Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Quilt

I started riding endurance in 1977, back in the day when they gave us trophies and buckles for our efforts. As things evolved the fashion became T-Shirts, and we all sported shirts that we had "won" from a variety of rides.

I wore a lot of those shirts out. But then I saw a quilt made from T shirts and thought, "Wow! What a cool idea!" I had to think about the shirts I'd use, which ones I'd cut up, which ones were too ragged, and then lay them out and decide what shirt I wanted next to each other. Wow! These weren't easy decisions.

I researched on different ways to make a quilt. I passed on the "patterns" because I thought, who needs a pattern, it's just a bunch of squares! Are you laughing now?

I'd get the stuff out on a cold winter day, play with it, toss it in the box and forget about it till another cold winter day. I cut some squares, sewed some strips of squares together, tossed it back in the box. Last winter I didn't do much with it, had too much work to do on this house. This winter I decided to get it out and work on it because it wasn't sewing itself.

I wanted a few more squares than what I had sewn up. So I went on the hunt. I found several good items that didn't quite fit but I wanted them anyway. The Owyhee scarf, the Horse Ridge blanket, and ROC. Hence - one row is a bit wider than the others. My logic, it's a quilt, things aren't supposed to match.

All these items hold many years of history, cherished memories and lots of good times with friends and family. Sometimes all three of us rode the rides together; other times just Andi and I. We had lots of fun and always came home with something new to add to our endurance treasure chest.

The Headwaters of The Rogue was a great ride, I have pictures of Sunny and I in the Rogue River from 1979. I'm not sure what year this shirt is from but I rode that ride many times on Sunny, Speedy and Zapped.

Pacific Crest - Andi and I rode it in the rain, it was a dark grey day and the photographer on the trail was using a flash. Of course I didn't know this until he clicked and Zap dashed out through the trees in a nano-second. My picture was blank cuz my horse had left! Andi's picture was just fine!

Purina Race Of Champions, I was number 32 in 1986 and rode Speedy that year with Al and Chollima. I'd started it twice before but this was my first year to finish. This ride was in Colorado and it was tough!

Some of the shirts are from my travels. Pacific North shirt was from Canada when I was Assistant Chef d'Quip, it rained and snowed and was a cold bugger but nice day for the ride!
The Cavalo Arabe came from my trip to Brazil when I traveled there in 1995 to do a seminar on endurance. What fun and I got to ride some nice horses there too!

The 1997 FEI North American Championship shirt is one I was commissioned to design. Unfortunately when the printers got the artwork, they left "my mark" off the logo, but at least I got credited for it in the program.

The Old Selam shirt is from 1999 maybe and I rode Zapped that year, but I also rode this ride in 1979 on Sunny when it started at the Old Penitentiary in Boise and the trail went right up the Boise Front.

Paulina Peak was a beautiful ride, a tough 100 and I rode it several times. My favorite year wasn't where I placed, it was seeing the full moon dancing on the water of Paulina Creek. I think we finished at 3 AM about the time the moon was going down amid the Fir trees.

Now the quilt still isn't finished. But it's getting close! The top has the batting and it all has to go with the backing. The back became a stumbling block that I pondered for a couple years, yes it had to be something special not just any piece of fabric. I decided on the cooler blanket from the Horse Ridge 100 in 1986. I raced in riding Speedy and never heard the end of that little match!

From top to bottom, front to back, this quilt tells all about my "endurance life". I think it will be a wonderful legacy for the grandaughters someday!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Red Horse Syndrome

Is it just me or do these lovely red chestnut horses truly believe the earth revolves around them? I can be brushing a grey horse and suddenly it turns into red hair. "Hey didn't I already brush you?"
Some call them chestnuts others classify them as sorrell, doesn't matter because they all have a superior attitude and just "know" they are the best. Their eyes reveal an intelligence that no horse should have, I mean they are forever outsmarting us. Thunder thinks of things to trip me up, and I have to think of ways to convince him that what I want was really his idea in the first place. In the herd they have to be first through the gate, first to get their hay, they need to be first at everything just like a border collie.

When Thunder was born I instantly knew he was "my" horse. A unique connection existed. I could feel this one was special. On his web page I placed the old Arab proverb of: "If one tells you that he has seen a horse fly in the air, ask what color it was. If he says Chestnut, believe him." Thunder absolutely resembles that remark. I call him my flying carpet.

The red horse is noble, demands attention either by being a pain in your bum or just by his regal stature that catches everyone's eye. I remember Merri Melde saying about Thunder, "Oh he's beautiful." I quickly whispered back, "Oh please don't tell him that, his ego is already far too big!" I think he heard me because minutes later I was in the dirt - but that's another story.

I swear Thunder is the reincarnation of my big beloved red horse, Sunny. That horse was the most mischevious animal that ever walked the earth. No gate was safe unless it was chained and padlocked. When tied to the trailer he would undo two lead ropes and be gone. If a buddy was at the trailer he would untie him too, after all it's more fun to escape with a pal. Sunny would buck evey morning upon entering the racetrack with his fourth "pony" of the morning. One morning a friend asked to borrow Sunny as his pony horse was done for the day, I said sure. He came back and said "Man this bugger can buck!" I calmly counted one, two, three, "Yup that was his fourth one for the day, he always bucks on that one!" He didn't buck on the others, just the fourth one.

Another red horse, Domino, was an amazing athlete, also opinionated and mischevious. He and Andi had a brother/sister relationship. He'd see a mud puddle while trotting down the trail and aim for it, slamming a hoof down in the middle of it and spattering her with mud. She'd reach up and tweak his ear. I actually saw the two of them stick their tongues out at each other!

