Dec 31, 2005

The Early Days 2005


1/2/05 End of Year Recap

Happy Holidays. I was supposed to be in Chicago today and tomorrow for work, but our flight was canceled. So I find myself with a little extra time to wrap things up for the year. Everything is always about "time" anymore. Finding time for this web site -- then and now -- has truly been a labor of love.


The idea for this web site came almost two years ago. I was planning the first public Friday Before Mothers Day Ride and knowing that weather could be a factor, was wishing I had a web site to post it on. I used a little free page from one of the search engines and it worked for that event. When summer came around and riding season started, I was frustrated when I would hear about rides after the fact. There didn’t seem to be any online source for trail riding. The idea of a web site on horse trails and trail riding in Nebraska started to evolve.


There was so much I wanted my web site to be! Again, I had more ideas than I had time. Tragically, I found the time last February. You may recall my son McCain was seriously injured when he fell from the hayloft in our barn. We spent 24 days in the hospital with him. In a chair next to his bed, with Sponge Bob on the TV and a laptop computer, was launched!


My own horses and experiences, with the help of spell & grammar check, have kept the words flowing. Although a bit folksy at times, and obviously amateur, cyberspace has brought to you and you to me. I’ve said it many times I’ve met more people in the last year than I have the last 10 years! I have met friends of friends and been reunited with old friends. I have spent more time in the saddle and followed more trail than I have in any of the previous years! was never meant to be a blog. I didn’t even know what a blog was until recently. [Definition: an online diary; a personal chronological log of thoughts published on a Web page; also called Weblog, Web log]. But someone told me one time that reading my web page was like reading my diary, so maybe it is a blog and I just don’t know it. Good or bad, almost 11,000 people have passed through my home page in 11 months.


What I am most proud of is you! It was never meant to be a me only thing. I wanted contributions from readers & I got them in the way of your stories, pictures and tips. I wanted to publish upcoming events & they started coming in! Just look at what we already have for 2005! I know personally of several horses and a couple trailers that have sold on my Classifieds page. And 49 women attended my Friday Before Mothers Day Ride!


We had almost 270 people sign the Rock Glen petition and many of you showed up to help at the Take Pride in America Day at Rock Creek. You forwarded to your own network alerts of missing horses and stolen tack. There are about 40 members in my HorseTales chat group who have come together as a result of this web site to share ideas & friendships.
My network of horse enthusiasts has grown and continues to grow. And I thank all of you for making that possible. I am looking forward to new friends and new trails in 2005 and I hope can keep bringing us altogether!


01/11/05 Riding Time


Happy New Year! Another winter month down! Two bad months to go. And then in March, I start to see the hope of spring.


I’m not sure how it was in your neck of the woods, but we had really nice weather between Christmas and New Years. My friends, Kathy & Julie, joined me on a ride a Camp Moses on Thursday. The temperatures reached 65 degrees. My horse, Joe, unfortunately found a slick trail & slipped and fell. He recovered nicely, but I felt he was a bit off. It wasn’t until we got back to the trailer & had lunch that I could tell there was a problem. The farrier was here the next day & suggested taking him to the vet who is also a chiropractor. He felt the problem was in his withers & shoulder area. If you are keeping score, this is the second time I’ve had to put Joe on rest since I got him last spring!


Saturday, January 1, was Game Day at 3V Stables. Forty-seven riders came to try their skill at barrel racing, pole bending and musical hula-hoops along with 7 other games! The weather held steady for us through the 8th game & it was great to get our shaggy horses out! Since Joe is still under the weather, I took Blue. He is not an arena horse & did not do well. I ended up riding Ginger in most of the events, even though she does no better than Blue. Whenever we do these events, I quickly remember what a lousy rider I am. Sure, I can stay in the saddle going down a trail, but finding my seat for speed events is something else! Case took 1st in the barrels on Mikey. John did manage to get 2nd on Blue in pole bending. Not sure how Blue pulled that one off!


Since AQHAs Ride Program now lets you record the hours of any breed of horse you ride online it has helped me set the bar for riding this coming year. For 2004, I rode a total of 238.5 hours. When I saw the tally, I thought thats all? My husband said that is too many! My resolution for this year is 300 hours. That doesn’t seem like much, but with working and kids & their events, it may be a push to get there. Ill keep you posted. If you log your hours, and want to share... send them over to me. I'll put you on the score card.


The New Year may hold a lot of changes at our house. I hate to call them resolutions lets just say they are thoughts for 2005. We would like to reduce our herd from nine horses, to 5 or 6. That may not seem drastic to you, but it is breaking my heart! Thing I have learned this year is I cant ride them all! I have also learned that letting go is a lot harder than bringing them home, so finding that perfect place for some of my herd has not been easy. I also promised my husband that I wouldn’t push him into week long riding trips during his busy season, but he must be more excited about increasing the number of weekends we ride. And I told myself that I wont hold us hostage to the hay harvest season. Ride more, worry less! We cant help it if it rains!


