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!!


 Meanwhile, on the rest of the ranch…

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


a quick reminder from Napoleon just what sort HE is


meanwhile, Desire’s seroma is diminishing nicely

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


2 bantam roosters having dinner   😉 


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


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



love my big silly fillies!

and 4 month Jazzy keeps on growing! 


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!



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.


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! 


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


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


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 ❤




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


Coming Up

Farewell Sparky

Crewing Tevis!

Sheza boot/ride prep work


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 🙂


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 much for Arab size! 


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..


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


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!


starting to relax 


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.


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.



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.



Coming Soon:

Sheza’s first ride camp experience

ApacheWorld continues


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.


sweet digs!


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


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


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!


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:


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.


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..


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


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.


 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.


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

Wild Wild West 2015: The Sparky Files

I was kind of a hot mess come time to leave Thursday morning.  I have a tendency to persevere, which is great, until I’m tired and suddenly experience the whiplash of changes made. My last ride was Mojave Day 1 50 this past February on Scrappy, still in the fix-the-intermittently-sore-back war, with my faithful crew dog Georgia, in my good Ole Miley straight load. As I was leaving for Wild West I suddenly realized, as it were, that I was leaving an ailing Georgia, in a new to me rig ,with a horse that wasn’t mine…and I wondered what I was doing. That may sound overly dramatic or emotional to some, but if so then you haven’t invested years of thought and love into something and failed, over and over again. And then tried again.

So!  I shelved examining what I was doing until I was actually seated in the shade in ride camp next to a munching horse. My husband was kind enough to make the short drive up to camp to help us get settled but  I still felt nervous as all get out on arrival. I suppose that was somewhat emotional turmoil, plus a little physical anxiety from not knowing much about Sparky except that he’s large, opinionated, and known to buck at ride starts–but then he was quite reasonably doing his job of the moment (EDPP, be sensible at the trailer, repeat) so buck up Ole girl, my mental Marshall said. Don’t borrow trouble, it’ll find you again soon enough.

1-20150618_115900I was dead set on getting Sparky out for a pre ride Thursday and turns out that was wise since I discovered after the trim I’d done a few days before he was really more of a size 0 boot than the red 1s I’d used on him last. That’s why we bring the goods, eh! Why not start a multi day in boots he’s never worn 🙂

Sparky pre ride, his name is apt..


He got salted mashes, no electrolytes. DrankDrankDrank all weekend. PHEW!


vetted in in 40s, all As, 2 gut quadrants Bs throughout the whole weekend, BCS 5


a small thursday evening ride meeting


ermm, don’t quite have big enough blankets for this one!


We had a camping neighbor the first 2 nights and Spark or the mare would call when the other left, but nothing obnoxious. When that gal left we were pretty well on our own for close horse buddies but aside from calling to all the chestnuts that passed (and his soon to be buddy Confetti), he was a good solo camper. Another PHEW!


Camping with my gooseneck was glorious with the exception of a couple of the trailer rattling sounds that prompted high speed exits from sleep up, out of bed, down the tack trunk and out the door before I was awake, shod, or bespectacled. I definitely banged myself up more on the trailer than the horse. Phew? I think so! I totally failed at the photo of my cool shower set up, but basically I slapped removable magnet fishing rod holders like these (thanks husband!) on the roof of my trailer in the horse area, set a strung shower rod/curtain up on there, and had a perfect shower stall. The trusty Coleman Instant Hot Water heater then gets set on top of my $5 pickle-turned-water barrel, pump into barrel, and viola, private shower so hot I said Ouch!

Day 1 LD, 30 miler, went great! We marched out of camp on a loose rein and soon paired up with a mule; there were some stern words between riders and their respective mounts but nothing untoward and we finished the 18 mile loop in about 2 hours flat. Spark had a good drink and ate the carrots I had on board, pooped and peed, and came into the 30 minute hold at 52 bpm and As.

