I was so excited. Yes I still get excited after all these years and miles because I just love to ride. I had my chestnut, Z Summer Thunder ready to go. Amanda Washington was riding my other horse, Z Blue Lightening. It isn’t often I get both horses out at once and I was thankful Amanda had wanted a horse to ride. She loves Blue and he was long overdue for a ride! Both horses were outfitted in Easyboot Gloves on all four barefoot hooves.

The first loop started uphill, which was a great way to settle the boys down and make them work. They needed to get their minds off tricks and spooks. The 20 mile loop traveled around the hills, through the woods with beautiful open vistas of the vast countryside. Lots of ups and downs, some over 5000 feet elevation and camp was near 4100 feet. The footing was fantastic over old soft logging roads and pine needle covered trails. Back in camp for a vet check and a 45 minute hold. Thunder had a 52 pulse and Blue had a 48 so yeah, we were riding hard! HAHA! I kept saying, I’m saving it for the Owyhee Canyonlands 5-day.

The second loop was harder but we had many crossings of Grimes, Clear and Henry Creeks. The banks of which had piles of rock from dredging out gold ore in the old days. But the water was so perfectly clear! I looked but didn’t see any gold nuggets.

The horses had many opportunities to drink and soak their Glove covered hooves in the cold mountain creeks! This loop seemed endless as we’d climb up, drop down to a creek, then climb up again. The narrow trails made the horses think and watch their footing. But it was so beautiful that it was pretty hard to complain. The dirt roads sparkled with “fools gold” or micah, aka pyrite, which must have driven the miners absolutely nuts! One section of trail traveled through an old water flume built in the 1860's.


The last loop was 10 miles that was described as “Just some hill at first then flat.” Well I had to chuckle about that because I know that flat ground in this country is pretty rare. The little roller coaster loop also had some motorcycle moguls that slowed us down some. But like the other two loops, it was challenging and gorgeous.
I’m not sure where we finished, it didn’t matter because we had FUN! The boys looked great and our time was 6:50. The Gloves hadn’t given us any trouble at all, they never do. There were several other “booters” out there on both days. Easyboot had donated several pairs of Gloves that were awarded for Best Condition or High Vet Score both days.
One of the finer things about this ride was not one single horse needed to be treated. Everyone took good care of their horses and the veterinarians did a wonderful
job. To say a great time was had by all is a huge understatement. I guess you just have to come ride it for yourself and experience Old Selam!






















Sunday, August 15, 2010

TICKLED PINK


Hey are you riding PF?

What's a PF?


Oh it's the Pink FlamingoEndurance ride.


Really? You riding a Flamingo?


No but there are flamingos in camp.

Well is it a bunch of Florida transplants having an endurance ride?

No but there are a few dressed up like flamingos.

Are you herding Flamingo's?

No.

The Pink Flamingo Classic is a great fundraiser for Breast Cancer, via an endurance ride and fantastic raffle. There are awards for the best decorated campsites and the best costumed flamingo rider too. The ride takes place in the hills near Cascade, ID., south of McCall. A sign at the edge of camp reads "Release your inner Flamingo!" I've ridden it the last two years but only one day. This year - I really wanted to ride both days. It wasn't a two-day 100 but in my mind it had to be a 2-day 100. That way, I was committed to both days unless something came up to really stop me. In order to be successful I had to keep my horse sound and healthy AND not get off trail.



The first day I rode with Carrie on the horse she bought from my daughter. Kinda strange traveling alongside the horse that Al had only wanted to see Andi ride before he died. A dream that never happened, and I found myself hoping he was watching his horse go down the trail. Thunder and Crusty trotted along well together and Carrie and I were having a good ride. The trails were beautiful, the footing was great and it was a gorgeous day. Only her easyboot that she put on was twisted and the cable too tight and it was pinching Crusty's heel bulb. So she cut the cable, and rode him barefoot the last loop.

I went on ahead and rode with Layne and Jenny. Almost missed a turn, thanks Layne, she put me back on course. This was the first time I'd ridden with Layne on Harley, who happens to be Thunder's only son. Harley is the chestnut who's head is in the feed tub in the picture. Harley really trots out, spooks and is as silly as his dad! Amanda was just leaving the creek as we arrived, and she decided to wait for us. Good thing too or she would have missed the great kodak moment of Harley laying down in the creek with Layne. Oh that was so funny we laughed all the rest of the way in! Layne had one wet shoe and one dry shoe when we all crossed the finish line!

Day 2, my horse looks great so I ride out with Bob Lund. I wanted to go a bit slower than our 6 1/2 hr time for day 1. Bob's horse is tall and has a huge stride but he wanted to slow down and we had a good day. I missed a couple turns but never went far, just not watching close enough I guess because they were marked! Somehow the hills didn't seem quite as long on day 2 and again the footing was great. The creeks and water stops were so nice, and the little lake was gorgeous. We finished the second day in 7 hrs and 50 min so I was pleased with that. Thunder looked great and his Easyboot Gloves hadn't budged a bit.

