May 30, 2011

The Back Story

It's funny that a few of you mentioned the back story to my previous post "Back Home Again". That post started out being a longer post and then I thought it was only interesting to me or it was one of those "had to be there" moments. So I kind of left it at that. But since you asked…

Things I learned on my long weekend:

If the literature says it's a 6 hour ride; it's a 6 hour ride

The information we received for the Peckerneck Trail said the long loop was 14 miles; about a 6 hour ride. We try to walk out about 4 mph; sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but on average. So we figured we could do this loop easily in 4 hours; even stopping for lunch. Well, by the time we 4 miles out, we knew there was no way we could come close to doing the loop in 4 hours and 6 would be pushing it! The climbs were a lot more than we anticipated and it was an early ride for a few of the horses. We did a 4 hour ride, but only covered a little over 8 miles. So yes allow at least 6 hours if you are going to do the 14 mile loop. You will need it.

Snakes look incredibly like driftwood and I can scream like a girl

Most who know me know of my incredible fear of snakes. And it's not just an "oooh, they are icky" thing. It is a pulse-quickening, heart attack feeling, and an uncontrollable, full-blown phobia and if anyone even thinks about scaring me with one, our friendship will be over. And I'm not lying. It is that bad. I used to have nightmares about snakes; would lie in bed yelling for my mom to come turn on the light to make sure none were on my bed. (There never was.) But the fear is very real to me even today. Obviously, there are snakes on the trails. But my friends all know that if they see one, make sure I am far, far away and if they are sure I won't see it, just don't mention it. And it works just fine that way. The one time the girls saw a rattle snake, they waived me past. I was riding Ginger and we ran 28.8 mph to get out of the vicinity.

So on the Peckerneck Trail; I am the 2nd rider, following Jessica on her lovely bay mare, Babe. I notice that Babe has stepped over some driftwood and it is up around ankle high. And no sooner than I can process that, the "driftwood" is moving, looped in the air like a garden hose. It's not driftwood, it is a snake. Babe either stepped over or stepped on a frickin' snake! I scream like a bitch and holler "Run!" "Now!" I am not sure if Jessica understood what was happening at the moment, but she and Babe moved out and I was on her heels. John, who was behind me, catches up and tells me I shouldn't scream like that because the snake could get confused and scared. Did his lips really move? His wife just about had a coronary on the trail and he is worried I scared the snake?

Show-horses-turned-trail-horses are the easiest to line up for pictures

My friend, Joni, brought both of her show horses. The older one is retiring this year, the younger has seen more trail miles than show hours in the last few years. While the older one was not as sure footed on the trail as he is in a trail class, whenever we would line up for pictures, he would strike a pose as if waiting for the judge. And I am sure he thought as soon as the picture was over, the class was done and we could go back to the trailer now. I am sure he yearned to go back to the trailer!

If you think a horse fell in the trailer, you probably blew a tire

After leaving Peckerneck, I am following my friends, and John, in the chase car, is behind me. All of a sudden I feel my trailer jerk. My first thought was one of the horses fell. I put on my blinker to pull over, glanced in the mirror and saw a lot of traffic behind me, including a semi bearing down on us. There was no shoulder on the road, only dirt and a sharp drop off. I had nowhere to go. I sped up hoping the next intersection was approaching and about that time, I felt the trailer again & my chase car is zooming around me and hitting the brakes in front of me, slowing me down even more. The semi throttles down and passes me; never mind that it was on a hill. We approach an intersection and I turn off and stop. John pulls over and comes up to the window & said "did you know you blew a tire?"

Truth is known? No. I didn't. Usually, anytime we have blown out, I am the first to know it. But the feel was different and then when I saw the traffic behind me and no shoulder, I was just thinking about getting off the road and finding out what was wrong. John said he thought I was speeding up and didn't want me to ruin the rim, so he passed to slow me down. I wasn't speeding up so much as just looking where I could get off. Although I can change my own tire – just changed one on my bumper pull a couple weeks ago – I was glad my chase guy was behind me and could take care of it for me.

