May 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Fancy

It's Miss Fancy Pant's 6th birthday today.  
We would not have known her if we hadn't lost Ginger. 
She is the silver lining.  


May 27, 2013

Ride & Play!




Windy, the most beautiful bay mare, turned 11 years old yesterday.  I told the people I was camping with that today was her birthday.  I hadn’t looked at a calendar for several days and got the days mixed up.  Here we are on her birthday ride. 




This is my friend, Joni, photo-bombing the picture of me and my beautiful bay mare.  Have I ever told you how much I love being with my girlfriends?  Laughter is such a cure all.  And we laughed so hard!


John and I spent this past Memorial Weekend with fourteen of our good friends at Eagle Creek Ranch which is owned by one of those friends. 


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I took this picture of John and Fancy.  When I scrolled through the preview of the pictures on the little LCD screen, once again I couldn’t believe the resemblance.  This picture was taken yesterday of John riding Fancy. 




Here is John and Ginger in June of 2006. 




Pretty incredible, huh?  While their personalities are altogether different, there are times when John is walking ahead that you could swear he is on Ginger.  Fancy is taller and longer and not as animated as Ginger.  While Ginger was bold and fast, Fancy is graceful and elegant and sometimes a bit nervous.  I’m glad for their different personalities and appreciate the horse that Ginger was and the one that Fancy has become.




We not only rode.  We ate.  But I don’t want to talk about that because I have some serious damage control to do with regards to the diet this week.  I did manage to squeeze into a swimsuit and we hung out in the creek.




There are several waterfalls coming out of the bluffs above the creek.  We called this one the Stair Step waterfall.  Tanya climbed it and I followed.  She is so stinkin’ cute and she brings out the youth in all of us!  Gawd!  I need a tan!




Speaking of water, second riding trip this year and second time I had a water landing.  Me, and the two riders behind me in this picture, stepped off the sandbar into some quick sand.  Windy quickly sunk to her belly.  I did not want to hinder her ability to pull herself out of it, so I rolled off to the side of her while she pulled herself out of it.  A very good reminder to be more careful at water crossings. 


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This is our second Memorial Day that our friends were kind enough to invite us up to ride.  It is located almost on the South Dakota border, down in a canyon along Eagle Creek.  Hence the name.  We had the whole place to ourselves.




Well, except for thirty-some head of cattle.  We camped in their pasture.  Meet Duracell, a twenty-something year old steer who never made it to the dinner plate and never will.  He did, however, find the alfalfa we kept under the gooseneck of our trailer and helped himself to the dogs’ food.  Friendly chap, too.    He did make me a bit nervous when he scratched his head on my Ram. 




Remember that cell phone commercial where there was always a bunch of people behind the person making the call?  That’s how we felt when we took a walk one morning.  The herd came along with us.  When we walked, they walked.  When we stopped, they stopped. 




And speaking of cell phones….  there was no service.  We had severe withdrawals and would make a trip to the top of the hill each evening to “geek out”, as John calls it. 


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And yes, Pip made the trip.  She is officially a camping dog.  For every mile we rode, I think she ran 1.5 miles.  And when we weren’t riding, she was playing with all the other dog friends she met at ride camp. 




But when the sun went down, so did Pip.  She was plum-tuckered out.  Pip has never been a lap dog and I was thrilled that she so turned into one when she got tired this past weekend. 




I had an awesome weekend with my husband, horses, dogs and friends.  Can’t wait to do it again. 


Thanks to my friends at Eagle Creek Ranch for sharing your beautiful land with us.    


May 17, 2013

Mother’s Day


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Last Saturday night, believe it or not, we were in a frost advisory!  I kid you not – on Friday, I was riding in a tank top and on Saturday, I am looking for every spare sheet in my house to cover my yet-to-bloom lilac bushes – which, by the way, bloomed in late March last spring.  I know because I have pictures to prove it! 




Baby was quite concerned when she came around the barn and found all the “ghosts” lining their pen.   I waited for Blue to make an appearance because he is the King of Spooks and was quite disappointed when he showed little reaction. 


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The tulips had just started to bloom.  We took these bulbs from my mom’s flower garden either right before she died or before we sold her house.  It was very cool that they were blooming on Mother’s Day weekend. 


