What’s Next? You Choose

Whether it’s a life design, job desire, schooling notion, thirst for partnership, or just what you want to do next weekend, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t happen quite according to plan. Or maybe at all.  When your master plan becomes an Also Ran, what are you left with?

I had an interesting exchange the other day with another rider who’d purchased what they hoped was “the horse” for endurance–and soon enough had found themselves at an unexpected crossroads. Upon request I shared what my experience with similar issues had been and was met with basically “Well, I don’t have time to mess about like that for [X time]. I’ve wasted too much time already.”

Sure, I suppose when looking back at various paths that it does kind of look like a bunch of messing around when why couldn’t I just see the right step/answer/logical outcome already? Of course, I’ve heard tell of hindsight being 20/20 and I certainly learned many a valuable lesson from past floundering. Anyway, aside from being slightly rebuffed, the commentary highlighted for me the huge absence of her very expressed feeling for me. Born impatient, easily irritated, independent, result oriented, and stubborn, I used to be very much in a headspace about getting things done properly, right now, this minute, no messing around. The thing is, the more that I’ve wrestled with being a good partner to my horses and my husband in life, the looser my grip on control and Plans has become, and the easier it has all become. Horses and life companions are pretty well The Chosen, no obligations born, but brought willingly into the fold. It seems almost counterintuitive to wrestle with the joy you chose but I and surely others have, and I do think it’s the need to Control and the struggle to Communicate that makes it so, human or horse. Mostly these struggles no longer seem to me like wasted time, I’ve come around to thinking that is a true disservice to the times that ultimately make you what you are.

It seems to me that when things haven’t shaken out as planned despite best effort, choosing, and planning, we’re merely left with how we choose to handle it and what we ultimately get out of it. To bring it around to horse specific again, for me, endurance has always been about a sanctioned reason to hang out with my horse all day and all night and then do it again. Would I like to be out racking up completions and filling my photo wall with gorgeous photos? Sure. Will I be doing that again in the future? Sure hope so. Meantime, lately, when I’m asked When, How Long, my answer is When it’s time, if it works out, and when I’m done messing around.

11909900_878789287336_1330685693_n

Catching up at RHE

With Tevis done, Sparky sold, and Scrappy out on trial at a wonderful home within the family, a few boxes were feeling ticked. So clearly it was time to play with my big red filly!

so grown up in the face these days, if not the voice

11891064_877564197426_9140150065403129480_n

Orange adventure crew hiking at Lake Oroville

11836806_876193199916_1102921099321502892_n

stuck between a rock and a wet place..

11056435_876193239836_4696197991543770420_n

this is a lot of work..snack break?

11846721_876193399516_6465898553823504856_n

my home born dreamgirl and the get er done rig! 

11822534_876193439436_1341659283606119875_n

ok just one more picture of her… 🙂

11216579_875547738426_1674387565573486670_n

Fires continue to rage across California, particularly in the north state. Lately if it’s not us it’s someone else we know far too close to the paths of these sudden and terrifying blazes. I volunteer for the county fire scanner breaking news pages when I can and am continually in a state of awe and gratitude to all the firefighters and folks out there protecting us. THANK YOU!

smoky skies do make epic sunsets

11825762_875647438626_6976648869605087138_n

In pink nosed pony news, I’ve been in the market for a full nose fly mask for Apache this summer. First I bought an Arab sized Cashel full nose mask which was quite entertaining but belongs on a Warmblood (literally, a friend uses an Arab sized mask on hers), then a local boot client recommended Equine Sun Visor.  I ordered one up and it arrived in about a week; the mask is beautifully made to specs (choose color/mesh/pattern, with free embroidery) and seems to be a great fit! 95% UV protection and the little fella hasn’t shed it in the 4 days he’s worn it, despite apparently sticking his head in various sticker bushes.

the snoz to protect (pear eating derrpp)..and the snoz protected!

11221526_877075466846_2715414276849023750_n 11826052_877075496786_4717564806074721702_n





stole an afternoon on the water with the pups & husband

11846571_876500833416_9140628095085670060_n

pretty much..

