Thursday, December 29, 2011

At Last!

As of yesterday the heater is up and running and the house is warm! A week and a half and $2200 later..still no riding getting done, and possible family/friends visiting this weekend/New Years, but hoping to get back in the saddle soon..

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Still Waiting..

I sure wish I was starting a new post on this blog to glory in my toasty warm house and talk about the ride I went on yesterday. Instead my house is still an ice cave and yesterday was spent sitting around (yet again) waiting for the heater guy. He had assured me, I had assured myself, the difficult parts were done and he would return with the new flue and pop the heater in--viola, the house would be livable again! It was not to be. Heater guy, who I had been planning to give a glowing recommendation but who can now go suck eggs, forgot to check the flue when he picked it up. So he drove 30 minutes to Chico to the supplier, picked it up without checking, drove +- 1hr back to Bangor, put the heater in, went to drop the flue in and......" looks about..12 inches short."  Calls the supply place, tries to blame it on the new guy who misinformed him that the flue would extend to 140" inches...while it says on the box, in clear view, "Extends up to 120 inches." Sure the new guy probably did misinform him, but come the eff on, a heater guy with 25 years experience doesn't CHECK the part before heading back up into the hills for a day two attempt at a simple heater fix? Apparently not. I really hope he was embarrassed, because he should be. And so, my blog-reading friends, I get to sit around yet another day and wait for him to show, and hope and pray that today we do in fact get heat restored to the house. Or else..

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Merry Speedy Christmas

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with their friends and families. I sure did. My husband finally got home from visiting his family in southern California on Saturday night. He had been gone since Tuesday and I was enjoying all the heating and repair drama by myself. Plus a crowd of animal spectators. Sometimes I think about the great variety of behavior our animals see from us. We spend a great deal of time with all of our animals and they see us at our worst and at our best. You wonder if any of that sinks in, don't you? Anyhow, it was great to see my (very tired) husband and we had a lovely little Christmas morning in the cozy cabin, wood stove stocked to the brim. I got EXACTLY what I wanted, which was a radio and speakers for the Bomber. I enjoy me some NPR and ipod usage, and not having that option was surprisingly irritating to me. I can only sing to my chihuahua for so long. My trusty husband had the radio and speakers under the tree. He also upgraded our phones, so Redheaded Endurance has officially joined the current technology phase. I went from my basic military grade flip phone to a Samsung Galaxy Something or Other. An Android smart phone. Needless to say I went bonkers on it on the drive over to the coast yesterday. I planned to do the driving since the husband had just gone 800+ miles over the week but he insisted on taking the wheel so I got to veg out on the smart phone. First things first: install free Scrabble and Words with Friends applications. I must confess. I love word games. My family often played the board game Scrabble at nights growing up and I've followed it lovingly into the digital age. It's kinda awesome to have my dorky word game habits available at my fingertips, at lightning speeds. It scares me that my phone is more efficient and capable than my desktop computer at home. But that's the way things seem to be going!

We had a very nice time at my parent's house for Christmas dinner and present opening. The gathering consisted of myself, my husband, my sister, her husband, and their 4 kids (new baby in tow!), along with my granny, my step-granny, my brother, and my parents. The only portion of the immediate family missing was my brother and his wife and baby, who were celebrating in their hometown down south. My step-granny hadn't been to a holiday gathering in years so it was very nice to see her. She has a hard time figuring out where she is and who people are sometimes. I have truly never been around this is an older person before and it was a bit of a shock. She is very healthy and physically well though, which is a blessing. My husband is so good with kids, he was telling riddles to my nieces and nephews and granny was getting in on the action. We had a delicious home-grown roast beef dinner (Yorkshire pudding--heaven!) and an entertaining round of opening presents. I must say my parents instilled the orderly, one person at a time, present unwrapping tradition very strongly in me. It's so funny to go to Christmas with kids and see the unbridled enthusiasm and impatience. I almost remember that feeling! It was good fun and my husband and I got an awesome awesome present from my brother and his girlfriend: A BBQ! We love to BBQ all summer long our cheesy cheap BBQ is about on it's last legs. What a fantastic present and we can't wait to put it use. We had drawn my sister's kids in the Secret Santa drawing so brought along a little pile of goodies for them. I loved hearing my niece exclaim "Oh it's JUST what I wanted!" when she opened her doll.

We were supposed to spend the night at my brother's house but to do so we of course had to pack everything into the car, and then drive right past our turning to head for home. The anxiety dog, aka Wilbur the wiener dog, had barfed and whined his way over to the coast. Now, getting gas, fully packed, on the road, Wilbur and his chihuahua sidekick were peacefully passed out. With freezing nights at home, the heater-less house, all the animals, and already being on the road, we just decided to go for the 4 1/2 hour drive home. We cleared it with my brother and off we went. I wanted to spend some time with my brother but we had a lot to take care of at home and avoiding the holiday traffic and another miserable ride with a whining wiener dog was too tempting. We made it home about 12:45 and mercifully slept in this morning. Now it's time to do some chores around here, need to get in some more firewood before the possible rain comes. And some day soon..ride?

"Merry Friggin' Christmas"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Hug Your Horses!

