Dec 31, 2004

The Early Days 2004

I am making some changes to my blog and website and trying to incorporate them into one.  These are some of my early writings on "Stable Talk” which was part of my original website.  I was blogging before I knew what blogging was…. 

Quickly glancing through these, some of the postings bring back good memories and yet others, I am most embarrassed by the poor writing and grammar.  I would like to think I have improved somewhat in that area.  At least I try harder today than I did in those early days.  Perhaps I only think its better. 

None of you who read my blog today are under any obligation to scroll through these early years.  They are here for me.  But if you are wondering about my start in horses in my adult life; here it is.  Scabs and all. 

Blog Posts via Stable Talk 2004 – 2007

2/3/04: Topic: Winter Blues

The FIRST EDITION OF STABLE TALK: When I started this web site, I wanted this first page to have pizzazz, excitement just the right flavor. But it’s turned out to be the most difficult. In an attempt to keep it new & refreshing, I'm introducing Stable Talk. Tune in here for updates to the site and other tidbits about you, about me, or about horses.

If you aren’t in Nebraska, you are lucky this last week has been like Siberia! Ice... Cold... snow... zero degree temperatures. A week before the big chill arrived, Kathy Newberg and I had planned on riding. It had just been 60 degrees and the following day was forecasted at 43 degrees. As fate would have it, the "lying weatherman" changed the forecast and our riding plans were in jeopardy. But not wanting to let this talking head have the last word, we pulled on our long underwear, coveralls and ski caps & set out on the Oak Creek Trail in Valparaiso. We rode 10 miles that day and it was exhilarating! The big freeze set in the next day, so I'm glad we "cowgirled up" and did it!

The temps have remained at the zero range for the last week. John has been getting the chores done before I get home. I've missed seeing the herd and finally made it to the barn on Friday. I drove there. (Okay, so it is only 100 feet from the house, but it was cold & my Blazer was warm at the time.) In my business casual work clothes and fashion boots, I was desperate for some equine company. I raised the manes on our creatures and breathed in their warmth on a bitter cold day..... I got my fix.

2/19/04: Topic: Broken Legs and Broken Hearts!

My only rule for is it must be equine in nature. Since my son fell out of the hayloft that holds the hay for the horses, it qualifies. Okay, so it’s a stretch, but it’s my web page. Last Saturday afternoon, my youngest son, Case, once again had the misfortune of witnessing his brother sustain yet another broken limb. He and McCain had been occupying their time playing in the barn making forts out of the bales, when the accident occurred. McCain fell through the hole - that on other days he jumped out of landing on the straw in the stall below. Normally at least one horse is in the stall, waiting for that slice of alfalfa. But today they weren’t. No one was there to break the fall. It was no ordinary day.

Two feet of snow on the ground and numerous school closings drove the boys to the barn as an alternative playground. I remember my sister and me playing in the barn when we grew up. Climbing up to the highest bale and swinging down from the large rope. When I called her to tell her of McCain’s accident, she was shocked: How come he didn’t know where the hole was? We always knew where the hole was! He knew where the hole was, too. But his 9-year-old imagination had him somewhere else besides in the hayloft of a 100-year-old barn. And wherever his mind had him, there was no hole. The right leg took the impact. Case ran to report the accident. My husband, John, moved the victim. All the first aid training we thought we had, right out the window. My stoic husband, for the first time in our life together, thought he was going to pass out. I was on my own with this one. 9-1-1 really works! But after 2 feet of snow, ambulances get stuck, too. I thought we would never get to the hospital.

The femur is a big bone. It shouldn’t break and it is hard to fix. Traction for 3 weeks a partial body cast for another 3 weeks, physical therapy. As a mom, the pain runs through my bones as it does his. But he is braver than I am.

2/25/04: Topic: The Big Thaw

We’ve settled into a routine at the hospital. Tonight is my night at home, so I’m writing this hoping Ill have a little time to publish it. Thank you all for sending McCain cards, emails and prayers. Your visits have helped pass the time for him and for us. McCain is doing incredibly well and I guarantee you, is handling the boredom of a hospital room a lot better than we could endure! Eleven days down, ten to go!

Horse Expo in Lincoln is just three weeks away. Do you get as excited about it as I do? Three full days of nothing but horses and horse related items! Isn’t walking through those living quarter trailers as much fun as attending a parade of homes! And as a tack junky, it is an all day high! The only bummer is after seeing everyone else’s horse, I just want to ride! Don’t you wish we could all bring our horses to Expo?

For the first time, the ice on our pond has been so thick the horses walk across it to the island in the middle. I worry that they will try it when the ice is not as thick. And the mud in the corral. Another joy. But with every day that passes, we are that much closer to spring. And for that, I can handle the ugliness of the thaw.

My little web site starting to catch on. It seems every day I hear from someone new! Thank you for taking the time to say "hi". I always wonder if anyone is out there... & I'm thrilled when I find out you are!

2/28/04: Topic: Horse Scents

Until this past weekend, January 24th was the last day I had my butt in a saddle. If you recall from my prior Stable Talk, Kathy Newberg and I rode in the cold! When I got home that day, I left my saddle in the trailer. Not unusual during the riding season, but in winter, I prefer to have it inside.

Then the storms hit. Our trailer was drifted in. Every now and then when I was tucked away warm in the house, I thought about my saddle how I hated to leave it out there. I hoped the trailer wasn’t mysteriously springing a leak and my saddle falling victim to water damage. I would think about my saddle as I pulled out of the driveway to work each morning and think, tonight will bring it in. I never did.

This morning I was home when John was leaving for work. For some reason, I thought about my saddle and asked if he would rescue it for me. What a trooper that John is. (I should have thought of him earlier!) I heard him come back in the house with it and never leaving my desk, hollered at him asking if it was okay. It was fine no worse for the wear, he said. He put it in the corner by the stairs, and I didn’t think any more about it.

After finishing my work, I headed down the stairs to the rec room. Something stopped me in my tracks. In that moment -- the smell -- you know the one I mean, the wonderful smell of leather and horse, overloaded my senses. And just for a moment, it was no longer February in Nebraska. The essence of that moment swept me off to warmer days! Is there anything else like it in the world?

3/4/04 -- Back in the Saddle!

Winter be damned! I'm back in the saddle again! The weather predicted the high 40's last Sunday. Drifts no longer covered the trailer wheels. It was time to ride.

Logistically, we had to work out some details. John was at home & would load up the horses and tack. I would drive from the hospital and meet him at 3V Stables. My in-laws agreed to stay with McCain while we rode a few hours.

The best made plans.... John called early in the morning to say the trailer wiring was broken. Don't ask how, it just was. Drive without lights, drive without brakes! Just get to the stable! He assured me if he knew the color code to the wires, he could fix it. Thank goodness for the Internet and God bless John! He was soon on the road!

3V Stables offers team sorting practice on Sundays. If you have never tried it, it is a great place to learn and a lot of fun! Our son, Case, did incredibly well on his 25 year-old mare, Daisy. However, later that afternoon, he was loping down the center of the arena -- and as if in slow motion, she stumbled. Down she went. Case rolled one way and instinctively, consciously or by the grace of God, Daisy rolled away from him. Before I could panic, Case was on his feet -- fear about the fate of his old horse showed in his eyes. How long it took us to find her and how she raised the confidence level of this 7 year-old boy! She can't be hurt now!

3V Stables also offers great help to those who have fallen. Cindy held Daisy down while Greg removed the saddle. When it looked like she caught her breath, they helped her up. A little stiff maybe, but to the relief of her young rider, alive and well.

John had hospital duty that night, so I loaded up the horses and my brave little cowboy and we went home. About a mile from home, I realized I had no trailer lights or brakes. Were they ever fixed? Who knows, but we made it safely home. I got to ride!

3/9/04 – I Want To Do It All!

A recent email inspired this edition of Stable Talk. It was from an equestrian who participates in fox hunting. After a brief description of what fox hunting is all about, I thought to myself I want to do that. (Never mind that I have never had my butt in an English saddle & have no idea how the stirrups work way up there!!) I thought afterwards, how many times have I have said, I want to do that! since I started riding again!

My childhood riding experiences consisted mostly of riding bareback in the corrals at our farm. We owned a saddle, but it was never used. We didn’t live on our farm Dad was a cop but we had cattle we kept there and a horse named Dolly and her filly, Misty. (Yep, we read the book, thus the name) Each afternoon after Dads shift, we would go out to do chores. It never took long, so if we were to ride our horse, we had to jump on her quickly and get whatever riding in we could while the tank was filled and the cows were fed. We were active in 4-H taking to the fair the vegetables we grew in our garden and the ugly napkin we sewed. No, we didn’t get to do the fun livestock things!

So when I was first told about camping with horses, I wanted to do that! Even though I was never a fan of camping. Soon we had the trailer and I found the joy of riding and camping! And when I first heard of horse games & speed events, I wanted to do that! And last year we co-hosted 3 events! And when I first understood what competitive trail riding was all about, I wanted to do that! And I’ve sent in the entry form for my first ride! And then this email about fox hunting and another one within hours that spoke of dressage yeah, I want to do all that! And hunter/jumper, too even though I have no clue what that is!

When you are a ball player or do sports, do you dream of switching positions or is it "once a shortstop, always a recent email inspired this edition of Stable Talk. It was from an equestrian who participates in fox hunting. After a brief description of what fox hunting is all about, I thought to myself I want to do that. (Never mind that I have never had my butt in an English saddle & have no idea how the stirrups work way up there!!) I thought afterwards, how many times have I have said, I want to do that! since I started riding again!

My childhood riding experiences consisted mostly of riding bareback in the corrals at our farm. We owned a saddle, but it was never used. We didn’t live on our farm Dad was a cop but we had cattle we kept there and a horse named Dolly and her filly, Misty. (Yep, we read the book, thus the name) Each afternoon after Dads shift, we would go out to do chores. It never took long, so if we were to ride our horse, we had to jump on her quickly and get whatever riding in we could while the tank was filled and the cows were fed. We were active in 4-H taking to the fair the vegetables we grew in our garden and the ugly napkin we sewed. No, we didn’t get to do the fun livestock things!

