Sep 25, 2011

A Time To Laugh, A Time To Weep

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I know we all keep horses for different reasons.  Some of you show, some ride locally, some just appreciate having them nearby.  There's no wrong answer to horsekeeping as long as they are cared for.  When we bought Ginger all those years ago, we really didn't have a plan as to what we were going to do with the horse - just ride, I guess.  But I credit my friend, Tammy Musil, for introducing me to horse trail riding and camping way back when and there has been no looking back.
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John, Case & McCain 2008
The early years were spent hauling four horses and two kids and all that takes for a successful weekend.  Don't get me wrong; those were the good ol' days.  But kids grow older, have different interests and before long its no longer a treat for them to go camping and there are 101 other things they would rather be doing and horses aren't one of them. 
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Family vacation to South Dakota 2008

Although Case will occasionally ride with us, I guess the last time McCain and Case both joined us was in 2009 when we went to Big Canyon.  But my interest never waned.  It became harder to find time to get away with the kids' other activities, but it made me appreciate the time I could even more. 
CGW 2009, Rock Creek 175
Playing games on Ginger at CGW 2009
This was the ninth year I was invited to Kathy's Cowgirl Weekend (CGW) – a four day riding event with just women and a must attend ride for me.In the dead of the winter, Kathy and I started thinking of a way we could extend it beyond those four days.  Heck, its my 50th birthday year - what a great present - to spend a week on the road with our horses.   Early on we planned our route, but flooding along I-29 made us change our destinations, but not the vacation.  Several of the others who spend CGW with us decided to join our pilgrimage. 
Just when you think everything is going to work out, life throws a curve ball and we lost Ginger three days before we were to leave.  As I mentioned, I planned to take both Ginger and Windy.  It wasn't as big deal not to have two horses on the trip as it was an emotional blow.  

I’ve blogged about our rides this past week and shared pictures from each of our stops along the way.  What pictures can’t capture is the feeling of complete “vacation” I got from this trip.  Not only was I away from work,  I only had to worry about feeding myself and my horse.  I could go to bed when I wanted to and get up when I wanted to.  And my best equine companion was either outside my camper door or under my saddle.  I rode four new places and each one was completely unlike the previous stop.  And without judgment or embarrassment, I was able to grieve the loss of Ginger when my heart started aching.  I could talk openly to friends who understand my loss.
Those moments didn’t come often.  They would sneak up on me when I least expected it; like when I saw a blemish on Jules’ horse, Tiki, and remembered Ginger’s smiley face blemish.  Or sharing a hug from Gail, whose loss of her Mollie a year ago is still fresh.  Then the tears would start.  But is was okay; to express my hurt without abashment was their gift to me.  But besides those moments of pain, for the most part, my vacation was filled with beautiful countryside, fabulous weather, good friends and moments that we laughed until we cried because what we were laughing about was just plain funny.  (Thanks, Joni). 
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I knew coming home and not seeing Ginger in the pasture was going to be hard and it was.  But thankfully, the "survivors" didn't rush to the gate to see if Ginger would unload as they usually do when Ginger travels.  They treated our arrival as they do any other time Windy would come home -- they answered her whinny, but didn't stop grazing.  I don’t remember if I mentioned this here or not, but when I found Ginger that morning, the herd had already separated from her.  Perhaps they had already said goodbye.

I’m okay now.  I won’t deny that as I type this there isn’t a lump in my throat or that I still won’t cry when I look through pictures or when someone mentions her name.  But what was to be my “vacation” turned into a period of mourning that I needed as much as I needed that vacation.  I am so blessed to have had that time to not be a wife, a mother or an employee, but a horsewomen who suffered an incredible loss and could let the healing begin. 

Sep 24, 2011

Cowgirl Weekend 2011

My friend, Kathy Newberg, together with her friend, the late Joyce Vossler, started Cowgirl Weekend thirteen years ago as a way to make horsewomen more independent from learning to hook up and pull your own rig to exploring new trails.  I was invited to join the group nine years ago.  As it has evolved, it has become less of a learning weekend – because we are all that now – and more of a fellowship of friendship.

Modeling our "Pajama Jeans" -- as seen on TV!  They make great riding pants!