I hope continues to grow and be your source for trails and trail riding information. Your contributions make it possible. Keep them coming!


2/19/05 Happy Anniversary!


This Monday, February 7th, I will consider this web site officially 1 year old! Wow! What a year!
When I first starting riding a few years ago, I found myself frustrated at the lack of information on horse trail riding and horse events for the recreational rider. I would always hear about rides after the fact. I found there was no one source of information for riders such as me. So in December of 2003, I registered the name and started to learn about building a web site. I had a lot to learn. Still do.


February 7th, 2004 was the turning point. It was a terribly snowy day and my boys were playing in the hayloft of the barn. In the early afternoon, my youngest son, Case, came running into the house telling me to come quick his brother, McCain had fallen from the hayloft and broken his leg. The ambulance was summoned, specialists consulted and my then nine-year-old son was put in traction for 24 days. So for 24 days, I sat in the hospital room with my son, laptop in hand. And became a reality. evolved over the last 12 months. I really expected more reader contributions. I guess I figured since I had so much to say about horses, so would you. Some brave souls submitted their stories and I thank them. Yours are always welcome, too. But because I didn’t get the reader contributions I expected, I found out quickly that it was up to me to keep it fresh. Stable Talk was started shortly thereafter. Sometimes I struggle with writers block, but then I go to the barn or on a ride or get an email from one of you and I am inspired to write another column.


he pages which have received the most hits have been the Horse Events and the Classifieds section. It doesn’t surprise me that you are looking for events, as that was the information I longed for. As a result of Horse Events, my Friday Before Mothers Day Ride grew from 6 participants to 49 women in 2004! And I am pleased to find that the Classified section is working for you. I know several of you who have sold horses and bought horses, as well as tack & saddles.


The best reward for me, though, was the new friends I have made as a result of this web site. Whether you emailed me to say hello or we have been on trail rides together, it has been a real honor getting to know you. My HorseTales Yahoo group has grown to almost 50 members! Just last month we posted over 500 messages and are planning a group ride this summer! I’ve even been reunited with an old school friend who I hadn’t seen for over 25 years. I’ve met new friends with whom I share not only our common interest in horses, but similar interests in life. Wow, what a year!


My sons leg has healed. Only 2 small scars remain from where they placed the traction rod. And today, almost a year later, it was nearly 65 degrees! Only in Nebraska! This web site has changed, some. I cant say I have learned too much more about being a web mistress, so forgive the amateur look. Unless Microsoft comes up with any new tools, it is what it is. has welcomed 13,627 friends. One can never have too many friends. I say it often; it is truly a labor of love. Come back again soon! And don’t forget to sign the guestbook!


4/6/05 A Baby for Baby


We are going to have a baby this spring, I announced rather loudly at a recent family gathering. When the heads of several mildly amused aunts and uncles seemed to spin around and their eyes no longer met mine but went right to my stomach, I realized I had misspoke. And I am not sure if they were disappointed or relieved to learn the baby in question is a foal, not an infant! I know the prospect of the former excites me a great deal more than if it were the latter! And it was a total surprise!


Which horse? Baby Dutch. Our 5 year old draft cross who we have had since she was a weanling. Now we may have expected it out of Ginger, but not our Baby! How could this have happened? Well, I guess you could say the chance of her getting bred last spring was possible, but I didn’t think it was probable. We had 2 stud colts. One was coming 2 and the other just a yearling. We sold the 2 year old in early spring. And her being a rather large mare lets just say I didn’t think the young studs were really interested or that she stood a chance with these good looking boys! I guess it goes to show how little I know. If theres a will theres a way!


Now I was always one to criticize when women were on the talk shows saying they had no idea they were pregnant. I feel like I am in a way that kind of horse owner. No pre-natal care for this one. No special feed. And , John rode her 8 miles a few weekends ago! Even made her cross a rather questionable obstacle! He even rebuffed our friends observation that Baby sure looks bred! Shrugged it off as saying she is just fat! I had mentioned it to him also, a time or two but I really didn’t believe it could happen to our Baby. But after Johns 8 mile ride and my friends comments, I took another look under the Babe. And I was surprised to find her bag was filling! So was my nay-saying husband!

No, it wasn’t immaculate conception. One of those young studs obviously were involved. But who is the sire? Well, odds would be on Watch Dash Two, (aka Dash) a two year old palomino quarter horse who is my Stable Talk icon. And according to my friend, Julie should he be the lucky daddy, we have a 50/50 chance of either a sorrel or palomino foal. I’m hoping for sorrel with flaxen mane, but I hate to sound so picky.


