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Touched By Horses

Updated: 2017-08-25T12:29:51.264-07:00


A Lost Treasure Found


It sure has been cold lately.  So cold that I've started wearing long sleeve t-shirts at times, something unusual for this short sleeve t-shirt wearer.  This morning I opened a seldom used dresser drawer full of long sleeve shirts.  I really had no idea what shirts were there since it'd been years since any had been worn.  Pulling out a blue shirt, I barley noticed that it was an old endurance ride shirt. In passing, I thought it must have been from one of Del's rides & therefore 17-18 years old.  Still fairly new.

As I was getting ready to take a shower tonight, I finally really noticed the shirt I was wearing.  It was from the Comstock Endurance Ride.  That meant it was WRAFF'S shirt & 20 years old. Barely worn.  I'm SO glad I didn't paint today.  Or work on anything mechanical & oily.  How devastating to find a long, lost treasure only to ruin it. I held that shirt, remembering the day Wraff got it for me.  At 23 years old, he still hadn't grown up.  He was "on the muscle" as we started the ride as the sun came up.  Our ride picture is of him leaping over a curb as we crossed a road, me clinging to stay on.  I've never really liked the desert rides.  All the long, flat roads were never good for slowing my horse down. Wraff was in a "get on, hang on, & shut up" kind of mood that day.  As we flew across the desert, my underwear was rubbing me raw.  After 10 miles, I really didn't know how I was going to ride 40 more on a horse who thought he was a freight train.  So as we continued flying, I came upon an idea.  I knew I couldn't stop & get off because Wraff was too "hot" to let me back on.  I also knew I wasn't going to be able to slow him down & do what I needed to do.  So I just let my reins hang as I proceeded to rip my torturing underwear off.  All the time I was looking over a shoulder to make sure no one saw me.  Twenty years later I'm assuming that pair of panties, thrown into the sage brush, has blown away with the wind.

I'm not really sure how I'd forgotten other details of that ride.  Maybe being able to still visualize the sage brush episode so vividly had overshadowed everything else.  Looking at my shirt tonight, I had to look a few times to realize it said THIRD PLACE.  Really?  This mid to back of the pack rider was 3rd?  I have to say I KNOW there weren't only 3 riders because I was on the lookout riding through the sage brush because we'd passed so many early in the ride.  Guess I just forgot this little detail.  I shouldn't have been surprised though.  In my closet hangs a jacket that has only been worn twice.  It's from Comstock & was for First Heavyweight.  My shirt is now in the wash.  Once it's dry, it'll go back into the drawer.  Maybe in another 20 years I'll bring it out again to remember the day I tore off my underwear as my horse ran across the desert.

Strange how A Lost Treasure Found can bring back so many memories.


Some Days


So I go out to trim a new horse this morning. 27 year old arab mare. How hard can that be? Not hard at all unless she's a fire breathing dragon. Wow! I managed to nip the toes off her front feet & called it a good day. Can't believe I got that much done without getting stomped & trampled. YIKES! What a pistol. Hope I have that much piss & vinegar (like where did that phrase come from anyway?) when I'm her equivalent age.Then off to the bank to deposit this week's checks. I always just zip through the ATM for speed & convenience. Yeah, not so speedy today. I fed six checks into the 10 check ATM. And I waited, and waited, and waited... That damn ATM BROKE! So I call the 800 problem line & get the regular bank recorded messages, as well as a message telling me all available representatives were busy with a 20 minute wait. WTF!!! So I stormed into the bank, hoping the ATM wouldn't spit my checks out on the ground while I was gone. Fortunately for all inside the bank, the manager was able to retrieve my checks from the damn machine. Deposit complete! Only 30 minutes wasted.Horses & dogs needed me to run to Tractor Supply for feed. Like a dutiful, slave of a mom, my next errand was a feed run. It wasn't until I had my cart loaded with 200 lbs, that it started to act like a broken winged bird. Stupid thing would only go left, even when I was trying to go straight. At least I'm in TSC enough that the guys know me by name so we could all laugh together as it took 2 of us to get that cart to the register. I never have the employees carry my things out to the truck, but today I said YES! when asked if i wanted carry out. I couldn't get home fast enough, hoping to beat any other calamity.Next on the DANG IT list was the message that my new, excitedly awaited for puppy is still in OH. Mother Nature is NOT cooperating at all. Poor Elsie can't get home until the heat index drops to 85*. Me, I'm freaking out. What if the airlines looses her when she finally gets a flight? What if she doesn't get fed or watered for HOURS? What if she's scared? What if my truck breaks down on the way to the airport? IMPORTANT NOTICE: Everyone is going to be on my speed dial when Elsie's in the air & I'm on my way to airport 4 hours early. Giving myself & all friends enough time to get me to the airport on time, no matter what happens. grin emoticon This puppy is going to be met with happy tears & open arms. Many thanks to Lisa Minnick for reassuring me that Elsie is going to handle her trip much better than her new mom. LOLWhat else for today, you ask. My good friend Rhed Mares came over bringing sweet treats, complete with chocolate. YAY! And she promised to have her phone on standby just in case I should call while in route to the airport one of these days soon. lolCome on Mother Nature, please be kind & NOT make me wait 'til Halloween.[...]

My Love of GWPs: I'm now a dog person


As my heart is breaking, I think back to my first dog.  Oh we had dogs when I was a kid, but they weren't mine.  They were just my responsibility because my mother didn't want to clean up after them.  She'd bring them home & announce that I had a new dog.  Great!  I actually grew up hating & resenting dogs.  And then I got my first dog as an adult.In 1985, I was out riding my horse through the foothills of San Juan Capistrano when I came across a puppy on the trail.  I recognized the puppy as belonging to a pair of dumped/gone feral dogs.  The mother was a Doberman & the father was a German Wirehaired Pointer.  I'd watched them from afar many times as I rode.  I'd even been growled at on a number of occasions.  When I saw that puppy on the opposite hill, I rode over & looked around.  The parent dogs were nowhere in sight.  I got off my horse, scooped the puppy up & put her in the opening in the front of my saddle, & got out of there.  As I rode back to the stable with that flea bitten little thing on my saddle, I thought "if I were to keep this puppy I'd call her Pitiful Pearl".  I had NO intention of keeping the puppy.  Her first meal was a pickle that dropped from my sandwich.  The poor thing was so hungry she literally wolfed it down.  I took her to a local vet & he said she was only 3-4  weeks old & too young to be without her mother.  Great!  Now what was I going to do?  Well I took her home, gave her a meal & settled her in for the night.  Not a peep out of her.  The next day I found her a home with a cashier from Ralph's Grocery Store.  I was SO glad I no longer had a puppy. Or so I thought...For 2 days I thought about that puppy.  Worried about her really.  Finally I couldn't stand it & I stopped by Ralph's to ask how she was doing.  The gal said she had to get rid of her because she cried all night & the landlord was mad.  I was so relieved, & yes, even happy.  I picked up Pitiful Pearl & brought her home.  She was the best puppy.  Never cried at night, no accidents in the house.  I think she knew what it would take to stay with me.  She became the love of my life.  Pearl went everywhere with me.  She even went to work with me.  She was my riding companion & went to endurance rides with me.  She was never far from my side.  I took her to a puppy obedience class & she won the off-leash competition.  The trainer assured me that she was a typical GWP & none of her Dobie showed through, other than her color.  I have some great memories & stories of Pearl.  Like the time she was staying the day in a tent while a friend & I rode a 50 mile endurance ride.  It wouldn't have been a problem except a storm came in.  The wind was howling, it was raining & hailing.  Other friends finished before we did & rescued Pearl as the tent was trying to blow away.  But when she ran under the truck, my poor friend was afraid she was going to have to tell me she'd lost my dog.  LOL  Or the time a friend & I finally discovered why my friend always had poison oak on just her right arm.  It seems Pearl was going through poison oak to play in the irrigation ditch by my house.  My friend is highly allergic to poison oak & as we would trailer out to ride, Pearl sat between us, leaning against my friend's right arm.  LOL  Pearl was with me for 14 1/2 years.  She taught me to love a dog.  Pearl was my light & I will always miss my Forever Friend. 1991 was the year I would bring home my 2nd dog.  My horse shoer had bred his Rottweiler & offered to give me a puppy.  I had intended to get a filly from him, but ended up with a puppy.  When the litter was 15 days old, I picked out the biggest, red (yes, a red Rottweiler) [...]