The woods are so cool and lovely that I really didn't want to head back down to the valley in the heat. An extra day would have been so nice but I had to work Monday to support my endurance habit. :-) However, I will go back to Cascade and ride the Pink Flamingo next year!

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Quest for the "perfect" saddle


Has anyone else out there had this joyful task of late? What a pain in the Wazoo!!
As a kid I rode bareback for a year, worked hard and saved my $$ and bought a saddle for $85. Then I traded the saddle and $15 to boot for a horse. Then I was bareback again until I saved enough $$ for my fancy buckstitch tooled saddle. It was so gorgeous I didn't want to mess it up so I still rode bareback!
But I don't want to ride bareback these days and I keep searching for my perfect saddle that may not exist.
I want - yes I want - a saddle with at least a 5 yr warranty on the tree. Do you realize how many have a 1 yr warranty? Boy are they proud of that one! And I don't want a plastic tree especially on a $1500 saddle. Where do they get off on that?!
And have you ever noticed how every saddle's customer testimonials read "The most comfortable saddle I have ever sat in"? Well maybe for their fanny but not mine.
Strangely enough the saddle needs to fit me and the horses.
I don't want custom because it will only fit the horse it is built for and who can afford two of those? The same applies to saddles made in a variety of tree widths. I don't want to have to play with parts and pieces to change the fit, nor do I want to turn a crank to adjust a saddle because who's to say I know what I am doing in that department.
And yes I had treeless also but didn't think they were really the best saddle for the horses. No weight distribution and there is pressure on the spine. I could always get on but I know people who have trouble with the stability of the treeless saddles. Cross them off my list.
Years ago I managed to find a saddle that amazingly fit everything we ever put it on. I wore it out! No white hairs ever, no dry spots, no rubs, it was fantastic. Andi still has one of those saddles, it's English and I gave up that riding style a few years back. My old injured back likes the support of the western styled saddles. Lately I have noticed another new trend where the stirrups or way out in front of the rider so you sit like you are in your Lazy Boy recliner. Now how is that going to help me stay balanced and on board when they spook and buck?
Yes I am asking for a lot, but it's my hard earned dollar, my fanny and my horse's backs.
So with all my criteria in hand I started exploring, and after a few months settled on the flex panel and flex tree saddles.
Oh yes that's another thing, the flex tree saddles come in a 16" seat or bigger. OK I have gained a few pounds over the years but a 16" seat is way too big. So that left me with the flex panel. I tried one in a 15" very padded tush-friendly model and - oh my - that 15" seat was a 14 so it didn't work. But the saddle worked well on the horses, adjusting itself to all three different width horses. They have a great air channel and no pressure or dry spots. Hmmm. Maybe I was on the right track.
This led me to my present saddle, a 15" Timberline that seems to fit all three of the horses. No rubs, no dry spots and the horses have a good attitude. It fits me also but the seat "could" have a narrower twist for a bit more comfort, so it's not perfect but it will do. The dropped rigging is adjustable so I can position it where it won't rub. This saddle fits "most" of my criteria. It's an improvement, but it still isn't perfect - mostly due to the wider seat.
Now I have to ask anyone out there - do you think you make or sell the perfect saddle? Yes? Then let me try it, if you dare. I am the Princess and the Pea when it comes to saddles. :-)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

