Sunday, July 31, 2011

First BC Showing and Heat Stroke: Lake Almanor 2011

First you have to understand that my husband, J, and I failed to realize that Patriot's Day at Lake Almanor was an FEI event including a 75 and 100 miler. Last month's ride found us wearing tie dye, having a great, social time at a warm, friendly ride camp at Dr. Lydon's Hat Creek Hustle. This ride--well not so much. We arrived on Thursday to give the husband an extra day of fishing and BOY am I glad we showed a day early. There were probably 10 trailers already there when we arrived Thursday pm. Okay, not too bad I thought, its a beautiful area so people probably wanted to get there early and enjoy it.

J cleaning up rocks for Blaze

Me and G

We set up camp, J went off to fish at Lake Almanor for the evening and I took Blaze for a little ride and then dug back into Dance with Dragons. Here I must insert that the scenery was lovely, the base camp was a wooded area on the left side of the road and then a giant scenic open meadow on the right side of the road, with a stream running parallel to the road. A great view of Mt. Lassen and some nice green grass for the horses.

Also, LOTS of deadly red dusty dirt. Speaking of that, I have to tell you all about how our arrival at said base camp went. I know this is getting slightly out of order but I am still suffering from a bit of heatstroke (more on that later!) so please bear with me. The drive up was just fine, actually quite pretty for a while as we wound our way along the 70 in a canyon with dramatic boulders, waterfalls, and an active river alongside the road. We missed the turn into the base camp road because I was paranoid about all the people tail gating me and was going too fast and there was no pile of tires marking the entrance as the directions said there would be. Well okay, that'll happen, I pulled a U-ey and we made our way back and into the right entrance. We rumbled down a dusty dirt road for a while, following paper plates reading "Base Camp" with arrows. Everything seemed to be going just fine! Then we passed a left hand turning with arrows in white and ribbons but the arrows seemed to be pointing OUT not IN. So we continued on with our little directions paper clutched in hand and then came to a fork with the left hand side marked with 4 water troughs and ribbons. We thought okay, hey, water troughs and ribbons are the only things in sight, that must be the way! As the road got narrower and narrower and we had to squeeze between the chainsaw cuts of a freshly fallen tree across the road (and I thought no way in HELL would those bigger rigs make that--and boy I had no clue just how big the rigs would be!) we began to suspect our left-hand choice had been incorrect. I managed to execute a perfect 2 point turn around (doesn't happen often, didn't happen 5 minutes later when I tried) and we headed back to where we had seen the last (pointing out) arrows and ribbons. The right hand fork we hadn't taken didn't seem likely since there was no plate or ribbon or marking of any sort on that side. We made it into that first turning option of the arrows and quickly saw it was NOT the way. Here I was getting stressed, Blaze was getting the dust bath of his life, and the husband was getting impatient with my driving. Also, the clutch in the truck seems to be suddenly going out, so that didn't help the (hot) situation. J took over driving and we headed back down the road again to the left-for-last right hand turn option. As we pulled onto it we saw a paper plate reading "Base Camp" affixed to the right side of the tree, making it pretty hard to see when you are driving at the intersection straight on. I really thought we were paying attention and I heard some other people at camp complaining about the same issue so I am telling myself we didn't just plain ole miss it. Who knows. Okay, we finally make it to base camp and we are hot, dusty, and hovering on the verge of pissed off at each other. So far our arrivals and parking at endurance rides seems to come with a bit of simmering temper. Hey, we're new at this! :) Blaze comes out of the trailer officially a horse of a different color, having had lots of wrong turns worth of dust coating him from tip to toe. He is a nice light chestnut where once I had a bay...Alright, here's a jump, now we are back to Thursday evening where I ride, J fishes, and I read my book.

Did this about 15 times a day

Sleep eating

Sleep was the plan until a giant R.V. pulled in and wedged itself into the woods next to us and turned on their t.v. We did eventually fall asleep to the sound of sitcoms.
Friday morning rolled around and J was off early to get on his little rented boat and do some damage to the local fish population (not really, he released everything). Blaze felt the need to have an Arab flip out session after Josh roared away at 5 am so my morning started early. I tacked up and took him for a 3 or 4 mile meander on the logging road running parallel to camp and the great big meadow. I mostly only do long low walks with Blaze before rides but he had a lot of fuel in his engine so we walked a mile or so and then did a short trot and canter interval. Its funny because distances and activities that used to take something out of him and get him to quiet down or be tired are just not happening anymore, he is quite fit and feeling good and I better be prepared to last with him! I'm sure this is just a shadow of what it will be like when I have Desire in great shape and am doing my first 50s. When we got back to the trailer I settled into my camp chair to watch the supreme entertainment that is people figuring out where and then attempting to park their giant rigs.

