Oct 29, 2012

Dotting the “i"


Earlier this month, Windy and I headed down our road for what I hoped was going to be a quick 4 or 6 mile loop.  But there were all sorts of scary things that were making Windy squirrely; from new fencing to the markings put down to accommodate the installation of new phone lines.  Plus those same lineman were driving 100 mph down the gravel roads which made me very nervous.  The bean field behind us had just been harvested so we made our way over there to get off the road; Windy to find her brains and me to settle my nerves. 


This past year, every ride that I have taken has been GPS’d for the Distance Derby records.  I always thought it would be cool to spell something when riding and have it show up on your GPS tracks.  How hard could this be?




So during that ride, I was smart enough to line up so that I was facing north when I started and quickly wrote “Windy” in cursive.  I pulled out the iPhone and looked at what I just mapped.  You may not know this about me but I am very proud of my penmanship.  I think handwriting is an art and will many times rewrite an envelope just because it doesn’t look good.  To say I was disappointed at the first attempt at GPSing “Windy” is an understatement. 




Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Why guess?  Just pull out my iPhone and watch the screen as I lay the tracks.  It was slow going; Ritz, at this point, was quite besides himself.  He wasn’t sure whether to herd us or wait?  And I didn’t get it quite right; I ran out of real estate before I could complete her name.




But look closer.  Running out of space was not the biggest problem I had going here.   Her name isn’t W “E” N D Y, it is W “I” N D Y.  I actually spelled my mare’s name wrong!  I know that, you know that; but what the heck was wrong with me out there in that bean field?  I don’t remember if I was losing daylight or losing interest but as I rode back, I was planning our next attempt.  Perhaps go out and practice on the ATV, lay cones down or spray paint lines.  I was getting pretty darn serious about getting it right.


Fast forward to today.  It was 61 degrees when I got off work tonight.  I was bringing home food left over from a lunch meeting so supper was taken care of.  I was in my riding clothes heading out the door when John came in.  I told him I had an hour till sundown and supper was on the front seat of the Durango; help himself!  (Good wife points, no doubt!)




I saddled up Windy and we headed out to the pasture.  Our average moving speed that first loop was 7.0 mph.  We crossed the bean field heading to the west and started trotting down the hill heading to that same area where I tried unsuccessfully to spell her name.  I stopped and reset my GPS.  I looked to the west for a post to use as a landmark and very slowly continued down the hill. 




We went up and back, looking for the landmark post and at the tracks being laid by my iPhone.  When I got to the “t”, we pivoted tightly so that it would appear a straight line.  I kept making a cursive “z” with my finger in the air in front of me so that I could remember the directions of its curves, adjusting downward just a bit so I would not run out of space. 




I hit “save”.  It took us only one attempt to memorialize our riding buddy of the last five years.  My Ritz.  (And note to my son, that is a cursive “z”, not a “y”.) 


I think we did him proud. 



Oct 27, 2012

And Then There Was One

In my last post, I mentioned that we put our old springer, Maddie, down this week.  I knew the time was coming and was somewhat prepared.  Knowing what is right still doesn’t make it easy.  I don’t second guess the decision and I do feel blessed that we can let them go peacefully and without endless suffering.  The loss was felt because she was in our life for so long, but admittedly, it was not the blow that I felt when we lost Ginger unexpectedly last year.  There is something to be said about planning the end.  It is not only easier for our pets but for those who loved them. 

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I just didn’t expect to have to make that choice again so quickly and without preparation.  Let me back up a bit…

In September, the last weekend of Cowgirl Weekend,  my son Case called me and said that Ritz, our white German Shepard, was acting strange when he got home that night and ran off into the night.  He couldn’t find him anywhere.  Neutered, he wasn’t hearing the call of the wild.  He was current on vaccinations but most importantly, Ritz doesn’t leave home.  He takes guarding our farm very seriously.  He is one of the most obedient dogs I have had.  He just doesn't leave home.  This past August when I was gone once again, Case had called me and said the dog had a seizure of some sort but had snapped out of it.   I had a dog in the past who suffered from an occasional epileptic seizure and thought perhaps that was what happened to Ritz.  It crossed my mind that he could have had another one and being somewhat disorientated, ran off.

