Saturday, December 28, 2013

Don't Be the Jerk

The weather is gorgeous, not a cloud in sight, with dry trails and perfect footing. What's the problem then? It's almost January and the roadsides still look like this:
That may as well be a photo from August! Here's a photo from this time last year, and we thought last year was dry:
Anyway. I hadn't ridden my own horses in way too long and my plans were stymied by random cold grey weather yesterday, so Scrappy and I enjoyed a relatively brisk 10 mile tour around the local dirt roads in the sunshine this a.m. It was pretty quiet, we were only passed by about four cars and a motorcycle. Chilly enough to goosebump your skin in the few shadows where the sun hadn't hit yet but quite warm enough that I was sweating in just a long sleeve shirt jogging along. 

 Oh, you're wondering about the post title? I'm referring to a neighbor, of course. Well, relative neighbor, since they are on a dirt road about 5 miles ride from here, but still. They, like many, have dogs that charge the fence line barking, but their dogs are the only ones that come *through* the fence and actually charge me on the horse. They are the type of dogs that see a horse charging them, coz I will and did while going by today, as a fight and in this case charging them did in fact make them come at us even worse. I was yelling as loud as I could at the dog and pretending to throw rocks which kept it mostly at bay,  but every time I managed to take a few steps past the stupid thing would come at us again. Roaring at the dog and keeping Scrappy calm was all I could do. I heard the people yelling for the dog and apologizing, the dogs retreated and I thought we were good, then here comes the worst dog again. I was almost past the place but the dog was still coming after us and I heard the people say "Just go past, just go past!" I yell back "IT'S CHARGING ME" to which they reply, "too bad, you're on it's property, just go" and made no further attempt to stop the dog. Okay, fine, so the county put a road through the middle of your land, or whatever, I don't think that makes it okay to let your dogs basically attack passerbys. GRRRR!!!!!!!!!

Fortunately Scrappy is a saintly guy. This was also driven home as we were making our brief paved county road crossing on the way home and a plastic bag swirled out of the bushes on the right edge we were hugging as a car and Harley roared by on our left. Scrappy sort of sproinged all 4 feet a few inches off the ground but didn't surge to one side or the other. Thank god.

 I don't know if I should admit that the silliest reaction out of my saintly Rushcreek all day was when we passed cows? LOL
Fortunately a few miles from home I passed a lovely old couple heading out of their driveway in their ancient Ford with their happy yellow Lab hanging out the back. They greeted me most jovially and admired the weather and wanted to know Scrappy's name. I absolutely love neighbors like those. They are the only kind of people I want to be around. The people that let their dogs attack us had horses, who knows, they could have controlled their dogs and we could have had a nice conversation like that.  It's so pointless and poisonous to behave the way they did. Please people, whether you live in a place big or small, urban or country--just *don't* be the jerk neighbor. Just don't.

Besides "Trot outs that aren't Possibly Toward an Early Grave: 101" Scrappy and I are working on a very important part of his education: The Selfie. If he is to star in this little blog of mine, he's going to have to do better than this dubious near-mare-face:
At least *I'm* stoked!  ;-)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Warm Wishes (and ridiculous photos) from Redheaded Endurance

When I was a youngster, I was pretty serious. I didn't like pink and I didn't like little dogs. I already knew I didn't want to be a vet because that's disgusting or the president of the United States because they can never please anyone. I actually had serious intentions toward law and/or politics of some sort, folded my pajamas at the foot of my bed year round, and sent out Christmas cards religiously. I might as well have smoked a pipe and gone out for the Early Bird special, and this was all high school and younger.

At some point..Stuff Happened. I grew up, learned a lot, and one day in 2008, freshly in a new life with a new man, I watched a tiny black Chihuahua pup crawl into my lap in a trailer park on the north coast of CA. Georgia was the first little dog I let into my heart and now we have four; I also have a fabulous hot pink pea coat, work entirely outdoors, often on my 21 acres with my husband of now 5 years--and I won't tell you where my pajamas are (okay, probably on the floor..somewhere).

So what I guess I mean to say is..wherever your journey in life may take you, however far from where you once thought or imagine others assume you should be--make sure it is in fact where and what you want to be, and if it is, let only peace be in your heart and mind. If it isn't where you want to be, I wish you great inspiration and steely courage, to strive and fail and try again, to do whatever it takes to find your happiness and purpose.

I am ending my 2013 very differently than I started it, thankfully. I feel very lucky to say that I am ending the year happy, content, inspired, and excited for the (horsey!!!)  future as never before. I now only wish that we may all find the things that give us light, love, and laughter in this holiday season, whether it's family, friends, a beloved dog, a cherished horse, or a favorite old book. Don't be afraid to look at yourself and those important to you with equal unbiased clarity, and then choose to embrace them anyway, because minor differences should never overwhelm compassion and true friendship.

