Saturday, December 26, 2015

Tis The Season

I hope everyone had a very MERRY CHRISTMAS! I have neglected the blog - again. It's been over two months since I wrote here, and now it is closing in on the end of 2015 and the coming new year!

It's a frosty 14 degree Idaho morning, making it a good day to catch up and reflect on Christmases past, family and friends, the horses I rode in remote beautiful lands, the year that flew by, sorrows and joys, and the new year to come. Some day I may even figure out how to escape to a warmer place for the winter, where perhaps I could string Christmas lights over a big cactus!

Until then, I'll continue with an old New Year's resolution of ride more and eat less. I've been pretty successful with that idea. I think I'll just try to keep that going. Perhaps toss in a new place to visit where I have never been before. I have a long list of places I'd like to ride but the problem is always the same limiting factor, time and money. HA! But if I only visit one new patch of God's green Earth a year, that's a pretty good adventure!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brass Goes Bronze

This past weekend at the Owyhee Canyonlands Endurance Rides, The Big Brass earned his ApHC, Bronze Medallion!! To achieve this he had to complete 350 AERC miles of 50 mile or longer rides in a year. The first day of the 3 days of Canyonlands found Brass and Beth Nicholes trotting down the trail. At days end they had 360 miles to date. :) 
Steve Bradley took this of the 3 of us at Canyonlands; Thunder and I, Blue and Colleen Martin, Brass and Beth Nicholes

Now getting an ApHC (Appaloosa Horse Club) Medallion isn't the hardest thing in the world to do, but consider a little over 2 years ago that Brass was a rescue horse. A horse I acquired when someone said "If you can catch him you can have him." You can read Brass' story here
Brass and I out trail riding. Photo by Trish Frahm

Since our beginnings in the round pen he has developed into a personable trail horse who really likes to go places. And he has also become the camp clown playing in his water tub and looking for cuddles.
Photo by Laura Spear, Beth and Brass on Oregon 50 miler.

I teamed him up with Beth when she wanted to do well her last Junior year. With one ride yet to go they are setting in the Top 3 of PNER and AERC points and miles for Junior riders. Pretty proud of the two of them. In addition to that she also rode him in the first NW Appaloosa Endurance Championship where Brass was the second place Appaloosa!  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Meet "Rio"

Shortly before I was to leave for the Chief Joseph Trail Ride, I got a call from Gene Winchester, an Appaloosa breeder in Homedale, ID.
Gene says, "Karen I have a gelding that you need to come look at."
"But I don't need anymore horses Gene."
"Well you really should come look at this one." Gene says.
So of course, me being "me", I just had to go see what was so special about this one. Curiosity killed the cat as they say. I tried to resist but it's futile, I contacted his son Elgin and made arrangements to go look.

I got there and didn't see Elgin so I just showed my self around. I've been there enough times I know several of the horses. But there was this one horse that just gazed at me. He watched my every move. I went to see him, scratched him and saw that he had shoes on. "Oh you must be someone's special boy." I told him. And then I went to look for the mystery horse, taking pictures of different geldings. But every where I went those eyes were staring at me. He was just giving me that lost puppy dog look! "Take me home!"

Just about the time I was getting ready to leave Elgin shows up. I asked him who the big gelding was that wouldn't stop staring at me. "Oh that's the one Dad wanted you to look at."
"And what makes him so special?" I asked.
"He's old Lever Action breeding, Dad said you liked old LA."
OMGosh! Not only did I like old LA, I loved that big black & white horse! I had his last daughter, my beloved Diamond, and lost her. I cherish my Peanut because he is an LA grandson. So I tell myself not to get too excited and try to calmly ask, "So is he a son or grandson or what?"
Elgin says, "His mother was a Lever Action daughter, a really nice black & white mare. This guy is really gentle and has some training." We talked a bit more and I left with Elgin asking  "When are you going to come get him?"
In the meantime I learned that his name is Owyhee Justice. His mother was my Diamond's older full sister! I find it interesting that out of all those colorful horses, I had spotted her nephew. And he had made sure that I would keep coming to see him by giving me that intense stare. 

I went back to check him out closer after I returned from CJTR, where I'd spent a week of watching over 125 Appaloosas and riders retracing the historic Chief Joseph route. My friend, Trish Frahm, went out to the farm with me. Her reaction was "He's huge! But he's so cute. Should we get my trailer, it's closer." Ah, what are friends for anyway!