Now if Major Inspiration (aka Little Blacky) is the proud daddy, (I'm impressed! since he was a mere yearling at the time), according again to Julie and I quote: you could have a sorrel, black or bay if he carries a red base gene. But if he doesn't, you'll get black or bay but no sorrel. If the black colt has a red parent....he has a red gene so about anything is possible. If [he] has a parent with a dilution gene, i.e. a palomino or dun or buckskin he could have a dilution gene that's hidden. Wouldnt you know it; Little Blacky has a sorrel overo dam and a black sire!


But wait! Little Blacky is a (bs) paint! Maybe the foal will have spots! Then we would know for sure!


I just recently reduced my herd to a manageable 6 horses. But as in the best families, another mouth to feed isnt too much of a hardship. The baby will be loved, regardless of his sex, who the daddy is and the color of his fur. We are just praying for a happy, healthy baby for Baby! - Tammy 032205


Rosella Martin -- 1927 – 2005


The last few months have been difficult. My mom got sick right after the first of the year and we lost her on March 17. I was prepared for the "long goodbye" as cancer sometimes dictates. But death came soon & although we wanted more time, she seemed to have spared us the pain that cancer is known to deal out in the end.


I believe I was fortunate that both of my parents appreciated animals and passed it on to not only to my siblings and me, but our children as well. We had horses as kids; kept them on the farm where my mom was raised. When we bought our first horse as an adult, my dad was already gone. But Mom enjoyed coming out and sitting on the bench next to the barn and watching them as they were fed and petting their noses. At one time we had close to a dozen horses & she always said she could tell who "Big Baby" was obviously because of her size, but also her prominent blaze. When my sister fell off Ginger a few years ago, Mom was quick to say "I sure wont ride her now!" I wanted to reply: "As if you ever would of, Mom", but didn’t. I guess I have always been a bit curious if she was entertaining the idea?


While Mom was sick, we went through old pictures. We found one of her horse a pretty paint she called "Dick". She thought he must have had some draft in him, because of his size. A few of my friends currently ride with their mom or dad. I wish I could of. I wish I would of known Mom when she rode that paint.


When Baby foaled this past week, it crossed my mind that I "need to call Mom to tell her." As a friend was quick to point out; she knows.

5/8/08 Horses, Boys & Motors


The other day while in Tack N Togs, a lady came in to consign some items. Seems she was getting out of the horse business. The horse was her daughters idea and for whatever reason, be it school, friends or most likely boys the daughter had lost interest. Too expensive of items to keep if no one used them anymore. I guess the horse would be, too.

I spend a lot of time whining that my boys don’t have an interest in horses. When we brought home the first two horses 5 years ago, we were hoping they would. But the newness soon wore off. Boys find more interest it seems in things that have motors. At Saturdays game day, Case participated in all the games. Maybe when doing speed events, it seems that horses have more of a motor than when we are trail riding.

We had our own little rodeo here today. The boys & Colton Vossler were tooling around our farm on the ATV & the dirt bike. Seems Case got a little too close to the pond & bailed off. The ATV kept going yep, straight into the pond. They sent Colton to come get me. The Dad wasn’t home and it was pretty important to the boys that it be pulled out of the pond before he got home. Colton, using his roping skills, lassoed the wheels of the ATV. We tried to pull it out, but broke the rope. We finally succeeded with a chain and the tractor.

As a parent, your gut tells you when to scold and when to be thankful. I threw a bigger fit today because the boys left the door open and the cats got in than I did over this pond fiasco. I am thankful all that went in the pond was the ATV. It can be fixed.

I imagine if my love of horses wasn’t resurrected, I would have cashed in the boys tack a long time ago. But as long as their saddles still fit them, I still have hope. I wonder if the girl who gave up her horse for the boys will one day want her children to experience them like I did. Maybe her love for horses will be resurrected, too.

5/10/05 Mothers Day

Today is Mothers Day. From my perspective, I have successfully managed to turn the entire one day holiday into a weekend for mothers and for me!

Starting with the Friday Before Mothers Day Trail Ride held obviously, the Friday before Mothers Day. The ride was a huge success with 91 riders! Probably close to 80 women! (My husband and a few good men rode safety). There were riders from as far away as Kearney, Hastings, Holstein, Wayne, Wakefield and Waterloo. There were riders who live right down the road in Dwight, Yutan and Wahoo. There were women I knew and women I just met. Repeat riders from last year & first timers! I think the oldest horse was an appaloosa that was over 30 years old! I appreciate you all coming to my ride and making it a success! Every year I learn from it and make subtle changes. This year was no exception. Next years ride will be better than ever!

The celebration continued today. John & my sons, McCain & Case, went to Red Cedar lake for a couple hour ride. Being that my oldest son offered it up and rode with me was the best gift I could have had! He rides so seldom but got along famously today with my appaloosa, Joe. Case rode Blue and this may be the year he and Blue mesh. They had so much fun! John rode his mare & I took our 3 year old gelding, Gunner. This lake is pretty secluded, so we even took Jo-Jo, our dog.

