Dec 28, 2013

The Blood Tree


The backstory. 


Last spring, we were riding at Two Rivers.  I remember passing a low branch along the trail and trying to push it back with my hand but it wouldn’t budge.  Shortly after I passed it, I heard a commotion and a riderless horse passed me by.  His rider, Lori, did the same thing I did – attempted to push the branch off the trail and instead, it pushed her off her horse.  More injury to pride than anything and a good story to tell.


Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend and riding the same trail with different friends.  I called out Lori’s “Tree of Death” as we passed it coming from the other direction.  A bit later, we were trotting through the forest in the same direction as when it took its first victim – I called out to those behind me to '”watch out for that tree” and sure enough, I am passed once again by a riderless horse.  This time it claimed Shari as its victim resulting in seventeen stitches in her thigh. 


Now you would have thought we would have taken care of that trail hazard when it claimed its first victim.  While most of us carry a nipper with us, this branch was saw-worthy.  In both instances, none of us had a big enough saw and it kind of went under the heading, “out of sight, out of mind” until the next time we rode that trail.


So the Big Fat Lying Weatherman promised a few days of unseasonably warm temperatures and a posse was formed.  That dead tree was coming down. 


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As we turned the corner and laid eyes on the widower-maker, Lori gasped something like, “I remembered it bigger!” 


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Then Mike, who was carrying the handsaw, came around the corner, he got a funny look on his face.  “Is that it?”  I guess he expected it THIS big! 


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Well, no one said it had to be big to be deadly.  Look at those monkeys on Wizard of Oz.  They aren’t small but scary as hell. 


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This branch was the “pitbull” of the forest! 


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And if a forensic scientist looked closely, they could probably still find tissue from Lori’s palm and Shari’s thigh. 


It was time to take it down!  Make sure and wait for the replay!



This is what we did on what was most likely the last nice day in Nebraska in 2013. 



Dec 24, 2013

I Wish




Whenever I am home for an extended period of time, I dream about what it would be like to win the lottery.  I don’t want to say “retire” because I don’t want to tack a dozen years to my current age but wouldn’t it be nice to not “have to” go in to work? 


I always laugh when people say “if I win the lottery, I wouldn’t give up my job”.  Really?  Time is our most valuable asset.  With that forty hours a week, I can think of so many more things I would rather be doing than what I do today!  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful I have a good job and if I didn’t like what I do, I wouldn’t have been doing it for 28 years.  But if I didn’t have to punch the clock, I could find so many other opportunities in my “spare time”. 




We’d spend summers in the low humidity, mountain states – Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. John could build us a cabin somewhere because he would not be able to sit still and I would furnish and decorate it.  I’ve learned from having a big farm house that big isn’t necessarily better.  Comfortable is more important.  We’d have a lovely barn and access to trails that we only dreamed of exploring. 


In the winter, we would become snowbirds.  Arizona, California, Texas, and the Carolinas would be at the top of the list.  Live out of the trailer or find a rental so we are free to try another place the next year. 




There would be no fleet of foreign vehicles nor would we own a sports team.  (A racehorse perhaps?)   Our biggest expense would be “retiring” our closest riding buddies.  I couldn’t hit the trails without them!  And if my brother or sister is reading this, I would retire them, too, so they could come visit.  




I’d hire two trainers:  one for myself to kick my butt into shape and one for my horses.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have a trainer come to you rather than having to haul somewhere (my ass and the horses?)  I’d also have a housekeeper because I mentioned before that time is our greatest asset and cleaning house myself would be just plain silly!   


On cold winter days, I would sleep late with a pack of dogs at my feet.  Oh, wait.  There wouldn’t be cold winter days because I would be somewhere warm!  


This time of year especially, we read a lot more about people and animals in need.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to provide assistance on a grander scale?  While organized charities and rescues have their place and are important, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to help a person keep their animals if at all possible?  That is what I would like to explore. 


It is fun to dream. 


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But truly, I am blessed with a good family, good health, good job, a warm home and beautiful Nebraska sunrises out my window every morning.  I have that pack of dogs on my feet in the morning and a small herd of horses that I see from my kitchen window.  We have a cupboard full of food and a barn full of hay.  We have a small fleet of vehicles to get us to work and to play.  And I am never short a friend. 


Merry Christmas everyone.  May all your dreams come true. 

Dec 21, 2013

Life in the Fast Lane




It is really bad when I have to read my own blog to figure out when I last blogged and about what? It seems I have taken a leave of absence from this site.  Certainly not intentional.   I have to tell you that the end of daylight saving time has turned me into a lazy fool.  There have been some nights I have been to bed at 7:30 pm just because its cold and dark.  I’ll take my iPad and surf the net and pay half a mind to the television but that is not conducive to writing something for Horsetrailriders. 




Horse related, I haven’t been on a horse since Thanksgiving weekend when we had our Black Friday ride at Branched Oak.  It offered a little bit of excitement when John was bringing Windy down the sand dune hill and she did her little rear up and found no ground underneath her. 




