Jul 25, 2013

Finally, T-Shirts!


I started Horsetrailriders.com in 2004 and not long after, started the Horsetales list serv, a popular Yahoo chat group which at one time boasted close to 300 members.  Online horse friends became riding buddies and when we aren’t riding, we talk about it.  The advent of Facebook brought about the Horsetrailriders.com Facebook page and it’s sister page for Horsetales members. 


We always talked of getting t-shirts so we could find each other in a crowd.  Almost a decade later, I am finally getting around to it.  “Imaginary Friends” was coined by one of the husbands who was commenting about how much time his wife spent online with the Horsetales group, many with whom she hadn’t met. 


Introducing Horsetales/Horsetrailriders.com shirts. 




horsetales back


A spin-off of this website, The Platte River Riders started our regular Wednesday rides in 2005!  Wow, that long ago.  And yes, we had t-shirts made way back then.  It’s time to freshen them up a bit and offer them to our new members.  Here is the new Platte River Riders shirt!




prr back


Finally,  we are halfway into Year 2 of the Great Horsetrailriders Distance Derby.  Those competing might consider a shirt commemorating this year long race. 

distance derby


distance derby back


All orders need to be made & paid for by August 16.  Shirt size, style & color information is available by clicking on the T-Shirt tab at the top of the page or click here for ORDER INFORMATION.


If you have any questions, email me or enter in comments below. 



Jul 21, 2013

My Tevis Day


When I was young, I would occasionally try to keep a diary.  You remember those, right?  A little blue or red or yellow plastic covered book with a key.  Like every girl who ever started a diary, I had hoped the pages would be filled with excitement and perhaps young love.  But in reality, some days I was lucky if I entered anything at all because “Got up, went to school and didn’t do much” seemed to be the norm.  It occurs to me today that keeping a diary was really blogging.  We just didn’t know it. 




It’s July.  Definition:  hot, humid, and the drought has returned.  I can only take little doses of the heat because that combined with hot flashes about sends me to an early grave.  So while yesterday could have been one of those days not worthy of a diary entry, I ended up following The Tevis Cup race All. Day. Long.  When I say “followed”, I mean I was really into it.  I had a little spreadsheet going and everything.


If you aren’t familiar with endurance or distance riding, you may have never heard of The Tevis Cup 100 Miles One Day Race, officially named The Western States Trail Ride.  Simply put, it is a 100 mile endurance race that starts in Truckee and ends in Auburn, California and is deemed one of the most difficult endurance rides.  The Tevis Cup website is loaded with history about the ride and the trail so I won’t fill my pages with that information, but do read at your leisure.  It is quite interesting.


tevis barbara white


I perused the names of the riders who entered the 2013 Tevis Cup.  No, I don’t know any of them personally, but a few I can say I am one degree from knowing.  Barbara White who was going for her 33rd completion is the daughter of Julie Suhr, the grand dame of endurance riding, having 22 completions.  I arranged for Julie to come here to our Expo a few years ago and enjoyed visiting with her that weekend.  Ken Wolgram rides Competitive Trail in our area and many of my CTR friends have met Ken over the years.  Following the ride last year, I saw a few of the same names making a return trip.  I copied the rider list into Excel and highlighted those I wanted to closely watch. 


The Tevis webcast is not what you think.  There isn’t a video camera following riders as they race up the mountain and in the canyons.  But as technology has evolved, volunteers are able to keep “viewers” updated as the the location of their favorite rider.  You can click on their name and see their entry picture with their horse of course, what riders really want to see!  There is also a Tevis Facebook page which ran updates and pictures. 