Happy 10th Birthday DreamCatcher Rabulaun


Happy Birthday Launi! It sure has been a long, challenge filled 10 years.  It's hard to believe it's been that long since you came into this world.  You were such a big colt with so many problems.  A month premature, knees like jello, & so windswept your hind legs were crossed. Then your umbilical cord hemorrhaged & you had your first trailer ride at just a few hours old.  And you were HEAVY!  It took a lot of muscle to hold you up so you could try nursing.  Your poor under developed legs just couldn't hold you up.  How many times did I milk your dam so I could bottle feed you?  I know I overfed you because just look at how big you are today.  LOL You were PERFECT.  You were all that I'd hoped for when I bred your parents.  I got my colt.  I still chuckle when I remember the vet at UCD asking me how I'd kept you alive when you were born.  She had no idea how much I wanted you & that losing you was NOT an option. I even refinanced the ranch so you could have all the surgeries to fix your legs.  You were definitely my drug baby.  With all the drugs to keep your dam from miscarrying you, and all the anesthesia from multiple surgeries, you were a twitchy colt who's skin would crawl when touched.  But you were mine & I loved you.You've always been so much fun, putting up with all the crazy things I do.  Using you as a ring toss pole, & dressing you for all occasions.  It was so thrilling to ride you for the first time.  So big & bold, so full of confidence, you've always been an exciting, adrenalin rush to ride.  I didn't say you've always been good to ride.  You sure have given me some white knuckle, please let me not fall off rides.  But after every please don't let me die ride, once we were safely back at the trailer, I've always looked forward to our next ride.  You sure have a bag of naughty tricks.  From bucking, rearing, head slinging & even your "let's run away today" episode, I wouldn't have missed a minute of our time on the trails.  It was so thrilling to finish your 50 mile ride at Camp Far West.  Not only did I survive, I had the time of my life.  Well, ok I'll admit I was DONE & totally worn out, but you were ready for more.  Bright eyed & barely the worse for the wear. I envisioned many more, exciting rides in our future.Looking back, I do know that you're one of my "saved foals".  So many times I've felt we were on borrowed time.  Any every time you've pulled through.  It was fortunate that I listened to my instincts when I had you gelded at UCD as a surgical case.  I'd have lost you had you been gelded in the field.  Gelding you was the best thing I could have done for you.  You're so much happier living a herd life. You were worth giving up on my dream of you being a stallion. You were such a challenge & I knew you wouldn't be safe if something should happen to me.  Thank you for the beautiful daughters you gave me before you were gelded.  2014, the year of tears.  I truly thought our borrowed time was over.  You were so sick, even the vet thought I was losing you.  My heart was breaking.  How could I lose my heart horse?  I wasn't if I had anything to do about it. What a long, hard time those months were through winter, spring, & into summer.  Then you were well.  Your bloodwork was once again normal.  Were there residual ill effects?  Only time would tell.  Then the day came that I got on you.  Oh what a wonderful feeling.  We went out on the trail & you were back.  I just wanted to wave my arms in the air & squeal in delight as we trotted down the trail.  Once again I began planning our endurance future.  But wait, there was a day when your back was sore.  After chiropractic & acupuncture with no real relief, I had[...]

The BIG BRAT Strikes Again


(image) I just aged 10 years this morning. I went out to check on Launi, who's been lethargic the last few days. He also had a swollen eye last night. I whistle & call, but he doesn't come down the pasture. So I walk up the pasture & don't see him. Faye comes down by herself. I still don't see him & I'm almost at the top. I start looking at the ground to see if he's down. I don't see Launi. By then I was starting to panic & starting to cry. I don't see him anywhere. So I look around the rock/boulder pile & still no Launi. Did someone steal him? No, how could any one get to the back of the landlocked property? And he'd never go over or through the fence. OMG, he's dead under the trees. I start searching through the eucalyptus bushes, knowing he couldn't fit under them. Sobbing & calling his name. And then I see the BIG BRAT. He's hiding behind an oak bush (more bush than tree), peeking around the corner, ears up & eyes bright. OMG now I could kill him for scaring me into an old woman! He saunters (yes he can saunter) over & nudges me. Doesn't he know I don't have 9 lives? He follows me down the pasture, trying to bump my back the whole way. And he KNOWS that's unacceptable behavior. WHY do I love this BIG RED BRAT?!!

To Rear Or Not To Rear


Earlier today some people were talking about horses who rear.  Some said "once a flipper, always a flipper".  Others suggested doing a lot of ground work.  Still others advised getting a trainer involved.  Then someone mentioned breaking a raw egg over the horse's head as it reared.  All this got me to thinking about a few "confirmed rearers" that I've known.In 1984, I saw a gelding at the stable where I boarded my mare rearing & flipping over with a so-called trainer.  I say so-called because she was unaffectionately known as Big Bird.  She had the gelding in a pelham & a chambone, trying to force him "into frame".  This was an 11 year old horse who was unbroke & she was attempting to get him started.  I really liked the looks of the horse & thought to myself that I wouldn't mind owning him.  Be VERY careful what you wish for because just a couple months later, he was mine.  Still not successfully under saddle, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me.  In answer to anything that gelding didn't like, he'd rear right on up & over.  I put him in a snaffle & had a little less problem, but he'd still go up if he got mad or had a different opinion of what we should be doing.  One day after a flip-over going down the side of a hill, I got desperate & switched him to an old hackamore I had in the trailer.  That horse NEVER reared again.  He went on be the greatest horse I've ever ridden.          A LOT of years ago (45 I think) I had an OTTB gelding who would rear. He'd stand on his hind legs, pawing the air. I tried breaking the warm water balloon over his head. Didn't work. Turning his head around didn't work. Pulling him over didn't work to fix the problem either. The old Englishman who owned the stable handed me a short piece of hose one day & told me to tap my horse's poll the next time he reared. He said to keep it up until the horse finally dropped to his knees to get away from the tapping. He said once a horse was "dropped" in this way, they'd never rear again. Mind you this wasn't a hard hitting session. Just a continuous tap, tap, tap. Not easy to do as you try to stay in the saddle & follow the slinging head. I'm sure I was all smiles as that gelding finally dropped to his knees. I stopped tapping & the next thing I knew that danged horse had not only gone straight up onto his hind legs, he'd smacked me in the face & broke my cheekbone. But you know, that was his last rear. For whatever reason, he really did never rear again while I owned him.He was a chestnut quarter horse who'd been purchased as a young girl's first horse.  He was NOT a kid's horse.  I don't know how many times he reared & threw his young rider before I started riding him.  He was an ornery thing, having temper tantrums if he didn't get his way.  Those temper tantrums were usually rearing, sometimes adding a buck as his front feet hit the ground.  After a couple of months, he was settling down & working fairly well so his young owner was allowed to start riding him again.  It didn't take long for him to revert back to the rearing beast he'd been.  He knew his rider was no match for his temper tantrums.  Once again I became his rider.  I finally got tired of being nice, trying to work through his rearing.  He reared on a bad day & I pulled him all the way over.  He got up stunned & I was hopeful that was the only lesson he needed.  Nope.  A few days later he went up again.  I pulled his head around until he fell to his side.  He just didn't care.  On any given day, whenever he was in a "snit", he'd rear.  After another month of trying to get him over his bad habit, it was decided he was never going to be suitable as a young girl's horse.  He was traded to a horse deal[...]