Fried food at a bar sure beats a cold meat sandwich from the cooler

Although we were trailering and riding, we weren't really camping out, per se. Although we ate on the trail on the 4 hour ride, it was kind of fun after our rides to go hit the local bars or Mexican restaurant and eat out; wearing spurs, smelling like horse – but not having to cook. Don't get me wrong, I love camping and the whole 9 yards, but we don't get to eat out with our horse friends often enough, so this was a rarity and a pleasant change.

May 28, 2011


I am certainly glad we had an opportunity to ride and camp last weekend because this one so far has been a bust. It rained most of the day yesterday. The house was so chilly I was running the space heater under my desk. It rained most of this morning and finally, the sun came out this afternoon. It dried things up enough for us to mow, fix some fence and move the horses to the west pasture. So I guess the day wasn't totally lost, but certainly a good portion of it.

I could spend most of a rainy day on the computer; blogging, reading blogs, writing stories, and editing pictures. Okay, that is pretty much what I did after work yesterday. So I really needed to be productive today. I won't bore you with the humdrums of housework but I do question my sanity at having pets in the house. Oh, I know – I would go insane without the dogs, but between their hair and dust, I can only be grateful none of us have allergies. Heck, the dog hair in my nose probably keeps the dust from getting in! Bodette, our St. Bernard, is the worse! I told John that Bo is not allowed in the bedroom anymore. He just laughed. Yeah, try to move a lazy St. Bernard after he finds his spot for the night.

And to further this day of domestic bliss, I made the Pioneer Woman chicken fried steak tonight for supper. Not exactly diet food, but the guys seemed pleased.

There is a forty percent chance of rain tomorrow; 60% chance it won't. I'm going to take a gamble that it will miss us and get out and put some miles on my horse.

May 26, 2011

Back Home Again

Things I learned on my long weekend:

  • If the literature says it's a 6 hour ride; it's a 6 hour ride
  • Snakes look incredibly like driftwood and I can scream like a girl
  • Show-horses-turned-trail-horses are the easiest to line up for pictures
  • If you think a horse fell in the trailer, you probably blew a tire
  • Fried food at a bar sure beats a cold meat sandwich from the cooler
  • And yes, you can go home again

May 23, 2011

Riding the Peckerneck Trail

John and I got the horses loaded early Sunday morning and we were on the road to the famed Peckerneck Trail at Harlan County Lake near Alma, NE. Continuing with my 70’s theme, it’s been a weekend kind of like Smokey and the Bandit with John driving the chase car while I pulled the horses. I only wish I got the gas mileage he was getting.

Harlan County Lake is Nebraska’s second largest lake and provides a dam for the Republican River that runs along the Nebraska/Kansas line. The Peckerneck Trail is along the south side of the lake, overlooking the water and the small town of Alma.

Custodians of the trail (for lack of a better word), Dave Wolf and Alan Zastrow, brought the Peckerneck Trail to life after finding the old horse trail about a decade ago. With their own funds and volunteer hours, they cleared, mowed, rode, promoted, added signage, items of interest and generally cared for this long forgotten trail so people like me can enjoy it. Nebraska Rural Living shares a wonderful story about the trail and the efforts of these two ambassadors of horse trails.

We met our friends at the trailhead; there was seven of us in our group and we were the only horses on the trail. After fitting the borrowed saddle to Ginger, packing our lunches, we headed out along the trail. It was our plan to ride the 14 mile loop; the longest. There were other loops to shorten the distance but given our early start, we had no doubt we could do the distance.

Our first stop was at the Peckerneck Mine; a creation of Dave and Alan to serve as an item of interest as well as a fundraiser for trail improvements. According to the aforementioned article, "the Origin of the Peckerneck Mining Company Legend has it that a group of raw-boned hillbillies from Tennessee came to the mining district of southwestern South Dakota in the 1880's. These men were extremely adept at running the hammers and steels (rock bits) used to drill the holes in the mine face where the blasting powder was placed in order to break up the ore. The speed and agility these men had was said to make a sound that echoed through the mine tunnels resembling that of a woodpecker. Other miners claimed that only a man with the strength and agility equaling that of the neck of a woodpecker could accomplish such a task. Thus the term "peckerneck." was given to this group of men."

I mentioned to the Horsetales group that the view of the lake was beautiful, but it certainly played second fiddle to May's blue sky.

