Dec 31, 2011

Winding Down


One more day of riding before beckoned back to reality.  Housework, laundry…. one final Christmas party. 


Eenie meanie miny moe.

Which of my horses get to go? 


I was kind of leaning toward taking Butter.  I really want to get the weight off her this coming year and she was pretty good when I had her out a few days ago.  More importantly, if I am even thinking of leasing her, she needs some saddle time.  But Fancy’s buddysourness with Windy concerned me so I thought it might be good to get her out with other horses and away from our herd. 




I loaded up shortly before noon and headed toward Branched Oak Lake to meet a couple of my Cowgirl Weekend buddies.  Having witnessed first hand the breakdowns I incurred driving HiHo Silver, they were quite impressed with the new Ram. 




The wind had really picked up and even though temperatures were in the fifties, it was very chilly.  The wind over the water cut to the bone so we quickly rode down into the trees to get some break from it. 




A few times we found permafrost under the leaves and the horses scrambled to keep their footing.  Fancy lead most of the ride and about the only mistake she made all day was spooking at a pile of snow, which was quite comical.  We rode about nine miles; once again, stealing time from winter.  As one of my Facebook friends said, whoever is kissing Mother Nature’s ass for this weather, keep it up!


Branched Oak 002


The equestrian camp at Branched Oak Lake is coming along nicely.  I think I mentioned earlier that the pads and electrical hookups were installed, as well as bathrooms and water hydrants.  This time we were pleased to find other amenities, as well.  Since I was riding Fancy, I did not have a camera handy today so Fancy and I got to be the models. 




There are fourteen stalls for the horses.  The first 12 were donated by the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee.  And the person who made the stalls donated an additional two stalls. 




Each pod of corrals has a nice solid hitching post nearby as well as bunkers for manure disposal.




There are two mounting blocks near the corrals and a mounting ramp for riders with disabilities. 




We could see that the area had been seeded and hopefully trees will be planted from their nearby nursery.  There will still be primitive camping available in a nearby area where riders can use portable fencing or tie to the trailer as they have in the past.  There will be fire rings and picnic tables in that area, too.  The good thing is, that area has been graded and those nasty holes that we used to have to dodge when pulling in will be gone.


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Once again, all of this was made possible because the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee was able to provide the appropriate match needed for an RTC grant.  Your time and participation at our fun days and trail challenge continue to help our treasury grow so funds are available when needed for projects such as this one at Branched Oak.  Thank you!

Dec 30, 2011

Team Sorting


Photo Dec 29, 6 19 01 PM


Thursday night is team sorting practice at Chance Ridge near Elkhorn.  In keeping with the horse themed vacation, John and I took Fancy and Windy over to try it out.  Practice is not competition; it is an open ride night to give those interested a chance to expose our horse to cattle and to learn the game of sorting.  Doc Smith is very good about showing riders the ropes and helping them safely work with their horses in the pen.  We are very lucky to have such a facility so close by. 




I’d had Windy over there before and even though her bloodlines should lend itself a little bit to cow sports, she wasn’t really interested.  Last night was the same thing.  She did the job; she wasn’t afraid but she seemed bored with the whole thing. 




Fancy, on the other hand, about melted down the first time she saw the cows.  She was very concerned but also showed a level of interest that I didn’t see with Windy. 




Fancy would put her head down almost to the cow’s butt and follow it.  That is when he could get her close to the herd.  The first couple runs Windy had to go with her, but by the last couple runs, she was in there doing it herself. 


Photo Dec 29, 5 26 28 PM


There were a couple dozen riders and Fancy was attached to Windy’s side; dangerously so.  Once, when she noticed I had rode off with Windy she grew quite agitated.   John tried to hold her back and she bucked and reared up.  It was the naughtiest thing I have ever seen her do and HATED to see this.  We took both mares to the other side of the arena and practiced letting me ride off from her.  Finally, John took her back to the sorting pens alone and I kept Windy away from her.  She was okay if she couldn’t see Windy, but once we would come into sight, she would nicker for her and become anxious again. 


Photo Dec 29, 9 06 01 PM


A buddy sour horse drives me crazy; they are incredibly dangerous.  I really need to encourage John to start riding her out away from the herd quite often.  I truly believe that is the key to getting her over it.  The more they sit in the corral with the herd, the harder it is for them to leave. 