It was several days after I got home that we found him.  At first when I would go to look for him, I thought I was searching for a body. Then we had sightings of him from neighbors so we knew he was alive.  But why wouldn't he come home?  Once, Case and I got within feet of him, but he wouldn’t let us catch him and ran off into the night.  This is my most obedient and loyal dog?  He doesn't run from me!  After five days missing, he came home.  No sign of any problems at all.  I didn’t take him to the vet because there was nothing to be probed.  He was 100% fine; back to normal.  Plus, his personality does not make vet visits easy for him, me or the vet. 

Last night I woke up to a ruckus.  Ritz was in full seizure and it was a bad one.  When he finally came out of it, his eyes were vacant and he growled at me.  He did not recognize me any more. 

In the morning, he was no better, not recognizing John and nipping at him when he tried to approach.  I called my vet and we talked briefly.  Ritz can be an aggressive to strangers; having him not recognize his own posed a whole new risk.  Case and I carefully got a leash on him and loaded him into the horse trailer and drove the short trip to the vet.  While there, he had another seizure.   Case and I asked that he be put to sleep.  I honestly don’t know what was worse?  Losing this dog or watching my son experience the same grief I felt a year ago with the loss of Ginger?

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What happened?  Without a CT scan, we won’t ever know for sure.  Seeing the seizure, my vet did not believe it was an epileptic seizure.  A tumor perhaps?  Some unknown pressure on the brain?   A real shame and a loss, for sure.

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Ritz was the prettiest dog in the world.  Stunning.  And smart!  He was so intuitive to my every move.  He was all business all the time until I asked him to hop on the bed.  Then he rolled and cuddled and played.  He was my riding buddy; easily doing a ten mile loop with Windy and me.  There was no dog happier than when he heard my spurs; sometimes I would have to tie him up while I tacked the horse because he was so giddy with excitement he wouldn’t stop moving or trying to herd me or the horse to hurry us up. 

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He knew when I went to ride, that it was Windy who I would fetch.  He would run to her first in the pasture and try to herd her toward the barn.    Some of my favorite pictures are of Ritz and Windy playing in the pasture.  I am sure she will miss him, too.  I’d watch her watching him as we went down the road.  Did she muster up her confidence by having him in the lead? 

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And besides being my riding buddy, he was a boy’s dog.  About five years ago, Case and I found him online and figured he would come home with us long before we met him.  We used to play “who does Ritz like best?” and he’d call his name and then I’d call his name and Ritz was so torn about who he should come to!


I think we all like to say that when the owner is in danger, our dogs would come running.  But seriously, Maddie or Bo would not be my guardian.  They would sell me out for a prime cut of beef or a hamburger.  But not Ritz.  He is the only dog I have ever had that I truly believe knew his job was to guard his family and he took that job very seriously. 

On Monday, I shot this video of the three of them playing and today there is just one.  I know I am anthropomorphizing to say that Bo is feeling the loss, too.  Perhaps he just senses the emptiness.  We made the rounds together outside, filling the tanks, picking up sticks and other menial tasks just to do something.  And when I laid down to nap, I patted the couch next to me and all 150 pounds of St. Bernard settled in next to me.


Oct 24, 2012

The Last Blast?




We lucked out!  The weather last weekend was as predicted – wonderful - (gasp!) and we were able to enjoy another horse camping trip; a reunion of sorts with a friend who was visiting from out of state.  John got rooked into a girl’s weekend in August (I really thought there would be more guys there that time), so he was more than willing to beg off this one.  That freed up Fancy for my visiting friend, Sheila.  Who would have thought when we bought that four- year-old mare a year ago (yes, already a year), that she would become the guest horse extraordinaire?  Quite a credit to her temperament.  I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I heard some of my friends admit they would ride her before Windy, but then again, Windy can have her moments.  As someone else mentioned about their own horse, I know what Windy can dish out and I know most of the time I can take it. 




