Jun 29, 2012

Look For Horsetales!


I mention Horsetales quite frequently on this blog.  Simply put, Horsetales is an online community that I started back in 2004 as a way to communicate with readers of Horsetrailriders.com.  Stats still show there are 300+ members and usually around 1,000 posts per month, but with the advent of Facebook, the posts continue to decline.  I did start a Horsetrailriders.com Facebook page and while it boasts almost 500 members, it lacks the closeness and friendships those of us on Horsetales have nurtured for year. 


There are the “regulars” on Horsetales who post often while others join the conversation now and then.  There are also those we lovingly call “lurkers” who read the posts but rarely, if ever, comment.  It is fun when we meet a lurker in person because they know so much about the regulars while we know little about them.  Or we might know them quite well in person but had no idea they were on the Horsetales list serv. 




One of the Horsetalers (as we call ourselves) mentioned that it would be nice to have a sticker for our trailer so that if we are at events or camps where we don’t necessarily know everyone, we might find a connection among the Horsetales group.  What a great idea!  So I visited Zazzle and quickly made up a sticker which would be unique to our group.  I could have spent more time on it, but I get excited and it is what it is.  I like it. 




Today I got my first order of the stickers (along with one I created for Distance Derby members) and put them on my trailers.  You can find me now!  I’m looking forward to meeting other Horsetalers now that we are easily identifiable.  Order yours today direct through Zazzle.   





Jun 26, 2012

Making Hay




Our alfalfa has been ready for the second cutting for over a week now.  But trying to find enough days to cut it and let it dry without risk of rain has been challenging.  We are in a draught but even a threat of rain could ruin the cutting.  We finally found a five day stretch with only a slight chance of rain one morning of that five day stretch.  And only a 40% chance.  That’s a 60% chance it won’t rain, right?  It rained. 




All was not lost.  We only got about thirty hundredths and since it has been so hot lately, it dried it out pretty well.  The humidity in the air caused it to dry a little slower than we’d like, but I think it will be a good cutting.  Although the field is on our land, our neighbor is our hay guy.  He plants it, fertilizes, and cuts it for us – along with worries over the rain – and he gets a share for this efforts. 



Our first cutting was put up in big round bales which we will put in the feeders in the corral in the winter.  This cutting is done in small bales and will supplement the grass hay on cold winter nights.  It is also our camping hay.  Our hay guy, Marv, is driving the John Deere and Case and John are on the rack stacking it as it comes out of the baler.  The dog is there because Case told him to ride the rack and he always does what we tell him except when he is herding.  Then he doesn’t.  But having him on the rack does make for interesting pictures. 



If you want to ride the rack, here you go.  The alfalfa has been cut and left for days in windrows.  The baler rakes up these rows …. and here is where I get really technical….  it smushes them into square bales and wraps it with wire and pushes it out behind.  Really, its just magic.  Kind of like the fax machine.  Never have figured out how that works.  Once again:  no reason for the dog on the rack other than the dog can be on the rack. 




We put up 355 bales of which half will go in our barn.  Although Case worked the rack, he had to go to condition at the high school this evening so I helped unload the racks.  My arms hurt and I itch.  Grocery shopping is so much easier.  The things we do for these horses.



Jun 24, 2012

Hot Hot Hotter Than …..


Summer arrived today with a vengeance.  If ninety degree temperatures weren’t bad enough, we get slapped extra hard with high humidity.  I was up early and hoped to get a quick ride in before it became unbearable but before 8:00 AM, my jeans were already sticking to my legs.  Who says a sports bra alone is not perfectly acceptable riding attire?  No, I didn’t strip down until after I got back  but certainly came close!  Five miles was all I could take.  I think Windy wondered why we had to do even that much!