The next day I took the trailer, picked up Trish, and off we went to get my new boy. He almost put the halter on himself, he was definitely ready to go home. It only took us a few minutes to load him up and off we went.

Trish went with us for our first ride on the hill too! And he loves her black mare Sahra.
Since the first ride I have nicknamed him Rio.  He has a lot to learn on trails but is smart and fun to ride. I just have to find a high spot to make it easier to climb up on the almost 16 hand horse. So Rio is learning to be "short broke" as I call it. They have to get where you can lead them up to stuff so you can get on! HAHA!

I'd had Rio for a couple weeks when we went for an evening ride and it was when the Soda Fire was burning. We were treated to a gorgeous sunset early in the evening. 
As we headed home and down the hill we could see the fire burning 20 miles away.

People ask me how I like my new horse. My answer? I think I'll keep him for awhile! ♥

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Chief Joe Experience

I have always wanted to ride the Chief Joseph Trail Ride. This is a special ride retracing the route of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce people after defying orders to move to the reservation in 1877. Sadly, we all know that it didn't end well. After the Nez Perce people faced the hardships of miles, starvation, illness, battles and death, it all ended at Bear Paw when Chief Joseph surrendered.The atrocities of what the U.S. government did to the Indians in those days should not be forgotten. Especially in todays political world where so much is rapidly changing. The heart of the Nez Perce and all American Native tribes are strong and amazing. They have endured a great deal and are tough beyond words. 

There are different ways to experience the historic route of 1300+ miles. There is an auto route, a back roads route, or you can hop on an Appaloosa horse and participate through the Appaloosa Horse Club as they complete a segment of trail each year. The ride was launched in 1965 by the late George Hatley who has done so much for the Appaloosa for many years! These riders love the horse, the history and they return year after year! Jim and Anne Mischel have never missed an event! Unfortunately Jim was taken into the hospital at Billings and then went home. Anne has ridden it 47 times and now comes to just enjoy it and her extended Chief Joe family!

I got back into Appaloosas a couple years ago and placed the CJTR on my wish list. After adding up the $$ and deciding I just couldn't do it, I offered my services as a driver. Since this is a point to point ride people need drivers. I thought this would be a great way to go and it was! Thank you Dennis Schultz for letting me drive your rig daily and also for the privilege of rubbing on your wonderful mare.

A part of the CJTR is the traditional picket line. This line is moved everyday, like every other part of this ride gets moved daily. Often trailers are parked tightly depending upon the size of the camp spot for the night. Plus those riders who are dependent upon the club to move their tent and supplies daily really need the picket line. I am sure right now all my endurance friends are cringing at the thought of their horse on a picket line.
Seymour Young Dog, a member of the Lakota Tribe, gave the Blessing for the 5 - day ride.
Each morning began with Seymour playing Indian music or Doc Rustebakke and his  ♫"Time to get up in the morning"♫ song. LOL Breakfast was served at 6 AM, you went through the lunch line and put together your day's lunch, then saddled up and got ready to move out at 8 AM.
After the riders ride out, behind them are the Doc, the Vet and the farrier, plus the pack mule with daily emergency supplies. Oh and did I mention the trail is NOT marked? All the people in neon vests are Scouts and Wranglers who keep everything on course and under control. Emergencies are handled on the spot, one rider was whisked off to Billings but he improved and returned the next day.
Then camp is broken down, packed up and on the road. The caravan stretched for miles over dusty roads through the plains and mountains, past old homesteads and ranches.
Then it all gets put back together in the new camp site. Andy and Ervin park everyone so all the rigs fit into camp. The kitchen crews go to work on sandwiches for tomorrows lunches, then they begin working on what's for dinner! And every night it was something fantastic! Wednesday is steak night!
At days end riders return to camp, sore and tired but smiling!

After which it was dinner, dancing and live music! We sure had it much easier than the Nez Perce did in 1877!!

The next day it all begins again. Another breakfast. Another ride. More fun. For 5 days! And this year it was 101.5 miles. It doesn't take long to realize that this isn't just a ride. It truly is an experience!
Homesteads of all sizes, types and shapes dotted the country. This may have been a school house?

The big sky blessed us with spectacular sunsets!

