Sep 29, 2008

Cowgirl Weekend 2008


Like a kid looking forward to Christmas, I cannot WAIT until Cowgirl Weekend each year – and today, the day after Cowgirl Weekend 2008, I feel like that same kid having to wait another year for Santa to come again! For ten years, my friends, Kathy and Jamie, have organized this incredible weekend for their horse friends and for the last six years, I have had the privilege of being invited to attend.

This year Cowgirl Weekend was held at Kanopolis Lake near Salina, Kansas. Twenty horses, nineteen women in eleven rigs attended this special four-day, 10th anniversary ride. I think the horses must have known it was a special event; couldn’t have asked for better rides. I think the Big Fat Lying Weatherman even knew better than to mess with us on this ride! Temps stayed in the mid eighties with plenty of sunshine during the day and stars galore and an awesome view of the Milky Way at night. The sumac was changing to a deeper shade of red and yellow and white wildflowers grew randomly along the trail.



Plenty of rains though out the season kept the water crossings interesting. The red rock gave our flatlander horses new challenges, all of which they succeeded. A doe and her two young fawns followed us along the trail briefly one morning, as curious of us as we were the deer. Our horses paid no mind to the added company. Buzzards roosted in a tree not far from the corrals, but were not a bad omen.

Our event is multi-generational. Many of the guests have grandchildren, others career women, the "soccer mom" generation while yet another announced her own pregnancy. This weekend, like the years before, we clear our calendars and come together from different parts of our state and with diverse backgrounds, for a weekend of sharing the passion of horses. And had it not been for horses, we probably would have never met in our own walks of life.



Cowgirl Weekend is bittersweet as it signifies the unofficial end of the riding season. The four days we are together go too fast and ends too soon. In the days following, there will be a flurry of email exchanges sharing memories, followed by shared pictures. And then we'll go our separate ways and probably won't see each other again collectively, until next year.

Cowgirl Weekend isn’t just about riding. Although spending time in the saddle and spending time with our horses is what brings us all together, there is more. It’s about renewing friendships that so often get put on the back burner due to other obligations in our hectic lives. It’s about having fun; letting our hair down. And playing.

Sep 24, 2008

Cowgirl Weekend Bound!



“Its not the fall that hurts, it’s the landing.” The old adage is very true; the landing is the bad part. Other clich├ęs about not bouncing as well are also true. It’s been over a week now since my fall from Black and there are still aches and pains. And I’m told the hematoma on my shinbone will be around for quite awhile! But let’s give “the fall” some credit, too. Although aches and pains will eventually heal, I have yet to really test how much the fall has hurt my confidence. I did get back on the colt shortly afterwards, but I haven’t rode nor worked with him since. The desire is there but I am lacking the motivation. Plus I am wrapping myself in bubble wrap for one of my favorite weekends of the year.

Coming up is my annual “Cowgirl Weekend” trip. Not unlike any other weekend camping and trail riding trip except it has a name and I get to spend time with a group of friends that I don’t see collectively very often. This is the 10th year the hostesses have planned the trip and the 6th year in which I’ve had the privilege of being invited. It has little to do with being a “cowgirl” (whatever that means!) and more to do with just getting away with my good horse for a long weekend with other gals who share the passion. It motivated me to learn to pull my own trailer years ago and since that first trip, there has been no turning back!

I’m pretty sure the oil companies must be on to Cowgirl Weekend. I wasn’t surprised that diesel fuel jumped up 20 cents in price yesterday. Always seems to when I have travel plans. But I fooled them! I filled up early, when it was “on sale” at $3.79. Too bad that same tank won’t get me home. This year we are returning to central Kansas, about a 5 hour drive from here. The weather forecast shows low to mid eighties and plenty of sunshine. Sounds like a perfect fall weekend.

This will be the fourth CGW riding Windy. As much as I enjoy being with my friends, it is equally an important time with my horse. We don’t just sit around the camp fire, we ride… a lot. In the weeks proceeding, I start to slowly add grain to Windy’s diet knowing she will be working harder over those four days. Her winter hair is starting to come in and that, combined with the extra fat from the grain, makes her bay coat shine. If the sun ever comes out today, she’ll get a bath and perhaps some Twinkle Toes as a finishing touch! She’s my “family” for the weekend. I see her first in the morning and before heading to bed at night.