The trails, at first glance, would appear to be novice trails, through the meadows and hills above the lake. But the farther along we rode, we realized these trails were much more challenging than we originally thought. There are some big climbs to the high peaks and lots of switchbacks down to the canyons and streams. We weren't making near the time we though we would on our 14 mile ride.

We would stop at the top of the hills, let the horses catch their breath while we took in the breathtaking views. There was plenty of time for photos; I finally just put my camera around my neck rather than keep pulling it from my saddle pack.

We stopped for lunch about two hours into our ride and at that time, checked the GPS and decided we probably wouldn't make it the entire 14 miles. Some of the horses hadn't been out much this spring and given the climbs, it wasn't fair to push them on. We decided to take one of the loops to shorten the ride, headed north and continued to Bailey's Pond. Again, Dave and Allen took the time to put in hitching posts and benches so riders could take a break and enjoy the view.

Jessica skirted Bailey's Pond to find an area to water her horse. The reflection of the sky on the water made it appear much bluer than the lake itself. I think I took ten pictures of the pond itself.

Bridges have been put in so riders can cross the more boggy areas.

Another point of interest, the tee pees, complete with an Indian campground.

We rode just under 9 miles on the Peckerneck Trail. If duty didn't call for many of our group, we might have stayed the night and did it again the next day. I certainly would like to return and do the entire trail. Having cleared our own Oak Creek Trail, I understand and can relate to the passion and satisfaction that Dave and Alan must feel toward "their" trail.

We met Dave at the trailhead following our ride. He was mowing; are you not surprised? After visiting awhile, he mentioned he was out working on the trail one day and heard voices. He stopped and listened to the riders on the trail, laughing and enjoying the day. That is what matters the most to him; that people are having fun riding the Peckerneck Trail. We certainly did.

Information & Trail Map of the Peckerneck Trail

May 22, 2011

Take Me Home

(Written on Saturday, published on Sunday... too tired to proofread.)

I packed the trailer last weekend in preparation for being at a competitive trail ride right now – today. But when we started hearing about EHV-1 earlier this week, I made the decision not to expose Windy to 50 other horses. "I don't know where you've been," sang Head East back in the late 70's. And that's how I felt about competing. Having no idea who these other horses were and what horses they may have been in contact with seemed risky at best. In hindsight, as the stats have been coming out, we most likely would have been okay. But the deal was done. I wasn't going.

"All revved up with nowhere to go!" (Meat Loaf). I wanted to go somewhere. With my horse. And not on a day ride. So I made plans to meet a friend later this weekend and ride out by her place, camp in her yard. As I mentioned my plans to John, he said he wouldn't mind heading out either and spending part of the time on the road. My oldest son had plans, so both boys stayed home and I recruited my niece to housesit and kid/dog watch.

We decided to head to my home town of Superior for the first night and then meet my friends the next day. I called my sister and brother-in-law who still live in town and ask if we can overnight with our horses in the camping area of one of the city's parks. They contacted whomever it is they needed to and permission was granted. And we arrived mid-afternoon.

Oh, so many memories in this park. It has the best slipper slide. Tall and with one little bump that makes your stomach tickle. We used to take waxed paper and put it under our butts to make it slicker. We would fly don't that slide. I told John that I have been away from home 32 years. That slide was here when I was young. Heck, maybe even longer. I bet it is over 50 years old. I can't believe it hasn't been replaced with those cheap plastic things parks seem so fond of these days.

I plan to stay and ride through Monday, so John had brought his own wheels so he could return home tomorrow night. About halfway down here, it crossed my mind that I didn't load John's saddle. I was pretty sure he didn't either. I called him & asked. Nope. No saddle. He can borrow for Sunday, but for today he was bare backing it.

I saddled & John put the extra pad that I had in the trailer on Ginger. And we started to ride through the park. Oh, what memories. Dad used to get us these awful jobs; like once when a windstorm came through, he volunteered our family to clean up sticks in this park. We couldn't have been 10 years old and we were probably undiagnosed ADHD. Ride that slipper slide or pick up the sticks. I wonder how he ever got that job done.

We rode down by the bridge to the football field. The creek would always flood and wash out the track around the field. I don't remember the bridge ever being washed out, but I wonder.

The cottonwood and pin oak trees are what you would call majestic. Just beautiful. I put Windy into a lope and we weaved through them like we were pole bending. We came back around the Boy Scout cabin (that girls used, too) and then made our way up by the high school.