Having just lost my mom recently, I looked forward to the day (weekend) with some apprehension. It was the first of many holidays without Mom but being with friends on Friday made it bittersweet. But as far as a day with my husband and my own kids, it just couldnt get any better! What a treat what a Mothers Day! Thanks, Boys! Love, Mom 050805

6/4/05 Gone & Done It

Just when the sun is starting to set later in the day Just when the days are getting warmer Just when the horses are starting to come out of their winter feistiness Just as I am planning the holiday weekend.... It happens. And I’m putting that nicely. Think bumper sticker think Forrest Gump. Thats what happens.


This past Sunday we were invited to ride with friends at the Flea Market near Walthill. As I am riding these beautiful trails, in my mind I am already promoting this area for an installment of Stable Talk. Plenty of shade, wildlife. The Missouri River.
Did I mention I had been having blonde moments all morning?
The first being that I cinched Blue tight on the first pass. Blue doesn’t like that. He prefers a tug, then a rest and then a final tug before riding. Id forgotten this preference & did the full tug. He promptly sat back on the rope, snapping it. It happens. I got the last laugh when the break made him fall to his butt. I loosened the cinch on him and started over. I had forgotten my fly spray and borrowed some from a friend. Blue does not like anything new and this dispenser was different than what we use, so I pulled him from the trailer to spray him. He was concerned about it, but conceded.

With fly spray applied, we were ready to go. When I got into the saddle, I couldnt get my foot in my right stirrup. I finally reached down to put my foot in it. What I found was a smashed and I mean flattened aluminum endurance stirrup hanging on my saddle. Evidently when Blue sat down on the rope, he smashed my stirrup getting up. So after a quick stirrup change, we were finally ready to ride.

Now if you have seen Blue this year, he has packed on a few pounds, having had little riding last year. As I was making my way down the trail, my saddle kept slipping. Being that he is a wide body on a medium tree, it does slip, but boy, was it getting annoying. I finally rose up the fender to try to tighten it when I realized I had never made the final tug. My saddle was literally sitting on him without being cinched. It happens. But I dodged that bullet.

After riding about 8 miles in the morning, we took a break for lunch. Saddling for the afternoon ride was when it really happened. The final it. Ginger & Blue were standing side by side, Ginger to Blues left. I saddled Blue, only gave the partial tug on the cinch. But didn’t take him off the trailer when I got out the scary fly spray. In my next blonde moment, I started to spray him. He heard the pump and once again, in a panic, sat back on his rope.

This is what I believe happened next, although witnesses may know better. When he sat back on his rope, he fell toward me and Ginger. In my scramble, I ended up in front of Ginger. She also startled at Big Blue pushing toward her & sat back on her rope. When she reached the end and came back, her right hoof went down my back and her left hoof onto my left ankle.


Five years ago I broke this same ankle and it hurt like a son of a , well, you know. I am screaming at John to get my boot off. In the back ground I hear people telling me not to move, that my back could be injured. Her hoof to the back was superficial.
From their viewpoint, it looked much worse than it was. It was the ankle. As soon as John gets my boot off, the lightheadedness sets it. I’m needing smelling salts and none of us super campers have this in the first aid kits. (What first aid kits?) When I mention ice and an SMB medicine boot in my tack room, Colleen sets into action. Amazing what a little improvising can do add vet wrap, and viola` instant splint!

After chasing some Advil with Mikes Hard Lemonade, I convinced the group to take the afternoon ride while I rest. And being such good friends, they did. The doctor confirmed the next day what I already suspected. The fibula was broken. He did not find humor in my request for him to form the cast into a cowboy boot, nor did he think my goal of riding in four weeks was realistic. We are bargaining for six weeks. My friend Sandy has suggested I collect vet wrap in various colors to vary the color of my cast. Sounds like an entertaining option. If I wrap it to match my mood, it will remain black. It happens.

6/22/05 Big Rides vs. Safe Rides

Someone mentioned on HorseTales that they hoped the Stanton ride was dry. I'd forgotten this weekend was the Stanton ride. Forgive me if this is a repeat story. But since it is the anniversary of our only Stanton ride, it is timely.
The year that we went -- 2003 --, we had rain. John, the kids & I convoyed with Mike Ries & Jason. Sandy stayed home as Trent was sick. (Or her "little voice" of doom was kicked into high gear.) Mike rode Elvis, Trent on Nevada. If I remember correctly. Friday night was uneventful.

Saturday, John saddled up Bo, our then 3 year old gelding. He was "coming along", but very, very green. I rode UR Nice aka "Nick", John's 12 yr. old OTT Thoroughbred. Well, he'd been OTT for 6 years and I had ridden him at Rock Creek on our previous outing & was getting along fine with him. I am racking my brain wondering who the kids rode... and I can' only surmise that it must have been Blue & Mikey.

