Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tough Sucker 2011

When I think of a ride in the Owyhees the first thing that comes to mind is the magnificent Snake River. The Snake winds around through the desert and tall canyon walls, creating quiet oasis and beautiful ranches. The pioneers followed much of the Snake and the Oregon Trail still exists. And lucky us as Tough Sucker riders, we get the privelege of riding portions of the Oregon Trail. To trot where the oxen pulled wagons and the pioneers walked is an amazing experience. And from the dry hill tops looking back towards the river, one wonders how they must have felt leaving the river behind, and knowing that if they stayed there that it could mean death from the Indians. Recall the Utter Disaster blogspot from last October.

It is amazing that much of the Owyhees are as wild as they were 150 years ago. Minus the Indians. :-) But as you ride along its pretty easy to replay some of those old westerns in your head and imagine Indians popping up along the horizon. Hmmm maybe thats what makes Thunder look for something to jump at!

These Owyhee rides remain some of my favorites. And they must be the favorites of others too as riders drove in to the ranch near Oreana for the ride on Saturday April 16. It wasn't a big crowd but it was a happy bunch of riders as we started the day with no wind and a promise of sunshine. The first loop took us to the Snake River and it was peaceful and gorgeous. Even though the water was high and rapid we still had a nice spot for the horses to drink. The trail then went out to the Snake River Birds of Prey area and wound around the desert all day long. Some folks find the desert boring but it is chock full of beauty if a person just looks for it. Even the dry washes with their high walls can be entertaining especially when Thunder is on "Troll Patrol". HAHA.

I think the ride had roughly 40 riders all total on the 25, 50 and 75. Only 5 of us were on the 75 and Thunder and I managed to place third about 30 minutes behind the front runners. He was still full of spooks and playful moves, all in a days work of Keeping me entertained and improving my riding skills. We finished about 8 PM and it wasn't even dark yet. Hooray! We vetted in for the last time of the day with A's on his vet card all day long!

Except for a 5 minute rain shower, it was a sunny beautiful and warm day. So unlike Tough Sucker weather but I truly enjoyed it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Equine Dynamics Clinic

The first ever Equine Dynamics Clinic was held April 2 & 3, 2011 near Parma, ID., featuring Naomi Preston and myself, Karen Bumgarner. It was the result of, "Hey Naomi, you do the TTeam and I do the horse massage, I know they are different but yet they complement one another. What do you think of us doing a clinic?" She loved the idea, and it grew from there with an added day of "Connected Riding" techniques which she had learned from Peggy Cummings.

I had studied Equine Sports Massage from Equissage and Mary Schrieber, following Jack Meaghers proven methods. Along with techniques I had learned as a kid around racehorses and attending other clinics.

Naomi Preston has studied the Linda Tellington Jones' Tellington Touch, which stimulates sensory and helps the horse to accept training, become more focused and also aids healing. Naomi has many success stories she shared with us.

In my mind "dynamics" was a perfect part of the title of the clinic. The definition of dynamics is "pertaining to or characterized by energy or effective action". And by the end of the weekend all could see it truly fit. The many ideas rolled together were truly enlightening and energizing. Our riding will be more in harmony to the horse, and his body will be better prepared for competition. I cannot begin to put it all into a blog. So much information! This is just a morsel of what was presented.

One of the things I really wanted to do was paint the major muscles as a visual aid. So I painted Blue, my grey Arabian gelding. This took me a couple hours but it wouldn't have mattered if it took 6 hours because I just had to do it.

Of course Saturday morning just as we were getting started, the wind was blowing and we could see rain headed our way. But everyone bravely ventured out for a few minutes to watch Blue trot around the small arena and watch how the muscles moved. Then the rain came and we ran for the house! So much for perfection. With the weather not cooperating it was a good thing that there was a lot we could do inside.

Naomi began TTEAM with showing us all the different T-Touches and techniques which we then practiced on each other. The moves are quite subtle and gentle but oh so stimulating as several attendees shared their success stories on Sunday. One person had an allergy attack Saturday night, she did the T-Touch over her sinuses and in 5 minutes was breathing normally. Pretty powerful stuff!

After the T-touches we also learned and practiced the massage strokes.

After lunch the weather was better. Naomi demonstrated some T-Touch, the body wrap and a few other techniques. Then I massaged half a horse. Everyone teamed up into small groups and four horses got massaged.

Anne McBee and Carol Fitzgerald with Blue

Afterwards Naomi introduced us to Feldenkrais exercises to raise awareness in or bodies, relieve tension and improve flexibility. We did a back exercise that made everyone feel much looser and more efficient. One person felt so much better she said she didn't need the chiropractor now! So now we were learning to use our dynamic energies as well.

We started Sunday with more Feldenkrais to loosen our entire spine. Then Naomi began showing us some Connected Riding techniques. Now that everyones backs were more flexible and we leeanred how to use our muscles more efficently, she showed eberyone how to put that to use for better balance. How when it comes to riding harmoniusly with the horse, our backs and pelvis are the key to "riding light". Again I can't begint o put all the information in here, afterall volumes have been written on all the subjects. You'll just have to learn from Naomi. :-)

Sunday - a nicer day and Blue displayed the different colored muscles as a visual related to saddle placement. I was surprised the paint hadn't washed off, it was just faded a bit.