There was quite a handful of riders on Saturday and as is common practice, the gaited horses headed out first.  Many of the horses in the bunch were pretty full of themselves, Windy included.  It was a bit reminiscent of the prior weekend, quite sure she could catch up with the group ahead of us.  Where she normally will come down after a few miles, it seems we rode that trot most of the ride.  The entire eight-plus miles.  No wonder my legs hurt come Monday morning.  Sunday it warmed up to the low 80’s and the horses cooled their excitement down a notch.  It was a much better ride; the time passing much too quickly. 


We do have plans for a day ride this weekend but rains later this week might have a negative effect on the trails which are much like those I rode at Indian Cave a couple weeks ago.  I know I am not anxious to do that ride again.




On a sad note, I had my fourteen-year-old springer spaniel, Maddie, put to sleep this morning.  Simply put, old age caught up with her and today she told me it was time.  Rest in peace, my sweet, Maddie.  You were loved.    


Oct 17, 2012

Last Taste of Fall



It’s the time of year where I try to chug down the last taste of great fall weather; savoring every drop.  We’ll have a few good days and then a preview to gray November.  Yesterday was 81 degrees and sunny; today its hovering in the 50’s with strong gusty winds.  Before long we will have more gray days than nice ones; not to mention the end of Daylight Saving Time.  I tell you, if one of those candidates wanted to seal my vote, he should campaign for leaving Daylight Saving Time all year long.  Or better yet, “fall ahead” another hour!  Getting home from work when it is dark is so utterly depressing.


Just when I think I had the last camping trip of the season, the weather changes and there is an opportunity for just one more!  A friend is coming back to Nebraska for a visit this coming weekend and the weather is promising 70 degrees and sunny so it’s a last hurrah camp trip and ride with some girlfriends.  My friend will ride Fancy. 


I needed to use my horse trailer to go pick up a golf cart and took out the dividers so that it was completely open.  My trailer is a two-horse straight load, but is very roomy.  We often wondered if we could get a third horse in there if necessary so decided to give it a try.





We loaded Fancy first and then Windy.  Although in the herd, Windy is higher in rank than Fancy, they get along well and wouldn’t be bothered by the other.  Either one of these mares could have been loaded first but the goal was to have Windy in the middle. 



We brought Butter in last.  Windy is boss mare over Butter but not assertive.  Butter and Fancy could not be next to each other because Butter is quite aggressive toward Fancy.  This configuration seems to be peaceful.  There are tie hooks to the left of Butter and to the right of Fancy and in front of Windy.  So all of them could be secured so they do not jockey for another position.  I had envisioned that they would go in at a slant, but this seemed to work better.  I don’t foresee us traveling this way but its nice to know that if we needed to in a pinch, it could be done.  Since we also have a bumper pull 2-horse trailer, we now know that we could get all five horses off the property at one time should we need to, albeit the fat-butts (Blue & Baby) would be in the smallest trailer. 




On another subject, tomorrow is most likely our last football game of the season.  It was a rebuilding year of sorts for Case’s team as 20 players graduated last spring.  This year’s team probably will not make it into the playoffs, the first time in many, many years.  The weather at the Monday night game was just about as perfect as this picture – which I think seems almost nostalgic; a slice of life shot.  Tomorrow’s weather is to be one of the gray days; windy and cold.  It will be a miserable time on the bleachers. 



Oct 14, 2012

At The End of the Day (Pt. 4)


Both vets assured me if she were their horse, they would have made the same decision.  My friends rode off, the P & R crew drove off and I waited in a parking lot with some mountain bikers for a volunteer to fetch a trailer to take us back to ride camp. 


Windy was still quite anxious when I tied her back at my trailer.  Since the vet had said she was a bit gassy, I took her for a walk and let her graze.  This seemed to settle her.  I was high enough now that I could get a weak signal and Googled “heart arrhythmia in horses”.  I learned that it is not necessarily uncommon and is usually determined by poor performance.  That was somewhat reassuring because Windy has never had problems conditioning and I always have more horse left at the end of a ride.  We have done four CTRs and this has never been detected before so while its possible she could have some sort of condition, I will probably just chalk it up as one of those things. 