Reflections & Goals


It's not very often that I allow a reality check to rein in my horse addiction. Today turned out to be an exception & the realistic me won out over the impulsive, horseaholic me. I absolutely love the broodmares & foals. In early 2012 I told myself no more breeding because I NEEDED & WANTED to get back on the endurance trail. I set a couple goals for myself & they didn't include breeding. Well we all know I failed because I did breed a mare & have my 2013 filly, Ryn, here to prove that. I did get back on the trail in 2012 when Ryn's big, literally BIG, 1/2 brother went to his first 50 mile ride. It had been my first since 2005, & it felt awesome to be on the trail on my heart horse. No more breeding was looking good. Then early 2014 arrived, with Launi ready to ride. Or so I thought. He was in shape & going so well. Then in Feb he got sick. VERY sick. I didn't think he was going to make it, & neither did the vet. As the months went by, the realization that I'd probably never see either of my goals met had me thinking about foals again. If I can't ride, I may as well have a foal, right? I kept up my search for a riding horse, but in the back of my mind I knew I was also looking closely at pedigrees. What if I found that perfect mare to breed? Then I started to actually openly look for a broodmare. Launi got well & after 9 months, I was able to ride him. It was a terrifying, adrenaline rush because I know he's too big & strong for me at this stage in my life. Oh but what an AWESOME feeling being back on MY horse.A couple weeks ago my good pal Shara Llewellyn sent me info on a mare. Such a good friend. Just tempt me with a mare who's pedigree I love. A mare who'd fit right in with my herd. But since she was only a light riding horse, she couldn't double as one of my goal seeking horses. I was going to stay on track & didn't pursue Shara's evil plot. Until today. Yes, today someone else posted about the mare & got me to thinking about breeding again. Yeah, everyone egging me on got me all excited about what a fabulous foal I could have in 2016. I went outside to work in the barn & think about what I was potentially going to do. Should I get a broodmare & give up on my riding plans? I was "this" close to saying yes to a really nice broodmare. Then I went to help a friend with an injured & down horse. A horse who I knew 20 years ago when I was riding Wraff endurance. As I knelt by Mr B's head, talking to him while my friend called the vet, I was telling him what a great horse he'd been; how wonderful it was to have ridden next to him when I'd been riding the greatest horse I've ever ridden; & how awesome it was to come back into his life in his later years. It was in those moments of memories going down the trail that I realized I really do NEED to ride. It was in those moments that I knew I wasn't going to bring home a broodmare; that my 2013 filly, Ryn, is my last foal.Mr B, give Wraff a back scratch for me. I'm sure he'll enjoy reacquainting with an old friend.[...]

A Knightress In White Armor


Baby Faye saved the day!

And now...the rest of the story. LOL
Faye & I went for a nice ride this morning with new friends, Terry & her gelding LG. Faye & LG got along great, as did Terry & I.  We rode Loafer Loop, enjoying the gorgeous day, fun company, & great smells of clean air after our recent rain. The horses did great, even when we encountered a horse hating squirrel. haha About 1/4 mile before we came to the horse camp, something down the hill in the bushes spooked the horses. Both froze & deeply sniffed the air. Terry even commented that it was a bit eerie because after we heard something the first time, everything else was quiet. All of a sudden LG got terrified & spun to come back down the trail towards Faye. I stuck Faye's nose in front of him to slow him down & Terry managed to turn him back uphill. This happened a couple of times before LG just lost himself in panic & kept coming down the hill. Baby Faye was the knightress in white armor as she stood quietly while I grabbed LG's rein. I was SO proud of her. Terry got her reins gathered for better control & put LG behind Faye & on we continued. We took a short break at the horse camp to calm down & relax. Than back to the trailers with no further incidences. I know there can be a lot of deer & turkeys in that spooky area, but the quiet was so strange. While we'll never know what spooked Faye & LG, there's a part of me that wonders if there was a cat lurking. Whatever it was, Baby Faye proved to be a rock today.

Kristina Would Have Loved Her


In Sept 2013, a Chico St nursing student, Kristina Chesterman, was killed by a drunk driver while she was riding her bike.  She had dreamed of being a part of Doctors Without Borders, a group that provides medical care in third world countries.  One of her nursing instructors, Darcy, is leading a project to build a medical clinic in Nigeria, and in Kristina's honor, the clinic will be named The Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic. When it came time for fund raising, Darcy spoke with my friend Jaya about a fundraiser.  Out of that conversation, the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Endurance Ride came to life. For a few months, 2 friends & I had been planning to ride the LD at the KC ride.  For one friend it would be her first endurance experience.  The other was riding her mare on the mare's 1st ride.  We met at the corner gas station & caravaned to the ride.  Meadowbrook Ranch in Magalia has a gorgeous campground with plenty of large spots for trailers.  The horses had shade, & for anyone wanting they could take their horse to the lake for a swim.  The property belongs to the family of a man who was an avid endurance rider.  In the early 90s he was a Tevis finisher.  He also did endurance driving & held competitions at the ranch so there are about 10 miles of trails wide enough for carts/chariots.  What a lovely camp sight.Saturday morning's ride start had a few hiccups.  With Faye in the rear of our 3 person group, she wasn't happy at all.  Faye's used to leading, where she feels safer & more comfortable confronting things head on.  She was skittish, knowing something from behind was going to get her.  She wanted to stop & look back over her shoulder & once she even caused her hindend to fall in a ditch.  The mare in the lead kept spooking so it was Faye to front.  Ears up & moving forward at a nice trot in her safe zone, Faye was ready to get on down the trail.  Until I heard a lot of yelling, whoa, whoa, & the thundering of hooves almost on top of us.  The very large gelding in our group was trying to run away with his rider.  Needless to say, little Faye was pretty scared.  We had to stop & wait while the rider composed herself.  Unfortunately that meant riders catching up & passing us.  That only set the other 2 horses in our group off into bucks, rears, & another runaway attempt.  Poor Faye didn't know which way to go to stay out of everyone's way.  At one point she was in a ditch, trying to go in the opposite direction.  A little bit too much excitement going on! Finally we were trotting smoothly down the gravel road with Faye in the lead, the very large gelding in 2nd, & the other mare bring up the rear.  My reins were flopping & Faye's legs were flying.  She really is so much fun because I don't have to worry about her running away or bucking.  Unlike the very big gelding who once again came thundering almost over the top of us.  He really was too much horse for his frightened rider.  So once again we had to stop & wait for composure.  Mile after mile of gravel road took its toll & the gelding's rider needed to walk the downhill, which was a lot.  She wasn't up to trotting downhill & preferred to trot uphill.  Well that wasn't exactly in my game plan.  I had planned to let Faye trot the downhill & save herself on the uphill.  Plus I was riding to my heart monitor.  And really, Faye is a downhill trotting machine.As I watched my watch, I was getting concerned about our time.  We'd lost some time finding trail where ribbons were missing or not visible in the brush.  Note to ride managers everywhere, white ribbons are almost invisible ag[...]

Faye's Big Adventure-Or Camp Far West Here We Come!