As 3 horse trailer with living quarters after campers pulling living quarters trailers rolled by and wedged themselves into unlikely spots, I kept edging my "truck space saver" (the un-set up canopy) further and further out just to ensure J would even be able to park out of the road when he got home. I totally understand limited space and its all part of camping at a ride but I gotta say some people tried some really asinine parking styles! I was starting to wonder why there were so MANY giant rigs and why the atmosphere seemed a little less relaxed than usual. In general I am a smiling, happy fool at endurance rides (Except during the ride dear husband and then I just have to say sorry honey!) but more than two people didn't even respond to my smile and "hello" *sulk* I was deep in my reading when Blaze started gnawing on the trailer and pitching a mini fit. He had gotten increasingly restless over the last ten minutes and I can't really blame him since he has to stand tied to his trailer. That bugger isn't used to captivity *lol* He has had quite a bit of acreage in his two years living with us. I think he does quite well being a standing-tied endurance horse and I try to walk him often. I caved and decided to take him for a hand-jog. That lasted until more campers started rolling in and dusting us out on the road so we headed back to camp. I read for a while and then when I got the call that the husband was on his way back I decided to go pick up my packet and see what time things were happening. It was only then, on afternoon of day two that I found out that there was a 100 mile race happening, and that this was an FEI event. Things suddenly became clear! Now, I have NO experience around 100 mile events or FEI but I had to figure if there were bigger rigs, unfamiliar people, and a strained atmosphere and the only new factor was FEI and higher distances..well there ya go. My packet was full of tourist brochures and "Things to Do In" packets. Ahhh, advertising to the tourists and foreign riders. We just hadn't realized that this ride was a big deal! The husband returned and cooked up some steaks and then it was time to vet in. I had found a forest green pair of splint boots at the tack trailer for a good price so we snagged those on our way to the vet. Blaze came through with all As, an A- on gut sounds I believe I remember. The vet checked his legs and did a more thorough exam than usual which had me explaining his interference "bulb" on his left hind fetlock again. The cuts from him being shod have healed nicely but that bulb definitely draws attention.

When we were done there a nap was in order and then I dragged the husband to the ride meeting. We sat next to a wooden corral that contained a very mischievous mule who pawed the ground, gnawed the fence, and just generally made the ride speakers impossible to hear. I suspect I am slightly hard of hearing and I am tempted to get my own little mic system and bring it to the rides for the speakers because generally I can't hear a damn thing they are saying. Explanation of the trails and loops (or phases as they called them) revealed that our 25 mile map directions were wrong so we had better just stick to the color coded ribbons. Alrighty then. J and I skipped out early when they launched into the 75 and 100 miler spiels as it was a good time to set up our ghetto camp shower and less folks would be around in case I was inadvertently giving a nudist show through said camp shower. It took us a while to rig it up but ended with the tarp wrapped around a couple trees and the tent rain fly making the third side to enclose it. There was one 1/2 foot gap on a side but I just hung my towel over it and got to it. Most of my modesty goes out the window when I am filthy-dirty with red dust, sweat, and there is a beautiful hanging bag of warmish water to shower in. I don't *think* I flashed anyone and I felt so darn good afterwards who cares! I am a sucker for showers. The clean feeling afterwards is just heaven.

Jerry Rigged shower stall

Feeling better!

We walked Blaze and Georgia again and hit the tent pretty early.

My Menfolk

I read Dance with Dragons as long as I could bear to hold the heavy thing over my head and then gave up. I was clean and the night was cool and the stars were coming out. And the lanky bay camped next door was a-screaming. All night. All morning. Right up until the rider hopped on and headed out on the 50 at 7:30 am.

Morning, Blaze

Again, the morning started early and I put the pot we found at an antique shop on the drive in onto our camp stove to heat my shower water. Well, about a 1/3 of it, the other 2/3 was cold apple vinegar smelling water from our newly made 30 gallon water tank. Josh snagged a 30 gallon barrel for $5 at the feed store and drilled a hole and installed a trough drain plug. We snugged that puppy in the back of the truck with the camping gear and it was SO nice to not have to carry 5 gallon bucket after 5 gallon bucket of water for Blaze and various water needs. We bleached and soaped the barrel but it still smelled a little plastic-y after 50 rinses so we put some apple vinegar in there to freshen it up, if you can call adding vinegar to something even remotely "refreshing." Blaze seemed to absolutely love the taste and sucked down more water at this ride than ever before. Score!