THE MANY FACES OF SUNRIVER

Photo by Tami Rougeau
I have been lucky enough this year to be able to venture to Central Oregon for two rides. This has given me the opportunity to visit with old friends that I haven't seen for a long long time! What a treat! But all day as I traveled the 100 miles of SunRiver, people kept asking, "Karen, how many times have you ridden SunRiver?" A lot! That was my only answer but once home I did the research.
One year that I didn't have to look up was 1977, my first SunRiver. It was also my very first 100 mile ride on my big horse, Sunny Spots. Nancy Cox and I rode together, it was also her first 100 on Rakar. I broke a stirrup and rode into camp at the 50 mile point, packing my stirrup in my right hand. Not to be deterred I borrowed a saddle for the next 50 miles. This first year the ride camp was in a meadow on the banks of the Deschutes River near the town of SunRiver. It was beautiful!! The 50 mile loop was uphill for the first half and down for the last half. 10 started and 5 finished. We were out until pretty late, leading our hroses down a hill in the dark, and we saw headlights. This startled us a bit and we were trying to figure out who it could be. Turned out to be ride management out looking for us. Gene Petersen took one look at us leading our horses and said, "Time to ride girls!" He picked me up and put me on my horse and then followed us in the pickup - hey now we had lights. We were tired and sore but the horses were fine.
And that my friends was the first of many more 100 mile rides. I rode Sunny on five different Sun River 100's. One of those just a couple months after Andi was born. I rode the 100 four times on Moka's Pat-A-Dott.
One year I borrowed a horse, Reno, from Jennifer Horsman, so I could ride the 100. Zap did the 100 at SunRiver/Chuckwagon twice. Yet another year I took a new horse, Jafar, on his first 50 there. It is always a great first ride of some sort.
This year it was Thunder's second 100, only three weeks after River Run. A bit closer in timing than I like but I was able to go at that time and reasoned were weren't going fast so we would be fine. It stormed and rumbled and poured and flashed Friday as we stood huddled under a small shelter for our ride meeting and dinner. We all hoped this wasn't a preview of Saturday.
I met Tami Rougeau from Nevada, a fellow Easyboot Glove user, and we talked and decided to ride together.
We left a few minutes late and they never saw the other horses leave camp. May & Thunder walked calmly out of camp and were well behaved all day! It was wonderful. It was a cool 42 degrees! We'd had 85 at home just a few days earlier and these temperature extremes are hard on the horses and riders. I layered clothes and used a rump rug on Thunder for the first time. During the day we encountered some rain, sleet, sun and fog. It felt more like April than mid-June. But the trail had no dust and it really was good weather as long as we kept moving. We'd get chilled waiting in the vet checks. The biggest thing was the horses were starving. They tried to graze on the mountain nibbles of grass but it was sparse at best. Thunder never stopped eating in the vet checks, they just needed more time to eat. We picked up another new friend, Nancy Cardosa, around 55 miles and the three horses traveled well together. Thunder and his two mares, May and Elektrika, were all troopers and we just kept plugging away to the finish. Our CRI's were great at 40/40 and Dr Bensen said Thunder looked great at the finish. So we placed 11, 12 & 13 out of 17 starters. Not that it really matters to me. I just wanted to finish on a healthy horse!
So back to the original question of how many times did I ride it? A total of 14 times, 12 of those rides were on the 100 miler. I rode it when the ride moved camp out by the Rainbow Bridge, then up to Kiowa Springs when it was also renamed ChuckWagon Express. Then later camp moved to it's present site at Wanoga Sno Park and was eventually renamed SunRiver Classic. And a classic ride is what it remains today. Thanks to all who work so hard to keep this great ride going. The management is as classy as the ride!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Old horse, young horse, green horse, kinda stupid horse

This is my answer when someone asks me "Where have you been?" Or "Wow haven't seen you at a ride for a long time!"

At one point this endurance junkie had safely placed endurance riding on the back burner of life and was surviving nicely. When I saw an old friend and they'd ask "Have you been riding much?" I had all the excuses and reasons. Horse is too old. Not enough $$$. I got a young horse that isn't broke yet. Oh I can't take that beast out in public yet!

But then the young horses got older and the training began. And it went on and on. Now green horses are supposed to get better with time and training. But you can train and do tricks and games in a ring all you want, but nothing "makes" a horse like riding it. I was once asked "So what makes a good horse?" I told them wet saddle blankets, LOTS of wet saddle blankets. Now I'm not sure if this person was one fry short of a Happy Meal but the queation was asked "Where do you buy those?" OK so I know that you aren't supposed to laugh at people. So after biting my tongue and being in pain I had to explain that you earned these wet saddle blankets by getting out and actually riding the horse. The hotter the weather the more the horse sweats, the wetter the saddle blanket and the faster you get results.

Now I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But I have tried this training thing both ways. Back in the day we would just get on and ride. If they had a turn and a whoa we headed for the hills and they got their first wet saddle blanket. I was also younger and tougher back then. Or you ride in an arena for awhile, graduate to trails so they "learn", and hope they remember when they get out in public. Mine are kinda stupid so in public they have to act totally unbroke and entertain everyone. It has been my experience that we got way better results doing it the the old ride 'em cowboy way, and our horses didn't take forever to be a decent ride. A good Arab needs to get a bit tired for any memory retention to take place I think.

So with that in mind, it was time to take the young, green and sometimes stupid horse to an endurance ride. And then another ride and another ride.....because maybe mine are a bit slow learning how this works. Or smarter than their rider. Or definitely tougher than what I bargained for. Yup that's it! They just get fitter and tougher and better. There is a fine line between stupid and tough, you ride enough and you'll figure out where to draw that line. My friends and I would ride for hours, days and miles and miles. After 1000 miles and five years of wet saddle blankets - Thunder is starting to figure it out. And those 100's pack bonus points into those wet saddle blankets so you get faster results. My goodness, the red horse does have manners!
Looking back, Zap wasn't really "good" till he had at least 3000 miles and was about 13 years old. Blue only has a little over 300 AERC miles, with some good unmeasured trail miles in a couple years time. He will see more action during the summer.
Hmmm, so I have a loooong way to go yet!

