Dec 31, 2007

The Early Days 2007

1/29/07 Remembering Barbaro

So they finally gave up on that lame race horse, someone at my office said when they heard the news of Barbaros passing. To a non-horse person, I’m sure many thought it frivolous to keep him alive this long. Heck, some horse people thought the same thing. Early on, I wondered, too, if he had suffered enough. And then hed rally; kept beating the odds! I joined his cheering section; became more of a fan than I was after the Kentucky Derby. I would occasionally Google for progress reports. Every time he would have a setback, Id hold my breath. Then he would overcome the latest challenge and seem to be flying down the track to recovery once again.

Barbaro lost the race yesterday and I mourned as if I lost one of my own horses. Well never know what he could have been. To me, Ill remember his grace, beauty his run for the roses. His perseverance. And Ill remember the day we had to let him go. Ill remember him in my heart, always. Godspeed, Barbaro.

2/26/07 Dashing through the Snow

The recent snow was just too tempting. Talked John away from the football game to ride a bit through the snowy fields. Case was tempted to ride with us, but was on the fence. I discouraged him riding because it was pretty cold and he was already wet from sledding. But mostly because I wanted to ride his horse.

Those of you who ride with us know Butterscotch. Those who rode with her former owner, Duane, also know Butterscotch. A pretty little red dun mare standing a perfect quarter pony size of 14.2 hh.

Case first rode Butterscotch almost 3 years ago at Rock Creek. Duane had brought her along and we had brought along an extra child. Seeing we had a kid without a horse, Case rode Duanes Butterscotch and my niece rode Cases Daisy. Case had a few horse fears at the time, but he really got along good with Butter. He kept chiding Duane to sell Butter to him. Every time Butter made a perceived mistake, Case took another $100 off the asking price. I think by the end of the ride, he told Duane he pretty much had to give her away.

After a season of riding, we realized Daisy who was close to 25 years old at the time was a good confidence builder, but was too old to do the miles that we were doing. It was time to start thinking about another horse. That winter, Duane mentioned he would be selling Butterscotch and asked if we were interested.
Butter came home to our place the spring of 2005. She and Case had their ups and downs that first year, but he persevered. She picked up some bad habits that horses sometimes do when kids are riding them; she tends to want to kick if other horses are on her rear end or passing her. An adult would feel it and pull her in; Case doesn’t always react quickly enough. So I thought it would be helpful if I would ride her occasionally. Take that kick out of her!

So one Wednesday, I took Butter on the Platte River Ride. After riding a fairly young horse the last couple years, I found Butter an easy ride. A trot to die for. Yeah, a little mare-ish at times. But she didn’t kick my friends! One ride lead to another ride and at the end of the year, I had quite a few Trail Time hours on Butter as well as my own horse.

I’ve been trying to ride bareback more often. May help my balance, but also is a lot quicker when there is not much time to ride. My horse, Windy, is not the most comfortable bareback ride. Blue, my gelding (stolen by my oldest son), tends to spook at the occasional displaced rock long after we have passed it and my seat isnt good enough yet to stay on that unplanned sidepass at top speed! Occasionally Ill ride Johns mare bareback, but she can be a pill to catch. So Ill choose Butterscotch.

Okay, so I am 59 tall. I weigh more than I should and my legs hang below Butters waistline. But does it get any better than riding a kids horse? Easy, smooth, responsive not far from the ground if there were to be any unplanned dismounts.
I sometimes find myself thinking that maybe Case is ready to move up to Windy or Black & I can ride Butter! But then I see the two of them together and know what a good team they are. In the mean time, if I want an easy ride, Ill sneak out and ride Butterscotch. If I want a riding partner, Ill saddle up one of the others and let Case enjoy his horse. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m getting pretty fond of that little mare!

4/11/07 How Hard Can This Be?

Last November, I parked the trailer over by the barn for the winter. It was convenient to have something to tie to when riding at home; good place to store my grain. It also served as a nice windbreak from the north wind. It was unhooked from the truck for the season.

