Nov 28, 2012



I learned a new word today.  Luddite. 


From the Urban Dictionary:




(Sidebar:  The above picture is a snippet from the Urban Dictionary webpage.  Does it bug anyone else that they misspelled “during” and “believed”?  I also think “workers” should have an apostrophe before the s but it might go either way.  I am more of a spelling than a grammar cop.) 


I learned this word “luddite” from Facebook.  And it describes my husband to a T.  Case in point:  I would love to have an iPad for Christmas – how easy would that be for him to purchase.  But he doesn’t think the world needs iPads or that I do.  So he would never buy one for me.   And although he does use his basic cellular phone, (he calls it his “watch” because he mostly uses it to tell time), he still wishes he had his bag phone.   Or better yet, a corded phone with a rotary dial. 


Garmin main screen


On a distance riding Facebook page, someone was interested in purchasing a GPS and was looking for suggestions.  Many of us who use a GPS were most anxious to tell him what we used and why, respectful of the choices others made as to their favorite model.  Some like wrist mounts, some handhelds, some like the mapping features; its really what you get used to.


There is always a Facebooker who can’t respond to the question but goes on their own tangent; this time implying that gadgets are ruining our trail ride, that we are missing the beauty of the trail because we only watch our GPS and that her money is better spent on farrier and vet care than on gadgets!  Whew!  Where did that come from?  Another Facebooker called her a luddite.  I’ll have to remember the spelling of that when I play Words With Friends.  And I told John tonight that he was a luddite.  I think he was proud of that title.   


I wanted to respond to her post in the worst way.  But why?  She obviously is one of those who has some pretty strong feelings about the right way things should be done.  Or perhaps feels there are those who have and those who have not.  You can’t argue with how someone feels about something.   So when you have your own blog like I do, I can come sneaking over here and finish my own thoughts without being blasted or having someone creep on my Facebook page.




First, let me dispel the myth that only the wealthy have a GPS.  Mine was around $100 and it certainly didn’t cost Windy a set of shoes that year.  If I can’t afford to spend $100 on a gadget, I can’t afford horses.  Period.  Heck, the GPS on my iPhone (more work of the devil?) was like $2.99 – a one time fee – much less than one hay bale!  Because of the GPS, we started the Distance Derby 2012 which admittedly, many of us were challenged to ride even more miles along the beautiful trails and yes, I did look up along the way and have pictures to prove it!   (Gasp, another gadget!)  I rode more miles and hours than I have since I started recording my time in 2005 using Microsoft Excel.  



(Garmin Fit app on my iPhone)


This person went on to say that we shouldn’t give new people to the distance riding sport the idea that you needed a GPS and a $50k trailer to compete.  Whoa!  How did we get from a $2.99 phone app to a $50k trailer?  Which brought me to another thought:  Why does everyone else think how they participate in something is best?  I remember when we got our first trailer with a small weekender package, an in-law was quick to tell me “that’s not camping!”  and that we should be roughing it in a tent!  I didn’t feel the need to justify to her why I prefer a camper over a tent anymore than she needed to validate to me her need for two of the largest flat screen televisions I have ever seen plastered to the walls of her home. 




I got into horses because I have loved them all my life.  I finally was at a point in my life where I could afford them and yes, vet and farrier care, too.  AND a GPS!  Who’d of thunk I’d be living the high life!  :) 


I would not have made new friends all across the country if not for the Distance Derby.  My horse would not be in the best shape of her life if not for the Distance Derby.  The Distance Derby would not be possible without the GPS. 


garmin tracks


Geocaching is yet another game you can enjoy from the back of your horse; again made possible by a GPS.  All fun and games aside, I also use the GPS for mapping trails for the trail challenge which raises funds for our state’s trail projects.  In addition, the GPS got us out of the mountains a couple years ago when we got lost.  And just this past year, a friend started having back issues while riding and I used the GPS to find a shortcut back to camp so we could get there quicker. 




The cowboys may have tracked their outlaw looking for tracks in the desert.  They may have sent up smoke signals to rally for help.  But I plug in a couple AAs and wait for the signal to come back to me.  It’s fun to play with the government’s million dollar toys.



Nov 24, 2012

The Gray Fifties




Let me first say that the sunrises lately have been just awesome.  The above picture was straight out of the iPhone this morning (new panoramic feature).  It really captured what the eye was seeing and only lasted for a few minutes.  For those who sleep late, this is what you miss! 