My youngest son came with us: not to spend time with dear ol’ mom and dad but because another of our friend’s son was coming to meet him.  Both have given up the equestrian lifestyle but still enjoy just “hanging”.  While he waited for his friend to arrive, he did hop on Windy and take her for a spin, stopping briefly to text, of course.




Since the loss of Ginger, Windy is becoming the go-to girl in our herd.  From being lead horse around the section to leading Fancy into a herd of bovine.  She will never fill her mama’s hoofprints in the speed department but she is showing confidence and leadership when needed and I am very proud of her.   


Photo Dec 30, 7 16 41 AM


Today we plan to ride the trails again.  Highs are suppose to be in the fifties, but the wind is really strong and not terribly inviting.  With the nice weather this week, I hit my Trail Time goal of 250 hours, so any riding from here on out will be gravy.  Next year, The Distance Derby


It’s Friday already.  Where did the week go.  I have really enjoyed my horse time this week and being able to share it with all of you.  Very soon it will be back to our regularly scheduled program:  Work, infrequent blog posts, cold, winter….






Dec 28, 2011

Pinch Me!


christmas blizzard 133


Just pinch me.  Nebraska does not have temperatures in the mid-fifties on December 28.   The above picture was taken just two years ago when we were snowed in on Christmas vacation. 


There is a slight chill to the air if you try to do anything outside before noon, but come on!  This is crazy-wonderful and I am enjoying every minute of it.  I know I should probably be worrying about global warming and a possibility of a draught and I will, I promise, after I go back to work after this short vacation.


Today I went out to the corral.  I found Baby laying in the sun and sat down next to her and snuggled in her big neck.  It was that time of day when the air was still nippy, but the horses felt so warm.  Blue came up to check out my pockets and smell my gloves and nibble on my fingers.  I later found a mint in my pocket; he must have known it was there.  I didn’t. 


Photo Dec 28, 1 03 47 PM


I took Fancy over to the front of the barn to treat the wound on her ankle and found that out of the wind, it felt so good.  I sat down in the corral, my back to the shed to block the wind and watched Windy as she played in the tank. 


Photo Dec 28, 1 06 53 PM


Fancy walked over next to where I was sitting and smelled my shoes, my knees, and for the longest time, nibbled softly on my fingers.  It is the most affection she has shown since we got her. 


The chill of the day was over, the breeze started to warm up.  I saddled up Windy and Ritz and I took off down the road.  I needed less than an hour to make my 250 hour Trail Time goal and we breezed right past that today.  At about the middle of the third mile, Windy started picking up some speed, so I kissed her into a lope.  She settled into a nice speed to the end of the mile.  I slowed her to make the turn, expecting her to drop back to a walk and was surprised that she continued to move out.  We ran the next mile and almost 3/4 of the next one.  I was getting tired, but just decided to let her pick the pace.  I finally had to pull her in when a car was coming up behind us.




We walked quietly the rest of the way home, giving her a chance to catch her breath and cool off.  I think Ritz was even slowing; we don’t normally move as fast as he does.  I unsaddled her and put in her in the round pen to let her roll in the grass.  After she went through that ritual, I went in and brushed her out.


Photo Dec 28, 3 28 23 PM


I am 50 years old and I galloped my horse down the road today in the middle of winter…   I thank God for my health and my good horse and the weather and my happiness.  There are days, it seems, my cup just runneth over.  Today was one of those days.  



Dec 27, 2011

When Vacation is Really Vacation


I always seem to end up taking time off between Christmas and New Years because I have vacation time to burn.  Technically, I am in the sales department at work and most of the January 1 sales are in by that time, so it is typically a slow week.  I kick myself because I could have enjoyed those days off during nice weather but it is also good to spend time with the boys.  Two years ago, we had a major snowstorm and were snowed in for most of that time.  This year is nothing like that one! 




Yesterday, temps once again got close to fifty degrees.  Don’t let our heavy clothes fool you; the wind was blowing so we dressed for it, but never once got cold.  You can see my heavy coat tied behind the saddle and it stayed there until I unloaded at home later than evening. 


