Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tribute to Zap

Zapped+/ May 18,1983- Nov 8, 2012

Flashback to November 1989:

The phone conversation went something like this:

Man: “I understand you folks buy problem horses.”

Me: “Well yes sometimes we do. It depends on the problem.”

He gave me a long drawn out “Well” and he took a deep breath, “he bucks.”

Thinking that can’t be all, I questioned. “And?”

“He is also hard to catch. My girlfriend can catch him but I can’t get near him.”

“Alright” I answered, “What type of horse is he?”

“Oh he’s six years old, grey A-rab. I don’t want to sell him to the meat plant but he is a handful and you folks were recommended to me.”

After a few more details bounced back and forth I said I'd come have a look. The next day I was headed to LaPine to look at what was probably going to be our next winter project. at that time we often bought these horses, put a lot of riding on them and made a good horse out of them again. We resold them in the spring or summer, whenever the horse was ready. We were thankful to be able to rescue these horses from what could be a terrible fate.

The hopeful seller came out and pointed me to the corral. Standing there was one shaggy, a bit thin, ewe necked and sickle hocked gelding. I scowled inwardly and pitched a little rock in his direction so he’d trot. I grinned inwardly at the result, it was actually a “wow” at a very floaty smooth efficient movement. We entered the corral as we chatted and the horse eyed us warily and took off.
As I watched the horse I was told “His name is Zapped, but I call him Bolt.”

“Really” I said. “And does he?”

“Does he what?”

“Bolt.” I replied looking from the horse to him.

“Uh, well,” he paused scratching his head. “Yes he has ran off a time or too.”

I continued to ask him questions and Bolt worked his way up to me. I rubbed him and he seemed responsive but the ears were definitely off limits. I played around with the horse a little and finally got around to the real question of “How much?”
“Horses are selling for 38 cents a pound”, he said, so I’d take $350 for him.

“Hmmmmm, well let me discuss it with Al and I’ll call you tonight OK?" I told him.

Bolt was our dinner conversation that night, and cussing and discussing, Al said buy him, but only for $300. Of course the guy took it! So it was on a late November day of 1989 that Zapped came into our lives and he was never called Bolt again. Although he was called a few worse names than that at times.

His being hard-to-catch was the easiest problem to overcome. But Zap came with a surprise. Also in his arsenal of tricks was pulling back, which he wasted no time in doing while being saddled. The snap broke and he took off down the fenceline on the jeep trail through the junipers. Al hopped on another horse and brought him back. This time we were prepared for him to pull back. He was tied solid with two good ropes and a good halter and he wasn’t going anywhere. When he pulled back I smacked him from behind. He jumped up, looked around at me and you could see the wheels turning in that grey head. When Al went to bridle him he started to pull back, but a little light bulb came on and he stopped, looked at me, and stepped up. Nope he wasn’t going to try that one again.

We found out that Zap really was quite smart, even though he did some dumb things. He is a big coward, shied at everything, and one day he shied right off the edge of the trail. It was slick and muddy and down he went. Al was a nimble quick rider, he just stepped off the horse as we watched him slide down the hill on his side. About 50 feet or so later Zap got to his feet, unharmed but confused. And while he stood there trying to figure out what the heck had just happened, Al stepped back on him. I recall at the time saying, “Stupid horse. I don’t want to ride him.”

Every year we'd sell some geldings that we'd ridden all winter but Zap never sold. I rode him all winter and was complaining “I sure wished we could sell him so I could buy a good horse.” I’d retired my old endurance gelding and it was time to start a new horse. Everyone told me to just keep Zap and ride him. “No way, he’s too fruity. I want another half Arabian not a purebred.”