Well it's been a mighty long week here at the Redheaded Endurance home base. The propane guy came to the rescue Thursday and brought us 17 gallons to get us by until the big truck delivery on Tuesday. Yesterday the heater guy made it out around noon with the hopes of installing a new heater and getting the house turned from ice cave back to humane dwelling. Unfortunately, as usual with our fixer-upper house, things did not go smoothly. The first step of course was getting the old heater out of the compartment on the backside of the house; the repairman disconnected everything and all that was left was getting the flue to telescope up off the top of the heater so we could pull the unit out. This was where things went wrong. The poor guy tried for a good 45 minutes from every angle (even on the roof) and with every tool but could not get the flue to move up off the heater. At that point the flue was clearly not salvageable for reuse with the new heater, which meant the heater installation couldn't happen. The observed holiday Monday means that we can't get a new flue until Tuesday. So the house remains an ice cave and we'll be rushing back from my parent's house Monday to be here Tuesday for the propane delivery and heater repair. The repair guy was actually really great, thank god, he did his best to save the flue and when that failed and he finally managed to destroy the crap flue and get the heater out he took the needed measurements, cleaned up.. then noticed, diagnosed, and fixed (free of charge) the propane shut off valve in the heater compartment that was LEAKING that the other heater guy (with the $1000 higher quote) looked right at and didn't even register. So if he hadn't done that we would have shut the compartment and propane would have continued to leak out and throughout the whole house until Tuesday..dangerous AND depleting our small propane supply that won't be boosted until Tuesday either. Very grateful our cabin bedroom is heated with wood and that I thought to buy a router when I was out in town Wednesday so that I've been able to use the internet on the laptop in the warm cabin.

That's all for now! Looking forward to celebrating Christmas with family and then hopefully getting back to some riding! Merry Christmas to all and hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


That's about how the last 4 days has been. One sigh after another! Sunday night I started smelling propane out of the heating vents in our house so we turned off the heater, opened the windows, and I called the propane company first thing in the morning. Our bedroom is in a separate one room cabin with a wood stove which was awesome since we didn't have to hang out and freeze and smell propane in the house. Monday morning I called the propane guys who said 98% chance cracked air exchanger and not good news for our heater. He gave me some phone numbers for heating repair companies and I called around for quotes. A guy came out and said yep, cracked exchanger. Meanwhile I was busy researching prices of the type of heater we needed to see just how jacked we would get on the estimates from the repair guys. The first company quoted us $1500 more than the cost of the heater itself! The second company quoted $1,000 less, or about $500 over the heater price. They're both pulling from the same heater supply (as comfirmed by both companies) so the difference in price has to be labor/installation fees. Needless to say I went with the much cheaper of the two but he can't come out until Friday. With 30 degree nights the house is rather a tomb at this point, but hey. Today I had to go look after a neighbor's animals and finish up Christmas shopping (I know, I thought I did that already too) and when I got home there was no hot water. Recalling the endless propane smell coming out the heater compartment the day after we turned off the heater (on the back of the house, out of doors, thank god) not to mention whatever leaked through the house, I feared the worst. The worst being that the heater taking a crap had also drained the last of our propane--we were low and about due for refilling. Ran down and checked the propane tank gauge and sure enough, all gone. So this fine evening my house is ice cold and there's no hot water for a shower. The joys of being a home owner, yes? The propane tech is supposed to call me in the morning and bring me some amount of propane or other for a special fee. The heater guy is coming Friday. Of course if the propane folks don't come the heater won't work anyway...haha! I think its a sign of how much life I lived in the last couple of years that I'm just amused/resigned to all this instead of losing my shit over it.

Well that's pretty much what I've been up to, I've had to cancel two lake rides now and possibly tomorrow's depending on when the propane guy says he'll show. Such a waste of amazing weather, but got to take care of the home quarters. Hope others are enjoying their pre-Christmas week!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Whatcha Mean? These Are My Dress-up Boots

This is wordy, and there are no photos, but stick it out because I had a highly comical day of Christmas shopping in Chico in The Bomber today. First and foremost comical because let's face it, a redheaded girl all dressed up and driving a big ugly Caltrans orange diesel truck is just funny. Probably rather standard for the folks that read this blog, since many of them are horse folks and wouldn't think twice about going through life in their diesel trucks, but by the looks on so many people's faces and my own internal glee, I'm thinking it's comical. Also comical because the truck has a small, single cab with one bench seat in it and no room for, well, anything. And by the end of the day said single cab was stuffed to overflowing with me, Georgia my travel dog, Christmas presents, and groceries. Oh and if you're thinking "what about the bed of the truck?" Well that was full too, with my awesome score present for my husband which I can't reveal here since he might, heaven for fend, read this blog before Christmas.

Chico was absolutely PACKED today, no surprise I suppose since its a weekend--oh, crap, THE weekend--before Christmas, but I was still surprised at the sheer numbers and cluserfuck-ery of it all. Maybe I just never left my shopping this late before, but I've never seen the mall and shopping areas in such a state. I had my concerns about parking big ole Bomber in the laughably small parking spots at the mall (seriously, who do they think fits into those? Normal sized cars I guess, haven't driven one of those in a while) but I succeeded without incident all day. The key is to drive to the farthest end of the lot away from the store entrance and viola, manageable parking! I'm a lackluster shopper at best, perfectly content with my bi-annual shopping extravaganza trips when my mom comes to visit, so my patience with the Christmas rush was short lived as expected. Still I got what I needed, scored my dress to wear to family Christmas/dinner for $19 (originally $60, yes!), and was on my way back towards home in no time. It's an hour drive to Chico from our house and The Bomber's radio doesn't work so I entertained myself as best I could singing to Georgia, who became resigned to her fate long ago. Definitely going to have to fix the radio situation, all I really need is a basic radio with the right iPod plug (which I think is a standard plug these days), so I can listen to my NPR shows and music. In the meantime, enjoy my broadcast, Georgia!

I finished up my Christmas shopping for my sister's kids at Tractor Supply, so we know they are getting awesome stuff, right! I love Tractor Supply. So much goodness. Actually it has become rather lacking in the horse tack area but that was never their strength (unless you ride straight western) and has just enough basic stuff in a huge range of farm catergories that it remains my favorite store in town. Plus they have a whole section of cool farm/ranch themed gifts and toys at Christmas. I saw a whole action figure duck hunter set complete with tiny four wheeler and thought it was totally awesome. If only my husband were younger..well, he'd probably still play with it, actually  ;)   I had the most incredible 5 million piece (I exaggerate, but it had lots of pieces) farm set as a kid, complete with a multi-cow milking stand which at the time my brothers convinced me was for something else entirely. "Yeah see, that's where the cows stick their heads through and then WHAM they chop their heads off!" You can just imagine older brothers gleefully convincing their younger sister of this. I'm not sure I believed them for very long but I'll never forget their authoritative enthusiasm when delivering that news.