She finally quieted and I tied her back up to my trailer and she rested while I packed to leave.  Later I sat with the timers as some of the novice riders started to come back in.  Many were close to going over time; some did.  Only a couple of open riders made time; most were late.  I was told the trail conditions did not improve; only worsened.  For the first time since we pulled, I was glad I wasn’t in the mix of it.  


When the vet made her trailer rounds later in the day, she checked Windy thoroughly.  Her heart rate was normal as was her heart beat.  Her gut sounds were fine and she was well hydrated and had good color.  She suggested that before rides like this to consider use of electrolytes to keep her blood levels normal.  Now that I know what to listen for, check her heart occasionally for any abnormalities in heart rate. 


When a horse sustains some superficial injury, I flippantly say “it’s a long ways from the heart.”  In this case, it was the heart:  her heart and mine. 



Matters of the Heart (Pt. 3)


The volunteer who had listened to Windy’s heart beat was a seasoned open CTR rider whose horse is recovering from Pigeon Fever.  I knew if she heard something weird, there was something weird.  She summoned over another volunteer who had opted out of riding that morning and who happened to be a vet. 


“Irregular arrhythmia,”  she said.  Windy’s heart was putting in an extra “thump” here and there.  I listened to it and could definitely hear it.  She said to let her pulse down and we’d listen again in 10 minutes.  It was rather disconcerting waiting for the next reading and it was still there when she was rechecked.   


At a P & R stop, riders are held if their heart rate or respirations are over a certain number.  For this ride, you could continue if the heart rate was at or lower than a 15 (and would probably lose some points).  If it was 16 or over, you had to hold another 10 minutes.  While Windy was at 15 and could have continued, I wasn’t comfortable with the irregular heartbeat.  The volunteer vet suggested I speak with the ride vet who was checking metabolics on the horses leaving the P & R stop. 


The ride vet checked her vitals and listened to her heart.  The arrhythmia was still present and she still hadn’t pulsed down.  She said her gut sounds were a little gassy but everything else looked okay.  They would not pull her; the choice was up to me if I chose to continue.


The drive to this ride is 250 miles round trip at $3.65 a gallon for fuel.  I paid my vet for a new health certificate and my farrier to clean up her feet.  I bought a membership to NATRC so if Windy did place, she would get the points and I paid an $85 entry fee.  I just rode one of the roughest 3 miles I ever recall riding and kept the horse underneath me.  I did not have an opportunity to Google or phone a friend for advice but I didn’t need to.  In the end, Windy is always first.  It was a no brainer.  After 3.3 miles, I pulled from the competition.  (To be continued.)



This is Not a Race (Pt. 2)




The night before, I had laid out fleece lined breeches and long underwear as well my rain gear.  But with the warmer air, I nixed the long johns and fleece for just some riding and rain pants.  I had a vest over a long sleeve tee shirt and tied my son’s waterproof track coat to the back of my saddle.  I felt Windy’s excitement when I mounted up and was surprised as she had been almost docile since we arrived.  But once we got to the started point, she had mellowed and stood nicely as we waited to clock out. 


I was third in our group of four and about 100 feet into the ride and realized this spot was NOT going to work.  Windy took off from the starting point and in her opinion, the race was on.  It is said you should see the bottom of the hooves of the horse in front of you through the ears of your own horse.  With the sloppy wet downhill trails, every time I would try to rate her, she would slip.  She was way too close to the horse in front of her and her frustration was mounting.  I realized in those first few moments I should have put on gloves and not because my hands were cold. 


I figured once we got to the first clearing, I would move to the front.  But before I could even think of jockeying for a new position, we were stopped for an obstacle.  Really?  Already?    It was the simplest of challenges:  straddle a log and count to five and move along.  To get Windy to stop for the riders in front of me required me pulling her off the trail; I sincerely doubted she would find the need to perform at this point.  When it was our turn, as predicted she stepped over the log and ignored my request to halt.  I circled her and brought her back.  Having her turned away from the other horses, she quieted enough for me to count to five, turn and continue on our way.