11707659_874106456766_1362282176571755289_n

Jazzy is 4 months+ and busily doubling in size. We’re really happy with her brain and nature as well as her obvious protection and patrol instinct. What a dog she will be!

11826007_876841959796_5958592199342167149_n

11898693_877617470666_1924402321723020052_n

Enjoying the cooler weather we’ve had in the last week, Blaze has to taken to lurking in the shadows at morning feeding then erupting in a flurry of feet and dust and taking triumphant laps around his domain as his surprised human watches. So I put him to work! 🙂  A nice young gal who’s eager to be around horses came up and helped with some dirty work around the place and had a good ride on Blaze. The mighty bouncy trot teaches posting like no other, buahah.

cooling down

11885023_877561941946_7494301453898779601_o

Tack Side note: the wide tree Solstice I bought from my Tevis rider fits Sheza–and Blaze?? Apache is next to try. This saddle must be magic! Also trying a Nurtural bitless bridle on Blaze, he seems to like it

I find myself at an interesting transition period in my herd with no saddle horse to focus on endurance with and absolutely no desire to look for one.  I’ve got a whole lot of interest and enthusiasm and at least some knowledge to apply to this Make Your Own Endurance Horse thing, and with 10 year old project Apache and 4 year old up and comer Sheza I feel like I’ve got some good prospects. The rest, the becoming, is all up to us together!

p.s.  Scrappy’s latest adventures  😀  ❤

11868836_877586762206_541863877_n

This Week at RHE

I love working with many different horses, but I also really enjoy seeing them find their person and move on in life–and hopefully blossom. Of course any time a horse leaves your possession it’s a giant risk, but as I don’t have the resources to keep every horse ever, it seems most useful to try to improve the creature in some way and set it sail on the very best tides you could pick for it. That surety in my mind has led me on a winding path of ponies that has been vastly informative, inspiring, depressing, and never, ever regretted.

My latest foray into other people’s ponies was Sparky, who came home in early May to get ridden/potentially sold. A big 10 year old coming off 17 acres with prior endurance experience, we trained about 80 trail miles together all told, and completed 3/3 rides in our few months together (WW35/30, GC50). His new match came along quite quickly when he was listed, and it was my very great pleasure to send him on his way with a caring local endurance rider this past Sunday. She brought me a 20 lb bag of carrots as a thank you–soo thoughtful!!

11791722_872345810116_1391466332_n

 Meanwhile, on the rest of the ranch…

Sparky’s departure meant Apache was alone on the east side of the property..so I gave him a mini! 

10982277_872357731226_3207258575772747326_n

a quick reminder from Napoleon just what sort HE is

11742658_872357801086_1408911232981423242_n

meanwhile, Desire’s seroma is diminishing nicely

and Melinda’s Farley has been moving some fillies and water and stretching her sassy wings

11752575_871908965556_8164179017899874652_n

2 bantam roosters having dinner   😉 

11794306_872454786726_8353395643211298400_o

Rory was fabulously lame on Monday, she led herself on her lameness exam of course

11796215_872545564806_8090584341269721937_n

…and 90% better the next day..and fine today. #FillyFirstLamenessDrama

11050639_872561293286_3314155162098292607_n

11800476_872844321096_7156143229960233661_n

love my big silly fillies!

and 4 month Jazzy keeps on growing! 

11760097_872453768766_5943607772858617965_n

And now–the heat is very much back (105 anyone?) and a fire started a mile away from us as I was in Auburn with my Tevis rider. It was a rather stressful drive home and these were views from our driveway as the amazing firefighters and air teams hit it with everything they had. They were dipping out of ponds at the bottom of our pasture with incredible speed for hours as ash rained and we huddled around the fire scanner. The fire headed away from us as of this morning and is currently 45% contained. Such a scary season. Many many thanks yous and prayers for the firefighters!

11822766_873090762226_8034531790202289772_n

11825019_873090742266_2373200658541485438_n

If things calm down…off to Tevis to crew tomorrow morning!