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I didn’t cover the tulip garden but did cut a nice bouquet to bring into the house.  As it turned out, only only the low pasture got heavy frost and the tulips survived for a few more days. 




Lilacs are my favorite flower in the world.  Not so much how they look, but how they smell.  The smell of a lilac bush brings back so many memories of my childhood – our house in town, my grandma’s farm, my aunt’s farm in Guide Rock, graveyards and Rod McKuen poetry.  As I mentioned on Facebook, if I live until I’m 80, I have less than 30 lilac seasons left in my lifetime.  I don’t want to miss one. 


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For Mother’s Day, my boys made an appearance and humored me with a picture.  We had a nice lunch, visited with John’s mom and then came home to the horses. 




The horses had a few chips in their hooves from Friday’s ride and they need shoes before we leave for South Dakota, so John trimmed them a bit and filed out the chips.  Then we saddled and rode over to the trails we cut this past winter along the creek where he cuts wood.




Most of what we cut was more than enough for horse height and we could follow it pretty well.  There were a few areas where you literally had to jump the creek due to steep sides and John coaxed Fancy, who had lead out nicely, to make that first jump.  She is such a good girl.  Windy wasn’t as thrilled to be asked, but wasn’t keen on her “baby sister” leaving her, so she gave me a nice leap over it as well. 




Going down in this draw was a really cool part of the trail and the pictures don’t capture it’s depth.  I tried to video it coming back out, but it was kind of hard to keep Windy collected to take this path slowly and run the camera so what I got wasn’t worthy to post.  Maybe next time.   We rode a little over 7 miles; a nice end to a good Mother’s Day weekend.




And just when you think all the crazy weather is over – remember, we had frost warnings on Saturday – Mother Nature brought a new twist on Tuesday.  Hot, hot weather!  Luckily it only stayed around for one day.  Who knows – it might just snow tomorrow. 



May 11, 2013

The 13th Annual Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride


April showers came in the form of wintry mixes and even today, I am worried about the likelihood of seeing blooms on my yet-to-blossom May flowers.  But it looked like we caught a break for the 13th Annual Friday Before Mother’s Day ride held on that day. 




To save waking up at the crack of dawn on Friday, my friend, Robyn, hauled over to our place and she and Coda spent the night.  To be clear, she got the guest room and Coda the round pen.  Bo and Pip were thrilled to have company and was most anxious to make it a slumber party!  We stayed up late sharing a bottle of wine and catching up on winter.  I thought I would drop right off to sleep and I almost did... but then something clicked in my brain and instead of a wine-induced slumber, I turned insomniac – much like I do when worrying about getting up for an early flight.  Guess I was just anxious for the ride. 


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I woke up easily and we puttered around getting ready.   A search for Robyn’s keys kept us all active for awhile and just as we were Googling the number for USRider, the lost was found.   We made it over to Valparaiso at our normal arrival – about 8:30.  The temps at this time were still low.  High forties maybe?  If you look at the pictures, most of the riders had on some pretty heavy coats and hats.  I had heard there were fog advisories out, but although overcast, there was no fog in the Val area. 




Still, I noticed the numbers appeared to be down and when we rode out at 10:00, Mike A, the counter, said there were less than 30 in the first heat.  Counting some late comers, fog & other reason, we believe total numbers were around 60.  Considerably lower than the previous years.  Certainly not a disappointment in my book; the lower numbers made it easier to visit with more riders. 


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We had one accident, that I know of.  There is a horse in a pasture along the trail that came up to the bridge as the trail horses were passing and a rider’s horse spooked.  Windy watched him pretty close when she passed him, as he had his nose through the panels on the bridge.  We usually see him whenever we ride this trail. 


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I had a fun ride.  Started somewhere in the middle, made my way to the back and by the time I got to Loma, was back up front again.  I took my “good” camera and played photographer.   I admit, it wasn’t the easiest having to use two hands to take pictures.  Windy was a bit high early on.


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By the time we got half-way to Loma, the sun burned off the low clouds and it was a beautiful spring day.  The plum bushes were blossoming and fragrant, the sky was a gorgeous blue and the wind was mild.  Riders were all smiles. 


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It was quite unusual to see the green grass and blue skies against the trees which still have not produced buds.  Many of the horses still had what was left of their winter coats.  I really think the numbers were down because many riders have just not had the opportunity to get any time on their horses this spring; the weather has been so unstable. 