When I graduated in 1979, only the high school was in this location. Not long after, they built the adjoining Junior High. And this year, they are adding the elementary school. It was the last year for elementary classes in the buildings I attended. We rode to the front of the school and Windy stood nicely while we posed next to the entrance.

We rounded the school and came up to where the old Indian Trail used to be. I remembered the trail as up on the hillside to the north of the park. There was dirt road behind it and a trail that wove thru the hill. Not long, maybe the equivalent of two city blocks. The road was long gone. They built a new track to the north of where the road was. But there was still a mowed trail along the track fence. We followed it and then saw a mowed trail cut down into the hill.

We went out again later and it was getting dark but we dropped down and followed it to the water. The pond, that used to be used for ice skating, now has a pretty lighted fountain in the middle. Our country horses gave a snort and were pretty big-eared about that fountain but kept on going. We thought we saw a trail going back up, but by now it was too dark to pursue it. We skirted the edge of the tree line back to our camp.

On the second ride, we headed toward the Republican River. It looks like a new highway was put in; the asphalt from the old one running parallel until it ran out right before the railroad crossing. We followed that old road and asked our horses to cross the railroad tracks and pleased that they did. We picked up an old service road and made it to the river's edge. It was up, with all the recent rain. I used to swim in this river; a scary thought today.

We followed another little grassy path that dead ended into a recently planted field. Then I remembered: this used to be the city dump! Remember those? Anyone could come with a truckload of trash, appliances or whatnot and just dump them on the pile. Amazing that ours was right next to the river! My, how things have changed. I couldn't help but wonder what all was compacted neatly under that corn field.

I had John shoot some pictures of me; something he rarely does. But it meant more to me that I am in the pictures than him. It was my hometown. (Bruce Springsteen).

My sister visited our campsite and had supper with us. I couldn't' convince her to throw a leg over a horse though.

My parents are both gone; when I am home I feel the void even more than I do every day.

I didn't do 25 miles today like I probably would have if I were competing. Today I traveled back in time and it was just as good.

May 20, 2011

Another Kind of Dark Cloud

Since there are still days I am wearing a heavy coat to the barn, I believe we haven't quite broken the grasp of winter. But unfortunately, that is the last thing us horse types have to worry about right now in our world. Unless today is the first time this week you turned on your computer or looked at Facebook or other horse lists and blogs, you obviously know about the threat of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1).

In the past, many of us referred to EHV-1 as the rhino virus and were concerned primarily about any bred mares. Most often a respiratory disease among our herds, not pleasant, but certainly not deadly that I knew of. Today we think differently as it is neurologic, not respiratory, and it is deadly. Lest I say something medically incorrect, Google & you will find out the particulars. I found a blog post by Tanis McDonald DVM extremely helpful and written in layman's terms.

To date, no cases have been reported in Nebraska, but the Nebraska Department of Agriculture reports that five horse barns in our state are currently under quarantine. The good news is, none of the horses quarantined are exhibiting symptoms at this time and we are about at the end of the incubation period. Horses in these barns were at the Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah, April 29-May 8, where this outbreak was first reported. Since then, cases have been reported in several states, including counties in neighboring Colorado, all linked to this event. This is getting too close to home. A table of states with exposed or infected horses can be found here.

I had entered a competitive trail ride scheduled for this weekend down in Kansas. Hearing about EHV-1, I consulted a trusted vet. He was guarded about traveling out of state and exposing Windy to fifty other multi-state horses until we learned more about what kind of outbreak we were dealing with. It was an easy decision to pull from this competition. There will be other rides.

I still plan on trail riding but limiting my exposure to other horses and popular places. I'll avoid large groups and activities, riding primarily with friends who also stable at home and who aren't around a mass amount of horses. We'll take the trail less traveled. Am I eliminating risk entirely? No. I don't think that is possible. But I am managing the risk by riding with people I know who can track the whereabouts of their horses as easily as I can my own. At this point, the odds are in our favor that we will not contract this deadly disease but I am smart enough to know that no plan is fail-safe. I don't believe the sky is falling, but I do believe horse owners should be aware of what is going on with this disease and take biosecurity measures to protect your horse or herd.