Just Roll with It

If anyone is accustomed to giving up on grand schemes by now, it’s me. I will credit past experiences for making my decision not to take Sheza to Hat Creek Hustle ride camp this weekend a matter of 30 minutes of angsting at my husband and buddies instead of days. I’m amused at myself that it was even a struggle to set the goal down, but it was, for a moment. This thing called ego gets wrapped up in our decision making and if we’re lucky good sense, gut feelings, and close friends talk us down.

Ideally I suppose no horse is, but Sheza really is *not* a Hope for the Best horse. You know, that type where in moments you perhaps haven’t done all the appropriate homework you’ll go for it anyway, hope for the best, and usually get away with it. I won’t say it’s just because she’s a young horse, as I would call Rory a hope for the best horse already, she’s such a calm cool customer.

Let me paint the picture:

I tossed a (Horse sized) fly mask on Rory the other day, literally tossed, and she didn’t even pause chewing. I often sneak up on her and go BOO!! just to see if I can startle her. Nope.

11694261_871879295016_1689929199_n

Sheza has been fly masked since birth and has a 20 minute hissy fit before the mask goes on almost every time. I always make tons of noise and alert her to my presence ahead of time and she still disappears in a dust cloud half the time.

Because HER EAR!  And stuff! 

11209541_860822552816_672276585666390454_n

You can imagine then how when it comes to going to ride camp for the first time, involving travel, chaos, standing tied at the trailer overnight, etc, I would want Sheza properly prepped. My plan has been to do a few hours long sessions standing at the trailer on the Hi Tie, which will probably first involve her having a hissy over the Hi Tie being over her head. Also consistent work in the days leading up to leaving for ride camp, age appropriate so probably not riding, but absolutely moving her feet and finding her brain. Sheza is undeniably more sane the more she works and I don’t relish the notion of her fresh in her first camp.

So…none of ^^ that^^ happened this week.

I showed and sold Sparky, pending vet check.  Blaze was very enthusiastic to be along for the test rides, for at least 4 miles each time, then he started heaving dramatic sighs and shuffling his clodhoppers, because Why Human?

bay boy derp

11774757_871879280046_1027747935_nOur shepherd pup went to the vet for a UTI and to get her rabies shot, while Georgia rode the old dog roller coaster of health and UhOhIsItTime.

Either Rory or Napoleon-mini kicked the bejeezus out of Desire on Sunday and left a grapefruit sized seroma on her side, so I had Loomis up to diagnose and sort that out midweek, leaving me to do daily hot compresses and apply Surpass, to move to cold hosing in a few days.

Day 1, it did get larger                                                                                          day 4, post vet ultrasound/poking

11793182_871879255096_119203742_n11749600_871879344916_1039086477_n

It was my husband’s birthday, happy days and to many more! We spent a peaceful evening by the river.

11774528_871879275056_1944568391_n11778024_871879300006_1044235967_n

Trim and boot appointments snuggled in around all that fun, and before I knew it we were at Thursday and I had a fresh Sheza and no spare time or energy to make the ride weekend happen. So I’m just not going to force it–and I have to say that I’m feeling a nice release of pressure having decided that and am looking forward to spending the time on Sheza anyway. Maybe we’ll pop out that Hi Tie and see what’s what, or play with her new boots, or maybe we’ll just go for a hike. No pressure. 🙂

meanwhile, the fillies are roommates again, look how big and gorgeous they are ❤

11759612_871879384836_831239392_n

11783925_871879404796_127862159_o

11793275_871879409786_1034558726_n11756431_871879429746_2134656717_n

Sheza Vipers!! 135×125 fronts already, big beauty

11798257_871879285036_850475913_n

Coming Up

Farewell Sparky

Crewing Tevis!