This time of year, when the Big Fat Lying Weatherman says 50 degrees, it can go either way.  A sunny 50 degrees with no wind is good riding weather.  A cloudy 50 degrees with northwest winds 20 to 30 mph with occasional gusts, not so much.  And that is pretty much what we have had the last couple days.  The good news is, I took Wednesday off when it was predicted to be in the low 70’s.  Even with wind, 70 is definitely good riding weather for November in Nebraska. 


I put a post out on the Facebook and Platte River Riders Facebook pages that I would be riding on Wednesday after noon at Pawnee Lake, hoping to get a few interested in riding and got several replies.  As I was getting around on Wednesday morning, I decided rather than waste it, I would stop at Branched Oak on the way to Pawnee and put in a few solo miles before meeting the group.  The kicker was, I planned to ride Fancy and this would be only my second solo ride on her on trails away from home.  Unlike the last time I took her out alone, I wasn’t really too nervous about it.  I texted a friend who was meeting me in the afternoon and told her what I planned to do and to send out the posse if I didn’t show up at our ride time in the afternoon.


Photo Nov 21, 10 55 12 AM


Not surprisingly, it was windy.  I turned the trailer so that it blocked it some while I saddled her.  She whinnied once or twice looking for other horses but when none called back, she dropped the notion.  I know Branched Oak pretty well from mapping the trail challenges and in my mind, figured the best way to put the most miles on what little time I had.  I pointed her to the trail and she moved out. 




She looked this way and that way – not sure if she was looking for rocks with trees growing out of them (her Wyoming fear) or for other horses.  But after about a mile, she settled into a nice pace.  In the open areas, we would trot and eventually, I kissed her into a nice lope.  The time went by so quickly, we had a great pace going; just under 6 mph moving time.  I was disappointed when it was time to load up and head to the next stop.  So rarely do you get those kind of rides with a horse you don’t normally ride. 


Photo Nov 21, 1 33 37 PM


I was surprised to find nine other riders at the Pawnee trail head.  Like me, everyone was anxious to steal a little of this nice weather while we had it.  The first half of the ride, which takes you around the lake, was done with the group – catching up on fall activities and talking holidays.  But after we crossed the dam, a few of us moved out ahead and once again, had a faster ride on Fancy. 




That evening, I found Fancy’s former owner on Facebook and sent her a message expressing how much we have enjoyed her.  I mentioned what all she has done this past year:  team sorted, ridden the mountains and several states, rode hundreds of miles here and there, carried guest riders, rode to town and pulled a deer to name a few.  She has quickly become the all-around favorite.  I got a reply back that her former owner had often thought about her and was glad to hear she was getting used and enjoying her new job.   Me, too.


Pip Update




It was time for that first haircut.  I needed to see her eyes.  I’m all about the rag-bag look – don’t get me wrong.  I sport it myself when I don’t have to work.  But there comes a time when we need to dress that part.  We loaded up to go to town today and get a new hairdo. 




I’m thinking this was the first haircut because she was not too keen on the clippers or anything about it, for that matter.  Julie worked on her face first, cleaned her ears and got a little out of the feet.  And we called it good enough.  I’ve clipped Maddie and Macy before her; I’ll start working with Pip.  But OMG, does she look unhappy or what? 




I think she looks quite elegant.  For a little rag-bag puppy. 





Nov 18, 2012

I Feel Lucky


Photo Nov 18, 10 51 13 AM


How many times have you failed to admit that something is going along well be cause you didn’t want to jinx it?  And what the heck does that mean anyway?  A little crow eating if things quickly go south?  Isn’t that how life goes?  Some days are diamonds and some days are stones.


I was out riding shortly before dusk and couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was to be riding in mid-November in just a fleece jacket and vest.  Heck, I didn’t even wear gloves.  I started on Fancy and ended on Windy and both rides were uneventful; just the way I like them.  Fancy and I worked on opening the gate from the saddle and she did it beautifully.  And whenever I ride Windy after being on another horse, it is just like coming home.  I realize how lucky I am to have a horse that fits just right. 


Today is the last day of rifle season for deer hunters.  This morning a friend of John’s called and his son got a nice buck – a 10 pointer – but they were having trouble getting their truck in to get it out and wondered if we couldn’t pull it out with the horses.  This should have been just the job for Baby, but she has long since grown out of any tack that would fit good enough to take a dally around the horn and she has never had a breast collar.  We loaded up Windy and Fancy and on our way, wondered if Blue and Butter might have been better options since they are a little stockier. 