Well you know what they say. God gives us what we need, not what we want. Ride season was starting and the only thing I had to ride was Zapped. Sigh……

Then in May of 1992 I had Zap out marking trail for our upcoming endurance ride. I'd trailered out to the vetting area and had all my rolls of ribbon in my pack on my saddle. We’d marked about 3 miles of trail when I heard a distant rumble in the sky. It was faint and far away so I just kept trotting, stopping every so often to tie a long ribbon to a tree branch. As I continued the rumbling grew louder. I sized up the storm and told Zap, “Darn storm! We’ll just mark on up here to the next corner and we’ll head back to the trailer.” That was only ¾ of a mile but the wind started to blow and the storm advanced quickly. I quit tying ribbon and thought of just heading for home, over the hills to the North about 12 miles. But the storm was coming fast, better to make a run for the trailer 4 miles away to the south. My heart was in my throat. I knew this horse was capable of freaking out, dumping me, and being gone in a split second. That would be typical Zapped.

“Suck it up and be tough”, I told myself. About that time I saw a bolt of lightening strike the nearby ridge, and I was thankful as we entered the low-ground of the washed out gully. “We’ll be safe in the gully,” I told Zap. “Lightening will hit the ridge tops.” The thunder blasted over us and echoed in my ears. With each flash of lightening I could feel Zap’s muscles tighten. He really wanted out of there! But so far he was keeping his cool and listening to me. “Please be a good horse.” I begged him.

Zapped moved along at a nice extended trot and he was keeping his cool and responding well. “OK Zappy, we got only three and a half miles left. Piece of cake.” We’d ridden this trail many times, and he knew it well. This was one of his favorite trails. He zipped through the sage and juniper with ease, hopping over rocks and jumping little washes. Then I saw a lightening flash and heard a deafening crash of thunder at the same instant. Smoke came from a tree hit by lightening not twenty feet away. I just knew that in days to come, someone would find our charred remains out there on that trail. I was scared stiff. I just kept saying little prayers and talking to Zap.

“Riding a horse named Zapped in an electrical storm can not be a good omen.” I told him. I’d breathe a little prayer between earsplitting booms of thunder and blinding flashes of lightening. I’d been in storms before but never anything like this. It flashed and roared simultaneously all around us! I cringed inwardly. Zap was cantering now, yet amazingly under control. We still had a couple miles left. The heavens opened and the rain poured hard.

KABOOM! The clap of thunder was overpowering! Then lightening hit another tree! I had now gone from merely frightened to completely terrified! “People die in storms like this.” I thought. With each thunderous explosion and flash I would jump, and I felt Zap take a bigger stride. “I sure hope you are good at dodging lightening bolts buddy!” I said to Zap, as he zigged and zagged through the rocks and sagebrush. The hard rain turned into what we called a “gullywasher”. The water ran off the hillside and into the gully, making it a creek. “Great!” I told Zap, “Now we have to worry about a flash flood!” The lightening was still flashing and I was not about to leave the refuge of that gully for higher ground and risk getting hit by lightening.

I kept talking to Zap as he splashed through several inches of rapidly deepening water, while listening to the incredible storm raging all around us. Talking to him kept both of us sort of calm and distracted me from the sight of smoke rising from nearby junipers that had been hit by lightening. “At least the rain will quell any wild fires.” I said to Zap.

We still had about a mile left to go, the thunder and lightening began to decrease. I could count a second or two between the bolt of lightening and the thunderclap, so I knew it was getting farther away. Then as suddenly as the rain had started, it stopped. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and gave Zap a thankful rub on his wet neck. ‘What a horse! You’re the man Zappy! ” I really laid on the praise. He hadn’t dumped me!

About a half mile from the trailer the sun came out. By the time we reached the road, the sky was blue. The danger was gone! Yet there we were, completely drenched and looking like hurricane refugees. The whole thing seemed totally unreal, like a really horrible nightmare.

We’d made it! It was amazing to have ridden through that wild storm untouched. We were safe. I was so proud of Zapped. He had understood and cooperated with me for the first time ever. That was the day I decided he was a good horse, a keeper. During that extraordinary storm, we had blended together and become a team, true partners, and Zapped would never be for sale again.

From that day forward Zap and I were a team like no other, we had overcome any obstacles that were in our way.
In the years to come we finished many endurance rides and won numerous national and regional awards. With Zap still bucking for joy along the trail. Ruthie Waltenspiel told me once, "If you ever get that horse broke I'll buy him!" I think he was about 17 then and I told her, "Sorry this horse is never for sale!"