So when I was first told about camping with horses, I wanted to do that! Even though I was never a fan of camping. Soon we had the trailer and I found the joy of riding and camping! And when I first heard of horse games & speed events, I wanted to do that! And last year we co-hosted 3 events! And when I first understood what competitive trail riding was all about, I wanted to do that! And I’ve sent in the entry form for my first ride! And then this email about fox hunting and another one within hours that spoke of dressage yeah, I want to do all that! And hunter/jumper, too even though I have no clue what that is!

When you are a ball player or do sports, do you dream of switching positions or is it "once a shortstop, always a shortstop"? Do ball players get excited about their options for playing the game like equestrians get excited about the many disciplines associated with horses? Aren’t we the lucky ones to have all these choices! I want to do it all!

3/19/04: Horse Expo 2004

We went to Horse Expo on Friday. I bought a cool riding hat (which conflicts with my resolution to start setting an example for my kids by wearing a helmet) and a nice leather purse. Almost bought some furniture and braided reins John about bought an Australian saddle. And we came home with close to 900 pounds of senior formula horse food in hopes of peeling the years back on old Daisy.

I didn’t watch any of the clinics not that I didn’t want to, but I spent too much time socializing. It was great to see horse friends that we usually only see during riding season. And what a thrill it was to meet some of you who have tuned into this web site and with whom I have corresponded with over the last few months.

The salesman from Coverall buildings spent several minutes trying to convince John that my desire for a building of this kind is not a dumb idea. The resolution if I want one, I pay for it! Ouch! I flunked Horse Jeopardy, but still managed to come away with a nice t-shirt and a bag of feed. (The wheelchair garnered my son some sympathy gifts, too! He was thrilled with the roping gloves!)

Did anyone else think it strange that in the day of internet shopping where you can buy every piece of horse tack including the horse online, that Nebraska’s largest western store chose not to exhibit goods? Hmm. I’m no marketing expert, but I would think that one the largest multi-discipline horse events in Lincoln which has statewide appeal, would be a no-brainer for local merchants. And I’ll go a little further out on a limb to say that I think by not participating (actively, that it), was a snobbish mistake and a tad bit disrespectful not only to the horse enthusiasts who make the event possible, but their own clientele who frequent their store year round. I don’t want to know the politics right or wrong, perception is reality.

So until next year or this afternoon, if I can talk John into it my thanks to the Nebraska Horse Council for bringing Horse Expo to Nebraska for a horse lover like me!

So the next time I express frustration that you can’t take your own horses to Mahoney Park, tell me to take a deep breath and forget about it just have fun! For information on the Nebraska Horse Council & Nebraska Horse Trails Committee, visit .

3/25/04 Having Babies....

My friends are having babies. No, not the kind you’re thinking this is a horse web site! It is foaling time and those of you lucky enough to have bred mares are concluding your 11-month vigil for your next dream horse.
Two years ago I waited, too. We had bred Johns mare, Ginger, and I had bought two bred mares, as well. I had three babies coming. And the morning I went to the barn and saw the first baby, a little palomino stud colt born the past night, I experienced the closest feeling I have had to Christmas morning since I was a child. And that is not an analogy. That is the truth.

Johns mare, Ginger, had our second baby. Ginger went through gestation retaining her figure. And she would have none of the waxing or rolling that expectant mares do that was too uncool for Ginger. We were having coffee one morning, glanced out into the pen and was surprised to see a bay filly standing next to Ginger the rest of the herd nearby. All were equally impressed. Ginger never separated from the herd. It took a village to raise that little filly!

My last baby that year did not come into the world as peacefully. My brother pulled into our yard late at night and heard a commotion coming from the pen. The new born foal was splashing helplessly in the tank as the dam watched on. It was after midnight when he woke us. We ran from our bed straight to the corral. John wrapped his arms around the cold, scared foal and pulled him to safety. Tank was otherwise unharmed.

We sold the two broodmares and never bred Ginger back. As much as I loved the babies, I love riding more and we don’t have the time or resources to do both. If those lottery numbers come in, I’ll be waiting expectantly like the rest of you who are lucky enough to have babies this spring!
If you would like to share your baby (foal) pictures, send one to me and I’ll start a little album for the web site. Include the name and breed of the foal.

4/1/04 - Five Horses Too Many!

We have nine horses. We never meant to have nine. We only wanted one. a pony for the kids. Okay, so we quickly realized it was for us, not the kids, and two horses would be a lot more fun! We could ride together. Then how did we get to nine horses?

There are four people in our family. And nine horses! I was just kidding myself thinking that I could raise a colt from a foal to a saddle without getting attached. And even knowing in my heart of hearts that I won’t/cant keep my two year olds, in my mind I envision our first trail ride. I tried to sell them as yearlings. The market was poor; the prices at the sale were not good. Was that the reason I never let them go? Probably not. And will it be any easier this year? No.

The other two babies I raised are now 4 years old. They are the extras. Since Blue doesn’t do well in an arena, it gives me a chance to work with Bo. He is coming along nicely. Baby Dutch is part draft I’m not sure what her calling will be, but she has been with us since the beginning; she won’t be going anywhere. In the morning, she is the first to notice we are moving around in the kitchen and comes to the fence. I swear, if we opened our kitchen door and invited her in, she would come.

Little Blackie (yes, True Grit) is now a yearling. He is sassy and playful. And black (my weakness). I like the thoroughbred in his pedigree. Since Daisy is 25, I think there may be a time when Case will move to Bo, and then Little Blackie can be the Extra. So if I find homes for the 2 year olds that leaves us with seven. We never meant to have seven horses, either!

I have found it is not just riding a variety of horses that I enjoy. I love horses. I love watching them from the kitchen window; seeing them play in the morning and sunning themselves in the afternoon. I love opening the gate to the pasture after a long winter and seeing them take flight. I love watching them eat & seeing who is challenging the pecking order for the day! I love walking into the herd and having horse noses smelling my hands and pockets for treats. I love to examine the personalities of each of them; I swear they talk to me.

Can I afford nine horses, or even seven? No, not really. But I can’t afford not to have them, either.

4/11/04 - What you see isn't always what you get!

I hate to jinx myself, but this is the first year we are going into spring with suitable mounts for both of my boys. If you read My Story on Horse Tales, you learned about Case and his new horse, Daisy. Last year we found McCain’s horse in our own corral!

Both my boys had spent many hours riding behind me on Blue. He is a bit of a spook at times, and although misplaced, the boys have always trusted him. So I figured one of the boys would claim Blue for their ride last summer and I found Mikey for myself. An 8- year old gelding that had traveled the rodeo circuit Mikey's resume appeared to be what I was looking for. The clincher was, he was black. Those who know me well know of my weakness for black horses.

When I tried him out, I thought he felt a little off in the front end. But he wasn’t well taken care of. He needed a farrier. His hooves, still shod, were overgrown. He was underweight having just been left to run the corn stalks in the winter. Something about him made me ignore the red flags.
We brought him home, took the old shoes off & trimmed up his feet. Put about 150 pounds on him, too. He was so easy to ride, but still something wasn’t right. The vet agreed. Said it could be a touch of arthritis. He was just sore. A good farrier and a dose of Bute make trail riding possible.

Maybe it was Mikey’s easy pace that first piqued McCain’s interest. After a first ride in the round pen, it wasn’t long before they hooked up on the trails. And now since McCain's accident, he is going into the riding season being the lame one! As said about "Seabiscuit" and his jockey, Red -- they will have 4 good legs between them!

I paid more than I should have for a sore horse. But I paid a lot less than I should have for a good horse. These are the best kind of surprises.

4/20/04 - What Not To Ride

When I first met the Vosslers, I remember walking around their stable admiring the thoroughbreds that were boarded at their stable. I commented to Greg that if I won the lottery, I would raise thoroughbreds. Greg said if he won the lottery, the thoroughbreds would go! His favorite roping horse is an appaloosa. I had never thought much of appys probably because I appreciate the flowing manes and tails that a lot of appaloosas seem to lack!

In my barn today, you will find papered paints and quarter horses, a couple grades who are probably quarter, a Belgian cross mare and yes, Daisy, the appaloosa. But we do not have a thoroughbred.

Last year, we went into riding season with a beautiful 12-year old thoroughbred gelding John had bought on a whim. How John ended up bringing this horse home remains a mystery since I was the one horse shopping! This horse had been off the track several years and quite frankly, I thought he may kill John! He was fast and seemed to have no particular discipline. But he was a looker and eventually, temptation got the best of me, and by Memorial Day last year, I was riding him at Rock Creek. And it seemed he had found his purpose. He loved the trails. Getting in and out of the trailer was a whole different story, but he adapted wonderfully to the trails and to me!

The next month was the Stanton Trail Ride. John took our three year old colt as he thought a slow ride would be good experience for him. I took the thoroughbred. You can probably see where this is heading. Although the thoroughbred had passed the covered wagons many times at Rock Creek that prior Memorial Day weekend, he hadn’t seen one moving. And if a horse could talk, he would of screamed what the ----??? when he saw the buckboard coming along the Stanton trail. The chains, the Belgians can’t say for sure what it was that frightened him so, but I quickly lost control. It wasn't John who was going to die, it was me!

My inexperience and his fear were not a good match. I ended up under him on the side of a hill. He got up first. Much to my humiliation, those who came to my rescue wouldn’t let me move. One lady had her Advil bottle out; another handed me an ice pack. John retrieved my horse. He no longer looked majestic and beautiful. He looked big and wild. And scary! But I knew I could only do one thing to make the situation right. Run! (No, just kidding) I had to get back on this creature. And I did. And we made it safely to the top of the hill which we had just laid upon.

The pain in my leg and fear in my heart prevented me from riding again that weekend. I finished the afternoon by riding back to camp on the 3-year old colt. If I was going to die, I would rather not fall as far! I knew if the thoroughbred pitched another fit, I was in too much pain to save myself.

