Jan 27, 2009

A Bit Melancholy

As I browsed through my pictures
looking for an inspiration for today’s blog,
I found I’ve grown weary of cold pictures.
As pretty as the snow can be,
I still long for warmth.
A backdrop of green.
The essence of summer.

I want to walk out door without the ritual of bundling up.
I want to wear a baseball cap and t-shirt
instead of a balaclava and coveralls.
I want to feel my horses’ shiny slick coats with my bare hands.
Raise their manes to take in their scent,
not to warm my cold nose.
I want color in my cheeks from the sun,
not from the wind chill.

I want to swim in the lake with Blue
to cool off after a warm day’s ride.
I want to ride down the road on Windy
and smell the apple blossoms on the neighbor’s trees.
I want to see the baby calves at play
and watch the crops come to surface.
I want to watch out for snakes again!

I want to open Ginger up without fear or reservation
and gallop down the “loping trail”.
I want to ride Butter bareback in shorts and bare feet
and capture what’s left of my youth.
I want to groom Baby until her flaxen tail shines.
I want to see if she really will drive.

I want to ride my favorite trails without fear of hidden ice.
And camp with my family and friends.
I want to sit around a campfire with the canopy of stars.
I want Jiffypop over the fire!
I want to hear my horses munching on hay in their make shift pens.
As I drift to sleep after an honest days ride.
I want to saddle up in the early morning
and do it all over again!

I want my truck to start without plugging it in.
My horse’s bit to be warm to the touch.
I want the leather on my saddle soft and supple.
I want the sun on my back
and the reins in my hand
I want to smell freshly cut hay
I want the sky as blue as it was last June.

I want winter to end.

(Remembering a friend)
Rest in Peace
Sweet Saint
Rest in Peace

Jan 25, 2009

Sunday Morning Photo Shoot

This morning brought a few more inches of snow and single digit temperatures. But instead of my usual whine about the cold, I have to say that the morning was breathtakingly beautiful. The snow was light and powdery. You know, the kind that just sparkles in the sun.

I put on my coveralls, gloves and balaclava and Ritz and I headed to the barn. I had opened the gate to the bean field and east pasture yesterday. The herd had returned this morning and were milling around the east side of the barn taking in the warmth of the sun (and I use the word “warmth” loosely!) They stood quietly as I took some shots.

Baby is just made for close-up shots. Her eyes are so expressive.

This was an interesting shot of Butter, looking across Baby & Black’s backs.

Darling Windy is very nervous having all the horses in her run! (“Please make them go away! They are pooping in the wrong spot!”)

You can’t see Ritz, but he and Butter were sparing.

Ritz – yeah – he looks totally innocent. And before you say “what a pretty dog”, pretty is as pretty does!

Don’t you just love how black horses photograph in the snow?

Ginger and Blue were hanging out in the barn and missed the photo shoot.

On another note, The Pioneer Woman has me hooked on Photoshop. I am still learning the particulars – probably never will figure it all out -- but I hardly ever publish a “straight out of camera” shot anymore. Unfortunately, I am awaiting repairs on my main computer and don’t have Photoshop installed on any of my backup computers. After using Photoshop to enhance, frame, crop (and erase bad fencing!), publishing pictures without it is like going to town without make-up. So fired up my old Microsoft Digital Image Pro so I could at least frame the pictures! May not be in full make-up, but likening to at least having on mascara!

Jan 22, 2009

A Taste of Spring

As usual – the weather report… You’ll recall our low last week of minus 14 and frozen pipes. Well today, it was near 60! It just KILLED me to have to stay at work all day knowing tomorrow the cold will return. The last meeting of the day ran long. I was really burning daylight. I needed saddle time desperately after a workweek of hell! As I rushed home, I kept the cruise set a few marks over the speed limit (I can’t get another ticket!) but passed every imbecile who slowed me down! I had my priorities straight!

Today was jean day at work so luckily I didn’t have to waste time changing clothes. Kicked off my shoes, put on my boots and sweatshirt, gloves & an ear band. As I was zipping up my half chaps, John looked at my quizzically and asked, “So are you going riding?” (Hmm? He’s frickin’ psychic!) I told him to keep Ritz in the house, as I didn’t need him trying to “help” me catch a horse & headed out the door with no time to waste. Windy slipped her nose into the halter. She knew we were on a mission!

I rode down to the pasture as the sun was setting. There was neither wind nor any crispness to the air. Truly stolen time for January in Nebraska. I stopped at the bottom where we bale the hay and let her graze on the brown, but still thick grass, wishing more than once I had grabbed my camera. The sky -- blue, gray & green with a hint of pink -- made an awesome backdrop to the huge bare old tree. Windy looked up quickly just as I noticed Ritz had found us! The pesky dog! It was almost dark as I rode back up to the barn.