Photo Dec 26, 2 02 54 PM


I trailered about fifty miles yesterday to join some friends for an afternoon ride on the MoPac trail from Eagle.  A little farther than I like to go for a day ride, but knowing who I was riding with, I knew we wouldn’t cut it short.  And we didn’t.   It is a pretty ride; we chose to ride the stretch east of Eagle toward Elmwood, which is about 7 miles.  Up there and back, we logged a little over 14 miles and since my friends ride gaited horses, we moved along at a pretty good clip which is the way I like to ride.


Photo Dec 26, 2 05 27 PM


This trail is a limestone hiking/biking trail with a parallel equestrian trail.  Although the limestone is tough enough for horse traffic, we try to stay on the dirt horse trail as much as we can, but found it hadn’t been cleared recently and were fighting low branches along the way. 


Photo Dec 26, 7 12 56 PM


After our ride, Mary and I called our husbands to meet us for Mexican food.  A nice break from holiday eating.  My boys even stopped by the restaurant for a free meal.  (Case on the left, McCain to his right.) 




Today is to be the chilliest of the week, so no horse time.  Will get caught up on some other things around here.  But look at these temps for the rest of the week!  Unheard of in Nebraska this time of year.  What a blessing; what a treat!  A real vacation after all.







Dec 26, 2011

The Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby




The Distance Derby begins in one week!  Although I’ll be mentioning it from time to time on this blog, the real information will be found the sister blog, The Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby.  Head over there for new information about this fun adventure.  


There is still time to sign up.  That’s all you need to do.  Oh, and after that, ride your horse of course. 



Dec 25, 2011

Fancy Christmas Wrap


When I went to ride yesterday, I asked John if he wanted to go with me.  He said “no” and that his horse was lame.  Huh?  Admittedly, I have been buying trucks and Christmas groceries; I have not made it to the barn all week, even though it is right out my back door.  When I went to fetch Windy, I noticed Fancy had a cut on her back leg; not a gaping wound but some puffiness. 


Photo Dec 25, 11 57 45 AM


I filled a bucket of warm water and Epsom salts and brought her in to the lean-to for a soaking.  After fighting Butter-butt with soaking her foot when she had an abscess a few months ago, I was pleased that Fancy stood so nice while it soaked.  At one point, our dog, Bo, saw the cat on the other side of Fancy and sprinted under her belly to get to it.  Did I mention Bo is a 125 pound St. Bernard and if he could stand erect, he would be close to 5’8” tall (we measured).  The horse did not move or flinch.  I am not sure she knew he did it.  I was sitting on a bucket next to her foot cleaning the wound and about fell off my bucket, but Fancy didn’t flinch.  I think she must be drugged again.


Photo Dec 25, 12 10 55 PM


While Fancy soaked, I pulled Windy in and started to detangle her mane.  It was a knotted mess.  I started with a little Show Sheen and a good brush, but eventually had to cut some of the knotted curly locks out.  That’s okay.  She’s just a trail horse. 


Photo Dec 25, 12 40 13 PM


She looked much better after her grooming and had to have felt better, too.  I even got most of the knots out of her tail. 


Photo Dec 25, 12 39 22 PM


After Fancy was soaked and dried, I put medication on the wound and wrapped it up.  I put her in the front run so that she doesn’t have a lot of room to move around on it and the ground is not as choppy there.  It was probably pretty messy when it happened but it should heal up pretty well.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to use her this upcoming week like I had planned. 


Photo Dec 25, 4 31 44 PM


The temps reached close to 50 again today.  John and I pulled the fat mares out of the pen and decided it was time they earned their hay bale.  He saddled Baby and I rode Butter.  We initially planned to just do a quick 4 miles but the weather was so nice and even though the mares were a bit sweaty, they were traveling pretty well, so we ended up doing a little over 6 miles.  Butter got a few bucks in on me but nothing serious or much more than a crow-hop or so.  She’s a feisty one!  But I did have a great ride on her.  Baby was pretty sweated up when we got home; I’m sure riding a wide ride like her was a lot harder on John than riding Butter was on me. 


Photo Dec 25, 3 50 43 PM


I have another week of vacation left and plan to ride as much as I can while the weather is cooperating.  I am heading toward Lincoln tomorrow to ride with some friends.  I just might make my Trail Time goal after all. 


Photo Dec 25, 9 17 47 PM


Santa continued to be good to me.  Besides the Ram and the half boots, that I picked out for myself, John and the boys got me a couple of Cabelas chaise loungers for camping and an incredibly soft throw which just might go in the trailer, too.  It was a good day. 