The redhead is a challenge but in the long run they are amazing horses. Thunder will never be truly trained or broke, and don't even think of him as a mode of transportation. Over the years I have learnt that Thunder is not my horse. It's more like I am his human. It is my duty to be his slave and he rewards me with a treat, a magical ride upon his back. And together we get to see many places and travel as one.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seabiscuit vs Zenyatta?

Can you imagine a race that would round up the best horses in the history of Thoroughbred racing to run against one another? What a match race that could be!! Of course it never will happen other than in my imagination. But think of the greats, all lined up, snorting, stomping, waiting to break from that starting gate.
In true reality, over the years there have been few truly GREAT Throughbred race horses.
Only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown in 89 years of racing, with the last being Affirmed in 1978. And if you look at the stats, some of the greatest horses never even won the Triple Crown. Man O'War, Seabiscuit, Zenyatta, to name just a couple.
Match races, the practice of one man's horse against another, was common place in the 1800's. In 1938 the race between War Admiral and Seabiscuit was billed as the Greatest Match Race of The Century. Two very accomplished and well matched athletes. One a Man O'War son, the other a grandson. Those two horses moved stride for stride, side by side, in perfect tune with each other down the back stretch. With the outcome being Seabiscuit by 4 amazing lengths! Interestingly enough, Man O'War was victorious in 1920 in his match race against Sir Barton.
The interest in match races dwindled after the 1950's. And I'm not sure there has been a major match since the tragic race between Ruffian against Foolish Pleasure.
I look back and have to ask myself, could todays champions hold a candle to those who raced 50 or 60 years ago? Who would be the real victor? Would the horses of the past be even faster in todays environment of better training, feeding and management skills?
Would the horses from back in the day run circles around our modern thoroughbreds? Or would it be the other way around? You can't compare race times because there are different factors for each day, and timer malfunctions such as with Secretariat at the Preakness. Could Secretariat and his 31 length win at the Belmont compare to Rachel Alexandra's victory in the Oaks by 20+ lengths?
Oh and the money! The big money earners get bigger each year. Compare the very first Preakness purse of $2050 to todays Breeders Cup Classic of $5 Million.
All of this is merely a mystery. A fantasy race in my mind of the greats from the past against the best of today. It's not much more than comparing apples to grapes I suppose. But it is something a lot of fans can't help but wonder from "Horse of The Year" - year after year.
The result will always be "I wonder if......". Meanwhile we just have to admire each horse for what he/she is on their own merits.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What? No camera?

Yeah that's right. I didn't take my camera today. Not sure why. Maybe because it's fall and so much of the desert is brown. Maybe I just didn't think I'd need the camera. Sometimes it's hard to take pictures on Blue anyway.
But the bottom line was, as that gorgeous hawk just sat there on the branch with the azure sky behind him, I had no camera. And he wasn't taking flight either. He was just watching us travel down the sand gully. I thought of Andi's new "power" camera with the 15X optical zoom. WOOHOO! I could've zoomed in on that hawk's beady little eyes. But - no camera.
I also saw four fat dark colored mule deer. No horns in the bunch as they lingered and lwatched us ride by.
Then there was the lone coyote after the mouse. You knew no one had been hunting him because he also paid little attention to us. The ones around home are long gone if you get within a quarter mile of them! But this old boy just glanced at us, and went back to his mouse. Cocking his head to one side, pawing the grass a little. He was working on a mid day snack. And me, who loves to take pictures, had no camera!
I only had the camera in my little pea brain and I hope it holds on to those images for a very long time.

Fall has BLOWN in!

The winds of Fall. They range from a 15 mph breeze to 40 mph blasts! And yesterday we rode in both. Linda and I thought about skipping the idea of a ride, but then admitted that sadly, summer is gone. Long gone. Those hot days that some folks whined about are gone and those of you who live for cooler days are dancing happily right now. While I whine and pile on extra clothes.

But nevertheless we did ride. Thunder the wonder horse discovered a nice herd of deer as they bounced out of the cottonwoods along the little creek. They were sheltered from the wind there. There were several does, fawns and one big buck. We seldom see deer in there so he had to get all excited and racey. He snorted and blew, his eyes bugged out, his tail was high and he was just a bugger! But I still enjoyed the deer. They must have spooked up a coyote because we saw him running in the opposite direction and crossing our path up ahead.

So on up the hill we went only to have a lone motorcycle come racing over the hilltop above us. He did see us and he was gone in a flash! A man on a mission evidently. The trail wasn't dusty at all thanks to the rain overnight. The wind swirled around us and the horses and they felt as though they were walking on eggs. Why do they always do that on blustery days? We just meandered through the sagebrush, up and down hills, having a good time. Occasionally we managed to get out of the wind.

But wait, here comes the biker again from the distance. He went straight up a hill and then back down again, and took off up the draw, and was gone. Man he was fast! I had wanted to go up that draw but thought better of it in case he came racing back down. It's a busy day when I see anybody out there. I am usually all by my little lonesome.