This year, Kathy planned the weekend in the Flint Hills of Kansas.  Following the “pre-CGW” trip I most recently blogged about, we pulled into the campground near Tuttle Creek Lake early Thursday afternoon.  A few of those invited were already here and before long, the campground was full with the twenty women attending this year’s event.  After we tended to our horses, social hour began.  It’s the first time many of us have seen each other collectively since last year. 


The riding is the most important part of Cowgirl Weekend and Kathy tries to find places that we may not have been before or that are unique and perhaps someplace we wouldn’t have traveled to outside of this event.  Other than a few of the competitive trail riders, none of our group has been here before.  So when we set out on the trails Friday morning, it was definitely a ride of exploration. 


The trails wound through the woods with drastic changes of elevation.  Every now and then we would pop out of the trees for views of the lake or the trees on the next bluff just starting to show hints of fall.  The trails are very rocky with a lot of switchbacks; makes for some challenging terrain for our otherwise flatland horses.  Trust in the horse under you and you’ll find these trails breathtaking and beautiful.  I loved to feel Windy tuck her hind end under her as she descended the hills or turn beautifully on the forehand to negotiate the sometimes sharp switchbacks. 


Later yesterday we had our own version of the Craig Cameron (perhaps less) Extreme Competition.  It was a great exercise for Windy and me and one I have to admit, we didn’t do to well at.  She avoided the cavelettis, would not cross the tarp and veered off when loping a circle hoping to return to the herd of waiting horses.  I was very disappointed she would not pass through a curtain of trail tape after just marking five miles of trail from the saddle a couple weeks ago.  She did however sidepassed beautifully to the mailbox, make a nice circle with a long stick positioned on a barrel and stand quietly while I dismounted and lifted her back leg to clean her hoof which was the final task.  I was very impressed with many of the other riders and it was a tough competition!

At CGW 2004, we had our meals catered.  It was the start of a wonderful tradition.  Although catered is our first option, if we are at a place where we don’t have that luxury, we come up with other food ideas.  This year, we are having a series of potluck.  Thursday night was all appetizers, last night half the group furnished traditional potluck and the last night the other half will serve  international potluck.  No dry sandwiches around here; we eat very well.

Off and on, I think about Ginger.  I brought her to Cowgirl Weekend twice and she was going to make the trip with Windy and me this time.  I am not looking forward to pulling in the driveway and seeing her gone.  It will take a long time for me to get used to her absence, even longer for the hurt to go away.  This week and CGW has been a good diversion from the pain and the time with my friends and my good mare, priceless. 

Sep 23, 2011

Milford Lake



It was a little over an hours drive from Eisenhower Park to Milford Lake near Junction City, KS.  It sprinkled intermittently along the way, so it was a good travel day although annoying from a windshield wiper perspective.  By the time we reached Milford Lake, the rain had stopped, but it was still quite windy and chilly.  We had planned to give the horses the rest of the day off, so after securing them in one of the nice covered stalls provided by the park, we busied ourselves with setting up camp.  It was the first night of the trip that I used the heat strip in my trailer; quite chilly!



We have been blessed with beautiful riding weather and the following morning was no exception.  Definitely sweatshirt weather, but the sun was shining and once again, it was pretty much a bug free day.  The trails around Milford Lake are mowed paths with occasional views of the water.  If I were to compare it to trails at home, very much like those on the south side of Branched Oak Lake.  Not challenging, but for Day 4 of our trip, a nice easy ride for the horses and for once, no rock.




There was a river trail that looked inviting.  It went along the spillway from the dam.  We didn’t find it until three hours into our ride and didn’t have enough time to explore.  We’ll check it out next time we are in the area. 


Later that day, we met up with the rest of our group to begin our annual Cowgirl Weekend in the Flint Hills of Kansas.  We’ll ride out mid-morning.  The sun has just come up and it looks like it will be another nice day.

Sep 22, 2011

Eisenhower State Park / Melvern Lake


Gosh, what day is it?  This gypsy caravan, as we are now calling ourselves, continue to make our way across Kansas.  I am writing this from Milford Lake outside of Junction City.  We’ll be breaking camp about noon to head to our final destination – joining other friends for our annual Cowgirl Weekend.


On Tuesday, we camped at Eisenhower State Park and rode the trails of Melvern Lake.  The day was absolutely God’s gift to us.  After some light showers in the morning, the sun came out, the temperature stayed mild and it was close enough to perfect.  Around every corner was a photo-op – the horses back-dropped against such a blue, quiet lake.  Although the leaves on the trees aren’t changing quite yet, the sumac is turning red and we are starting to see hints of autumn.