Sheza boot/ride prep work

Scrappy

ApacheWorld: Dirt and Lessons

Apache has been with us for 4 months now. This tiny adorable horse encompasses so many quality life and training lessons for me that I have to seriously marshall my thoughts both to work with him and to write about it. He’s a wonderfully complex character, let me see if I can explain why:

What Was, What Is: I certainly didn’t rescue Apache, he came from a lovely endurance couple in Oregon who entrusted him to me, after not having great success with him but diligently trying to find him suitable placement for months. As a well bred, well built, handsome little fellow, he has in 10 years had no less than 4 homes (and probably more than that). He was bred multiple times early in life, before testing positive as a SCID carrier and being gelded. He came to me as Having been Ridden, but with very mixed results (a hoped good trainer gone bad, and both of the couple getting bucked off thereafter). He is a horse that internalizes, not reacts. The best way I can describe it is that he stands and takes thing when he’s not okay, where my Haat Shaat horses absolutely won’t stand and try and take things *until* they’re okay. And by okay I mean in a suitable frame of mind to encompass human shenanigans and learn things, a mental space generally accomplished by them voluntarily moving their feet and blowing off some steam.   Apache is on self imposed lockdown, in a way. It’s fascinating and different and sad and I love him.

And that’s why I ate dirt 🙂

20108_869818629606_1870796077961787923_n

Thing is, what happened in the past doesn’t ultimately matter. What you think might happen next year *definitely* doesn’t matter. What we grasping humans have to wrap our heads around is the *moment,* the right now, the animal before you and what it’s presenting. In my past experience a horse standing, trying, meant acceptance and move forward. In this instance my gut said Mmm, Really?  (don’t ignore that gut, right!) but my human brain, flashing back on what he should know and what this might mean pushed me onward. It was the third time I’d been on his back, but the other times were bareback, in a halter. That day was his first day in a saddle and breastcollar.

The thing about Apache is that he ticks the boxes on what you ask quite quickly, okay, different speeds in each direction, facing up, etc. Then he shuts down and forces himself to be okay through the next step, and the silly human pushes her luck and gets lucky–just a scraped knee and a bit of a bruise on the back after the impressive HOLY CRAP ACK! buck he threw about 15 seconds after I’d quietly mounted. I moved his feet after that, probably all told another hour at least, more groundwork but definitely not getting on again.

I was interested in my reaction to getting bucked off, since I’ve been life flighted from being dumped after mounting before. I’ve worked off the residual fear over the last few years, and this time I felt only ashamed of myself, and spurred on to unlock this horsey mystery and get it right. Telling my dubious but supportive husband I got dumped was another test–and he took it quite well! There’s something in the stars for this horse, I tell you.

but it isn’t a Cashel fly mask..so much for Arab size! 

11760156_870121208236_7890239007152346073_n

My long lines arrive just in time for our next session. I consulted heavily with my favorite horse experts regarding my mistake and how to proceed, and we generally agreed lots more ground work and exploration of precisely *what* set him off was needed. I can see a general lack of connection from his head, mouth, neck, to body, if that makes sense. As if his body is one entity, and his stiff neck and head another, and they aren’t quite all communicating together. And my trainer’s voice tolls in my head when I type things like that: “Work them til they look like something you want to get on” No, the ticking time bomb of apache wasn’t something I wanted to get on, but I felt that I should, and he should, and well why aren’t we darn it, impatient foot stomp. Well you know how that went.

new splint boots, new driving lines…yawn…boy is the potential there..

11694995_870104616486_8987710423901112621_n

Now *this* was a good session! We started at liberty, went to the line, then spent a while flapping the long lines all over him, ran them up through the surcingle and let him drag them, and finally went to baby attempt ground driving.

fresh, little tense, boy though that stride

11705441_870132291026_5080869400480373707_o

He had started wanting to stop and face up when I was jumping up and down and climbing and doing general tomfoolery, but my trainer said he needed to be okay moving his feet through that, so we worked on that as well. Basically no freezing and shutting down is the goal with this one!