The Saturday ride started out okay. The kids seemed to get along well with their horse. I love to ride thoroughbreds, so I was at the height of my glory. And then the buckboards past us and Nick went into freak mode. He backed like he was running the Kentucky Derby backwards. There was no pulling his head in. He was petrified & was backing away quickly making sure it wasn't following him. We hit a barbed wire fence, he had blood coming down his butt; we about went over an embankment... Totally out of control. What was I to do? Switch horses with John. Take my chances with the colt.
Just when I thought it was safe to continue the ride, the usually mild mannered Bo must have went into overload at this point. Too many horses, crazy Nick! It wasn't long before his shenanigans started. He decided to buck. I don't like to ride a bucking horse. Now I had a dilemma. Ride the backer or the bucker? Going back to the trailer sounded like the best idea. Nope, had to Cowgirl Up. Switch with John again.

So I'm back on Nick with the understanding that we stay at the end of the ride. As long as he sees the buckboards in front of him, I can only hope he stays under control. And it is working... almost. But you see we weren't quite at the end of the ride. There were a couple stragglers. And one of those had a hard time staying on his horse. Yep, he got bucked off. The safety riders call for the ride to hold up. And what was called in to rescue the injured rider? The buckboards!

I saw them coming and got the heck out of the way. We hid on the other side of a hill. Out of sight, out of mind. When the ride started moving again, we had to move. We safely crossed a creek and were heading up the hill when Nick heard the buckboards again. By this time, I am beyond mad. (Note to self: think, don't act when riding a horse). I acted with a swat on his butt with the reins! Now I am not a swatter. My horses may feel me tap with a crop occasionally, but I don't normally swat. (Another note to self: If you do want to swat, check where you are at. If horse is attempting a climb up a hill & is not level, no swatting.)

Nick reared. Do you know how tall a thoroughbred is when standing on his back feet? Before I had time to measure, he tumbled to the right. Brain says to get the hell away from his falling body, but body can't move fast enough. He is on my right leg. He quickly gets up to run that last furlong he has been dying to run since we started. My darling husband to my rescue? No, he turns into the track outrider and is off after the lone thoroughbred on a three year old colt! I look up to find two men, who both look amazingly like Charlie Pride, to my rescue.

Although my pride wanted to Cowgirl Up, the Charlies told me to remain quiet. One lady brought me an Advil (God love her). Another a frozen bottle of water. Where to put it? I hurt from my hip to my ankle. The outrider returned with my Derby winner after his brief run for the roses and with an audience of 70 people, what could I do? Cowgirl Up!

I rode Nick for about 50 feet because I had to. I couldn't let him know he could do that to me. He had calmed down. Or was just winded. Or scared of me and the swatter. But I realized quickly if I needed to control him, I couldn't. My right leg was too sore. I opted for the colt once again and once again asked John to switch with me. And the colt knew better than to try another move. That was the last day Bo grew up and settled into a nice saddle horse.

While riding at the end of the group, the rain came. Although we had slickers, the boys put them on too late & were frozen to the bone. I'm groaning, they are moaning. Thinking I am sure that this is "another one of Mom's trail rides and here we are, wet & cold." No clue where the Ries boys are. The safety riders gave up on us and passed us by in favor of reaching the lunch barn a little sooner. We finally made it, eager to dry off and get something to eat. I heard talk about the "lady who was crushed by her horse" and my condition was grossly exaggerated. I felt like the dead girl walking.

Bo and I rode back with "Charlie Pride Sr.". Nick turned into a freak once again and John took him off by himself. He probably got swatted some more. I never asked. The boys found the Ries' and that was the last I saw of them on the ride back. I hear they got in trouble for wanting to pass the trail boss. But they have good memories of the ride back which is now probably one of their fondest trail ride memories.

Funny Cide didn't win the Triple Crown that weekend & I didn't complete the Stanton ride. John & Mike took the younger boys on the ride the 2nd day. McCain and I visited the ER at Norfolk to make sure nothing was broken. Nothing was. Just bruised. I couldn't ride for a few weeks. Had to let the body heal.

Nick went on to find another home. Last I heard, he and his new owner go hunting squirrels & he has taken nicely to having a gun fired from his back. Bo is now with Marge of Tack N Togs. Mikey belongs to 10 year old Katie. Blue, as you know, is still with us and in a roundabout way the cause of my June 2005 injury which has once again sidelined me from riding.
I hope the hills of Stanton were good to you riders and it found you warm, dry & safe. I'm coming back someday! Watch out! -Tammy 060405

6/30/05 Sh*t Happens

The countdown begins. It has been 3 weeks since the sound of the broken fibula was heard around the world well, at least among my friends. Not the bone breaking, per se, but the whining that resulted as the doctor sentenced me to 6 weeks in a hard cast. I am complying, only because the good doctor didn’t forbid me to ride this coming weekend. (I convinced him I wasn’t a barrel racer. Come on, Doc, we just mosey down the trail!) Well, he didn’t particularly endorse the endeavor, but he did go along with my request that the cast be no wider than 4 inches, so that it will fit in a stirrup!