When I found out that a friend was going to be hosting an endurance ride in Sept, I wondered if Faye could be ready for the 25 mile LD.  Was it possible that Baby Faye could go that many miles?  Could she even trot fast enough to make time cut-offs?  She's a little mare with a little stride & I wasn't convinced.  But I started riding with a friend every Wed, first walking & then finally adding some trotting.  Faye was doing pretty well, even trotting up our local hills.  But was she trotting fast enough?  I wasn't convinced we were trotting faster than 5mph & that wouldn't be fast enough to complete a ride in time.  Still I entered Faye in my friend's ride, scheduled for Sept 13th.  Four weeks before the ride I rode with a friend who has a GPS.  I'm sure she was tired of me constantly asking "how fast now?".  It was such a great day because Faye was trotting between 7-7 1/2mph, & even pushing an 8mph trot.  I was beginning to think we might just finish our LD on time.Two weeks before out scheduled ride, I had planned to go to an endurance ride & just do their 8 mile "fun" ride.  It'd be good experience for Faye to be camping with the "big boys & girls", plus a couple of friends were going to meet me & ride as well.  But somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind was an evil whisper telling me to "just do it".  Really?  Just go & do the 30 mile LD?  Was that whisper nuts?!  It kept creeping in & nagging me.  For a week it worried me.  Nope, not going to do it.  I was going to stick with my "fun" ride plan.  So I packed light, expecting for a fun day & to be home by early afternoon.  Driving to the ride I kept hearing "just do it".  Finally I told myself if I didn't see ribbons marking the trail at the farthest point (meaning the trail cut lower by the road & thus shorter), I'd think about riding the LD.  There were ribbons marking trail at the farthest point, so no LD for us.  Then I got to ride camp.  I looked at the trail map, questioned the water situation, got prodded by a few people, & before I knew it, we were signed up for the LD.  Actually that was ok because knowing the area like I do, I knew I could cut back to camp at any time if I thought it was necessary.Saturday morning didn't start off very well.  I had a major backache from trying to sleep on a downside slope.  So with no sleep, hunched over with a backache, I tacked up Faye, questioning my sanity.  I started last because I didn't want anyone running pass us.  I had no idea what Faye's reaction would be to other horses in a competition setting.  Down the gravel road we went at a bit of a spider-legged trot, as a friend calls the green horse unsteadiness.  We passed a couple of horses & Faye settled in to moving forward.  When we arrived at the 1st creek crossing there was a gal who was having trouble with her horse.  It was about a foot drop into the creek, through some brush.  She'd had to lead her horse & couldn't get back on.  Faye stood quietly while I broke dead branches off to give us a better spot to step into the creek.  Then she stepped down into the water like a pro.  A couple of 50 miler friends caught us there & when they pulled on ahead, Faye stayed at her pace & didn't fret.  As I rode along, I told Faye about all the times I'd ridden this trail on Wraff & that she was following in his hoofprints.  I told her how awesome it felt to be out there with her & that we were making our own memories.  There were times, as I looked down at the fleabitten spots on her neck, that my heart swelled with joy.  Here I was on the m[...]

Faye Solos on WST


5:30 came way to early this morning.  But I had to catch Faye, which took a few laps around the pasture, load her, & stop at the Shell station to get gas.  Then I was off to meet my friend J at the Auburn Overlook at 9am.  We were planning to ride the last few miles of Tevis, out to No Hands Bridge & back, because she & her mare Asali are entered in Tevis this year.  Well things didn't go quite as we'd planned.I'm perpetually early & true to form, Faye & I arrived at 8:30.  Not a bad thing to be early because it gives me plenty of time to get ready, tack up Faye, put her boots on, let her settle & finish eating her bucket of mash.  I'm glad I had the extra time this morning because Faye was pretty nervous when we arrived.  It took her a while to quiet down & relax.  After tacking her up, I lead her around the parking lot & across the wooden bridge to the other side of the irrigation canal.  She didn't even hesitate. 9am came & went with no sign of my friend.  I was sure hoping everything was ok.  At 9:30 I decided to start riding.  Today was only Faye's fourth solo ride & she did AWESOME!It can be scary for a horse to start out on the Western States Trail from the Auburn Overlook.  The trail goes down in the undergrowth so it's dark & frightening.  Faye snorted, hesitated, snorted again, & then just kept on going.  I couldn't believe how many runners were out on the trail.  The first 3-4 spooked Faye a little, but after that she either ignored them as they ran by or tried to reach out to see if their water bottles were carrots.  The scariest incident of our ride was mysterious crashing ahead of us in the bend of a switchback.  Faye KNEW it was a monster, & I couldn't honestly tell her different.  As it was, it turned out to be a very noisy, obnoxious squirrel who was tossing pine cones out of the tree.  I was glad to be wearing a helmet, just in case.  And was so thankful a pine cone didn't land on Faye's butt.  That would NOT have been good.  LOL  Faye's very careful with her feet on technical trail & today she was very aware of every hoof as we made our way towards No Hands Bridge, or the Mt Quarry Bridge as it's officially called.  It was sad to see the lack of water on the trail.  Where usually there's small creek crossings, only dry rock was there to cross.  At least the waterfall had water, although so much less than I've ever seen it.  The footing down into the waterfall is tricky & Faye took her time, pausing to listen to the water before she continued.  She passed by the waterfall with only a moments hesitation before heading up the steps, back onto the old railroad grade.  We passed a group of people, 8-10, belonging to an infant group.  They all had infants in packs on their backs.  Oh did Faye's eyes get big.  But even this didn't stop her for long & it was on to No Hands Bridge. I was disappointed when I got to the bridge because I was alone & wouldn't get a picture of Faye on her first ride across the bridge.  Then I saw an unsuspecting hiker.  Uh, would you mind doing me a HUGE favor?  Woohoooo I have Faye's picture on the bridge.  On our way back to the overlook we again passed the infant group.  This time we stopped for a few minutes while a couple of the babies reached tiny hands out for Faye's nose to touch.  She's such a sweet mare & she barely brushed their hands, eliciting a few giggles.  Now mind you that I don't like human babies, but it was quite something to see Faye's soft reaction to them.  We passed a few more runners on the way back, some with dogs, a[...]

Each & Every One


Sitting on a tire feeder, baking in the sun, listening to my horses munching dinner.  Carli comes over & closes her eyes, waiting for me to rub her face.  She's such a love.  As long as I rub she'll stay with me.  Quietly she blows hot air against my neck.  Maybe a little too hot considering it's over 100* out.  Ha!  I blow softly in her nostrils & she sighs.  Finally, after about 20 minutes, she returns to her dinner.

I continue to just hang out & watch my horses.  It's so peaceful.  Ryn comes over with hay hanging out her mouth.  Her big eyes sparkling at me as I rub her forehead.  She sniffs me & tries to chew on my shoes.  Silly little Ryn.  Growing bored, she decides dinner is more interesting & returns to eating.

I can see that Faye has been watching all this out of the corner of her eye.  She takes a bite of hay, lifts her head & stares at me.  Another bite & another eye connection.  Slowly she makes her way over & gently, almost imperceptively, she reaches out & touches my hand with her muzzle.  Then she just looks into my eyes.  She has such pretty, big eyes that shine with life.  I can see my reflection in them & wonder how she perceives me.

Launi snubs me.  He rolls an eye in my direction & flicks an ear back.  Launi, who's used to having my undivided attention, must be unhappy because he was left home for the weekend.  He'd been giving me the evil eye everytime I looked at him throughout the day.  I walk over to him & still he refuses to look at me.  I give him a pat, tell him I love him, & turn to walk away.  He roughly shoves his head into my shoulder & gives me an almost silent nicker.  He shoves his head into me again & seems to just glare at me with ears 1/2 pinned.  Oh yes, he's sulking at the lack of my attention.  Then he reaches out & grabs for my chapstick necklace.  His eyes light up with their mischievous sparkle.  I let him briefly hold the chapstick, then rub his forehead.  His eyes close & I'm forgiven.

All so different & I love them all, each & every one.