So here I am, riding two horses as often and regularly as I can fit it in around work. Getting those hard earned wet saddle blankets. The wetter the better. The farther they go wearing that wet blanket the better they become. Man this is work. And now - here I am - back riding 100's after all these years. And still finding it fun. Yeah I may be kinda stupid too. Well matched to these ponies. YEEHAW! Go ride!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

THE LONG ROAD BACK

Thunder and I doing our first 100 with Lynn White and Agnes. Photo by Steve Bradley

This ride was a long time coming. It wasn't just a matter of getting in shape and doing it, there were so many hurdles jumped to get there.

Wrecks! Injuries. In 2006 I fell down the bus steps and broke my tailbone, blew three discs in my back and missed a whole year of endurance riding. I was lucky to ride at all during late summer but had two patient friends in Carol Brand and Karen Steenhof while I rode Rushcreek Hollie. A year later i felt that I was doing well enough to start riding Hollie's son Thunder. I took him on one 50 miler but the trotting and such was just tough on me. We did finish though and I stuck with trail riding. Then the day before my birthday, Thunder spooked, bolted, I came off when he skidded on the gravel road and that was the end of that ride, and any rides for awhile. Broken ribs, punctured lung, concussion, lost horse for 6 days, great friends out searching for him, oh my gosh what a nightmare.

I learned that I will never ride in a bosal again, a one rein stop doesn't work in a true emergency in wide open spaces and I also learned the horse when panicked is totally unpredictable. I also learned what superb friends I have as they worked so hard to recover my horse which is a story in itself.

As I healed up I started riding Hollie again and Thunder went to my friend Joe Nebeker for some "remedial learning". And no more hackamore, I told Joe "I want a bit in that sucker's mouth!" You know, until that day when he spooked and bolted, he was not a spooky horse. Obnoxious and bucky yes but he was not spooky. Now he is still spooky. Joe rode him on cattle and a couple endurance rides. I had people telling me to never ride him again (even though I was) and that I needed to sell him because he was going to get me hurt. I started to believe them and was going to sell him, but couldn't actually do it to my dream horse. I had bred and raised this horse and had a special conncetion with him from the moment he was born. No I had to keep him and get through this. I had a few friends encouraging me and I am so glad they did.

Thunder is never easy. He "allows" me to sit on his back and he takes me places. We bargain and reach compromises as we go along. He likes to play games and push my buttons, just like a playful boy child. But as he matures he is getting better all the time. Four days in the Sawtooth Mountains really built our teamwork. We crossed talus slopes, granite fields, traversed narrow trails so high they scared me till I was tremebling, rapid white water streams all while looking at some of the most gorgeous God's country I had ever seen.

It took a lot of time, prayers and courage but Thunder and I gradually worked it all out. Miles of trails, time spent riding alone, plus endurance rides here and there pushed us towards the ultimate goal. A 100 miler. Amidst all this I was still strengthening the weak back and working my way into shape again. Of course old bodies don't just keep healing, there are always set backs and you just have to deal with them.

With that 100 mile in goal in mind, we started with Tough Sucker 50, the Owyhee Spring 60, a week later we did Prineville 75. The 75 kicked my butt. I was tired and hurting but Thunder had been a very eager beaver the first 25 miles, just bouncing me everywhere. But I was still determined to do the 100 at Oreana. My daughter was convinced her mother was crazy when I said "I have to do it - to see if I still can."

Well we all know that we did do the ride and I had a blast. The trail was fantastic, the scenery gorgeous, the challenges were there but doable. And I felt good. I'm back!!! And it's great. Life is a journey. I'm glad I didn't run from it and chicken out, riding a shorter distance. I'm glad I stuck with the horse that nearly killed me because I kept telling people he wasn't a bad horse, we just had a bad day. The best things we do in life aren't easy, that's what makes them the best.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Owyhee Fandango - River Run!


Thunder was fine crossing the historic Guffey Bridge but wasn't crazy about stopping high above the Snake River for his photo!

The Owyhees have become one of my favorite places thanks to all the endurance rides put on by the Teeters and their great friends. When I am anywhere where I can see the Owyhees I just gaze at them and all these great memeories come rushing into my head! And now, once again, I was heading South to Oreana. I was pretty excited about going down to ride the 100 on Thunder. His first ever 100 and my first in a few years. The thoughts of new trails drew me like a piece of steel to a magnet.
Sunday at 6 AM my friend Lynn White and I left the Teeter Ranch, beginning our long day's trek. We headed NE to the Sierra Del Rio Ranch, a beautiful oasis not far from the Snake River. This heavenly spot was once a water and rest stop on the Oregon Trail. From here we rode through some awesome wagon ruts left over 150 years ago. When you are out in the remote country, truly very little has changed with time, and it is like taking a step back through history. Later we dropped down into the Snake River Gorge near Swan Falls Dam. Somewhere in here we managed to pass three riders, but I had a feeling we'd be seeing them again. We rode on sandy two-track roads and trails along the river, past an orchard from an old homestead, and into the large rocks decorated with petroglyphs. These boulders washed down in the Bonneville Flood over 15,000 years ago. Our trail later became skinny and hard to keep track of as it wandered through some boulders and rocks that some riders just hated. But I didn't mind, I've helped move cattle through rougher country than that. One section of the river had about 20 pelicans, the fishing must have been good!