Finally, after the warm days this past week, it dried up enough to move it from its winter spot. Its time to start getting ready for the Wednesday rides. I went out to hook up the gooseneck trailer as I have done many times before. How hard can this be? Here is how my venture went:

1. Open tailgate of truck. Of course that is NOT an easy job since John forgot to lower it once and hit it with the gooseneck (something he always reminded me not to do!) After massaging it for a few minutes, click I finally get it.

2. Back up truck near trailer. Climb into back of truck bed to lift up the ball hitch. Hmmm. Its always been up before. How hard can THIS be? Dig in tool box to find screwdriver .. No go. Wrench no go. Some unidentified tool. No go. It wouldn’t budge.

3. Climb out of pickup bed and find WD40 in the tack room. Climb back into pickup bed and spray hitch area. Hitch opens. So far so good. Climb out of truck bed and return WD40 to tack room.

4. Pull lever to retract hitch leg. Pull harder. How hard can THIS be? Sit on ground with foot on hitch & pull harder. Okay, maybe I’ve forgotten how to do this. Read directions. Ahhh, turn the lever first! Okay, try that. No go. It will not budge. Back to tack room & get WD40. Spray. Lever turns, hitch leg retracts. I start to raise the gooseneck. Ah, looks perfect. Put WD40 back in tack room & get in truck...

5. Back truck to line up ball & hitch. Get out and check. Almost perfect. Just need the gooseneck up a little higher. There, that should do it. Crawl into truck bed to open the hitch. The little &*%^&()#$% will not move. Crawl out of truck bed and retrieve the can of WD frickin' 40 from the tack room. Crawl back into truck bed (my knees are killing me now!) and spray the heck out of the hitch thing-a-majiggy. It opens. Leave WD40 in truck bed THIS TIME and crawl out & return to truck.

6. Back up and just as I think I have accomplished the perfect line up, the ball grazes the hitch slightly and the little !#$%^&* closes. How hard can THIS be to get it back open? Climb back into pickup bed. Try to open it. It will not budge. Kick it, hit it, sit and push it with my foot. It will not budge. One-half a can of WD40 later & no go. To heck with it! I moved it before like this. Heck, I drove all the way to Valparaiso fully loaded with the hitch like this (I didn’t know any better and thats my story and I’m stickin to it!) Attach the chains and hope the hitch will balance on top of the little ball!

7. Climb out of trailer and remove block from between left tires. Get in truck and start to pull. Hmm. Not moving. Glance in right rear view mirror and see block between right tires. Get out of truck, remove block. Get back in truck & give er hell. Pull trailer successfully from winter spot.

8. Get to area of the yard where I planned to park. Get out of truck and move Johns other truck to make room. Notice the tailgate is still down and awfully close to the spare tire. Knowing I needed to do some tight backing, and as much as I hated to close a tailgate that can be a challenge to open, I did. It opened before. How hard can THAT be to open it again? Got back into truck and maneuvered trailer successfully into new spot. (Only took one adjustment!) Need to unhook before John sees I drove it without being properly hitched.

9. Get out of truck and position blocks for tires and hitch. Lower the leg and crank it down. Attempt to open the tailgate to crawl inside to unhitch the chains. The &*^)#$!$% tailgate will not open.

10. Holler for child #1 to get out here and help me. After his lame #$&^ try, no success. Holler at child #2 to come help. Again, no success. (Muttered something about worthless under my breath!) Told him to jump into the back of the truck and unhook the chains. Save my knees!

11. Truck sits with trailer unhooked, gooseneck slightly above the ball but totally held hostage by the frozen tailgate. Even WD frickin 40 would not free that tailgate.

Lessons learned.

Do NOT attempt to hook up trailer after sitting for the winter without power tools, kneepads and WD40. A sledge hammer would be nice, too. Don’t ask why.

Never close a disabled tailgate once it is open. Rip it off if necessary, or let it tear the heck out of our spare tire. But never, ever close it!! (May want to try that sledge hammer!)
Never attempt to hook up the trailer following the winter with a plan to trailer your horse on the same day. It wont happen.
Always have a spare trailer and another vehicle with a hitch on standby just in case you have totally screwed up the hitching job.