The horse was a good horse. He was a victim of circumstance. He was learning something new and didn’t have a rider who could properly teach him. After I healed, I rode him again in controlled environments, but I never trusted myself with him. I later found a new home for him and he and his new rider have bonded. I still get emails about how well he has grown as a trail horse. I just wasn’t the person who could bring that out in him.

Someday I hope to have another thoroughbred. I don’t hold it against the breed. Look at Daisy! Her lack of a tail doesn't affect her brain -- it really doesn't -- I promise! But the lesson I learned is this: I love to ride. And having to take 3 weeks off from riding to heal from an injury that could have been avoided if I had just listened to myself, is a high price to pay. And I think I got by cheap.

Frank E Vasa 1928 – 2004

This past weekend, John’s father passed away. In some ways it was expected, but it is always too soon.

Twelve years ago, John and I moved a house onto 10 acres of his dad’s property, just right up the hill from his parents. Some would wonder if I lived too close to my in-laws. Luckily, I never felt that way. My own dad passed away ten years ago just 2 months before our first child was born. Johns dad,
Frank, was the only grandpa my kids knew.
John and his dad worked together in the family steeplejack business until Frank’s retirement. Frank then started a pasture golf course and spent many hours planting grass and mowing the 20 acres which separated our property. It served as more of a hobby to Frank, than a business. When we bought our first two horses in 2000, hole number 3 became the pasture for these horses. To accommodate our new hobby, the golf course became our source of hay. Frank turned from entrepreneur to farmer and helped to mow and rake those 20 acres and marveled at the yield of round bales we would receive. Last year was our best crop!

In 2003, we bought another 15 acres from Johns parents, putting us at about 25 acres; leaving them with 15 acres. Just a few weeks ago, Frank worried about what would happen to the place when he died. He said he so wanted someone in the family to keep the farm. I reminded him that although we don’t live on the homestead, we have 25 acres that we plan to keep in the Vasa name and our own homestead on that property. That seemed to satisfy his concern.

Due to his deteriorating health, Frank would not of enjoyed the summer as he had the previous years. It took all his energy to go room to room in the house. He commented recently that this was no way to live. He loved working and being outside whether it be manicuring a golf course or raking hay or keeping the awesome garden from which we all benefited. He left us before this could be taken from him.

5/18/04 The Hen Party on Horse Back!

As I mentioned in my recent special newsletter, The Friday Before Mothers Day Ride lured 49 women to Valparaiso to ride along the Oak Creek Trail. Someone mentioned they were surprised at the popularity of the ride. I wasn’t. This is the fourth year my friend, Tammy Musil & I took the Friday before Mothers Day off from work to ride horses. And I look forward to it every year. It holds a certain appeal that other days don’t offer. This year I decided to share it with you.

First -- the timing of the ride. Spring finally offers us a chance to get out with our horses after several long months of doing little besides arena riding and/or grooming. For me, my real paying job is the hardest in the spring. Not because of the workload, but because the seasons are changing and I yearn to be outside. I’m sure many of the other riders can relate.
Second -- it is spending a day with other women. I enjoy camping and riding with my husband and boys and my friends and their families. And we do that all season long. But I have never found any man that shares the passion for horses like women do. My husband likes to ride enjoys working with the horses. Even comments on their individual quirks. But only other women can talk horse for hours on end and never grow tired of it! At least I don’t. My husband mentioned that I go overboard. He is probably right.

Another lure is a day ride. Many organized rides require camping and let’s face it it is just plain hard for women to get away sometimes for one day, let alone overnight. And leaving the family to ride horses seems a little self-indulgent, so you are faced with that guilt. To sneak away for a few hours while the husband is working and the kids are at school doesn’t reek of selfishness quite as much!

I’m sure some of the suggestions above represent the reason why you came to the ride. Maybe you have your own reasons to add. But when it comes down to it, is the real Mothers Day really your day? If Mothers Day doesn’t pan out like you want it to, remember to treat yourself to the The Friday Before Mothers Day Ride next year!

5/24/04 The Sassy Circle

My friend, Gayle, commented once that I find a story in everything. Maybe I am in the wrong profession. No child ever grows up saying they want to work for an insurance company! But since those were the cards I was dealt, I’m fortunate it supports my horse habit! But I love to share stories it just comes from the heart. Gayle may be right So he gets his name in todays Stable Talk.

The 2nd year we were riding, we had a thoroughbred cross named Jugg. Neither John nor I needed this extra horse, but we were Juggs best hope. He wasn’t abused by his previous family maybe a tad bit neglected. After we fattened him up, he took to the trails like hed done it every day. He had an even temperament and a big heart. But when the kids needed their own horses, I didn’t think a tall thoroughbred was a good match. I wanted something smaller.

Joni was looking for something larger. She had a POA named Sassy which her daughter, Allison had outgrown. We soon found we had something the other needed. Joni bought Jugg and he went to live near Hastings and Sassy came home with me.

Sassy was a great little pony. She could run barrels and poles and she could run them fast. Oh, she would stop on a dime you didn’t worry about that. But I did worry the boys would get her going faster than they could handle and go right over her head when they pulled her in. She knew more than they did and that worried me.

Enter Gayle. He had a granddaughter that was riding a 16hh saddlebred and who was given speed limits on her riding. Little Carolyn had no fear. Grandpa felt it was time to find her a smaller mount that was fast. It was possible Sassy & Carolyn would be a good match! So, Sassy went to Missouri for Carolyn.

And what did I end up with? Well, Joni later led me to Daisy the wonder horse and Gayle has been one of our best volunteers for trail clearing days. And most importantly, they are two good friends who I wouldn’t of met if it weren’t for Sassy. Horses just bring good people together!

06/06/04 Grounds for Divorce?

My close friends have all heard this story, but Id like to share it with the rest of you. Even my non-horse friends appreciate the story about my hard working acreage to farm husband.

If you don’t know my husband, John, he is a quiet sort never has much to say. He is also a very hard worker. In the winter, it is not unlike him to bundle up in coveralls and spend the entire day outside doing something who knows what -- but he is not one that enjoys doing nothing. The summer is no different. If something needs done, he will get it done regardless of the heat. As we are getting pasture ready once again for the horses, I recall an event from last summer that still makes me smile.

The neighbors gave us use of a small pasture across the highway about mile down the hill from us. John fixed the fence and put electric fencing along the bottom row. Because of the creek in that pasture, the mosquitoes seemed to be more abundant, so we didn’t consider using the pasture until the creek dried up last August. So on that hot August day, equipped with a weed whip, John headed down the hill to get it ready.

Did I mention it was over 95 degrees that day? I was sitting in my air-conditioned office when I first noticed John walking back up the hill. He stopped in for a drink; said he was taking the garden tractor down there, as the weeds were pretty thick.
It wasn’t long, before I saw him walking back up the hill again. Apparently the garden tractor broke a belt. He was going to take the skid loader down and load up the garden tractor in the bucket. Back down the hill he went in the skid loader.

It has to be close to 100 degrees now when I noticed him walking back up the hill once again. Remember that dried up creek? Well, the weeds grew over it and he didn’t see it and dropped the skid loader on its side in the creek bed! He was not happy at this point and needed my help. We got into the 4x4 and drove back down the hill.

John attached a large log chain to the skid loader. I was in charge of pulling it. We got it righted, but still needed to pull it out. He unhooked the chain and told me where to move the truck so he could reposition the chain. Did I mention how tall the weeds were? Well. I dropped the truck in the dried up creek. Yes, it was hot outside and my husband was now steaming! Back up the hill he went.

With the big tractor, he was able to pull out the pick-up and the skid loader and load up the garden tractor and get all our equipment home. We didn’t move the horses down there as planned, as the grass around the fence did not get mowed that day.

After recapping to my brother-in-law what I thought was all of the story, John added the conclusion which I knew nothing about: Evidently the neighbor, Marv, took pity when he saw John walking up the hill that last time and gave him a lift. Having observed the private hell John endured that afternoon, he asked: So, John, are your ready to get rid of those horses yet? John, being the ever-faithful husband, dutifully responded: Id have to get rid of the wife first, and right about now, shes about ready to go! God love him!

06/17/04 Seeing Spots

Ill be the first to admit I am color blind. Not in the true sense of the word, but in the horse sense. The horse I dreamed of having when I was growing up was a black and white paint named some Indian name like Cochise or Comanche. But as an adult, I found the horses I am most drawn to are similar to my taste in clothes. Dark and solid.

Blue, my usual ride, is a registered blue roan. But he didn’t roan. The only part of him that isnt black is the tan fur inside his ears & his white star. Mikey has white on his pasterns, but is long, lean and dark. And Little Blackie, the weanling I bought last year at a sale came home with me only because of his color. I didn’t even see his papers!

But today, I look out in the corral at my newest horse. Not black or mahogany bay, not a quarter horse or thoroughbred or breeding stock paint, but an appaloosa! Red (or maybe orange!) I don’t know what these creatures are called and he has spots! Even one the shape of hearts. . I can almost hear Blue, my quarter horse, saying (in his voice that sounds like Elvis) Whoa! Whats that, mama!? And for me, this is an equivalent to wearing a full floral skirt of red, blues and golds! It just wouldn’t happen!! But it did!

The first appy to grace our place was Daisy the wonder horse. A 25 year old mare that my youngest son has been riding. I wont use the U word -- homely would be nicer. At camp this past weekend, some acquaintances took a glance at Daisy & the only words that came to their minds were oh, my! But what Daisy lacks in beauty, she makes up for in style. When she and Case are together, I am not sure who I am more proud of!

So, how did I end up with this spotted thing? I guess I have finally learned that a good horse is ANY color. And he is a good horse. And I hope to cover many, many miles with him! Thanks, Rich & Kathy! See more spots here! PS: Does anyone know where to get tail extensions?