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In the early 1990’s, a movie production company came to Loma for the filming of the Patrick Swayze movie, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.   The fictional movie town was called “Snyderville” and you can still see some of the graphics they did on the worn buildings.  Before long, all evidence of that movie will be gone. 




After lunch in Loma, Robyn and I decided we were going to have a faster ride going back.  Not that we were in any hurry, just because we wanted to.  Corie and Diane joined us and we quickly covered those seven miles in long trotting and loping; thankful for the tank tops we were wearing under the layers we had put on that morning.  Windy got a little hot in the open areas where we would lope –even threw in a buck which caused me to keep her reined in a little more than usual.  When we got back to our trailers, a gal that who was waiting at the trail head asked Robyn and I if we were endurance riders.  No, be we felt like we were!


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We enjoyed potluck around the trailers with friends.  Several of the riders went to Branched Oak to camp for the weekend.  I trailered out there and hung out for an hour or so but came home for the night.  My lack of sleep the night before was starting to catch up with me and we have a pretty heavy schedule of graduation parties today so I called it a day.


I know I he-hawed about changing the date of this ride, but after yesterday, I decided to leave it as it is.  I like the early ride, the weather, for the most part, has been kind.  It just works. 


Thanks, everyone, who came and shared the day with me.  It was a lot of fun.

May 4, 2013

I Wasn’t Kidding…




In my last post, complete with the camping, sunshine and water pictures, I mentioned the “s” word.  Snow, that is.  I wasn’t kidding.  We woke up Thursday morning to this (insert other “s” word). 




As I mentioned many times, I will not cry about the moisture.  We have been in drought conditions since early summer of last year, but doggone-it!  It’s so hard to stay positive when winter just goes on and on and on like the Energizer Bunny.  Can we please dial up the temps a bit?  It dropped to 31° overnight on Thursday which may have just froze our first cutting of alfalfa which we badly need because of said drought.  That I will cry about!  For the love of God, we just can’t catch a break!  I won’t even mention that I hold out little hope for my flowering crab trees and lilac bushes. 


I have blankets back on Windy and Butter.  Windy, because after last weekend, she is totally shed out and Butter, because the others won’t let her in the barn.  Wind chill is at 21° degrees this morning. 




I did sneak a ride on Blue boy this past week – on this 17th birthday.  He has been in my life since he was four and I trusted him enough to get over my riding fears a decade or so ago.  He served as a trusty mount for me and both of our boys.   He and I need to get out more often.  If the snow will ever quit!



May 1, 2013

A Rejuvenation




The weather has been so iffy lately (believe it or not it is snowing again as I write this) we weren’t sure if we would get to have our annual Bader Park weekend ride.  Heck, some of the horses are still holding on to their winter coats.  But Mother Nature took pity on us, I guess, and gave us our first real spring weekend.  Twenty-some of my horse friends pulled into Bader Park for a weekend of sun, riding, food and fun. 




Bader Memorial Park is nestled on the Platte River, just a few miles south of Chapman, Nebraska off Hwy. 30 – about 12 miles northeast of Grand Island.  A few years ago, they put in electrical hookups in a pasture area near the RV camping area to accommodate equestrian guests.  There is running water, shower houses and restrooms and yes, wi-fi!  You must provide your own portable fencing for your horse, but it is an easy and safe place to set up. 




There are several miles of trail within the park; it seems each year they add more to the trail system.  And if the river is down, you can ride along the shoreline.  For those not interested in riding, there is a swimming beach and playground and ponds for fishing.  All sorts of wildlife; this year I even saw a bald eagle.  The sunsets alone make it worth the drive. 




After we lost Ritz and Maddie, I said my next dog would be a camping dog.  Maddie camped with us in the early days but as her health declined over the years, we stopped bringing her.  Occasionally we will bring Bo, but taking a St. Bernard camping is like bringing another horse.   This would be Pip’s first camping trip.  She was a bit disappointed when she was tied out while the other guests arrived – I swore she gave me the look as if saying “is this all there is to do?”




But once out on the trail, she was in dog heaven.  One of the gals caught Windy smooching on Cinc’s neck.  Pip photo-bombed the picture.  It wasn’t without incident – one young horse kicked Pip when she got real close.  But she quickly recovered.  She chased turkeys and rabbits and a herd of deer.  Once, when I saw a skunk, we quickly moved our horses into a quick gallop to get out of the area before Pip took notice of that, too! 




