Aug 17, 2014

Trail Challenge! The Ride is Full!

The ride is full!  Thanks for all who entered.    

All contestants should report to Branched Oak Lake, Area 2 (Homestead) for check in between 11:00 AM and noon on Saturday,  Sept. 6, 2014.  There will be a ride meeting at 12:30 and the ride will begin promptly at 1:00 PM. Rain or Shine. Meals and awards ceremony will follow the ride.

This is the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee's largest and most important "FUNdraiser".  Can't ride or compete?  Come on our to the horse camp somewhere between 4:00 and 6:00 (ish) and check out our bag auction/raffle!  Lots of great items donated for this fun event!

Still taking items for the auction.  If you would like to donate, leave a comment below or contact Mary Hanson at .

Thank you all for you help in making this ride a success!  All funds raised go to supporting horse trails in our great state!  See you Saturday!

Aug 12, 2014


I had back to back vacations.  One horse vacation - to Wyoming - and one "family" vacation to Colorado. 

On the Wyoming trip, we drove about twelve hundred miles with two horses and was gone Tuesday through Sunday.  For the Colorado trip, we flew (frequent flier miles), stayed at a Hilton (with a low price) and was gone just a little over 60 hours.  Guess which trip cost more?  

Traveling with horses is MUCH cheaper than traveling with two teenagers.  

But it wasn't about the price but the time.  And as I told a friend, it was priceless.

So I will report on the Wyoming trip soon but in the meantime, I will share with you what I shared with friends about one of the activities on the family vacation.


We just got back early this morning (literally) from Vacation Part 2 with John, Case & a friend.  Planes, cars and zip lines were the main theme but John and I did sneak in a ride on the rental string at Garden of the Gods.  The scenery was beautiful, the horses knew their job but not much fun for someone who knows how to ride.  Wow!  I can finally say I ride better than most people who rent horses.  I guess that is an accomplishment!  I laughed when the guide told us to lean forward and grab our horns when going up a hill and to put our feet out and grab the back of the saddle when descending a hill.  We would lose points in CTR for being heavy in the saddle and unbalanced, had we be competing.  Alas, these horses have long seen their competitive days.  

My rental horse, EZ

My horse, EZ (or Easy), was a grade QH type.  I think he had hip joint problems, dragging his back legs terribly, especially when going down hill.  He was uncomfortable, even at a walk and I was thankful it wasn't an all day ride.  But he was a good boy and I gave him plenty of pats and scratches along the way.  

John on Ice

John was on a white or gray horse - maybe some draft or mustang - huge feet.  Her name was Ice (we think it was a mare but none of us ever looked) and she and EZ weren't real fond of each other, giving each other the pinned ears if they got within close range of each other.  

Santa Fe is the roan colored horse in front of this sorrel.

The PITA horse was one named Santa Fe that was ridden by a "grandpa".  Santa Fe had Grandpa's number and stopped every opportunity she got.  Since we were in the back with Grandpa, after about the 3rd time she stopped for no apparent reason but to see if Grandpa was going to get her going again, I took to clucking and kissing and finally told Grandpa he needed to use his heels to keep her going!  Case and his friend did not ride with us.  They planned to and then when he saw adults being lead by the wranglers, he opted out.  We were glad because he would have B & M'd the entire time.  John and I could make it less about the horse and enjoy the beautiful scenery - because it was.

I am hanging on for dear life

Zip lining was not on my bucket list.  Ever.   Oh, I probably could do the small one at Camp Moses but just saying no where had I ever even thought about zip lining.  But made plans for the kids to do it.  When given the opportunity for the "classic" or the "xtreme", of course my son would say the xtreme.  40 mph isn't fast enough.  He wanted 60 mph with 1,700 foot ranges and a free fall.  I agreed he could and I would watch.  Some other dad said I should do it but I said I got a bad elbow and a bad shoulder and I am seeing a chiro right now....  But Case insisted I had to do it, too.  "You ride horses, Mom", he said.  And while riding horses is no comparison to zip lining, I have to admit that when he said that, I felt it was with a sense of pride - that not ever mom rides horses.  That perhaps I was a little bit more than just the ordinary 50-something year old mom.  I might have stood a bit taller as I ordered up Xtreme Zip Lining for 4!

Case hot dogging

The guides were really good, as were the 3 other kids joining us who were from Oklahoma.  They acknowledged that they were vacationing with their parents and when I asked how come they weren't zip lining, evidently they don't ride horses because they said their parents would never zip line.  Well how about that?  So the 20-something year old guides explained how we were buckled in several times for me and what saves us should this buckle break or that buckle break.  They encouraged me that while it was alright to close my eyes should that help me get thru it, I should consider opening them so that I can enjoy the scenery.  Every time the lines were longer, faster and steeper.  But once I left the deck, I did get to where I could open my eyes and maybe even enjoyed it a bit.

Until we got to the free fall at the end.  
No caption needed!!

I knew it was coming.  They told me about it.  I could see it in the distance, but never really grasped what they meant by free fall.  I thought maybe the line went down straighter and then leveled out when you were maybe 7' above the ground.  That sounded real to me.  When I landed on the tower which had no way down other than the "free fall", I kind of freaked.  My guides, who were my best friends up until this point, now told me I had to jump to my death and die.  That is how I felt.  Not only that, but I had to go first!  WTH??  And in addition, the girl guide said it still freaks her and she has to be pushed.  "But after that, it is fine,"  she told me.  Now WTF??  I watched as her partner attached her to what looked like a bungie cord with a carabiner and pushed her to her death.  Now granted, she landed on her feet but why couldn't it just "lower me", not have me free fall until it "catches".  