11739586_870702193936_1385510767_n

starting to relax 

15781_870132380846_4556783744114973887_n

just in time for more human shenanigans

11695939_870103443836_6948831827166642539_nThe lines on his flanks made Apache shudder, the notion of me being behind him made his eyeballs bulge, and the encouragement on the lines to bend a little, Left, right, turn, stop, made him freeze and glare at me. At first. Slowly, calmly, quietly, using all the building blocks of queues I eventually will when it’s an appropriate time to be in the saddle, we made it a step and squiggle at a time until we had driven a nice circle, stop, direction change, and circle in each direction. Deep, deep breaths all around. No, he still didn’t look like a horse that I wanted to get on. But one that I wanted to spend a lot of time on, and be better for, and take a journey with.

11745713_869615396886_8537728858434494490_n

Aside from probably 6 hours of groundwork put into Apache this week here and there, life has been gloriously busy with trims, boot clients, selling Spark for his owner, managing the rest of the herds and acreage–and celebrating my husband’s birthday this weekend!  We did some multi  tasking yesterday, hauling Farley to the lake to help out Mel then popping over for some dog adventures and fishing.

11755854_1119152484765238_4670416397472420741_n

11040860_870545497956_4736529918072701132_n

New Shepherd pup Jazzy continues to grow and thrive with the pack, and little miss Rory’s 2nd birthday is *finally* next week! What a big goober she is, can’t believe she’s still so young.

10404502_870054566786_3066184969450872425_n

11759071_870716639986_1123060935_n

Coming Soon:

Sheza’s first ride camp experience

ApacheWorld continues

Scrappy..

Gold Country 50 2015: The Sparky Files

I felt quite a bit less of a mess leaving for this ride. No doubt a combination of having now been through a multiday with Spark so I had some clue what to expect, and the weather being gloriously cool, instead of endlessly 105 like before Wild West. In fact the weather felt so glorious it decided to dump very real rain on Sparky and I as we prepped to leaved leave. Cue shivering horse! We can fix that..

11748581_869335632536_916460847_nIt’s a now very familiar route, out past Auburn and Cool to Georgetown and we arrived in cool skies early enough to score a swanky corral. We were settled in with our rider packet by 2:30.

11721845_869335647506_1000973599_n

sweet digs!

11741774_869335657486_1846229424_n

Friends started to arrive, then as I was tacking up for a pre ride I heard sirens and it was soon reported that a man driving while on a cell phone had hit and flipped a horse trailer nearby. The horse was taken to the vet and all ended up being okay, But wow. Could be any of us, at any moment.

pre-ride stroll

11721100_869335662476_750511691_n

Sparky vetted in with all As and a 40s pulse. He had about a dime sized patch of hair that rubbed off under his saddle pad on our last shake out ride (where he was moving like a cheeky rocket fueled 3 legged camel), but had not been sore or perturbed by it at all, so I had resolved to nurse it through with slicking/powdering agents, making sure the vet noted it ahead of time. Spark was in pro mode for that bit, eating and drinking everything around and settling in next to a corral neighbor.

settled in, I discovered Sheza’s new cooler is the only thing big enough for him

11721158_869335677446_448141625_n

If nothing else went quite according to plan in this ride, let me say that the camping part definitely did. Pulled in, had a corral, gave the horse hay and water and that was that. No tent? no tarps? I still can’t get over it, and with the cozy pre-made gooseneck bed and Sparky stashed in a corral overnight– the 5 am alarm was actually needed, shocking!

ride morning gelding derp!

11748823_869335682436_1049342938_n

You may notice this post is slightly short on fabulous photos, and that can be attributed to one: shady camp lighting and two: riding a rocket pony. Getting a bit caught up in the last of the pack leaving camp early on, this is all I saw of the first 12 miles:

11749379_869335692416_1451878219_n

The morning loop was out to the airport for a 12 mile check, 30 minute hold, then back to camp. That first 24 miles had some pretty legitimate challenges, from a downhill start to plenty of gradual climbs but also some short but VERY steep ups or downs, so much so that I was clinging up like a monkey then had to reposition my saddle  a few times, ever worried about that little hairless spot. Still, we zoomed into a humid feeling 12 mile check pouring sweat, with Spark at 72 bpm. Except in another minute he was 54 and then his CRI was 44/46 and all As. He wouldn’t drink yet but he ate the entire hold.