The Nez Perce signing the Lord's Prayer, it was raining and it rained a lot.

Rain gear became a necessity.

Another homestead on Ford Creek
The route spent many miles in the Judith Basin and the Judith Mountains. Local historians came in for dinner and told us tales of the history of the region, including Fort Maginnis, Mainden, Half Moon Pass and many other historic sites.

I wonder if this is what an ambush looked like?

Some traditional western gear.
I saw lots of antelope and this one was a beauty!

The horses are what make it all magical!
This years route went from Ryegate to Roy, MT. Next year it continues up to the Bear Paw Battlefield. Volumes have been written on the Chief Joseph history and my blog just barely touches it. In 2016, the CJTR will have covered the route three times! And at the end of that ride their horses will set foot onto an old historic battle field filled with ghosts of history! I get chills just thinking about it. If I get there it will be an honor to photograph riders in whatever traditional regalia they choose for this one-of-a-kind historic event!

Friday, June 26, 2015

100's and more!

Whew am I behind on my blog or what? It's been a whirl wind of a spring and now hot summer! Plans keep changing and to be honest I really don't even like making them. But I am goal oriented and like being busy.

Andi Sorrell, myself and Beth Nicholes finishing Owyhee River Challenge
Photo by Merri Melde

I needed my head examined I suppose but this spring I decided to be a ride manager again. Plus some where amid ride planning I found the time to put on an Endurance 101 clinic!

The endurance ride became a 3 day event of ride and tie, endurance, running and trail riding! It was crazy fun! The events of running and riding, Owyhee River Challenge, were successful and raised funds for little Tristen Thomas. She is getting close to three now and had her heart transplant just before the ride, and the little rock star is doing great! And even though helping others is good, the BEST part of this deal was that I got to do an endurance ride with my daughter Andi. This was the first ride she has ridden in 14 years! She, Beth and I had a great time and placed Top 10!

Putting on a ride meant lots of riding all spring to find trails, hook it all together into one big loop which got bigger, and to get it marked. And then it all had to be unmarked. Thank goodness for good friends who were willing to help! All that riding meant I needed more energy, enter the "It Works" part of my life. Andi became a distributor of It Works' many products and got me started on the Greens. With just one day I could feel a difference in energy. So she signed me up as a distributor too and I love the Greens and all the good things they do for me. But mostly I have more energy and a lot of my chronic back and hip pain are gone! YAY that means I can walk more and ride more. A BONUS is I can make money selling the products that you can view here.

Thunder and I at SunRiver 100 photo by Cassidy Rae
All that "feel good" had a second bonus effect, I rode the SunRiver 100 mile endurance ride a week ago! Yes 100 miles for Thunder and I that I doubted I could do two months ago when Beth was saying that she wanted to ride her first 100 on Brass. The SunRiver ride was on my calendar because my BFF Colleen was coming to visit and ride. Our 2015 Adventure got put on hold though when she couldn't come as planned. I couldn't find anyone to trailer pool over there with and decided to just go anyway. At the last minute Beth wanted to go too. I'm like why not, Brass looks good. And our choices for 100's are very few. However I had just trimmed him not knowing he was going anywhere and that turned out to be a bad thing. Tamara Baysinger, Beth and I started in the dawn that morning, and the horses looked great on the trail. But in the vet check Brass took a couple off steps and pulled with a very slight inconsistent lameness. Turned out to be a stone bruise. Tamara and I continued, through the day and into the night. Eventually turning on the head lamps and trotting our way to a finish shortly after midnight! We watched the sun come up and go down, there was zero moonlight in that dark forest! We were happy to get in!

And for those who wonder, this is one reason I do it all. This magnificent view is unbeatable!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Owyhee River Challenge

Somewhere in the craziness of what mind I have left, I decided to put on an endurance ride. I settled on the name of Owyhee River Challenge because you ride from the Succor Creek area to the Owyhee River for a vet check. And then back over the hills to camp. After a vet check in camp you have an easy 10 mile loop through Succor Creek Canyon. The 25's will have two short loops with vet checks in camp. I even have some wonderful volunteers lined up but need more.

Only during the winter I kept coming up with more ideas!
A Ride & Tie Friday!
And Endurance Saturday.
PLUS a Ride or Run on Sunday! What was I thinking? In addition there will be a HUGE raffle Saturday night. Maybe a couple silent auction items as well. All this to benefit a little girl waiting for a heart transplant.