Merry Christmas To All


Photo Dec 24, 6 56 59 AM


Merry Christmas, everyone.  It’s my favorite day of the holiday season because it means all of my shopping is done and it is what it is.  Just waiting for the boys to get up to open presents.  They got to open one gift last night.  They made a deal to open two, but when they got to the first one, they forgot all about opening another one.  I gave them smartphones.  I’ll probably regret it.  At least with McCain because he loses everything.  Case has managed to hang on to his phone for the two year requirement so hopefully he’ll be as good with this one.  And maybe they will now stay off of my computer because they can Facebook on their phones. 




Its suppose to be in the high forties again today.  A white Christmas is definitely overrated.  I’ll take these temps any time.  I hooked up my little trailer to my new Ram and hauled over to ride with my friend, Mary, yesterday.  She took the above picture with her Droid; said she wasn’t sure why it ended up in sepia so you can’t see the UPS brown.  She called it “dark chocolate”.  I guess that sounds a little better.  And please note that I was backing out of her long driveway, not pulling in.  And also note that I did it pretty much in one swoop.  Have I mentioned that I love my truck?


Photo Dec 24, 3 15 39 PM


The weather outside was delightful.  High forties, little wind.  We did a little road riding and then entered some “government” property which I won’t say where at because we were probably trespassing but luckily we didn’t get shot.  I am only exaggerating a bit because Mary said it was perfectly a-okay for us to ride there and never mind those cameras or barbed wire or booby traps (wink).  There were lots of dirt service roads where we could really move out.  We entered a couple little forest areas with lot of downed trees that the horses had to be mindful of stepping over.  I am getting ready for The Distance Derby; I need to get Windy in shape.  We rode a little over 9 miles in nothing more than Goretex, a vest and a thick sweater.  I did tie a coat to my saddle just in case, but didn’t need it. 


I am thinking a lot of my friend, Renee, who died recently and of her family who is having to wake up to this holiday without her.   My prayers are with them that even though their heart is heavy, that they find some peace and joy today. 


To all of you whom I know personally or just via cyberspace:  Merry Christmas.  May your day be warm and happy and full of making memories. 



Dec 24, 2011

It Didn’t Fit Under the Tree


As most of you horse folk know, buying the horse is the cheapest part of horse ownership.  It’s the toys that go with the horse that cause stress on the pocketbook.  About six months after we bought our first horse, we bought a new (to us) truck.  And then a couple months later, a stock trailer so we could haul to the trails.  We were set to go! 


Vacation 2008 250


Over the years, I have upgraded trailers but never trucks.  Those diesels are suppose to drive forever, right?  Our truck become the joke among my friends, from the time it caught fire pulling into Cowgirl Weekend 2004 to driving across Nebraska 45 mph in 2008.  And don’t forget last year sitting in our lawn chairs at a truck stop in North Platte for 6 hours while John’s head was under the hood and then having to start it with a pliers the rest of that trip.   


Twice this past season, it quit on me while I was hauling and I had to unload Windy and ride her home.  The final straw was when the brakes failed a few months ago and the only way I could stop the rig was using the hand brake on my trailer.  Thank goodness I was hooked up. 


Photo Dec 24, 9 07 21 AM


Oh, those are just a few of the stories of HiHo Silver.  There were more and they were often.  Every year I threatened to get another truck and every year John would say that whatever was fixed took care of it and he was ready to go another 100,000 miles.  Empty promises. 


Yesterday, HiHo Silver officially retired.  At least from my service.  John refused to part with it so its his problem now. 


Photo Dec 24, 8 31 13 AM


Welcome, Ram.  (And please note that in 2011, Chrysler officially removed the name Dodge from the Ram truck lines.  I don’t know why I think it’s important that you know that but it was important to Chrysler that I do, so I am passing it along.)  It’s a 2011 3/4 ton Heavy Duty long box in UPS Brown.  Okay, they didn’t call it that color – they call it Rugged Brown Pearl.  And its more sparkly than the UPS truck.  It’s big and bad and no doubt a gas guzzler but has new car smell and will hopefully get me from here to there for many, many years to come. 