Outside we saddled up and put it to use. Basically, a rider got on, sat as they would normally. Naomi critiqued and improved their position for efficiency. We saw how an arched back actually shortened the horse's stride. Some wanted to stop, Hollie got downright opinionated about it. It was amazing how a subtle shift of posture could have such a huge effect on the horse's movement.

Thunder, myself and Naomi

An important technique Naomi demnstrated was "combing the reins", which had the hands brushing the reins as the horse walked. This lengthened all the horse's strides and diffused any nervousness in each horse! Then as the rider combed the reins they would also "rotate" right and left to gain flexibility and engage the horse's hind end. It was all an eye-opener to all of us and even Naomi saw some revelations with the horses. Dynamic and powerful knowledge!

Anne McBee on Scarlet with Naomi Preston

I truly think we crammed several days of learning into two days. It was very full and there was so much more that we could have done. But everyone went home with new tools to make their horse happier and healthier as well as improving their riding skills.

I also have to thank all the great people and companies for donating items to our clinic. Thank-you Tonya Stroud, Griffin's Tack, Long Rider, Action Tack, Creative Sciences, Platinum Performance, Arius Products, Horse Tech, Select the Best, Ginger Ridge Horse Cookies, EZ-All, and Elete Electrolytes. All the goodie they supplied to participants were so very much appreciated!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Horse Teeth

Friday I spent more $$ on my horse's teeth than i have on my own. Isn't that the way it is for most horse owners? Money for them but not for us?
This is the problem Blue had, a downward hook in front and an upward hook waaaaayyy in the back. This locked his jaw in place and made it difficult for him to eat. My vet Randy Bean, said it also probably gave him a headache as this condition causes cluster headaches in people.

Now this photo isn't Blue, I kinda had my hands full steadying his head. But it shows the hooks and how difficult it is to take care of them. With all of this he was still not showing the classic symptoms of tooth problems. He is just a tough guy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I was taking my usual walk down around Roswell Marsh and back when I heard this deafening ruckus of noisy geese. I looked up and around and I was surrounded by hundreds of geese. The evening sun lit up their wings and it looked like a blizzard.
A snowstorm of swirling white winged geese amid the corn stalks.

Snow geese fly in the V to conserve energy and swap who leads and who straggles behind, but they also swirl over the ground deciding where to land. Looks like a white tornado when they circle their potential landing site. They still have a long way to go to their nesting grounds in the Arctic tundra. Hard to believe that at one time they were pretty rare

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Finally, after what seems like an eternity of deep freeze and snow, I got to ride!! The sandy hill near Adrian wasn't too terribly muddy and when it was I was bale to just go around it. At the top there was still some snow but the footing wasn't treacherous like it had been. Thunder wasn't even bucky after two months of nothing to do. He was pretty high but much better than expected. You just never know how he is going to be when you swing your leg over and set your butt down in the saddle. Usually if the first 15 minutes goes well then I have it made.
And to top it off I got to ride two days in a row! That must mean that conditioning for the new year has begun. The sun came out to warm us and the snow was bright and glistened. It was just beautiful!
Riding for a lot of people is just an activity. But for me, riding is breathing. Without riding I just get depressed and unhappy. I walked every day all winter long which helped me retain some sanity. But it wasn't riding and time with my horse. But this weekend, I was able to be with nature again, appreciate the beauty, and just soak it all up with each breath. Hard to beat a good horse, sun, trail and the view of that gorgeous river. What a great weekend! God is good!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Meet Birdbrain, aka the wounded pigeon I brought home today. I think he is very pretty, has some very colorful feathers in that wet grey. The poor guy has blood on his wing and can't fly at all. He was floundering around in the ice and snow as the dogs went to investigate. A coyote would have made short work of him. For now he has food and water, shelter and is safe from predators. No bands or anything on his legs. I am going to try and find him a home and if nothing else, once he is all healed up turn him loose again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Birds of a Feather

Nearly everyday Molly and I take our walk across the cornfield and along the edge of the marsh. The last few weeks we have seen very few birds other than a pheasant or two, perhaps a hawk. But the frozen marsh has been pretty quiet.
Today however was different. Perhaps it has been the sunny afternoons the last couple days with temperatures barely above freezing for an hour or two before the sun goes down.
As we strolled along the edge of icy ponds the afternoon sun cast long shadows across the snow. A hawk took flight and the sun cast a beautiful golden hue over his wings as he flew overhead. The awesome moment was breathtaking.
Farther along I could hear the birds singing and chirping. Little black capped snowbirds filled a couple small trees. One of the bigger trees had about 50 red-wing blackbirds all trilling and talking to each other. And there, in the middle of the tree surrounded by blackbirds was one lone red breasted robin! A Robin in January!!! "He must be lost!" I said to Molly who was busy sniffing out a mouse. I could hope it's a sign of an early spring but it is supposed to snow so scrap that thought!
A bit farther was another tree of blackbirds and another hawk. Along the creek we scared up four ducks and a blue heron. I haven't seen this many birds in nearly two months! And the hunters were out there yesterday so don't think that has anything to do with it.
It is so fun to listen to the birds, watch and appreciate them. By the time we head back home the sun is setting and temperature is quickly dropping. Could be the birds will start nesting soon and spring will surely return!