Getting out in front only solved the problem for a few minutes.  Before long a group of safety riders passed us and then Windy’s goal was to catch up with them.  Someone forgot to tell my mare this was not a race!  Once, in my effort to slow her, I went for the one-rein stop.  She stepped up off the trail and then back into it, slipped and fell on her hip.  Did I mention 1” of rain may as well have been 6”; the trails were a sloppy mess.  Jesus got a middle initial in his name at that point.  I warned the girls who were riding with us that my language probably wouldn’t be improving as the day wore on. 




In an effort to adjust for the trail conditions, the map was adjusted and 3 miles were deleted from the route.  We found ourselves high above the Missouri River a little earlier than we had envisioned.  Windy continued to give 150% pulling those hills.  Her footing was rather remarkable but I just simply had no control and I wanted it back.  When we would stop at the top to let them blow, she wanted nothing of it and would work herself up even more. 




In a rare moment of pause, I managed to take a few pictures just because it was so beautiful and if I couldn’t have done it from the saddle, I would have dismounted for these shots.  This is what made the ride worth all the struggles. 


We were pretty sure the Pulse & Respiration crew would be at the bottom of this bluff.  Had we followed the original mapping, it would be the end of about 6 miles.  Instead, we had only rode a little over 3 miles but knowing the trail system, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for staging the P & R’s so we were not surprised to find it as suspected. 


When I dismounted, Windy immediately started to aggressively rub on me.  I stepped away from her and reached to scratch around her bridle but she stepped into me and started rubbing again.  I took the reins and backed her away from me.  Seriously, I couldn’t get her to hold still enough for me to unclip them from the bit to hook into the halter.  I didn’t want to disturb the other riders but she was seriously quite obtuse.  I tried giving her a carrot.  She gobbled it down like a starving coyote and once again started at me.  I held up the reins in front of her face to yield her away and she kept her distance but was very agitated.  The volunteer had just reached us and was listening to her heartbeat in a stethoscope.  She looked at me and said, “I never heard anything like this before….”   (To be continued)


The Forecast was Spot On (Pt. 1)




The drive down to Indian Cave for my first Competitive Trail Ride of the year was uneventful.  Driving into the wind ruined any chance of getting a few extra miles per gallon of fuel but what about traveling with horses is cheap?  When I arrived at the park, it was worth the drive and the gas.  The foliage was breathtaking.  I tried to snap some pictures as I was driving but figured I would have a better chance of getting good shots out on the trail. 




I was there early and found a place away from the busy ride camp.  I hobbled Windy and let her graze while I set up camp.  Cell service was pretty close to non-existent so to save my battery, I switched it to airplane mode.  I hoped the weather forecast changed but had my doubts.  We were there and would ride; all systems go. 


My friend, Shari, pulled in a couple hours after I did.  We checked our horses in, attended the ride briefing and got our maps.  The first day would be 17 miles which was a little less than I remembered when I rode this ride before, but given the possibility of wet trails, I was relieved.  Since at a NATRC sanctioned CTR, all horses must be stabled in like conditions (tied to the trailer), it is up to the horsemanship judge if riders can put their horses in the trailer should a severe storm move in.  Both the horsemanship judge and vet judge agreed that riders could move their horses in to the trailer for their safety if needed.  I wasn’t worried about rain, but hail and severe lightning always makes me nervous so was glad we had that option. 


It was really chilly by bedtime.  I brought what I remembered as being a waterproof blanket for Windy but then started questioning myself as to whether that was the right one.  Worried that it would storm and she would be saturated, I borrowed a “for sure” waterproof blanket from Shari and it fit Windy perfectly.  I know the one I brought is waterproof – funny how you can second guess yourself.  I put out a feeding pan between our two trailers so I could see how much rain, if any, we would get overnight.  It started raining shortly after I went to bed.


Laying in a trailer, you hear every drop.  It stormed early and then again around midnight and the last one rolled through probably around 5 AM.  Although there was some lightning and thunder, it didn’t sound like a fierce storm and Windy I did not move Windy inside.  Frustrated once again for not having a cell signal to see the radar, I was anxious to see how much rain my pan captured.  The temperatures really rose overnight and it was a lot warmer when I got up than when I went to bed.  I swore it rained 6” and was pleased to find only 1” in my pan.  I was hopeful being it was so dry prior to that night that the rain just washed off the trails and all would be fine.  Wishful thinking.    (To be continued….)