Start pricing electric jacks.

05/08/07 Beef, Its What's for Dinner

How many of you out there are having foals this spring? When we had foals, the hardest part was knowing we would eventually be selling them. Windy, the mare I am currently riding was foaled at our place. It broke my heart to let her go, so I bought her back a couple years ago. Our last baby, GinnyBelle, never left our place.

Who remembers camping with us at Rock Creek three years ago? Okay, probably not. But do you remember camping with a family who brought along a bottle calf? Ah, that you remember. Okay, well, that was us. (You must be a redneck if you go camping with your bottle calf!) Fast-forward to this spring and said bottle calf is now a heifer expecting her first calf. Oh, and we have two heifers because John didn’t think we should have just one. (Never mind that I think we should have none!)

Well, cows arent the smartest animal in the feedlot. The fact that they are in the feedlot proves that, doesn’t it? The first calf was born last week during the April cold spell. And both cows kind of claimed the calf. So when the second calf was born yesterday, neither of the cows knew what to do with it, so they did nothing! Discovered shortly before the kids have to go to school; John is out of town... Yep, its a dirty job and I have to do it. Its up to me to bond this calf with its mom.

Okay, easier said than done. Especially when one of the cows turns into a Mad Cow. After watching the cow head-butt the calf, I realize this is now a rescue. Its time to get the calf out of the pen. Too heavy to lift. Tried loading it in wheelbarrow & that didn’t work either. So I finally push it out of the pen by its tail.

I called John, but a bad cell phone connection leads me to believe I was on my own on this one. And just one time I think my boss would like to get a normal phone call from me stating I have a headache or the flu & cant come in. But every time I have to call in to work, it is never a simple excuse. Once the horses were on the highway; another time I broke my ankle while we were riding the day before. And yesterday I couldnt come in because of an orphan calf!?

After consulting with my good friend and animal science major, Sam, I headed to town to get milk supplement, colostrums supplement and a bottle. Seventy three dollars and 42 cents later (which would of gone a long way at a tack store or bought me a half a tank of diesel fuel), I am back home trying to feed this thing.

Now had this been a foal, I would have been sitting in the manure laden barn with its head on my lap with a team of vets on standby! But this animal is a different story. I have its head pinned between my knees forcing the little beasts mouth open; but it would not take the bottle. (Did you know calves have teeth?)

About 2 hours into the process, John came home. Hallelujah! His cow, his calf. I’m off duty now. I showered for the second time that day and went to work. Twenty-four hours later, the cow is starting to take the calf, provided her head is tied to the post in the barn. Like I said, not the smartest animal on the ark.
This April there is no resemblance of spring. My lilac buds are frozen; the small green leaves starting to appear on our trees are now brown again. The horses havent shed and are quite unhappy they have to stand in the rain while the calves get their stalls. There is not a foal in sight.

Beef, its whats for dinner.

6/6/07 Springtime!

When I see motorcycles going by on the highway or others pulling boats or RVs, I cant help but think they are a lot like horse trail riders; yearning for spring to get out and do something. As I dodge bicycles on Lincoln city streets, although annoyed because they are in my lane, I feel a kinship with those people because they, like us, finally are able to get out and ride! I wonder if they spend as much time spit shining the bikes as we do currying the horses to get rid of the winter grunge.

Its not unusual to go an entire winter and not see some of our horse friends. Horse people are funny in the winter time. I count the months until spring and then hope we can get everything fixed that we let go in the summer time because we were riding. Its darn near impossible to remodel the entire house in three months, but if you concede to making it a five year project, its doable! I also tend to eat a lot in the winter thus the reason my horses carries a few more pounds above the saddle each spring. We visit non-horse friends and when we make mention of the shortage of good brome hay, it just confirms we still have nothing in common with them anymore! And why cant more people get married in the winter! We are usually free most Saturday nights when it is 2 above zero!