So the BLM permit is in review. The trail is pretty much laid out, measured and ready. In May it should all be green with lots of grass the horses to eat! Maybe wild flowers. Maybe a rattle snake. I'm sure there will be cattle and gates. I've never put on a trail run before but it should be fun and scenic. My hope is that the trail riders will come out Saturday, help with the endurance ride, camp, share in the raffle and evening potluck before they ride Sunday.

Camp is a remote with no facilities large flat area 4 miles down Succor Crk Rd off of Oregon Hwy 201. Directions here. Buy all your necessities before you drive out to ride camp.

Here is the "schedule" so far:
Friday May 8 - Vet in begins at 3PM, earlier if we can. vetting continues until dark. The day of the ride there will be 3 wonderful vets, onsite triage with one vet clinic 15 miles away.
Friday May 8 - Ride & Tie begins at 4 PM. 10 or 20 miles, your choice, National Ride & Tie Association says that you have to be a member to participate.

Saturday starting at 6 AM is the AERC/PNER 55 mile endurance ride, the 25's will start at 7:30. Sanction info here. Horse water hauled onto the trail, riders will need to carry what they need. We'll take your crew bags to the vet check at the Owyhee River. Ride management will not supply lunch, you need to pack or take whatever you will need. Only the 55's will have an out vet check. Dinner Saturday will be potluck followed by awards and Raffle. I have some fantastic donated Raffle items from Skito, Ricochet Ridge Ranch, High Country Plastics, Jacks Mfg., Hyalogic, Riding Warehouse and much more. I'll gladly accept any items you wish to donate too. :) Maybe a ride manager will donate a ride entry??

Sunday is the Trail Ride or Run! 10 mile Trail ride, or 5k, 10k over an out and back loop, and (I need volunteers) to put on a half marathon. I have had two half marathoners tell me they are pretty self sufficient and don't need much at all. So they might just get a treasure chest out there along the trail. :)

I need people to pre-enter so I can plan and hire another vet if needed. I need to order completion and participation awards and I want enough for everyone. So you save money by entering early. Downloadable entry form here. Your entry fee pays for vets, liability insurance, trail marking, hauled water, awards, sanction fees, BLM fees, and all the other expenses of putting on a ride.

The madness continued when I dreamed up the Triathlon for those who participate in any event all 3 days! It'll be a very busy 3 days and I hope we raise a lot of money for little Tristen and her family! It'll be a blast and I am really looking forward to it! Be sure to mark your calendars May 8,9, and 10!!See you there!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Reflections on 2014

The year 2014 was known as the Year of the horse, and for me that was quite true. I set some pretty lofty goals for myself. Some of them happened, some did not. Eh, that's the way it goes. But as one goal failed it often materialized into something that was just not part of the plan yet it all worked out superbly. I learned a lot along the way and never gave up!

I have to say the big adventure of 2014 with my friends and I traveling to the beach was the greatest ever! I don't think we can ever top that trip as we traveled from Idaho, stopping to camp and ride as we crossed Oregon to and from the beach. Linda had her mare Aire and Colleen had my gelding, Blue. Oh the amazing sights that met our eyes will never be forgotten! It truly was salve to my wounded soul following the loss of my beloved Diamond. We were on the road for ten days and got to be pros at setting up and tearing down camp in a flash!

My plan had been to endurance ride The Big Brass, however thanks to lameness and other issues I stayed with Thunder, adding an occasional ride on Blue. We ended up going to rides not originally planned at all. And as usual the mighty Thunder just kept on trucking down the trail. We did not do the Oregon 100 as desired, my beat up old body just wasn't up to it, but we had a very fun 50 and I had time to visit with lots of old friends. That turned out better than doing the 100 anyhow. 

By season's end Brass was doing great and we threw in one more ride to The Haunting, where Colleen met Beth and I for one more adventure. Thunder went on to win lots of year end awards with PNER and AERC ending the year on a very positive note, and once again won the PNER Animal Horse award for the most consecutive miles without a pull, 775 miles. This is the third time he has won this award and I don't think any horse has ever won it three times until now. 

Despite the losses and the sorrows, the joys and fun times with friends made it a truly great year. I look forward to seeing what goals I manage to meet in 2015! Setting goals is how we reach our dreams!