Once again, this Kansas campground is second to none.  Each camper is offered a nice rocked camping pad with electrical hookups and water.  Huge trees provide appropriate shade that even in the summer, the camping would be wonderful.  Each pad comes with a big piped corral for the horses with water and easy access to the compost pile. 


We rode just under ten miles and got back to camp in time for a light lunch and another light shower as we loaded up the horses to head to our next stop about 120 miles down the road.  It rained intermittently as we traveled but had let up when we reached camp.  Once again, the campground is above and beyond our expectations.  We settled our horses into their covered stalls and decided to give them the rest of the day off.  We had a nice dinner, a few marsh mellows over the campfire and called it a night.  We’ll ride today before we head out to our final stop of this trip.   

Thank you for your notes from my previous post.  Grief is very awkward to me.  Its very seldom, thank God, that the pain is deep enough to pass to the core of my psyche and 99.9999% of those who know me and those of you who don’t, have been very kind and supportive and I am touched by your words.  Now that I’ve slept on it, I realize I shouldn’t have taken the bait and let one comment overshadow the kind words shown by everyone else.  You have all really lightened the load and I am blessed to have people in my life who truly understand. 

Sep 21, 2011

Defining Loss

Earlier last week, a fellow horse friend’s son underwent brain surgery for an abscess.  This young man had been hospitalized off and on over the last several weeks and it wasn’t until recently that they could identify what was causing his illness.  A risky surgery, we were all glued to Facebook that day waiting for updates.  And when we received the good news of his successful surgery, there was a collective sigh of relief which went through our online equine community.  While prayers are still being offered for his strength and that of his family during this recovery, we are happy to know he is home with his family again. 

The loss of a loved one is something most of us fear.  As a parent, it is particularly hard when we know someone’s child is suffering because we easily relate to the pain the parent must be feeling which is beyond what any of us want to face.  Someone posted that having a child go through this ordeal kind of puts the loss of a horse “into perspective.”

Zing.  No doubt geared toward the recent notes of sympathy that I received on the same list serv following the loss of Ginger.  And I couldn’t agree more.  Our priorities in life should focus on the people we love.  It doesn’t, however, make the loss of our pets any less real.  How do you define loss? 

I have to admit that although Ginger was technically John’s horse, I felt the loss as if she were my own.  She was our first horse; the one I feared and the one who helped me overcome that fear.  She was the one I would loan to friends to ride; she was my spare.  As the mother to Windy, I recognized her traits in my own horse.  I told the girls I am camping with this week that I have not taken the loss of an animal this hard since I lost Macy, our springer spaniel, in 1998.  The support from my friends though this ordeal has been incredible and comforting. 

Over the last few days as I have been working to come to grips with my grief, I worry about John.  He suffered a loss, too.  How he must feel to not have his horse out in the pasture anymore.  Has he thought about upcoming rides and his plans?  Does he look at Blue or Butter and know that even though they are there to ride, they aren’t “his horse”?  We haven’t talked about the loss of his dad in 2004, how can he articulate how he feels about the loss of something which has been recently pointed out as less consequential?  Is it any wonder that it is uncomfortable for people to share their feelings about a loss of a pet when others call you out for not putting it “in perspective”. 

This blog was created to share my horse life and unfortunately, it now includes the loss of one of our best horses.  And “best” has nothing to do about how well she was trained or a pedigree; it is about how much we loved her.  It is not to make it any less than or greater than it was.  There is still human sickness, death and war going on and the death of my horse was really a blip on no one’s radar but our own and those who loved her.  I understand this, but it doesn't make the loss any easier to take.  And it does kind of piss me off when people tell me how I should or shouldn't be feeling. 

Sep 19, 2011

Perry Lake

Day 1.  I wonder how my family is going to function with me gone for a week?  I swear my cell phone didn’t stop ringing until their first period bell rang.  And finally, I could drive in peace. 


I met Mary and Sharron first and a half hour later, Kathy joined our convoy.  Another 40 minutes or so and Kelly, the fifth person in our caravan tucked in behind us.  For the most part, we stayed together.  I led the pack with occasional cars and trucks getting in between us.  It was pretty cool to look in my rearview mirror and see the trailers behind me.  We reached our first destination about noon.  We set up camp and had lunch while I horses relaxed and then headed out on the trail.