The view from the top of the hill was gorgeous as we came back down towards the pickup. The wind had blown out all the clouds. The air was clean. I could see forever! The Snake River wound around the squares of green and brown farmland. A driftboat of fishermen hoping to catch something for dinner caught my eye. The trees were a gorgeous red and yellow, some still hanging on to that last bit of green. A view that is pretty tough to beat and it all made for one great day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bye Bye website

Some of you may know that I have a website that I started years ago titled Zapped Ranch. Named for my great old Endurance horse, Zapped, who is 26 now. That was Al's idea and a darned good one. I have moved the site several times over the years and now I need to move it again but not sure where or any of those details. So the present site is closing Oct 26 when Yahoo closes
I may set it up again else where but since I am really no longer in the horse biz I'm not sure that I want to find a site where I need to pay for hosting.

The link is if you are inclined to one last look.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Owyhee Canyonlands 2009

The Owyhee Canyonlands Multi day is still one that I haven't finished all 5 days of. I have managed to do all 5 of a couple XP's and the old Lost Wagon Train but Canyonlands has avoided me once again. I was so pumped for this ride, had prepped and worked hard to be ready. Both boys, Thunder and Blue Lightening, were good to go. My back and hip could slow me down, I was aware of that, but I had no idea that my own tendon in a leg would stop me from all 5 days. However, better me to be lame than my horses!

Day 1 saw 50 starters take out of ride camp on the beginning of a great adventure. We rode the Wild Horse Butte, a 50 mile loop which left camp at Bates Creek, crossed Hwy 78, went out across the birds of Prey area, around Wild Horse Butte to the Snake River. Gorgeous. The horses drank deeply from the river and then we traveled along the river and up the hills, leaving it far behind, through washes and gully's where we met up with an unhappy rattler. I didn't stop to make friends. We were on the Oregon Trail for several miles which is pretty awesome. Then back to camp.

Day 2 was Castle Creek and we crossed so many creeks and canyons that I am really not sure which was which. The canyons and rock formations were gorgeous. The wind however was wicked and was about to blow us off our horses on the ridgetops. I loved the old wagon sitting alongside the dirt road not far from a ranch. This day and all days were 50 mile loops pf trail with all out vet checks. It was fantastic and beautiful, sandstone ledges, a vast land of many colors. However a few miles from the finish my ankle was snapping and popping and didn't want to support me so we were slow. But we finished. It felt better after I walked around for a bit so I was optimistic for day 3.

Day 3 my ankle felt good, I wrapped it with vet wrap and duct tape "just in case" but trotted out of camp on the Alder Creek 55 feeling good about the day. Linda took the day off her mare and rode Blue. I love watching that horse move, he is so pretty! We rode South across Hart Creek to Browns Creek for a vet check and somewhere in between that blasted ankle started to ache. In the vet check a friend gave me an ankle brace, we wrapped over top of that. Got the high topped riding shoe on and wrapped over that. It felt pretty solid. Out of Browns Creek and off towards Toy Mtn for one very rocky and hilly loop that would take us through canyons, creeks, by old homesteads and back to the vet check at Browns Creek. It was slow going, first due to rocks and then due to my ankle and pain radiating up the leg. Just great! After the vet check it was trot for a mile and walk for half to rest the bad leg. I was leaning off to the side and that wasn't good for my horse. Dropped the stirrups a notch and rode with me knees trying not to use stirrups at all. That's fine for a few laps around a show ring but not realistic for 16 miles of cross country. But we made it in with an hour and a half to spare. But I decided no more rides I'd just help at the vet checks.

Day 4 was Sinker Creek Canyon, considered rocky but not for miles on end like day 3. There are raptor nests in the canyon walls and it is super scenic trail and everyone was doing great as I pulsed horses down in the vet check. Each day did also offer a Limited Distance ride but theswe just aren't an option for me although these averaged about 17 entries each day. Turns out that my ankle isn't really the problem, but a symptom. The real problem is to put it simply, tendonitis, but that will probably take longer to heal than a sprained ankle. I think I should have stuck with the ankle but no choices there!

Day 5 there were still 6 same horse rider teams heading out on the trail. Blue and Thunder were unhappy campers and I ventured over to Tom's camp to see if he needed a horse to ride. I walked back with his saddle and Blue was on his way! An insulted Thunder was having a fit, "Hey remember me? I'm Top Dog! You can't leave me in camp!" I spent the day as the vet check timer, which was kinda fun but I'd rather ride. The next best thing was seeing my horse on the trail with a good friend! Sigh.... A total of 31 started the 50 and 29 completed. The trail was changed a bit from the first days trail and everyone had a wonderful ride despite a bit of cold wind and rain late in the day. The Awards Presentation found us all hovered around the patio heaters behind the house.

This was an amazing ride with the Teeter's doing a great job on the trails and opening up their home and ranch to all of us. What hospitality! And the dinners catered by Blue Canoe were scrumptuous!!! One of the great things was not one horse had to be treated all week! Not one ambulance call for an injured rider! Six teams completed 5 days for 255 miles and there two horse rider teams for the LD five day (all women what happened to the guys?!) and Steph was sure that was a record. The BIG loops of trail were outrageous! It was truly a memorable week of great trails, adventure and friendships! And will I try again next year! Of course I will.
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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Riding, packing, what to wear...........

I swear I have spent the last week getting ready for the upcoming Owyhee 5 day. After cleaning the trailer out I continue throwing stuff back in. And just when I think I have enough clothes packed the weather forecast changes so I throw in another bag of cooler weather clothes. Which reminds me I had better grab a couple extra warm blankets for the horses too. And Molly, better take her blanket too, she doesn't want to be cold. Geezaloo the list gets longer!

Then I remove a trailer divider and put a couple 12 foot panels in there so I can make a corral for the horse that has to stay in camp on any chosen day. Repack the hay that was in there. Put more hay bales in the pickup and wonder, "Do I need two more?" These two hoovers eat a lot!