Dec 17, 2011

Sunny in Nebraska


The temps creeped up to almost fifty today… 48 to be exact.  I continue to be in denial with regards to the shopping that needs to be done for the upcoming holiday especially when time is so much better spent on the back of a horse.  My dilemma today:   Do I ride in the morning while the ground is still frozen but temps aren’t as nice or wait until midday knowing that it will be muddy and road riding is my only option?  I don’t mind road riding – our roads are usually pretty quiet -- but this time of year the farmers have the dang electric fencing so close to the road and after my accident last winter when we got hung up in e-fence, I get a bit apprehensive.  I count on those big shoulders for moving to if there is traffic coming that I am not comfortable with.  I just needed to get out and around and scope out the safe roads so I’ll be good to go the rest of the winter.  I asked John if he’d ride with me and he said he would, once it warmed up.


Photo Dec 17, 1 00 02 PM


When we headed out to the corral, I warned him that his mare, Miss Fancy Pants, was not so fancy yesterday; she had rolled in the mud and by the looks of it, she was the only one.  Well, I spoke to soon.  Evidently Miss Windy Poo heard me talking about a quick ride down the road and did a stop, drop and roll in the muddiest part of the corral.  Needless to say, John had his mare cleaned up about the time I got the big chunks off Poo. 


Photo Dec 17, 2 10 14 PM


We headed west down our road and turned at the first south mile.  There is a pack of dogs (domestic) that like to chase the car when I drive by in the morning so I usually don’t go that way.  But since I left Ritz at home, I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how Fancy handled them.  Both mares kind of locked up at that farm, but it was more due to a trailer with cattle moving around than the yappy dogs.  I urged Windy on and we moved on past, turning west at the next mile road. 


Photo Dec 17, 2 27 44 PM


We kept a nice pace between walk/trot & lope.  John was disappointed that Fancy would not move out and was quite happy following Windy at a distance.  Ginger was the lead horse and grew up on the trails.  Fancy is a pleasure trained horse.  It isn’t going to happen overnight and he shouldn’t compare the mares; Fancy will never be Ginger.  I suggested that if perhaps he put more time on her this winter and spring and if he wasn’t enjoying himself that we could sell her and look for one more to his liking.  He backpedaled quickly and agreed that this is all new to her and he needs to give her a chance and I couldn’t agree more.  I do think I am going to get him some blunt spurs for Christmas.  Windy tends to drag if don’t keep on her and just a touch of a dull rowel usually reminds her to keep moving. 


Photo Dec 17, 2 23 52 PM


We did just over eight miles.  These are the types of rides I need for next year’s Distance Derby.  


Until then… 


I know, I know


               Christmas shopping. 


It’s killin’ me!   


               I’d rather be riding.


Dec 16, 2011

Flying South & Back


Photo Dec 09, 5 03 28 PM


What a difference a few days make!  When I left home on Monday, this is what it looked like.


Photo Dec 16, 10 25 11 AM


And today it is all gone again. 


You won’t catch me complaining or dreaming of a white Christmas.  It’s just fine the way it is.  I just returned from yet another warm climate trip; this time to Austin and Houston, Texas.  I really think when I grow up, I am going to be a snow bird and winter in the warmer weather states.  It was so hard to open the elevator in the parking garage at the airport last night to 19 degrees.  It is so not right. 


I did meet a couple horse people while I was gone.  One is a dressage rider and the other a hunter/jumper; perhaps not my discipline but at least it gave me an opportunity to talk horse, if only for a few minutes.


Now that I have landed for hopefully the last time this year, I have to face the music:  Christmas shopping.  Oh how I long for the days when I could do it all online and did.  But the boys are older and pickier now, so I take them shopping to help me choose gifts for them and each other.  It works okay that way, but planning the shopping trip around my work, travel and their school hours puts us right up to the wire.  I refuse to let it stress me out (as I take a deep breath…. breathe, breathe, breathe….) 


Photo Dec 16, 10 44 29 AM


Other news:  while sitting in airports or waiting for people to arrive, I discovered Words With Friends.  I know, its probably old news to you, but what a joy to find another time-killer!  And a fun one at that.  I really thought I was pretty well-spoken until I am trying to find that elusive word that has a J or an X in it.  I also realize my vocabulary is rather simple. 




Finally, we have 23 teams to date in The Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby!  This is going to be fun!