Anyhow I had a luke-warmish shower and was idling wasting time waiting for the 8:30 start time. Yeah, 8:30. I know, I know, they had to figure the logistics of starting 4 distances but I must say, 8:30 is way late for my preferences. The morning takes forever but more importantly it sticks us out in the heat later. Blaze was braided and dressed and I was in the saddle at 8, then we did some laps around camp waiting for the start.

Getting his rasta hair-do on

Then we met Funder! I started following her blog the same time I started following Endurance Granny, and they really inspired me to start this blog. She had written on her blog that she was heading to Lake Almanor ride so I wrote a comment telling her to look for a short redhead with a little bay. She replied and it seemed we might meet! For the life of me I didn't remember her actual name and thought I would get a pretty strange look if I yelled "funder!" at the wrong person. I hadn't seen Dixie either. Then as I was wandering around waiting for the start I saw a gal with a chestnut mare and I sortakinda recognized her face. I decided to chance it and said "Are you Dixie's owner?" and yep, it was her! Turned out we were both doing the 25.

Meeting Funder

Headed for the Start

Headed for the start with Funder

My wild endurance horse at the starting line

She headed off near the front of the pack and I was hanging back with a lady who had asked around for a slow calm start and another woman on a big striking Saddlebred mix who needed quiet energy as well. Blaze does get excited at the start of races but he was feeling pretty mellow this time so I offered to hang back with them. True to his nature he was walking out calmly while the Saddlebred mix trotted (or whatever one calls that) nearly in place and the other Arab did a nervous little jog. I am really proud of how calm Blaze was at this start. Somehow we all milled around enough and the start was spread out enough (with only 12 or so riders in the ride itself) that he didn't mind hanging back and walking with the other two. After a half mile or so we started trotting and the Saddlbred mix was soon gone. Blaze was feeling powerful but not too rushy so I let him trot along at a good pace. The other Arab was mostly behind us and then I looked over my shoulder a few miles on and they were nowhere to be seen. Blaze was feeling good and I wanted to continue and "Ride my own ride" as they say so I figured I would move on and look for her at the next water trough. Luckily I glimpsed her coming around a far corner behind us a few times so I knew she was alright back there. I can't help but feel somewhat responsible especially when a person is on a nervous horse. I ran a mile or so of downhill and then we came to the first troughs. At this point we had already encountered some pretty rocky parts of the trail! I was really under the impression from the scenery and description that the trails would be nice dirt logging roads but there was plenty of rock to be seen early on. When the other lady trotted up to the water she said she needed to keep her pace slower and got off to let her mare relax and I headed off on my own. Blaze and I were trucking along at a nice strong pace, occasionally breaking into a steady canter. We wound through a short foresty track that was shady and fun and then suddenly we came out on a baking gravel road with the sun nearly overhead and no shade to be seen. That was my first moment of concern. It was only the middle of the first 12.5 mile loop and I was already getting uncomfortable in the heat on the gravel road. Blaze kept trucking at a good trot and only slowed to walk for maybe a half mile. We moved back off onto more forested trails and I started passing and being passed by riders from all the different ride distances. I tried to slow Blaze to give him a bit of rest but there was so much trail activity he got really agitated and I figured it was better to be moving forward with that energy than pitching a fit and getting virtually nowhere. We came out to a nice big stream crossing as the edge of the base camp's giant meadow with three or four other riders and squeezed in for a drink. I am still a total inept dork with my sponge from the saddle so I semi successfully sponged Blaze while he mostly tried to socialize instead of drinking. He is such a curious fellow. And I know other riders SO appreciate him sticking his brown nose in their horse's faces and distracting their drinking. So I do try to contain that behavior and figured we were close enough to camp that he could get to water troughs soon enough. The photographer was on the far side of another water crossing and he crossly informed me to move along when I tried to let Blaze drink from this water option since there were no other horses. Apparently I was interfering with his photos (no one was even riding up behind me yet). I have to say that while I enjoy getting professional photos at these rides I don't enjoy photographers telling me what to do, whether its to smile or to move or whatever. In the end I want my horse to drink more than I want his photo. Was I a little testy in general this ride? It sort of seems like it as I record this whole experience. Anyway I can only say what happened and how I feel! After the photographer we got back onto the trail I had meandered on yesterday so I knew how far from camp I was. Blaze cantered for half a mile or so and we got passed by more and more people as we approached base camp. I hopped off at the In base camp sign and walked him in dumping the remains of my water bottle on his shoulders and loosening his girth. We had trotted and cantered hard to that point and I was pleased and a little surprised when we pulsed in at 54 (I was thinking 60) immediately. We got As and an A- for gut sounds (much better than usual!) and a "Looking good" from the vet which was great. Back at camp I pulled his saddle and sponged him all over while drinking Capri Suns, Gatorade, lemonade, and water as fast as I could. I wasn't hungry at all but was so so thirsty. As usual we only had about 15 minutes actually IN camp and that time flies while trying to bribe Blaze to eat (he only seems to eat grass and carrots at halfway points) so we were saddled and back at the Out timer in no time.