06/23/04 Kids & Horses

I’ve come to the realization that as much as I want my kids to enjoy horses like I do, I don’t think they ever will. Daisy has helped build Cases confidence in riding and as long as the horse is brought in, cleaned up, saddled & ready to go, he will ride. Oh, he might on occasion take an interest in tacking her up, if he is not on the dirt bike or there are friends around he wants to impress. And he loves to pick at her feet when he has a little time on his hands. Not that he likes cleaning them: he likes that she lets him lift them. For me, I love the grooming process. It is part of the ritual that I find calming. So if Case really shared my passion, wouldn’t this be something he should enjoy, too?

I know, some of you are thinking that kids should have to do the care to earn the ride. From my point of view, I want them to ride. If I made them earn their ride, they would say they arent interested. Simple as that. And for me, the saddle time is more important at this stage of the game.

My oldest son, McCain, broke his wrist last August. So he didn’t ride on Labor Day the last camping trip of the year. Then he had his hayloft accident in February. Memorial Weekend this year was the first time he rode since the accident. He now has such a fear of falling and that includes falling off a horse. He expressed so much fear on that first ride and was adamant not to ride again that weekend. It was torture for him until we saw camp. I know when its real, and it was real. If riding was something he loved to do prior to the accident, I wouldn’t give up on him. But he really had no interest in riding before he grudgingly would ride the trails with us because he had to. But it just wasn’t his cup of tea.

Since we made reservations many months ago to go to South Dakota in July, we will still go. It may be the last family horse vacation we take. Oh, there will be weekend camping trips at nearby parks. And I’m sure the kids will join us on the occasional organized ride if they know of other kids riding as well. And Case loves to participate in game days. But to load up 4 horses and travel several hundred miles when the kids would rather be on a roller coaster seems a bit selfish. And its a lot of work. So our trip to South Dakota will be bittersweet. Well plan to visit the sites and do other things beside just ride horses.

I’m curious if any of you have had the same longing to have your kids enjoy your horses and only be disappointed to find out they would rather be doing anything but riding! Email me your comments or share your comments with the group at .

07/03/04 Road Riding

If I want to ride, it seems road riding has been my only option lately. So todays Stable Talk is devoted to road riding. Some of my comments are a bit tongue in cheek, but I'm sure you can relate.....

1. Early mornings or late afternoons are beautiful times to ride. The sky is gorgeous, there is usually no wind and plenty of wildlife! And although I have been down our roads many times, I always can find something new to see and appreciate!

2. Road riding is a great way to get to know your rural neighbors. Stop and say hi. Who knows? They may have a pasture they would offer to let you ride in! Let their dog smell your horse. He may be friendlier next time!

3. If possible, go a different direction each time out. Your horse wont get as bored & neither will you. And in June, the mulberry trees are producing. Let your horse nibble a few! Mine love them!

4. Don’t shy away from mailboxes or other scary items. Use them as a training obstacle. Also ride in both ditches & roads. If possible, go down through the creek and under the bridge, instead of over. (But remember to respect the land- owners property & never ride on private property without land-owners permission).

5. If I’m going to road ride, I need to keep my horse shod. Normally during riding season, our horses are shod at least on the fronts. But our farrier has been laid up & we find our horses still barefoot in June. If my horse could talk, I would hear him say ooh, ouch, oh, ouch! Good thing we don’t have white rock roads I’m sure he would have a few choice superlatives to add!

6. Wear a helmet & carry a cell phone. I’m always good about the latter, but the helmet doesn’t come easy. I’m a lot more relaxed when my kids are wearing helmets I need to set a better example. Bring along a lead rope, too. And talk to your horse. He will become accustomed to hearing sounds & a sudden noise will not spook him as easy.

7. Make sure your horse is road safe and assume all the cars and trucks you meet on the roads are idiots! I can just about hear them now well you should have control of your horse or not be riding. Guess these Neanderthals don’t understand that a horse is an animal with a mind of its own. And you may have trained up the ying-yang before taking him out on the road but the ultimate test is taking him out on the road. And I would venture to say said person would feel differently if said 1,200 pound horse was coming through their windshield & landing on their lap! Need I say more?

Since you probably know a few of these necks yourself, here are some other pointers we should tell them

a. If my horse and I are crossing a small bridge when you come upon us; stop your rusty piece of crap and let us get the 20 feet across to the other side. Do not try to cram your Taurus next to me to make it to the other side first. The store will not sell its last pack of Marlboros in the time it takes me to cross the bridge. Trust me.

b. Do not honk your horn at me. I see you (though not impressed) and I am not in your way. (If I am in your way, see item #7 above.) If you want to see a horse run, go to the races. If you want to see one buck, go to the rodeo. If you want to see if mine does either, be prepared to go see your lawyer.

c. Semi-truck drivers take note: If you are concerned enough about me to slow down, but the only way is using your jake brake don’t bother. See item b. above!

d. If my child or children are riding their horse with me or behind me in the saddle I am going to go out on a limb here & give you credit for not even entertaining the thought of trying items a, b, or c.

e. Litter Bugs. What possessed you to load up your cracked porcelain toilet and drive down County Road 28 and dump it? And do you really think there are enough Boy Scouts in the world to pick up all your aluminum beer cans! Give me a break -- you are disgusting!!

07/09/04 Yard Ornaments

One of my many magazines had an editorial this past month on "yard ornaments". You know, of the equine kind. We have a few ourselves. But with the exception of my yearling and my 2 year old, they are all broke to ride. When I find I have a few spare minutes to enjoy a short ride, it is always so much easier to take the path of less resistance. Instead of riding the horse that needs the saddle time, the easy ride is usually the most pleasurable. There are at least two in our pasture who, unless we need extra horses, have become pasture ornaments. But yet I cant let them go.

I keep my lightweight cordura saddle in the barn. In the time it would take me to lug my big western saddle out of the trailer and dismantle the trail gear, I can be down the road with my synthetic. Again, the path of less resistance. I'm not as secure in this saddle, but like the ease of using it. Lately Case has joined me on these impromptu rides and he is riding Daisy bareback! Okay, I’m going to sound really old right now, but I remember when I was his age, if I didn’t ride bareback, I didn’t get to ride! I really think it helps his overall balance when riding. Daisy doesn’t even have much of a mane to hang on to, so he is really learning to use his seat. Maybe I was too hasty when I mentioned I didn’t think my boys were cowboys! I can only wait and see.

We had a great time at Rock Creek last weekend. Case rode Duane's young mare and his cousin, Morgan, rode Daisy. My friends Julie & Steve (from Holstein) joined us on Sunday. This was their first time at Rock Creek & the weather was beautiful for their maiden ride! Kathy & Rich Newberg rode with us on Saturday. Pattianne joined us after the poker run and we were surprised when Mike & Steve from Blair, pulled in late Saturday. It was a nice group!

We arent going far for the holiday weekend. Probably just ride at Camp Moses on Monday. We will be leaving soon for South Dakota, so I need to the weekend to prepare for that trip. It will be our first time at French Creek. We are also stopping at Sam McKelvie forest on the way. I'll be sure and share pictures.

07/19/04 A Loss or an Opportunity

The account of what happened at the public hearing regarding Rock Creek's "Rock Glen WMA" [was shown above]. I won't rehash it in this column. And if you didn't see the article in the Lincoln JournalStar, I posted it on Horsetales Message Board. If you recall, a few months ago I swore off the political side of trail riding. Although I promised to remain an advocate for trail riders, I believe I said the "grassroots efforts to organize and be heard" would be left to the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee (NHTC).

I'm not sure I followed through on my word. Through this web site, I have an audience who cares about horse trails in Nebraska. So I am going to revise my earlier statement to this: I will support the NHTC in their action plan for saving trails in Nebraska. In addition, I will also continue to use this web site to inform you when action needs to be taken. If important action is being taken, I will use my newsletter to advise you of such action. From that point on, the choice is yours as to what action you want to take. (If you are not receiving my newsletter, which I send out via email every week or ten days and would like to, click here & I'll add your name to the mailing list.)

I had an email tonight from a reader who horse trail rides and camps. Allowing dogs in camp is a requirement for them, as they travel with their dogs. We have three dogs and one gets to camp with us, too. She is a fat springer spaniel named "Madelyn". She is quiet and lazy in camp and if you have ever seen her, you know she hasn't missed many meals. While camping at Rock Creek a couple weeks ago, we brought along not only Madelyn, but "Agnes". Agnes is a bottle calf that requires regular feedings. We couldn't leave home without her! She was not quiet in camp, and I am sure raised a few eye brows with her mooing. I'm surprised the commissioners didn't pass an ordinance banning cows at the meeting yesterday! I'll leave you with the pictures of trying to catch Agnes when returning home. (Oh, and Agnes will NOT be going to South Dakota with us, but will be going to a calf-sitter. Madelyn, however, is ready to go!

South Dakota 2004 -- Archived 072104

We just returned recently from our summer riding vacation. This year we went with our friends, John & Tammy Musil and family to the Black Hills and stayed at French Creek Equestrian Camp in Custer State Park.

We left on a Sunday, planning to drive half way the first day and stay at Sam McKelvie National Forest. Many of you advised against it, but I decided to go for it so I would have pictures for this web site. Let me tell you, we took one for the team with that decision! We were told it was primitive which we could live with but it was not mowed & the grass was high. The creek had dried up, so there was no water for the horses. We saw some broken glass. I got my pictures and we left.

We drove on to Chadron State Park and camped for the night. Now that was a treat! The campsite has very nice stalls for the horses and a water tank. The trails were awesome! If you ever get a chance to stop there, it is well worth it! If anyone knows any of the volunteers who created this campground, thank them for us! What a gift to horse people!

On Monday, we arrived in South Dakota's Custer State Park. We were anxious to hit the trails. Maps were provided. The scenery and wildlife on the trails were beautiful! We saw deer, antelope, elk and buffalo. I believe we heard a rattle snake, but didn’t stick around long enough to see it. Talk about freaking out! One trail takes you across French Creek many, many times. It was pretty down by the stream. I didn’t find any of the trails we took particularly challenging. (Okay, one was but we were off the trail when we climbed that mountain!) The rocks made if rough for the horses. At times I wished I would of had pads on their hooves as well as shoes.