1-20150619_075714 18 miles in 2 hrs, 50% non blurry pics, I’ll take it 😉1-20150619_094126

He slammed down a salted mash, carrots, hay, I gobbled a tuna packet, and we headed back out alone for a much slower loop. We did nearly the entire 2nd loop alone and marched along eyeballing shadows, I did some hand walking and again didn’t bring enough carrots, and he continued to tank up water like a trooper. The one time I let my managing guard down he bee bopped sideways at a wooden No Biker log/sign thing on the ground, which ejected me but I landed on my feet, mounted from the sign thingy, and on we merrily rode. LOL. It came to me early on that riding Sparky is like riding an octopus with the attitude of a teenage boy, and my trail companions of the weekend and a few who know him seem to agree it’s apt. A very talented and athletic octopus at that!

fun and varied terrain and views on Day 1




1-20150619_111125      thumbs up for great trail marking!1-20150619_114523

A few miles out we came upon and finished with boot buddy M on Haflinger Confetti, her friend, and the mule. We finished 2nd to last, 47 bpm, A’s all around except for the same B gut quadrant. He was still spooking at upside down saddles as we headed for the trailer and was marching around and bright eyed through the evening– So we got another LD vet card and said let’s do it again!

Sparky was happy to see another tail out there in the wilderness


post ride, same horse as pre, hah!


day 1 WW 2015, credit Baylor/Gore


working on building those meaty cheeks 😉


much bigger ride meeting Friday night


bright eyed for Day 2


heading out with ride partners M and Confetti




After perfect boots  day 1, my last minute Oh, Hey, I need to use smaller hind boots realization bit me once on Day 2, on the stream crossing+steep uphill combo, where Sparky just slid right out of his hind boots. I popped them back on and that was the only issue for me all weekend. I consider that fair since those boots were last minute untested change up, and I actually think I’ll pop him into hind Vipers as the fronts performed so flawlessly. Hind Vipers also passed the challenging Confetti’s testing for Day 2, which was great to see.

lunch vet check, same pulse and grades as before, tanking up


I LOVE this picture!! Blogger and Renegade booter power!!



fun trails after lunch

Day 2 WW 2015, credit Baylor/gore


We cruised into another nearly last place finish with time to spare and the same great grades and that was that! Sparky looked exactly the same from the minute I pulled him from the field Thursday am to returning him there this morning. While it was a bit tiring to ride, it was pretty impressive and rather thrilling to ride such a clearly gifted and enthusiastic athlete! I am proud of us both and grateful to Sparky’s mom C for this opportunity.

post ride, Day 2


muahaha, I was a bit tired from his enthusiasm at the time..

then Mel shared this photo of those emotions swapped, LOL!


A well earned celebratory roll!


There’s rumors of a nearby 50 coming up next..

Wild West Bound

Phew, it’s been a good if hectic start to the month! Here’s some catching up on the last few weeks:

more Sheza work after she flattened me


we got chickens! 10 lovely home hatched bantams. Thanks Ponyhill!


grand dame Georgia is hanging in there, her weenie pups love her


we’ve had some wild weather..rain and HEAT and rainbows


Rory is bigger than ever..


since this photo I separated the orange (Apache) and the banana (Spark)

to redistribute some weight…


 and Spark is looking good! A solid hot 10 miles last Friday



good boy! 


my matchy power is on the rise again..he’s got 4 red Renegades too!


That about brings us to up to date, now prepping to leave for Wild Wild West ride this Thursday a.m.  This will be my second year tucking into the cozy quarters of Wild West ride camp, and I am very much looking forward to it. It’s the maiden voyage for my new-to-me ’90s Morgan built 2 horse gooseneck and I’ve spent a little time this week, amongst trim and boot appointments, mom visiting, and my husband being abroad on a very exciting business trip–dialing the trailer in.

tack box for storage/step/seat in one!                                                                  stove & kitchen

                                                                                                                                                buckets/hoof boots  

    11426812_863900694196_629190887_n     11349915_863899491606_734979031_n

looking down from bed (before I added tote/chair)


cozy quarters!

Lots of battery operated fans on board for this weekend


The husband flies in tomorrow and I leave for the ride Thursday am! Happy travels and trails and stay hydrated everyone!