I’m sure there will be stories to tell and some I'll be sworn NOT to tell. And I’m praying all my Cowgirl friends have a safe trip to and from CGW! (Will see you soon!!) I’m heading out now to soap my windows on my truck: “Cowgirl Weekend or Bust!”

Sep 17, 2008

Moving Forward

I’ve watched with interest as my left leg has turned every shade of black and blue. It is still swollen, but not really painful. The color has “leaked” down to my ankle and along my heel. I’ve shown it to as many people that are interested in seeing it! The badge of honor or a sign of craziness… I’m not quite sure.

That left leg of mine has sure taken a beating. Starting with the roller skating accident almost 10 years ago and then Ginger stepping on it and breaking it again in 2005 to this most recent accident! I guess we’ll know where the arthritis will set in first!

On Monday, I pulled Windy from the corral and took her over to the trailer to feed her. (She is getting some special feedings now to prepare for some long fall weekend riding trips.) As she ate, I groomed her. And then felt the overwhelming urge to ride. I saddled her up and swung my leg over. Nothing hurt bad enough to prevent me from riding. And together with Ritz, we headed down the road.

Incidentally, Ritz had been banned from road riding with me up until this point. He was doing awesome until the spring calves were born. And then he took chase. The cow owner’s dogs chased him away before he did any damage. Heck, I was high-tailing it down the road. I wasn’t going to claim him if the farmer came to investigate. “Dog?” I’d say, “What dog? Oh, THAT dog. Nope, don’t know him.”



Anyway, I knew the calves had been weaned as I heard them singing their mournful choir for about 3 days ago (in a corral in the opposite direction), so Ritz was invited to participate once again. I rode Windy down the roads for about an hour. Stopping to let her graze in the ditch before returning home. I could walk and lope without much pain; the trot was a bit more trying, but doable.

Tonight we start fall lessons with Brenda Messick. Although I will probably take Windy tonight, I haven’t ruled out taking the Black to lessons sometime this season. I am not necessarily scared to ride him; I’d always been cautious before. The bucking incident caught me off guard, but I don’t think it is the way things are meant to be with him. And quite frankly, I believe I have made progress with him. I joke that its always more steps back than forward, but I need to stop saying that. It isn’t necessarily true and we have made progress. This past episode may have helped me choose his ultimate destiny, however, as there is only so far I can take him. But he will go backward again if I do nothing more with him.

Sep 14, 2008

And Off Again... Literally.

Yesterday I posted the following story on Horsetales. One may find it unusual for me to post this detail about a horse I have for sale. "Yep, no one is going to buy that one now," you might be thinking. Perhaps. But, get to the end of the blog for the thoughts from today -- which may give you a different perspective.

Here was my Horsetales Post:

My last blog entry was titled “Back on Black”. This one could be titled “And Now Off the Black”. Didn’t I say I just wasn’t interested in riding young horses anymore? That something about this horse has always put me on edge? Three steps forward, two steps back? Well, I’m not sure there is any turning back now. I think I’m done.

I have a big camping weekend coming up in just a week and a half. And decided up until that time, I will ride Black or one of the others rather than risk Windy getting hurt – especially when some of the places we ride are muddy and slick right now. Since this morning’s ride was going to be in the arena, figured it was as good a place as any to ride Black. And felt extra good about the day when he loaded into the two horse trailer on the first send, stood quietly while I picked his feet and seemed very level as I lunged him in the round pen in an unfamiliar arena.

Sticky feet. Told Sheila that Brenda recommends ground driving to help with that. He would follow other horses, but real reluctant to go and explore on his own. So we started by following Deb and Jim and then Cooper and Sheila. We’d break off, circle and then come back to the group. Truly, we were to the point of taking extended stays at other less populated areas of the arena. We checked out the stuffed gorilla, the barrels, followed Jim through the poles. Put one foot on a plank placed in the arena -- couldn’t get the other foot on it, but one was good. He snorted at the yellow tarp but then relaxed. I wouldn’t let him cross it as I have a fear of shod horses and tarps, so that was my choice not to – but kind of think he may have.

Deb brought out a big ball. This caught Black’s attention. Almost the same reaction as he had to cows last winter at Chance Ridge. Ears up, alert & moving toward the ball. Jess’ Cutter was moving it and Black was perhaps at his shoulder or flank. I sensed he only had an interest in the ball, not a fear.