I was surprised to find the trails a little rockier than I had envisioned.  Windy is shod on the fronts but has very thin hoof walls on her rear and we have struggled with shoes in the past.  My current farrier will not put them on and I agree with his decision.  I have a pair of boots that work in a pinch.  They seemed to work okay until we got into some muddy areas.  I finally gave up and tied them to my saddle.  They won’t do much good there, but we seemed to get out of the worst of the rock and would work to avoid it the rest of the afternoon.


It was a nice quiet day to catch up with friends.  We talked about Ginger, shed a few tears and then moved on.  I know with this group that anytime I want to share, I can. 

The only excitement today was Windy bolting.  We were second to the last on the trail and all of a sudden she shot off like a bullet; very unlike her.  I tried to pull her in with one rein and the same leg to her side when I realized THAT leg was tangled in a branch and every time I moved my leg, I pushed it further under her belly and back legs.  Zuni and Kathy heard me coming and cleared the trail.  I looked ahead at Mary and her horse, Sara, and knew Mary would take the impact if I needed her to but before we collided, I had freed my boot (spur?) of the branch and Windy stopped.  She was a bit shook up but nothing a short breather and a couple of treats wouldn’t fix.  She so rarely spooks so I’ll give her this one. 


Having just finished our Trail Challenge last week and taking great care to leave the trails as we found them by removing all ribbons and other items used in competition, I am very surprised to find this trail has been left full of trail ribbon and paper plates from some sort of prior ride, based on the condition of what seems to be garbage now.  Some paper plates refer to "25 mile this way" so I wonder if it is some sort of endurance type ride.  I know there is a CTR planned here in a few weeks but I would think trail marking for that ride would be premature. 

Tomorrow morning we will hit the trails again and then load up and head to our next destination, just 55 miles away. 


Sep 18, 2011

Southern Bound


Thank you so much for the notes of condolence.  Grief over losing a horse - an animal - is very real.  People who have never loved an animal do not understand.  You all do and I am touched that you reached out.

I slept late, took a shower, did my hair and put on a little make-up.  I needed to work at our church bazaar dinner and seemed as good as any to get out of the house.  None of the church people will know of my loss; I should be able to make it through the afternoon.  Imagine my shock when the first person I served coffee to asked, “So how’d it come out with your horse?”  Small town, shared vet. 


Later this afternoon, I finished loading the hay and water into the trailer.  The sun finally came out and I felt much better.  The horses had made their way up to the corral and I filled their extra tank.  We have an automatic waterer, but they enjoy playing in a  tank. 


Cowgirl Weekend falls the same time every year and the first sign of the horse’s winter coats are just beginning to show.  Windy turns a beautiful mahogany this time of year.  It is tradition that I bath and groom her before the big weekend but yesterday I could barely function.  I couldn’t imagine having the gumption to take on that task.  Today was a better day and I was anxious to spend some time with my horse.  I pulled her out and shampooed, conditioned and Show Sheened her.  There is nothing prettier than a clean, bay horse.  I couldn’t help but think I just combed  Ginger’s tail two days ago.  I could still feel the texture of her hair against my hands; much finer than Windy’s black tail.  When I finished grooming Windy, I put her in the round pen for the night so she doesn’t get dirty.  Butter will keep her company.

I’ll hit the road at o’dark hundred.  I picked up the audio book Heaven is For Real;  I thought it would be a comforting on my journey.  Our first stop will be in central Kansas, hopefully arriving before noon.  The truck has a new fuel sensory device, new tires, a new pitnam arm (whatever that is) and two new batteries.  A kiss for luck and we’ll be on our way (name that song). 


Sep 17, 2011

A Time To Heal

riding ginger

This was the weekend I was packing for my big trip:  Cowgirl Weekend:  The Extended Version.  To celebrate my 50th birthday (last March), rather than a four-day weekend, some of us were leaving early and making it a week long trip.  And to give Windy a little break, I planned to bring both her and Ginger.  What a difference a day makes. 

My travel plans aren’t changing; I’m still leaving on Monday.  But the journey will be a bit different now.  It will now be just Windy and me. 