McCain, my oldest son, was not looking forward to a riding vacation. Since his injury this winter, he hasnt had an interest in riding. I am happy to report he was a good sport about it and rode behind me. My new appaloosa did wonderful! Case rode McCain’s horse, Mikey. They were a great match. Once we came across a hiker deep in the woods who needed to get out. It was about 3 hours out by horsebackand would be much longer on foot. We hoisted her aboard Mikey and he brought her safely out.

We started planning this trip earlier this year and thought we were booking campsites early. As luck would have it, there was only one week available where there were two sites next to each other. I’m not sure how many campsites there are at French Creek, but I honestly believe our site was the worst one in camp. On the camper side of our trailer, the ground was flat for a few feet & then went up a steep hill. When it rained, the moisture settled right outside our door! On the saddling side of our trailer, the ground was sloped. Always a challenge to get that saddle on straight! No trees, but luckily we have an awning. Although it was nice to have stalls for your horses, only one stall per campsite is available. Our three horses had to share & they were not happy campers! There is also no water available for the horses. You either have to take them to the creek or bring water from the creek to them. Since my children reported seeing a water snake in the creek, I had to resort to cavort ways of getting water to my horses. Luckily the camp hosts go to bed pretty early!

All in all, the camp was a nice. Clean bathrooms and hot water! There are fire rings and picnic tables with each spot. We Nebraskans would be thrilled to have such accommodations!
This week the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee is meeting with Commissioner Pinkerton regarding trail development at Rock Glen WMA. I will share the results of this meeting when it becomes available.

07/26/04 From Novice to Advanced Beginner

I've come a long way as a horsewoman in the last 4 years. No, I'll never throw caution to the wind and open up my horse -- or any horse for that matter -- and run like the wind. When I lope, I feel like I am flying.... until I catch a glance at my shadow and all I see is lopety, lopety, lope. I swear sometimes I am riding Smarty Jones and we are going for the win & then Secretariat comes out of nowhere and passes me up like we are standing still. And to the credit of my friend Cindy, I will occasionally lope and succeed in staying off the horn. But most of the time, I still hang on tight! (No, this picture is not me -- sorry, Kelly, I couldn't resist!)

I remember my first trail ride at Rock Creek Station. I abandoned my horse coming up a trail.... translation -- I chickened out. Walked up the hill & had my husband go back for my horse. I know now that staying in the saddle is the safer place to be and I've ridden that same hill at Rock Creek since and still not sure why I feared it so.

I've mentioned in this column how my son, McCain has taken a step back from riding since he fell from the hayloft this winter. He has such a fear of falling, that it tempered his desire to ride. But while in South Dakota this month, he agreed to ride, but only if he could ride behind me. What faith this child must have in his mother's riding skills. (Or is he more afraid of his dad's wild side?) I can't be sure. But for whatever reason, he was once again behind my saddle like he was when we first started riding 4 years ago.

The trails we rode in South Dakota were more treacherous than challenging. They were very rocky and I hoped our horses wouldn't come up sore. There were none the first few days that got our adrenalin pumping -- which was probably good for McCain's sake. On the last day, however, we could not locate a connecting trail. After backtracking several miles, we found a way out of a canyon which may or may not of been a trail. It occurred to me while watching the rest of our group climb that mountain, that a few years ago I would of refused to even attempt the climb. Now, however, I was looking forward to the challenge. McCain, however, wasn't and wanted down. I told him we would go last, so if he needed to get off, no other horse would be coming up behind him. And it was soon our turn....
I turned my horse, Joe, toward the mountain and gave him a slight nudge. He hesitated just a moment & in that moment, I realized I was riding a horse I have only owned for 6 weeks and have never rode in the mountains and I have my son on behind me who is scared of riding -- am I freakin' crazy or what? What kind of mother am I? But before I could come to my senses, Joe floated up that mountain! I felt the hands of my ten year old child grasping me tightly as his face was buried in my back. I heard him say "are we there yet" a few times as Joe would determine his next step. And at the top of the mountain, I saw a faint smile from my son, we exchanged a high five and both horse and son were my heroes for the rest of the day. We've come a long way, baby!

08/05/04 Best Friends

They came home to bury their father. While I was vacationing in South Dakota, my friends of 20 some odd years, their mother and their families, moved into our house. Nebraskans by birth, they sought the warmer temperatures of Texas many years ago. Through frequent emails and no so frequent visits, we have kept our friendship alive for over two decades. "Don't cut your vacation short", they said. I would be needed after the service.

We did cut our vacation a little short. Any woman reading this who is separated from girl friends knows it is no sacrifice. For as much as you love your husband and your family and your everyday life, an old friend is like a favorite chair or soft blanket (or your best saddle). Very comfortable and comforting.
Kris and Kelly are sisters - I knew Kris first, but Kelly soon moved in with us. We were in our early twenties then. Kelly is my age, Kris a couple years older. I'm sure there is a country song that could start playing now to take us back to that time! It amazes us even today that the span of time we were together was only a matter of years and that our friendship has remained so strong. After their move to Texas, I married, then they married -- we have 5 sons between us. Another common bond in our adulthood. And after moving to an acreage near Austin, Kris eventually bought a horse -- just one.

Gail is my other long time girlfriend. Same era, same decade. Around the time Kris and Kelly moved to Texas, Gail moved to Tennessee. And after a few years, her life took a different direction when she decided to attend law school. Again, emails kept us in touch. Gail still had family in Lincoln, so she would get back a little more frequently. Gail is not a horse person, although I think she is a cowgirl at heart! The first time we rode together we were much younger. We were riding double, showing off. The horse bucked (I think) or we just fell off. She hit her head and lost her short term memory. We had to put her on a plane that night back to Tennessee and she had no clue of what we had done during her weekend visit! (Young & dumb? Do you need to ask?) Our next riding episode was at Wilderness Park a few years ago. She was riding my horse, Jugg, and was on the trail ahead of me. Jugg farted and she fell off! Still can't figure that one out, but we were laughing so hard, I'm not sure how she got back on!

Gail moved back to Nebraska last year and is practicing law in Grand Island. She drove up for our mini-after- funeral-reunion-party... Post-funeral festivities included sitting on the deck with our memories and Mike's Hard Lemonade. As the weekend progressed, a trail ride was in order. A girl's ride. We saddled up Sunday morning - four- forty something-year old women and my 9 year old niece. With digital cameras in our saddle bags, we set off on the roads of Saunders County! I never knew there were so many photo ops in my area! I bet we took over 50 pictures. Gail, who hasn't rode since the farting incident, lost her photogenic quality and her desire to ride near the 3rd hour. I really thought she might lope Mikey just to get home faster! Although sore, she made it back without any bucks or farts or head injuries! Kelly's buns took a little longer for the pain to set in. Kris and I, the seasoned horsewomen of the bunch, saddled up later that night and went out for a second ride.

If I was an expert with digital photography, I would dummy up the pictures to make us look as thin and young as we did 20 years ago. But I am satisfied that middle age has found us well and happy and healthy. And the fact that we can, and will, still throw our leg over a saddle is a testimony of our love of riding - and Gail, a testimony of your friendship! The riding was great but it was the time with friends that is cherished! How lucky I am to have such good friends who have stood the test of miles and time! And how quickly the time had to end. Until next time, girl friends.... happy trails!

08/25/04 Making Memories Archived

Summer vacation is almost over for the kids. School starts August 17th. I think we have had a very full summer. But I try to look at it from my kids point of view. Are we making memories? I hope so.

We have plans this weekend that don’t include horses. My sister and I are taking our kids to Worlds of Fun. I remember growing up, all we ever wanted to do on vacation was go to somewhere there was an amusement park or go on a horse trail ride. Dad & Mom took us to Peony Park in Omaha a time or two. And it wasn’t until the late 1970s, I think, that we first heard of Worlds of Fun. I recall Dad getting lost in Kansas City! I don’t recall getting to go on that trail ride, though. I do remember Dad lining something up with a girl in Idaho, but the day came and the girl didn’t show up with the horse.

When McCain was the only child, we flew places. We took him to Boston to visit his Great-Nana. We flew to Disneyland in Anaheim and drove up to Bakersfield to visit his aunt. The last flying vacation we took was to Florida when I was pregnant with Case and we went to Universal Studios. When Case came along, and McCain turned three, flying was a lot more expensive. But we drove to Texas and Arizona. Went shopping in Mexico. We visited the Bridges of Madison County in Iowa (okay, more of a mom thing). We also spent several days in the Black Hills. Since I travel frequently with my job, frequent flier miles may afford us more air travel in the future. For now, it is the dreaded drive!

The year we bought our horses was the year the kids discovered amusement parks. It worked out pretty well, really. We would go camping throughout the summer and then for vacation, we would buzz over to Des Moines and go to Adventureland. Spend the night in a hotel, which the kids think is cool! What a nice break from staying in the horse trailer. (McCain just recently asked if we can ever go camping in a tent? We work our butts off to get a trailer & then he wants to sleep in a tent???)

Neither Johns family, nor my family, are horse families. But I think my family understands my passion. I’m not sure Johns family does. I think his dad did, but he is gone now. John, and most of his 9 siblings, was pretty big into sports growing up. Now their children some from age 4 on up are signed up for every sport the rec center offers. Just recently I was chastised told my kids wont be able to compete in high school if they don’t do it now.

McCain tried soccer & baseball, but just never developed the desire. Case plays baseball for the local team, wrestles in the spring and this fall is going to play flag football. And he enjoys it. But he is not passionate about it. And I have never felt the need to seek out better teams for my 7-year-old child. If the local group isnt good enough, I’m not going to drive him to Lincoln or Omaha to play in a better class. Hes only 7, for goodness sake!