It's always something, isn't it?

What about the rest of you? What, if anything, have you done to change your riding plans?


May 15, 2011

Blowin’ In The Wind

I know some of you out-of-state readers are experiencing the same unusual weather conditions that we have been getting in Nebraska this spring. Earlier this week it hit record highs of 95° and then this past weekend, it barely got over 45° with wind that just wouldn't quit! As I sit here typing this on Sunday morning, I have the space heater running at my feet and days ago I was contemplating turning on the air conditioner. Crazy stuff!

My friends, John and Tammy Musil, (yes, another John & Tammy), held their annual poker ride yesterday. So even though the temperatures were less than ideal for this fourteen mile ride, they put a lot of time into it and if you have ever tasted John's BBQ that he prepares for the after party, it is worth riding in less the perfect weather just for that reason alone!

Ginger and Windy were literally shaking as we saddled them up. (Did I mention the wind?) I went to the trailer and found my long underwear and slipped them on under my breeches and reluctantly zipped up my winter coat. Gloves and an earband under the helmet took away some of the chill. We were ready to ride. And really, once we got moving, it wasn't too bad. There were plenty of times we were riding next to treelines that provided some sort of windbreak and other times down at the bottom of the hills where you didn't feel the wind. Really, I would rather ride in weather like we rode in yesterday than sticky hot humidity.

Due to the mines in the area, the roads around the Weeping Water area are limestone. Although you can ride in the ditches, sometimes that is scary with the litter or broken bottles. Last year my horses did it barefoot and were fine. Windy is shod right now, so I wasn't worried about her, but Ginger was just trimmed a couple days ago. As I was contemplating this ride, I had the farrier make sure Ginger's feet were contoured well enough to fit into a pair of EZ Boot gloves. If you recall, I bought them last year for our Wyoming trip and lost one the first day when we ended up in a bog. I figured one boot did me no good at all, so had bought a replacement but had never used them again. John was somewhat reluctant to use them at all – he hates anything that might be a hassle when riding, but I am happy to report that they slipped on her easily and up until the final lope in the 13th mile, we had no problems at all with the boots.

We headed out about noon. There were about 25 riders; many whom I knew and some who I didn't. A route took us to 5 different stops where we would collect a poker card, the first stop being a farm a few miles to the south of the Musil's home. From there we continued on to the Farmhouse Lounge, a little candle shop/bar that is kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I am told they do skydiving nearby and this place is frequented by the jumpers. In this wind, there was no sign of jumpers today.

After a short break there, we rode on to downtown Weeping Water. Population about 1,100 – it is a small town by most measures. Twenty-five horses certainly seemed like a parade riding through their main streets. We stopped at the local bar, picked up another poker card and then headed back out of town – to the north. The wind was blowing from the north so we moved right into it.

After a stop at a mailbox along the way for yet another poker card, we rode into the beer gardens at a bar in Manley for the last card. By now we had been on the ride almost five hours. With the wind not letting up, most everyone was anxious to get back, unsaddled and eat BBQ. John, Robyn and I picked up the pace, alternating between long trotting and loping those last three miles. This is where the EZ Boot gloves failed. Once John moved Ginger into a lope, those boots came off. I noticed it; he whoa'd her and took them off the last mile of the ride.

The horses grazed in a temporary corral while we enjoyed a hot meal. No regrets from any rider; we made the best of it. Next weekend I am riding a Competitive Trail Ride south of Kansas City. I am hoping the weather will be a little less of what we had yesterday but not as much as we had earlier in the week. Perhaps "spring weather" would be nice.

May 10, 2011

Hoof Works

The farrier was coming tonight. Pedicures for all; but I was on the fence about shoeing Windy. I'm not anti-shoe, per se. But I like the fact that she has tough, black feet and has only been shod three times in her nine years. I have two rocky rides coming up; one that she did barefoot last year and the second that some have said they shoe their horses for that particular terrain. Others, myself included, have thought boots would work. But in the end, I decided to shoe her. Then Ginger can wear Windy's boots on the rocky road ride next week & Windy's feet will be good for both rides. Just made more sense. (Ginger won't make the 2nd ride.)