Yesterday we took the “new to us” boat out on the lake for her maiden voyage.  Case and his friends skied.  I didn’t even try.  I made an attempt a few years ago (pre-weight loss) and then again last year (+10 of post weight loss) and couldn’t pull myself up anymore.  Its not like I have gotten into any better shape since then – noting a few more ++s.  I’ll wait until we buy a tube and enjoy it that way.  I did re-up my Curves membership; I really need to get back in some sort of shape.  Age fifty-one is not becoming at all.  Putting it here may shame my way into doing something about it. 




Whenever I go to the barn, I usually have my iPhone in my pocket.  If I’m lucky, I can catch some good shots of the horses.  My iPhone does not display the picture that I took long enough for me to see if it was a good one or not.  When I upload to the computer, I find the outtakes pretty funny.  Amazing how my pretty mares can make such ugly faces. 




And no, Fancy does not have her head stuck in that opening.  There is a lot more room there than it looks in the picture.  She was actually standing there so pretty and I thought the tin of the building would make a nice backdrop for the photo.  I think I missed the shot.  Sure looks like both of them are panting from the humidity!




“Okay, if we stand here real pretty maybe we’ll get some grain.”





There’s one in every crowd. 



more to come

Looks like we aren’t going to get much of a break from this weather for awhile.  I have to keep remembering that we were riding in January and liking it!  It’s been a year of weird weather; this is more the status quo.


John is outside (his fifty-one year old body handles it better than mine) making some tweaks on the boat.  Maybe we should take it for another spin. 




Jun 22, 2012

A Little of This & That





Last weekend was the Grand Opening of the new equestrian camp at Branched Oak Lake northwest of Lincoln.  Thanks in part to a donation by the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee (NHTC), a new campground was constructed, complete with corrals, electrical hook-ups, a bathroom (gasp!) and water hydrants. 




As part of the Grand Opening, the NHTC put on a mini clinic with topics which included Horse Camping, Trail and Trail Safety, Safe Stabling Away from Home, and great camping tips.  My demo was on Trail Tack and Windy was my model. 




Unfortunately, the lake got over 3” of rain the night before the Grand Opening and it even rained a bit during our demos, so we canceled the associated trail ride but were still glad to see over forty people in attendance.  Everyone was such troopers.  Please call and make reservations to USE this campsite.  If it is not filled with horse people by 4:00 on Friday, it is open to other campers.   



It’s been a gorgeous week here with temps in the 80’s.  I took Windy out last night for a quick ten mile loop down our roads.  There is one area where there is a herd of young cows.  I didn’t see them in the lower pasture but as we made our way up the hill, I caught site of them running to catch up as they usually do when we go by.  Not the best video, but if I stopped, they stopped and I wanted you to see them moving.  It is such a hoot. 




In other news, we had the first Distance Derby rider cross the 1,000 mile marker!  Congratulations to Christine!  That is a heckuva lot of miles. 






Jun 14, 2012





I wonder how many readers have heard the word “Kodachrome” before?  Perhaps in Paul Simon’s song; but did they know what it meant?  Per Wikipedia: “Kodachrome is a type of color reversal film introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1935.  It was one of the first successful color materials and was used for both cinematography and stills photography.”  There is more to the description but I have probably lost you by now.  And the Paul Simon song?  The part I remember most:

“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school,

it’s a wonder I can think at all….”





I really shouldn’t be on the computer.  There is a severe thunderstorm going on right now.  I keep thinking it has passed by and I’ll be fine and then bang!  The thunder rolls!  (Don’t get me started on that song!)





Except for this one of me taken by my friend Kathy, these pictures were what I took at Nebraska National Forest (Halsey) this past weekend.  I don’t think I had the settings right on my camera so I played around with them in Picasso to bring out the colors or add some effects. 





The pastures at the forest are fenced for cattle.  Because there are 70,000+ acres, the windmills are numbered and correspond to a map.  In each pasture is a tank for the cattle.  The horses always had fresh water; many – my Windy included – would have loved to have stepped into the tank but it is very dangerous.  The lip around the tank could (and has from what I was told) injure a horse’s foot or back of its leg pretty bad.  I always had to keep a tight rein on Windy at the tank because she loves to play in water. 