Seeing the radio crew at the Pumping Station was a welcome sight and from there it was only a few miles to Celebration Park, Idaho's first archaeological park. We had to cross the historic Guffey Bridge, over 500 feet long and far up above the water. It was designed for the hauling of gold and silver ore from Silver City mines at the turn of the century. Later during World War II it was used for target practice and it was restored in 1989.



Our 40 mile vet check was in Celebration Park along the banks of the Snake River. It was warming up and when we arrived there had been four horses pulled. Nothing like hearing that news to place fear in your heart! But we vetted through with A's and would be allowed to retrace our steps back to the Ranch after an hour rest. Thunder never stopped eating the whole time, what a hoover! But it is one of the things that makes him such a strong horse.

As we backtracked to the ranch we saw a few things we'd missed the first time. The trail passed by the remnants of an old rock homestead cabin. From another point across the river stood the Halvorson Cabin across the river, also built of rocks. From this angle we also spotted more rocks with petroglyphs. A couple rattle snakes greeted us after we had climbed back up out of the gorge getting closer to the ranch.

Back at the ranch we had 65 miles down, 15 to go back to Oreana. We were still having a blast and vetted through at Oreana just after 8 PM. We had our 50 minutes rest and eat time and hit the trail again at 8:58. Twenty miles was all that lay between us and that special completion of our 100 mile goal. We trotted until it got pitch black dark and we hit a spot where we had trouble finding trail. We had to use our lights to find the trail. I learnt that for some reason a map just doesn't look right by flashlight when you're a bit tired. And then it was so dark, the lights had messed up what little night vision we had, so we just kept the lights on. We'd jog here and there, walk in other places where we weren't sure of the footing. And because we slowed down, we got passed! Oh well, no matter, we were having fun and doing what we wanted to do, finish on happy healthy horses.

As it got a bit later the horses just picked up a really fast walk, occasionally we would trot but mostly we just used that fast walk. The glowsticks were now plentiful and it was easy to find the trail. The full moon was starting to peak over the horizon but it wasn't giving us much light with the clouds. As we rode along the backside of the hill above camp we could see all the lights at Teeters were on. Just like Motel 6. As we got close someone yelled "Riders coming!" And yes we were the last two survivors. Just as we rounded the corner about 200 yards from the timers Thunder & I heard a rattler and he bolted. I was sitting loose and the reins were swinging but I got him reeled in about 100 yards later. Ah yes - excitement!

The vet, Robert Washington checked Thunder over and he looked great to finish and and we had now completed his first 100!! WOOHOO!! Lynn's horse vetted through with flying colors too and they had their first 100 also! What a great day!!! 1:04 AM, just over 19 hrs elapsed time and just under 16 hrs riding time when you subtracted the timed holds! Wow that is respectable. 16 started and 10 completed. Time to take care of the horse and hit the sack for some well deserved rest!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Prineville Endurance Ride

Snowy Cascades to the West
Getting away to go to the Prineville Endurance ride was my Mother's Day present to me. I hadn't been to the ride in years and there were so many people that I wanted to visit with. What fun to catch up, it was like a reunion! This was the first time Thunder and I had ventured off to Oregon for a ride. And it was to be his first 75 miler.