I went out to the trailer and readied it now for one horse instead of two.  Although both horses could wear the same saddle, I won’t be needing Ginger’s saddle pad.  Or her bridle.  I touched her fly mask and remembered the last time she had worn it.  I’ll keep it in the trailer; Windy can wear it.  There are things that will be put away for keepsakes and other things that will be used in remembrance of her. 

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While she was being treated for colic, I’d combed out her beautiful red tail with Show Sheen.  It glistened.  I told the female vet that I would like my hair colored to match the colors in her tail.  She agreed it was quite pretty.  What else would she say?  When we knew we had to let her go, I asked the vet to clip her tail for me but not until she died.  I didn’t want her to die without her tail. I put it away for now.  Someday I’ll hold it in the sun again. 

I had hoped to post to my blog the stories of the trail on this upcoming trip.  But the road I am taking is no longer a celebration.  It’s a time for healing.  To be with my good horse and Ginger’s only baby, Windy.  And surround myself with friends who knew my good mare and understand this will be the toughest ride I have been on for a long time.  

Sep 16, 2011

Ginger 1997 - 2011

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Today I had to unexpectedly say goodbye to our good mare, Ginger.  For the first time in her life, she colicked.  Heck, it’s the only time she has ever been sick.  And we lost her.  I am very confident John, the vets and I made all the right decisions.  It just doesn’t make it easier to take.

How can you say goodbye in five minutes?  And thank her for the last eleven years she was with us?  The words wouldn’t come.  I could only hold her.  I wanted so much to give her a fitting tribute here and once again, words fail me.  I am not ready.  It’s too fresh.

Last week I had the most awesome ride on Ginger & shared it on Facebook

I just wanted you to know.

God Speed, Little Red.  You were loved.


Sep 14, 2011

Brave Horses

I went out tonight with a sweatshirt and came back for another layer.  It was quite chilly tonight.  Almost put my ear band on.  Picked the wrong time of year to get my hair cut shorter.  They are expecting frost in some of the low-lying areas. Although I am loving this fall weather, I am not looking forward to what follows.  I won’t think about that now and just enjoy today.

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As I mentioned in a previous post, this past weekend was our 2nd Annual Trail Challenge.  We had about fifty riders come out and compete in this fun event.  Based loosely on some of the national competitions, we design a trail ride with judged obstacles along the way.  The riders are scored on their horsemanship and the horse is judged on how well it performs the challenge.  Beginner friendly and has proved successful both years we have hosted the event.  

A lot of prep work goes into the ride from clearing trails, setting up obstacles and strategically placing “I Spy” items that riders are to spot along the way.  We were quite satisfied with our challenges and hoped they would appeal to all audiences.

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The morning of the challenge, co-chair Shari and I, went out to pre-ride the trail and make sure none of our markings were disturbed overnight.  Other volunteers placed the larger obstacles at the appropriate locations.  Windy was very nerved up when I saddled her that morning; there were field trials going on a mile or so away and she could hear the activity but not see it.  I rode her through her nervousness but she was no where the rock she had been during the set-up.


We'd been out on the trail a good hour when we came upon one of the obstacles;  two cut-out buffalo, which had just been placed by volunteers.  As designed, the rider would come out of the forest and around the corner and see these 4’ x 6’ beasts along the trail.  They would be asked to halt their horse on the trail, straddling a small stick or branch, count to 10 and move on.  But here Shari and I are on our fine trail horses – both CTR horses – and they are totally unglued by what they see on the trail.

I slowly urge Windy onto the trail toward the buffalo. I let her look at them but kept her feet moving.  She veered off the trail and made a wide half circle around them.  Once we were passed, I let her stop and turn toward them.  She watched them and seemed to relax. 

Shari’s horse, Wiley, on the other hand, grew to be about 17hh and literally inflated in front of my eyes.  You would swear his ears even got taller!  Using what appeared to be a similar tactic, Shari asked Wiley to move on.  He moved, but very slowly and was very concerned.  At one point, he spun around and attempted to bolt.  Windy took that as her cue to bolt, too.  Shari and I pulled both of our horses in and she started again.  Wiley finally advanced to where Windy stood and we continued down the trail. 

We were SHOCKED that our good trail horses reacted like this to inanimate objects.  And if OUR horses had this kind of problem, what would the 50 other horses do?  We MUST change the obstacle.  We’ll make it a walk-by – between two cones – instead of a stop.  Yeah, that will help the riders immensely.  We went back and told our judges we were making that change or “someone will get hurt.”