Case can, however, ride a horse. This summer he has really improved and has developed a lot of confidence in himself. And now McCain, who was so fearful of riding since his hayloft injury, has recently started riding again not on Mikey, but starting slowly on Daisy! Riding is not a mainstream sport, so it will never be taken seriously by our extended family. I hope that doesn’t discourage them.

Will my kids grow up having good memories of our camping trips or will they remember only amusement parks? Will they wish they spent more time playing ball and preparing themselves for high school? Or will they continue to smile when they tell the story of when we were caught on the trail after dark at Indian Cave or when we took the bottle calf camping with us? Will they tell their friends about having to ride around the buffalo that was napping on our trail or trying to herd an antelope? When someone mentions Halsey, will they remember chasing lizards? Rather than spending the summer on a ball field with us in the stands, will they remember the weekends we spent camping together as a family and with friends? Only time will tell.

There may be a day that sports will be more important to them. I hope they don’t hate me for not dedicating 12 months each year of their adolescence preparing for what could be four years of high school glory days. Lets just hope we set a good foundation and shown them the country in a way many others don’t get the opportunity. From the back of a horse.

09/03/04 How do I do it?

The question I get the most when I meet readers of my web site is where do you find the time? I guess I find it where I can. I commute 30 miles a day (each way) and formulate a lot of what I write in my head. Then Ill put it together in the evening when everyone else is watching TV or after theyve gone to bed. When you enjoy doing something, its easy to find the time. Okay, so a few suppers are late and the house isn't as clean as is should be and the laundry never gets put away anymore...but I'm not sure I was sufficient on those duties before I started this web site!

However, with school starting & some recent travel for work, I’ve felt the time crunch! I cringe when I go out to my home page and see the same story. I like to keep Stable Talk fresh. So forgive me for the delay in changing the home page.
Thanks to all who came to Rock Creek this past Saturday and rode with the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee. It has been said at many meetings that the mission of the NHTC is not to sponsor rides but to save trails. But how best to learn about the committee than to ride with members and find out what it has done and is doing for horse trails in Nebraska. So again, thanks for coming, riding & listening.

Now if you follow Stable Talk, you would expect to see some pictures of the ride. Well, you may have noticed I was sporting a disposable camera this weekend, not my digital. My husband, bless his heart for all he does, had a case of butter fingers when asked to take a picture the previous weekend and god-forbid he drop his sunflower seeds! So when something had to give, it was my camera. It took a serious hit. According to my USPS tracking numbers, it has arrived safely in California for some much needed repairs. I only hope it will be back in time for vacation next month!

09/19/04 Two Worlds Collide Archived

It seems like the weekends are never long enough to do everything you want to do. And the months are too short and the spring, summer and fall go too quickly until we find ourselves in the winter down time. As the days start getting shorter, I also find that work interferes with all that I would rather be doing. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job I think I said that before (and not just because my boss may be reading my web site). I’ve been with the same company for almost 18 years and I know it well. My job affords me many luxuries. the best being my horses! But as a close work friend and I were preparing information for a difficult client, I commented that I would rather be doing anything, but this. My friend jumped on my comment & asked if I could do another job, what would I do. And my off the cuff comment was I'd sell boots.
After all, that was one of my first jobs!

Last week, my horse world & job world collided. When leaving the house for work, I heard the familiar clicking of a short in the electric fence. I found it had come loose from an insulator. Rather than make the repairs, I just went into the barn & unplugged it. Of course, I couldnt leave it at that. I decided to go into the corral & check on things. (Translation: visit the horses). Then decided to let the critters out to pasture. I carefully picked my way across the corral (in my heels) to open the gate. A few approached for some head scratching & a few others pushed them away so they could get their turn. I finally got to work (late of course). My phone rang shortly after I arrived. I answered it, repositioned myself in the chair by crossing my leg & there, smeared across the back of my light colored pant leg, was horse manure! Major horse/work collision!

But this week I found my job and my horse world colliding in the most positive of ways. A customer in New York invited me to come visit them for our annual business meeting and as an added bonus; they took me to the thoroughbred races at historic Saratoga Race Course. If you read or saw Seabiscuit, you will remember the Howards bought Seabiscuit while he was running at Saratoga. Last years almost Triple Crown winner, Funny Cide, was owned by a few people whom my customers know from the Saratoga area. (They even pointed out Funny Cides trainer, who was spotted on the track the day I was there.) And if you still don’t know Saratoga, remember Carly Simons Youre So Vain. "I hear you went down to Saratoga and your horse naturally won." Ah! now you know, don’t you! Yes, this was a work/horse collision in the best way!

In preparation for this trip to Saratoga, I went to a western store to buy a frilly skirt. There on the front door was a sign Help Wanted. Cant help but wonder if they need help in the boot department! I have experience!

09/24/04 Breaking News! And you heard it here first!

Indian Cave State Park, near Shubert (SE Nebraska) offers about 13 miles of horse trails with primitive horse camping. The trails are mostly wooded & a very pretty ride, especially in the fall. They offer a nice campground with fire rings, primitive bathrooms & a water wagon for the horses. In addition, they host NECTRA's competitive trail ride each fall. They are a friend to horse trail riders.

At the State Fair this past August, the Vice Chairman of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee, Kathy Newberg and her husband Rich, had the opportunity to speak with the superintendent of Indian Cave and asked if the park would ever consider opening some of their other trails to horse trail riders. Initially, the answer was "no". But Kathy asked some more questions and found the concern was not about the trails, but that if additional trails were available, horses would have to cross the black top & the park management found that could be messy. In other words, they were fearful of horse poop on the black top!

In the spirit of horse people everywhere, Kathy would not take "no" for an answer. She asked "what if horse people cleaned up after their horse if it pooped on the black top". What if management would "give us a trial period, say 2 years... open up the trails & see what good trail users horse people are...?" And lo and behold, they said "yes"! With those conditions, they were willing to try this! In addition, the superintendent said he was interested in having corrals for horses. He liked what he saw at Waubonsie & thought that would be good for Indian Cave! Talk about more than expected!! This is a major touchdown!

However, as with every dream, there is always the issue of funding. Luckily, we have the Newbergs on our side. Kathy presented a proposal on behalf of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee to the Nebraska Horse Council to request funding needed to construct 12 horse stalls at Indian Cave State Park.
The NHC approved the proposal!

I have been promoting the efforts of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee (a committee of the Nebraska Horse Council) since I started this web site. Thanks to the efforts of this group and the dedication of founding members, Kathy & Rich Newberg, all horse trail riders will benefit by having approximately 5 more miles of trail to ride in this gorgeous park & well constructed corrals to house our precious critters! We hope to see completion by the end of the year! An announcement from the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee will be posted on this web site soon. We will also announce when the new trails will be open.

Kathy spoke on behalf of all of us ... asking for trails & most importantly, promising there will not be horse manure on the black top. It is up to all of us to ensure that doesn't happen. Scoop your poop, folks! I want this to be a forever thing, not just two years. I trust you do to!

10/04/04 The Replacement

The week after Memorial Day, I took possession of my new horse, Joe. Its been remarkable how well we have taken to each other. I’ve logged close to 100 hours on him and have taken him from trail riding at my favorite haunts to the mountains of South Dakota, the hills of Missouri and entered him in a game day. In a relay, we even placed!! He has not let me down. This coming weekend we planned to spend with the girls at Cowgirl Weekend.

You may recall last spring, I had entered what was to of been my first competitive trail ride (CTR). It was going to be held somewhere in Kansas around the first part of May. Blue, my trusty trail horse of 3 years was not my choice for CTR. With much hesitation, I decided to ride Ginger, Johns mare. I hadn’t spent any time on her for a few years. She was the first horse we bought as adults and the first horse to scare me. She was a bit more of a horse than I cared to ride. However, I worked with her for several months this year and overcame the fear. Still had a ways to go, but we were getting there. As the day of the ride grew closer, circumstances too numerous and painful to rehash, prevented me from riding. I had all but written if off for this year. But I still read the message boards of the competitive trail riders. I still wanted to ride that first ride!

After a month on Joe, I knew he and I could do it. So unbeknownst to anyone, including my husband, I sent in registration for the competitive trail ride to be held in October at Indian Cave. Since this ride is known to fill up fast, I thought the best that I could hope for is to get on a waiting list. I was surprised when I got the letter saying I was scheduled to ride!
So I have fessed up to my husband who, bless his heart, supports my latest ambition [obsession]. And have been bending the ear of veteran CTR rider, Shari Parys (we rode together recently thanks, Shari for answering my 100 questions. Got time for 100 more?) and NECTRA members Rich & Kathy Newberg. I havent set too big of goal. To get there, is the first one. To finish, would be my dream! I'm not even thinking about the score card.

As fate would have it, after spending a week in Missouri, Joe got sore on his back. The vet advised that we not compete at this time. Although he came back from South Dakota and many weekends without incident, the vet surmises that he is becoming more conditioned, put on weight and my saddle may not fit him as well. So, here I am with Cowgirl Weekend coming up and the CTR two weeks away and without a horse.
But there are 9 horses in our barn!! Blue is scheduled to see the vet about a lingering foot problem. Daisy, well she is too old. Baby Dutch, the Belgian?? No, I don’t ride her. I probably would, but she gets lazy on the trail & I don’t want to keep the other cowgirls waiting. I would ride my kids horse, Mikey, for cowgirl weekend, but the farrier was just here and his shoes were removed for the winter & there is no chance in getting the farrier back on such short notice. And the thought of putting a set of shoes on him for one ride does not seem to be the most logical (economical) resolution.. He has some arthritis in his pasterns, so although he could handle Cowgirl Weekend, he couldnt do the CTR. So I've come full circle... and am riding John's mare, Ginger.

I am at peace with taking her to Cowgirl Weekend. From there we will determine if I will be able to finish out the season doing my first competitive trail ride as I longed to at the start of this season. Ill keep you posted.