So the trailer is packed & the horses are shod and I am anxious to have what will be my first horse trail riding and camp outing of the season! Now some may think I can coast on this trip. Be waited on hand and foot due to my disability. After all, I do have a broken ankle. But I live in a house of boys & a man. Sympathy doesn’t come easy around here. So provided I can saddle my own horse and get on him, looks like I may be riding by Saturday!

Working in the corporate world, I have had to take a lot of ribbing about my injury. The most common statement being "Are you ready to give up those horses yet, Tammy?" I cheerfully remind some of the concerned citizens of the sprained ankles they had playing basketball or the blown knees from excessive jogging. Heck, you don’t give up typing because of carpal tunnel syndrome!

But since my accident, it seems I have heard from many others who have had horse accidents this year; from sprained ankles to head lacerations, shoulder injuries and knee surgeries! Are there always this many accidents or am I just hearing about them more frequently because of my recent injury?

There are always risks associated with certain activities. Horses are no exception. They are dangerous. They are bigger than we are and they are an animal. No matter how safe we think our horse is and how well we think we know him, there is always an unpredictability we must recognize and acknowledge. My accident could have been avoided. I ignored a little voice and have paid the price.

Saddle up, enjoy your horse but be safe! I hope to meet you on the trail. Ill be the one sporting a lime green cast!

7/16/05 A weekend with friends

This past weekend was my familys first horse camping trip of the season. Thirty some riders met at Switzer Ranchs Calamus Outfitters near Burwell for a ride in the sandhills. This ride was planned in February and the weekend was finally here! So seldom do things in which you look so forward to, turn out so well. But this was one of those times!

Well, it didn’t start out that way. First, we lost one rider when she fell from a feed sack at TSC and sprained her ankle the night before the trip. And another got detained by her hay man. But despite flat tires, black smoke and failed fuel pumps, the rest of the group arrived safely!

Bruce Switzer took the group on a 6 hour ride on Saturday. A few comments heard on the trail & about the ride....
There aren't any cows in here, are there? said one rider to another. (This rider believes she was about killed by cows at one time) "The right answer is 'No'. Just say 'No' ". The other rider lied and said no.

Without this group's support, I wouldn't have done half the things I have so far.

Do you remember that scene from The Man from Snowy River?
From my angle, what I saw was like Julie described, commotion, thundering of hooves, I looked behind me and saw Nadine's horse galloping toward us
He bailed he set the mustang free.
The spandex ride was certainly an eye opener Saturday morning
The trail boss said he thought my horse was named Pooper [its Cooper] and I just called him sh*t for short! You know, I never used to swear until I got horses...
For the record, I found out that a saddle bag is not just a cute, nostalgic item that makes you look like a cowboy. On a ride like this, it is your lifeline, your sustenance; it is credited for your survival until you return to civilization.
The nice thing about this ride was that there was so much wide open space in which to escape the annoying [riders].
"I might rope a cow....but what would I do with it if I caught it???
Bruce told me that they called him, and the x-rays didn't show anything broken.
What would it take to get a trailer in here? I’m serious!
It was just a great weekend! As someone said, It was like a family reunion, only more fun. Let's do it again, and again, and again.

Amazing how horses bring people together. The riders in this group came from all different walks of life, social circles, riding disciplines and economic backgrounds. Their riding skills were from novice to advanced. Ages 6 to silver. Many first time campers, some seasoned pros. For the last 6 months or so, most of the riders in this group have supported each other & coached each other. We have expressed our fears to one another and choked on our coffee when laughing so hard! We shared our grooming secrets and feeding tips & stool samples (our horses, not ours). We have cheered each other successes and cried at our loses. But this past weekend was the first time many of us met in person or rode horses as a group.


Pretty cool, huh?

7/26/05 A Lesson Learned One Morning

At 4:00 AM this morning, our phone starts ringing. I probably heard it on the second ring and by the time the answering machine picked it up, I registered what time it was. I’m from the era that bad news comes after midnight, so mentally checked off that in my mind that yes, the boys and John are safely in the house. The phone started ringing again. I’m not sure when we stopped having a phone in our room. Something about damp walls and the wiring getting wet but none the less, since the caller is persistent, I sprint to the kitchen.
Its the sheriff.

"Vasas?" he says.
I murmur "Yes".
"Do you have horses"?
[Crap! or similar word] "Yes", I say sheeply.
"There is a report that there are horses out on the highway. At least two brown ones on the north side of the highway. I’m sending a deputy over to watch for traffic." (Traffic! Thank God it is 4:00 AM).

