Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saga of The Big Brass - One Year

Hard to believe that it has been a year since the big Appaloosa gelding that could not be caught came to me. For more of the story check here.

That year has been filled with ups and downs and tiny pieces of success, all of which have been building blocks to the training given The Big Brass. I had hoped to get him on several rides this year, and had this stupid idea that "maybe just maybe" I could get him to the Appaloosa National Championship Endurance Ride. But that was not to be thanks to hoof issues, boots not fitting and weak hoof wall that wouldn't hold a shoe. However that hair-brained idea blossomed into our recent stupendous adventure of traveling across Oregon to the coast trip, so it wasn't all bad. 

One big success was at Owyhee Chills in November of 2013, Beth Nicholes rode Brass on his first AERC 50 mile ride, which was also Beth's first endurance ride! They did just fine although we did have a couple "incidents" but it all worked out. In endurance riding it always works out if you stick with it, that's where the true endurance kicks in. It was fun to watch Beth and Brass enjoying the trail!

Since then Brass' rocky record of success has continued. Some days you're the bug- some days you're the windshield. There were some rough spots Brass and I had to overcome with trust and leadership problems. Plus we kept trouble shooting hooves and abscesses thanks to their previous neglect. After another big success of completing the Eagle Extreme 50 in June with Ted Nicholes, the plan was to take him to Jackson Hole, WY for an Advanced Horsemanship clinic that Ted wanted to attend. But the day before they were going to leave, Brass had a muscle cramp at the Almosta Silver City Ride, and that plan was abandoned. Brass looked sound again the next day but Ted didn't want to risk it. He called ahead to the hosts of the clinic and they loaned him a horse for the week. So once again, plans and goals for Brass had changed. 

The good news is that Brass is still sound and trotting happily down the trail a year after his arrival.  The Big Brass has come a long way from being roped to be caught, and now comes when you call him. The big guy has learned to love attention from people. Despite crummy hooves that are slowly improving, he has developed into a pretty nice trail and endurance horse. An idea that a couple people said I was crazy to even think about! He is proof that every horse can be trained if you find the right person to continue building the horse up. I couldn't have trained Brass on my own, and I have to thank the Nicholes family for all their hard work with The Big Brass. Here is to another year Mr Brass - long may you trot! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Conclusion of the Three Grannies Great Adventure

 I was really getting into this vagabond lifestyle of driving to a new camp site, riding new country and then traveling on to another. What a treat this whole trip had been!! And we were getting this packing thing down to an art! But as some idiot once said, all good things must come to an end. So Friday morning, July 18, OTRA bright and early heading home from Graham Corral.The air had a lot more smoke and there were several fire crews at the Sisters gas station being dispatched to the fire scene. The fire 26 miles North of Sisters was getting pretty big, guess it was a good thing that we were getting out of dodge and heading back to Idaho, which also had a few fires. But during this entire trip the timing had been fortuitous and we had always been ahead of any trouble. The good Lord was taking great care of us on our journey.

As we passed through the Burns area visibility was down to maybe a mile thanks to heavy smoke from surrounding areas. By the time we got to Vale it was actually improved and really wasn't that awful by comparison when we got home. Colleen was wanting to do another endurance ride so the plan was to unload some stuff at home, switch horses and head to Oreana for the Almosta Silver City Ride July 19. Linda's husband came and picker her and her mare up, we went over to Nicholes' and loaded Brass because they were taking 4 horses to the ride, and off we went to Oreana! By the time we vetted etc I was putting easyboots on horses at 11 PM.

I was grateful the ride started early as it was hot already. The rising sun was a deep scarlet. Thunder was trotting along and it was the beginning of a great day. Despite hauling around the country for ten days Thunder and I completed in 5th place on the 50 without incident, but some of my friends weren't so lucky on the LD. Rushcreek Hollie tore a boot up so Colleen walked back to camp and pulled. And The Big Brass had a muscle cramp at the finish and Ted didn't get completion. Bummer!! The rest of the Nicholes family completed with their horses though!!

By the time dinner and awards rolled around most of the folks had gone home. We had a great dinner with those who remained and good conversation before heading home to stay. For the first time in ten days the vagabonds had landed. The great adventure had sadly come to an end. The horses were happy to be back home and Molly trotted off with the neighbors dog to go swim in the ditch. It had been an amazing ten days. A trip that I couldn't have done without my friends nor would I have wanted to have done it without them. It was truly a great time and now we have to figure out what to do next year!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Three Grannies Great Adventure Part 5

After two luxurious rides and tours of the beach and Bandon sights, sadly it was time to load up and begin the trek back home. The plan was to ride and camp at near Sisters, OR., at Graham Corral on Thursday. I don't think I'd ridden there for 20 years and they have added some small corrals in individual campsites, all surrounded by huge Ponderosa Pines. It's a great spot!

From Graham Corral you can pick up the Metolius Windigo Trail and ride purt near anywhere you want!

We chose to head to Fourmile Butte.

Fourmile Butte is a 4,052 foot tall cinder cone, and from the top the panoramic view of the Cascades and valley below was magnificent! Here is Mt Washington

Three Finger Jack

Middle Sister and North Sister

Mt Jefferson

We spotted some deer and one was a buck in velvet!

The Three Grannies Great adventure Part 4

We left the windy foggy beach of Wild Mare behind and was OTRA to Bullard Beach at Bandon. We had a really nice camp site and got the "kids" all situated in their new digs. Oregon sure has nice horse camps - wish Idaho had some nicer ones. After we all had a bite of supper the three of us took Molly for a beach walk. We headed out the horse trail, over the dune and down to the shore. Carol was right, the weather here was nicer, a bit warmer and less wind and fog.