I was taking a picture and did not “snap it” when she was airborne or when she fell at the bottom of the hill and almost rolled on John.  And would I be a bad wife to admit that I was more worried about the horse at that moment?  But all was well.  He just needs to learn to collect her when she gets a notion to descend the hill a little colorful than intended.  (Still not sure it’s a good idea for him to be riding my horse!)




The next day I trailered over to Two Rivers for what was yet a nicer day.  I rode Fancy again and practiced obstacles with Shari and Diane, my CTR friends.  Okay, so I doubt the CTR judge would ever have us dismount like this.  Unfortunately, I didn’t stick the landing but luckily the photographer didn’t catch that shot either!




Shari was much more successful at her obstacles.   What a good horse her Mika has turned out to be.




The next week we took off to sunny California for McCain’s graduation from the US Marine Corp.  And we seem to have been in the fast lane ever since. 


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We stayed on base the first couple days and got to see the boys preparing for their graduation march and other recruits who were just starting their journey to become a Marine. 


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The day before the graduation, McCain spent with us.  I think he ate everything they had to offer on the base from Dominos Pizza to hamburger and fries. 


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California gave us one of their best days for the graduation ceremony.  Sunny and bright.  It was an honor to see these young men achieve what they have worked so hard for the last 13 weeks.




After the ceremony, we got a hotel and played tourist for a few hours.  And of course, McCain ate his way across San Diego.  Perhaps that is my excuse, too.  I seem to have forgotten I am dieting. 




Before heading to the airport, we drove over to Coronado and walked along the beach.  It was chilly but not terribly cold.  Felt good to breathe in the last breath of nice weather before heading home to winter in Nebraska. 




It was snowing before we reached the house.  And it has been cold ever since.  We had a great party here at home for McCain last weekend and have now settled into the holiday grind.  He will be home until early January and then back to San Diego.  I’m not sure I am ready to let him leave.




In other news, the dogs, John and I got to sleep in the new trailer last weekend.  We had a houseful of company for McCain’s graduation and decided we would stay in our “guest house”.  Nahla obviously claimed her spot!   Let me tell you, having ducted heat and a thermostat in the trailer is the bomb!  I don’t know why I waited so long!


By the way, I am not the only one buying trailers this winter.  Since I bought mine, there have been SEVEN others whom I know of who got bit with the new trailer bug!  We’ll have to have a parade of homes this spring to show them all off!

Dec 2, 2013

Saying Goodbye


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I’ve known Camey’s parents for many years and through them I got to know her.  Age wise, I am right in the middle of mother and daughter.  Poet Rod McKuen wrote, “I might have been a better friend if I hadn’t trusted time.”  And perhaps that might have been. 


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I got the news last week that Camey passed away unexpectedly.  Just forty years old, she was much too young to die.  I think that you will agree that whenever anyone close to you loses someone they love, you want to do something besides make a casserole.  Having buried both of our parents, there is not enough jobs for everyone who wants to do something.  And a lot of it you have to do yourself even though it would be nice to sub it out. 


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Camey’s mom called me yesterday afternoon.  The funeral director had suggested, given Camey’s love of horses, that a horse escort her to her final resting place.  Camey comes from a quarter horse family.  They have horses I only dream of owning.  So it was an honor that they asked us to provide one of our horses for the service. 


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Last year, I took Windy to honor a fallen soldier in a funeral procession.  This time we chose Fancy for the task.  We would put her in English tack with the boots Camey had “borrowed” from her mom.  John would be her handler. 


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We stopped by the cemetery prior to the service to walk her through for a trial run.  The only thing that has ever bothered Fancy has been rocks with trees growing out of them.  As weird as it sounds, you see this a lot in the mountains.  So what would she think of grave stones?  Thankfully it was not an issue.  We left her in the trailer while we went to the funeral and left just a few minutes early so we could get her tacked up and ready when the procession arrived. 


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She did get a little high when all the cars pulled up and mourners started walking toward her.  John gave me “the look” like things might go south.  When I look through the pictures, I only see a couple where she looked anxious.  Then she went to work. 


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Camey’s mom asked me to share these pictures.  They are hauntingly beautiful.  I don’t think you have to be a horse person to appreciate the majesty it provided to such a sad event. 


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But I also want to remember Camey.  Although I’ve seen her off and on the last few months, the last time I spent any time with her was on the sand bar at the family’s Eagle Creek Ranch.  She had recently had surgery and was unable to get into the water but took pictures and pointed out the waterfalls coming out of the aquifer along the side of the creek. 


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The last time I remember riding with her, she was on the beautiful Peaches, a lovely buckskin mare.  We were working with a trainer on jumping.  Of course Camey didn’t need any help with that – she was an excellent rider – but she went through the motions with us.


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Camey had a great relationship with her mother.  Seeing them together made me miss my mom and that bond.  I hurt so much for her family and pray they find peace in the days and years ahead. 


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At the funeral today, Father read from the Song of Solomon, Chapter 2:  10-13.  I am sharing it here to remember it always.  This is Camey’s song.   


Song of Solomon 2:  10-13

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”




God Speed, my friend.  You will be missed.