Zapped+/ completed 6480 AERC miles, 102 starts - 100 completion, 19 - 100 mile rides, and two XP multi-days. He is the only horse I paid up i the Arabian Horse Registry so he could earn his Legion of Merit and Supreme Legion of Merit, the + and / behind his name. In 1993 he was AERC Reserve Mileage Champion, 1280 miles, beaten by the horse we had sold to Les Carr, Surrablue.

Spring Fling 2003 was the final ride for Zapped+/, a 55 miler we finished in 6 hrs. I had planned to take him to Canyonlands later that year but he and I both fell on the trail when a gopher run gave way underneath his feet. He had a puffy leg and I had a couple broken ribs. He was 20 that year.

He was always the King of the place and he deserved every minute of his retirement. I have many Zap memories and stories. The one of the storm I wrote a long time ago for a short story compilation that may get published one day.

I have been so incredibly blessed to have more than one amazing horse. And Zap was the best. November 8 I had to say goodbye to this great horse. Now he runs free and I will always say we had a great run Zap!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fly Away

Many years ago Al & I bought a gorgeous little Arabian mare named MA Lady Beauzika. She was a plain blood bay, ridden a couple times, and she stood maybe 14.2. We decided to breed her to Cole and Charlotte Stills stallion, My Arabi Kabir. Rabi had the greatest disposition and people were always surprised to find out that he was a stallion because he was so well mannered. The result was a cute little bay filly born June 29, 1987 that we named Fancy Flyer. The first Arabian that we ever bred.
In 1993 Al rode her on 5 rides, and she did one more ride in 1994 for a total of 310 AERC miles.
Andi was wanting a Pinto so we bought a breeding at a stallion auction and bred her to a tall dark bay and white 3/4 Arabian pinto. In May of 1998, the same day as the Prineville endurance ride, Flyer foaled a filly, Midknight Star. The knight-shaped "star" was the only white we got, far from a pinto! It was fitting that she arrived on Prineville ride day - sort of an honor to Cole Still who has put this ride on for so many years! Andi still has Star and rides her some.
Flyer was a reliable trail horse and later she was a good family horse for Kenz and Riley. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Flyer Nov 1, 2012. I was there when she was born and there for her last breath. Go run again Flyer! Fly away!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Training Diamond

When I got Diamond last April she was 90% unhandled. After a couple short sessions she gentled right down. I think she liked the attention of the round pen, brushing and being played with. It wasn't long before I had a saddle on her and was taking the "big dog" for a walk down the road and having her follow me everywhere. The summer got busy and all she had to do was eat, sleep and be lazy. But this fall after ride season was over it was back to doing some round pen work.
She displayed a few moves which showed a bit of attutude!
However once she figured out that resulted in more circles and work she was quickly begging to stop.
The first day when Chris got on her I didn't get any pictures as I was too busy holding on to Diamond's lead rope just to keep it all safe and quiet. But the second day, she was on her own. Turning, stopping, listening and all the while calm and relaxed. Diamond's third saddle lesson was "I'm bored." So we loaded up and went out to the BLM where she got her very first adventure with Hollie.
This was Diamond's second trailer ride and from the time we unloaded and Chris mounted up she was relaxed and happy. She just followed Hollie down the trail and would trot to catch up now and then. At first she didn't like the sagebrush hitting her legs but that didn't last long. By the time we got back to the trailer she was walking in front and still being cool and calm. Wow! For her fourth ride we trailered out to "ride camp" off Lytle as you head to Vale,OR. I was trying to keep her off the big steep Adrian hill for now, give her more obstacles and things to think about.
We started out on a pretty brushy trail with some gradual uphill. She zigged and zagged and quickly wanted to eat grass. If she gets to be an endurance horse at least she will eat. HAHA!
We came up on a big double water tank. Now most Arabians have to snort and get all big eyed over their first few water tanks out on the plains. But not Diamond. She went right up to it and looked at it, blew a little but not really a snort. Then after standing there we just walked away. After more brush and grass to eat we came up on a big black water tank built from a tire.
The big black water tank was so scary she drank from it, after breaking the ice. :) Then it was on down the trail again.
Her biggest thing for the whole 3 mile ride was she got a little flustered going down a small bank but she did it. And when I consider the last two rides is all the hill experience she has it doesn't surprise me. But even then she goes back to happy and calm really fast. She seems to like it. I think I am going to have a horse I can ride anywhere. ♥