I had to stop at AT&T to see if I could bully my way into some plan changes for my husband and I and was informed that I could accomplish everything I wanted, WITH NO FEES, by calling customer service--but it would be a $40 fee in the store to do the same things. We'll see if I can truly achieve my AT&T goals fee-less, I went in there with a head of steam ready to be outraged at their usual nonsense and may have just scared the sales girl into telling me that.

Oh, were you wondering about the title? We've finally arrived at the explanation. I wore my slate gray skinny jeans and knee high brown dress boots today, did my make-up, even wore some dangly earrings which never happens (a friend made the earrings and they have tiny gears on them, they rock!). So, I was all dressed up and out on the town, in my mind. My last stop before home was at the market for a couple of groceries. This is the market of the horse-fascinated Indian owner, who now greets me merrily with "Hello, Horse Lady!"  He came to chat with me while I was being rung up and asked what I was getting the horses for Christmas, then looked at what I was wearing and asked if I had been riding today. I was stymied for a minute, as in my mind I was all dolled up and clearly couldn't have been riding. Then I thought about it from his point of view and managed to recover and politely say no. After all, what is my standard riding gear? Gray riding britches and brown, nearly knee high, half chaps. What were my dress up clothes today? Gray tight pants and brown boots. It was another comical moment. My perspective is SO immersed in horses and farm life that sometimes I forget how to look at the world in any other way. I'm like "Whatcha mean, these are my dress up boots, can't you tell?!"  No, a non-horse person couldn't tell, and that's fair enough!

I wish I could say that was my last humorous moment of the day but perhaps the most comical happening was yet to come. For some reason I decided to take the dirt road cut-off to our house (that I ride to get to the Wildlife Area, it comes out right below our property) rather than the paved way around. I believe my thinking was "I bomb this way pretty quick on a horse, surely it's faster to get home here than driving around the paved way??" Well faster or not, I regretted my decision and won't do it again. Things went fine the first mile and half and then I came down a little hill and around a sharp corner and around that corner found a nice selection of DEEP potholes. I'm still not used to the way the Bomber sort of free spools quickly down hills like its in neutral so I was going faster than I should have been, certainly. I did my best to avoid the potholes but slammed into one pretty well which sent one of the precariously balanced gallons of milk flying to the floor where it struck my gingerbread barn set I'm going to build tonight--and burst! I mean BURST. Like milk splattered everywhere, on me, the seat, the floor, the bags of presents..and it wasn't stopping. There was a brief hilarious moment as I snatched up the gushing jug, flung open the door, and continued to drive while dangling the quickly-emptying jug out the door, then I realized what a losing battle it was and dumped the last milk out and flung the empty carton over the tool box and into the back of the truck. All this took mere seconds but boy was it dramatic. There was milk fricking everywhere. Luckily I had bought two gallons. And luckily I bought Armor All and planned to shop vac and clean The Bomber when I got home anyway. It took the vac, half a bottle of Armor All, and a couple of old towel rags to clean up the milk debacle and get the truck into acceptable shape. I found milk under the seats, splattered across the driver's door, just about everywhere. Somehow, wonderfully, all my shopping was well wrapped in plastic bags and I managed to remove it all safely with no milk damage. Phew. I'm realy glad all this fun didn't happen in summer as I did the best cleaning job I could do but I imagine there are milky remnants still lurking the truck..and I'll probably get away with it thanks to the 40-50 degree temps, whereas spilled milk cooking in the truck in 100 degree summer would be most unfortunate.

That's it for my excitement. Home safely and glad of it. I like The Bomber more every time I drive it and part of me thinks maybe I *should* just leave it Caltrans orange, as its kind of part of it's charm. And I have a theory that people might leave it alone more thinking its actually a Caltrans truck. There are still random numbers etc visible on it that make it look like a legit service truck, though the logo itself is of course painted over. We'll see.

I almost forgot the best part! When I was cleaning the milk mess I found that the truck has freakin flare holsters! On the floor next to the driver's seat there are are three little flare holsters and there were two ancient looking flares still stuck in there. +500 cool points for Bomber!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Small Victories

As I often reiterate, Sheza is my first foal. I've never been through the birthing/foal raising process before, and so much of it has been surprising (read: alarming?) so far in the just-shy-of-a-year since Desire arrived here from Utah, 8 months pregnant. Fortunately we had the luxury of an easy pregnancy for Desire, a quick, seamless birth that we assisted at and filmed, and the resulting beefy beauty that is Sheza. She turned 8 months old this week and it led me to look back on her Baby Book and all of the "Firsts" we have already gone through in our brief time together.

This morning we had another first. I had to opt out of my planned ride today as we had a potential buyer for the snow plow that The Bomber (the new-old diesel) came with. A guy from a pump company was willing to drive up from Stockton to take a look at it and the plow attachment was still on The Bomber as of this morning. I also had rather a lot to drink last night at my friend's birthday party and while I could have done it, trotting around on a horse today may not have been my favorite choice ever. Anyhoo I managed to call my riding partner early enough not to inconvenience her (I think!), we sold the plow, and I had another little First with Sheza.