Once the ride started, Shari and I rode from point to point to make sure it was running smoothly.  When we came over the hill to where the buffalo roamed, we stopped to watch the next set of riders as they approached.  We kept a tight rein on our horses as we were sure when the riders' horses bolted, so would ours.  Imagine our surprise when horse after horse rode calmly through the “herd” of buffalo.  One.After.Another.  According to the judges, about 95% of the riders had no issues with the buffalo at all! One rider even asked the judge, "Is this all we have to do?"

Was our face red.

Big Chickens

We did make our beasts go back through the challenge and try it again.  Although not entirely happy, they did make a better showing than they did earlier that day. 

Did I mention we were also the safety riders?  Someone save us!

Sep 11, 2011

I’m Back!

This past weekend was our Trail Challenge fundraiser

For the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee.

There was a lot to get done

In preparation for the event.

And then the ride itself.

Got in lots of saddle time. 

And spent the weekend with horse people

Either volunteering or riding in the event. 

3 days at camp

10+ hours in the saddle

22 miles of riding the same trail

And it was all good.

More to come….

Sep 2, 2011

Someone's Dad!

This was too cute not to share!  The guy in the red behind him tries so hard not to watch!

Sep 1, 2011


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What a crazy week or so.  I can’t remember where I left off and what I did prior to last Friday, but in short,

  • the alfalfa was cut but not ready to bale
  • we hit two football games in one night (50 miles apart) - both wins
  • heavy dew saturated the almost dry alfalfa
  • the truck and trailer were packed for a camping trip
  • waiting for alfalfa to dry is worse than watching paint dry
  • baling started at noon and by 3:00, we had 3 racks of hay
  • with horses in tow we made it to Rock Creek by 6:00 PM

Any other time, I would have pulled the plug on the camping trip because it was just so chaotic time wise.  Not only did we get a late start, I had plans for Sunday night so needed to get home at a decent time that afternoon.  As it turned out, some of our alfalfa must still have damp when baled and we probably lost at least a quarter of it.   Luckily we still had plenty of hay in the barn and hopefully will get a 4th cutting if we don’t get in early freeze.  The urgency for going to Rock Creek was the opportunity to ride on some private property near the park and who knows when and if we would have the chance to ride there again.

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Steele City Canyon is located a few miles from Rock Creek Station.  In the past, together with land from Rock Creek Station and Rock Glen Wildlife Area, it has been used for competitive trail riding.  I heard our host mention endurance rides, too.  I don't think they have hosted many of those rides here in the last decade, if at all.  It is all private property and different owners, so we were excited for the privilege to ride there. 

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It was amazing how the terrain changed in just a few miles.  We were riding through fields and then saw a vast amount of trees lining the hills out yonder.  As if staged, a train roared down the tracks in the distance.

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There were fourteen of us in our group, all friends who ride together frequently and all experienced riders.  Some of the trails were a little rough, but I am sure to the relief of our host, nothing this group couldn’t handle.  But it probably was not well suited for a novice rider.  There were some challenging climbs.

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Some of the area got quite rocky.  Our horses aren’t shod right now but they seemed to pick their way along the trails just fine.  Can you imagine this view in the fall?

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A stream ran thru the bottom of this canyon.  Most of the horses stopped for water.  Although it wasn’t extremely hot, we were starting to feel the humidity and lost the breeze once we dropped down here. 

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I tried to get a group shot.  What the heck?  The horses are facing another direction!  Bad photography on my part.  But it does give you a good idea of the rock canyon.  The creek runs right in front of it. 


In the background, you can see one of the kids starting to climb the canyon wall and yes, he made it to the top. 


We rode about five hours and I felt it the next day!  It just goes to show how little I have ridden this season compared to most.  I don’t remember the last time I was sore after riding.  I imagine Windy felt a little bit the same way. 


We tore down camp shortly after we got back and drove home the 100 miles less than 24 hours after we had arrived.  My sister and our childhood friend, Diane, picked me up not long after we got home and we headed to the Meatloaf concert in Omaha.  Meatloaf was one concert I missed in my youth.  I still know all the words to his songs.  It was worth trying to fit it all in this one weekend.