I’ve heard people say “the horse just blew!” And I always believed there had to be something that caused “the blow”. Whether it be a tack problem, a spook, insects… I was of the assumption that SOMETHING has to happen. But as the six of us dissected the event, none of us could come up with a reason. He reacted like he had something wrapped around his legs. He didn’t, but that was the reaction as he tucked his head, rounded his back and four feet left the ground like a bronc out of the gate at a rodeo. I recall riding out a few of the blasts. Thinking once about trying to one rein stop, but the hand couldn’t coordinate it – either I was hanging on or the brainwaves just wouldn’t work. I remember not wanting to fall close to his feet. I recall hearing Sheila say “get back” or something to that sort. The girls say I lasted 8 seconds, but I think they were being nice.

My helmet took the impact right above the left temple followed by my jaw and shoulder. I think my elbow went into my ribs. I have a new growth under my left knee that Deb says looks like a grew a new appendage. Wasn’t sure if it came from the impact of a hoof. John says its hoof sized. My right knee is also bruised – I think it could have collided with my left knee… so who knows. I ate dirt and sawdust and saw my horse continue to buck on down the arena.

Why is it when you fall from a horse, your first impulse is to get up quickly and announce “I’m okay!” And I did get up and I was okay. But I also sat back down just to catch my breath and assess the damage, if any. Good to have two nurses on hand when you take a dive! I am pretty sure Polly was ready to call 911; but I convinced her I just needed water. The other nurse, Sheila, caught the beast and put him in the round pen.

When I got up from the arena ground for the second time, I had flashes of injured football players rising and the fans applauding! I wanted to applaud for myself. I’m 47 years old and took quite a fall and everything still seems to work. I’m alive! And then I hobbled to the round pen and lunged my Black colt and with Sheila’s help, I got back on. I rode him for a few minutes and gladly followed Sheila’s advise that enough was enough… don’t’ push it. And I didn’t.

I rode Jake for a bit and then Cooper. But with the “appendage” growing out of my shinbone right into where I touch the saddle, it wasn’t comfortable. But the boys took good care of me when I dropped the stirrup.

My good friend, Kathy Newberg, told me not to take offense at what she was going to say – that I was “no trainer” and I shouldn’t be doing this. She is right. I’m not and I shouldn’t. I’m not out to prove anything – just trying to build a future for this horse. But I think I’ve gone as far as I can. I know this. And McCain knows it, too, when I came hobbling into the house tonight.

He’s a good age. We’ve taken him a lot of places and asked him to do things on the trail that a lot of horses haven’t done. He just needs the holes I left open, filled in. I believe the colt is very insecure. He needs a strong leader and a consistent training regimen. I can’t give him either.

What his future hold; I can’t say. My head hurts right now. And my knee. I’ll think about it tomorrow or the next day….

Oh, and am I ever grateful I had a helmet on my head. I did see stars when I hit, but the helmet took the brunt of the impact. I would hate to have thought about that force without it.




Today's Perspective

Today I woke up to new aches and pains. No worse for the wear than yesterday and truth be known, I feel better mentally and physically. My shinbone still has a huge lump that is turning some crazy colors and my entire body feels like it did when I was in a car accident some time ago. But none of the pieces are broken. I think I'll live.

I mentioned on Horsetales that this horse needs someone more confident than I am and a consistent training regimen to be successful. I still stand by this thought. But the interesting comment I had was from a very respected horsewoman who knows this horse and knows horse behavior, especially in regards to cow work. She said:

"I can give you my guess as to what happened with the Black colt as
I've seen it many times when a colt first alerts to something that
puts him into the chase mode. First they loose any attention they
have on their rider or just decide that they would rather dump the
rider to get on with the game. Almost always happens the first time
a colt is sent after a cow – for that matter may it even happen with
a broke horse when given permission to chase on a loose rein. The
more intent the horse is on the object he is chasing the more likely
he will buck on a loose rein on the initial run.

I watched the Black horse when you first introduced him to chasing
cattle and knew immediately that he was intent on the game. He has a lot of "cow" in him.

You said that his ears went forward and his attention went to the
ball. I would be willing to bet that you also felt him loosen up his
stickiness at the same time. Sure not making any excuses for the
horse but know you're wondering why he did what he did. He blew
because he wanted to play his own game on his own terms. Sure
doesn't make it hurt any less but may give you some idea as to why it
happened."