So throughout the day, as the webcast was updated, I would update my spread sheet, too.   And it provided me with some fun stats at the end of the race.  And as I share this, please note that it is as accurate as I could get but may not be 100%.  I had no one to check my work – it is what it is.


tevis breeds entered  tevis riders


While mostly Arabians (and what is with all the fractions?), there were some other breeds represented as well.  I saw a picture of the Friesen X on Facebook.  Most likely the X represented an Arab and boy, was it a looker!  There were riders from 16 states and 7 countries.   My stats told me there were more bay horses than any other color, gray following second. 


tevis finish horseTevis finish riders


Of those that finished, only a handful were not Arab.  One of the Friesians made it!  And an Appaloosa!  Just one gaited horse crossed the finish line, a Tennessee Walker.  The states were well represented at the finish line, too.


tev cr


The ride was not without tragedy.  The Tevis Facebook page first mentioned that a rider pulled near the famous Cougar Rock.  We then heard there had been an accident; the rider was fine but a vet was called for the horse.  We later learned it had severe neck injuries and was euthanized.  This is not the norm for this ride and it is very sad.  My heart breaks for the rider.  She will be reminded every time she sees a picture of a rider crossing Cougar Rock.   (The above photo was taken from the internet and is NOT the rider I mention in this post.)


tev donley


A young Junior rider caught my eye early in the webcast.  He was 15 years old and riding with his mother.  They were at the head of the race most of the day.  There was a lot of chatter on Facebook saying he was a true contender.  While the Durango, CO boys (EasyCare?) were on their tails, they were still in the lead when John interrupted me to go to dinner.  (Huh?  I’m “watching” Tevis!)  And when I returned, it appeared that others had taken the lead and the Junior rider, John Donley, was pulled at the last vet check.  His mom finished the ride in 6th place.  (The above picture was taken of John Donley at the Lower Quarry by my friend, Sheila, who was a volunteer at that location.)


tev rusty 


As it turned out, Rusty Toth, last year’s Haggin Cup winner for best condition  took the Tevis Cup this year, completing in around 17 hours.  The video clip of him cantering over the finish line and hugging his horse after the vet deemed it sound (above) was a touching end to a long day. 


The Tevis Cup is not on my bucket list although I wouldn’t mind riding some of the trail on a pleasure ride.  My friend, Sheila, now lives in that area and it seems reason enough to visit.  It was her first year volunteering and perhaps I can join her some year.  Being in the midst of it would be something I would like to do. 

Jul 19, 2013

Dog Days


nahla 6


While I haven’t been riding much, I have been walking; part of my self-imposed exercise plan.  This past winter, when it was so cold, I would try to walk a mile around our yard and once spring arrived, I would head out into the pasture or down the road.  I don’t know when when I decided I could walk farther than a mile, most often now walking two to two and a half.  I plan to “walk” in a 5K run next month, so on occasion, I will walk 5K just so I have an idea how much time it will take to complete.  I am not a runner and don’t intend to be.  I tried, but decided I wanted my knees to last beyond the mid-life warranty. 


nahla 5


So while the horses may be lacking their exercise program, the dogs are not.  Even Bo can easily do a 5K with me now although I feel so sorry for him with his thick St. Bernard hair.  Pip just springs along ahead when we go down the road and makes a beeline for the pond when we walk in the pasture.


nahla 2


Meet Nahla, our most recent addition.  No, I did not need another dog nor was I looking for one.  But Case came home with Nahla when a friend was moving and could no longer keep her.  He told me before he brought her home that she is a Lab mix.  Yes, there could be Lab in there but I’m thinking there is a lot more Rottweiler than Labrador. 


nahla 7


When I lost my German Shepherd, Ritz, it took all I had not to go out and get another German Shepherd.  I love the breed.  He was the smartest and most loyal dog I have ever had.  But he was also aggressive and while I knew how to introduce strangers to him, John did not like the potential liability.  So if Case would have told me Rottweiler rather than Lab, I would not even have entertained the idea.  You can say all you want about it being the owner, not the dog, but I have owned dogs all my life and my German Shepherd was the only aggressive dog I’ve had.  I do contribute it to the breed.  He was just doing his job.  Protecting us from what he thought was a threat was part of what he believed was his job. 


nahla 1


I have to admit that all my preconceived notions about a Rottie has been not come to fruition.  Although Nahla is one tough cookie, she has the personality of a Labrador.  She is mindful and loyal and will retrieve anything.  She spends her days carrying around logs – not sticks, logs – plastic pop bottles, or anything else she can find.  She is quiet, loves to cuddle and comes when I call immediately.  She is smaller, probably due to whatever she is crossed with be it Labrador or part Lab or who knows.  She is shorter than Pip but she is mighty!