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Tradition

If I saddle up and I'm gone all day long its a Thanksgiving tradition! This started many years ago and the thoughts took me back to the early 80's when we had our end of season endurance ride on Thanksgiving weekend. Good times and many fond memories.
1984 at Fort Rock,OR the second day of the ride and we cantered the 100, finished in the daylight. What a way to spend the weekend, eat, ride, eat, ride some more, followed by eating more. Hey at least we rode it off! This craziness was thanks to George and Penny Behee who provided all of us an end of year points chaser. In the early days the ride was held near Canyonville, OR and Fort Rock, OR., then after Behee's moved to Millican the ride went there also. And we had a big barn with a loft and wood stove. :)I think that's when the name changed to the Horse Heaven ride. Even though the days of an endurance ride on Thanksgiving have been gone, I still feel the need to saddle up and ride on Thanksgiving, remembering. trails, family and friends including those who have left us over the many years.
Thanksgiving 2010 we had snow but if i can get the truck in and out of places I'll still go :) Some years it is snowy and other years the weather has been great. The last two years has been pretty mild.
Thanksgiving 2011 Blue and I looking over the Snake River, we had a bit of fog but it was a good day to ride!
Thanksgiving 2012 I actually found a friend who had time to go riding with me. This always makes it more fun. and we traversed Hallelujah canyon as a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Hope everyone else had a great day too!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Ghoulish Finale

The last ride of our NW season was just before Halloween at the Teeter's in Oreana. We had a rather small group but it was a blast. It felt very much like a family get together as you got to ride, hangout and feast with your best horsey buddies!
Thunder and I at Halloweenies, thanks Steve Bradley for another great pic! The first day it was oh so cold!!!! 20 degrees and oh yes put yet another layer of clothes on! I hate cold but its always warmer once you are on the horse. Thunder didn't seem to mind at all. As usual I forgot the darn splint boots so had to go back and put them on and then we really had a late start. At least the big T behaves himself that way! It did warm right up once we were trotting along and I had a great time riding with Carol Brand. We did the 55 in 6:45 and placed 8th. That made us right in the middle which is pretty much what we do. Yeah more points and miles for Thunder Wunder pony! Thunder has had an awesome year of 905 miles!! So what to do for day 2. Thunder looked great and it is so hard to leave him in camp. But I started the ride season on Blue so it seemed like I should do the last one of the year with him also. Blue needed one more ride for his lifetime AERC 1000 miles. He spends all his time on the backburner, in Thunder's shadow, and seldom gets his own shining moment. So I decided to take Blue, and sponsor a Junior Tori Church. Now this was costume day and Tori shows up in the flowing flapping ghoulish outfit. My horse is big eyed and definitely disapproving and I am thinking this is not going to work. "You go out in front Tori and I'll just follow and see how Blue does." And everytime I'd try to have in front he'd get all spooky and scared so we just stayed behind all day!
Merri Melde took this of Tori and I at a water stop. See - it's a ghoul!! Thanks Merri!! Only 8 of us were brave enough to ride the 50 on day 2, and we all finished. What a great time, we were 7th and Blue got his 1000 AERC miles! Proud of my little grey guy!
Thus ended an excellant year of endurance rides! And now its Thanksgiving! And I sure am thankful!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Canyons, Caves and so much more