The vet check bag is a smaller version of the trailer. Empty it out and repack it. Then it's nearly too heavy to lift! Need one with wheels.

All this in between trying to ride nearly every night and that means having the trailer usable at all times. Tires are aired up and good. Truck fluids and tires are good. The boys are recently shod.

Put a temp cross fence on the pasture so Zap & Hollie can take care of themselves for a few days. The list never ends. Don't forget to give the garden that last shot of water either. One of those cantelopes needs to ripen before I go because I wanted to take it with me.

The sun is coming up so I guess I had better continue my preparations. Going over to Linda's later to help her pack panels and hay in her trailer. This is more work that the ride probably but looking forward to a week of riding! and not wanting to think about the unpacking and laundry when I get back. :-)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Shadow Dancing

Summer is slipping away. I took Blue out for a ride after work tonight and on the way back down the hill the shadows were L-O-N-G! The days are gradually losing daylight. WAH! I like the cooler temeratures, now in the 80's, but I don't want to lose summer yet. I want more time to ride and dance with the shadows. I think shadows are quite interesting, after all they make me look tall and skinny. :-)
The Snake River, far below us in this pic, was as smooth as glass tonight. Every tree along the river as well as the big bridge was a perfect mirror image. I'm not sure that I have ever seen it so smooth and quiet. The only ripples were those created by a speed boat.
The lizards were racing everywhere, perhaps they know Summer is nearing it's end also. Thankfully I didn't have any rattle snake encounters. :-)
I did see a Great Horned Owl up close and personal tonight as I was changing the irrigation water after my ride. He was big and gorgeous and I went inside to get my camera. Came back out and he was gone, so were the cats. I thought perhaps he had stolen one but nope, they were smart enough to hide under the car!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer heat

The weather has been HOT but the riding goes on. You just try to start earlier and take more drinks with you. That drinking thing is really important - even tho I drank a LOT yesterday, I was still dry from the heat. An endurance rider can't hide from the heat because when you are on an endurance ride and it gets hot, you have to be prepared. Besides I always figure it'll make me stronger in the long run and MAYBE I'll sweat off a pound if I'm lucky.

Today Blue and I did the 12 mile loop and he is just getting better and better all the time. He is going to be a fun horse to ride. Blue is very sensitive, still a bit fussy about wanting his rider centered and not messing around with stuff when you are trotting along. When he starts wiggling those ears back and forth you better take a deep seat and stop playing with what you were playing with.

I was quite impressed with him last week in the storm though because when he started to play and act up, all I did was say HEY and touch the reins and he stopped! Most horses would have kept playing around and dancing for a few minutes but he listens pretty well. He reminds me a lot of old Zap, he's better behaved but he moves effortlessly like Zap and he cools down well like Zap. In a year or so maybe I can take him on a 100 miler and we'll see. :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Yesterday was a Two-For-One day of riding! Took both Blue and Thunder and hauled over to Joe's. I met Linda there and we took Thunder and her mare Ari for a ride. Blue was left tied to the tree and her mare, Ellie, was at her trailer. We headed out blazing trail through 6 foot tall Kosha weed along the fenceline then headed towards the canal and the hills on the other side. There are some good climbs over there and normally decent footing for trotting all the hills and giving the horses a good workout. There were some washouts and ruts from June's flash floods but it wasn't too bad. The bigtime consuming factor were the gates. The rancher had tightened and done some work on several of them and they took forever to open and close. Take several gates that take up ten minutes each and it's easy to add an hour to your riding time! But we had a great ride and the horses worked up a good sweat and it didn't get too hot. We got back and took care of those two then went down to visit with Linda's mom. That gave us a nice break to drink up and get ready to go again.

Now it was Thunder's turn to stay tied at the tree while we trailered down Succor Creek Rd and did our favorite loop down there. Blue and Ellie had never been ridden out together before and they eying each other and a bit leery of going side by side at first. This area took a big hit with the flash floods with wide swaths of damage. Some of the landscape was totally rearranged and we need to make a few new trails. Blue handled the washouts well and didn't spook at the piles of dirt, sagebrush and rocks like Thunder does. Linda's mare handled fine too and Blue kept looking at his new friend wondering to himself, she's red like Thunder but she doesn't chase me.

It sure was nice to get both horses ridden in one day. Feels like i did an endurance ride after riding two hroses in one day! I find it tough to have the time to keep both young horses going. It takes a lot of work, discipline and dedication. But Blue is going to be a really nice horse. I forgot my camera though, that was a bad thing because I always see something and wish that I'd had it. Today we are having some storms go through so may not get in a ride this afternoon afterall.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The ears are my two point gps system, high tech stuff right there!

It was the coolest old dug out, flat rocks laid in there horizontally to build a smooth solid wall. The poles over the top were supports for a sod roof. The dugout was near the banks of Hart Creek, and upstream was an awesome cave with a sign mostly covered with brush. I had to see what it said. It read "Oreana Savana". Not sure exactly what that meant. This was just one of the many sights at the Almosta Bennett Hills ride at Oreana.

The Bennett Hills ride was planned for the Gooding area. To make a long story short, it got rained out and John & Steph Teeter stepped in, offering trails and camp and much more just 5 days before the ride date. WOW!