Also, look at these ridiculous photos of my dogs, because I bet, no matter what, one of them will make you smile!!
                                        Georgia, the 1st                                                                      




Happy Holidays to all from the Redheaded Endurance family!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Fellow Rider In Need


In May of 2011 I attended the Cache Creek Ridge Ride for the first time with my little gelding, Blaze. I hadn't officially completed an AERC event since 2006, after totally failing at our first LD attempt together at Lake Oroville the fall before and finishing the Whiskeytown LD Overtime in April 2011. Cache Creek ride falls right around my birthday AND our wedding anniversary each year, so there was a lot going on for me at the ride. 

Long story short I tried to start the ride in a hackamore, managed to stop my horse long enough to cram a bit in his mouth, forgot to zip my cantle pack and bounced all the goodies out down the trail, while the camelpak I'd never ridden with before chafed my shoulders raw for the first 15 miles. We got our first completion together in 5 hours and 25th place.

This was a singularly special experience, not just because Blaze and I finally succeeded, but because we ended up chatting with our camping neighbors, first mentioned here at the end of my 2011 post:

"Oh, we were camped next to some really nice people from Humboldt county that did the Ride & Tie and got their email, they are really cool and can't wait to ride and camp with them again."

The "really nice people" were April Moore and her best friend, Julia Ralsten. They were incredibly friendly and warm, offering me braiding bands for Blaze's mane, snacks, anything we could have needed. We all hit it off and had a great time chatting in the moments we were in  camp in various groupings, as April and Julia went out and completed the Ride n Tie the same day I did the LD. They also happened to the be the folks who picked up my hoofpick and other goodies I donated to the trail from my open cantle pack! We all laughed, joked, had a beer, and just generally embraced the best of AERC ride camp atmosphere. It was one of those fun, special endurance weekends where success is achieved both in ride goals and in true and total enjoyment of the experience and the people involved.

As the quote mentions, I got their email and later we all connected on Facebook. I have had the privilege to share trail and travel time with April now and am completely in admiration of her as a person, horse trainer, and shoer. I haven't had as much of a chance to see Julia but I think of her with great fondness and always hope to see her at events. She began riding with April when she was 11 years old and is without question a wonderful young lady and a talented and tough horsewoman.
Unfortunately Julia was seriously injured in a terrible car accident this past week and is now on the long road to physical and emotional recovery at Stanford. Her family has reached out for support and I in turn ask any of you that are able to, to send what you can in support of a wonderful young horsewoman who's life has changed forever.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Hello from Rushcreek Aurora in Nebraska

RC Aurora is now 4 1/2 months old, is as tall as the RC colt 2 weeks older than her, and is looking GREAT! Can't wait to get out to Nebraska in the spring and meet the extended family and pick her up :-)
RC Aurora on the left, RC Ariel on the right. Ariel is a 1 1/2 months older 
Speaking of the RC colt 2 weeks older than her, he is the lovely boy pictured below trotting next to Aurora, meet Rushcreek Abe:
 He will turn grey, and is the last colt bred on the Rushcreek Ranch before it closed it's doors. This lovely guy is available for $2,000 until April/May and then some boarding costs will be added if he stays at the Messick ranch. I am headed to Nebraska myself in late April/early May to pick up Aurora and can be talked into hauling Abe with us to a destination along the way! Please contact Brenda Messick of Messick Performance and Endurance Horses for more information on this lovely Rushcreek colt:

RC Abe on the left striding out with RC Aurora
Left to right: Abe, Aurora, Ariel behind Aurora
 You can tell she had a hard time getting photos and had to keep backing away from the foals as they mobbed her. Sweet thangs!

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Eye Doc a Day Keeps the Blindness at Bay (we hope)

Ah Desire, my problem child. My first sensitive skinned girth galler, first baffling lameness issues, first travels for lameness exams, first EPM test, first hock injections, first retired endurance horse, and now first uveitis/vision issues. 