Blue has had issues with the farrier the last couple times. He has always had a "hitch in his giddy up" and I contributed his naughty behavior to soreness in his ankles. I had John bute him earlier today in hopes of alleviating any stiffness and seeing better behavior. Ah, that didn't work out so well. And I had to laugh when my farrier said, "he's not sore, he's a prick." So there you have it. He took a piece of twine and ran it over Blue's poll and into his mouth and onto his gums. John was to apply pressure when Blue misbehaved. Funny, he stopped misbehaving.

I flashed back 10 years; our first farrier had to set the ground rules using this same technique. Wanna bet Blue won't be such a "prick" next time?

May 7, 2011

The 11th Ride is a Charm

It was said that the 10th Annual Friday Before Mother’s Day blew. It was windy, cold and downright miserable and after a tree about fell on us, I really was thinking the 10th would be the last. But just like having a baby, the pain wears off and before long, it’s time to start planning the next ride. I decided to keep it simple; go back to the basics. No catered food. No golden horseshoes. Just horse and riders. Sack lunches; pot luck to follow. Yeah, I was pretty sure this would work. Oh, we might lose a few people, but it would still be a good ride.

I pre-rode the Oak Creek Trail a few weeks before. Other than one downed tree, it looked good. The NRD took care of the tree and mowed the trail to perfection. The weather, believe it or not, was in our favor. Windy, but eighty degrees. Doable, very doable. The night before, I packed the trailer and John filled the water barrel to take to Loma for the riders. He wouldn’t be able to ride this year as he was in the middle of a job, but we’d be okay.

I loaded Windy a little after 8:00 AM and after stopping for coffee, I pulled into the trailhead shortly after. Before long, the trailers started pulling in. Friends, acquaintances, and lots of people I didn’t know. Everyone was smiles, what horses I was around seemed to be handling the crowds well and did I mention the weather? Beautiful. Windy caught sight of her trail buddy, Boomer, and started getting prancy at the trailer, so it was time to mount and get going. My friend, Kathy, as is tradition, lead the group out promptly at 10:00.

Up ahead, a plane coming in for a landing in Lincoln, seemed to hover over us. Two lone horses stood on the hill in a pasture watching the parade of riders. You could still smell a hint of the plum blossoms which just dropped days ago. A blue bird flew ahead of us for a spell before landing on a high tree. Whinnying was heard in the distance and laughing all around us. It took just over two hours to ride a little over 7 miles to Loma.

In Loma, I hobbled Windy next to Boomer and joined a few friends for a quick sandwich; then walked through the riders chatting with friends and meeting new people. The riders kept coming in. Finally, I got a text from my outrider who was counting riders going over that first bridge. He counted one hundred and forty one riders. Oh, my gosh, this was one of the biggest rides yet. Unbelievable. For those who have never been on this ride, you might think this number is way too many to make for a pleasant ride. For those who have been on the ride, you know that the riders are spread out so much that it doesn’t feel like 141 riders. I never would have dreamed there were that many riders on Friday morning.

I started out riding back with friends but started to slowly move ahead. Once I found a hole between riders, I moved Windy into a trot. She leveled out nicely and I laid the reins on her neck and moved into a two-point position enjoying the ride. When I would come upon riders, we would slow briefly asking if we could pass at a trot. Everyone obliged; one rider even asked if they could run with me.

We traveled this way for about four miles, I’d guess, slowing if there was congestion on the bridges or tight spots. Two miles outside Valparaiso, I come upon my favorite couple riding alone. In their 70’s, this is what they do: they ride. We rode together for awhile until I heard the sirens go off in Valparaiso. That meant they were calling the volunteer fire department and EMTs. There was either a fire or a medical emergency. It wouldn’t be the first time medics were called on this ride.

As I heard the ambulance coming toward the trail, I asked my friends if they would mind if I rode ahead and took off again at a trot. We rode into Valparaiso just a mile or so later. I found out an ambulance call was made as a rider was dizzy and could be suffering for dehydration and as a precaution, the medics were called. I was told later that she was hydrated and the ambulance brought her back to her trailer in town. We have had broken ribs and a broken ankle in previous rides; I am glad this one ended okay, so I was told. One of my safety riders did ask that I remind everyone that when an ambulance is called, riders should be dispatched to both intersections to direct the medics to the rider. Good tip for all rides.