Heading out on second loop

Blaze generally shows a little reluctance to leave camp for the first half mile after a hold and this time it didn't really help that horse after horse after horse was hauling ass past us in the opposite direction. The first part of the second loop was same as the end of the first so there was lots of cross traffic of different race lengths. Dr. Lydon went trotting merrily by and I also saw the lady I rode Whiskeytown Chaser with which was nice. Finally Blaze and I were back on the trail alone with less traffic and he was trotting along pretty well when the lady that camped across from us trotted by. I think she was doing the FEI 100 miler and MY GOD did her horse fly! It was a big boned mare with big hooves and she did a sort of effortless round shouldered crawl but she was covering insane amounts of ground with those giant strides. We turned right with that mare still in sight and were asked by a guy on a four wheeler and a worried looking rider if a riderless horse had been spotted. Uh oh, hadn't seen a horse and never did hear but sure hope that horse made it home safe. From this point on the trail was 95% gravel road under direct overhead sunlight, absolutely baking and miserable. From the camp site and description you would really think that the event was held on nice dirt logging roads but at least in the 25 miler the majority of trail was gravel road. There were a few miles of woods trails still without shade and then it was back onto the gravel road. My head was boiling in my helmet and I started to feel dizzy but I was pouring water on my head and Blaze and not drinking all that much of it. I figured walking in the merciless sun wouldn't be any kinder than continuing to trot so Blaze and I kept on trucking on a loose reined trot. We encountered the Saddlebred mix and her riding buddy walking with about 4 miles left and trotted on by with desperation in our eyes. Well mine, anyway. I needed water for Blaze and a vet for myself. A headache was starting and I was hot hot hot. There were troughs at the entrance to the ranch where we headed in to the finish and Blaze drank deeply. We trotted off as the Saddlebred mix and other gal came in to the water and Blaze relaxed into a nice, ground covering canter the last mile to the finish. Finish itself was posted on a tree before the actual base camp turn in but the pulses and vets weren't until way down at the far end of camp so I'm not sure how that was a Finish, I guess just by mileage they felt they should put that. I called J and asked him to meet me with a bucket of water for sponging and pulled Blaze's bit and hand walked him in like I had before. I was pretty hot at this point and running on pure determination. J misunderstood and lugged an entire 5 gallon bucket of water while I was hoping for just a little in a bucket so I could sponge him while we walked. We abandoned the bucket for the time being and I headed for the In timers and p&rs. My hot desperation was showing when I pulled my saddle and chucked it in the grass next to the pulse people, to be recovered later. I knew Blaze needed that thing off and I couldn't face walking him all the way back to the trailer and then back for the vet. We pulsed through immediately and joined the Vetting-in line, where Blaze ate a little but mostly just tried to roll.

Yep sweaty madness waiting to vet in

Feeling awesome

We vetted through with all As and were told to come back in an hour to show for Best Condition!!! This had never happened to me before and I pretty much assumed that they wouldn't be giving BC for the 25 since its a big FEI event and 25s don't really count for much in general it seems. The vets chatted for a while before deciding if they were even doing it, THEN told me to show for it, so that was that. We left my saddle again to use it for weighing in at BC. I weighed in 4 pounds under the limit of my weigh class, lol. I actually weigh a lot more than I look like I do and my saddle set up is a good 35 or 40 pounds. Anyway we did our first BC exam and Blaze was definitely tired and not very enthusiastic at the trotting out but he did it, bless his heart. He got a 7 1/2 and an 8 on impulsion and gait, which I assume is out of 10 and that's fair, he was definitely tired and I know other horses the vet checked for BC had lots more go in them. It was still very exciting to get to do it and the vet gave us As and a "great job!" as we were leaving so that's awesome!!

