Sheza’s First Camping Trip and Beyond

Or I should say, before.

Before Sheza went on her first camping trip and caused extreme drama, there were some other horsey doings..


Kenny ripped off his right front shoe (why shoes??? here)–again. In complete exasperation I pulled the other front shoe and have been reassessing my options. I live in a horse heavy area with a lot of farriers–and most of them aren’t any good. I’ve been doing my own hoof care for the last 4.5 years so relying on someone else was irritating enough when it might potentially work. Two pulled shoes in less than two weeks later, nope, not doing it again. An endurance acquaintance mentioned that they recently attended a hoof clinic regarding supporting odd conformation with glued on shoes, using a glue that not only attaches the shoes but can be used to “shim” for something like Kenny’s problem crooked landing. She won’t be in the area for another week or two yet but I plan to haul him over to her and see if we can figure something out, assuming I can mimic it myself later since there’s no nailing involved. Basically, I’m just making shit up now…and Kenny has been in pasture the last few weeks, regrowing hoof and being generally his charming redheaded pony self…the many faces of..



After deciding we needed some help with our mounting/moving off/solo/crupper issues, two of my endurance friends and former trail guide coworkers (read fearless, experienced Arabian hands) stepped up and wanted to work with Apache. With serendipitous timing, one of the gals just moved to the area so Apache got to head out to summer camp promptly and locally. Things have been going swimmingly already, here are some of the highlights!



I’m so thrilled with their mutual obvious enjoyment and look forward to his continued progress.


Oh boy, here we go…

First, Sheza went up to the Whiskeytown area trails and did really fabulously riding with buddy T and her home raised chestnut Morgan gelding. Even the easy trails up there are technical and it was great practice for Her Mighty Chestnut Highness of the Bulging Eyeballs to get practice refocusing on how to travel instead of endlessly “borrowing trouble” as my granny would say, imaging rocks and stumps (and shadows, lizards, etc..) were after her.

With that and a few more successful rides under our belts, Sheza and I went on her first camping trip ever and my first horse camping trip that didn’t involve an endurance event. Leading up to leaving was deliciously low key (fortunately, as it’s been 100+ degrees, one of the weenies suddenly had an abscess, etc etc), which was enjoyable–and also meant I managed to forget a few things because I was so busy forcing myself to stay cool about it self, it’s just a fun camping trip!  The best part about this camping trip was that it was organized with original blogger and daily virtual chat buddies Mel and Funder, and their two young kiddos who would also be on their first camping trips. It was a pretty special occasion that I am so glad we made happen, despite what unfolded..

Skillman Horse campground is the annual site of the 3 day Wild West endurance ride and I’ve only been to it during such. This time around there was only one other horse camp site in use and aside from Hwy 20 traffic and the epic flies and mosquitoes, it was pretty darn peaceful. The campground is in danger of being converted/closed so please check it out and support it by camping if you can!

Sheza butt high girl


The horse corrals are quite nice, there’s a couple like the one pictured below, and a pipe panel camp site as well as plenty of empty sites.


Sheza velociraptor caged

The first evening was quite peaceful, each of us trickling in as life allowed, and Sheza being surprisingly quiet about her wide eyed angst. She paced a bit and stared a lot, but didn’t holler despite becoming aware of the other horses during walks. She nickered a lot at me, and mostly only ate if she could see me. I was rather surprised by that part, as she’s a nearly brainless consumer like her mother, but she ate maybe 5 mouthfuls of hay an hour the entire time. She drank well fortunately, and managed about 2 mashes all told.

the white blur center-leftish is Sheza camper, out my gooseneck window 🙂

13570261_946658980926_221388565_oOn our one full day in camp, we had a leisurely morning, adults and kids and horse snacking and wandering about, until we decided a group hike was a good idea. To this point Sheza had been starey but pretty darn reasonable, camping and on leg stretcher walks (Can you feel the tension building?!?).  Haltered and tied at the trailer by the tack room as per our routine, I saddled her up though I didn’t actually plan to ride her. As it’s not a second nature piece of equipment, I’m always attentive not to attach the crupper until the saddle is girthed. As a totally second nature piece of equipment and as it turns out entirely unsafely..I had already attached the breastcollar around her shoulders and to the saddle on both sides before securing the girth. I very nearly got away with that error, but then I didn’t. As I slipped the girth tongue into it’s billet groove, Sheza suddenly exploded and pulled back; the girth and loop flew from my hands, and the saddle proceeded to “attack” her, as it wanted to flop off girth-less but was attached to her by the breastcollar. Major, major D’oh, Headdesk, Lesson Learned moment. Also, the most dramatic thing I’ve possibly ever seen, aside from the explosion that got me life flighted years back and I wasn’t in the witness position in that case so I’ll never know. 