I rode Thunder day 1 on the loop that left Oreana and climbed up to Toy Mtn. Sego lilies decorated the landscape along with a few left over Indian Paintbrush, Lupine, and Arrowleaf. It was a 50 mile loop - HOORAY!!! - with an out vet check and it was a wonderful reminder of the old days of endurance when you really had to ride coyote smart. I rode with my friend Linda and we had a blast! The horses had lots of creek crossings with good water. A bite of grass here and there. Even though it was the mid 80's the last few miles Thunder had to throw in some power spooks to be sure that I was still there and maybe I'd let him go faster? Not! We finished 8 and 9, snapping pictures of cool rock formations and scenic vistas along the way.

Sunday was day 2, I was going to ride spooky Thunder another day. Linda opted out on her mare but rode Blue on his second 50. He had spent all day Saturday having a fit in the corral in camp wondering why we had left him there. So he was a happy camper trotting down the trail Sunday after we got the first spook out of the way. We had a 25 mile loop that zigged and zagged over to Hart Creek and over little hills, rocks, sagebrush, through the creeks, past the homestead, and back to camp. After a vet check and an hour hold we were to repeat the loop in reverse. Only our hour hold was more like a hour and a half. it went something like this: Merri asks me, "Hey Karen aren't you guys going back out?" I answered "yup at 11:19." She said, "well you're late, it's 11:31!" Oh well, the extra time for the horses to eat and drink wasn't a waste as it was heating up and they'd need the energy. It heated right up to 95. And I am sure the water in my bottles was 120+! But we finished and the horses were in great shape and hungry but then Thunder is always hungry. We were top 10 and "turtle" all at the same time too.

Here is a link to more photos:

It was a great weekend and those that missed it really missed some good trail and that nice 50 mile loop! Classic endurance stuff there. I love it!!!!

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Historic Wyoming

Little did I know that when I bought a grey Arab gelding awhile back to resell that it would lead me to Wyoming. But a rancher there wanted a grey Arabian for riding fences and sorting cows and by delivering him to Wyoming, I got a vacation. Not just any vacation but a journey to the Black Hills of Wyoming. Yes I said Wyoming, the Black Hills continue to South Dakota. This area of the Black Hills is known as the Bear Lodge range.

On my adventure to the Rauth Ranch in Alva, WY. I got to see 950+ miles of amazing country. And I think there was every kind of weather too. Years ago going to the Race of Champions we had traveled the big Horns, Cody and Yellowstone, so I opted to take the faster route this time.

I took Thunder along to keep Grey Boy happy in the trailer and also to do some riding. How can you visit a place in the Black Hills of NE Wyoming and not ride?? Especially when the place is a working cattle ranch. This might make up for those fleeting pictures of all the interesting things that I drove by. I would have loved to have had more time for a trip like this, so many historic and wondrous things to see: Battle of Little Big Horn, Devils Tower, views of the Tetons and several other mountain ranges, and my favorite - old homesteads.

I pulled in to the ranch yard just past midnight. Was greeted by ranch owner, Dick Rauth and four dogs. We tucked the horses into a corral with hay and water and headed to the ranch house. That long drive wore me out.

In the morning I could see everything was lush and green, creeks and big trees, and lots of mud from heavy spring rains. I think it rained 3" while I was there. But then since I got home it's done nothing but thunderstorm, just that time of year. The plan for the day was to ride and mend fences.

Since Thunder had been in the trailer for 18 hours Dick suggested I ride one of their geldings. He caught up two horses across the creek, both homebred Morab geldings. I rode "Stranger" who strayed from his mother as a baby and grew up half wild. But he was a good mount and solid as they come. Dick packed his fence stretcher in his rifle scabbord and tied on a roll of wire to his saddle and we were good to go. We followed miles of fence, fixed a place or two, and I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. From different vantage points the green vistas showed thousands of rolling acres that belonged to the ranch and I could even see Devils Tower in the distance. To say that deer were abundant is an understatement as both whitetail and muley's were everywhere I looked. They can hide easily in the oak thickets. The wild flowers were beautiful and the Pines smelled so good.

Once back to the ranch the grey got his saddling lesson and he was not fond of the rifle scabbord and that back cinch so he bucked off through the muddy corral. The deep mud made him work and wore him down and he'd quit. Then something would set him off and he'd take out bucking again. He got to wear that saddle around for a couple hours and just get used to it.
I got to meet some of the homebred ranch horses. He and Twila have two Morgan studs and they have mostly Morabs for ranch use. Although one black gelding was a Tennesee Walker Morgan cross and Twila rode him to gather cows. In addition to saddle stock there are four Percherons that are used in the winter for feeding cattle in the snow. They put hay on a big sled and take it out over the snowy pastures. All really nice horses. There were two mares heavy with foal but a couple weeks away from their due dates.

The next morning Dick saddled the grey up again, who was still basically nameless because "gotta know them before you can give them a proper name". I think he was just as bucky today so he just spent time in the muddy corral. Dick said he wanted all the buck out of him before he got on. Then we headed across the border to Spearfish for a few supplies. Went through the old cattle capital of Belle Fourche, a destination in many John Wayne movies. Back at the ranch Twila rode down the creek on her Morgan stallion to go look for calves and I set off headed for one of the high pastures just to ride and sightsee. Thunder just wanted to keep going, maybe he was trying to trot back to Idaho. We trotted through the meadow, up the hills, in the mud, crossed some creeks, all in one pasture.