Send me one more summer
in the hills.
Pack it neatly,
arrange it so that opened up
The whole of it will spread across
a half a dozen months or more.
-Rod McKuen

Jan 17, 2009

Real Fear

A friend was giving lessons to a young girl today and met the child’s mother for the first time. She asked the mother if she rode. The mother told my friend that she used to, but was injured on a horse when she was in high school and hasn’t ridden again. My friend asked if she still had the desire and the woman said “I’m not sure….”

I’ve written about fear before on Horsetrailriders.com Stable Talk. In brief, I went through an “unreasonable fear” phase. Now, after almost a decade of riding, I still have my moments. But the things I am fearful of are within reason. Rather than being afraid, I call it “being careful.” I’m careful about what horse I ride, where I ride and who I ride with. I learn to listen to the “little voice” that has proven to be right more times than wrong. Call it intuition or EF Hutton – I listen.

Yesterday I watched helplessly as a friend took a bad fall from her horse. It happened a second after she mounted and was totally unexpected. It was a horse she knew well and none of us, including her, saw any warning signs while she warmed him up. It was simply just “one of those things.” She’s no amateur – probably one of the most experienced horse women I know. In another incident, Lisa, a fellow blogger from Laughing Orca Ranch, is recovering from a knee injury and subsequent surgery following an unplanned dismount. And my bruises haven’t completely faded from my September accident. It happens. But I hate to see it, hear about it or be victim to it.

A nurse friend told me that medical personnel question the sanity of horse people. I can think of quite a few other activities that are equally, if not more risky. Motorcycling, snow skiing – heck, even football to some extent! But age wise, I am sure equestrian events are one of the more dangerous sports that (forgive me for using this word) “middle aged” women participate in. And it definitely is a sickness for many of us.

Even with lingering fear issues, I got back on my colt. Lisa recently made a visit to her barn. And as she nurses her leg, my friend is probably re-riding that horse in her mind, trying to find a clue to what set him off. I’m sure they are both counting the days until they can ride again. I wonder if the mother, who in her youth was injured, will once again uncover the passion which fear has taken from her and her daughter is now enjoying?

It's boots and chaps
It's cowboy hats
It's spurs and latigo
It's the ropes and the reins
And the joy and the pain
And they call the thing rodeo

Jan 15, 2009

Frozen Pipes & Broken Links

The last time it was this cold in Nebraska, I was seven months pregnant with McCain, who is now 14 years old, and we woke up to frozen water pipes. That day continued to get worse when I had a blow out on the way to work. It was pre-cell phones then & I had to rely on the kindness of strangers seeing this very pregnant woman standing outside her car in the deepest freeze our state had ever seen…

Fast forward to the past twenty-four hours! Holy cow! When I got up this morning, the weather bug on my desktop said –14! I went to run the shower and flashbacked! No water pressure. For the first time since 1994, our water had frozen again! Thank goodness for technology – I opted to telecommute today! John went to work on the well.

The auto-waterer could no longer refill, but there was still some water in the back-up tank. John worked through the morning with heat lamps in the well, but it wasn’t budging. He pulled out our 50 gallon camping drum and went down the hill to his mom’s to get water to fill the tank in the afternoon. You’d have thought these horses had been trail riding all day in 90 degrees, as much water as they took. He gave the horses and our 4 cows about 120 gallons in the afternoon and another 50 at dusk. Shortly after, the pipes began to rumble and we had water!

On a happier note, with a little help from a friend, my website, Horsetrailriders.com, was resurrected today from the near fatal crash last Sunday. This latest incident truly made me realize how amateur my web skills really are. Thank you for your patience. I’ll continue to tweak it as needed, but for the most part, it is good to go.

Seems like every November
When the weather gets bad
I start to remember
All the good times we had
The long nights get longer
I wish a friend would come by
The forecast is zero
And the chill factors high

-Merle Haggard

Jan 13, 2009

Age is Just a Number

McCain & Ginger at Brushy Creek Lake, Iowa

My oldest son, McCain, is currently a freshman in high school. For his early April birthday, he mentioned he would like to go to the Nickelback concert. Not exactly my kind of music, but if I had to go to a concert, I’m okay with that group. Somewhere in the course of this monosyllabic conversation, he kind of figured out I was part of the plan and that was so not cool!

I remembered my first concert when I was a freshman: The “KISS Alive Tour”. And there would have been no way in hell I would have went with MY mom in tow! Thinking back, she would have only been 49 years old then! (Note I say “only” – I’ll get to the point soon.) I didn’t let him off the hook completely – told him I understand, but mentioned I kind of thought I was a “cool mom.” I got the “eye roll eye brow lift” that speaks volumes: “Yeah, right.”