The hours in the saddle are starting to accumulate. Its been good to see our trail riding buddies who, like us, have been hibernating in their homes packing a years worth of projects into 3 months. A friend recently mentioned that her jeans shrunk over the winter! What a coincidence -- thats happened here, too! Our horses are starting to look away when we come to the corral because their days of winter leisure have come to an end. I think they know that look the I’m going to get your bridle and we are going to ride for 10 miles look from the oh, if only winter will be over (hug the neck) look. I’m starting to pay attention to the price of diesel fuel and cuss the powers that be that make it darn near unaffordable for the average trail rider and consider trying to run my truck on cooking oil as others have started to do. I can only imagine what that would do to the price of French fries!

So the laundry is starting to pile up and dust you see on my coffee table now will still be there in October. My dishes wont be done until after dark or tomorrow. My car will be a mess, but my horse trailer clean. Catch em, load em up & hit the trail! Its riding time!

07/07/07 Change of Plans

All winter long I have been planning our dream vacation to Wyoming. Looking forward to riding in the Big Horn Mountains experiencing things we don’t have here in Nebraska. We are six weeks away from departing and it starts to unravel.
First, comes the email from one of the organizers asking if the price of gas was going to scare any of us off. Nope! I’m not letting the greedy, blood sucking oil barons spoil my vacation! Fill er up & head em out. We are going. But as the emails go back and forth, someone mentions they put 2100 miles on going there last summer. Hmm. I had mapquested about 1400 miles round trip. Do I really want to put that much more into the greedy blood sucking oil barons pockets? Cha-ching. Vacation fuel budget needs to increase.

Now heading out of state will require health & coggins papers on the horses. Thats a given. Heading to the mountains will also require shoes on our normally barefoot horses. Shoes on 4 horses are in the budget. However, in talking to Big Horn veterans, mention was made about how hard the terrain was on the horses; sprained ankles, stone bruises. Okay, so now I’m thinking shoes are no longer enough add pads. Not in the shoe budget. Cha-ching!

Then as we ride up to the top of a Nebraska hill last weekend, wet from the rain, my horse gets a good dose of buddy-sourness & decides to avoid the switchback & head straight down. Now yes, I am a bit fearful of heights, but I had thought I could get by without looking down when we are in the mountains. But when my horses head is heading DOWN, where else do you look! And frankly, I am not up to doing battle with my usually mild mannered horse at 6,000 feet. So if I can't handle a sandhill in Nebraska, how in the heck am I going to ride in the mountains?

So now my dream trip is grossly over budget & I’m needing pads on my cold feet! I ask the kids if they would be disappointed if we changed vacation plans. They whine. (I throw out the mother of all bribes, Disney World in exchange for the Big Horn Mountains and I hear John whine now). Well, after much negotiation, we voted ourselves off the mountain. My skin has cleared up; my drinking problem is under control. What a relief!

Seriously, I would love to ride in the Big Horn Mountains. But at the cost of our entire summer riding budget and the risk of lame horses not to mention my mental health after being in the truck with my fighting boys for how many hours??? I think we are making a wise choice.

When I grow up, I want to travel the country; riding places I have never seen before. My horses will be strong with good feet, mindful of me. My kids will be confident riders and never fight. And I'll have no fears. We'll be the Brady Bunch on horseback. But for the here and now, Ill just keep living my dream. It aint so bad!

8/8/07 Trail Riders Lost a Friend

Last month, horse trail riders lost a friend and an advocate to horse trails. Frank Jackson of Omaha passed away after a long illness. You may have known Frank personally or you may have seen him on the trails or at the big rides on one of his beloved Tennessee Walking horses.

I had the privilege of meeting Frank about four years ago on the Stanton ride. Laying on the ground after a 1,200 pound thoroughbred flipped over on me, Frank was the first person on the scene. He offered me water, found an ice bottle and located some Advil which he was sure I would need (and he was right). Later that afternoon he rode several miles with me. We talked about my horses, his horses..riding. The injury that lead him to Tennessee Walkers. I was worried about my kids who, although on steady horses, were riding by themselves as I couldn't keep up. He assured me with trail riders, they would be taken care of.