I had blanketed the horses Wednesday for the overnight rain and yesterday was bitterly cold so I left them blanketed for the day. This morning was much warmer and blue skies, though blustery, and I pulled blankets. I always just pop into the adult horse's pastures and pull their jackets with them loose in the field. Up to today I had to halter and lead Sheza out to the cross ties to remove her blanket, as she was pretty skittish about the blanket being dragged off of her. Today she trotted right up to me when I came in the gate and ran her whiskers busily but calmly all over me while I undid the buckles. Then I slid the blanket off her while scratching her favorite spot and she just stood and let it happen. YES! A small victory, but every little moment of progress with this BlazunHAAT filly is a triumph to be noted. I am really hoping she goes through a more mellow phase soon as she has been hot and spook spooky spooky for the last two months. But in the meantime at least we are still making small steps forward.

I have a new plan for Blaze's hooves. Having now gone through two sets of steel shoes without riding him, I'm not seeing the point of keeping him shod. He needs to go in front hoof protection of some kind, but his hind hooves are rock hard and do fantastically barefoot. Granted, he had such a long time off since August because of my saddle issues and he will be used more in the future, but realistically I'll be focusing on Desire and we are going into winter. I'm not happy with my shoer lately, either. He had truck troubles a few months ago and since has stopped hot shoeing, part of the transportation issue I guess. Anyway, I'm not seeing a need to keep now-cold shoeing Blaze in steel shoes going into winter when I won't be riding him much and when I do it will mostly likely be on soft footing (over winter, and into next year I plan on gymkhanas and team sorting with him). So the plan is, pull his front shoes, fit him up with a pair of Easyboot Gloves for his fronts, and he can work on transitioning to nice barefoot hooves over the winter. He has quite nice, large hooves anyway, but has always been sensitive on the fronts so I kept him shod. I'm wondering now if that is another concavity issue/keeping him in steel shoes, and if my trimmer and I can't get him successfully barefoot.

Phew, I had fun last night but I'm still feeling it. Tomorrow I get to go do the small amount of Christmas shopping I will be doing this year, and The Bomber and I will take our true maiden voyage together. If you see me, wave, I'll be hard to miss: The Redheaded Endurance gal in the bright orange truck!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

First Rain of December

We have had gorgeous cool crisp sunny days throughout this first half of December 2011. I suppose its only fitting that we finally got a mini storm. I threw the blankets on the horses last night and good thing, as it POURED off and on throughout the night. Most of the storm has already blown through but its 35 degrees and dripping wet and gray this morning. The sun is supposed to return tomorrow with no more rain in the forecast as of *yet* though that can change quickly of course. I'm actually quite grateful for the rain, I was just grumbling yesterday morning as I was once again wedging Desire's feed tub into the corner in the bitterly cold morning, getting covered in dust and dirt. It seemed off to be shivering in the December morning but still getting dusty, rather than muddy. I like my filthiness to be seasonally appropriate, after all. A thorough rinse and wash of the place and some dust-busting was needed. That said the sunny weather has been fantastic and I'll miss it when it's gone, as it no doubt will be soon enough.

Tonight is a good friend's birthday dinner at a great Sushi restaurant--I can't wait as it will be a good time and we haven't had really good sushi in ages! Yum.

Horses getting cozy last night:


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sheza is 8 months old today!

I haven't been posting a whole lot about Sheza lately, I've been having so much fun riding momma Desire. But I have been hanging with the filly one way or another every day--that is the beauty of finally having my horses here at home, in my front yard. I boarded my horses out since my first horse when I was a teenager, and just since buying our home I am keeping them right here close to me. It is fantastic to look out my living room window and watch my horses. But I digress, I just wanted to post a little something about Sheza filly, 8 months old as of today. She is 13 hands and has a belly. Lovely feet. And looks great in bright grass green, right N? : )

A Really Nice Ride


Today we just rode out from home, ahead of the 60% predicted showers coming tonight and tomorrow. It is bright and sunny and COLD. 27 degrees this morning and pipes would definitely have frozen if we hadn't left a hose cracked on overnight. I have plans to meet N at the lake Friday so I thought I would just cruise out from home today. It was a short ride, just 6.3 miles total, but it was really enjoyable. I headed out around 10:30 so that things had had a chance to warm up slightly, though I still wore a down vest, long sleeved shirt, and gloves. All the cars that passed and people I passed in their yards and even the slightly sketchy guy hitch-hiking on the road, were all merry and smiled and waved. I saw a house with a yard FULL of cars and teenagers in pajamas wandering around--family home for the holidays and all there waved and smiled. It was a really happy, peaceful ride, even with all the loose dogs. One dog that is usually fenced in ran loose on the road after us and actually coiled itself as if to spring at us, but I broke out the Scary Voice and it turned and ran back to its gate as fast as it could go. I really have a great Scary Voice and it causes almost every dog to turn tail. And when that doesn't work I point the horse at that them and take a few steps, also quite effective.

 Creek Crossing

The weather today (and for the last few weeks, really) is my absolute favorite. Bright and crisp and clear, need a layer or two on but not too cold, just perfect in the sun. I would be 100% okay with this weather being our fall, spring, and summer. Heck, why not winter too. I know that we certainly need the rain and hope we get enough of it to fill the lake etc but boy, am I loving the crisp sunshiny days in the mean time!

Up the hill

Reached the top of the ridge

Heading home

Love that mane

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Redheaded Endurance Has a New Ride...

...And it isn't pretty!


That's right I will now be rolling in a '97 F250 super diesel, in attractive Caltrans orange. It was in fact a Caltrans truck and has been coddled along through life and given multiple upgrades. It's technically a 3/4 ton but has 1 ton shocks and gear. Oh, and it came with a snow plow. Anyone want to buy a lovely snow plow? 

We got a great deal on it and it is a work horse, and that is what matters. There is a paint job in it's future, to be sure. I'm thinking a deep blue.. 