The ride concluded with a potluck dinner at the trailers. Camp chairs, good food; sharing stories of the trail. I don’t know if this ride felt so good because last year’s ride was so miserable or if it truly was the best ride in eleven years. I am leaning toward the latter. When I loaded up Windy; only a handful of riders were left. We headed to Branched Oak Lake to meet my besties for a sundown ride and an overnighter. When I laid down in the trailer that night, I was reading all the positive notes on Facebook and felt really good about the day. No one missed having catered food; a good time was had by all. I fell asleep before I finished reading all the posts.

I’ve loaded some pictures into a Webshots album; some taken by me, some by others.

I want to thank you all for coming to the Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride 2011. Thank you to my friends for all their help and the safety riders for keeping a watchful eye. I hope you had as good of a time as I did. I’ll see you next year.

May 1, 2011

Anyway the Wind Blows

Well, the wind was blowing every way! The forecast originally said "windy" for Saturday. But Friday morning, as I got within 10 miles of my destination - Bader Memorial Park - the radio mentioned "wind advisories" for most of the day. So maybe we would get this wind business over with and have a nice weekend to follow. Well, we had a nice weekend, but the wind never stopped.

Throughout the weekend, there were sixteen of us (all women) who rode the trails and/or camped at Bader Memorial Park. The "May Day Ride" has become a tradition for the last 4 or 5 years. We used to ride at Joni's Cottonwood Creek Stables but when it was sold last year, we made Bader Park our destination. Located east of Grand Island, right off Hwy. 30, and nestled next to the Platte River, it provides a variety of prairie and river riding. Pat Carlson, the manager of Bader Park couldn't be more welcoming to horse trail riders. We were thrilled to find they put in 8 electrical hook-ups in the horse camp; it was much needed on this chilly weekend.

The trails from horse camp take us through the prairie. Just 70 miles west of my place, I am always excited to see jack rabbits in this area where there are none at home. I remember the first time we rode here and saw a jack rabbit: Kathy was so excited, she said, "Look, an antelope!" Huh? (Guess you had to have been there.) We saw a couple jack rabbits this time, lots of deer and I'm pretty sure a snake or two was spotted but I didn't stick around to look.

The above pictures and that at the top of this blog (as well as Joni's video clip) was a river trail that is now under water. By summer, the river will be down and that will be a sand trail once again. But it was pretty cool to ride it as it was this weekend. Windy loves water and would take three steps and then start to splash, another three steps and splash. It was cute the first time or two....

From here, we went out by the river. It was up some and what was truly amazing was there were white caps on the river. The Platte is known as being a mile wide and an inch deep. I don't think I have ever seen white caps on it before. Did I mention the wind?

Windy was pretty good most of the weekend. Of course, she didn't want to be the lead horse. I really need help working her through that; but another day, another time. Her embarrassing moment came when crossing the river for the umpteenth time. As she approached, she sunk into some mud, a little deeper than before, but nothing she hasn't encountered before. But for some reason, she refused to cross. She would get right there to it, go light in the front, pivot and retreat. WTH? A couple of geldings whom she knows came back for her, but no go. She was not going in. We finally had to call for Super Gelding, Boomer (above). He's been her camping neighbor before and one of the few horses she loves. As soon as he reached the shore, she rubbed her nose on his hip, joined up and dove in!

Bader Park not only has electrical hook-ups: they have Wi-Fi! Oh, I can hear some of you saying; "For goodness sakes, you are camping!" Yeah, and your point is? (smiling...)

Did I mention the food? Oh, we rode... but we also ate. And ate and ate. It is amazing how much food sixteen women can throw together! Every meal, the picnic table was full. Have any of you tried chocolate wine? Don't laugh! There is a place for it and it is a camping trip! It was a weekend of forgetting Weight Watchers points, that's for sure. I know I will pay dearly at the scale this week and should probably hit the treadmill a little more religiously. The wind drove us inside on Saturday night. We ate in the back of Joni's horse trailer.

May 1st. The first camping trip is in the books. The Friday Before Mother's Day Ride coming up this week. Three weeks until our first competitive trail ride of the season. Ride season is off to a full swing! And the wind? It never quit. Thanks, girls, for another GREAT weekend.


God Bless the USA! Thank you, troops.