Hidden Treasure


I've always been on a search to find the horse who can light the riding passion in me.  That horse who's fun to ride with a challenging side that keeps me from being bored.  I've always needed a horse who's been able to "keep me on my toes".   Don't get me wrong, I've had quite a few REALLY nice horses, including some who did "fit" me.  But in recent years there just hadn't been a horse who made me WANT to ride. Until a few years ago, that is, when I got my homegrown gelding, Launi, under saddle.  What a fun ride!  A bit of a white knuckle ride, but so much fun with an adrenaline rush on most rides.  I never know what he's going to do or what antics he's going to pull.  Most days I'm just so glad to get back to the trailer in one piece.  But how I love that big red horse.  There's never a dull moment when riding him.  I had big ride plans for 2014, including several endurance rides.  I was looking forward to a great year of trotting down the trails on Launi.  Then he got sick.  Very, very, very sick.  Fortunately, after 6 months of medications & treatment he is on the mend.  But in the meantime, I've been on the search for a horse to ride.Looking out in my own pasture is a gorgeous little, 11 year, grey, arab mare.  DC Faye Bint Alyssa, aka Baby Faye, is the sweetest horse & one that I love dearly.  I carried her down the pasture the morning she was born.  We've always had a connection, but not one that I've ever thought of as a riding connection.  What was I to do since I hadn't found a riding horse?  The only thing I could do if I wanted to ride was to start riding Faye.  Faye who'd had two gorgeous foals.  Faye who'd had about 25 rides two years earlier.  Baby Faye who didn't really want a job.  Being a pasture puff was her preferred career.  By the first of April I decided Faye had to become my trail horse because I was going crazy not riding.  So our journey began.As I did little trail rides on the local trails, I had no illusions that Faye would be an endurance horse.  She's 14.2 with a short, western pleasure, stride.  She didn't seem to really like going out & was always tense.  She's a shy mare who holds everything in, but I could always see the pinched lips when we'd set out to work.  Then I started riding with a friend.  Having another horse seemed to give Faye the confidence she needed to come out of her shell.  She really prefers to lead the way & has become a great little trail blazer.  Nothing stops her.  Even on our solo rides she now seems to enjoy the scenery.  Finally I decided we'd start adding a little trotting to our rides.  Faye wasn't thrilled with that idea & would only go a few feet before walking.  Remembering that she wasn't even truly broke to ride, we just kept plugging away by increasing our distance & adding a little trotting.Over Memorial Day weekend, a friend & I took our mares to an organized, fund raising ride.  It was a little nerve wracking when we first started our ride.  Faye was nervous & afraid of the other horses coming up from behind us.  My friend's mare was also unsure of herself.  We did 12 miles of playing leap frog so our mares learned to lead or follow.  We did a little trotting, a lot of single track trail, & a couple of good climbs.  By the end of the weekend our girls were getting comfortable with other horses & they camped really well.  It was a great weekend.Looking ahead, I had my sights set on riding the Tevis Fun Ride over the July 4th weekend.  It's a fund raising ride for the[...]

Faye's Big Adventure--or The Little Red Team


Well really, neither Faye nor I are little.  But we ARE short. Ha!  And we ARE The Red Team!When my main horse became seriously ill in Feb, I was left with no horse to ride.  Sooooooo Baby Faye had to grow up quick.  I started riding her & realized that while she'd been ridden a little, she'd only walked.  It was interesting to ride an 11 year old greenie learning to balance a rider as we trotted down the trail.  A friend of mine describes it best, spider legs.  LOLI had planned to do the Dru Barner Memorial Ride over Memorial Day Weekend.  Of course that plan was made before Faye became my riding horse.  Oh well, what was the worst that could happen if I took a greenie to a huge group ride for a weekend of camping?  I could just sit around camp if she was too nervous or freaked out to ride.  I could lead her on the trail (uh not the best option for me).  I could start riding & go back if she started to get too nervous & unsafe (yeah, I know me better than to think I'd go back).  Or I could just RIDE!  Which is exactly what I did, riding with a friend on her mare.My friend & I caravaned to the ride early Saturday morning.  Once there, we set up camp & then headed out on the 5 mile ride through the Enchanted Forest Trail.  Faye & Lulu did VERY well.  We walked the 5 miles in 1 1/2 hours.  Along the way we played leap frog so both mares had the opportunity to lead & follow.  Back at camp Faye got to experience the Hi-Tie for the first time.  Of course I wasn't worried because she does very well on the hot-walker at home.  She's such a sweet mare who never tries to stretch her boundaries, which made it hard for her on the Hi-Tie.  Everytime she felt the pull of the line, she'd stop.  That meant she wouldn't reach down far enough to eat from her bucket or drink.  She finally figured out she could reach the water bucket & I bucket her feed bucket on the top of her nibble net to raise it up for her.  We settled in for the night & all was quiet.My friend & I hit the trail at 8am Sunday morning.  We were doing the 12 mile ride & wanted out before the heat set in.  Within minutes of hitting the trail we had 2 crazy girls on crazy horses crash pass us.  Fortunately we were able to move off the trail & keep Faye & Lulu a little calm.  Grrrrrrrrr...some people have NO clue about trail etiquette. It was a gorgeous day for a ride.  Faye & Lulu, a Missouri Fox trotter, did great together.  We crossed bridges, logs, rocky trail, rutted trail, & even a section of trail that had cinder blocks as erosion control. The Dru Barner Campground is in El Dorado, outside the town of Georgetown.  It can be quiet hilly & we did some pretty tough climbs on single track trail.  Faye was AWESOME!  She really impressed me with her willing attitude & "get it done" forwardness going up the hills.  She just powered right on up.  We did a little trotting in places where the trail was flat & easy.  Faye really figured out that she could trot & we got some nice even pacing for short sections.  Lulu was learning to maintain a nice fox trot so both mares did really well learning their respective gaits.  Every now & then we had a few riders pass us.  We moved over & faced our girls into the on coming riders & had no problems.  Have I mentioned how proud I was of Faye? Half way though our 12 mile loop was a nice refreshment stop.  There was hay & carrots for the horse, food & drinks for the riders.  We hung ou[...]

If Wishes Were Saddles


Then I would ride.March 1986, & I was reading a magazine while hanging out at the Malibu Endurance Ride ridecamp.  An article caught my attention.  It was the first of a three part series about Len Brown's long distance, multi-state journey on horseback.  Len went into detail on all the saddle fit & sore back issues that he encountered with his horses, as well as the fixes he did to make his horses comfortable.  At the end of his journey he decided to create & build saddles that would FIT!The next morning I set off on my 50 mile journey through the beautiful hills of Malibu, CA.  At the lunch stop I had to ice my horse's back to keep it from swelling.  I'd been having ill fitting saddle issues for all of the 1985 season, & now into 1986.  I'd even had two saddles custom made to no avail.  They sored Wraff's back, creating pressure points that would swell.  By the Malibu ride Wraff had white spots behind his withers, & even a balding spot.  The best remedy I'd found was to cut holes in a foam pad so the saddle couldn't sit down on those now sensitive spots.  It was only a band-aid & I knew I had to find a saddle that fit, or get a new horse. I was pretty discouraged with Wraff's sore back at the end of Malibu.  It was then I made the decision to call & talk to Len Brown.When I called Len that following Monday, & told him what I'd gone through with ill fitting saddles & sore backs, he promised me he could fit my horse.  That very day I sent the deposit so Len would begin making me a Brown's saddle, better known today as the Ortho-Flex Traditional.  My saddle arrived on Friday as I was leaving for the Tar Springs ride in June.  When I opened the box I was shocked.  After riding in a Steubben or a Stonewall, my new Brown's saddle looked huge.  How was I ever going to ride in it? The next day I rode in that saddle for the very first time, finishing 50 miles WITHOUT Wraff having a sore or swollen back.  The successful result that day was amazing.  On July 19, 1986 I rode Tevis &, after 100 miles, Wraff's back looked & felt great.  I was in LOVE with my Brown's saddle.Over the years I'd bought a few used Ortho-Flex saddles.  The ones that had originally had horns all seemed to be on the narrow side & didn't fit as well as my original saddle.  Those were quickly sold.  There were other models & I tried a couple of those with no luck.  I bought a 1987 Traditional from a friend, who later decided she wanted her saddle back.  It was a good deal for me because I traded her for a hotwalker.  In 2012 I bought a refurbished Ortho-Flex Traditional.  Its panels had been shortened & when a friend borrowed it because her saddle didn't fit her horse, I lost my #2 saddle.  In 2013 I was lucky enough to find another original Ortho-Flex Traditional & didn't hesitate buying it.  Len Brown had lost the original company & the new Ortho-Flex Co was nowhere near as good as Len's saddles.  They were imitations.  Not only that, the Traditional became a discontinued model.  While I had two of these wonderful saddles, I really wanted a 3rd.  It would be convenient for me to have a saddle for all 3 of my riding horses, each set up with booties (attached saddle pads) for an individual horse. Two days ago someone posted on an Endurance Facebook page that there was an older Ortho-Flex for sale in Old Town Auburn.  Yesterday my friend, CCR, sent me a message asking if I'd seen the post.  Yes, I'd seen it but it was 65 miles away & I had a full[...]