Nebraska National Forest is the largest hand-planted forest in the United States.  You can read information about this unique Nebraska forest by following this link.





This is my friend Sharron on her horse, Boomer who is Windy’s “boyfriend”.  And I’m not kidding you.  We can go all winter and not see Boomer and he will unload across a parking lot and Windy will see him and start nickering.  They literally hug each other.  My favorite Boomer story is once when Windy refused to cross a river, I tried to get her to tail twenty other horses and she would not budge.  I had to call Boomer from the front of the line to come back and get her.  She rubbed her face on his rump and jumped into the water. 





There was about a dozen of us riding those days.  Most often there was no nose to tail riding; we would spread out and blaze our own trail through the lush grass in the sandhills. 





There was some fire in the forest this past year.  Although not real visible on these trees, you could see it while passing through others.  It would be scary to see such a large area on fire. 






As we climbed the hill, Tracy saw the look-out tower and called to point it out to us.  I thought it was a good photo-op and snapped his picture. 





Levi’s white horse, Wally, made for wonderful pictures.  I am told that Levi grew up on this horse and there are pictures of him as a young boy, riding Wally. 





The cows and their calves were at the last tank before we headed back to camp.  We stopped to water the horses and the cattle moved back a safe distance, always watchful over their babies. 





Windy watching the cows behind us. 





I would make fun of Boomer being scared of the shadow of the windmill, but he wasn’t the only one.  It really concerned many of the horses to hear it turning from above but to see it in the sand.  I should have switched to video so you could hear him snort!





A very nice picture of Rich and his horse, Duke.





Kathy posing while Tracy and Joni climb the hill behind her. 






More diverse riding.  Look at everyone in the distance. 





Another water break. 



Jun 13, 2012



Oh, my poor neglected blog…  Was my last post really June 3?  When that much time has passed I have either been very busy or out riding.  Well, its been a little of both.




This past weekend I drove out to Nebraska National Forest near Halsey for a long weekend.  I hauled both Windy and Fancy and drove out alone.  John was still working up north at the ranch and would meet me there at week’s end; Case hung with his Nana and McCain prepared to move out for the summer.  I really need another dog.  Yes, I have three right now but for various reasons, none are good camping/traveling dogs.  I need a fourth dog to keep me company on these 4 hour drives.  Don’t tell John.




We were celebrating my friend, Jules, birthday but also installing eight new corrals at the horse camp, courtesy of the Nebraska Horse Trails Committee.    So a little work and a little play.  I have to tell you, this volunteer stuff is over-rated.  Setting up those corrals really cut into my ride time!  But it was good to have that accomplished.




When we rode out on Thursday, I could have left one of the mares in a corral at camp but instead, chose to pony Fancy from Windy.  It just took about 3 times for Fancy to feel my spur in her chest to keep her at my knee next to Windy.  At times she would ponder a bit behind Windy, but she was very good.  Only once did I drop the rope; it was dallied around my horn and resting under my leg and I didn’t feel it go.  She waiting patiently as I turned around to get her.




By Sunday, the temps had dropped considerably.  Thursday I was riding in a tank top and Sunday we were bundled up in our fleece once again.  That’s Nebraska weather for you.




I have a lot of pictures from the ride that I hope to have time to post soon.  But for now, I just wanted to get rid of the stale post from June 2. 



Jun 3, 2012

The Jetsons

McCain came home the other night and said he had no brakes in his car, “but I can stop using the emergency brake.”  Just what every mom wants to hear.  So today he took my Durango to work and I unhooked the trailer so I could drive the new truck.

