Nov 30, 2009

My Top Ten

Those who know me well know that we are entering into what I believe to be the black hole of the seasons. The Winter Months. It’s dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home. The nights are so long. I’d simply like to curl up in an embryo position and sleep for three months or be abducted by aliens and have 3 months of lost time just to get it over with.

I am not a fair weather rider, per se. I have a pretty wide window of preferred temps – the low being the high 40’s to the high being the low 90’s. Wind chill factors and heat indexes often play into the factor, but generally, you will find me riding spring through fall. But when the ground is frozen and everything I touch is so cold it hurts, my riding comes to a near screeching halt. I know, I know. I’m a native Nebraskan. I should be thicker skinned. And I have to tell you; I think I used to be. But since getting into horses, I have found these next few months unacceptable to maintaining my hobby with the frequency that I prefer. And it makes me very cranky.

Before I pull the blanket over my head or get beamed up to the mothership, I am going to try to see the light. Rack my brain for ten horse related things that are good in the winter. Surely I can come up with 10. I’m thinking. Thinking…. Still thinking…

My Top Ten Reasons To Enjoy Winter

1. Jingle Bells. Putting them around the neck of my horse just doesn’t have the same festive affect on the 4th of July as it does when dashing through the snow. And we have and will again!

Okay. There. I came up with one good thing… One.

Seriously, I have been sitting here staring at the screen trying to come up with #2. It even crossed my mind to Google “winter riding” to help me out…

2. Fleece riding pants. I have a couple pair of Kerrit riding pants that are fleece lined and for obvious reasons, best worn during the “off” season. While I don’t necessarily feel attractive in breeches as they hide nothing, these riding pants are very soft and comfy and very, very warm and I'm half tempted to wear them grocery shopping on those cold days!

3. Farrier Expenses. Right or wrong, I just don’t have him out as often as I do during the riding months. That extra $100 can go to another cause... like the heating bill!

4. Automatic Waterer. It just sits there unnoticed during the good months. Providing clean water day after day after day; making no impression on anyone. But come winter, that little baby gets noticed and feels the love! I sure am thankful I am not filling tanks, running cords for heaters or breaking ice. Okay, I am probably stretching it putting that on the list, but those who have one knows it has earned it’s place!

One would argue that round bales should also feel the love. But they miss the list because they do have to be tended to every now and then and it usually is about the moment a blizzard rolls in and the tractor is out of gas!

5. Fewer Evil Eyes. You married women know “that look”. From The Husband. You catch your first glimpse of it on the first spring-like day when you pop downstairs in your riding gear and announce, “I’m going riding!” His eye squints, you swear you see a hint of smoke coming from his right ear and he lets out a long sigh because he thinks we should be tilling the garden or putting up a pole barn or some other menial task that you know he just happened to think up because he saw you hooking up the trailer an hour earlier!

6. Indoor Arena Riding. I’m not that fortunate to have an indoor arena. Gives me an excuse not to fetch and saddle my cold horse. But should the notion strike, I am fortunate enough to have a few friends who do have very nice arenas and invite me to take advantage of their facility when I am at the height of my withdrawals and ready to go over the edge.

7. Barn Smells. The good ones. Hay, horse breath, fur. The scents are all intensified in the crisp winter air.

8. Photos. Snow provides a new dynamic and, I must grudgingly admit, beauty to our pictures.

9. Riding Bareback. I’ll put it on the list because it is wonderful to feel the heat of the horse coming through those fleece pants on that cold winter day. However, I am still nursing a tail bone injury from falling off onto the frozen ground while riding bareback last February, so it goes on the list very reluctantly.

10. And the number 10 reason to enjoy winter is….
Every day that passes is one day closer to spring!

Wow! This was harder than I thought it would be! What about you? Are you a winter rider or have you put up your spurs for the season?

Nov 27, 2009

My Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has grown to be my favorite holiday. A nice long weekend. Food. No expectations with regards to gift giving. Just being together with whichever family is rotated into this year's holiday schedule. And most importantly, a time to reflect and give thanks.

