Two thousand and twelve was the year of the gadget. The iPhone and Facebook recorded every magic moment and the GPS caught every mile in the fantastic Distance Derby. By the end of the year, I started tinkering with a new camera which hopefully will capture as many good times in this next year.
Looking through the library of pictures and my GPS tracks via Garmin Connect, it isn’t hard to recap the year. Besides being the year of the gadget, it was also the year of crazy winter weather. Although the mild winter temps lent itself to accumulating Distance Derby miles early, by summer’s end, it we found ourselves in one of the worst droughts in decades.
The Distance Derby was designed as a year long competition. Simply put, riders GPS their miles, submit them weekly and the person with the most miles, wins the race. Surprisingly popular, we started out with 74 competitors and will end with over 50% completion. I will place in the top ten – most likely #7 or #8, surpassing just over 1,200 miles accumulated in seven states; Nebraska and all those states bordering our own. I bragged about those accomplishments earlier this month.
This winter also brought me my first injury; taking a fall from Fancy into the frozen bean field. I’d like to say that was the only fall, but Windy decided she had enough of me while riding in Wyoming and proved that she could off me if she really wanted to and did. But those were minor indiscretions compared to the awesome rides and trails we covered over the last twelve months.
While regrettably both of my boys have found other things to do besides ride horses, I did coax Case into one camping/riding trip this past spring.
It had been at least a couple years since McCain had been on a horse but when a friend wanted to ride, he made the sacrifice.
While it still hurts my heart to think about losing Ginger, Fancy has been a great addition to our family. It’s been an adjustment for John to ride a horse that lacks the fire and boldness that Ginger had, but I think it has also been a nice break for him to have one that doesn’t lose her head in the crowd and has come along tremendously in her own right.
Since I ride more than John does, Fancy has become my back-up horse. I keep saying that John needs to find him another horse because Fancy really should be mine. What a great find she was; she is kind, level headed and beautiful. Just my kind of horse.
I was fortunate to take some awesome horse trips this past year. Spending a week in Wyoming with my husband and good friends was a special treat, especially getting out of the soring temperatures of Nebraska. The views from the mountains were breathtaking; a glimpse of Heaven.
For the second year, I’ve enjoyed an extended horse vacation with my best girl friends, ending with Cowgirl Weekend. And as much as I have always enjoyed Cowgirl Weekends, I have to say that the precursor to this event – what I call “trail tasting” along the way – is quick becoming the highlight of that week. A week of horses is the bomb for me and sharing it with friends who love to ride as much as I do is just icing on the cake.
I lost two of my best dogs this year. Maddie was almost 14 years old and spent many years camping with us. Even when her body failed her, she still tried to keep up with me; ever mindful that I stay in her sight.
I lost Ritz unexpectedly two days after we put Maddie to rest. He had shown signs of neurological problems in the months proceeding and we ultimately had to make a choice to let him go as well. He was my guardian. Ritz was truly the dog that would protect me above himself and I know that with all my heart. I am pretty sure he is watching me still. He traveled many road miles with Windy and me and I miss him every time I leave home on my horse.
I won’t go as far as saying John shares my passion for horses, but he does enjoy them. He keeps the fences fixed, hay in the barn and my truck running. He humored me as we spent a night in Colorado to check another state off the list and spent many weekends home alone while I was out chasing miles. He lost his good horse and has moved forward with one that I have chosen for him rather than one he may have picked out himself. And I love him for all he does for me and my horse hobby.
As always, I am thankful for my friends. The circle of riding buddies continues to grow through the Platte River Riders, the Distance Derby and other riding opportunities. I am grateful for the gift of renewing old friendships I thought were lost and most of all, for my besties who have not only shared the trails with me but the ups and the downs and the good times and bad and the everyday celebrations that can only be recognized by those closest to my heart. You know who you are and I love you all for your gift of time for me.
After Ginger died, Windy had to really step up. And in reality, so did I. John was no longer on a seasoned trail horse, thus no longer the leader. I had to ask more of Windy and as a result, become a stronger leader. As I crossed the 900th mile on Windy’s back, I have never loved her more. I also said that when she took me to nearly 10,000 foot elevation in Wyoming or we rode in the 7th state this year. Windy’s courage, success and insecurities are an extension of me; we are one. I love this horse with all my heart.
It’s been a fabulous year and I’ve been very blessed. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.