If I didn't know better, I would have thought this person was in the arena with me. But she wasn't. But the horse pretty much mirrored what she mentions. Does it change anything with me? Not sure. I really don't think we need him. The trust is broken; its going to be hard to get that back. But I don't want to drop him at a sale and hope for the best. The only thing I have decided so far is to continue to work with him as I can. May not be in the saddle, but there are other options. Perhaps a real cowboy will read this and tell me "Hey, I'll take your pony!" :)

Meanwhile, I'll show you my bruise like a badge of honor! Hey, us horsepeople are weird that way!

Sep 12, 2008

Back on Black



After our return from Brushy Creek, the Black sat. Well, figuratively speaking that is... He really just stood in the pasture or at the round bale, but he didn't get pulled to do anything. I rode Blue on the next Platte River Ride and then we had rain and the pens were muddy and (fill in the blank for other excuses). And before I knew it, ten days had passed since he was last ridden; a few more since I rode him. So for the last Platte River Ride this past Wednesday, I rode the Black.

I hauled three horses: Black for myself, Ginger for Sam and Windy for Gretchen. Sam and I planned to meet a little early for a pre-ride. I saddled Windy and Black while Sam saddled Ginger. After mounting, had Sam hand me Black’s lead rope. Windy had never ponied before – (or if she did it was for a short time & I have no memory of the event – which wouldn’t be unusual… I tend to leave storage in my long term memory for the life threatening or really important moments) -- and this would be Black’s first time being ponied for any distance. Sam headed out on Ginger and we followed. Windy was pretty tolerant of the young colt most of the time. He did stop to poop once and I didn’t stop her fast enough, so dropped the rope. And if she would try to snitch food along the trail & I pushed her along, she would give him the eye like it was his fault she couldn’t eat! (They are just like my kids; always blaming the other!) We rode a very uneventful ride for an hour and then returned to the trail head to meet the rest of the riders.

About forty riders showed up for the final ride of the regular season. After a quick sandwich, we mounted up and headed out with the group. We didn’t lead, but were probably in with the first half dozen riders. The colt didn’t cause me too much grief. Noted inappropriate behaviors included trying to kick at Tammy M's horse when we were bottlenecked at the gate. He did try to trot up if too much trail got between him and Ginger and I would slow him by one-rein stops or half halts. No bucks, spooks or sticky feet. Crossed all the logs; jumped one or two. Plowed through the mud and most of the time worked off my leg to keep my knee from getting pounded on trees. I did get him to go ahead of Ginger a few times, too. We rode for about 2 hours. I was happy with the ride. The journey continues....

Although the Platte River Riders riding season has ended (because we ran out of daylight for evening rides), we are coming into what is my favorite time of the year for riding. I’m trying hard not to complain about the rain as that will really green up the pastures for fall grazing… but jeez, can’t it do this on a Monday? I get off at noon on Friday and now that the kids are back in school, I was really looking forward to having Friday afternoons free for riding. But it has been raining the past two. I rode in it last week. This week… well, the horses are “sitting” nicely in the corral right now.

This fall promises more saddle time with Black including lessons, continued lessons with Windy and wonderful autumn rides. This month is my annual camping trip with friends. Next month the Horsetales group is getting together at Turkey Creek and then toward the end of October is the family outing for Platte River Riders. Looking at my ride log from last year, November 18th was about the last real trail ride for the year . Ergh… that’s only 2 months away. Hate to think about winter riding. That is NOT the most wonderful time of the year for me….

So don't go feeling sorry for that Black colt for sitting for 10 days. He's got more days on his agenda. I've got more days on my agenda. He's getting more and more expensive! :)

Sep 5, 2008

"No Excuses"... Thoughts?


I assume if you are tuning in here, there is a good chance you have a horse. Let me ask you this: Do you ride as much as you would like? If not, why not? Do you find yourself with only a half hour's worth of time and figure that is not enough to hassle with riding? And then tomorrow you have the time, but its hotter than hell now or you don't want to ride alone? That's called singing the same song, only a different verse.

If you think I'm harping at you personally, I'm not. I'm just thinking about a stat that someone once mentioned: 80% of new horse owners will be through with it in one year. Of the 20% that stay with it, 80% of those will be out of horses in 5 years. Without doing the math, that seems like a lot of people moving away from horses!