The Saved Foals


A wandering mind isn't always a good thing.  Random thoughts can lead down into the dark at times.  Guess I haven't been busy enough today because my mind has been wandering. Twelve years ago I had jury duty in a murder trial.  The defendant changed his plea to guilty so we got out of the courtroom room early.  Not long after I got home that afternoon, a pregnant mare belonging to a friend went into labor.  She presented with a red-bag delivery, meaning the placenta was coming out ahead of the foal.  A RED ALERT situation.  I managed to get the placenta torn open with my hands (it's amazing how tough a horse's placenta is), & the colt delivered.  The colt wasn't breathing so I thumped his ribcage trying to jolt him into breathing.  When that didn't work I held his mouth shut, closed off a nostril, & breathed air into his other nostril.  I don't even know how many times I breathed into that little nostril, but finally he coughed & breathed.  Lack of oxygen caused a few days of a "dummy" foal & he had to be bottle fed for a while, but Little John thrived & was a cute colt.  My friend was quite pleased with his new colt & had plans for his future as a nice trail horse. Eleven years ago in March, we had a severe thunder & lightening storm.  I went out into the night to make sure the horses were safe & not panicking.  The nine yearlings were huddled together & none seemed too alarmed by the storm.  The adults were all fine as well, so back I went back to bed.  I left for work before daylight the next morning but did take a quick headcount, as I do every day.  When I got home from work, my friend was already at the ranch.  He was in a panic & I just knew something was really wrong.  All he could say was "Little John".  I could see Little John standing 3/4 of the way up the pasture so was a bit puzzled.  As I walked up the hill I could see that he was standing odd & not moving.  I sent my friend to call the vet because I knew Little John had a broken leg. Sometime during the night, after I'd checked on the horses, the yearlings had panicked & run through a fence.  I could see that two of the yearlings had scratches on their chests so surmised they'd been the first through the fence, knocking it down as the others followed.  Somewhere in the herd of frightened yearlings was Little John.  When he went over the fence a hind leg had to have gone through the wire.  The force of his forward movement stripped that top wire loose from the rest of the wire by 20-30'.  The "yank" of the wire had to have caused the break at the top of Little John's femur.  There was no saving the well loved gelding.In the aftermath of that tragic day, my friend & I wondered if Little John should have been lost on the day of his birth.  It felt like maybe I wasn't supposed to have been home to save him, if that makes any since.  I was supposed to have been on jury duty for a couple of weeks.  I shouldn't have been home early the day he was born.  Maybe I wasn't supposed to have saved him & that's why he, of all the yearlings, was the only one injured so tragically.  Was his loss as a yearling the balancing of his being saved at birth?  When we go to such lengths to save a foal that would have been lost had no one been home, are we upsetting a natural balance?  Have we changed the course of a fate that needs to be rectified by their untimely, young loss? As I reflect on Little John today, I'm wondering if going to extreme length[...]

FV Farrubi & Her Legacies


Years ago, 12 or 13 maybe, I was looking for a new riding horse.  I saw a mare for sale that peaked my interest.  I liked, errrr LOVED, FV Farrubi's pedigree & what I saw of her in her pictures.  But when I contacted the seller, I found out she was pregnant.  DARN!  I spoke at length with the seller about Rubi & something said in passing gave me pause.  It was just a hesitant pause in my mind, but something that would later prove to possibly be a life saver. I was offered a package deal on Rubi.  I could have her, her 2 year old gelding (if I'd only known his future), & the foal she was expecting.  The only problem was that I wanted a riding horse & didn't want to wait through foaling & weaning.  So I passed & continued my horse shopping.A number of months later I got an email from someone who had ended up with Rubi.  This person had been told of my interest months earlier & was contacting me to see if I would be interested since her foal was going to be weaned soon.  She was now 1/2 the original price.  Yes, I was interested.  Then that hesitant pause came back to me. I contacted a couple of Rubi's former owners & what stories they had to tell.  The gal who had gotten her as a 2 year old, & paid good money, had given her away a couple years later.  She told me Rubi was crazy.  The final incident before giving her away was Rubi flipping out in the palpation stocks & eventually flipping over the rail.  Years later I would meet the vet involved at the time & her story corroborated the total flip out.  The next previous owner told me how Rubi would just "flip a switch" & go crazy.  She said there was no warning & there was no "getting the mare's brain back".  After multiple small incidences, the final episode for this owner was a total bucking frenzy that lead to a hospital stay with a severely broken leg.  In her opinion, the mare needed to be euthanized because she was dangerous.  The 3rd person I contacted told me that he was the only person to successfully ride Rubi.  By successful he clarified that meant he was the only one not to get hurt.  He did complete an endurance ride on her, but the unpredictability was just too risky.  He warned me to NEVER get on Rubi.  He said that all the things you do to normally calm & reassure a horse didn't work for her.  Pet her neck & she'd explode, talk to her & she'd explode, basically nothing you did would bring her brain back.  That hesitant pause served me well.  I told the current seller what I'd discovered & that I wasn't interested.  Until two months later...When I opened that email I knew I was in trouble.  The seller wanted to know if I knew of anyone interested in Rubi as a broodmare only, at 1/3 of what she was originally asking.  That came to 1/6 of the price I had originally considered paying for her.  I emailed the gal back & asked if she would deliver Rubi to me.  To this day I still shake me head.  LOLI'll admit that Rubi was freaky scary when she arrived.  Yikes!  You couldn't give her a pat or she'd go ballistic.  It was a bit unnerving to go in the stall with her because she'd whirl, her eyes would roll, & over the top of you she'd go, never even knowing what she was doing.  WHAT had I gotten myself into?  She was thin & sick when she arrived, mane snarled & tail chewed off.  WHAT had I gotten myself into? SamskritDC Kid RoosterRubi's first foal for me [...]

The Young Man & His Dog


Many months ago, back when my dad was still driving, I saw a clean young man walking along Lincoln with his cute, red, possibly pit cross, 1/2 grown puppy.  A couple hours later we saw this same man & his dog outside WalMart with a "need help, hungry" sign.  I remember thinking "What a shame.  He must have just recently lost his job".  Over the months I've seen this man & his dog on various street corners, begging for help.  My heart has always been drawn to his ever faithful companion.  As time has gone by the man has gotten scraggly & scruffy.  His dog has grown & while not skinny, she is lean, & always laying at his feet, no matter where I've seen them across town.  Why this duo has drawn my attention time after time, I have no idea.

Today the man & his dog were at WalMart when I went shopping.  Without realizing which aisle I was in, I found myself picking up a few groceries, a small bag of dog food, & a little blanket for the little red dog.  I had no idea how I was getting the 2 little bags to the man from my truck in a VERY busy parking lot.  But as I pulled out of my parking space, the lot seemed to temporarily be free of moving vehicles.  I waved the man over & handed him a bag, telling him it was for him.  The 2nd bag I told him was for his dog.  I told him I'd seen them around town for a long time.  Through a choked voice he told me his dog's name (starts w/SH but I couldn't make the rest out), thanked me, & wished me a great day.  I pulled out of the parking lot, choking back my own tears.  After running to another store I headed home, back pass WalMart.  There was the man, scooping peanut butter out of the jar with either crackers or a bagel (I couldn't see which).  His dog was looking up, waiting for her bite.  Blinking back tears, I came home to hug my ever faithful companions.

How is this related to being touched by horses you ask?  Well if it weren't for my lifelong love of horses, I wouldn't have had a career path to fall back on after losing my long time office job.  If it weren't for horses, it very well could be me & my dogs standing on street corners, hoping some stranger would have compassion for us that day.  Horses touch our lives in ways we'll probably never even realize.  They truly are magical creatures.        

Supper's Sand


It's so hard to believe it's been 10 years since the grand old mare, Supper, entered my life for a brief time.  It's even harder to believe that after all these years I still think of her.

Today as I used the tractor to move base rock & decomposed granite from my dad's property to mine, I got thinking about Supper.  When she arrived from S CA she was in such poor shape that her old bones still showed, even after a couple months of feed at the wonderful rescue who fought to save her.  Her protruding hips had sores from laying on the ground.  My folks took Supper into their hearts and had a semi load of sand brought in for her.  That pile of sand became known as Supper's Sand.