I told Case when he brought her home that she was his dog.  She needed to bond to him, not me.  I have my hands full with horses and my own dogs.  But really, how much time does a 16 year old boy have for a dog when he is always on the go.  My walks now include all three dogs and that’s alright with me. (Name that song.) 

Jul 12, 2013

Events Worth Noting

Clear the MoPac

On Wed, July 31, The Nebraska Horse Trails Committee would like to ask the Platte River Riders and other horse riders and friends to come to Eagle, NE at the MoPac trail head to help do some horse trail clearing.  The horse trail has become terribly overgrown and we are working with the NRD to get it cleared.  They will try to get it mowed for us and then we can just ride through and trim overhead branches.  Volunteers can come on horse or on foot; there will be motorized transportation on the trail to haul workers.  Bring lopers, hand saws, chain saws and such.  Lots of hands will make quick work.  Meet at the elevator in Eagle (just north of downtown near the swimming pool) at 6:00 PM to quickly organize and get to work.  A fun way to unite with other horse owners and give back to our trails.  

Renee's Someday Ride

Please join me in remembering my friend, Renee Flanagan for the 2nd Annual Someday Benefit Ride the weekend of Aug. 17-18 at Slattery Vineyard Estates of Nehawka.  Visit Renee's Ride on this website.  Information and entry fees are available online now.

4th Annual NHTC Trail Challenge

On Saturday, Sept. 7th, The Nebraska Horse Trails Committee will be having our 4th Annual Trail Challenge at Branched Oak Lake, Area 2.  Entries are open.  Co-chair, Shari Parys, has some fun new ideas for the challenges!  We need riders but will also need a fair share of volunteers to help with judging, scribing, dinner and the raffle.  Raffle items are also needed.  All of the proceeds from this event go to Nebraska trail related projects such as the recent corral repair at Indian Cave.  Information about entering can be found here:  http://nebraskahorsecouncil.org/trail-challenge-2/  You can email me about volunteering.



I mentioned to a fellow horse friend that I just haven’t been riding much since we got back from South Dakota.  A few times here and there but not anything to accumulate major Distance Derby miles!  We did hay.  Then its been hot.  Although I have been stealing a few rides here and there, I am not riding like I was last year.   Even though I have lost weight, been exercising, my body has been sabotaging my desire to ride….. 

I had absolutely one of the worst rides EVER a few weeks ago.  It was a Wednesday night with the Platte River Riders at Two Rivers State Park.  I twisted the arm of a friend to come ride so hauled both Windy and Fancy.  This particular ride is usually well attended and in the shade for the most part, so I was actually looking forward to it.  It was muggy out, so I put on jean shorts rather than jeans.  A “no-no” to most horse people but when you have hot flashes like I do, minimal clothing helps.  Seriously, you all know how I am about helmet wearing and at this point, I can’t even wear a helmet because of these stupid hot flashes. 

We headed down to the river trail and someone mentioned that there was part that was impassable.  There are a lot of side trails that can be taken so I wasn’t real concerned.  When we got to the dike that we usually ride up and over, those in front turned left.  Now I know you can turn left ON the dike and catch a trail but I have never followed a trail below the dike but I don’t know them all, so kept following the leaders. 


As we are riding along, I notice that Windy is becoming a bit agitated.  I am sure I mentioned here before that Windy has severe reactions to nettles and I look down and we are in the thick of them.  About that time, she starts what I call her Mexican Hat Dance – stomping, twisting and wanting to bolt the hell out of there.  We are in heavy woods by now and any bolting would involve flying through brush, trees and what-not and really, not that she has ever bolted, but I always feel like nettles would be a reason to do just that.  There are horses to the front of me, horses to the back of me and trees all around us.  Literally no where to go.  And what little trail we were following has petered out. 

Did I mention it was hot?  And muggy?  And I have hot flashes which are intensified by heat and stress?  I can no longer keep her still and know I would be better off on the ground than in the saddle.  Some might argue that thought but I know me and I know my horse.  I dismounted.  Did I mention I was wearing shorts?  Ah, yeah.  Immediately I knew what Windy was feeling.  Nettles sting!

