May 28, 2010

Spa Day ~ A Pictorial

I truly plan to get somewhere this long weekend and ride. Since we have a list a mile long of things to get done at home, we'll split the weekend: part work, part play. You may think what I did this afternoon was horseplay, but no - it definitely falls under the "work" category. Bathing five horses is hard work and 3.75 hours of my life I won't get back.

Windy didn't get a bath at Expo this year so even though she may look good all shed out, she still felt grimy. I longed to feel Show Sheen in her mane. Windy doesn't mind baths, but stay away from the ears! And she is reminding me of that in no uncertain terms.

Windy is blessed with a soft, thick and long tail which I know I've shown you all 101 times. The wind was blowing softly and I could not get a good shot of it today.

Doesn't Ginger look like she is saying "ahhhhh." I was so embarrassed when Tanya (a hair stylist of all things!) rode her last week and her mane had dreadlocks forming! It took quite a bit of combing before I bathed her today to work those out.

But wow! Can you tell where Windy gets her pretty tail from? Mama sure isn't lacking in the tail department. It does touch the ground. And the texture is so soft. Tanya told me she could color my hair like this. I'm tempted...

I forgot to get a bathing picture of Butter. And she was not going to wake up from her nap for me to get a good "drying off" shot of her. So this is the best we have.

Butter's mane and tail are a lot like Ginger's texture wise and has the prettiest colors running through it. I think red duns are stunning, but what I don't like is they don't shine. Butter's coat is a lot more coarse than our quarter horses of other colors.

I absolutely cannot remember the last time I gave Baby a bath. I question now if she ever has had a complete body bath. Her mane is very coarse. It was rubbed out in several places so I trimmed it before I started her bath.

Unlike her mane, her tail is a lot softer; once again, more the texture of Ginger's and almost touches the ground. I let the horses out in the grassy arena after they were pretty dry and Baby was the only one who rolled. Luckily, it wasn' in poop. Yet.

The water on Blue makes him look blue! And look at the reflections. Blue has always liked water. Baths, creeks... he is the only horse we have that will actually swim. It's no surprise that he seemed to enjoy the bath most of all.

He, too, has a thick tail and unlike the mares', his is wavey. Is there anything prettier than a shine on a black horse? Not jet black, Blue will stay this black for another week or so and then begin to fade in the sun. When he grows his winter coat, he will return to black again in the fall.

Someone on Horsetales asked me what I use for product. Today, I used Mane & Tail shampoo and conditioner. I am not loyal to any particular brand; heck, I've used Suave before. But I am picky about the finisher. I love, love love Show Sheen. I've tried the others and always come back to Show Sheen.

Clean horses. Check

Now it's time to ride.

May 26, 2010

Eight Years

Eight years ago today, it was a very, very windy day; not at all unlike what we have been experiencing lately. As John was making the morning coffee, he glanced out to the corral. “Well, there's a baby!” he said with a smile. On wavering legs next to John's mare Ginger, was a solid bay foal that appeared to be standing vehemently against the gusting of the south wind. The herd mates of the foal’s dam may have been curious when this baby dropped to the ground but were now munching quietly at the round bale as if nothing unusual had taken place.

According to our calculations, Ginger wasn’t due to foal for another few weeks. We saw no evidence of waxing or other signs of imminent labor but perhaps didn’t look hard enough since it wasn’t time. Had we known the time was near, she would have been placed in the foaling stall and we would have started our watch. But she surprised us all.

We quickly went out to the barn, haltered the Ginger and the baby followed as we moved them out of the corral. The baby was strong, healthy and very curious; not at all cautious of us like the other foals were that spring. She was bay like her sire, with dark black hooves and not a hair of white on her legs. She had just a whisper of white where a star would be, barely worth mentioning. I named her Windy.

In 2008, I introduced those reading this blog to Windy, My Dream Horse. At that time, we were entering our 4th riding season together. Since then, our partnership has continued to grow. We have ridden in five states in all sorts of weather and terrain. We’ve conditioned for and participated in a couple distance rides. We have even entered a few classes at a horse show and most notably, picked up some mileage awards from our local trail program. But nothing makes me smile more than when meeting a person on the trail and they are quick to mention Windy, having read all about her here.