10/12/04 Cowgirl Weekend 2004

Several rigs carrying 20 cowgirls, 21 horses and one dog arrived in Keya Paha County, Nebraska last weekend for Cowgirl Weekend 2004. Created in 1998 by my friend Kathy Newberg and her friend, Joyce Vossler, the idea was to strengthen womens skills with horse care, camping and trailering. Each fall a new mix of women take this challenge; some alumni & some attend for the first time. But I suspect the motives of the cowgirls attending is not to learn new skills (maybe refine them), but to have a weekend bonding with other women who share a passion for horses and trail riding. This year was no exception.

The event took place at Big Canyon, the largest canyon in Nebraska which is located north of Bassett. Robyn Bartlett of Omaha and "Coda" a lovely black & white paint, traveled with "Ginger" & I. Our convoy of four rigs pulled into Big Canyon Inn late Thursday afternoon. We weren’t the first group or the last group of women to arrive. Innkeepers Edith & Roger Wentworth have a rural bed & breakfast for the finer travelers. Our sorority of equestrians parked near the corrals. Some slept in trailers, some in the loft of the barn. Our horses were stabled outside. Roger did nice job of setting up separate stalls for each horse.

Early Friday morning, we were awakened to high winds. The temperature had dipped down to the 30s and rain pelted the trailer. For 3 hours the storm stayed overhead and at dawn we found the sandy campsite in about 2 inches of water. Our horses were wet and cold, many whose coats had not yet thickened. I saw fear in Gingers eyes as the wind blew through her. She quivered from the cold and wouldn’t calm down enough for blanketing. I finally loaded her in the trailer and she took comfort there.

Too cold and windy to ride, the cowgirls headed to Bassett to shop. There was "frilly" shop and a western shop. Most of our time was spent at the western shop. We bought gloves, hats and long underwear. Some of the cowgirls treated themselves to bridles and other tack items. Most not needed, but couldnt live without.. By 2:00 that afternoon, the sun came out and we saddled up and hit the trail.

The trails were sandy so the dampness did not present much of a problem. Cowgirl Sam was nominated for the best dismount when her colt slipped on some wet clay and couldnt recover without rolling. (Ironically, Sam and I went to high school together and were only recently reintroduced at my Friday Before Mothers Day Ride this past May).

According to my GPS, we would climb trails at elevations reaching 2400 feet in the distance seeing the Niobrara River. We rode down abandoned ski slopes from long ago business ventures. We meandered along streams so clear you could see the bottom. Cowgirl Lynn went in for a closer look, thanks to her horse, RB! We found the foundation of log cabins from long ago settlers and explored what Roger called Grandmas Garden. A couple of the cowgirls were entranced with a rattle snake. Ginger and I moved at 28.8 mph to avoid the introduction.

At the last Cowgirl Weekend, Cowgirl Jan told us about her colt she recently purchased. We challenged her to having him ready for the 2004 ride. She not only met the challenge, but took home the award for the best backing challenge. Her colt, Sully, is only slightly less remarkable than Jan herself. Using natural horsemanship techniques, she excelled in training this colt to the calm nature he exhibits today.

Cowgirls Jo and Kelly rode these trails before and served as honorary trail bosses. They made sure we saw the best of the best. Cowgirls Trudi and Kay shared music with the group, obviously tiring of hearing our rendition of Delta Dawn. Cowgirl Diane blessed us with spiritual thoughts and prayer.
We logged many miles and many hours on the trails of Big Canyon. We made new friends and shared life stories. We sang, we laughed and we cried. We asked our horses to take us a little further, a little higher, a little faster and little longer than they probably desired. We are blessed to have these creatures take us through paradise to see what many will never have opportunity to discover. And we loved them a little more for that.

As Cowgirl Joan would say, I aint preaching, but, this was truly a place created by God and a moment He shared with us.
Joyce Vossler died of breast cancer a few years ago. Kathy Newberg and Jamie Paquin carry on the Cowgirl Weekend tradition with Joyce in their hearts. And they shared it with us. And although most of us never met Joyce, I am pretty sure she was riding with us this past weekend.

10/19/04 My First CTR

The 31st Annual Competitive Trail Ride (CTR) was held this past weekend at Indian Cave, in southeastern Nebraska. And I was a participant!

If you have followed this web site since I started it in February, you will recall that riding in a CTR was one of my unfulfilled goals this past spring. But I was determined In July, I sent in my entry for the Indian Cave ride, knowing that Joe and I would be ready. But as fate would have it, Joe got a sore back. Rather than pull from the ride, I entered this past weekend with Johns mare, Ginger. She wouldn't of been my first choice, but at this time, she was my only choice if I wanted to compete.

If you haven't heard of CTR, in the most simplistic of terms, it is riding from point A to point B within a certain window of time, performing obstacles on the way, and keeping your horse fit to continue and using good horsemanship skills. You start with 100 points and your horse starts with 100 points and you try your best to keep your points. Your horse may lose points for condition or cooperation. You may lose points for your skills, or lack of them! (For more information, visit NATRCs web site).

In the novice division, we were to ride 23 miles the first day and 13 miles the second day. Ginger, as I may have mentioned before, can be quite a hot head. So I was prepared for 23 miles of fight. But I am happy to report she kept her cool most of the time. We departed camp that first day with 51 riders. My riding buddies were Mike & Jason Ries. Mike kept an eye on the time, I would determine if the area was suitable for trotting and Jason, well he kept an eye out for pahpah trees and cemeteries!

Although Gingers condition stayed pretty steady though out both days, she had difficulty at vet checks as she doesn’t like her face or mouth handled. Thus the point loss began. I suppose I lost a few when I popped her in the head with my plastic water bottle when she darn near knocked me over rubbing on me at a P & R check. She also refused to back and wont sidepass, so we flunked those obstacles! But she did move beautifully through the ribbon path, but I had misunderstood the directions, so points were lost there. But the motto is to finish is to win and finish we did! At the end of the day, I ended up saving a handful more of my points than Ginger did. Her CTR career short lived at least as my mount. But I was proud of her for accommodating me!

My riding buddies, Mike & Jason both placed! Mike took 2nd in Horsemanship & his horse took 1st! Jason took home both firsts!! Wow! I was so proud of "our team!" I thank Mike's wife & Jason's mother & my friend, Sandy Ries, for being my coach and mentor throughout the weekend & sharing her family with me! And my good friend, Shari Parys, riding her husband's horse, also placed! Congrats to all of them!

So am I hooked on CTR? It was a lot of fun. And I hope to do the 32nd Annual Indian Cave ride next year. But will I move from camping and riding to competing? Probably not. I'm not a real competitive person and only have so many weekends in the season to trail ride with family and friends. But as a trail rider, I found it fun and exciting and would encourage any of you who want to try something different, to go for it! The people are great and make newcomers feel very welcome! And you just may be hooked.

10/29/04 Falling Off Daisy

Okay, I shared this story with my friends. And I shared this story with the group on HorseTales message board. So it is only fair that I share it with the rest of you. I am sure I am not the only horse person in the world to have an embarrassing moment.

Last month, I bought an English saddle at an auction. Never spent a lot of money on it -- $15 was all. Oiled it up and it was a nice looking saddle. Now as I may of mentioned on this web site, I have had no formal training on how to ride a horse. Like many of you, I had a horse as a kid, but we never had the luxury of using a saddle. As an adult, I found that I didn’t really know how to ride, only knew how to stay on. A big difference! Now I would love to take riding lessons. But I digress...

Back to the English saddle. I am not sure I was thinking the saddle alone would make me a better rider, but I thought it has its advantages. There is no horn to hang onto, so I would have to depend on my seat and legs. And man, how easy is this to lug around & toss on a horse! Only about 25 pounds lighter! This has got to be a good thing!

So on Sunday afternoon, I decide today is the day I ride in that saddle. Now remember, my horse, Joe, is on rest with a sore back. I just rode Ginger in the CTR I don’t want to push my luck. Mikey just had a little bucking spell the day before & Blue well I’ve fallen off him bareback before I don’t think this would be much different. So the choice was obvious. Daisy. The kids horse. The 25-year-old appaloosa the bombproof, foolproof wonder horse!

So I saddle ol Daisy up and find a mounting block. Daisy has no mane and there is no saddle horn so a hay bale was the only way I could figure out how to get on. But once on, I am f e e l i n g g o o d! What freedom in this little thing! And I certainly understand how your riding can improve. You have nothing to hang on to. It can only improve your seat! Total freedom!

Daisy and I head out to pasture. We take along Little Blackie the yearling & Daisys baby. We rode around the perimeter of the field. Little Blackie usually a few paces ahead. Tail flagged, running, bucking enjoying the day. On the way back up the hill, I move Daisy into a trot. Even though I have no idea how to post a trot, Daisy is very smooth her trot is more of a little jog and we are having a good time. No kidding, I am thinking I could use this saddle on Joe -- the vet said I could ride him English! Maybe even take him to Indian Cave when we go in 2 weeks. Joe is so smooth and this saddle feels so good! And we are trotting along, feeling like maybe I could become a hunter/jumper. Wow, that would be neat. Daisy stumbles and falls to one knee!

Remember, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Especially with no saddle horn! In what can only be described as the $10,000 Funniest Home Videos moment, I slide head first down her neck, over her head and am sprawled in front of her on my belly. Reins between my legs! No chance for recovery I was just gone! I had no seat! There was no leg! It was totally an out of control moment and one of the most humbling! Well, almost most humbling.

First, I had to walk home as I couldnt get back on her. Secondly, when relating this story to my friend, Tammy Musil, she brought my humiliation to an all new perspective: Through her laughter, she said I can believe you fell off Daisy!

11/07/04 Black Balls

We just got through another round of vaccinations. This is still a job I leave for John. I have a needle phobia. I recall once this summer when Little Blackie had an infection & required daily shots John was gone one of the nights & it was up to me to give the shot. I went out to the corral and got him ready. And as I was standing there trying to talk myself into actually doing the dirty deed, my neighbor, who is an EMT, pulled into the yard. I gladly handed the syringe over to him and dodged the needle bullet once again!