Oct 12, 2012

Say It Isn’t So!




Never mind that we have been in a drought for the last four months and begging for rain!  Or that I waited until the last possible minute to enter this weekend’s Competitive Trail Ride weighing in the possibility of bad weather in the hills of Indian Caves.  The slight chance of rain shown in the long range forecast would never come to fruition, would it?  We have been offering up sacrifices for rain all summer.  If only I would have know that entering a CTR for the first time in two years is the ticket to bringing it on! 




See that purple star?  That is where I’ll be.  See that big mass of red?  That is a storm.  A big one.  And if that doesn’t hit us, the green means we’ll stay nice and wet.  A little rain in the plains is not a big deal.  But unlike what you think Nebraska is (flat and baron), Indian Cave State Park is in the bluffs above the Missouri River.  The trails are long and steep.  And when wet, I would envision like a ski slope.  I am having flashbacks of the extreme ride at Turkey Creek a few years back, unplanned of course.  And excerpt from that ride: 


“Windy got really big. In my mind, I envisioned her sitting on her butt with her hind legs sliding under her and her front legs between her hind legs trying to keep us from losing control and falling backwards. I remember looking up at her long neck and it seemed too close to me; almost parallel to my body. I think my feet were close to touching the ground, maybe even dragging, but I didn't look. My camera was around my neck. I wish I had the mind to hit "record", but at this point, I was "saving myself." We were going down (the hill that is) and it would be up to Windy to get me there safely. I had no control anymore.”




Then to add insult to injury, I cannot find my rubber rain pants.  The heavy ones that will not let any rain touch my clothes.  Its not like I haven’t seen them in years.  I swear they were just in my trailer a few weeks ago.  God knows I haven’t used them because we are in a drought!    Who’d of stolen one pair of rubber pants and left a trailer full of expensive camping gear? 




Oh, and wind, too.  Another of my favorite weather conditions!  Not!  Okay, so I could pull and be out my entry fee but save a tank of gas.  At $3.65 a gallon, that would be a deal!  Or just do it.  If nothing else, it will make for good stories. 


When it comes down to it, I really really want to do this ride.  And as much as I hate being wet – just hate it! – I can probably come up with enough clothes to make it tolerable even without my rubber pants.  It’s not like its going to be 32 degrees. 




I won’t compromise Windy, though.  If the hills get greasy and she is struggling, I’ll pull.  After she has helped me get a thousand miles this year, I won’t risk hurting her; she didn’t sign up for this. 


I guess I hope if it has to come, it comes through fast and is gone.  As dry as it is, perhaps it won’t leave much of a mess.  I’ve had so many fantastic rides this year for which I am thankful.  Time to just buck up and ride. 



Oct 10, 2012

Blue Days


My oldest son brought a friend home last weekend and wanted to go riding.  Gasp!  This is the son who probably hasn’t been on a horse in two years, if that!  Not knowing his friend’s riding experience, I saddled up Blue and Fancy before she arrived and McCain and I went for a little ride in the pasture.  I wanted McCain to ride Blue because he knows that horse better than any in the herd.  The girl would do fine on Fancy following Blue’s lead. 




It was terribly windy and quite chilly.  I preferred they not ride on the roads because you just can’t hear the traffic with wind gusts at 30 mph and more.  I told him the route I take around our pasture and fields to get the most time in the saddle.  His friend said she knew how to ride and I could tell by the way she held the reins and sat a horse that she wasn’t a novice so I didn’t feel the need to saddle up Windy and follow 100 feet behind.  I just stalked them with my camera instead.  Later she told me her dad had horses and she used to participate at local shows when she was younger.  Perhaps she’ll be out to ride again sometime. 




Blue has been in semi-retirement this year – well, really since the boys quit riding.  Over the years he has always seemed a little stiff in the front end and he was noticeably sore after John rode him early this spring.  I’ve been putting a little time on him here at home but its been hit and miss.  I think he has recovered to where he rides like he always has these past few years and that is good.  His long ride days are over but really, we don’t need him for that type of riding.  It was nice to see McCain on him again and Blue was more than willing to go out for that short jaunt with him as he was for me the other day.  