Being that she is the “prettiest bay horse in the world”, someone asked me recently if I will ever have her bred to which I easily reply, “no.” What she is to me is not about her breeding (some of Pitzer's finest, but she’s a grade) or conformation (a long back makes for a rough trot) or how smart she is (she has her moments)! What I have with her is in my heart, not her blood.

“In my heart
There is no doubt
You’ve given me, unselfishly,
The best days of my life.”

Happy Birthday, Poo.

May 23, 2010

Cattle Drive

Sunday Stills ~ Landscapes. This is our pasture looking up to our home.

Cattle Drive! Okay, bull drive. Singular. The neighbor said we can bring his rented bull back any time. I say today is not soon enough. John said we have to have a plan. I say, “Just do it!”

The trick is to separate the bull from our cows, take the bull thru the pasture gate and keep him off the highway. Turn him 90 degrees and drive him down the road, over the bridge and then drop him off in the pasture on the other side of the road.

I say EZ-peezy. John said we have to practice cutting him off from the herd. But will the practice really vary from the real deal? I think not. With horses and 4 wheelers, how hard can herding one fat bull be?

Men. They have no sense of urgency. Or desire to get the ol’ adrenaline flowing. Why for once can’t we just fly by the seat of our pants and just do it?

PS: Today's Sunday Stills challenge is "Landscapes". We'll use the top photo of this post for my landscape.

May 21, 2010

Pictures CAN Lie

Oh, my! I just glanced at the picture at the start of the proceeding post & thought "what the heck?" The way Windy is standing makes it look like her backbone is protruding! I suspect she has her back left leg cocked, throwing her body off kilter. And the rain on her back gives the perception of depth and the streaks down her side, of ribs.

Before anyone calls the ASPCA or sics Fugly on me, she is far from a rescue case! Funny what a picture can depict!

And take a look at this bad boy! No, Blue is not HYPP positive! He doesn't have a trace of that blood in him. Nor is he a stallion or cut late in life. Although he winters well, (and spring and summers well, too), this photo makes him look a lot beefier than he really is. Not denying he isn't a big boy, but this picture makes him look like more of a linebacker, which he isn't. Once Blue starts getting some rides under his belt (eh, cinch), he will become more svelte. But for now he's just a hunka hunka burnin' love.

Although I try to put my best pictures on the blog, sometimes they just don't quite cut the mustard.

It's a Small (Gloomy) World

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day. Like a Monday maybe? How about Monday all day, Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Sundays after seven? I think that is more than fair, don't you? Following a top ten day (Tuesday) which I didn’t ride, we had a not so nice day on Wednesday. Thursday was supposed to be morning showers, but they continued All.Day.Long. I am reminded of the song from Hee Haw and yes, I am dating myself…

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me

That’s how this weather makes me feel.

Mindee, over at Our Front Door, mentioned she was all out of ideas for something to blog about. I felt the same way. Having a theme related blog, horses that is, I need to do something horsey or be around horses to get inspired to write. The pictures in the pasture just don't cut it. In the comments of Mindee's blog, someone said “life always gives you something to blog about....eventually.” That’s true, because it did.

On Wednesday, our Platte River Ride was iffy at best. The Big Fat Lying Weatherman was predicting an eighty percent chance of thunderstorms late Wednesday afternoon. Not 20%, not 30%, but 80%! I don’t know what the rest of you think, but those are some damn good odds for poor weather. So as much as I wanted to ride, I really didn’t want to drive 35 miles and be rained out in the first 35 minutes of the ride. I shot an email out to the group asking who DID plan to ride & no one replied. So late in the day, I decided I was not going to go. Bad enough riding in the rain, even worse, riding alone.

I had an email earlier from someone on Facebook that was familiar with our rides and planned to attend this one. For some reason, I thought she, Jennifer, had ridden with the north group. She asked me to contact her if the ride was canceled, so I texted her and told her I was not riding. When I was driving home, Jennifer called me. She thought she would go ahead and head over there anyway. I was surprised that she was here. I told her maybe we could hook up another time if she wanted to come down this way again. She said that probably wouldn't happen as she was passing through from Minnesota on the way to Colorado! She was NOT with the north Platte River Riders! Boy, had I messed that one up and how could I not go riding if we were having a guest that was not just from another chapter of our group, but from another state entirely!