Just when you think Steph Teeter has had you on every trail in their neck of the Owyhees, she finds something new.
This year for the first day of the 5 day multi-day ride she was able to take us out some new trail above Browns Creek and out to the one of the areas oldest homesteads, the Spivey Ranch. The big 50 mile loop gave us our hour vet check/lunch in style as we all went up to the house for lunch and a tour. Then we followed Castle Creek out near the Crazy Woman mine and headed back to camp via the Jackass Trail then if you weren't attacked by the Jack you continued along a different stretch of Browns Creek. Great trail, lots of scenery but it was rocky and a bit slow.
The slow part may have been good because I hoped to ride Thunder all 5 days. We took almost 8 hours for day 1. We lucked out as Jack just watched as we opened the gate and went through, the two bachelors trotted off and we made it through their territory without any problem.
The second day was the Hart Creek trails, two 25 mile loops from camp.One loop takes us into the Birds of Prey Conservation area with lots of rolling hills and fun trails.
The Hart Creek loop takes us through a great old homestead site with pieces of old farm equipment and a very cool dugout, then up the long climb away from Hart Creek and up Knife Ridge where one can see forever. A great day for us as we finished 9th in just under 7 hours.
Day 3 we rode to the historic Joyce Ranch along Sinker creek. We went along the edge a dry reservoir that feeds water into the ranch all summer, then entered Sinker Canyon. The Canyon walls are adorned with Eagle's nests and there is lots to look at while we have trees branches to dodge and a beaver pond to splash through. A fun day in just a bit over 6 1/2 hours with Thunder still looking like a champ!
The 4th day took us across the highway, through Birds of Prey, down the sandy arroyo
and around Wild Horse Butte. The Snake River was gorgeous and quiet as we trotted along it's banks. Thunder got in another 9th place in a bit over 6 hours. Four days down and one to go.
The last day of a multi-day is always a nail biter because now is not the time to make mistakes. There had been several same-same rider teams drop out after day 4 and I had no idea exactly who was left, but I did know who I needed to beat. :) The route headed back out to Joyce Ranch via a different trail than day 3. Sometime I'd like to go down to the ranch and really look through the old buildings because they fascinate me.
We traveled through several miles of Sinker Creek canyon looking at awesome canyon walls and spires and letting the horses drink the crystal clear water. We had some touch and go moments as Thunder had some rocks in an easyboot that made him a bit off but once cleaned out he was OK. Whew! We finished the days ride in roughly 6 1/2 hours.
The week simply flew by and Thunder had completed his 3000 AERC miles and his third complete Owyhee Canyonlands multi-day. Thunder was the five day winner by nearly 3 hours and was awarded a beautiful bridle for being the Best Condition multi-day horse.
Multi-day rides are such a great time with all my friends and the Teeters do such a great job. I am always in awe of my red Thunder who loves to go and keeps trotting mile after mile!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Feeling Frisky in the Fall

When I opened the gate into the pasture today it was like teh starting gate had sprung open. The thundering herd was off and running!
Then Diamond took some twists, turns and bucks!
Thunder had the lead and Hollie cut the corner
One by one they settle in to eat grass. Diamond however still had a kink in her tail!
She had to make another circle or two before settling down.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Old Selam and Golden Trails