I said I needed to watch others first.  They said "no".  It will just freak me out more.  I let them hook me up.  Case said he would push me and I must have resembled Satan as I spewed "stay away from me!"  I told Dakota, the guide, that no one can come near me and he has to help me.  John said it took me longer than 5 minutes, perhaps not 10 minutes for it to happen.  Staci was down below promising margaritas, I may or may not have been chanting the Hail Mary.  I asked if I could sit and do it and Dakota said I would not be far enough away from the platform.  I finally told him that I couldn't do this without being pushed and that he (not Case) would have to push me.  I told him when my left toe moved next to my right toe (which was on the edge), that he could push.  Even as I type this, I am not sure I moved it or not.  I just know I went down, it caught me and I was down.  The next thing I knew, Stacy was hugging me and the group above was cheering.  All I know is I needed a margarita really really bad!

The rest of the group came down without incident.  

That is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done.  From the first line to the last jump.  I have to admit, I feel pretty good for accomplishing it!

The above video from YouTube is not of us but of the drop where we were at.  The first 50 seconds were pretty cool.  John and I raced down that line together (I won) but at 50 seconds and after, is the death drop.  (Zip lining photos courtesy of )

I have a lot of great photos to show you from Wyoming.  That will be coming soon.  I have told myself I will not become one of those retired bloggers - even if it takes me longer to get things posted.   Stay tuned.


Jul 13, 2014

Powell's Mansion

Certainly not horse related but since my blog is a diary of sorts, I thought I would save this story here so I can remember it when I am old and gray.   You might or might not find it of interest or you may have a similar "place" that you remember from your childhood.

Powell's Mansion was an old deserted home south of Hardy, Nebraska - just across the river into Kansas.  Anyone who had grown up in the Superior/Hardy area in the 70's knows the house I am talking about.  And from recent Facebook posts, it seems the legend continued in the 80's and 90's.  These pictures were shared by an underclassman who did a story for our school newspaper, The Flashlight, most likely in 1980 or 1981.  

The story as I remember was this spectacular home was built by a man named George Powell. Shortly after moving in, the house burned to the ground.  Mr. Powell rebuilt the house and tragedy struck again!  After moving into the home, his wife died unexpectedly and her death was unexplained.  Believing the house was cursed, he quickly abandoned it, leaving dishes, clothes and possessions behind.

The fact that there was a cemetery right next to this house made it all the more convincing that it was a haunted house. Or so we believed. Many times we cruised over to Powell's Mansion, leaving the car in the cemetery drive and sneaking through the trees to gain access though the back door.  

The kitchen

 Upstairs windows

Using a flashlight to stumble our way through the rooms of the mansion, the story certainly held up.  I recall seeing books and clothing strewn around the house.   There was still pans and dishes in the kitchen however, looking at these pictures, it doesn't appear to be a life interrupted as much as we wanted to believe it was at the time.

I remember going up these stairs in the dark, no doubt hanging on to the arm of whoever was in front or behind me, waiting for someone to scream and then we would all scream and run out the door into the night.  As we prowled though this old homestead, we had to be careful not to wake up the neighbor in the farmhouse nearby as it was said he would shoot salt pellets at the trespassers. We did get caught once but we weren't shot - just told to leave.  I wonder now how many times this farmer was awakened in the night to hear kids running down the road.  

This picture was taken in the turret along the side of the house.  On Facebook, someone mentioned it was called the "devil's tower".  I don't recall that but most likely added to the haunted elements as the years past.

It is interesting that back in the 30's or 40's when this house was built, it had both an upstairs and downstairs bathroom.  I recall my grandparent's house of the same era still had an outhouse.

Years later, John and I asked permission from whom I assume was that same neighboring farmer to tour the house in the daytime. Walking through it and finding holes in the floors - I am surprised none of us were hurt when we would run through it at night. We found what was an elegant home in its day, rotting from the top down. I remember a beautiful cement porch and lovely woodwork. I wish that was in the day of cell phone cameras because I would have had my own pictures. 

With renewed interest following the Facebook post, many commented what they remember as "the story", most similar to mine.  One person posted this following which had the most ring of truth to it:  

"George and Alice Mae Powell moved to Arizona because Alice Mae had severe asthma. Her parents had lived in the home for a short time and a hired man and his family were the last occupants ( I believe). I think the Powell family always intended to come back but as years passed they would visit but never moved back."

My sister, Ann, spoke with another former resident of the area who is now well into her 90's. She remembered the house in detail, having helped Mrs. Powell cook for the hired hands - even double dating with George and his second wife. Yes, there was a fire which burned the original home and yes, the first Mrs. Powell died, but had been sickly and it was not suspect. Mr. Powell remarried the person mentioned in the post above. Later, as they grew older, they moved as mentioned and their hired help took over the house and eventually, they moved on and no one else took residence.

Ann and her husband drove by the old place the other day and took this picture with her cell phone.  She said you could still see the turret but it won't be there for long.   I think the next time I go "home", I will visit this house one more time.

Thanks to my fellow Superior High classmates for sharing pictures and the story.  If anyone Googles Powell's Mansion in the future, perhaps they will find this page and learn "the rest of the story."