I got home shortly after I hung up the phone and checked the radar one more time as the skies certainly didn’t look like 80% chance of storms. Nope. The forecast had changed. It was now just a 20% chance. (How can it change in 30 minutes, I ask???) So I quickly hooked up the trailer and hit the ball on the trailer on the first attempt. Drove down the road near the pasture and Windy came right up to me & put her head in the halter. Things were looking so good now that when I stopped in Valparaiso to fuel up, I also bought a lottery ticket.

I met Jennifer and five other riders at Oak Glen. Although still cloudy though the winds had died down, it was definitely sweatshirt weather! Visiting with Jennifer, I learned she was traveling across three states to visit her dad in Colorado. She was traveling with two horses so they could go riding during their visit. She had carefully mapped places to stay along the way and had learned of our group on Facebook and thought it was a great opportunity to ride with our group and see some of Nebraska along the way.

I have to admint, I was a tad bit jealous of her wanderlust, having been on overload lately with the boys’ last days of school, and couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to load up and haul out – what would be my version of “Calgon, take me away!”

And to further illustrate that it truly is a small world, Jennifer hails from the same area that one of our rider’s visits in Minnesota and sure enough, they knew a lot of the same folk. It was like old home week for them! Simply amazing. And no, we didn’t get rained on. It didn’t even sprinkle. Nor did my powerball numbers come in.

May 16, 2010

The Poker Ride

In celebration of their 18th wedding anniversary, our friends, the Musils, hosted a poker ride on horseback. Finally, some sunshine and horse time! The fourteen mile, 5-hour ride was mapped out with various points where we would pick up cards along the way. The best hand wins. But it wasn’t about the poker hand. It was about getting out on your horse with friends and riding down the roads. Literally. We even rode into a couple of towns. One bar opened the gates to their beer gardens and welcomed us in, horses and all!

McCain didn’t go; no big surprise there. He was crashing graduation parties. Case came along for the party, but he didn’t ride either. He stayed back at our friends’ house with their son and some girls. Jeez, he’d rather spend time with girls than riding a horse with his mom and dad. Who’d of thunk?

John and I took Ginger and Windy. The roads we were riding are primarily limestone, so I was anxious to try the new EasyBoot Gloves that I bought for Windy. Hmm. That didn’t work out too well. The left one fit very well, but I had a hard time getting the right one on. The trimmer had told me to make sure they popped on good with no gaps and I couldn’t get the gap out of the right one. I tried it as is for a few miles but it kept slipping off to the side, so I finally took them off. Before I ixnay them completely, Windy did have a small flange on that hoof. I wonder if we would have rasped that hoof a little, if that would have taken care of the problem. I'll try that next time. Needless to say, I had contemplated Windy wearing boots vs. shoeing when we go to the mountains this summer. This experience answered THAT question.

You all know how much I enjoy taking pictures on rides such as this. After taking just a few shots, my camera quit working. My GOOD camera. Dropping some cuss words didn’t seem to help and I finally quit messing with it and put it away. Most of the pictures you see on this blog were taken by others who were on the ride and I swiped them from their Facebook pages. (Thanks Dionne, Jess & Renee). After the ride I got a chance to mess with my camera. Luckily, it was the batteries, not the camera. My brand new, freshly charged batteries failed. Not sure if it is the batteries or the charger, but I’m very glad it wasn’t the camera.

There were about 20 riders and a team of percherons pulling a wagon. Windy is always a bit tentative around wagons at first and does not like them following her. We stayed a safe distance behind for a few miles until she finally walked up next to the team. She watched them intently and then finally put on her big girl panties and moved up in front of them, never giving them any further thought. I have volunteered to work traffic on horseback at an upcoming driving event, so this was good for her to get some exposure to the wagons. She is not a spooky horse, we just don't get the opportunity to be around buggies and such on a regular basis, so we just work it slow and it usually works out just fine.

We rode down the paved road into downtown Weeping Water. Kids came out on the street corners to watch the horses as if it were a parade. I guess it was, of sorts. I was glad to see the traffic was respectful. We even rode by the local policeman and he just waved and watched.