P.s. It has a fuel tank and tool box in the back..bonus!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Own Sycamore Hill

 For those of you dear readers who aren't familiar with my lake trail stomping grounds, I'll let you in on the hill that is Sycamore. To be honest, I'm not as impressed as I feel like I should be for the all the talk about it. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't be admitting this. But a little honesty is good sometimes. Anyhoo, Sycamore hill is a nice hill, to be sure. Switchbacks, and if I remember correctly it is a 3/4 mile climb. I enjoy climbing it, but don't enjoy the descent as its pretty rocky and bumpy and well, my gelding isn't exactly a mountain goat. Maybe I'll have better luck with the downhill portion on Desire, she seems to have a bit more of grasp on where her four hooves are at any given time. I haven't had the chance to ride Sycamore hill with Desire because of the ridiculous parking problem. The parking lot to access the hill in the easiest way is way out in the boonies and is where my truck was broken into and my purse stolen. It just isn't safe to park there. The next closest parking spot I have frequented in the past, but my husband has been informed that cars are being broken into there and at the fishing hole nearby quite often lately. SO. The only parking option is way over on the other side of the ridge, which makes getting to Sycamore hill rather a project. I digress. I just wanted to let you in on what a Sycamore Hill is, and then you can join in my excitement at the fact that I found my own Sycamore Hill in my backyard today.

Not exactly MY back yard. But I did ride out from my front gate, about 2 miles down a dirt road, crossed the main (very tiny) road, another mile on a paved road and there we arrived at the local State Wildlife Area. The ride down the dirt road from home was pretty mellow, a dog followed us for a while until I bellowed at it, and we jogged down to the main road crossing, taking things in with perked ears but a relatively calm eye. The road crossing made me nervous. It is an uphill/downhill straightaway with a sloping hill that gives you a thrill in the stomach if you accelerate over it. People tend to, ahem, fly down that particular stretch. Needless to say I encouraged Desire along as quickly as I could while keeping her calm, hugging the thin grassy verge next to the road. It isn't far to the safe crossing and we managed it uneventfully. A dog went bananas at us as we rounded the corner on the street but that doesn't phase us anymore. So very MANY dogs behave that way on our neighborhood rides.

 Heading out

 Around here you just aren't sure if that is intentional or not..

We cruised down the mile of paved road, Desire eyeballing the various cow herds like a human would little green creatures descending an UFO ramp. Of all the silly things we encountered on our ride today, the tinsel, dogs, trucks, bikes, birds flying up, and scary wood items on the ground, cows are apparently the epitome of evil to Desire. She is SO suspicious of them. And god forbid one of them moves, because that about drives her around the bend. One herd of cows started a literal stampede when we walked by and I thought for a minute my mare was going to come unglued.

 Blurry Devils

I encouraged her along and managed to refocus her attention on the road ahead, thankfully. Phew. Moments like that still get my heart rate up a little bit. We arrived at the State Wildlife Area entrance in good time, and encountered the first, and most treacherous, obstacle to our choice of riding place. A cattle guard. Yep. With fencing running off in every direction, and no way around. Pretty. Sucky. I encountered it the last time (which was the first time) I road at the wildlife area, and I manged to squeeze Blaze around the cross bars supporting the fencing to the grate. I blocked the guard with my body and made him step over the cross bars on the safe ground. He does things like that fantastically. I wasn't really sure how Desire was going to do at it, to be honest. Again I stood on the bars and blocked them with my body and I encouraged her forward over the cross bars. She stepped daintily over both with all four feet, phew! A very good girl for that. Reassurance all around. I mounted and we trotted on and came to our next obstacle. The gates to the wildlife area itself. The big gates are locked and the walk-through gates have bars placed strategically so that motorcycles and ATVs won't fit through. Sooo there is rather a tight space to squeeze a horse through. Desire fit through better than Blaze, since she is taller and skinnier! Yes!

 an awkward tight squeeze

Getting away with all sorts of close calls today. (Btw my husband said he is going to stash a solid board in the bushes for me to put down as a ramp for Desire to go over the cattle guard. If it sits solidly, uh score!) I mounted yet again and we headed down the trail, past the little old paddock and cattle chute, and across the little streams. It was a little soggy around the water holes but not bad. I always laugh when Desire's Easyboots squish after we cross water. So undignified for a fine mare like that ;)

To the Left

 To the Right

There are some really nice trotting stretches available in the wildlife area, which is the big perk of the journey. There isn't a whole lot of trail itself, but there are 4 or 5 really nice half mile or so stretches that are fun to blast back and forth on. My favorite swings to the north after crossing the streams and runs along flat for a quarter mile, then a slight dip and it swings you up a little hill and onto about a half mile of gradually undulating great footing.

 Let's gooo!

This is where I opened Desire up a bit and felt what an 11.5 mph trot felt like! I guess I'll say...Wow! It is powerful. And almost on the verge of out of control, LOL. I think I could have pushed her a little faster even but I didn't want to! She sure loves to go though. A nice forward, comfortable trot on her is about 8.5 mph. 6.5 is smooth jogging happiness, 10 is getting a little hot.  That's my taste these days. Probably more conservative than I would have been 4 years ago but hey, I'm surviving and enjoying things! When we are really trucking at brink speeds of trot or canter I get vivid flashbacks of the gelding bucking under me from my accident. So annoying that it should turn up like that 2 years later! I just put it out of my mind and bring myself and the horse back into control. It's all good and it is so fun. My need for speed that was a little frustrated by Blaze is making a bit of a comeback riding Desire. It was actually really nice to have stretches of pavement where we could only walk, as it made us both calm down a little and smell the roses, as it were. We're Go Go Go Girls! Almost all the time, for me. Haha.


We explored a trail (btw these trails are basically just well worn truck tracks from the guys that keep cattle in the wildlife area) that I had been on with Blaze last time, but this time I noticed a trail to the east that headed up a fairly steep hill. Since I knew Desire had *plenty* of gas in her tank yet I pointed her up the hill and we went into adventure mode. She wanted to gallop up the hill but the footing was just iffy enough that I kept her to a slow jog at the most, sitting up out of the saddle on her mane. It was steep enough!