The hours, days and years go by quickly and not without challenge. But every morning, when I swing my legs out of bed and look to the east, I have some version of the sun rising in all it's splendor. A promise to a beautiful day. It's up to me to take it from there.

I am thankful God gave me boys. And he knew what he was doing. After my second son, Case, was born, many times I was asked if I was going to "try for the girl." Not a chance! My hands were full. I am thankful I got exactly the family I wanted.

My mid-life was never in crisis. I'm thankful I found my passion and for my partnership with my horse, Windy.

And for the best little herd of horses a woman could want!

And a wonderful circle of friends to share the trails.

When I was little, I dreamed of living in the country and having lots of animals. Here are Ritz, Bo and Madeline.

My "tomless" cat, Tom.

One-eyed Mickey (his eye was missing when he strayed onto our place).

The chickens were McCain's project and when he lost interest, became mine.

I'm thankful for my upbringing and although I miss my parents every day, I am thankful for my brother & sister and that as we reach middle age, we can still laugh till we cry.

Thanks to my new blogger friends who tune in now and again.
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

Nov 22, 2009

Guest Blog

Yesterday, I worked with the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee at our annual fun day. The purpose of this event is to raise funds for horse trails in our state. Held at 3V Stables in Ashland, over 60 people came to participate in the mounted games which this year were geared toward trail challenges. Rather than post a news-type blog about the event, my friend, Annette Griffin (pictured above), gave me persmission to share her recap of the day which she shared with us on our list-serv, Horsetales. It will give you just a taste of how fun the day truly was.

Gorillas should NOT wear BELTS!
By Annette Griffin

After a trip back home to change trailers, Bella and I headed out once again to 3V. We got there during the middle of the first event so we had to scratch from that one. I got her out of the trailer, knocked the dirt, mud and road grime off of her and saddled up. I couldn’t believe how many horses and riders were there and it was a little overwhelming for both of us at first. This was my first ever game day to ride in. I even had to ask HOW to do poles! I’ve watched other people run them before but I never paid attention as to what the proper pattern was. But I digress……..

Our second game was a partner one where we were required to rescue a patient, transport them to our partner who was waiting with a stretcher to take the patient to the hospital….. OK.. Sounds like a real-life situation that could happen on the trail and a good test of rider and horse. WELL….. As I mentioned before, there were a lot of horses and riders and being the last to arrive, I was pretty much one of the last to have a go at rescue. Mary Hanson agreed to be my partner and after some strategizing we decided that Bella and I would pick up the patient and she and Sunny would deliver the stretcher.

Plan in place, I felt good UNTIL I found out that this wasn’t a typical trail experience, it was designed for those trail riders who spend countless hours in the RAINFORESTS OF AFRICA! Our “patient” was big black gorilla with arms the length of my horse trailer and he was wearing a BELT! Why do gorillas wear belts? I’ve never noticed them wearing belts in the zoo or when I’ve seen television programs on Animal Planet, but THIS gorilla was wearing a belt. Bella was going along with the whole idea of being an equine paramedic right up to that point when she spied our patient sitting there on top of a barrel (another strange rainforest sight, I’m sure) waiting for us.

Her eyes got bigger, her head shot up and I think I heard her whisper the rosary! (I personally never knew until that moment that she was Catholic, which could really explain a lot of things about her that have been a mystery up to this point, but that’s another story for another time) But in her best Mother Theresa form, after a few snorts and more prayers from both of us she agreed to enter the city of gorillaville to fetch our patient.

Following the advice of Mary, who told me as we entered the arena, “Hold the gorilla close to you so it won’t spook your horse,” I retrieved the ape and off we went to find our awaiting stretcher. Not a problem at all UNTIL…… we get to the stretcher, Bella sidles up to the stretcher just like I asked and I tried to lower the gorilla down to the stretcher. IT DIDN’T BUDGE!!!! I tried and tried free myself and my horse of this this primate, to no avail. It wouldn’t go!

Finally Bella said she’d had enough and she was going to leave with or without me and that d**n monkey which is when I discovered that the gorilla had looped his belt AND my reins around the horn of my saddle which meant I couldn’t do anything be steer Bella in a small circle so here we are going in circles, gorilla arms flailing, me thinking that I am going to end up on Oprah with a scarf on my face to hide my scars and trying to explain how I came to be disfigured by a gorilla attack of my own choosing.