 First of all, I found and read this article and everything I read there regarding uveitis, causes, symptoms, treatment, etc, was confirmed by my vet today. I can't vouch for it beyond that but at the very least it is a basic education on what the heck I'm talking about if you don't already know:


What began with the occasional, light tearing of Desire's right eye (one day nasty, next day fine, etc) returned looking less friendly a few weeks later, with squinting of her right eye on the weepy days. I had notions of allergies early on and keep her in a fly mask most of the time anyway, since she's a grey. With the Thanksgiving holiday and travel on my part, and emergencies on her end, my vet and I finally connected to check out Desire's eye today. I already had a vet appointment at that point but I had seen 2 days previously that she was suddenly that morning holding the eye closed with a trickle of clear fluid. Later that day when I pulled her to trim her feet I put a cold compress on it for a while which clearly gave her some relief,  but I could tell her vision was impaired on that side because when I stopped touching her leg and hoof while trimming she would instantly panic and  try to find me on that right side. I'm not going to lie, it was heart breaking to see her both uncomfortable and extra fearful. She is already a tense, high strung horse and the impairment to her vision was clearly making her even less okay with things. My vet mentioned "Moon Blindness" or recurring uveitis on the phone earlier in the week and having educated myself on it, I saw how much it potentially fit her case and felt terrible that I hadn't addressed it sooner. I was worried about potential long term scarring to Desire's eye if it was recurring uveitis, let alone the toll impaired vision or eventual blindness could take on her quality of life long term.

 Still, all we can do is learn and improve and do better next time. So here we were today, vet, owner, and uncomfortable miss Desire. My vet sedated her, blocked the nerve that allows them to close their eye nearly against all odds, and did a stain. No scratches were visible or revealed by the stain and the good news as far as the uveitis is that she *doesn't* have a lot of scar tissue built up on the eye yet. PHEW. She is going to get a steroid cream in her eye 2 x a day for 5 days as well as one dose of banamine for 3 days, and if at 5 days things haven't improved the vet will return. If she does fully improve, we may have gotten lucky and had a one time uveitis episode. If she's better but not all the way better, the steroid cream will continue another few days. There is a chance, of course, that she will get better but in a week or two or three it will flare up again and she will turn out to have that nasty recurring uveitis, or "Moon Blindness" which becomes a management issue for life. Time will tell!

In other news, I went to eye doctor today too, for the first time in years. I was out of contacts and my glasses from 2005, still perched on my nose at this moment, are held together with zip ties and super glue, I shit you not. Luckily my eyes weren't a whole lot worse and my corneas got a "Niicee" which is surely a good thing. Also glad I made my old glasses survive so long, since this is the first pair I have ever bought myself (last pair that I am wearing now was end of high school era, thanks Mom) and I'm fairly certain frames weren't $70 back in the day! Also, from an amused nerdy economic standpoint (I <3 Marketplace!), Desire's eye exam and drugs cost the same as my eye exam and new glasses. Interesting.

Ahh Desire, my teacher. My first horse purchased out of state, first horse shipped, first pregnant mare, first foaling experience, first weaning experience, first reconditioning a broodmare, first 50 mile endurance ride, first multi day endurance ride, first humbling lameness pull, first triumphant top 10 and BC showing..



good job mama
getting back into it
Cuyama XP, our first 50s, March 2012, photo credit Lynne Glazer
Getting fit 
ponying Sheza summer 2012
Hat Creek Hustle 2 day, summer 2012

Enjoying being pasture queen, summer 2013

All this in three years. So much heart in this girl, may I ever be worthy and do right by her.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Epic Snowy Photo Fun!

If you are unimpressed by animals frolicking in snow, this isn't the post for you. However if you, like me, could watch animals interact anywhere let alone in the novelty of snow, join me and scroll down for some cuteness! 

Friday afternoon the promised snow arrived, and come morning there was about 3 inches on the ground. The ensuing overnight temperatures in the teens have kept white on the ground even through to today. This was the most snow we've ever had since moving to our property in 2010 and a First Big Snow for my year old puppy Kodiak and 2 1/2 year old Sheza.

Sunrise over Snow, December 7th
Snow goats!
Cozy horses in the barn with snow behind them

Sheza was tap dancing in place like an impatient kid while I haltered her but when we came to the end of safe barn footing and beginning of Scary White Footing, she had to think about things! 

Sheza: Meet Snow
A giant leap, a buck of surprise when all 4 hooves touched WHITECOLD,
 then off to learn to use her herself in this new footing
"hmm, this is kinda fun!"
"So in the other place there was lots more white stuff and it stayed for months 
and there were no stalls?!"  
Desert bred filly asks Scrappy the ways of his Nebraskan people
 Scrappy himself was quite the opposite. He was not perturbed by the cold in the least, as evidenced by his healthy winter coat and drinking trough, the only one with a perfect muzzle sized hole in it. He was less pleased about being put into the box stall Friday night, and was quite happy to be back outdoors in the snowy a.m., in fact eating every less scrap of his snow covered hay leftovers rather than the fresh feed I put out with him! You know your horse is from Nebraska when....