I rush back to wake John, who incidentally went to bed with ice packs on his sore back, and told him the news. I cant recall exactly what he called the horses at the time, but it wasn’t good. Its 4:00 AM did I mention that? So I sprint to the barn (a lot of sprinting on my sore ankle!) and get a bucket of grain and a couple of lead ropes. John takes the car and I get on my newly purchased just for this occasion ATV. And off to the round-up.

Did you know the moon that was so bright at 11:00 is virtually non-existent at 4:00 AM? John and I drive slowly up and down the highway. Where is the deputy? We cant find the horses. I’m recalling the conversation with the sheriff. I was semi-comatose when I took the call. Did he say "north" of the highway? Our highway runs north & south the sides of our highway are east & west. To be "north" would put them 2 miles away! I put the ATV in high gear and drive back up to the house. A call to the sheriff confirms they were "north" of the highway (not good news) and were now heading south on another highway. Over 3 miles from our place! GinnyBelle must be tired & scared!

The trailer is still hooked up from our ride the other night. We jump in the truck. We are going to have to trailer them home. I am worried about getting GinnyBelle in there. She has never been trailered yet. We arrive at the scene to find the sheriff and the two brown horses along the edge of the road. And guess what. They arent our horses!!

Now as thrilled as we are that we have no responsibility and our horses are safe, we cant just leave this obviously "uncowboy" cop hanging on the highway with 2 horses. Nor could I do that to the horses. So we easily trailer one of them. The other one did not. Another horse neighbor arrives at the scene. They aren't his horses either. But he fixes a fence to a pasture we all believe they surely must belong in (if not, they have a new home now). The sheriff will deal with it this morning. We arrived home after the sun had already come up and were grateful to find our six horses grazing in the pasture, curious as to why the trailer was moving so early.

Moral of the story? Check your own pasture before you run to the rescue!

9/6/05 Horseless Vacation

We just returned from the first real vacation we have taken in a long time. When I say real, that isnt necessarily how I feel, but seen by others. Our horse vacations just don’t seem to count with my non-horse friends even my kids. My husbands Nana is soon turning 102 years old, so we thought maybe this was the year to visit her. We could wait until she is 103, we have waited this long, but some might say wed be pushing it a bit.

It was as hard getting the farm ready for us to leave as it was packing for five people for 6 days. We moved all the horses up to the corrals near the barn and put in fresh round bales. The tank has an automatic water contraption on it, but since it isnt an automatic system, it could be bumped or pulled out. So we engaged the neighbors to check it daily. Since Windy is new to the herd, we opened the barn up to both corrals so she couldnt get cornered by the other mares.

Most of our vacation was spent in the Boston area. We went on a whale watch and toured old Boston. My boys saw the ocean for the first time and I think they truly would have been happy just playing in the waves for hours every day.

Boston is a concrete jungle. I tried to imagine what it would be like to live there. I couldnt imagine wanting to. I tried to imagine what it was about the traffic, smog, trash and construction that appealed to the locals. That made them want to call Boston, or the countless suburbs, their home. To each their own, I guess.
The last night we were there, I had a dream that the horses got out and they were running through the streets of a city; presumably Boston. I caught GinnyBelle and Black, but Blue and Baby were still running up one lane of traffic and over an island and down another. I woke up before they were caught. But at home they were safe.

With the real vacation behind us, I look forward to loading up my horses and camping with friends. Relaxing, breathing, living.

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in.

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love,
Don't fence me in.

10/12/05 7th Annual Cowgirl Weekend.

Twenty-one women and 23 horses pulled into Brush Creek Ranch near Atkinson for what turned out to be another great weekend with friends and our horses. As you may recall, Cowgirl Weekend, hosted by my friends Kathy Newberg & Jamie Paquin, is held annually at a different location. The original idea of Cowgirl Weekend was to help women learn to drive their own rig, care for their own horse and build up their camping and trail riding skills. Although still the general idea, most of the cowgirls on our trip can do all that it is now really our holiday to share with friends.

We talked about what happens at Cowgirl Weekend stays at Cowgirl Weekend. But fortunately, there are not too many of the moments we don’t want to share. Friday, we herded cattle. Our goal was to move 803 Angus from one pasture to another. Many of the horses on our ride were never exposed to cattle before. But they all played the game and we had a ball! All 703 cows were moved successfully. The other 100 head hid. Thats right. They hid. You just cant miss 100 cows! We were as surprised as our ranch boss to see the other 100 head coming over the hill behind us!

It was an education for all of us. I took two horses. My old faithful, Blue, who loves to herd cattle. And my young filly, Windy, who has an aversion to water crossings. I’m happy to report she successfully crossed the creek many times before she decided she could probably do it easier without me. I mentioned to the girls that it was probably my scariest moment ever on horseback. Why? Because I stayed on! Usually I am thrown in a matter of moments. Felt kind of like the Ever Ready Bunny it kept going and going and going.