By now Windy was pretty much out of control.  One of the other riders thought they could get us out and I asked him to pony her.  He took hold of her reins to lead her out.  I thought we could ride double on Fancy but I couldn’t swing over behind the saddle.  There was nothing to stand on and my energy was being sucked up by the humidity, so I followed the other riders on foot …. through the nettles. 

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an out.  At this point, we had cleared the nettles a bit.  I took Windy’s reins again while the riders kept looking for a trail.  Finally, I pulled out my iPhone which had my Garmin app on and started retracing our tracks.  Unfortunately, we had to wade through the nettles yet again, Windy got excited, my finger touched the screen of my iPhone as I was passing it to another rider and I lost the tracks.  There was no way I could hold her and reload the program in my phone, so we were stuck again.  But someone else found the “out” about that time, and we made it back to the main trail. 


Once on the trail, I remounted.  Windy had settled down and we went back to the trailers.  My legs had welts from the nettles.  I washed up at the trailer and rubbed Windy’s legs.  Unlike poison ivy, nettles only sting but don’t leave any oils to continue irritation.  I learned two other horses had the same reaction, so I wasn’t alone.  Most of the others rode on and some friends waited for me and we rode out a few minutes later and stayed off the river trails. 


I always say that any time in the saddle is a good time but not true this particular evening.  It was probably worse than when I took a head dive off The Black because it seemed to last forever.  Bottom line is this:  I have not heard of anyone dying from hot flashes yet, but I just might be the first.  I have been riding helmetless because once a hot flash starts, it goes straight up the back of my neck onto my head.  Literally, I feel like my head is a fireball.  My bra becomes instantly soaked and my jeans or riding pants stick to me like glue.  Sorry for the detail but it is what it is.  It is not how many hot flashes a day I have, but per hour and it seems to be getting worse. 

I have talked to friends who have experienced this; I have read everything I can find on the internet.  I have visited with my doctor a few times and tried some remedies to no avail.  I am pulling out the big guns and seeing a specialist later this month.  I am ready to make Baby a PMU horse if it will provide me some relief! 


In the meantime, I’ve been doing some short rides but have to say I have been walking or riding my bike more than I have been riding.  I can wait until almost dusk when the temperature has dropped some before heading out.  The dogs are loving these outings.  I am not going to let this “change of life” beat me – I’ll go down fighting -  but just need to find the right ammo. 


Jul 6, 2013

Making Hay





I still need to do my write up from our stay at Hay Creek Ranch in South Dakota but it seems I just can’t find the time to sit and gather my thoughts.  It’s been a busy time around here.  We have been making hay while the sun shines!




We kept the horses off one of the grazing pastures for as long as possible this spring.  Due to the drought last year, they were terribly overgrazed.  We had some nice rain this spring and they came back pretty good.  So we baled one a few weeks ago and got quite a few round bales which we hadn’t counted on. 




This last week, John mowed the hay pasture and the other grazing pasture.  It looked like we had a three day window with just a 20% chance of a “stray” shower on the third day.  Because of the drought, the weeds, especially sour dock, came up in the places that were lacking grass.  So my job was to pull it before the hay was put into windrows.  I tell you what, I didn’t need to work out at the gym those few days!  I sure got my exercise pulling dock.




The first day it was down, there were very strong winds.  That, combined with abundant sunshine, and it dried very quickly.  John raked it the next day and before the weekend was over, our neighbor had it baled.   It is usually so stressful putting up hay and watching the weather for rain.  This year we seemed to have found the perfect window.  




With the first cutting of alfalfa, the hay from the grazing pastures and the hay from the hay field, we are sitting with about 41 round bales.  And the alfalfa is ready to cut again.  What a relief!  With what is already put up, it is easily enough to feed them for two years.  After cutting it so close last winter, I’ve become quite the hay hoarder.  I will always made sure I have a two year reserve before any is ever sold again. 




Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods yet with regards to the drought.  We had sufficient rainfall to get a good hay crop but it is still dry.  The cornfields around us are already being irrigated and western Nebraska has not had near the moisture we have and is still suffering.  I’ll continue to pray for rain.