Is that a great quarter horse butt on Blue or what?  Okay, a little round but there is power in that hind end!  Blue was the first horse I trusted enough to really ride.  He carried both boys behind me on that big butt in the early days.  He pushed us up the hills with those hindquarters and is the best horse to ride when descending a hill; he works it all from that back end.  His retirement is earned but his usefulness is not over yet. 



Oct 7, 2012

Crisp Fall Rides




Brrrr.  It was 21 degrees this morning.  That’s beyond chilly.  That’s cold.  Good thing I turned the furnace on two days ago when it was 42 degrees in the morning.  It’s also a good thing I ordered some new base wear from Cabelas this morning in preparation for winter.  But really, when its cold – really cold – I just don’t ride. 


Yesterday I ventured out in the afternoon to meet some friends at Camp Moses.  It was suppose to warm to the mid-fifties or so I thought.  It didn’t and I was severely underdressed.  Don’t get me wrong – I had layers on, but had expected to take the layers off as the afternoon wore on, not wish I had more to put on.  Even though I cut the ride short due to frozen feet and fingers, it was still a pretty fall ride.  Anytime in the saddle is a good time, right?


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It’s been two years since I did a Competitive Trail Ride.  Not that I’m a veteran CTRer or anything; I have only competed 4 times in the last 8 years.  But being that I have been putting on a lot of miles in the Distance Derby and Windy is in fabulous shape, I decided to enter a ride this coming weekend. 


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I last rode the Indian Cave CTR in 2010 and Windy and I had a pretty good ride.  Unlike Windy, however, today I am not the best physically fit specimen around.  I am a bit heavier than I was two years ago and I certainly wish I could have dropped 10 20 pounds before this ride.  I am pretty sure Windy wishes I would drop all that and more.  But it is what it is.  We’ll do our best and enjoy the weekend and the ride.  Anything else is gravy.  (I need to quit thinking about food.  It’s salads and fruit this week.  Not gravy!  Salads. And. Fruit.  Got it?)



Oct 4, 2012

Fall Colors


With the drought, harvest came in early September and most of the fields around us are already out.  Unlike July, when it was hot and miserable, September has just flown by.  It has been ungodly dry so I did not expect much for color this fall but I have sure been surprised.  There pictures aren’t anything fancy; just taken around my home with the iPhone from September 29 through October 2.  Things change so fast. 




Don’t recognize those ears?  I’m riding Blue for a change.  I gave Windy a week off after Cowgirl Weekend and then she threw a shoe, so a few of the other horses had to earn their hay bales. 




When we first moved here in 1992, we planted three purple ash trees.  The wind took two of them in the early years.  We replaced them with a different kind of ash.  The above turned brilliantly yellow this year. 




The original ash was a very pretty hue of purple; brighter than I remember in previous years. 






Just some close-ups of the sun coming through the leaves.  As always, I wish my camera could capture what my eyes see. 




A handsome dude, huh?  Case was leaving for the homecoming dance and stood long enough for me to get his picture.  The trees behind him made a great backdrop. 




Last Sunday, we were invited to ride at a friend’s place.  John is on Butter and I was riding Fancy.  The sumac frames the picture beautifully.  (This picture is the only one not take with the iPhone.)




I caught the horses at the hay bale when I was standing at the deck.  John’s garden in front of their fence is just about spent. 




This is from the corral looking back at the house.  The yellow and red trees are the ash trees I mentioned earlier.  The middle tree is a red maple which won’t turn for a few more weeks.  It has never got real vibrant; I am curious if this year will be different. 




The “outhouse” seems to always makes it in the picture.  It takes on a different look this time of year verses winter.  It isn’t a “working” outhouse.  It is right near the corral gate and I keep halters and leads in it as well as miscellaneous items which come out of the trailer when I unload the horses. 




Finally, Windy is mobile again and we did a quick trip down our gravel roads in a blaze of glorious color