My plan was the usual, start late, keep him by himself and out of trouble. Which wasn't too hard since most everyone took off fast and then I got on and we headed out of camp. He was a bit wound up but I thought the climb up Grey Butte would settle him down. Wrong! I was keeping him in a trot, but he was a boing machine with a pogo stick trot. On the narrow trails he was pretty good but whenever he got out in the open he was pretty spooky. Only came close to dumping me once and I hooked a heel in his side and hung on. :-) Whew! I really like those trails the Ridge Riders have built over the years! And the views of the Cascades are phenomenal!
My biggest concern was that he was so intent on wanting to catch horses ahead that he didn't want to stop and drink. I'd get him to stand at the water but he'd just stare on up the trail - watching. He breezed up Kings Gap and on into the vet check at Cyrus Horse Camp. He still didn't drink and he was pushing me everywhere. Despite his antics his pulse dropped well and he vetted with A's and we went back out the trail. A couple 50 milers caught up to us and now he really wanted to go. I got off and led him for about a mile and he calmed down. I got back on and he hit a nice trot. It is just easier to settle him down that way than fight with him.
We reached our junction for the 12 mile Warner loop that would circle us out towards Haystack Reservoir and back across the ridges to Cyrus for another vet check. Here he finally drank. That was a relief! He vetted through just fine and ate well. After our hold it was back out across the Grasslands to Pine Ridge and into camp at Skull Hollow. We were on the trail by ourselves and he really is pretty good that way. Occasionally we'd travel along with a 25 miler but for the most part, he was content to go his pace and didn't really care about the other horses. He'd pass and not look back.
Camp was a welcome sight at 37.5 miles. I took a little extra time over our 45 minutes so he could stock up on food. We were last so it didn't really matter, I was riding our own ride at the pace I thought was best for him. On our second loop we passed several 50 milers before reaching the check at Cyrus. Thunder looked and felt strong and vetted through with all A's again. On the Warner loop we caught another 75 miler. She was leading but got on and followed. Her horse didn't want to go by himself and Thunder led the way back into the vet check. He pulsed down immediately but the other horse took several minutes. So we trotted out of there all by ourselves and he never looked back. I told him we were going home.
Thunder was getting a bit hungry again so the last few miles he'd grab grass and trot, grab a bit and trot. Even with grazing we made the last 11 miles in less than two hours. The grazing kept up his energy and helped him vet through at the end of 75 miles with all A's once more! What a guy! He wasn't tired. I was but he still had some left, which is what I wanted. Our time was 12:18 which for a first 75 over that terrain wasn't bad. There were 18 starters, 4 pulls and we weren't last! WOOHOO!
A Bald Eagle in the tree
I had a great trip home. The valley through Mitchell was beautiful and green and I had to play Chris LeDoux music through there because it just "fit". RIP Chris, your music is wonderful! Going through Dayville was great because the locals were sitting on the bench outside the store and waved as I went by! Where else does that happen?! I saw two Bald Eagles along Mountain Creek and had to stop for a picture of one. I just really counted my blessings and was grateful for everything as I drove along.
A huge force behind the Prineville Ride is Cole Still. I remember years ago helping the Ridge Riders at the ride and breakfast when we lived over there. Cole and the RidgeRiders have worked hard for years to build this trail. It didn't just happen to "be" there, they built it little by little. Without their trails the ride would be on roads. The club also worked with the USFS to get this trail as a permanent trail. You can go ride it anytime. Also thank the Ridge Riders for building Cyrus Horse Camp, what a nice place.
It was a great weekend and I really enjoyed it!
Thank-you Cole Still and the Ridge Riders!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

OWYHEE SPRING

Once again there I was, driving off to a local endurance ride in a big windstorm. At least I had a tailwind most of the way to help me there. But setting up camp in the wind was a challenge. I didn't dare leave a trailer door open becayse I might lose it, or get knocked over by it. Ride camp was a big ranch located just off Murphy Flat Rd. near Murphy, ID.

On Friday morning I had a plan, take Blue down to the ride and do the 60. Or maybe just putt through the 75, heck it's only 15 more miles. I figured I'd take Thunder to Prineville the next weekend. That plan changed around 3 PM because Amanda Washington's horse had gotten scraped up escaping from her pen during the night. I had a message from her, "Wouldn't you rather ride Thunder this weekend?" So after some talking and a bit of planning, both horses were going to the ride and we'd do the 60 miler. Her friend, Elly Burnett, was doing her first long ride and we were going to keep her company at tourist pace.

Saturday morning the horses were saddled, Easyboot Gloves on all fours, the wind was calm. Looked like a good day! And it was a good day, with some wild Idaho weather added into it here and there. We had a bit of everything but for the most part, as long as you were riding and keeping warm it was OK.


The first loop out was 25 miles and this took us down into the Snake River Canyon near the Swan Falls dam. The views were spectacular, the rock formations awesome and the petroglyph rocks were fascinating. Thunder had to check them out! Thank you Steph and Regina for this great treat!! The river was smooth and mirrored the rocks sticking up in the middle. As we climbed up through the rocks to the top plateau, again the views were amazing. You could see for miles and miles!


Back to camp for an hour hold that was shortened to 45 min thanks to the cold wind and the hailstorm that we'd missed. Good timing! Loop 2 was 21 miles and we hit portions of the Oregon Trail and the horses had lots of grass to eat. Blue was just sure we were going to be out there forever and he was in a hurry to get going. Some places had nothing to tie marking ribbons to - and Steph hung ribbon from a cow skeleton - yeah that's Idaho! After another 45 minute hold we had a 15 mile loop. Great trail and beautiful views of the Owyhees. One snowy mountain top would have blue sky, and another would be covered in a storm. Then we could see camp - and we were done!! And it started to sleet just as we were trying to get horses vetted and unsaddled. The horses were buried in blankets to keep warm.