 Up we go

We climbed up and up and around a bend and higher still, finally Desire was huffing and puffing like I'd never heard from her before. We stopped and took a moment to collect ourselves, sample the local grass, then continued our adventure up the hill. About this time it occurred to me that in this area, following faint tire tracks way out into nowhereville, might easily lead me to a Grow. I'm sure you all know what I mean by that. I'm not sure if people do that sort of thing in the wildlife area, but there is always that potential. Not good to be wandering in the wilderness in the fall in this area, put it that way. Anyway since its December I figured it was probably safe enough, but we picked our way slowly and I kept my eyes and ears peeled for any signs of anything. It was kind of thrilling, and scary. I admit to giddy feelings of cowgirl-hood when riding in the western saddle with a horn. A horn on a saddle is SO foreign to me that its still a novelty. So adventuring in the wilderness, a little scared, with my water in my pack and my horn on my saddle..well it was pretty fun.

 Up and Up

The tracks narrowed to ATV tracks and I figured these had to be hunting trails. People hunt small game and birds in the wildlife areas and I know hunters love their ATVs (or Polaris, in my husband's case). We wound around following the faint tracks and finally climbed another little steep bit and came to a fence line. The trail continued on but went down a really steep nasty looking hill so I decided that was quite enough of that and we turned around.

 Out of trail

Little miss stumble bum slowly picking her way up the hill like she was on her last legs suddenly turned into a prancing pony! What a scam artist she is! Pretty funny considering how for the most part she just loves being on the trail, but she was totally boon dogging me on the way up that hill making me feel sorry for her. We headed back down the hill (which was in total just over 1/2 a mile climb, by GPS) and had some discussions along the way, she wanting to trot and me wanting to not face plant.

 Look in the background you'll see we climbed quite a bit
and are looking out over the valley, if not for all the trees

 Such a blond! Acting like one, too.

When we finally reached the bottom and flat ground again and I thought, "AHA! Our own Sycamore Hill!"  Sure it isn't as long but its a pretty damn good climb and here it is, just a few miles down the road with only a few treacherous obstacles along the way. Totally worth it. Once in a while, anyway. I'm pretty stoked with the discovery of the hill. Desire was really huffing and puffing so I know she could use some hill work. Muahahaha.

 Can you see the bruise on my cheekbone from shooting the .12 gauge?

 I thought I was really clever and knew a place we could exit the fenced area without having to brave the cattle guard again. The really long fun trotting stretch ended in another parking lot and gated area. Surely we could get out that way, thinks me! Nope. We hauled ass all the way over, I hopped off all eager and proud of myself and..all the gates were locked. I towed Desire through the woods for a minute looking for any way around but it IS fenced for cattle and there weren't any escape routes in the nasty barbed wire. Back on again and we went hauling ass back down the stretch (weeeeee! Some cantering) and back around, down through the stream crossings, and back up to the gates on the side we came in. We squeezed through the gate and jogged down to the cattle guard.

 Heading Home

Desire knew what to do this time but for some reason she froze with her front feet only between the braces and then started to panic so I had to just move her forward quickly before she could melt down next to the guard itself. She popped over safely, phew heart beat up on that one! Definitely making that situation less dangerous next time. I mounted yet again (I lost track how many times today, really) and we headed for home down the paved road. A vulture picnicing on a dead skunk sprang up into the air out of the bushes and about gave us all a heart attack, and BOY was I glad we had on Easyboot Gloves and not steel shoes because this happened on pavement and the four legs in the air SPROING Desire gave would have been scary on steel. She had two more moments like that right after since she was already in the shivery mood, you know how those things seem to follow once the mood is set..I had to snap her out of when a small discoloration in the pavement made her quiver like jelly, good lord mare, get a GRIP. Refocused on going forward we continued peacefully up the road. It was downright cold in the areas that were shaded, I mean really cold. Today was the first day my toes got cold and I started thinking about some warmer shoes to wear. I guess ventilated sneakers in winter isn't really the answer. And I had my down vest zipped to my chin and was wearing gloves, but I could have used a scarf. My neck is a real temperature regulator for me so if my neck is covered and my core is covered in a vest, I am good to go. So a scarf would have been a plus. But as it was the sunshine just felt amaazzzinnggg when we hit it. A few cars passed us and we made it back to the scary road crossing uneventfully. We were crossing calmly until the fluffy white dog at the house on the corner came tearing out of the bushes barking like a nutcase and again, I was glad for rubber Gloves and not steel vs. pavement. I hurried her along across the road and onto safer ground and breathed a sigh of relief when we made it back to the dirt road that leads to the property. We had some more "special moments" when passing cow herds but were soon enough coming up the hill for home and watching Sheza-filly and Blaze come galloping down to meet us, yelling their heads off. It is pretty gratifying how ecstatic all the animals are when we get home. Oh, and I just remembered, I think it takes a hell of a horse to walk past her yelling baby and head off down the trail away from the barn like Desire does! I mean really! Pretty cool.

We ended up going 13 miles in exactly 3 hours. 6 miles round trip and 7 miles of screwing around in the wildlife area. A heck of a hill and LOTS of scary stuff to deal with. It was a fun ride but definitely draining as I was on full alert the entire time. I hadn't taken Desire on any of those trails before and there was a lot to be seen. She did really well and pooped and peed under saddle again. She didn't graze or drink because she was so amped up and ready to hit the trail. The only drink opportunity was the really shallow stream and she just wasn't into it for whatever reason. She got a thorough rub down and grooming and had a hot mash which I served next to her water bucket so she was handy to drink. I like to think that matters but I don't know. She is such a hoggy she doesn't like to leave mash but if the water is *right* there she will probably drink sooner, is my thought.