I have felt the loss as my family has ridden less and less. John would say that he is "just too busy; not home enough the way it is". The kids say they don't have fun "riding at home", but if I offer to take them to a trail, they decline, as well. I'm not sure any of them ever had the passion, but the more they are away from it, the more reasons they have not to ride today or tomorrow or the next day. And I miss riding with them; it was something we did together.

Riding took on a new meaning for me after I started taking lessons. I now had a reason to ride; to continue to practice what I learned and not let my horse get stale. I invested in training; I didn't want my investment to go to waste. And to go fetch my horse for a short ride -- when I didn't have time for anything longer -- didn't seem like quite as big of a chore when we had things to do & practice! And most of all, as Windy and I started to click even better, it ignited my passion even more.

Using the comments section (you can post anonymously), do you ride as much as you did when you first got your horse? If yes, what kind of riding do you do and what keeps you interested? Or if you ride less now than you did before, why? What do you think changed things for you? Are you as satisfied just "being" with horses as you would be actually riding? (I've always said if I couldn't ride any longer, I would still want horses in my life!) Or do you rarely see your horses anymore and if so, again, what changed?

I'm anxious to hear from you!

Sep 2, 2008

No Excuses, Just Ride!

Last year, it was either too hot, too muggy, too rainy, too wet or too far to ride. I blamed diesel prices for driving me to cancel two trips I was really looking forward to taking. Although most of the excuses held some truth to them, come winter time when I was longing for ride time, I questioned if I had become a fair weather rider that past year? I finally had a horse that I adore and plenty of people to ride with. So why did I forgo so many camping trips and decline invitations to ride because the conditions weren't perfect?

This year was my comeback year! Time to take chances on the weather in lieu of lost opportunities. Time to start looking for reasons to ride rather than reasons not to ride. Starting with a January ride at Two Rivers and again in early March, the rides continued going into a weather friendly "Platte River Rider" season. Had an early camping trip in May and participated in a mock CTR and then started getting the horses conditioned for our South Dakota trip.

Spent several days riding in the Black Hills and could have easily spent a few more days there. What an adventure! We then traveled down to meet the Horsetales group for more riding in Ft. Robinson. Have since camped a couple times at Camp Moses, our debut camping trip to Big Elk and Labor Day weekend at Brushy Creek, Iowa. Granted, the weather has been near perfect for summer in Nebraska but I also believe my attitude of "no excuses, just ride" has played a big part in getting me out and about more this year. And the fall season (my personal favorite) is just beginning!

Before you start feeling sorry for my family, their activities come first. And at their ages, there are a lot of them. I've been with the same company for 22 years, so I have plenty of vacation time -- I'm not out there playing hooky. The things that do get put on the back burner are things that aren't that important. Household items that can easily wait until winter time! Dust bunnies can continue to hide, closets don't really need cleaned out until you need hangers! Turn the horses out on your grass and you no longer have to mow. You get the picture!

I hope you are enjoying the summer months as much as I am and hope this awesome weather continues into the fall. I'll see you on the trail!

Sep 1, 2008

Brushy Creek Iowa


We just returned from Labor Day weekend with the Musils and the Newbergs at Brushy Creek Recreation Area near Lehigh, Iowa. What a great weekend! The weather and the company couldn't have been any better. And wow! Does Iowa know how to do up a horse camp or what???

McCain is a freshman this year and has to suit up for varsity home games, so we did not get on the road until Saturday morning. The alarm went off at 5:00, rolled out of bed at 5:30 and horses loaded and on the road by 6:30 AM. Arrived at Brushy Creek at about 11:00. Was really impressed with our camping spot; although we made reservations too late for electrical hook-ups, our primitive spot was nicely shaded with a water hydrant directly across from our trailer. The camp had nice shower houses and bathrooms, for the holiday weekend, the park brought in porta-potties for each area, again, directly across from us. Newbergs and Musils were on the trail when we arrived, so we set up camp. Later the kids wandered down to the beach area to swim.

All of us went on a late afternoon ride. To get to the wildlife preserve, we had to follow about 2 miles of "all weather trail", very similar to what is on MoPac or Oak Creek Trail. And then went down into the trees. The trails in the trees were dirt, some water crossings - very nicely maintained in such a way to protect from erosion.