By now, the crowd is thinking that they’re seeing a freaked out horse and a rider without a clue of how the game is supposed to go so of course, people start to get interested in what’s really going on and someone finally realizes that I’m being ATTACKED BY A STUFFED GORILLA and steps in to rescue the rescuers.

Thankfully the gods heard our prayers and realized the bonds that bound us and I let the exhausted gorilla drop mercilessly onto the stretcher only to discover that his body had flopped lifelessly off the edge of the stretcher and he lay unconscious on the dirt. Bella, who had regained her composure the moment the gorilla was freed from our saddle stood quietly beside the stretcher and practically on top of the gorilla. As I dismount, I hear the announcers in true PETA fashion, “DON’T STEP ON THE GORILLA!” I did my best to put the patient on the stretcher and I thought I had done a good job of it until I see my partner take off and as she rode into the sunset carrying that poor creature, his arm was flopping wildly about as he bounced along.

I’m not positive about this but I am pretty sure that he was waving to me as he rode away but I don’t think it was a fully fingered wave…….

Sunday Still ~ Horses!

Sunday Stills is a place to hone your photography skills. Each Week Ed issues a new “Challenge” that gives us the opportunity to pick up what ever kind of camera we own and try and meet it. This week's challenge is horses! How exciting is that? And as tempted as I was to dig into my archives for some really, REALLY, good ones, I took the real challenge and snapped these this past week. Nothing real exciting, but life on the farm as I know it.

I got ambitious and cleaned out the tack room of the barn. Case's horse, Butter, and my mare, Windy, were curiously watching.

Blue does not have the best conformation, so rarely do I take full body shots of him. However, he is one of my most photogenic horses and always poses beautifully for head shots. I can't tell you how many pictures I have of him with a pose similar to this.

(Note what I said above about Blue & full body shots!) The mares had went down to pasture without Blue. He must have been posing for that picture above and wasn't paying attention. So in this photo, he was "high-tailing" it down to the pasture where the mares were. Bo isn't chasing him, per se, but just running along with him. St. Bernards (at least mine) aren't known for their energy level. He petered out shortly after this picture was taken.

Other News! The Nebraska Horse Trails Committee Game Day was held yesterday and was a HUGE success! I didn't pull my camera out once - darn it - but hope to have some shots from others who did and will blog about it in an upcoming post. Thanks to EVERYONE who came out and participated. Our expectations were exceeded!

Nov 18, 2009


In an effort to keep some horse activity going through the winter months, our Horsetales group has started a photo challenge each week based on something similar I saw online. Simple rules: One member selects a single word and those who want to participate in the challenge must capture their horse demonstrating that word.

Leigh selected this week's word: Move. That is her photo at the top of this blog. We had some great representations of the word from other members as shown below.

The above 3 photos were taken by Tammy A (Sam) of Chic, Apache & Barney, the Mule

I took this picture of Blue. His mares had already went to pasture & he didn't realize it and was trying to catch up.

Sheila snapped this high tailin' photo of Deb's horse, Jim

Submitted by Sandy R of fellow Horsetaler, Mary H. and Duke

The above photos were taken by Corie R of Zip and Charlie

Julie S took this picture of Trey

Sandy R's son, Jason on Whiskey

Shari P said the barn door is open & Wiley is on the move for food!

Jessica D provided the following description of her picture:

"Move!!" used as transitive verb ~ to dislodge or displace from a fixed location: BUDGE.

I am sure "Move" was followed by "D*mn it!!"

Taken by Krazy Cindy

Contributed by Shelly P.

Horsetrailriders Meets The Pioneer Woman

It’s been a long time since I had a hero. Heck, I’m not sure I have ever had one. But the Pioneer Woman comes mighty close. Ree Drummond, a self-proclaimed city girl turned rancher’s wife, dubbed herself “pioneer woman” when their ranch went without water for quite some time. I was first introduced to The Pioneer Woman blog a couple years ago and it’s since become a daily read. Surfing through her archives, I laughed out loud at the stories of her everyday life. More than a blogger, she is an incredible writer. In addition, a self-taught photographer whose pictures capture beautifully what is obviously the true essence of ranch life.