Over the years many horses have enjoyed the soft, warmth of Supper's Sand.  It's been a favorite spot for all the Dream Catcher horses; from foals to adults to the occassional rescue who has stopped by.  Even the dogs have enjoyed laying in that sand pile, watching over their domain.

Bouncing along on the tractor I reflected on the fact that it was Supper who raised the weanling Faye.  She was such a good babysitter, steady & loving.  I'm sure having her as a nanny contributed to the wonderful mare Faye is today.  It was Supper's grandsire who sired Exceller, the namesake of the Exceller Fund.  For those who don't know, Exceller was a former race horse who went to slaughter in England when his owner no longer wanted to pay his upkeep.  My mind raced on with reflections of what Supper had meant to me & what she brought to the lives of all those who knew her in her last year.  How could I not have Supper's Sand in my life after the sale of my dad's property?

For the next 2 hours I used the box scraper to get as much of Supper's Sand as possible into a pile.  I then used the bucket to bring a dozen loads onto my property.  Next I scraped as much as possible across my dad's property & onto mine.  As long as there's horses on my property, I will always be able to look out & see them rolling or laying in the sand.  They will always have the privilege & honor of enjoying Supper's Sand. 

Launi & Miss Piggy


Why is it the camera is never there when you want it?  Maybe because today I left it at home, thinking I wouldn't be taking any pictures.  Sometimes I get what I deserve for thinking.

I was meeting a friend this morning at the Daugherty Hill Wildlife Area to ride.  I love this area for riding because it has a lot of hill work, it's quiet & peaceful, & there's a great creek about 1/2 way out & back to cool the horses.  As is usual for me, I arrived about 1/2 an hour earlier than our scheduled meet up time.  Anyone who knows me knows that I take my time getting Launi ready to ride.  His mane MUST be braided just right.  LOL  Actually, I just like the peaceful time spent with my horse.

Not long after I arrived this morning a truck pulled into the parking area, asking if I could round up some cattle.  Uh, I don't think so, I ride an ay-rab who's never worked cows.  Maybe someday, but not as of yet.  We talked for a few minutes & we hear a snuffling, snorting noise coming around the bushes & into the parking lot.  It's a pot belly PIG!  I untie Launi as fast as possible because I just know he's going to come unglued.  He's never seen a pig & every horse I've owned who met up with pigs went crazy.  They just don't smell right.  Well, this little pig just waddles over to us & Launi's captivated.  He sniffs her & she roots around his feet.  She even noses his hind leg & he doesn't mind.  Next they eat the same patch of grass.  It seems Launi wants his very own Miss Piggy.

She was a cute pig, obviously someones pet.  She liked being scratched & hung out around the trailer.  My friend arrived & wasn't thrilled to see Miss Piggy.  She didn't unload her horse because she KNEW he'd freak out.  She petted the little pig & instantly regretted it.  Miss Piggy followed her to her trailer, trying to nuzzle her leg.  Pig noses are strong & pushy.  My poor friend gets on the trailer step to get away.  I'm laughing with glee & regretting the decision to not bring my camera.  Miss Piggy puts her front feet on the step & my friend LEAPS up onto the trailer fender.  Shoo shoo, go away....   I'm cracking up, sorry my friend.  It was such a comical scene.  All the time Launi was just watching HIS little pig.  Finally Miss Piggy waddled on down the road.

We had a nice ride & enjoyed the day.  Back at the trailers Launi & Sonny noticed donkeys across the road.  Three little mini donks.  Hmmmm...first a pig & now 3 donkeys.  I untied Launi & he slowly made his way out of the parking lot, across the road & to the fence.  It was so cute to see him sniffing noses with 3 little donks.  They might have come up to his knees.  I really think if I'd let him, Launi would have brought all his little friends home.  I'm sure in a former life he must have told his mom "Look what followed me home.  Can I keep them?" 

Where The Blacktop Began


It was the Christmas holiday, 1978, & I had just landed at the Atlanta GA airport with a friend.  We were on our way to N Carolina, where she & her husband lived.  Both were in the Marine Corp & stationed at Camp Lejune.  After running across the airport to catch our "prop job" flight, we made our way, via a stop in S Carolina, to N Carolina.  The weather was gorgeous & the scenery matched.  When her husband picked us up & asked what we wanted to do first, we both said "go to the stable!"  As we walked around the very nicely kept stable, a loose white horse went running down the dirt road.  The horse belonged to a teacher who owned the property & barn next door.  She was nowhere in sight.  My friend & I took off running after the horse, who by the way, was actually named Whitey.We had run for about 2 miles (I was much younger in 1978 & still able to run, unlike today) when we heard screeching tires & a "thud".  About 200 yards & a bend in the road later we came to Highway 258, & there stood a dazed, bleeding Whitey.  He'd been hit by a small gas/tankerHmmmm, is any tanker truck really small?  The driver was out pacing in the road, not believing what had just happened, & surely in some state of shock.  Whitey never moved, head hanging, his entire body trembling.  Tire marks were clearly visible across his hip, where the truck had actually run OVER him.  It was hard to see what damage there was because his hindend was covered in blood.  Somehow my friend had had the foresight to grab a halter before we ran, so we caught Whitey & moved him just off the roadway.  A state trooper arrived & called for a vet.truck.  It seemed like forever before the vet arrived.  Cleaning Whitey as best he could, he began his assessment of injuries.  I don't know how many stitches it took to put Whitey back together that day.  We stood beside the road for a very long time.  Fortunately there didn't appear to be any internal injuries or broken bones.  The vet gave us pain meds & antibiotics, wished us luck, & off he went.  There my friend & I stood, along the highway, with a very sedated & bloody Whitey.  With no other options available, we started walking Whitey back to his home.  My friend lead him while I walked behind to keep encouraging him to move.  He staggered along, needing to often stop & rest.  It was a slow, tedious journey & the sun was setting as we arrived at the stable.  His owner had been located & she was there waiting for us.  We helped her get Whitey into her barn & bedded down.  We stayed for quite some time, wanting to be sure he was alright before leaving him for the night.  Whitey was a lucky horse.  He healed with little more than scars as mementos of his ill fated romp to where the blacktop began.         [...]

Such A Tragedy


Life is so precious & unpredictable, & we have no way of knowing what or how events in life are going to impact us. I got an almost completely incoherent phone call tonight from a neighbor up the road. Something about a horse hit on the road & a foal being born, with an almost hysterical plea to get there fast. I threw on jeans & 1/2 dressed I hurried up the road, on the bumper of the first CHP responder. What a horrific scene, one that will long be burned into my mind.  Blood everywhere with a disemboweled mare laying in the road.  The collision with a truck had split a very pregnant mare, spilling her filly onto the road. My neighbors had grabbed the filly & got her to the side of the road, bundled in blankets.  Half a dozen people stood around, not knowing what to do, wondering what they could feed the filly.  A number of children were sitting on the side of the road, playing in the dirt, one asking questions about what he was seeing.  Flashing lights arriving, 1/2 dozen vehicles (including mine) blocking the road, the sound of a wench & chain.  It was a very surreal scene, somewhat like a slow motion horror movie.  A pretty chestnut filly with a star & some little white socks. Not quite ready to be born, but close enough that her knees felt good , her ears weren't floppy, & she had a suckle reflex. She struggled to get up so I sat with her, holding her sternal & keeping her warm.  Wishing there was more I could do, but at least she wasn't alone.  Wondering if I could take her home & try.  Wanting to cry because she was so fragile & deserved so much more.  Gradually, as I sat there in the night holding her, feeling the cold blood soak through my jeans, her respiration & pulse slowed. By the time a vet tech, called by AC, got there the poor little filly was no longer struggling & had lost her suckle reflex.  It was so very heartbreaking to watch her fade as AC & the tech whisked her away. I can only hope they pull the filly through, but wonder if she even made it to the vet hospital alive.  Such a tragedy that will long haunt my thoughts.