The next day it rained, and poured and rained some more. The creeks swelled up and the mud got deeper. Seemed like a good day to go sightseeing and we headed off through Hulett, set near the banks of the Belle Fourche River, to Devils Tower. The heavy rain had the mountain top all fogged in so I couldn't see the huge rocky tower in front of me. We went on past Sundance (where the Sundance Kid took his name from Sundance Mt. when he spent the night in jail.) Then to Spearfish, down through Spearfish Canyon, mining towns Lead and Deadwood (where Wild Bill met his fate) and on to Crazy Horse Monument. All the way Dick is telling me different stories about the country and the people in it, he's a great tour guide. The rain was relentless and luckily the fog didn't block Crazy Horse. That's an amazing piece of work! I wonder if it'll get finished in my lifetime? The Museum and all the pictures are fascinating. Mt Rushmore was only a few miles away if we skipped Custer Nat'l Park and all the rain. But when we got to Rushmore the fog and clouds were so heavy that I couldn't see a thing, not even an outline. There were people everywhere hoping for the same thing I was, just for the clouds to part so we could see this magnificent patriotic monument. But no such luck. Back to the pickup and back to the ranch.

The next day the sun was shining and the job was sorting cattle. Sounds easy enough but there are HUGE pastures and cows and calves hiding in oak thickets and the goal is to find the older cows and take them up to a different pasture. These cows are pretty wild but every now and then would would come up looking for "cake" and hoping you'd feed them. Cake is large pellets of meal with molasses and all the critters love it! Of course the beggars were never ones that we needed to sort out and move either.

The first batch to hunt down and sort wasn't too hard but when we rode back up to another pasture mixed with two year old cows with their calves that was a rodeo. The older cows weren't too bad to sort and move out but their calves said no way. Those calves hadn't ever been pushed anywhere, and all they wanted to do was go back to the others and they had plenty of open space to run in. Dick and Twila were galloping everywhere after calves and all Thunder wanted to do was run and join in the fun. Not turn and stop with the cows just be a goofy racehorse. So when it became evident that we didn't know what we were doing, I just got out of the way and took a few pictures. Now I felt like a city dude. Once the older cows with calves were sorted and pushed through the gate the rest was pretty easy by comparison, just take them down the road and up to the other pasture. I decided Joe's cows are a lot easier to move along than these are.

After all that I rode Smokey, a Morab gelding, complete with the big western saddle, tapaderoes and lariat. Sorry I didn't get a picture of that. Anyway I rode out to accompany Dick on the grey Arab for his first outside ride. I would have taken Thunder but we didn't just want the horse following his pal around. We went up to the high pasture where I'd ridden Thunder before and the grey did great with the only problem being creek crossings. But after Smokey led him across a couple then he was doing just fine and seemed to be enjoying himself.

Time flies and it was time to head back home. After the thank-yous and goodbyes were said I didn't have to ask Molly twice to get in the pickup. I went a few miles out of the way in hopes of seeing Devils Tower but even though the rest of the area was clear the rocky peak was cloud covered. Along 287 and the Madison River I found a great spot to give Thunder a rest and some grass before we continued on. I pulled in my driveway at 2:35 AM, and was ready for some sleep. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BULLS 3 - US 0

Those evasive bulls beat us again. We trailered out to the far side of Owyhee Reservoir, drove up a tiny dirt road and set up the catch pen where Cherry Creek drains down. Joe knew where the bulls were so he rode Thunder with Josette & Joey and they headed up the creek canyon. Meanwhile Linda rode up Indian Creek Rd to scout off the hillside and look for the bulls. I watched the gate - hey it's a tough job. :-) Linda came back and said that she had spotted one of the bulls up around the bend. But Joe and company came back later without anything. He and the dogs had traveled much of the creek bed and nothing moved out. The thick brush conceals the creek, much of the grass and anything that wants to live in there. Including two Angus bulls and a rattlesnake that we didn't stop to make friends with. So after failing at bringing them in and loading the panels back in the trailer, Linda and I decided to ride back to the ranch. Yup it's a long way, yup it's going to get dark, but we didn't care.
Linda and I rode up Indian Creek Road with Owyhee Reservoir behind us. The Reservoir is 25 miles long through the Owyhee Range and attracts many boaters, fisherman and campers. It's a 5 mile pull to the cattle guard up near the top of the hill. The horses were busy eating grass and we were eyeing the gorgeous wildflowers ranging from a neon Blue to pink to bright yellow. We saw a nice little doe and as we climbed higher and could look down into the Cherry and Birch Creek confluence, there was a bull. Yup, Linda had spotted one earlier and then when they came back empty thought maybe she'd just seen a big rock. But this was no rock, definitely a bull. Now out in the open, uphill from the creek and the brush, laughing at us. The trailers and all were gone so we continued on our way, enjoying the ride, the view and watching for more snakes.
As it began to get dark the moon rose up and between it and mother nature's fireworks, lightening down south towards Three Fingers, we had a decent amount of light. Not enough to stay on the faint brushy trail along Alkali Creek that would take us over near Blackjack Butte though. We weren't lost, we just weren't where we needed to be. We knew where to go, but we couldn't get there from where we were. From the hilltop we could see all the city lights from miles away, from Ontario down to Homedale and across to Boise and bogus Basin. What a sight. But our landmarks that we see in the daylight, the Snake River, the canal, roads and the bridge, were all hidden in darkness. So we worked our way back towards the powerlines, knowing those would take us down to Succor Creek Road. It was warm and beautiful and the moonlight. We'd trot where the footing was good but that wasn't a lot. Pretty rocky country out there. As we got closer to the powerlines we sent Joe a text message that read "powerline p u". It took about a mile till we got a strong enough signal for it to send but he knew what we meant. And he picked us up where the powerlines meet up with Succor Creek Rd. He even got there just a few minutes after we did. It was 11:45 PM. My goal is to be home by midnight - missed it by just a bit this time. But what a fabulous ride we had!! Hey we're ready to ride in the dark on that 100 miler now!!
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Cover Girls