Photo Nov 18, 10 47 54 AM


We rode out into the field where the buck had fallen and let the horses look at the dead deer.  Windy didn’t seem concerned with it but then again, I wasn’t going to be doing the pulling. 



They tied a rope around the hind legs of the deer and John and Fancy started to slowly pull it through the thick grass.  Really, John thought Fancy might try to turn and face it when it started moving, but she really had no concern.  She slowly moved forward pulling the carcass behind her. 


Photo Nov 18, 10 54 47 AM


We made our way up to the top of the hill, stopping a couple times so John could rest his arm and Fancy catch her breath. 


Photo Nov 18, 10 59 42 AM


By the road, we worked our way through a thicket of trees.  The antlers of the deer lodged against one; the hunter righted it and they continued on down the road to the trucks. 


Photo Nov 18, 11 00 16 AM


Once Windy caught sight of the moving deer outside the thick grass, she snorted.  I don’t think she would have played as nice as Fancy did if she would have been asked to haul the load.


Photo Nov 18, 11 00 41 AM


I was so happy with how well Fancy handled this job.  She has never pulled anything that we know of, let alone a dead animal.  She was quite unflappable.  It seems each time she steps up to the plate, she is somewhat successful and this has made John pretty proud.  She’s not Ginger, but she is slowly winning him over on her own merit.




And then there is that little Pippin Pup.  She has not had an accident in the house since Wednesday.  This truly may be one of the fastest house breaking successes. 


Photo Nov 18, 3 59 41 PM


This afternoon, I let her come with me when I rode.  For the most part, she stayed next to or behind Fancy.  When I switched horses and went out a little farther on Windy, she did relax a bit and not walk quite as close.  But I do think Windy doesn’t tolerate her as close as Fancy did and perhaps she senses it and keeps her distance.  I rode over five miles and Pip stayed with the entire time.  She is going to be a tired pup.




Unfortunately, we did not leave the corral without Pip getting hurt.  I was feeding the horses at the bunk and didn’t see her slip under it.  She ended up under Butter and got her back foot stepped on.  She squealed which got Butter’s attention but luckily, Butter just pushed her away.   She was three-legged lame when I scooped her up but after a thorough inspection, I deemed her sound.  Hopefully that will be the lesson learned; stay out from under the horse’s legs.


Temps are suppose to stay in the mid-fifties through next weekend.  My goal is to end the year with 1,200 miles in the Distance Derby.  I have less than a hundred to go.



Nov 13, 2012

Meet Pip




Pip (or perhaps Pippin) is her name today.  It’s Day Three and she has had three names so far.  Well, four actually, if you consider the name she came with which was not an option!  (FiFi.  Really!)  Initially she was to be Greta.  I loved that name for a dog.  But it was vetoed by Case.  Even my sister weighed in with a thumbs down.  Darby was my second choice but admittedly, it wasn’t rolling off my tongue very easy.  Might have to save that for a horse.  Case started calling her “Pip” last night and you know?  I like it.  So for today, Pip it is.




Who is Pip?  The new pup!  You had to have known I couldn’t go long without one.  A one-hundred and fifty pound St. Bernard is just not enough to fill this big house, so I’ve been puppy shopping.


While I would have loved to have gotten another white shepherd, it wouldn’t have been Ritz.  And as much as I loved that dog, the shepHERD part was not necessarily good around horses.  While he was the best riding buddy in the world, he also felt it was his job to "herd” occasionally and when he got into that funk, there was no stopping him.  I decided long before I lost Ritz that I wouldn’t have another herding dog.  I know they can be taught but I’m not that good of teacher.   


If you would have asked me six months ago if I were ever interested in a poodle, I would have laughed in your face.  Foofoo dogs are not for me; people would make fun!  Since I already have a big lug like Bo, I need a sport dog – one that has endurance, is obedient and smart.  Really, a poodle?  And then I met a Standard Poodle in his standard dress – a farm coat – not a fancy haircut and I couldn’t believe I was seeing the same dog.  Upon further research, I found they were bred to hunt, they are smart and they have endurance.  I’m told a Standard Poodle could easily keep up with my horse on our long rides.    I filed that away as a possibility not thinking I would be looking for a new dog this soon.  But such is life.