Only one cowgirl hit the ground! I still say she planned it so she could have an epilogue to her recent Stable Talk public service brief! You recall Mary Hanson, trail rider and helmet advocate? She took the first and only spill. Her saddle started to slip and before she could right herself, her horse stepped off & the law of physics created no possible recovery! We heard her head hit the ground. But her helmet was securely in place. She will soon be sporting a new helmet and a T-shirt which says I told you so! I did hear a few cowgirls say they would be buying helmets now! We dubbed her dismount the Hail Mary fall from grace!

Saturday night boasted the pajama party on horseback! No, we weren't drinking! The full moon and beautiful weather invited some of us to head down the road by the light of the moon. See guys what you are missing?

The only negative to Cowgirl Weekend is that it is one of the last rides of the season. We always talk about having a spring weekend, but know that having it too often will make it ordinary. Now it is special. And as long as I am able, I hope to meet my friends, some who I only see once a year, every September for another Cowgirl Weekend! Happy trails, Girlfriends! – Tammy

11/1/05 Making more memories....

I was traveling west this week and passed through Denver. I got my first glimpse of snow for this fall. Reminded me of what will soon be coming our way and makes me even more determined to get out and ride and enjoy this autumn weather while it's here!

We went camping this past weekend at Camp Moses Merrill. Although the horse camping area is small, there is electrical hookups that afforded us the luxury of plugging in the trailer and having heat! Some friends camped with John, the boys and I. Others joined us for day rides.

From Friday until Sunday, the leaves on the trees changed before our eyes. We huddled around the fire for warmth in the cool evening. I watched from the trailer window as John started a fire to cook breakfast that crisp morning: I could see his breath. The horses' coats shined with their new winter growth. It was sweatshirt weather during the day with jackets in our saddlebags. Riding gloves felt warm when trotting through the trees.

It was one of those weekends that I can look back upon and smile. We were making memories. It was perfect. The horses were relaxed and well mannered for the most part. The company was great. Lots of laughter and good stories. And once again I was in awe at the glimpse of beautiful landscape that Nebraska offers that may be overlooked by those who never get outside their homes or out of the city. Horses show us a beauty from the inside of our world out.

I've been disappointed over the years with my boys' lack of enthusiasm for trail riding. My youngest son was just three; the older boy was 6 when we bought our first horses. What I yearned for as a child has become ordinary for them. As much as I wanted horses to be a family activity that we all loved equally, I had pretty much given up on that dream. Both boys ride pretty well, but bore easily on the trails.

Besides good friends, beautiful scenery and awesome horses, this past weekend held another surprise for me. Something clicked with these boys of mine. They wanted to ride. Long after our friends packed up and left, my little family galloped along the flat paths, bush whacked through low trees, raced along the dry creek beds and climbed hills and looked back in wonder at where we had been. I heard laughter and saw smiles. And when it was time to leave, they resisted! They wanted one more ride.

Was it the weather? The horses? What changed? Is it for real or was it a just a small gift from God to top off what was already a close to perfect day? Only time will tell. But what a remarkable feeling it was to share my passion with my children and see it reflected back on their faces. It was truly a perfect weekend. I wish for you such happy trails!

12/17/05 Horse Time in Cold Weather

Its this time of year that I am both thankful for round bales and sorry they exist. Thankful, as it keeps us from trudging out in the cold to feed, but sorry for the same reason. Also true for the automatic waterer. That first year we had our horses, we had neither the round bales nor a heated tank. We would crowd the horses into a lean-to attached to the garage with their buckets of water and bales of hay. And feel the warmth their bodies provided while housed tightly in this small makeshift stable. But relief from the cold winter, none the less. Baby was GinnyBelles age then. Blue had just joined our family. Also Ginger and the old mare, Peggy were crowded in that building.
GinnyBelle, our palomino filly, (I should say a weanling, but she is not weaned yet), has a curly winter coat. Beautiful colored except for the splattered manure stains she gets from laying in the straw in the barn! The bays and blacks show rich colors this time of year. I raise their manes and press my face to their neck to feel the warmth; savor the smell. Its the love/hate part of winter in Nebraska.

The horses arent totally ignored out there. Even with the round bales, Johns daily ritual includes dropping some alfalfa down from the hay loft. I’ve only been to the barn once this week. The daylight is about gone by the time I get home from work & he has already taken care of chores. Come next week, Ill start to gain a few precious minutes of daylight every day. It always feels like the downhill slide of winter, even though it is just beginning.

On the HorseTales message board, many were sharing memories of Christmas past and hoping to feel the true meaning of the season this coming holiday, beyond the presents and the tree. Joel captured it best & Ill share it with you:
I like to go out to feed the horses this time of year; especially when its a quiet, cold, calm night. You hear the horses chewing their hay, you look at the stars above, and you almost feel like you are in a stable 2000 years ago..... Wow, no tree compares to that....

Hunker down, keep warm & enjoy the holidays with your family, friends and creatures. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!