Our next card was at the local bar and we rode up in the alley behind it. The barkeep came out to greet us and opened the back gate and said “Come on in!” We questioned his sanity and he insisted it was fine, so in we rode. We are back under the awning to the right of this picture.

John bought us beers and we sat down at a table with our horses across the table from us. Some bikers were also on a poker run and came out to look at our “horse power.” I am seated behind the man in the straw hat. That is Windy with the lime green halter.

I have to say, this was a first! Our horses are now broke to bars.

This was the first long ride Ginger has been on since September. Wow. I think that is the longest time that has passed between rides since we got her ten years ago. She kept up her fast pace for the entire ride and raced down the road effortlessly when John gave her the opportunity. After the ride, we tied the horses to the trailer with a hay bag while we ate with our friends. When it came time to load for home, I could tell Ginger was tired and maybe a bit sore. Not foot sore, but sore like we would be after raking the yard after doing nothing physical all winter. Today I checked her back and watched her trot out and she was fine.

Windy, on the other hand, was wired more like she is when we compete than when we just casually trail ride. She enjoyed being up in front, trotting out next to some of the gaited horses’ running walk. By the end of the ride, John and I and another friend were racing down the road – one of the nice things about not having a camera around my neck, I could have fun, too. I had plenty of horse left after the ride.

So how did you spend YOUR Saturday afternoon?

Sunday Stills ~ Wildflowers

This week's Sunday Stills challenge is wildflowers.

I returned Friday afternoon from a quick trip to Portland. Finally, our skies have cleared and we had sunny weather. Shortly after I got home, I headed to the pasture to check on the herd and almost as an afterthought, grabbed my camera.

I caught the above picture of Ginger as I was making my way back to the house, the horses had run off ahead. The sun was behind her so I was surprised it turned out at all. The "wildflowers" in the picture are what we call "mustard grass", growing in the alfalfa field.

May 12, 2010

Chosen By A Horse

On Friday evening, following the Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride, I turned Windy out into the pasture with the rest of the herd. I vegged most of the day on Saturday, only slightly disappointed to find it warmer than I had thought it would be when I finally went outside later that afternoon. It’s been cloudy, dreary and raining since. So I have no horse time to report so thought I would do a book report.

I believe I’ve mentioned a few times that for my birthday this past March, a friend gave me the audio book Chosen by a Horse. A memoir by Susan Richards, the premise of the book is that in healing the horse, the author healed herself. The book opens to find the forty-something-year-old Susan Richards about to foster a mare that is near starved, with a serious respiratory infection, and a foal at her side. Susan, having a small herd of near geriatric horses herself, has never taken on anything like this before and not sure really what drove her to take part in it now.

The book focuses on perhaps eighteen months in which this horse was in her care, but takes you back to the author’s childhood. She lost her mother when she was very small; her father abandoned her and her brother and they were raised by numerous relatives, none of which rolled out the welcome mat. Probably the only plus in her young life was her introduction to horses by a grandmother and it was horses that seemed to be the one constant in her life.

As she nursed the mare named Lay Me Down back to health, she started to think about her own life and why she wasn’t as trusting as the bay mare that trusted her unconditionally. And slowly she opened her own heart once again. Yes, perhaps a bit cliché, but I think all of us who love horses understand. I especially enjoyed Lay Me Down’s interaction with Susan’s other horses, the pecking orders she described and the joy her own mare, Georgia, brought into her life.

The book was very well written in my opinion. I wonder though, if a non-horse person would see the role in which Lay Me Down played in the transformation of the author. I am not sure they would understand that the horse very subtly brings out something in us unlike what we feel in our friendships, love life or as a parent, but just as strong. The horse’s size alone requires more of a commitment than we give to our household pets. And in return, we trust these beautiful beasts to let us climb upon their backs, with only 2 strips of leather and faith in our hands. Incredible, huh?

If you have an opportunity to read Chosen by a Horse, I don’t think you will be disappointed. Be sure and keep a Kleenex (or 10!) handy. You can find information on this book and other books by Susan Richards at

If you've read this book, I'd love to read your comments.