Most of our horses are pretty easy to vaccinate. The ol pros like Mikey and Daisy just stand there I flinch, they don’t. The Belgian is just glad for the attention her neck is so thick that I don’t think she feels the prick of the needle. Blue is like a little kid. He hears the wrapper on the syringe and immediately tenses up. He doesn’t move or fight us, but he stands with his muscles so tight you can only guess that he is sore the next day! John's job, as I mentioned, is to administer the medication. Mine is to comfort the horse! They like me much better!

Black balls is an analogy used by Richard Shrake to understand behavioral problems in horses. Simply put, for every bad experience a horse has in his life, a black ball is put "in his jar". For every good experience, a white ball goes into his jar. You hope a horse has more white balls than black balls, and then your odds are better have not pulling out a black ball at any given time. The goal is to never give them any black balls to begin with!

Ginger has a lot of black balls. We bought her as a three year old. Since she was the first horse we bought and being inexperienced with horses, I am sure we, unintentionally of course, contributed to her black ball collection. And we don’t know how many black balls she may have accumulated prior to coming home with us. John recalls the cowboy we bought her from twitching her to vaccinate. And it is still a struggle for us to vaccinate and worm her today.

But for every black ball Ginger has, I think we are working together at putting more white balls in her jar. I have found that Ginger wants to be talked to. I can relax her on the trail just with my voice. I know if she wants to be the alpha horse, to bring her to the back and give her time to calm down. I know that she will let me put my hand in her mouth if I work up to it and not just grab at her face. And I know that I can clip her ears but only a little bit at a time! She also stands wonderfully for the farrier.

Ginger can still be a powerhouse to deal with, but I am seeing other successes. For example, this past weekend, a friend was struggling with her own horse & ready to dismount and walk back to the trailer. I was riding Ginger, who was having a particularly quiet day. I offered to switch horses with my friend if she wanted to continue to ride. I felt such pride that day not for my own accomplishment of riding my friends rather strong willed horsebut that I trusted Ginger enough to help my friend regain some of her confidence and enjoy the afternoon ride.

If you follow the Horsetales message board, we discuss all different training methods. I only speak of Richard Shrake as he was at Golden Hills when we rode there last month. I’ve also brought home things I could work with from Pat & Linda Parelli. And who of us havent benefited from just listening to Clinton Anderson on RFD-TV! The point that I am trying to make, however, is no matter what method you use, patience and a gentle hand gets the best results. Just maybe the next time we vaccinate, Ginger will let us do it in peace!

11/19/04 The Price of a Good Horse

How much does a horse cost? Working in corporate America with very few who indulge in this hobby, I get that question a lot. When we bought our first horse almost 5 years ago, I didn't know the answer to that question. Today, I still don't. I know how much I paid for my horses, but I also know I bought some who are worth more and some worth less than the actual purchase amount.

Take Ginger, for instance. Our first horse. She was a three-year old grade mare; or technically, a filly at the time. She had no training and she had no papers. Maybe 30 days of riding. The year was 2000 and knowing what I know today, we paid too much for her. We had new buyer excitement (in other words, we were dumb!) And the cowboy we bought her from realized it was his lucky day the minute we drove upon his place. We still have her today and some days I would I would give her away! But then some days she is worth a million! Her price has been pretty high, lately.

I probably paid a little less than I should have for Blue. He was professionally trained and has all the right names on the papers. His previous owner couldnt afford to board him anymore and her loss was my gain. I also know I got a bargain on Joe. To the right appaloosa family, his training and level head would make him an ideal youth horse for 4-H. He is the same, sane horse in the arena or on the trail.. Joe even drives. He is so versatile. A friend gave me a break on his price, as a good home was more important to them than money. We acquired Gunner by trading for a a side of beef. He was a yearling at the time. The beef was probably worth more then. But hell be coming three this January, and obviously exceeded his purchase price.
In the pasture today, we have 9 horses. Total all of them together, and we probably paid less than we would have for a nice used car or a boat. Of course, the maintenance of the herd is more than the purchase price, but by doing our own hay, it helps reduce the overall cost. I couldnt afford 9 horses if we had to board them. Who am I fooling I cant afford 9 horses even without boarding but there are other things I do without.

A friend recently purchased a new horse. At first the price seemed high. But she learned this horse had everything she was looking for. She could buy a horse for less money, but what would it take to get a horse of a lesser purchase price to the level she was looking for and to which this first horse had already obtained? Time, for sure. And probably more money. There is no blue book to refer to when you buy a horse. There is no add x amount for this or subtract x amount for that.

What I have determined as a fair price can be summarized as follows: If the horse possesses traits which are equal to or more than expected, and if I can afford him, then he is worth the price. Anything else is negotiable.

12/04/04 Career Change

Just when I think I have nothing to write about this week, I get inspired. The inspiration could come from something my kids did, from my horses, my friendsor just a passing thought. Today it is the result of an email I received from the American Paint Horse Association. Simply put, this person contacted me about listing the APHA rides on my web site, which I would be glad to oblige. But it was his title that caught my eye: Director of Recreational Riding and Drug Testing.

First, lets scratch the boring stuff and Drug Testing. I guess everyone has to pay their dues. Now lets focus on the good stuff: Director of Recreational Riding. Wow. Is that a dream job or what? At my company, every job has a basic job description. Title of job, score, description of job. I can only imagine what this job description would be like:

The primary responsibility of this position is coordinating and organizing recreational rides And get paid for it? What a bonus! Candidate must have the ability to locate beautiful countryside with breathtaking scenery which would accommodate approximately 200 riders for 5 days and nights. The biggest challenge? Too many places to choose from! Travel in this position is necessary. Oh, what a pity! Horse required. Saddle up!

I often hear my children mutter, When I grow up, I’m going to be a cop (or a race car driver or a veterinarian or a farmer -- it changes often). At different times in my life, I wanted to be different things, too, but when it came down to finding a good job, none of the positions I have held were on my list of dream jobs. Oh, I’ve gotten jobs I dreamed about within my company as part of working up the ladder I have a great job now! But were any of my jobs of the caliber to classify as my childhood dream job? No.

An ice breaker I use when meeting new people, especially work associated is, if money didn’t matter, what kind of job would you have? Its fun to hear high powered executives say they would want to be a singer, a teacher or a photographer. And among my friends, there are florists, innkeepers and book shop owners. My answer is always something with horses. I never could decide if I would be a breeder, run a stable, or a broker. Now I know what I want to be when I grown up. I want to be a Director of Recreational Riding. Look out, Cody. I’m coming for your job!

12/13/04 Winter is Back

It snowed this past weekend. We knew it was coming. Now it is here. Of course, we were one of the areas that got 6 to 8 inches of the white stuff! And we know what comes with it. Cold. Wind. Mud. Tank warmers. A reluctance to ride. Yes. I’m a wuss about riding when it is too cold. And it really has nothing to do with the ride itself. It is the getting ready. Long underwear, two pairs of socks (and of course this makes my boots uncomfortable). Turtlenecks, sweatshirts. I even have a pair of coveralls for those really nasty days. There is nothing sexy about winter riding apparel!

I have heard the disposable rubber gloves worn in the doctors office are good insulators underneath riding gloves. And I am a big fan of fleece. Ear warmers and hats are a must. And I swore I was too big for riding pants, but when I found a pair of fleece ones which promised warmth, I had no pride. . Remember the leg warmers from the Olivia Newton- John videos? I would love to have a pair of those again! Maybe I can find them on eBay. (I’m glad I don’t have daughters they would be totally humiliated at my winter look!)

So now that I am ready to go, I have to clean the horse. Dried on mud and manure. Hooves packed with snow and ice in shoes that should have been removed long ago, but are now frozen to the foot! This sport of ours is not sounding very appealing right now. And I hate when I forget to leave the bridles in the house & the bit is cold. So thinking of the beast above myself, I peel off the gloves and hold the frozen bit in my warm hand. Now the bit is warm & my hand is cold again!

It sure is hard swinging the leg over the saddle in 12% duck filled coveralls! But at least I am well padded should I hit the ground. And once in the saddle, the joy of riding makes the inconvenience of the journey getting ready somewhat worthwhile. And if you are taking notes for winter riding, the best tip I can offer you when you are planning the ride is this: Don’t drink too many cups of coffee before you put on all these layers of clothes!

12/22/04 Spending Money Archived

I am a tight wad. I hate spending money on necessities. (Although my husband would disagree) I do not have too many shoes. I have functional shoes. One pair of black/brown/navy/taupe shoes which are needed in the corporate world. The basic black dress, a pair of sneakers you get the picture.

But when it comes to horses, I love to spend money. Each one of my horses has at least one bridle, if not two. I have reins for trail riding, reins for game days, and reins for the kids. I have blankets and pads in many colors & own more than one saddle. I have medicine boots, bell boots, and sports boots & that doesn’t count my own boots! But don’t get me wrong, I’m still thrifty. I find these goodies at used tack stores like Tack N Togs in Lincoln. I’ve also been known to pick up an item or two at horse auctions or on eBay. If you are smiling as you are reading this, you must have a few jewels in your tack room, too.

However, I am not thrifty when I go on vacation. We work hard all year & budget for a nice trip. So it is easy to spend money when traveling. While vacationing at Golden Hills, I kept seeing these gorgeous equine graphics on cars and trailers. I found out they were designs of artist, Lanie Frick, whose studio is right down the road from Golden Hills. We visited her studio & I found I truly loved her style. I commissioned her to do a portrait of my trail horse, Blue, on a door she made from old fence posts. And last week I brought it home.

A picture on my web site does not do it justice. The likeness is remarkable. Blues eye in the portrait is really his look. (He may even be a tad bit more handsome on wood!) Blue is a black horse, but he has tan fur in his ears. You can see it in the picture. It is unmistakably Blue.

I mentioned to Lanie as we were loading up that this was very frivolous on my part. But I regret saying that, as frivolous implies silly. A better choice of words may have been impulsive or spontaneous. It is in no way silly. It is a glorious tribute to a horse that I love and has given me so much to me. Thanks, Lanie, for creating this beautiful keepsake of my buddy!