It is really chilly this evening. I came into the house after the ride to the smell of lasagna just coming out of the oven. That husband! I'm enjoying relaxing in my warm living room with the strong scent of Christmas tree in the air. Mmm what a great smell. Time for some hot chocolate! I hope I have marshmallows.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I know, I know

 *Someone pointed out that there isn't anything about training on here, and I'm betting she isn't broke to ride. A shame. But p.s. I would never buy this mare, just sharing some of my OFA madness. I'm a craigslist frequenter, what can I say.

I do NOT need another horse! But this mare has been for sale for a year and I'm a teensy bit OFA (Obsessed From Afar). I haven't met the horse or corresponded with the owners, but I always look at her ad and search it out to see if she is still for sale. I think she started at $6500 and is still probably overpriced. I really hope she goes to a good home..and does endurance!! Any readers out there interested? If you buy her I want to ride her once pleaaassseee   :P

Friesian/Arab Cross Mare

 (There are more photos in the link above, but in case the link becomes unavailable):

"Registered Friesian Sport Horse, grandaughter of Fuerst Gotthard, great grandaughter of TSJERK 328, and Godalier granddaughter on the arab side, outstanding girl, 15, 4yrs old Great kind, friendly disposition and nice movement. This is an amazing cross and she could do anything, dressage, trail, endurance, cutting, reining, a perfect horse in every way and one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. I never intended to sell her but have had unexpected medical bills. Raised right, pastured with other horses on hills so she knows where her feet are and is balanced. Pictures speak louder then words call if interested"


Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Day in Photos

 Look what I returned home to find yesterday:

They are pack goats that belong to our neighbor's, who are long time friends of my husband from Southern California that happened to move up near us a few years ago. The goats are quite sweet and will be wintering here as the neighbor's spend the season in down south. I'm really not a goat person but these are friendly and don't seem too loud or out of control so far. I was thinking I might turn Sheza out in the big pasture with them to see what they did. It's big enough that everyone has room to get away but they might end up being a little herd, who knows.

 happy Tady spazzing


A mutual "What the heck are YOU?!" moment

Dorky horse photos for the win

 My boys

 Sheza front hooves

Sheza hind hooves

 Blaze taking a friend for a ride in our arena this morning

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Day!


It was, indeed, a day. A fun day. A long day. A frustrating day, in some parts--but mostly a great ride day.

It started with the realization this morning that yet another of our pet/laying ducks was gone. In the last three weeks we have lost 4 large laying ducks, we now have only a regal pair of Mallards left and I really hope they live to tell the tale. We set traps around the coop for raccoons and the usual suspects, but we trapped nothing (except one of our cats, twice) and ducks still disappeared. Our dogs didn't raise a ruckus on the nights the ducks vanished. There were no feathers or any blood, no evidence at all, so it has to be something sizable to completely spirit away a large adult duck. We've seen three different neighborhood dogs, two of which are large un-cut males, at our front gate in the last month, and have busted our dogs fraternizing with them. Yesterday driving home my husband saw and photographed one of the neighborhood dogs running from the end of our road with a chicken in it's mouth! Not one of our chickens, apparently someone else was visited that day. SO. It makes sense that our dumb shit dogs socialize with the dog, let it in, and it merrily carries off our ducks, leaving no evidence. We've fired warning shots over the dog's heads when they showed in our yard before, and now thanks to my husband we have photo evidence of the chicken-killer, who is most likely our duck-killer. I made up posters this morning with the photo of the chicken-carrying dog and a warning and am going to post them on the mailboxes at the end of the road tomorrow. The dog lives at one of the houses right behind the mailboxes and I saw it again hanging out next to the street this evening when I got home! We are giving the owners every chance to contain their dog but if it comes on this place and touches a hair or feather on anyone's head here again, it isn't going to walk away happy. If I seem overly rabid on the topic, sorry, but I dealt with rounding up loose neighbor's horses all last summer and this spring and had damage done to my property as a result, so I am just OVER dealing with other people's lack of attention to their animals.

Wow, a long post already and I haven't even gotten to the riding part! So here it is. I made Desire spend an extra twenty minutes in the cross ties this morning, to work on her patience. She tap danced away in there back and forth, back and forth, and only quieted down a minute or two before I pulled her to leave. It boggles my mind that she is that persistent. Like yes, you're tied on both sides, *shuffleshuffleshuffle*, you're STILL tied on both sides, *shuffleshuffleshuffle*   Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Anyway we headed out and about a half mile before the trail head parking lot came upon a fresh bad street bike vs. car accident. I was just going by as fire trucks were arriving but it didn't look good as the EMTs were treating someone a good 30 feet off the road in the grass, which tells me the motorcycle rider probably flew. Yikes. Street bikes are SCARY. I was right about on time and Desire came out of the trailer dry and calm.

 All alone-y on her own-y
N was a few minutes late so I decided to saddle up and walk Desire back towards the main road to see if we could tell if traffic was being held at the accident. Just as I was doing that I saw N on her way in, re-routed by the accident but not too behind schedule. Since I was already tacked I took Desire out for a warm up mile while N tacked up. I love that Desire just trucked away from the trailers, without a backward glance for N's mare. We looped and came back, picked up N, and headed off to the top of the dam and over the ridge again. We did two road crossings safely and were descending the side of the ridge, on the shadier and at this time of year much colder side, when we heard a street bike SCREAM by. It was unbelievable to me how loud the damn thing was. The horses were rightfully startled by it. The trail winds alongside the road with a thin separation of trees at that point and through the trees I spotted four street bikers pulled off on a small wide spot in the road. A fifth was zipping and up down the narrow, windy road on his bike. I'm sure I don't have to remind you, dear reader, that a street biker was down, possibly dead, not 4 miles away from this yahoo-good -time. I would be really surprised if that person wasn't part of their group, as you don't often see one crotch rocket street bike out, let alone five or six within 5 miles of each other. It really sent me back to the complete irritation at inconsiderate neighbors of the morning, seeing these jackasses hot rodding up and down a narrow, winding road, while Jo Shmo the other biker lies dying on the other side of the ridge. Whether they knew of the accident or not, come ON, let's be adults shall we? My husband says eh, they'll get what's coming them. Probably true, but hopefully they don't take many people with them. My brother is an avid dirt biker and I am not anti-motorcycles in any way, but they are dangerous enough without joy riding on narrow winding roads. Get a grip, folks.