11748797_869335697406_1138440597_n

Some borrowed baby powder assuaged my concern on the hairless spot, some kindly provided delicious fruit calmed me down a bit, and off we went back for camp, briefly joining another rider but getting left in the dust by that mare’s crazy uphill talent. I don’t ride to hold Sparky back but my compromise is always travel in such a way that we both stay vertical and okay. I didn’t entirely win that bit in the end, but mostly..

a brief moment of walking..

11736905_869335712376_1650540404_n

Spark started drinking at about 18 miles and never stopped from there on. He vetted through great again at the 24 mile mark, with the hairless spot not at all irritated and grades groovy.By this point I was a bit sore in the neck and shoulders from the nonstop, errr,  enthusiastic way of going, so here’s a quick shout out for Icy Hot Pain Relieving Cream. I don’t remember buying it but clearly I did, and it’s great stuff. (By the way, looking for something to link to there, I saw there’s No Mess Applicator options, which might be good. Since I live doused in sunscreen it just another sort of goo to be covered in.)

24 mile check, As, 40 pulses, already ate a mash and on to hay

11748744_869335717366_1973152663_n

About half of the 2nd 25 mile loop I called Aurora’s Glorious Revenge. This was where the horse who jammed through 2 LDs recently and had just jammed through 24 miles–thought he was done. And wasn’t. And had to leave camp again. Through the scary trees. Alone. BUAHAHAHAHAHA. I admit to savoring it a little.

11694196_869335722356_1707369609_n

 We did some good flying on the easier parts of that second loop, had to do a fair bit of walking on narrow trail or awkward bits (you just can’t pilot a 15.1 hand spooky dork through narrow trails quite as handily). The ride photographer was out there literally hiding in the trees, so he may have gotten some exciting shots of us spooking intensely. Eventually, we got to the 40 mile vet check. By that point, somehow, we were 2nd to last again (that’s where we finished both days at WW). I can only conclude that leaving late, being a few minute late to leave stops, and not wanting to die=turtle finish, because that’s all I seem to manage despite it seeming like we were flying where appropriate. Not to suggest I don’t like being a turtle, but I do feel like it’s a looong time to be out there. We’ll get out vet cards back but I figure it took us at least 9 hours.

Anyhoo, by management mile 40, I was properly tired, as you can see by lack of photos. He vetted through still in the 40s CRIs,  one B on gut sounds but otherwise As. He was enthusiastically scarfing mash and hay the whole time I sat there contemplating things. Like bed.   Finally, our 30 minute hold was up and we headed out for the final miles back to camp.

We swung along at exactly the same extremely enthusiastic power trot he’d had that morning, or so it felt. I was really tired of the management side of riding him but I was pretty sure that i was finishing on a very strong and good to go horse which is a nice feeling, especially on a friend’s horse that hasn’t done a 50 in a few years.

Then, a mile from the finish, as we power trotted uphill and around a bend–there was a rider on foot, barely moving. Sparky went from 12 mph uphill drive to 0 in an instant, and his grandly high set giraffe neck went directly up and into my face. Hard.  I remember swearing, crying, and and swearing some more as Sparky slammed on the brakes a half mile from the finish at the photographer sitting silently on the ground.@#($&!!!!!!!!!!!!  My memory of the finish is barely seeing straight to get a time card, stumbling back to my trailer, then eventually standing there in a daze holding my cards and horse lead rope but unsure I could actually jog without passing out. Fortunately Diane and John Stevens swooped him up and vetted him out for me, THANK YOU GUYS. Spark vetted out great with good grades, I do think he earned a B on impulsion but god help us, I know he left his A game on the trail, and my face.

He ate, I napped a bit with a bag of ice on my face. Then, after feeling better post vomiting, and  contemplating the daylight left I couldn’t take it how close I was to home and asked a friend to back my rig out as my bell was still properly rung, loaded up a willing Sparky, and made it home just after dark.

11403119_869482867476_5237920911777081277_n

So, we got it done. He looks great this morning and is clearly an endurance beast. I’m…tired.