Gold was first discovered near Centerville, Idaho on Grimes Creek August 2, 1862. The discovery started one of the greatest gold rushes the world has ever seen….the richest strike in America, with an estimated take of than $250,000,000 from this area in the two decades following its discovery….greater than the California 49er and of the Klondike in Alaska. Nearby Bannock City grew to 6000 people, with 250 places of business. Bannock City was later renamed Idaho City grew to hold 20,000 miners. Idaho City, became the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco, until a couple severe fires in 1865 and 1867 destroyed much of town. Even then thousands of miners traveled to the area with tiny towns springing up everywhere. Most have vanished without a trace. But this year Idaho City, Placerville, Pioneerville and Centerville held their 150 year celebration.
Nowadays its all pretty quiet around the area. With the price of gold a few miners have tried their hand at dredging and sluicing out the precious metal but with marginal luck. The area around New Centerville has been home to the Old Selam Endurance Ride for several years. And I love to go to this ride because its just refreshing to go to the hills and creeks. Oscar Baumhoff allows us to invade his space and camp on his property along Grimes Creek. Just out of camp are some large piles of mine tailings from days of long ago. I went up to the ride this year with a very sore back and was determined to ride a day. I popped some pain pills and wore an Absorbine Patch. I told Thunder that he was in trail horse mode which meant slow, steady and calm. With each mile I got better and by days end of up and down hills, numerous creek crossings on Grimes, Elk and Clear Creeks I felt ready for the dance! There was no dance but there was something better, a second day of trail that I signed up for! Thunder, by the way, was very well behaved and we had a great day!
The two 25 mile loops of trails the second day were a bit better than the first as we didn't have Boulder Alley along the creek and through the old tailings. Most of the trail really is great footing, a lot of two track through the woods and the creeks had lots of water. I couldn't begin to tell you where we went other than all over those mountains which offered some great views and vistas with a rich blue sky. We finished with flying colors, another two day ride for the mighty Thunder and I!
After we had finished riding Oscar Baumhoff opened up the new Interpretive Center Museum and Cini Baumhoff ferried us back and forth. The Center is located at the Old Red Barn as you come into New Centerville and it used to be the Old Train Depot building. There are walls of photos and mining equipment everywhere. It really is a great place to visit. A sluice box with an old gold pan sits outside the door.
If you ever get that direction you should check it out. And if you are in Idaho City, check out this crazy place at the end of town not far from the school!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Part 2 of the Cabin Tour

Last week my friends and I explored trails between Diamond Basin and Silver City. We came upon the incredible Montini's Cabin located near a creek. From there it was back up hill as the road narrowed and zigged back and forth across the creek. Here we met some motorcycle riders looking for the cabin and the road to Silver City. We told them after the cabin the route would take them back to Diamond Basin. On they went to the cabin. I don't think we went 1/2 miles and here came two 4 wheelers. It wasn't long and here came the bikers back. About ten minutes later here came the two 4wheelers. Obviously they were more lost than we were. LOL
After maybe two miles from Montini's we came upon a couple more cabins. The larger one possibly known as Spring House. The BLM map shows a Black Horse Spring to the north of it. The cabin was not maintained like Montini's. But on the plus side there was a skylight and air conditioning! HA
We did not have a decent map of the area and we were going on a lot of verbal directions however there are road numbers on the ATV trails but it seems the BLM hasn't gotten those printed and available to the public. But we decided to continue in the direction that made sense and traveled a steep hill. At the top were two of the cycle riders. They told us that road they were on went to Silver City but it was rocky. Then off they went. Trish thought they had waited for us to tell us that which was pretty darn nice of them. Once on that road the terrain changed, it got very rocky and we were no longer in Juniper but Pines. We went on for about a mile to a spring which we thought was Tiddy Spring. I looked at a new map Kody had gotten the other day and it was Tiddy Springs. So we made it that far before turning back. I can see I need to go to the BLM Office in Marsing for a map.:)
I am looking forward to more exploring. There is so much stuff to see in those hills!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Cabin Tour Part 1

It has been a few years since I got to ride through the Old West streets of Silver City. Not because I didn't want to but it just takes time and planning. Plus I wanted to find a different route than what we had used before. And I have had the itch to want to do this ride. Itchy enough that a week ago My friend Trish and I drove to Silver to look it over. Which led to a campout at Diamond Basin and a ride to help us plan out a route to Silver City. We went in a westerly direction and came to a nice little spring fed trough for the hroses to enjoy.
Then we climbed up and up and eventually came to Milk Springs. Then down a good long ways to Montini's Cabin.
The cabin sits in awesome spot with a creek and a corral. It is now part of Joyce Ranch.
There is a sign on the door that says you can use the cabin, just leave it as good as you found it.
Plus there is a root celler nearby and of course the ever necesary outhouse another hundred yards away.
Great spot and the cabin looked very inviting except smelled a bit skunky. I think the Pepe LePue must live under the cabin.