Regina had barbecued pulled pork sandwich fixings and cole slaw for everyone and the rancher's shop gave us a warm place for dinner!! What a great ride and fun day!! Then I loaded up the boys to get them out of the wind, and headed for home.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BOOTSCOOTIN'


Walk into the back door of most folks houses and you'll find an old pair of shoes, maybe some dirty boots. But I had to chuckle yesterday when I walked in and realized there were four horse boots along side four of my own, just waiting to welcome folks that might come in. :-)
Since I have been riding the horses in Easyboot Gloves rather than shoes, the easyboots have come in the house. They are easier to put on when they are a bit warm. Hey I did wash them before I brought them in.
Most folks have never seen such a thing, either in the house or on the horse. Often when I ride people will say something like "Well now I've never seen shoes like those!" So I have to give them the whole story on the boots. And those that have horses often look at me with disdain and ask why do I bother and not just shoe?
Well I've always believed that horses are better off barefoot. The frog makes good ground contact, pumps the blood and the hoof is healthier due to better circulation. Look at the hoofprints on the trail and with the shod horses all you see is the shoe imprint. But the barehoof leaves an imprint of the hoof outline, the frog, and perhaps even the detail of the bars and cleft of the frog. You seldom see contracted heels in a barefoot horse and the walls are often thicker and stronger. For years I have ridden horses barefoot as much as possible, shoeing only when necesary. Usually that meant shoes on about a week before the first ride and off right after the last ride of the season. Last summer in a gap between endurance rides I pulled Thunder's shoes and gave his hooves a break for a month. Because of this transitioning my horses over to a bare hoof lifestyle wasn't too difficult.
In past years I tried to just use Easyboots, Epics or Bares. But I never could quite solve the problems with them. So I'd end up shoeing just before ride season began again. The boots would go in the cantle bag as my spare tire if I lost a shoe. The new Gloves however have solved a lot of the previous hang ups of booting (rubbing, losing them, forging), and with help from some friends I got them working on both the boys.
When I first started using the Gloves I was forever looking down to be sure that all four were still on. Now I don't really think about it too much. I know I "can" lose one but so far they have stayed on through rocks, washes, sand, water and silly behavior from my horse. I did worry a bit about that first endurance ride in them but even that went just fine. So, just like when I was a kid, I can go out and trim the hooves and keep them at a consistent length and in good condition. If I get behind I can still get my farrier to come help me out.
Admittedly, booting and bare feet aren't for everyone. Because some folks don't like to trim or fiddle with hooves and boots. They just want to saddle up and ride, which is fine. But I like knowing what is going on with my horses and so far the boots aren't that time consuming. I can pick out the hooves and put on four boots in less than ten minutes. Now later on when I try to glue some on, that theory will probably change. But in the long run I still like the idea of bare hooves and letting the horses go "bootscootin'" down the trail!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Top 10 Things about the WIND!

So on this more than blustery gusty day of wins varying from 30 - 45 mph, I pondered the subject of wind. Hmmmmm.....

1. No bugs. They can't fly in the wind either evidently.
2. Your garbage blows into the next county - or state out here. However, I have more neighbors trash hanging in my fence so this is not a good thing!
3. Dry clothes. Heck no clothes - they blew away!
4. The corral is clean of all debris if you get my drift. Manure happens and blows away!
5. New hairstyle - the "windblown" look. Oh c'mon, snicker just a little.
6. You could fly a kite but you better have an anchor or you may just go with the kite!
7. No fog! No mud either because it all dried up! Oh wait that's two things!
8. If it's fall you won't have to rake the leaves because they are gone!
9. If you owned a wind turbine you could generate electricity! Make a fortune!
10. Set sail with your boat or hang glider and let your destination be a surprise!!!

However, why can't it just blow the hair off that shedding horse so I don't have to brush him??

Saturday, April 3, 2010

We are Tough Suckers!!!!


We left home in high winds and driving rain mixed with snow Friday on our way to the first ride of the season, Tough Sucker. This year the ride was held at Regina Rose's a few miles out of Oreana, Idaho.