Waiting to show for BC

Blaze really not thrilled to be trotting LOL

BC Exam

By the time I got back to camp my headache was really throbbing and I was so darn hot. I sat in the camp chair and held Blaze's lead rope as he grazed and tried to cool myself with shorts and a cold damp handkerchief. I was feeling really nauseous which was a serious bummer. I tried eating some salty pretzels but was feeling pretty rough. Funder had seen us at the BC check and J told her where we were camped so she came over with her dog to say hello. It was cool to get to sit and down and relax and chat and J played fetch with her dog for quite a while.

Hanging with Funder

Oh boy he wants a dog with as much ball/prey drive as her's has, darn it Funder if we end up with 5 dogs I am blaming you! After a while we headed over so I could meet Dixie and my she is a big striking animal! I hadn't realized how big Dixie was! Tall and stately. And yes, that mane was quite something people. J showed up and took the dogs to the creek to get good and muddy and then he and I said bye to Funder and headed back to camp. I was feeling worse and worse and barely managed to shed my shirt before passing out with a cool rag over my eyes in the tent.

Officially passed out

J packed up the entire camp while Blaze and Georgia and I were snoozing and we were planning to stay for the 6 pm awards celebration but there were still 50 milers out on the trail and a general air of chaos over at the ride camp department so we figured the awards might not be until much later. We did a little begging and managed to find out Blaze and I finished 4th (woohoo!) and that they didn't do ride t-shirts (What! Boo!) then snagged up our stack of pics from the photographer and hit the road. J drove us home while I sat in agony with my head pounding. Eventually one of my contacts got so dry and dirty it fell out so then I was looking out at the hot valley air with one eye blurry, my head splitting, covered in dirt from head to toe. Looking good, basically. We finally made it home, my sainted J put Blaze away with his vittles, and I showered and passed out. My headache was no better this morning and I actually threw up during the night. So yeah, I would say heatstroke got me pretty good at this ride. I get migraines but the head pain in this case was different and overall my skin is just so boiling hot, still! I didn't get sunburned but I did get my sun rash and my forehead it about 110 degrees or so it feels. I stayed in bed til 2 pm today and after a second shower am still getting back to feeling normal. Blaze was reported to be peppy and eating like a machine this morning. Bless his heart. He really gave it hell on this ride and trotted and cantered 24 of the 25 miles in awful heat. I am impressed with his heart and determination and fitness for his size. Sure there were people going 100 miles and that's crazy impressive but my little 14 hand guy gave it all he had and got me through despite my increasingly poor riding I'm sure.
So, my general feelings on the ride? Trails were ruthlessly hot and not very impressive though were well marked with ribbons and chalk. There was a rather surprising feel of disorganization for an FEI ride (this opinion was confirmed by Funder too). People in general were less friendly. And in conclusion: no ride t-shirts? That seals the deal! The first ride I have tried that I am deciding not to return to, at least not next year. It was still a good experience though and I am thrilled we showed for BC and Blaze did so well!
Some of the pro photos:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Packing for Lake Almanor

While I'm not physically packing for Lake Almanor, I am most definitely packing and repacking for it in my mind. I am much more anxious and stressed out this week before the race than last time, but that is mostly to do with outside factors (our bank account getting hacked into AGAIN etc) and if I stop and really think about it all the horse aspects and the race itself should be A okay and fun. I just can't wait to be there already. The husband suddenly decided he wanted to leave tomorrow (Thursday) instead of the usual Friday; it will probably be nice to get up there early and get a prime camping spot and be able to relax before the race, but its just making me more squirrelly because he is off in the truck (which I need to pack, not a big deal but I am seriously uptight about plans and packing) and our animal/plant watcher isn't even back in town yet. I know, I know, it will all work out. Just breathe.
I got up this morning and was showered, saddled, and out the gate in 20 minutes! I know I'm fast but that seemed speedy even for me. We left about 6:20 and rode up the steep hills to the top of the ridge and back, about a 6 mile ride. Some jerk on a dirtbike came FLYING down the narrow dirt road at least 40 mph and not only didn't slow down but actually pinned it wide open past us! Poor Blaze spooked a little but not bad but MAN was I furious! There is absolutely no reason, not even an emergency, to not at least slow down a little when passing a horse, but to just fly on by on a narrow little road like that...ohhh man I am still pissed off right now. If I wasn't on the nearest thing to a bombproof horse it could have gone badly for me, not that he would have known since he would have already been a mile down the road as I was getting bucked off or something.
Anyhow the plan is to pack at some point, animal/house watcher to show up at some point, hoping my new bank card shows up at some point..and somehow we are leaving tomorrow for the Lake Almanor ride...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Never Underestimate the African Zulu Trick