May 9, 2010

FBMDR 2010

It most definitely won’t go down in history as my favorite Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride. More aptly, the t-shirts probably should have read “I survived” this ride. And it had nothing to do with the ride itself but with Mother Nature and the Big Fat Lying Weatherman, who in this case really didn’t lie. There were showers overnight and we woke up to cloudy skies and gale force winds. Temps started out in the forties and may have hit the low 50's, but it sure didn't feel like it. I knew it was predicted, but for some reason, I had figured spring winds would be warm – not cut-you-like-a-knife-bone-chilling winds with 45 mile an hour punches.

I dressed in many light weight layers, careful not to look like the boy from the Christmas Story: a long & short sleeve tee, poly vest, wind shirt and a windbreaker. Before the ride, I added a hooded sweatshirt to the mix. I rode in my winter fleece breeches, gloves and half chaps. And wished I had packed a thermos of LaRue coffee rather than the unnecessary water bottle. I thought about slipping a blanket on Windy for the haul over. I got a few calls and emails asking if the ride was still on. With a caterer planning meals for 100 people, yes, the ride would still go on.

I found my friends at the trail head bundled up like me. But despite the winds, no one’s enthusiasm was dampened. Everyone who braved the weather was looking forward to the ride. Many of those who showed up were friends. Had the ride been sponsored by someone they didn’t know, they probably would have turned off the alarm and stayed in bed. But they came because they said they would and smiled through gritted teeth, no doubt! And I love them for it. And those whom I didn’t know, who still made the ride – thank you very much for coming. I certainly would have been easier to pull those covers over your head.

The day wasn’t without challenges. Some tried to make it and got their rigs stuck in the mud. One rider had an unfortunate collision with her horse, bandaged herself up and rode anyway – bless her heart. I’m sure there are other stories I haven’t heard about yet; not funny as they are happening but make for good campfire stories after the thrill is gone.

Mother Nature had one more try at us as we neared the end of the ride. (Did I piss her off or what?) A tree along the trail creaked as we rode by. A moment later, I heard the person behind me yell “Run!” We didn’t have to ask our horses, they were already in flight; a weird kind of run where they were galloping off but still looking behind at the dead tree falling down onto the trail where we had just passed. Now THAT was a first!

We had seventy-one riders and 6 outriders, a little over half of the number who usually comes to this ride. A true testament to their friendship, love of riding or just plain foolishness! Whatever the reason, I was glad they were there to share this rather nasty, but incredible day with me.

Happy Mother's Day

Windy & Ginger
May 26, 2002

Windy & Ginger
April 2010

Happy Mother's Day

In memory of my mom,
Rosella Hornbussel Martin
1927 - 2005

May 6, 2010

Getting Ready for the Ride

This morning I am meeting about 100 other women
For the 10th Annual
Friday Before Mother's Day Ride

I pre-rode the trail the other night
It was beautiful
I rode alone and for once
Appreciated the solitude
Today promises clouds & wind
But it shouldn't dampen any spirits

I'm not sure what keeps this ride so popular.
The promise of spring?
The company of other women?
The long winter without riding?
Maybe all of the above.

I'm burning daylight.
It's time to ride.

May 4, 2010

Little Time

It's seems I have been going 100 mph lately. My house is a mess, my hair needs cut and we won't even talk about the laundry! But it's not like I've been doing nothing.... I've been riding! And camping! More on that another time.

Last night, John and Case even saddled up with me so we could move the stupid cows to another pasture. I'm still cursing myself for not putting my camera in my pocket. I love seeing the guys riding and it doesn't happen often enough!

This week is the Friday Before Mother's Day Ride. I have a lot of things to do to pull that off yet, so blogging probably won't make the short list.

In the meantime, I'll share pictures of the horses that I rode with this past weekend.

Sully is an appy/paint & belongs to my friend, Jan.

Julie's mare, Tiki, is a pretty red roan welsh/quarter cross.

Rocky is Joni's daughter's former AQHA show horse extraordinaire, turned trail horse.

Annette's Mister Man is a haflinger cross. Look at that pretty head!

Coda is a paint/mustang cross from the wild horse sanctuary in S Dakota who belongs to my friend, Robyn. And Sheila's Jake is a horse of a different color, albeit all quarter horse.

And finally, Jessica's, Babe: a pretty Morgan mare.