I was quite smitten with Labradoodles as well, for the same reason as the poodle and maybe people wouldn’t laugh at me as much if there was a little lab mixed in.    After Ritz died, I started perusing the puppy ads.  Ouch!  A little bit of sticker shock at the price of poodles and even more so for a labradoodle!  Gosh, they cost as much as a horse!  And even if I could somehow justify spending that on a dog, John would be flabbergasted!


Just so you know, I didn’t necessarily need a puppy nor a registered, full blooded hound.  I also kept a close eye on the rescue pages.  Again, I wanted a dog that was not only obedient and loyal, but good around horses and people and could go the miles.  The dog I was getting had a purpose.  I would not rule out a rescue dog provided it fit my needs.  My application at a semi-local rescue was approved and my friend who volunteers there was on the look-out for me should something come in that she thought would work for me.


It did.  Not to the rescue, per se, but through an obedience trainer this same person knew.  The trainer knew a gal who was needing to rehome one of two Standard Poodle puppies.  She has children, moved in with her parents and had at least one puppy too many.  Did my friend know of anyone who would take one or foster her?  Was that a coincidence or what?




The pup in question was a registered 5 month old chocolate Standard Poodle.  She was spayed, up-to-date on shots and micro-chipped.  She was not a house dog so would need house training but was free to a good home.  That’s about all I knew.  What I figured was the girl was keeping the good pup and rehoming the naughty one. 


We picked her up on Sunday.



Nov 6, 2012

Just One More




I remember when my kids were little and they would be playing in the park.  When I would say it was time to go, they would run away from me, saying they have to go down the slippery slide one more time or push each other around in the merry go-round one more time.   They got more play in those last 3 minutes knowing it was time to go than they did the hour they were there.  That’s how I feel about riding right now.  Just when I think we’ve seen the last of the good weather, we are given just one more day and I grasp at it like a child at play. 




John and I had a nice ride with the Platte River Riders the last weekend of October at the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center.  Open to horses by invitation only, our host, Trudy, guided us through the prairie and provided a nice history lesson of the grounds.  The tall grass prairies have never been plowed and there are still ruts from the wagon trains of long ago.  The sun was shining and weather reports indicated it would continue for at least another week.  That got me desperate for just one more weekend of riding.


Waubonsie Honey Creek 010


I have been very fortunate to have ridden at most of my favorite places this past season and quite a few new ones.  But it has been years since I crossed the river to ride Iowa’s Waubonsie State Park.  And about an hour or so down the road from there is Missouri’s Honey Creek Conservation Area which has also been on my “to do” list.  The weather this past weekend just might afford us one more ride and John was game for a weekend trip.  Our friends, Kathy and Rich joined us for this little late season adventure.   



Most of the trees along the trails had lost their leaves.  I loved the sound of the horses hooves as they moved through the dry foliage which offered a different kind of beauty to the trails.  I had forgotten how steep the climbs were at Waubonsie, thankful that our horses are used often and well conditioned.  Most of the trails are good climbs; there is not a lot of flat riding. 




We were surprised to find that even after dark, we weren’t terribly chilly.  We warmed up soup and had a great dinner and then shared what could be the last campfire of 2012.  We plugged into Rich’s generator to take the chill out of the trailer and had our propane heater ready for when we woke up.  We stayed comfortable all night. 




After breakfast at a local truckstop, we drove on to our next destination.  With the time change (which I dread and hate), we were on the Honey Creek trails by 10:30 AM.  The park had warned me that although horses were still allowed on the trail through the weekend, hunting season for youth’s was also allowed.  I bought us hunter orange and safety green sweatshirts.  I also bought a safety green sweatshirt and made slips for the horse’s breast collars.  We would be seen for miles. 




I had printed trail maps before I left but somehow managed to forget them.  So the first hour or so was hit and miss but eventually we found the rhythm of the trails.  They were not as severe as Waubonsie and had some really cool looking trees.  Located right off the interstate, you could hear the road noise, but I imagine in the warmer months it would be muffled by the tree leaves. 




We had two days of great fall riding with friends.  By the end of this week, temperatures are to be in the 70’s!  Again, a rare gift.  Maybe I will get just one more weekend of riding. 


(Thanks, Kathy, for getting some pictures of John & Fancy and Windy & me.)