I'm riding Windy at Kanopolis Lake, Kansas

Many times I look at other women who appear old, perhaps a bit tired looking. And studying them closely, it dawns on me that they may not be much older than me. Sometimes I am shocked to find out they are younger. I’m not saying I am representative of the fountain of youth or the epitome of good health -- I'm far from that! But there is some truth in the old adage that you are as young as you feel. I don’t feel 47 years old. I used to say I still feel 28, but my boys have aged me some. In my mind, I am 35. Not a day older! But thinking back to Mom during that time in my life, I can’t imagine her doing the things that I do. The most obvious, of course, riding a horse hundreds of hours and miles. I'm 35 in horse years!

I wonder if we never brought horses into our lives, what I would have been doing the last 10 years and how I would feel and look today. I do think horses keep me feeling young. They’ve inspired me to lose weight to lighten the load and improve my skills. They motivate me to want to be outside. And they’ve taken me places my own feet never could. And on many of these rides, I’ve shared them with friends who are older than me. Friends who also have horses in their lives. And when I see them running next to me on their horse with a smile a mile wide, I know they aren't a day over 35 either!

Rich & Kathy Newberg at Brushy Creek, Iowa

I’m pretty sure McCain thinks I’m not only “uncool”, but also a little bit crazy. And not the good crazy kind. Just wait until he brings home the girlfriend who secretly has loved horses all of her life and I ask her if she wants to go for a ride!

So how old are you in horse years?

Jan 11, 2009


Tuesday, January 13

Short Version: Many of Horsetrailriders.com pages are still unavailable. I'm hoping to have it up and running this weekend. Picked a bad week for a crash - just not enough time to spend getting it back together.

In the meantime, this blog continues to roll. It takes my mind off the big picture!

An Invitation to Ride

I want to ride with you today!

But no time to haul.
And its pretty cold -- temp is saying 31 right now which is bearable...
but of course there is the wind factor!

So, let's Cyber Ride!

Sometime between now and o'dark hundred, head to the barn, fetch a horse & RIDE!
Doesn't have to be a long ride, but long enough that if anyone asks what you did today, you can say "I rode my horse."

Come on. I double dog dare you!
And report back here after the ride!

(See comments section for ride reports from me & others!)

PS: Wasn't the moon awesome? The picture above is the moon setting in the west this morning. The one below is of it coming up, just above the horizon.

Jan 9, 2009

Just Another Day in Paradise

I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about The Big Fat Lying Weatherman before today. He is the Talking Head that stands there on our television screen with a big ass smile on his face and promises us sunshine and flowers and happy trails! And before we can say “giddy-up”, the BFLWM says, “Oops, guess were in for a big one.... eh, eh, eh.” And he laughs his evil laugh!

So the truck is still in the drive with the trailer hooked up, covered with snow and ice – today’s early offering. I still have my breeches and long underwear on: too stubborn to change clothes. And here I sit with the computer in my face and a glass of red wine. The wind and snow is now hitting the window where the ice pelted it early on. The back-pedaling BFLWM quickly covered his tracks by calling for an inch of snow accumulation. (There is 3” right now, Big Guy, but who’s counting!) Aw, January in Nebraska!

Before the storm hit, I let the herd out to pasture for awhile. They trotted through the bean field and once they hit the pasture, they gave it their all! Ginger and Windy vied for the lead, Butter did her usual buck and twist. Baby galloped, ears back – her big ol’ self just plowing across the pasture. Blue warmed up by lunging himself in the prettiest little figure 8s and Black did his best Arab imitation. I don’t think his tail could get any higher. When the sleet started, I found them back up at the barn and enticed by a bucket of corn, they reluctantly went back to the corral.

I used to think that Nebraskans had the worst winter weather of any state! But since I started reading other blogs, I find rough weather everywhere. Although picturesque, some Idaho horse-people are scooping the snow from their roofs for fear of cave-ins. The Pacific Northwest not only had uncommon heavy snowfalls, but flooding. And once the bitter chill passes through our state, it seems to offer as cold, if not colder, weather back east! I wonder what their Big Fat Lying Weatherman tells them? Compared to some of these conditions, I almost feel like just a whiner!

Rumor has it, temps could reach the forties on Sunday. I'll leave my breeches on....

But tomorrow's a dream away
Today has turned to dust
Your silver tongue has turned to clay
And your golden rule to rust (-Jim Croce)

Jan 5, 2009

In Her Daughter's Eyes

I just can’t capture in a picture what I see with my own eyes: her mother’s eyes. The little wrinkles she gets over her left eye when she is worried or the fire in her eye when she is pissed. The mother is much more subtle about showing her true emotions.