Id see him occasionally throughout the years. His voice was heard in a local news sound bite representing horse trail riders in the battle to save the horse trails at Cunningham Lake. He provided assistance to those petitioning for expanded trails at Walnut Creek and was instrumental in helping local Springfield resident, Vickie Fraser, get approval for a horse trail along the MoPac in that area. When you ride these trails, remember Frank.
Mike Anderson of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee remembers a trails meeting Frank attended where talk was of the Cowboy Trail and its completion would provide the longest such trail in the nation. By the end of the meeting, Frank was ready to not only ride that trail, but ride it NOW and had several recruits!

Frank didn’t have the Internet but once told Vickie that he loved discovering all the rides that were available to him when he found a core group of riders, including the Platte River Riders. He said, I’ve never found anyone that ever wanted to do anything; you guys go out and do it. And so did Frank.
Following the June 27th Platte River Riders ride at Ponca Stables, surrounded by our resting horses, friends gathered to remember Frank. His friend, Dennis Nichols, shared stories of his friendship with Frank, others shared memories, and we all shared a toast. I celebrate the privilege of knowing Frank Jackson. Happy Trails, my friend.

9/1/07 goes National!

A few months ago, Horse & Rider magazine contacted me regarding an upcoming article on saddle clubs. They found on the net and wanted more information on the virtual saddle club and how to be a member. I was thrilled to find, Horsetales and the Platte River Riders as one of the featured clubs in their article "Riding Clubs that Rock", August 2007 issue.

As you know, is a source for trail riding and events in our state. What has grown from is two saddle clubs one of the virtual kind -- the other real.

When was launched back in 2004, I started receiving a lot of email from people who liked the site and just wanted to talk horse. That was easy for me to do, but I wanted viewers to share their passion with each other. Horsetales, a Yahoo group (list serve, chat group) was created for communication between readers and today there are 175 members who sign on to talk about horses.

Horsetales took on a life of its own. To keep spammers at bay, Horsetales is not a public group but open to adults interested in horses owners or those who just dream of having an equine friend. The group is primarily women (about dozen men) located in Nebraska and surrounding states. Although primary communication is via email or the list, many true friendships have formed as a result of Horsetales. One husband recently chided his wife with having imaginary friends on the computer. Not true! Members ride together and lunch together. Others have hosted holiday parties and clinics. The world of horses and horse people opened up to many readers through the Horsetales group.

Another saddle club affiliated with is the Platte River Riders, also known as the Wednesday Night Ride. Readers are invited to load up their horse and come ride with other adult riders every Wednesday night at a pre-designated trail head. Ride schedules are posted weekly on No membership or dues are necessary. Just show up and ride. Initially these rides were in the Omaha/Lincoln area. Due to the popularity of the rides, the second year, a ride was scheduled at both locations. And just this year, new rides are scheduled in central and northern Nebraska.

I am proud to have featured in this popular magazine and thank all of you for tuning in! If you are visiting for the first time or a return visitor, be sure and sign my guest book!

10/12/07 Turkey Creek

In August, I thought I was going to melt, didn’t you? The humidity had been so bad that the last thing I have wanted to do was ride my horse even though it was the only thing I wanted to do! But by the time Id make it home from work, that west sun would be hitting our pastures and the horses would look at me with that you got to be kidding look. So in late August, when the weatherman predicted low 80s for a weekend, I called Turkey Creek and made camping reservations! Finally, a weekend of decent weather and the opportunity to try out a new place!

We loaded up the horses shortly after we got home from work and headed out toward Newcastle, Nebraska in Dixon County. Located about 2 hours north of our home in Saunders County, my goal was to get there by dark. We made it! But it was close. The speed limit going through Newcastle is 30 MPH and they mean it! Luckily for me the sheriff was in a good mood that night!

We pulled into Turkey Creek at dusk. Unloaded the horses and quickly set up our portable corral. Our friends, Rich & Kathy Newberg, had already arrived & set up camp. Have I mentioned yet how beautiful this area is?