Hey look it here - my buddy Linda Ballard and I are the "cover girls" of the AERC June Endurance News!! She is riding her mare and I have my red Thunder pony. WOOHOO!! Merri Melde took this at Owyhee Tough Sucker. What Fun. Perhaps I should go show this to Thunder, he may like to see a pic of him and his girlfriend Arie.
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I went - I rode - I had fun - but I didn't always have a whole lot of fun. Call it a bittersweet weekend. The good news - Z Blue Lightening completed his very first endurance ride with Tom Noll aboard. Tom did a great job with Blue and they had a good time, placing 8th!!! The bad news, Thunder and I met the hammer and were pulled at 45 miles. My "lame" horse looked perfect the very next day, racing around in his little pasture as though he'd never even been ridden. Hmm. I'll spare you the details. Sometimes thats just the way it works but suffice to say each day that there were MANY pulls! This was an International ride with FEI rules, not your everyday ride - I like those MUCH better. Actually I just like to ride and have fun!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scavenger Hunt

Well here's a silly picture that might give you a big chuckle! Last week I took Hollie out for a little ride. I had seen a shed deer antler a few miles out the previous week and wanted it for "yard dacor". So Hollie and I headed out in that direction. It was pretty warm and I figured she'd give it up pretty quick and tell me "You've got to be kidding!" But nope, instead she told me in no uncertain terms that I have left her home far too often. She was really enjoying getting out! Head high, ears perked, tail flagging in the wind, and off to see the world. That's my girl!! Even tossed in a little jump or two to see if I was paying attention or not.
We got out to where the horn lay in the grass and sage. I got off and picked it up and looked around for another one. Maybe? Ya never know. Didn't see anything and decided to head back. We saw a couple antelope bounding through the brush. And about 1/2 a mile later I saw something white in the distance. I decided to ride in that direction and see if it was bleached out brush or perhaps another antler shed. Sure enough, this one was a four point. I got off to get it and thought, okay, now how to carry two of these. No saddlebags. I tied the smaller one behind the saddle and opted to hang on to the bigger one.
Which was okay only if I would trot or lope, the antler behind the saddle would poke me in the butt. Or it would turn downward and poke Hollie in the butt. She didn't like it any better than I did. So we walked back to the trailer, watching lizards and horn toads scurry off the trail and out of the way.
So now my developing rock garden has two old deer antlers in it to dress it up a bit. Wonder what I'll pack home next time. Hmmm...

Monday, April 20, 2009


RIDE SUCKER.....RIDE! That's what it says on the back of my latest ride prize Tshirt. Pretty funny but true. We say that a lot, along with Shut up and Ride!

Truth is - Oreana endurance rides declare the new ride season open, and also close it in the fall. You know spring is here when you can go to Teeter's place on Bates Creek and saddle up and enjoy the sagebrush, sand washes, creeks and friends.

I have concentrated on slowing Thunder down, I joked about turning him into a "plodder". When Linda and I rode out of camp, nearly last, as we checked out and they asked us how you doing this morning, "I told them just plodding along." Thunder was calm, on a loose rein, relaxed. I kept telling Linda, "Wow if he can do this all day I'll be thrilled." Sometimes I wondered if it was really my Thunder. I think he's growing up. We rode across the flats above Pickett Creek thencircled back around to cross Bates Creek. Thunder loped a bit on the shoulder of the road, relaxed and easy, just having himself a very good time. Then we turned west again, passing a few riders here and there, and looked at those beautiful snow capped mountains to the west. Then it was down the Pickett Canyon trail and across Bates Creek with a mile and a half in. Thunder was thinking he was done, so he spooked and played through the wildflowers.

His pulse was down to 60 immediately, we vetted through and got 30 minutes to eat and change what needed changed, add what needed to be added, replenish water and all that before returning to go out. This time it was a 25 mile loop. Yeah we get to go somewhere. This loop went through the Brand's place and up the hill, swept out across Hart Creek via sand washes, and then turned to bring us back over more hills. We had lots of water and our horses drank every time! Then down Pickett Creek trail and into camp again, still shying at all those fun things.

Again the pulse dropped right away and we thought we were around 20th. This time we got to hang out in camp for 40 minutes. The final ten mile loop took us out to the Hart Creek rim and we could look down at where we had been earlier in the day. As well as the interesting sandstone formations in the landscape. It was a beautiful view. We could see riders off in the distance but we basically had it all to ourselves as we left the rim to go down the canyon trail one final time. The horses got a good drink in the creek and as we trotted out Thunder found a pair of alligators (logs) and shied twice from left to right in a heartbeat. Yeah, he was tired. LOL!

We trotted in and plodded across the finish line and the timer says "Do you want to tie?" Linda and I said we don't care. Well you can, to which we replied, doesn't matter. Then the guy says, well you are Top 10. We loked at each other and left and said NO WAY, we were sure he must have missed a few finishers. But nope we had plodded our way to 8th and 9th!! That was a shock. We didn't go fast, we walked when we needed or wanted, trotted and tried to keep it down to a dull roar and loped occasionally. Our finish time was 6:05. We had a great ride, the top 10 was just a surprising and welcome bonus!