Anyhoo, there was too much stressful bike noise and comings and goings on that side of the ridge so at N's suggestion we decided to turn around about 5 miles out and ride back toward the trailers, then bypass them and do the horse camp loop. I was taken with the idea as it was a route I had been wanting to try (for the practice of passing the trailers etc) and getting away from the noisy ridiculous bikers was top on my priority list. At one point I had to stop and fix my saddle pad and on the way down missed hitting the saddle horn but managed to snag my shirt on my too-tall water bottle and gave myself a nice raspberry scrape up my stomach as I descended. Ooppps. On our second safe road crossing Desire powered up the hill out of the street and her right hind boot came off. It was our first boot-falling-off incident and was pretty minor, since the gaiter held it snugly on and Desire kicked her foot out quickly 5 or 6 times then gave up, without any more fireworks. Thanks to a fresh trim I managed to fit the boot back on quickly and on we went. N and I were discussing our speed and with a little more thorough investigation of my wrist Garmin I managed to get mph on my display instead of speed per mile, which I had been using. We agreed that trotting down the trail trying to figure out how speed/mile translated to mph was too much in the mental acrobatic department, and finding the good old Mph setting was exciting. Desire's relaxed trot is about 7 mph, her more motivated trot 9.5 mph and I'm thinking when she really stretches out it will go 10 or 11 at least. Wheeee! We made it back to the trailers at about 10 miles and rode right on by and headed out on the horse camp loop. It actually makes a perfect ending loop to a ride because you are already warmed up to jam up the big hill at one end, then the loop has some great trotting spans, and ends with very gradual downhill and a long flat walk back to the trailers. We came back to the trailers at 16 miles+my 1 mile warm up so 17 miles for the day. With our water stops (Desire drank at 4/5) a few grazing breaks, a tack adjustment, and a boot reapplication, it took us 4 hours and 20 minutes.

 Back at the trailer, thanks for the photo N

Miss D pooped and peed while on the trail as usual, and was chowing at her hay net back at the trailer (until it fell down and scared the bejesus out of her, lol). I loaded her up with the polar fleece cooler on as it was already almost 4 pm and getting cold-- and it is colder still up at our house. I had to stop for 10 or so minutes at the feed store for dog food (and there ran into another endurance friend I hadn't seen since August) and drove on home. Desire came out of the trailer minus the cooler and plus two small cuts, one on a foreleg and one on a hind. And sweaty and trembling. SIGH. How the heck she got a Velcro-ed on blanket off in the confines of a straight load..I guess I don't even want to know. It is so frustrating to drive slowly and smoothly the same way every time and half the time she comes out dry and calm and the other half of the time she is a sweaty basketcase. I really don't think she likes being alone in the trailer, as she wasn't trailered that way at her previous home and she watches me like a hawk when we are alone at the lake. She seems to have some anxiety being alone. Except on the trail, where she is happy as a clam. I think I'd rather deal with her this way than if she were fine otherwise and a nutcase alone on the trail, though! I'm confident that with time and experience she will get better at trailering. She already loads in instantly, though I am still showing her the dressage whip to accomplish it.

I cleaned off her little cuts and sprayed Vetericyn on them, gave another (pointless) attempt at cleaning her up--grey sweaty horse in winter, ugh--and fixed her a hot EGM pellet mash. It was already almost dark and time to feed everyone else by the time I got home! The husband cooked up a phenomenal grilled chicken, rice, and spinach salad dinner, it was so fantastic after a day in the saddle. I have a feeling I'm going to be sore tomorrow, since I haven't ridden that far since August. Worth it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hooves and Shells

 "I'm going to be thiiiisssss tall"

Today the barefoot trimmer came and worked on Sheza and Desire. Good stuff all around. Sheza was a little more sassy than last time but not bad all things considered. She DID gallop up to me from the bottom of the paddock. Then she flipped out when I tried to buckle the halter and ran off. She came back and sniffed me all over like I was a crazy stranger, only then allowed me to put the halter on. Sigh. Whatever. Drama first, brain in gear later.

 "Who me? I'm an innocent baby.."

Desire: Left front hoof
 Sheza work in progress: Left front trimmed, the rest untrimmed


 What a good girl

I was planning to take Blaze for a little spin around the neighborhood but the husband shanghaied me into doing some errands in town and spending a half hour at the shooting range to get more comfortable with the .12 gauge shotgun for duck hunting. I was shooting a .20 gauge and just last week manned up and tried the big gun. So did some practice with that today, I have a healthy respect/fear of guns and it was nice to be able to spend some time and feel a little more comfortable. We make jerkey sticks out of our duck meat and BOY are those sticks good. We also stopped at the river for maybe 20 minutes and he hooked a couple of Steelhead, including one whopper that ended up breaking off, but had him whooping and hollering while it was on the line. 

 At the river

Hopefully I'll be able to fit in a few miles on Blaze tomorrow, I know he would like to get out and the western saddle will work for a short ride.

 Country dogs chew LOGS

And now some obsessed-with-Desire photos:

 Pretend she is snowy white and go "Oohhh pretttyy"

 Mom and big baby!

Go Girl!