And then there is her cooking. Simple, yet delicious. She’s brought butter back into our life. She introduced the kids and I to sweet potatoes and we’ve become believers! If I’m cooking a Pioneer Woman recipe, the men in my life are very happy. Although most of her recipes are online, I was looking forward to the release of her new cookbook. When The Pioneer Woman announced a book signing tour and would be as close as Kansas City, my friends (other fans) and I screamed “road trip!”

Joni, Jules, Sandy, Sam, Robyn, Julie and I are horse friends. Well, we are real friends, too, but other than our annual Christmas get-together, there are very few times when we are all together horseless. What a treat to arrive at a hotel and not have to worry about first getting a horse settled in – it was just us! Food, wine and fun.

We arrived at the book signing early the next day. In true groupie style, we were the second guests in line. I recall when Ree walked in, she looked as I expected. Tall, gracious and happy. She sat down and immediately seemed to warm to the room. We were instructed to sit next to Ree while she signed our book; our cameras given to each other to capture the moment. It was reminiscent of being in line to visit Santa Clause. When my turn came, I was totally star-struck! I had a million things to tell her and could barely get out more than a few words.

Since partying with the Oak Ridge Boys in 1980, I haven’t really had a brush with fame. The Pioneer Woman trumped the Oak Ridge Boys!


Since someone asked, here is a larger picture with names:

Back Row: Sandy, Jules, Robyn, Sam & me
Front Row: Ree, Julie, Joni

Nov 13, 2009

Playing Games For Trails

I was hopeful when the weather forecast said only a twenty percent chance of showers today and almost 60 degrees. It was threatening rain as late as yesterday, so for once things seemed to be going in my favor. Wrong! About an hour before I was to get off work this noon, I looked outside and it was lightly raining! (Big sigh.)

I am chairing a mounted game day next weekend on behalf of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee. This year, rather than have all the events speed in nature, we decided to have several classes of trail challenges. So this afternoon, I invited a couple friends over and using my horses, we had a dry run of these classes. I was curious how well these games would work from the saddle because until today, I’d only walked through them in my head. Although the day stayed misty and cool, we continued on with our plans. All the horses took a turn; even Baby, our draft cross! We worked in the arena for about two hours and found some of the games will work well, while some need tweaking. Overall, it should be a fun game day.

Sheila on Butter

The Nebraska Horse Trails Committee’s Game Day is one of our major fundraisers with proceeds going to supporting horse trail projects in our state. Our “working fund” is earmarked for providing assistance to horse friendly parks. Big ticket items provided by our committee have included corrals at two popular horse camps, contributions toward an outhouse at another trail head, signage, and sweat labor and/or matching funds needed for grants. It’s good to have funds available when parks ask for help. It’s our way of showing the land managers how important their trails are and giving back to those who share their parks with us.

Carol on Baby

So trail riders unite! Come and join us to replenish the fund! This year’s game day will be held Saturday, Nov. 21 at 3V Stables north of Ashland, NE. See their website for directions. Registration at 11:00 AM, games begin at 1:00. In addition to the games, we are having a silent auction with some great items! And will be raffling off a gently used snow blower, donated to the Trails Committee by a friend of the trails, who has since flown south. Bonfire and potluck dinner following the games! I hope to see you there!

Sheila on Butter

In other news: You may recall my post about the land grab in Gretna for my friend’s family farmland. The city hoped to buy (steal) their land to build a soccer field. Sanity has prevailed. The Gretna Breeze reported that the City Council meeting scheduled to discuss to request for land through eminent domain (thievery) has been canceled and won’t be rescheduled. Evidently they didn’t know the power of my friends and those that stood behind them! You can bet they will continue to keep a close eye on what their elected officials are up to next, should this rear its ugly head again. It’s a good reminder to all of us to do the same.

Finally, Kansas City, Kansas City... here we come! Some friends and I are heading there later this weekend. We have tickets to meet the Pioneer Woman at her book signing on Monday! I feel like such a groupie!