Regina's place is near the site of the Utter Disaster, a bit of early Idaho history. On September 9, 1860, the Elijah P. Utter wagon train was attacked by Indians along the South Alternate of the Oregon Trail northeast of the present day town of Murphy, Idaho. The attack on the 44-member wagon train resulted in the deaths of 11 emigrants and an estimated 25-30 Indians.
The view of the snow covered Owyhees greeted us Saturday morning. The wind was cold but at least we had sun. The rain and snow had subsided and there were two brave riders on the 75, about 30 on the 50 miler and close to 20 on the 25. Considering the weather, it was a great turnout. I had planned on the 75 myself but decided Friday that there was no way I was doing 75 miles in that cold cold wind. And I'm glad I just rode the 50.
Thunder was really good at the start and we teamed up with Lynn White. Her mare Agnes traveled the same pace as Thunder and it was a great day! I had many layers of clothes so I wasn't cold even in the wind. Actually everyone was so buried in layers of clothes that it was tough to know who was who. We went out to Wild Horse Butte and along the Snake River. We passed through the Birds of Prey area and rode a portion of the Oregon Trail. The footing was fantastic!
This was also our first endurance ride in the Easyboot Gloves on Thunder and they worked beautifully. We did have one gaitor rub but a little vet wrap took care of it and he was fine. We did the 50 in a bit over 7 hours finishing 12th. We vetted through with no problems and I thought he looked great!
What a day! We all earned the title of being tough suckers! An apprpriate name for this fun but cold ride!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Alive with spring!



There is nothing like a good ride on a early spring day to make me think, yes I am blessed! I'm riding a mighty fine horse. We're trotting along through the sand and loping around the sagebrush.


I saw my first curlew of the year. Just trotting along the ridge top with the only sound being the curlews eery whistle as he flies over the area scoping out a nesting spot. The views are fantastic as always. Now the prairie and high desert just doesn't interest some folks, but I love it. I love the solitude, the quiet, and nature. It's just me and my horse! I can see for miles and miles. Far in the distance the snowy mountains outline the land as it meets the blue sky.


The yellow bells and phlox are beginning to bloom amidst the tender grass shoots. Some little critters tiny little paw prints leave tracks scurrying everywhere. The land is coming alive with spring. What a great day!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fine for Whining

Remember that old Chris LeDeaux song, Five Dollar Fine for Whining? Well I may as well put my fiver in the jar right now because I am whining!! OK so I knew last weekend was a fluke with all the gorgeous weather, but I want it back!!! Only in Idaho do they classify 25 mph winds as a breeze!

Last weekend was one of those rare days in March. Great weather. Lots of fantastic rides on good horses! Combine that with the company of friends and my daughter Andi, and I had lots of fun!! In the morning while driving over to Tammie's I saw a magnificent Bald Eagle in a big cottonwood tree! And the bonus?? While riding Blackjack we came upon a herd of 20 antelope. Later about a dozen deer! None of them stuck around for a Kodak moment though! I managed to get three horses ridden over that weekend!
And the view of the Snake River has to be one of the prettiest and I love it every time I walk back down to the trailer parked less than 1/4 mile from it's banks. The water was so smooth and blue! Sno capped hills amid a few clouds off in the distance privided a lovely border to the view! Yip, can't wait to go ride and see that view again this weekend!!


Monday, March 1, 2010

ATTITUDE



Horses are funny. They all have their individual quirks, likes and dislikes. The younger gelding, Z Blue Lightening, has always been a pretty easy going guy. He grew up in the shadow of his cousin, Thunder. His horsanality was quiet, polite and kind. The opposite of the big red attention hog that is always shoving Blue aside and chasing him around.


But I have noticed as they rear and play and push each other, that sometimes Blue wins the game of "I CAN make you move" and Thunder will lope away. Not for long though as he will come back to reclaim his spot and they continue their King of the hill game.


I've always felt that underneath that sleepy exterior of Blue's is a fire that just smolders. I knew one day the spark would turn to a flame of it's own. And this spring, Blue has woke up! After a long trot to the top of the hill he struts and there is a "nanner nanner" in there trying to get out. Blue is far from finished. He is just warming up and looking for more to do. He is almost 7, looks fit and racy, and he wants to go! With a sling of his head he says "Turn me loose." Blue dances in the middle of the trail, his butt bouncing in the air with enthusiasm. And when all that didn't work he decided it was time for a lively game of kick the dog! All this after about 9 miles. Yup the boy definitely needs some serious miles!

Attitude! "I'm tough! I can do anything!" As Blue comes into his own it'll be fun - providing I stay on. ☺

Sunday, February 21, 2010

FABULOUS FEBRUARY



What a gorgeous February day!!


Sun. A few clouds. Grass starting to sprout. Most of the mud has dried out and left soft fluffy sand. Early this morning it was 25 and everything was frost covered. But by 10 AM the frost was going away and it warmed up to a whopping 39. No better way to spend a good day than on a great horse! And we trotted and trotted and then went some more! Woohoo!


This entire month has been pretty mild with a lot of days in the 40's and a few in the 50's. Once the snow melted it has been grand! I know I haven't contributed much news to my blog because I have been having fun riding every chance i get!!


Plus I never get tired of the view between those wonderful furry ears! The Snake River is beautiful. There are a lot of geese right now to watch. They are quite noisy too. The high desert changes color all the time. I especially love the rock formations near the Owyhee River. There are deer, coyotes and long eared rabbits to look at. It is just a beautiful place to be. God is good!