Since it was getting a bit late and we had the entire beach to ourselves, Molly had fun running around as we explored. When we returned to camp it was dusk and I could see the form of some smallish animal leaving our camp area. Hmmmmm. Turned out to be a raccoon enjoying the grain Linda had set out to soak while we walked. Oh, wait a minute, I see two raccoons! So we had to be sure to set all our stuff up after that and not leave Molly unattended. 

The next morning we saddled up to ride the trails and the beach. The beach trail out of BB Horse Camp is awesomely marked unlike Wild Mare. 

We took the Cut Creek Trail through the dunes for several miles before coming back to the beach trail. We spotted a deer and a porcupine and had to wait for Mr Porky to get off the trail so we could keep going. :)

And I was really enjoying the canopied trails and interesting fir trees. 

The Coquille Light House at Bullard Beach is awesome place to visit even on a horse. :)

The Lighthouse Trail led us back to camp where we relaxed briefly before heading out for a Lighthouse tour, a walk along the jetty then into old town Bandon/ 

These guys were catching lots of Red Snapper

The board walk in Bandon was surrounded by some amazing horse paintings since it was Year of The Horse. And the evening was topped off by another walk on the beach. We were all wishing for one more day at Bandon. So much to do and see and we ran out of time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Three Grannies Great Adventure Part 3

Tuesday morning bright and early found us ♫ On the Road Again ♫. The beach here we come! In Reedsport this driver needed a break. We spotted a Dairy Queen and a closed up gas station to park in. Perfect. Off we went across the road destined for ice cream. Lucky us - we got this poor young girl and I think it was her first day. Yeah there went 45 minutes just to get ice cream cones. Sigh.....and back across the road to the truck we went, licking our ice cream cones. Only there was a guy at the gas station and it turns out it's a card lock and it wasn't closed, despite the closed sign on the building. I apologized profusely for parking in the way but he wasn't worried.

He asked if we were going to Horsefall and Wild Mare campground. We told him we were headed for Bandon and he said we really needed to take the Horsefall road and go to Wild Mare. We chatted a bit and we did have a couple hours to kill before we could check in at Bandon so off we went to Wild Mare.

We saddled up and didn't see any maps or signs telling us which trail went to the beach so we just headed out and winged it. And it wasn't the right trail, it came out on a paved road about 1 1/2 miles from the day use area. Turned around and "maybe we should ride into the main camp and see if there is a map." Okie dokie. Not far from camp I spotted a gal on a buckskin horse backing up through the trees. I said hello and we started talking and asked about getting to the beach. "I'll take you there!" she said. "I was looking for an excuse to go there anyway." So as we rode along we talked horses of course, one thing led to another and it turns out that 20 years ago this lady, Carol Steele, and I had traded horses while riding at Graham Corral!! All by one chance meeting of a gas station owner sending us to Wild Mare campground did I happen to join up with this lady I hadn't seen in 20 years! Unbelievable!

We all followed Carol out the trail on the way to beach. So exciting to finally be here even if the wind was roaring and the area had some cold fog. We were all so happy and just thrilled to be there. Even better to have a guide!

We topped out over the dunes and Thunder just stood there staring at the vast horizon that moved and roared at the same time. He wasn't so sure he wanted to go down towards all that water but he did. He was a bit nervous but not bad and I could still take pictures!

We happily rode along listening to Carol tell us that Bandon should have nicer weather. But if we didn't like it we were welcome to come back to Wild Mare as there were empty camp sites. What a gorgeous campground too! She showed us different paths and trails along the way, then we went back over the dunes and took the trail back to Wild Mare. There was a really fun section of downhill in the dune where the horse just kind of slid down through the sand! Cool!

Then Carol showed us how her little Papillon dog rides on the pad behind her saddle aboard her Paso Fino! We said our thank yous and good byes and loaded up and headed for Bandon and Bullard Beach! So grateful to have renewed a friendship, plus added this beach in to our trip and rides! Yeehaw and praise the Lord!!!  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Three Grannies Great Adventure Part 2

The Bandit Springs Endurance Ride was now behind us and Monday morning, July 14, we loaded up and were on our way to Big Lake near the top of Santiam Pass in the Cascades. Big Lake sits at the base of Mt. Washington and is near the old ride camp site for the Santiam Cascade rides "back in the day". The "old" camp area is very grown up and the "air strip" from early fire days of the 60's and 70's has been restored to it's natural state.

After we set up camp and had a snack we went for a walk on one of the trails towards the lake. The trail of course got steep and I said "Why are we walking? We brought horses for this? I ain't walking up no stinkin hill." Nobody else wanted to walk either but we all have ADD apparently and got distracted by different wild flowers and "Oh look at the view" and before we knew it we had gone up the hill, cross country through these white club looking flowers. HAHA! 

Big Lake has a really nice campground for tents and travel trailers. If you go down the dirt roads you find places to camp with a horse. Dry camps, bring your own water and haul out your horsey poo. There was a sailboat on the lake and it was a very peaceful and beautiful spot.

Molly was happy to cool off. 

We strolled back along the trail, planned a little ride and saddled up. We made a nice loop using ATV trails and hooked into the Pacific Crest Trail, down the Old Santiam Wagon Road then on to Big Lake.

We rode on the Old Santiam Wagon Road

Pacific Crest Trail

Then it was back to our campsite for dinner and refreshments :)