Finding Bigfoot


The year was 1991, the location was just outside Big Bend CA, the occasion was an endurance ride.My friend Kate & I had planned to ride 50 miles together, with the intention of elevating to the 75 mile ride if our horses looked good at the end of the 50.  It was apparent that Kate's horse Koi was getting tired by the time we hit 45 or so miles.  We slowed down & walked most of the next 5 miles.  There was no question that she wouldn't be elevating to the 75 miler that day.  When we arrived at the 50 finish/vet check, the vet confirmed that Koi was too tired to continue.  Wraff on the other hand was almost literally rearing to go.  It was already 5pm so I wasn't sure I wanted to elevate.  We'd ridden a little slower than planned, so I'd be leaving on the last 25 mile loop later than I'd anticipated.  After the hour hold it'd be 6pm before I'd hit the trail again.  What the hell, off Wraff & I went.Just before dusk I found myself riding along a ridge line, beneath power lines, with manzanita thick along the trail.  We were just trotting down the trail, having fun, when I heard crashing off to my right.  I could see the top of something dark brown parallelling us.  Wraff pricked his ears & sped up a bit, but otherwise didn't seem to be bothered.  I, on the other hand, was freaking out that a bear was running parallel to us, just 10' or so away.  With a lump in my throat & adrenaline rushing, right then I decided that as soon as I got to the road crossing I was going to ride down the road & back to basecamp.  I was DONE riding & didn't want to be out after dark.  About a mile later the trail turned & there was a little family of deer peacefully grazing.  Relief spread over me because if the deer weren't afraid that meant I was no longer being followed, errr chased.  A pitstop was in order.  A quick stop & I was back in the saddle, trotting down the trail into the night.Silly me, I'd told ride management I didn't need glow bars for the last couple of miles because I knew the trail & we'd ridden it earlier in the day.  Silly me!  I knew where we were but couldn't find our way through the narrow trail & brush.  I even got off & tried to lead Wraff, who was totally disgusted with me by now.  It was so dark I had to reach my hand out & proceed by feel.  I began to have visions of spending the night on the trail & waiting until daylight to find my way into camp.  I couldn't believe I couldn't find the trail.  Finally I rode back up the hill to the last glow bar, plucked it off the bush (I was the only rider still on the trail), & back down the hill I went.  Gee, is was easy to find the trail with a little light.  Thirty minutes later we arrived at the finish line. As I vetted Wraff in, I told of our bear scare & how I almost ended my ride out of fear.  A couple people looked at me funny & said there was no way it was a bear following along the trail.  Bears aren't that big.  I was puzzled.  Then the vet asked me how tall was the manzanita.  Well, it was just about as tall as me.  Yes, just about as tall as me, & I was ON Wraff's back.  If Wraff was 15 hands (or 5') & I was on him, that would have made that bear about 8'-9' tall.&nb[...]

In Her Image, or Wraini's Legacy


You know, I've always wanted to name a horse Legacy.  I haven't because the best barn name from that is Gacy (who wants a Legs?).  Not really sure I want a horse named Gacy because as someone who reads a lot of true crime, Gacy isn't the greatest name.  Remember John Wayne Gacy?  Yeah, Legacy really isn't that great a name after all.But I digress from the real story.  DC Reindeer Dippin is the spitting image of her dam, DC Kobayashi Wrain.  Dippi's bigger & more substantial, but that's about the only differences.  I've always known that Dippi, who by the way is named after a world champion bucking bull (another digression), would be a spitfire & a spunky ride.  She's super forward, looking for the next trail & absolutely thinks she can trot before she learns to walk.  Yep, that's Wraini all over.Today I rode Launi & ponied Dippi on my favorite local trail.  It was 2 hours of Mr & Ms Toad's Wild Ride.  The 2 toadies were bent on challenging each other, seeing who could faster & who was going to be in front.  Wait a minute, Launi SHOULD be in front since he was being ridden & Dippi ponied.  Dippi wanted to go faster & I had to keep telling her to NOT bite Launi's butt.  Oh she'd shake her head is disgust.  Quite a few times Launi pinned his ears & even half lunged at Dippi in a mini attack.  My hands were literally full & 1/2 in control of a ton of horse flesh.  Up Sycamore Hill we went with Dippi trying to stay even on a single track trail.  Really she would like to have passed & taken the lead.  At the top I dismounted, signed the log book, & started to lead the toadies down the other side.  I had a brief thought that the 2 of them could prove to be a bit much for my short legs but I pushed that thought aside.  The next thing I knew I was slamming my left knee into the ground.  Launi had stepped on the heel of my right shoe when Dippi tried to shove by him, sending me writhing on the ground.  I spoke loudly in French but only the toadies heard me.  To his credit, Launi did sniff me in remorse.  That ended my walk for the day, Launi was just going to have to pack me down the hill.  While I rode today I reflected on Wraini & the awesome gelding who not only raised her, but who gave me the best trail years ever.  I had ponied Wraini off Wraff many, many miles over the years.  She was always pushing him to go faster & was never satisfied being behind.  Wraff was always giving me the ride of my life while I tried to hang on to 1800lbs of horses.  Many days I spent riding up the Coffer Dam in Auburn, ponying Wraini on a lunge line so she could blaze out in front of us.  So many times today I looked at Dippi & remembered her mother.  3/4 of the way through the ride I found it was actually easier to let Dippi lead the way.  She was easier to control with one line than Launi was with both hands on the reins.  It was deja vu for me riding along on my 2 best horses, just like I had so many years ago.  Today, as it was then, both were fractious & eager to fly, & I was having a time just hanging on.  A few times I even caught myself calling Launi & Dippi by their predecesors' [...]

DC Kobayashi Wrain


On a rainy October day in 1991, my two dogs & I went to the local foothill market.  The rainy season has always been hard on my psyche & that day was no exception.  Pearl & Chinook were getting bones & I was getting a package of cookies.  Out of boredom I stopped to read the bulletin board.  There was an ad for a 4 months old arab filly & as luck would have it, I drove right by the place to & from the market.  I called the number & the girl said to stop by.  Now I wasn't really looking for a horse but what else does a horseaholic do when it's raining?  The filly was in a field with her dam, a cute little chestnut mare.  Unfortunately the filly was wild & unhandled.  She was wearing the halter that had been put on her the day she was born & she hadn't been touched since.  Did I mention she was wild?  She'd kick & bite if you tried to get anywhere near her.  She was a cute little grey with a really nice trot.  She turned out to be 3/4 arab/morgan.  Her sire was on site & had done a little endurance.  While I liked the filly I had no intention of bringing her home.My gelding, Wraff, was living by himself & he really was a horse who needed a herd.  I knew I should get another horse to keep him company but just didn't want to bother shopping for one.  A couple of days after I looked at the filly the owner called to say the filly & mare were locked in the barn & to come get the filly.  When I hesitated she said she'd even deliver if I'd help load.  Geesh, how could I pass that up?  Oct 26, 1991 began our journey.  I named the filly Wraini because I'd looked at her in the rain.  The silent W was because I wanted her to follow in Wraff's hoofprints.  While she didn't quite do that, she did leave mighty big hoofprints of her own.What a spitfire!  The first night she tried to attack me, teeth first.  Her first vaccinations had her on her hind legs striking at a friend & I.  What had I gotten myself into?  Eventually Wraini calmed down & because a truly wonderful horse.  She was spunky & forward, always looking to trot down the trail.  She did a few endurance rides & was so much fun to ride.  But three freak, and almost devastating injuries sidelined what could have been a fabulous endurance career.  When Wraini was 10 another horse in the pasture kicked her & broke the sesamoids in her left hind.  She also suffered a ligament tear.  This was on Christmas morning & I have to say the other horse was almost on the dinner table that night.  If a friend hadn't picked her up ASAP, I honestly would have taken my very first horse to an auction.  To this day I hate that mare & I won't tolerate a kicker.  Anyway, the prognosis for Wraini's leg wasn't exactly good.  The vet wasn't sure she'd even be pasture sound, let alone ever be ridden again.  My incredible little grey mare was tough & healed beyond anyones expectations.  3 1/2 months after the injury she was deemed fit to start walking under saddle.  Wraini did a couple of LD rides & even a VERY hard 50 after her injury.  Then one day I just decided that I was risking a reinjury to her leg so stopped endurance.  She was a great trail horse &am[...]