John and Brenda Wortmann have really gone out of the way to make Turkey Creek equine friendly. The camp ground has picnic tables, a fire ring, running water and two very nice (primitive) outhouses. And get this, they have POWER! Yes! You can plug in your trailer and run electricity! Now how often do you get that in Nebraska?

Shortly after breakfast the next morning, we hit the trails. We crossed a small creek, over a wood plank bridge, through the trees the trails just go on and on. We climbed up a steep bluff to see the views of the Missouri River and South Dakota. Back down the hill and followed a trail which literally goes through the center of a cornfield. Around a dam, into more fields, and through more trees to find newly cut trails. John and Brenda have done a remarkable job of marking the trails and keeping them mowed. And if you want to go off the beaten path and bushwhack, there is plenty of that kind of riding, too. Brenda joined us for a ride later in the day and provided a lot of history of the place. It was a treat to have her ride with us and hope she will again.

The weatherman, who I kindly refer to as the BIG FAT LYING weatherman failed to tell us that even though the temps may be in the 80s, there would be no relief in the humidity! However, at Turkey Creek the riding was very comfortable in the trees and sleeping was great because we could run our air conditioner in the trailer. Best of all, it was good to be out.

The Platte River Riders North has enjoyed a couple Wednesday rides at Turkey Creek. If you would like information on this great equestrian camp & trails or on renting their gorgeous cabin, check out their website: . Tell them you saw it on!

For Labor Day weekend, we made it down to Indian Cave in Nemaha County near Shubert, Nebraska. The trails were great and enjoyed camping with friends. The BIG FAT LYING weatherman was a little closer to getting the temperature right and we got about 10 hours of riding in. However, we all came back with chigger bites, including our young gelding. His were so severe we had to have the vet out. So if you head down to Indian Cave, make sure to spray the campsite good, keep bug spray on yourself and also keep the horses sprayed even when not riding.

My annual outing with the girls, Cowgirl Weekend, is just a few weeks away! I think September riding will be great. Making up for lost time! Hope you are enjoying it as well.

12/24/07 Friends & Mentors

Today we were chatting on Horsetales about fear. For those who have been riding all their lives, they may not have ever experienced this with regards to horses. When I was a child, I don’t recall being afraid to ride; really don’t recall being afraid to do anything. Ah, the gift of youth! But when I started riding horses as an adult, I became frightened. I want to say it was unreasonable fear at that particular point I had not been hurt on a horse. Didnt have one buck, bolt or rear on me yet. But a little switch went off in my head that told me they could buck, bolt or rear and the fear set in.

Looking back, I would have done a lot of things different. Like maybe plan for a horse? In my marriage, we both are a little spontaneous. I woke up that morning in the summer of 2000, read the Sunday classifieds, saw a pony in the paper and thought, why not? I was surprised that John didn’t try to talk me out of it. We came home that day with a 3 year old quarter horse mare and a Belgian weanling. (We weren’t quite sure at that point what a Belgian was. Now we know. Shes big.) No pony.

Had I planned this, it may have never come to fruition. I would have concluded lessons were too time-consuming and too expensive. Or I may have started the boys in lessons and bowed out of it myself. Then if they lost interest, wed be on to something else. But nooooo, we jump in this with all 4 feet (between us).

In our discussions about fear today, I mentioned at that time I met a new horse friend who unknowingly became my mentor. (Once you get horses, you have to distinguish between horse friend and other friend as they usually don’t intermingle). She wasn’t a trainer per se and didn’t provide lessons. She just rode. And whether we were eating lunch or riding horses, I listened and learned. I don’t think she ever had a fear of horses and if she was a little apprehensive, she put her husband on the horse first! She introduced me to trail riding when I thought all we did with horses were to ride up the road and in an occasional parade. She taught me about horse camping and it became my passion. And she told me the good pedigrees verses those horses to stay away from. And she introduced me to horse sales. Id pick out what I thought was the best horse at the sale and without a doubt, she would say I’ve never seen a (fill in the blank) bred horse that didn’t buck!