Well today Sheza filly made a gate in the fence where no gate had previously been before! That's right folks, at nearly 4 months old we finally had our first wild foal adventure. My farrier came up this morning (that's right, MY farrier comes on Sunday mornings! hahah don't know why but I'll take it!) and put new shoes on Blaze fronts. I pulled Desire for the farrier and since I have been riding her for short periods without the filly I thought it would be okay to just pull her for a quick trim and leave the filly. Well I thought wrong, as evidenced by the filly running full tilt at the fence and crashing into it. She hit it right next to where it connected to the gate post and the fence just popped free of its staples-- she somersaulted through it and was up and hauling ass around the yard in a matter of about 2 seconds! It was quite a sight. She doesn't have a scratch on her, thank the maker. We all stood staring with our mouths open for about a minute and then went into management mode. Luckily she was just in the still-fenced part of the yard so we swung the gate closed and stationed the hound dog at the one open corner so she was fully enclosed again. She trotted around trumpeting like a little wild beast and Desire just stood in the cross ties getting her feet trimmed, didn't bat an eye, didn't even whinny back! Truly amazing behavior I think, wouldn't most mothers be frantic or at least interested in their baby throwing a complete shit fit? I am VERY glad Desire doesn't buy into it, she is one cool customer. Once the farrier left I tied the mare just outside the gate of where the filly was and then proceeded to try to catch and halter the filly. I didn't feel like just letting her re unite with her mom and nurse after that behavior was right so we spent 20 minutes playing touch-me-not on one side of the gate while mom cleaned up hay scraps on the other side. I was pretty frustrated when finally the filly started to quiet down and then, and this is quite funny and true, our friend, who had been watching this whole chain of events, said "never underestimate the African Zulu trick" and started wiggling his fingers and making twilight zone noises at the filly who proceeded to walk right up to me and let me halter her. We did a little walk around the property, the fence was quickly repaired, and now all horses are home safe in their respective pastures. So people, the lesson here is: Never underestimate the African Zulu trick!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


That's about what I was thinking as I was bunny-hopping--I mean, cantering, around the arena on Desire this evening. She was a bit worked up and isn't in shape so I don't think its a great representation of her true canter out on the trail but it was pretty hilarious as she took these BOING-BOING strides around the arena. It wasn't actually hard to sit you just had to let yourself go fully with the momentum of up and down. She is a little hard to figure out, I feel like her brain is off somewhere in the distance and and she is only tuned into being a saddle horse with about 60% of her attention. She does what is needed and isn't particularly difficult but I don't entirely like the feeling of her being so "checked out." I am really curious to have my horse trainer friend come ride her and see what she thinks. I confess I am so used to Blaze that I am having to re-discover what its like to ride someone new, but I really think Desire is somewhat on a distant plane in her mind. Of course I don't feel like I will truly know her until we are out on the trail since that is my (and I suspect her) true element. I tried to recruit the husband to ride Blaze and I would ride the mare and pony filly for our first ponying journey out into the world but he begged off and went fishing. I am getting a little frustrated as I really want to take this next step with the filly and just don't feel that its safe to go off alone for the first time. I guess I will have to try to schedule my horse trainer friend to come out and help me, if possible.
Anyhow I had a fun be-bop around the arena with the mare, her fly bites are healing nicely and the War Paint protects them from re-irritation. I did put a thick gauze pad over the one that lies right where the girth runs and duct taped it on just in case the girth rubbed it since it wasn't 100% healed and it seemed to work just fine.
Must be time for some ice cream!

Friday, July 22, 2011


This morning my husband and I decided to do some carpooling, since the fishing hole he goes to every morning (or evening, depending) abuts the riding trails at the lake. We left around 6 and after a stop for ice I was in the saddle by 7. He went off to meet some friends and fish and I headed down the cool canyon where the sun wouldn't reach us for a few hours. We rode Sycamore hill and I walked/jogged halfway up it and all the way down, then we looped back around to the gravel road and were technically almost at the trailer but I took a higher trail, crossed the highway, and added a few more miles winding along the hillside. About 2 miles from looping back around to the trailer Blaze threw his front right shoe! I had just been telling myself this morning it was time to call the farrier--speaking of, doing that right now before I forget again! Okay, left messages--and then the shoe went zinging off. I have my fingers crossed he will be able to run up and throw front shoes on Blaze before next Friday when we leave for Lake Almanor! Oh man, I hope he isn't out of town...okay, let the paranoia cycle begin. I never believe a farrier will shoe until I see the whites of his eyes, and I still have that feeling ingrained despite my farrier being thus far great and reliable.
Anyhow I walked Blaze back to the trailer with only one shoe left ( we call him Shoeless Joe) and then untacked, sponged B, and took him for a walk over to the fishing hole to scare up the husband. We did some fancy footwork to get around a rock barricade (sure your motorcycles might not make it but my Arab mountain goat will!) and found the man who had a successful morning of fishing. All in all a great way to carpool and start the day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm Home...