Blaze was doing airs above ground, in hand on my left, on our way out from the stalls, while Desire, ever businesslike, beat out a no nonsense march on my right.
Blaze was frisky, Desire was wondering where the hell her blanket 
was going and where her hot mash was
 And finally, silly puppy Kodiak, who SPROINGED through the snow, poking her nose deep in the snow and snorting every three bounces. The two youngsters love the snow, while the more senior dogs can barely be bothered to leave their beds!

Adventure pups Rip and Kodiak
 This morning it was 18 degrees and our water pipes are frozen solid. Nothing like a tea kettle shower, it must be winter. Still it's gorgeous and sunny and there are (bundled up) adventures to be had!

 Stay safe and keep your critters warm, everyone

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let It Snow!

I had the final shavings in the stalls, water buckets filled, and 5 horses snugly in their stalls within five minutes of the predicted snow starting to fall late this afternoon. It was a week long effort of cleaning up the barn and prepping it for winter and was concluded in the nick of time!

Everyone went into their stalls pretty politely except my mini horse who had to be convinced once again that he had in fact been handled by humans before (like 3 days ago, when I haltered him perfectly and trimmed his feet..le sigh). Care to know what ultimately stopped the wild beast in his tracks? I believe it was something along the lines of:


And the little bugger stopped in his rapidly departing tracks, and turned to look at me, licking and chewing. I walked right up to him and put a loose loop of rope around and his neck and he followed as polite as could be to his stall on the neck loop.

Okay then. Note to self:change stall name plate to Little Prick.
Sheza continues to entertain and bemuse me with her wild snorting and spazzing coupled with good manners. She *acts* like she's going to go nuts and flip over backwards but she lowers her head and stuffs it in the halter, moves neatly out around the gate yielding her hindquarters as needed to keep the mini from escaping, and leads completely politely to her stall, all the while jigging and blowing and acting a fool. It's quite interesting and a lot like her momma Desire, who still to this day snorts and acts like I'm trying to poison her when I first approach her, even with a carrot in hand. Sheza isn't as suspicious of me as she has that wonderful inherent trust of the much handled foal, but she does act a fool while actually behaving, if that makes sense. AH my silly redhead is ever entertaining.

And look at that shoulder! Baby girl is growing up

Not 2 hours later after the above photo from catching up Sheza, this is the view from my porch!

Happy Holidays, be safe, and stay warm!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh, Hello, Winter!

Weather is always a relative discussion, so read the following with a grain of salt, or a bag for that matter--if the road is slippery it may be necessary after all! 

Suddenly, in the last few days, oft balmy northern California remembered what winter meant, and things have quickly gotten very cold.  Temperatures have dipped into the 20s the last couple of nights and there is a 90% chance of snow with 4-7 inches possible for tomorrow night and through to Saturday! That's a pretty wild forecast as we very rarely get snow here at the house and have hardly even gotten any rain yet this year. We had our first water pipe burst this morning but by this point have all the supplies laid in and my husband had it  fixed and the water back online in no time. We'll definitely have to keep a close eye on things if the snow actually comes as heavily as promised; I must confess I don't have any desire to manage horses in the snow in the long term!

Little Kodiak testing the water--er? At least it isn't a metal pole..

It's that time of year! 
Ornaments from the time of my birth to a weenie dog ornament given to me by my mom last week. Great memories and it smells soooo good
Another lovely winter sunset
 Today between errands and meetings and dropping my husband's truck at the shop, I got a load of shavings for the stalls. Lots of stall mucking and shavings fluffing ensued and now I have 5 stalls prepped and only 2 that need shavings. All 15 bags went into 3 of the stalls and that didn't even cover the whole floors of the stalls. I am ridiculously spoiled to have 6 lovely large stalls so I can't complain that it takes so damn much to fill and clean them, right? So, I won't! I'm not..I swear. ;-)

Barn prep  
Anyway the husband is off to work guiding duck hunting in the wee hours of the a.m. tomorrow, and can fill my truck with another load of shavings from Tractor Supply on his way home. In the morning I'll make sure each stall has enough water buckets clean and prepped, and with the arrival of the rest of the shavings we'll be ready for whatever sort of weather madness it thrown at us! I'm not sure if I'll even put the horses away, besides miss fragile hothouse flower Desire and Sheza filly (in danger of slipping around madly in the snow), but it's good to know the barn is prepped and ready if it get's too nasty.

Stay warm and safe this weekend everyone, December and WINTER are here!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


So good to be home, the days are so short, ahh, sunrise

Some chores taken care of. A much needed trim on all 4 Rushcreek hooves, 
4 boots and a saddle, then AWAY, out the gate on my Scrappy boy
He was feisty, we rode up the big hill slowly, then had lots of circles and discussions 
over not jigging for home. A penitent Scrappy put himself politely in his cross tie stall at home.

To town, errands..

and a fitting sunset