When I got in the truck this morning and turned the key (which I recently learned you don’t have to hold while it cranks – it just does it), the dashboard illuminated the message “OIL CHANGE DUE”.  I hate to say that if the truck wouldn’t have told me, it wouldn’t even have crossed my mind.  A quick look at the odometer told me it was probably right.  It’s bad enough to have one car down.  Now this one is telling me it needs work!  Just like the kids; always wanting something. 

So as I’m driving into town, I picked up my phone and asked “Siri” to call the local Dodge dealership so I could schedule an appointment.  Just wanting to drop it off, the service department said the first courtesy car would leave at 7:30 so I had about 20 minutes to get there which was more than enough time.

When I pulled in, they immediately directed me to the service bay.  The technician said I was the first in and he could have it done in ten minutes if I just wanted to wait.  I watched while they lifted the truck high above their heads and several men went to work.  I had just finished my last move on Words with Friends and just as I was contemplating a cappuccino from their galley, they called my name.  (Incidentally, I hadn't even given them my name; they must have pulled it from the VIN.)  They swiped my debit card and I followed the 7:30 courtesy car out of the lot.

I couldn't help but think how we are living what we used to see on the Jetsons.  Oh, sure.  I don’t have that robot to clean my house but you can have cappuccino while getting your oil changed.  I play Scrabble on a handheld device that also not only makes phone calls for me but reminds me at 6:00 AM not to forget we are having a jean day at work.  I can plug this same device into my smart truck and listen to an audio book or any genre of music that I am in the mood for at that moment.  All these gadgets and toys to make life much easier and interesting.

I remember when Dad would have to call the service station (on our rotary phone) to make an appointment to have the oil changed (two weeks from Tuesday).  Those doing the service (most likely the station owner) would either jack the car up or go into a pit below .  And each quart of oil (in a tin can) would be opened with two holes in the top, one after another,  and poured in through a metal funnel. 

My truck was done in ten minutes!  I'm easily entertained.




Jun 1, 2012

So Close But Yet So Far Away

When I was loading up the mares after our stay at the ranch, John made some comment about Fancy in comparison to Ginger as he was closing the trailer door.  I think he mentioned how much she looked like Ginger.  I didn’t catch it all and didn’t ask him to repeat it.  Although he said it out loud, it wasn’t really spoken to me.  It was his moment and I left him with his thoughts.

Memorial Weekend 018

When I was going through my photos from the weekend, this picture of Fancy caught my eye.  It wasn’t necessarily a good picture; her ears were half-cocked among other things.  But when I saw it, I knew exactly what John was talking about that day and started going through the archives of the pictures on my hard drive.  


This picture here was what I was searching for.  Oh, you could pick it apart.  Their heads are different shaped; Ginger had a star and a snip where Fancy has a star and a strip.  Not shown in this picture, Ginger had a sock on the back foot where Fancy just has a little white on the front coronary band.  Fancy is close to 15.2hh where Ginger stood only 14.3hh.  Although Ginger and Fancy are both sorrel and in certain pictures taken at a distance, I sometimes have to look at the date to tell which one I am looking at, up close and personal I didn’t think there was much resemblance.  Until now.  Did I know what I was looking for when I found Fancy?  I think so.  I think we both did.

No.  I didn't try to clone Ginger or memorialize her with another horse.  Their natures are much different.  Ginger was kind of like Sally Field in Norma Rae;  short, tough, pretty but a fighter.  Fancy is more like Olivia Newton John in Grease.  Willowy, graceful, beautiful but strong.  You’d have to see the movies to understand.  I think we just knew the traits we liked about Ginger and saw a glimpse of them in Fancy.  We may not have even known then how close they really were, but yet so very different.


I know John misses the fire he had with Ginger but on the same token, he is appreciating riding a horse that is not quite so hot and offers strength in other ways.  I don’t think a ride goes by that we don’t think of Ginger and miss her terribly.  But I think we made a good choice with Fancy.  We once again have a pretty red mare in the pasture; nothing like her predecessor but yet so much alike in so many ways.