..and its 90 degrees in the shade. After a week of about 50 degrees and drizzle my system is in a bit of shock. I gave a friend a ride this morning so an hour and a half of my four hour drive went quickly. My cell phone won't charge and the battery died and my iPod was dead as well, no charger. Boy, am I gadget dependent or something? A week without my DVR, I tell ya...okay, actually it was really fun and I loved hanging out with my brothers and reading a bunch (Dance with Dragons, yeahhhh!) and didn't miss the t.v. at all. I DID miss my horses though. Oh yeah and the husband ;) I should really go love on the horses but it is nasty out there right now and I am very hot and tired. My husband's birthday presents came (3 sizes of skillets) and I brought home our mountain lion archery target my family brought from husband loves to shoot his bow and I have been meaning to bring it to him for a year or so! I tend to forget something EVERY time I go home to my parents house. I got to meet my new nephew, first child of my brother who lives down south. The happiest, most smiley baby I have ever seen!
I went for a ride with a friend and rode a Quarter Horse for the first time in...YEARS, anyway. Oh, probably back when I worked as a trail guide on the coast, there were a few QHs there. I can't wait to get back on my zippy little Blazey boy. Lake Almanor ride is next weekend! It will be here in no time.
Oh man its 5 pm and the couch is calling my name, I am hot and sleepy.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hello from the Foggy Coast

Made the drive over to the coast yesterday (and my truck survived, hooray!). It was hard to leave the fantastic temperate weather at home but my brother and his wife and new baby are making their first journey and will be here for the weekend for a friend's wedding and a mini family re union on our end. We haven't all been together in ages so it was a can't-miss event. The fog is burning off here and I see blue sky, which is great! Here's hoping the weather cooperates the family BBQ Saturday afternoon.
I am already itching to get my hands on a horse and I've been away from mine for a day! I truly felt a moment of panic when I realized I hadn't brought my riding helmet along, you know, just in case there was a horse somewhere here that needed riding! A friend emailed me and needs help getting a horse she used to own (who now lives near us) back into her possession, so after I okay it with the husband and get back home I may be picking up an Arab (I've actually ridden him before too) and boarding him for a couple of weeks until the owner returns to the country. I might be riding him on the second day of the Mendo Magic ride in August too, if he is fit enough! Anyway, off to be social and can't wait to ride a horse, any horse, very soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Speaking of growing up..

She looks so grown up at only 13 weeks old! And are we seeing those muscles people??!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Riding Spot and a Growing Filly