In some pictures, I see the same stance. And when they run across the pasture, they both exhibit the same grace and beauty. Stride for stride, she can out run her mama – but she doesn’t have the heart for the game.

She left as a yearling and came home again when she was three. I hoped for a flicker of recognition between the mare and her filly and was disappointed it was no different than introducing a new horse to the herd.

But sometimes I think they know…. I catch the mama watching as her only offspring is loading. And I see her approach the gate when we come home again. I’ve seen her rest her neck across the mane of the younger horse and I’ve watched the filly garner courage from her mother’s footsteps.

As a mother, I look for things in these horses that I feel in my own heart. Horse people.... mothers.... we are like that, you know. Trying to attach a human emotion to make what we see more real. And I wonder…. do we really know it isn’t?

It's hangin' on when your heart has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
In my daughter's eyes

Jan 2, 2009

Re-Riding 2008

Before I start to think about goals for 2009, I like to reflect on where I have been the past year. Because I belong to both the AQHA’s ride program and the Nebraska Horse Trail Committee’s Trail Time, I keep a log of my ride time and glancing back, I’ve enjoyed the “re-ride”.

Riding with Sheila & Carol at Two Rivers (March 2008)

On New Year’s Day for the past seven years, 3V Stables of Ashland has hosted a game day celebration. We load up the horses and our contribution to the glutinous potluck offering and enjoy food, drinks, barrel racing and more with about 50 other riders. What a great way to kick off the ride year! Later in January, I went dashing through the snow with some friends at Two Rivers.

Kathy & Rich Newberg on the 1st Platte River Ride of the season (April 2008)

February is typically the month I get the least amount of ride time and last year was no exception. In early March, we did get back out to Two Rivers again. Then the snow came again right before the Nebraska Horse Expo. I don’t remember an Expo starting out quite so frigid. Following Expo, I took Windy to Brenda Messick of Messick Quarter Horses for some additional training. And it was like having a new horse for the Platte River Riders opening ride in early April.

Nadine Morton riding on the Friday Before Mother's Day Ride (May 2008)

Rain came close to canceling the Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride, but alas, it didn’t rain on our parade. Once again, over one hundred women (and a few good men) rode in the annual event. I enjoyed lots of day riding in May, gearing up and conditioning the herd for our June vacation to the Black Hills and Ft. Robinson, Nebraska.

McCain & Case Vasa at Deerfield Lake near Hill City, SD (June 2008)

Riding to Harney Peak, elevation 7,200 feet, was the most exciting and beautiful trail I have ever ridden. It took my breath away. We kept climbing higher and higher, each step revealing more and more of the beautiful Black Hills. Our flatlander horses carefully considered each step as they moved along this foreign trail. My sons, for the first time that I recall, enjoying the beauty of this ride as much as the ride itself. And despite the challenges vacations sometimes throw out, being with family and friends in this beautiful country literally makes you leave your troubles behind. Returning through historic Ft. Robinson and meeting up with the Horsetales group was the finishing touch to this fabulous horse trip.

Dianna Noonan at Cowgirl Weekend (Sept. 2008)

My family stayed a weekend at Camp Moses and another time, I did a mock competitive trail ride at Two Rivers. We ventured over to Brushy Creek in Iowa for the Labor Day holiday and a few weeks later was my annual Cowgirl Weekend, this year to Kanopolis Lake, Kansas. The cold weather came early to Nebraska and camping came to an abrupt end, although I managed to steal some day rides at every weather break we experienced.

The Black Colt & GinnyBelle, as youngsters

I rode twenty different trails this year, many more than once – others for the first time. I logged just over 300 hours on 10 different horses; riding close to 900 miles. I got bucked off once and had three “semi-controlled unplanned dismounts” (in other words, great saves!) I said goodbye to GinnyBelle, my young filly and will continue to watch her grow up with a friend. I fell in love with my mare all over again and pushed myself beyond my comfort zone, not only with her, but with my young gelding. And made the hard decision that I’ll never have the time to bring out the potential that colt has to offer and hope he’ll find as good of a home as Ginny.

Case & McCain Vasa at Brushy Creek, IA (Sept. 2008)

Regrettably, my husband and sons moved away from riding a little more this year. I expect I’ll lose the kids completely to other interests as they get older but by reducing my herd, I hope my husband will look beyond the work of the horses and appreciate the ride.

On this chilly winter day, the 2nd day of the year, I am already making plans for the new year. Jotting down the nearby trails I want to see for the first time or visit again. And I’ll venture on to the scale next week and see how much damage the holidays did to my jean size.

I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year. Thanks for sharing the trail with me!

And here is a sunrise
To set on your sill.
The ghosts of the dawn
Moving near.
They pass through your sorrow
And leave you quite still...
Sitting among souvenirs.
(~Dan Fogelberg)