And she never questioned what I was afraid of really; we didn’t really even talk about my fear. We just rode. And without a doubt, her horse was always better than my horse. I swear my most seasoned horse would and still does have to put on more of a show than whatever colt she may be riding today! Probably had something to do with the rider. And I thank her today for what she taught me and for continuing to share the trail with me!

I also found the right horse. (At least in my mind he was the superstar). The girl selling him told me that if I had any problems with him, it was ME, not him. Well, well, well. This horse MUST be the magic pill for me. And he was. Luckily for me, he didn’t have the bucking pedigree (but wasn’t without an occasional crow hop). By this time, I was starting to overcome my fears but they had overflowed to my kids. But we all felt safe on Blue. He carried one of them behind me the first year or so and then when the boys were brave enough to ride on their own, they both spent many hours in the saddle on Blue.

Horses were the biggest challenge (besides raising children) that I have taken on in my adult life. And second most expensive to raising children, too! Unlike when I first started riding again, I now wear a helmet as much as an example to my kids as protecting my brain. I’ve had broken bones and broken hearts along the way. I’ve had horses I loved and horses I feared. And a special horse that died too soon. But Id do it all again. Do I still have fears? Yep! But most are reasonable fears not paralyzing fears. And I’m finally taking the time for lessons and learning what little I really know! And Blue gets to benefit from those lessons! And its all good.

So to the person who wants a horse or has a horse and also has fear issues, don’t waste another day. Take lessons to get yourself back in the saddle. If its your horse you are afraid of, there are lesson horses that you can start on. Find a mentor; talk with a horse friend. Don’t let fear end what you wanted to do with your horse. If you waited as long as I did, don’t miss the ride now!

12/31/07 Suffering from SAD

I have been suffering from the worst case of writers block which I can only attribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is due to lack of saddle time, which is where I get my inspiration and as a result, Stable Talk hasnt been updated. (Big sigh!).

Winter came so fast this year. Seemed like one weekend we are camping and the next we are scooping snow. Finally decided the only way to fight winter is to get out and ride. Here are a few tips I'll share for winter riding.

1) Don’t plan around what the weatherman says. If you cancel plans because a storm is coming, it wont come. If you make plans because it is suppose to be sunny and nice, the winds will be 50 mph.

2) Buy Under Amour cold weather gear. I swear it is 10 times warmer than long underwear. Of course it is tighter than a girdle and I truly believe most people who arent a size 2 would look better naked than with UA compression gear! Just put on a pair of pants or sweatshirt over it before anyone has a chance to see you compressed! Of course nothing good is cheap, so you'll probably have to forfeit your Christmas and birthday present for this bit of equine lingerie.

3) Fleece bomber hats with ear flaps (now we are talking -- just $6.99 from TSC) works great under a riding helmet. I scared the hell out of our new puppy when I came out with my hot pink model, but once again, cover it quickly and no one will know. (See picture insert of sacking out the pup.)

4) Old sock filled with rice makes the bit nice. Right before I head out, I nuke the sock/rice combo till its nice & toasty. When I get to the tack room, I wrap it around my horses bit while I saddle. A warm bit seems a little kinder on these cold days.

5) Make the ride more festive by adding jingle bells to your tack. Word to the wise, make sure horse thinks this is a good idea BEFORE you get on or you may be doing more than dashing through the snow!

6) Do not ride shod horse on slick driveway. Enough said.

7) Don’t forget all the other seasonal things like warm gloves and socks, maybe foot and finger warmers. A balaclava adds additional warmth (and I don’t mean a Greek pastry). When I pay off the Under Armor, I might be able to afford Mountain Horse winter boots.

8) If roads are too slick for the big trailer, pull a smaller one. (Or stay home and suffer from another bout of SAD).
It truly takes more effort to get ready to go ride than it does to actually ride. But so far, riding has been the only thing to ease the ill effects of SAD. My family, of course, thinks I am MAD to be riding when its so cold.

This past year was a challenge for riders: rains, heat, early snow, and high fuel prices. But any day on a horse is a good day. I hope you have many good days to come!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!