The first day was a bit foggy when Pip and I walked early in the morning.  I wish I would have taken my good camera with me – there were some great photo ops.  I did manage to get some shots with my iPhone but wonder how much better they could have been with the real thing. 




We rode out in jackets and gloves but by noon the fog had burned off and the temperatures reached 80°.  We played in the water along the river and cantered through the open fields.  Sounds like a storybook, huh?  It really was some good riding. 




We had asked all the girls to bring some arena toys and on Saturday afternoon, my friend, Joni, and I set up a trail challenge in the pasture by camp.  It was amazing how it all came together. 




Windy and I never do too well at these things.  I should practice at home and perhaps we can make a better showing.  We did have a good jump over the cross bars but just like the big fish that got away, no one caught it on their camera. 




There is one trail at Bader Park that is usually under water this time of year.  And it is our favorite trail!  If you have a horse that is fearful of water, this is the trail to take them on.  It has a good, solid base so footing is fine.  On most horses, it isn’t up much over their knees.  And when the sun hits it just right, it is just beautiful.   




In the evenings, we had big potluck dinners.  The great thing about camping with twenty other women is you don’t need to bring much food.  By the time we combine everything together, there is more than enough for every meal.  Of course we ate too much and many of us went for a walk that evening.  I love this picture.  Our group is multi-generational.  We don’t see each other often but have such quality time when we are together. 




Many of these women are participating in my healthy lifestyle plan.  (We try not to say the word “diet”.)  Since I am an early riser and this time of year, we don’t usually ride out until close to 10 AM, I invited some of the women to bring bicycles and go for a morning ride.  A few joined me and we surprised ourselves by going about ten miles – all before breakfast.  Those who didn’t ride missed out on seeing an eagle and a zebra-donk.


The last day we were at Bader Park, the temperature got into the high eighties.  It truly felt like spring had sprung.  We rode through the river and then down the new trail and I trotted with a couple other gals along the water. 




We held up at the start of the water trail waiting for the others to catch up.  I took Windy out into the water to let her get a drink.  I took my iPhone from my pommel bag and put in my pocket, hoping to get some last minute pictures.  Kathy caught the above shot of Windy and me.  What is wrong with this picture?  I remember Windy drinking and I recall hearing someone scream or whistle or a horse squeal.  Before I could react, Windy was airborne.  Upon examination of this picture that Kathy captured beautifully, you will see the right rein is down behind her left leg.  My CSI investigation tells me that perhaps I dropped a rein and when she heard the whistle she went to raise her head and stepped on it, causing her to jump.  Who knows.  But damn, do I have a good seat or what!  Looks like I am in total control!  Right?




Wrong!  I truly do not even recall trying to save myself.  One moment I was in the saddle and Windy was drinking and the next moment – splash! I am in the water! 




And in true fashion, I jump up and say, “I’m alright!”  You can tell how worried my friends are since they continue to take pictures.  I guess its karma for the pictures I have caught of others in similar situations over the years. 




And then I remember…. son-of-a-b*!  I just put my iPhone in my pocket!  And even though there is wi-fi on the property, my phone wasn’t connecting.  I truly did not care as much about the phone as I did the weekend’s worth of pictures.  Well, as you can tell from this post, all was not lost.  It was still working when I pulled it out of my pocket.  When I got back to camp, I put it in the truck that was sitting in the sun.  And it’s still working today.  I’m not saying an iPhone is waterproof so don’t try this at home!  But mine did survive the dunk. 




Reluctantly, we all headed back home Sunday afternoon – a few of us staying just a little bit longer – we just weren’t ready for the weekend to end.  Horses are what has drawn this group of women together; seriously, we would not have known each other in any other aspect of our lives.  But throughout the years, it goes beyond horses.  It’s a fellowship of sorts.  A cleansing from our day to day life; to be a little silly and be ourselves – not someone’s wife or mother.  It’s like being in high school again but being smart about it.  It’s so much easier now to appreciate our friendships and each other.  From commiserating about hot flashes to doing the squat challenge outside our trailer doors.  Belly laughing so hard you forgot why it started.  Truly a rejuvenation.