John was on Ginger, Case on Butter, McCain rode Black and I was on Windy. As usual, when we ride with the gaited horse crew, our horses get pretty high. And this first day was no exception. We left camp at a pretty good clip. Our quarter horses got pretty fired up trying to keep up the 5 mph pace of the gaited horses and we all struggled with them. We rode for about 2 hours and frankly, that was enough. I knew McCain had too much horse for him. But I didn't think he would fair any better with Windy, so we just rode the horse we had and glad to make it back in one piece! I told Tammy and Kathy that I could tell Windy was just pissed! You know how you can feel that sometimes? She was very pissed!

Had a nice dinner over the campfire and roasted StarBurst candies. Kathy shared some awesome apple dumplings for dessert!

John and McCain changed horses for Sunday's ride and McCain did much better on Ginger. We also changed the game plan and had the quarter horses lead. Ginger clipped along at 3.8 to 4.2 mph which is comfortable for our horses. We decided to leave the camp and go north around the lake on the all weather trail -- mainly, just to get a feel of the area. We had lunch on the trail. Found some nice water crossings again and a water hole that we decided was worth revisiting on the next ride.

Black did a lot of trotting with John. John and I ride nothing alike and I felt bad for the colt -- John is pretty heavy handed & they struggled. At times I thought about switching horses with him, but I wasn't sure he would get along with Windy either -- it's been a long time since he rode her. Had McCain not been doing so well on Ginger, I could have had him ride Windy and John could take his own horse back. On day 2, McCain would have done fine on Windy. Ah, the ponderings after the fact.... Had some moments when my boys would fight... gawd, I love to watch fighting on horseback -- NOT! I could have taken my reins and popped them both. But hated to ruin a good ride... :)

On the all weather trail close to camp, Rich put his horse into a fox trot. Windy stayed right with him. GPS showed 9.1 MPH. We started up again when the rest caught up; this time Windy in the lead. I moved her into an extended trot -- never once breaking into a lope.... 9 mph, 10 mph, 13.1 mph at a trot! Someone asked us to hold up, so I brought her back down. Quite a rush!

Later that evening, John and Tammy Musil, Rich and John and I went out for a quick ride until dark. The gaited horses did their thing, John and I lingered behind. When we felt the need, we'd lope to catch up. When we got back to camp, we played in the arena for awhile & then made it back for campfire.

The park provides hitching posts for up to 6 horses (provided they get along) at each campsite. We tied their leads as you would if tied to the trailer. Put Black and Windy on one side & Ginger and Butter on the other. Was glad to see that (at least) Butter had laid down over night.

I was disappointed to find the horses sore a bit sore this morning. It had to be from the all weather trail. Butter was very soft on her right front and although not as obvious with Ginger and Windy, they chose to walk on the grass next to the trail instead of on it -- so assume they were a bit tender, too. Black is shod, so he didn't have any issues. I had said after leaving Ft. Rob, that I wouldn't shoe for Ft. Rob if I ever go back; let me tell you, I was VERY surprised to find them sore from this type of riding. I'm not sure I would go back to Brushy Creek without shoes, just because of that all weather trail.

This morning, Musils packed up to leave and we rode back out with the Newbergs. At the first opportunity, we moved into the interior dirt trails. The horses traveled a lot better off the all weather trail. We went back to the water hole and played. The kids stripped off their shirts and boots. Case stood on his saddle and jumped off Butter into the water. John and Black had a real good ride.

Ate lunch when we returned. Broke camp and headed home. Pulled in around 7-ish tonight; unloaded the horses and coolers and crashed. I enjoyed Brushy Creek, but even more, am in awe at what Iowa's Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) does to accommodate equestrian activity in their parks. From trails to camps, it is darn near perfect!

And now, about The Black. I think I have come to the conclusion that it's time he goes. Not so much because of anything he did, but just lack of time and know how. We trail ride. That is what we do. And to get a horse seasoned on the trail, you need to ride them, work with them, put time on them. My family is riding less and less. I primarily ride Windy, but certainly don't mind riding the other horses periodically to keep time on them. Butter is getting very buddy sour with Ginger and although Case handles her, she has shown some very nasty behaviors and its getting worse. There just isn't enough time for me to keep my horse, work with Butter, work with Black and put time on Blue and Ginger. I think the decision is obvious and I think McCain sees it, too.

I'll work with Black this fall, use him at lessons at Brenda's and try to get as much as I can going with him so he has half a chance. But as of today, I think he is for sale... Not an easy decision. As I've said many times, it sucks to be the grown-up.....