Well a couple horsey things to catch up on and some photos to share. Sunday we met C at the lake again for a ride, this time at the far trail head down by town. I prefer that area and that end of the lake trails but as I've mentioned before the parking lot is very secluded and I don't like to go there alone. We met at 9 and had a nice 3 1/2 hr ride, including a part of the trail I hadn't been on since the endurance ride (because it was bike trail and C didn't believe me until we rode it and saw the signs, haha) so it partially made a loop instead of just riding straight out and back the same way. I got up at 4 am that morning to drive my husband down to the river to meet his friend to fish since we are currently sharing one vehicle, so by the time we were in the saddle and on the trail I was already a little tired. We did Sycamore hill and the horses got a good work out, though we walked a little more than usual since Blaze and I were both dragging a bit. C's horse continues to be a pain about loading back into the trailer to go home (he is off the track and has a few issues) but hopefully that will be resolved soon. She is a lot more patient than I am, I have had SO many horses not want to load in my little straight load that I am a little short on patience with the issue, though generally patience is the key!
The weather has continued to cool through the week and the last two days were wonderfully cool, topping out at 85 at the most. The mornings have been deliciously cool and there was even some dew this morning. It really helps my general mood to get going in the morning in the cool instead of being sweating and irritated at 7 am. Today's high was forecast to be 80 so I decided to ride Blaze out from here and check out the Bangor Wildlife Area that is a couple of miles away. We left the drive at 9:30 and headed down a 2 mile dirt road, across the main road, and down another mile of paved road to the wildlife area. We only saw a couple of cars and only one sped by without slowing. That irritates me SO badly when people do that, luckily Blaze will walk calmly ahead while cars pass but if I were on another horse and that car flew by like that--danger! I know its technically a road and not a trail but its really not that hard to slow down for the few seconds they pass us. Oh well, people are so naive and/or rude about horse etiquette its pretty much par for the course. We almost had to turn around right when we arrived at the wildlife area as there was a cattle guard across the trail. I dismounted to look for a way around and Blaze made to bravely stride across it before I could stop him, sticking half of his hoof between the bars of the guard! I about had a heart attack and backed him away from it. I was thisclose to turning around and giving up but there was a space between the bars bracing the guard where I could see Blaze could step and avoid the guard and I have squeezed him through tight spaces before, so I decided to risk it. I stood on the edge of the cattle guard with one hand on the reins and the other on his side, sort of blocking him so that the only way forward was to step over the support bars and avoid the guard. He minced his way carefully over with no issue at all, phew! I swear horses know when they need to be careful about things because Blaze is fairly clumsy in general but the few times I have needed him to walk just-so in tight spaces he has managed it perfectly. I noticed when I went to get back on that both my legs from the knee down were covered in those horrible tiny stickers, I mean covered! Blaze had them in his splint boots too (reminds me I have to go scrape them out still, uughh hate those things!) and I don't have a clue when we got them but boy they got me good. They scrape off fairly well if you hold the cloth tight and use a shedding comb but are really irritating. Only another few hundred feet and we almost got stymied again. There was a big gate to enter the wildlife area and two smaller gates, and in general we could have gotten through the smaller gates fine (the bigger one was locked) but they had put a pole in the middle of the gate entrance to prevent four wheelers so we had half a gate width to squeeze through! Luckily little Blaze squirted through there and we were finally into the wildlife area.

There are herds of cows out there, though none were to be seen today, and I am assuming the tire track roads I followed around exploring were from trucks driving out to feed them. Unfortunately it wasn't as big an area as the husband and I had expected, since it only went about 3/4 of a mile in each direction before you hit either a fence line or impassable rocks. It was still fun though as there were 5 different dirt tracks leading in all directions that I trotted out and back exploring and then one long steep hill I cantered up. It is fairly limited and takes a while walking on pavement to get there so I don't think I will ride there very often but it is nice to have a different spot to ride to from home, and it made a 13 mile ride which is pretty significant for not having to trailer anywhere.

The husband had said if I wasn't back in 3 hours he would start worrying and I made it back in the driveway (actually I snuck in the bottom pasture gate to try to surprise my husband but the mini somehow knew I was coming and started whinnying and outed me!) in exactly 3 hours. It was nice to be able to ride out in the day and not be sweating bullets. I certainly got warm but nothing like riding in 90+ degrees. We cooked up our first crook-neck squash and a big lettucey salad fresh from the garden for lunch which was yummy but I am such a carnivore, I thought it would be just perfect with a big chunk of chicken on top!
Desire's fly bites are looking better, the War Paint is keeping the flies off and the swelling is completely gone and things are improving. I decided to wash her this afternoon because she doesn't seem to roll but once in a blue moon and she gets a bit grungy. Filly was fairly cooperative for haltering and they both snorted and rolled their eyes when they saw the hose moving and spraying but got over it pretty quickly. They both seem to react like DRAMA FIRST for a few seconds and then oh, okay, no big deal. Blaze is slower to react and is more inquisitive in general than spazz first and ask questions later. Desire got her bath and re-application of War Paint and then Sheza had a grooming, practiced lifting her feet, and, drum roll please, wore her first fly mask! It took some convincing to get it on her but I just went slowly, rubbing the mask on her, putting it up by her ears, then I just hung it on one of her ears and let her get used to that. She didn't react at all when I pulled it over her face and put her other ear through and stood and wore it nicely while tied for 15 minutes or so.

Un-doing the velcro to take it off scared her some and I practiced that a few times and put it on and off a few more times then put the girls away and fed everybody. Oh, Sheza is outgrowing her leather baby halter! I had to let the nose band way out and she only has one hole left on the crown piece. Seems like just yesterday I was poking more holes to make it small enough to fit her!
I may be going to the coast this weekend for a family get-together and to see my brother's baby for the first time, so I may not post for a bit, but I haven't decided yet since we are down to one high mileage vehicle and I'm not sure I want to risk a road trip. Ohh boy I hope some day we can go a few years without any vehicle breakdowns! Wouldn't that be something.
Happy trails!