Linda's mare and Thunder looked good, they vetted well and we didn't bother to show for Best Condition. The time factor was too big so we just got our completion and was pleased with that.
Sure hope my horse stays in this relaxed enjoyable pace mode, maybe I'll plod through a few more rides!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Welcome Spring

I admit it, I've been rather bad about keeping up my blog. I've been really busy with moving into the new place and fixing it up, building fence, just a ton of stuff to do. Friday was the last day of spring break and I skipped work and declared it a work day at home. Got the pen all finished and the horses off the pasture. Sounds like a simple task but it took a lot of work and time. The horses like their new loafing shed, even Zap stands inside it when it rains. There is a surprise!

Yesterday the pasture got plowed and seeded. So now I get to do the farmer thing: appreciate the rain, pray the wind doesn't blow all the dirt and seed away, and hope for a nice pasture for the horses. The garden spot got dug up and with some raking out is ready to go. I can plant cool weather veggies now. Th daffodils I planted last winter in front of the house are blooming now adding some color to the yard that I just seeded. Spring brings all things anew as they say.

A week ago, March 21, the South Central Idaho riders put on an endurance and trail clinic and I was one of the speakers. It had been a long time since I spoke at any clinics or seminars so I know I forgot a few things. But I was pleased that those that came enjoyed it and had a good time. My biggest piece of advice was "Know your horse" and every little detail about him. My next tip was to Return to the Basics, get a stethoscope and learn to really take care of your horse on the trail and at home. Do more trail riding vs condiioning rides, exploring and going places with your horse, it really brings the two of you together outside the competition world. We had MC Isaac as our model and he patiently agreed to letting one and all take his pulse, listen to his gut sounds, examine his legs and modeled some easyboots. He didn't admit to it but I'm sure Isaac enjoyed all the attention.

Yesterday when us gals rode there was new grass everywhere and the Yellow Bells are beginning to bloom. The brown hillsides are getting some color and new beauty. A month old calf that had wandered from mom followed us for about a mile convinced one of the horses was mom. Poor little guy. Mom had probably stashed him somewhere and he failed to stay put as told. But the range cows are resilient and we know they'll match up again. We had a bit of rain but it was warm so none of us cared. We think we'll be in shape enough for Steph's April Tough Sucker ride. It'll be slow but we'll be fine. The ground is drying out so in the next couple weeks we'll have to head out to Devils Gate and Three Fingers.

However today it's back to the same old stuff. Cold and hard winds. Wind chill is about 15 this morning. BRRRR! Have a great spring!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Favorite Quotes

As I was out enjoying and my horse and the beautiful view of the Snake River today I was mulling through my mind where I was a year ago with Thunder. And I thought, wow! Have we come a long ways, I sure wouldn't have been out riding him all by myself! That took until last summer before i did that.

One of my favorite quotes after my "crash" is John Wayne's "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." That quote just speaks volumes, and it hangs on the wall of my utility room so I see it every time I walk in the door. But it also assumes that you are getting on the horse, so my addition to that quote is "Real courage is being scared to death but riding the horse anyway."

A few more strides on the trail mixed with fleeting thoughts and I recalled how last fall at Owyhee some people thought it amazing that I had ridden this horse after all that we went through. Trot, trot, trot. Yeah, but I told myself so many people tried to DIScourage me from riding him that they almost had me believing that I couldn't. Thank God I had friends who ENcouraged me and told me that I COULD ride him! Truth was that I had to ride him. I had my doubts but when I thought of that "Courage"quote and John Wayne it was "I can do this!" Trot, trot, trot, ever notice how discourage and encourage both use the word COURAGE yet have such different meanings? It's so easy to influence people by the use of words. Lope, lope, trot, I would have missed out on so much fun had I not ridden him. John Wayne also said "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." Trot, trot, trot, Thunder and I have shared some great trail moments in the Owyhees and Sawtooths. Oh he's still a hot head and a handful, but we are working at it. Trot, trot, trot, and a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do too. So little time to ride compared to all the other things I have to do. OK Thunder we gotta make plans for this summer. And sometime I have to start riding your cousin too.
Thunder lopes along effortlessly through the sage and sand and the view of the Snake River is just gorgeous. Curlew are swirling overhead and whistling, they are upset at a hawk flying in their territory. The sky is dark to the south and looks like snow down by Three Fingers. The sandy road tracks down the hill with the amazing vista of farms mixed with wide open spaces on the other side of the river. Life is good, thanks for the ride Thunder!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cowgirl technology

Wow didn't we just bring them in? Seems like it but here we are behind 30 cows and bulls heading back out to the BLM allotment. For January it was a pretty nice day. We had some fog, some sun, no wind which was a blessing! Only one flat tire on the way up out of 5 trucks and trailers. Not bad! Fine little ice crystals hung on everything. The creek was frozen solid including the little water falls.
Oh where was my good camera? Forgotten. But I at least had my trusty camera phone. Technology on horseback. You can ride along, send a text, take a picture or call someone if you have a signal.
We were all loaded down with warm clothes and well prepared. We had less snow this winter up there. Last year we were crossing big snow fields. There was a bit of ice though. Blue splayed out in front and just went down on his nose but got back upright without going down all the way. We laughed that he looked like Bambi on ice! He didn't like Ranger behind him after that either, maybe he thought Ranger pushed him. :-)
It was a good day to get out. A nice easy drive, only took three hours which has to be a record. I told Joe we are either getting good at it or the cows are! Fourteen of them did know the way which helps a lot.
Yup once the cows go out that means spring is right around the corner. HOORAY!
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