Sheza leaped and flopped and pulled and bucked so high that saddle was visible *above* the top of my trailer to Funder on the other side. It continued long enough that Mel could hear it in her RV, look out, set down what she was doing, and come to investigate while it continued. Finally the d rings on the saddle holding the breastcollar ripped off and the saddle bounced off Sheza’s rump and onto the ground, halting the epic proceedings. 

What. A. (n uncalled for) Shit. Show.

True confessions? I already had the saddle back on her, breathing deep mental RIDICULOUSDAMNFILLYMAREGoosefrabas, before I assessed her injuries. Because it was tantrum-esque uncalled for bullshit, and she was by god going to get tacked back up. I did of course then assess her head to toe and see that she’d scraped up her face– and flayed a neat chunk of skin off just above the back of her right front knee with her hind hoof. SIGH. This is where camping with a wonderful friend who happens to be a DVM comes in mighty handy, as Mel took a look at the neatly skinned wound and prescribed an attitude adjusting hike and cold hosing afterwards.

Bigger picture, Sheza has pulled back at the trailer 3 times before in her life and every time it was related to my husband’s fishing rods being in her physical space; whiplike and super long and far above her head, clearly they are terrifying stuff. I’ve worked with her and them and we hadn’t had the issue in a while. I honestly have no idea what set her off at the trailer at camp, which is pretty frustrating. Ah, well. To hiking!

After a scenic and admittedly hot, suddenly smoky, and near the end grumble-filled hike, the band of 6 returned to shady camp for cold hosing, refueling, and an investigative mission to cell service by Funder to see where the new smoke in the air was coming from. My trusty old trailer-stashed pickle barrel with spigot and hose plumbed on came in handy as I was easily able to hose cold water on Sheza’s leg and settle her back into her corral, where she finally fully began to realize that she’d done something dumb and she was rather sore about it.

woe is mare

13566164_946660767346_1351575184_nAs I contemplated the unnecessary extent of it all and admonished myself endlessly for attaching the breastcollar (she’d still have wigged out, but not for as long), I stared at my sore mare and tried not to keep flicking through the heavy Rolodex of Horse Bullshit that has gone on forever, it seems. It could certainly be worse (though I’ve been hit by a truck AND lifeflighted, in independent incidents, for quick examples), but it does get old. I can only conclude that it’s a function of being mortal, living this life, and taking the risks you take when adventuring past your own doorstep with a 1000 lb animal along, something that I’ve been doing since I was a pretty wee tyke. Fortunately during my endless mental angsting that evening, and between fun chats and great snacks with the group, I did shut up and look up..



I left early the next morning as unobtrusively as a diesel truck, creaky old trailer, sore 1000 lb filly-mare, and grouchy redhead could. Sheza had again barely eaten all night (though pooped, peed, and drank just fine) and I was ready to get her home, hose/goop her leg, and return her to her real mother.

Here’s the state of it 2 days later. She’s on antibiotics to be on the safe side and gets cold hosings daily, turned out with a honey-based herbal ointment  on it and plenty of fly spray around it.

13516574_946612364346_8068866625481593946_n (1).jpg

It’s not her first leg drama. If you’re a long time reader you may recall she banged up her *other* front leg being a herd-bound pill in panels 2 years ago while at training. Ah, the life of a dramatic chestnut princess. The Oscar may in fact be in the mail this time around.

Blaze and Desire and the mini, by the way, continue their grand reigns of Fineness, bless them and knock on wood.

I did get this in the mail today, after hitting 505 endurance miles at Cache Creek in May :


What’s next? Healing..figuring out Kenny hooves..footing work in the arena and round pen..and whatever other insane crap comes along. Keep on trucking folks, you are not alone on your paths, be they straight or winding.  I think you know which one mine qualifies as 🙂


5 thoughts on “Sheza’s First Camping Trip and Beyond

  1. Doing nothingness was so awesome, so glad we made it happen. I have NEVER seen a saddle fly quite that high for quite that long. It was quite impressive. Speaking of true confessions…..I was like “saddle up beast and GO” prior to complete injury evaluation as well. Because, like, DAMN mare, you NEED it. Lol. But fortunately it was truly only a flesh wound.

  2. So frustrating on the shoeing front. 😦 I hate that for you. And ohmygodwhatanoutburst on Sheza’s part. Jeebus! Yet, I can’t act too surprised because I can remember similar outbursts (though with less aerobatics because it isn’t his nature) from Griffin for a time. Horses man… overall tho– looks like a great camping trip yall had. 🙂 What a fun group of ladies and babes.

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