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.

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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! 

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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

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

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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 ❤

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

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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 🙂

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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! 

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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..

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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

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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!

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starting to relax 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Coming Soon:

Sheza’s first ride camp experience

ApacheWorld continues

Scrappy..

New Roommates, Good Friends

It’s hard for me to articulate how special the intertwined group of horse gals I find myself in has become to me. I tried to state it as local friends, but it expands over this broad state of California and into others, and there are certainly feelings of warmth sprinkled to many others across the country and beyond. Which is weird, because I don’t do sprinkly feelings of warmth and groups of girl friends. Or didn’t? I’m honestly pretty anti social, finding my clients, blog/FB, endurance events, and very few riding buddies I actually join IRL entirely enough social life without crowds, cities, strangers, or excessive indoor activities needing apply. That’s an accurate description of me even in this very moment, but I do undeniably now have a pretty cool core of people I am honored and stoked to call friends. And it’s great. So thanks, folks!

That sentimental ramble did lead somewhere, I swear..last Saturday, Mel of Boots and Saddles brought her endurance mare, Farley, up to Mare Camp. I struggle to even remember when we first met at this point (blogging/Renegades/Tevis?), but Mel has become one of those blog-to-real life friends who the above paragraph very much applies to. She inspires me and makes me laugh, and I respect her and her opinion (and stellar UC Davis DVM title) immensely; you might see where I was both happy to help a friend and a bit thrilled at the trust, to have her stashing her mare (to be swapped for her filly as needed) here. Farley was due for a bit of pasture relaxing, and we had grand notions that she might help curb long yearling Rushcreek Aurora’s rather voluminous ego.

welcome Farley!

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aaaand here we have yearling Rory routing Farley. Le sigh

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well hello, gorgeous

(Desire…is an aptly named loose lady of the night)

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 Farley is no dummy, she headed for safe quarters far away to assess

(Sheza the Breyer model…sigh, swoon)

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Rory is deemed substantial. To match her ego..

Long story short, Farley did not and has not yet stepped up to squash egos in any way. In fact, I had to deploy an extra feeder and trough and close off a side gate so that she could eat her meals in peace. Rory and mini Napoleon are twin towers of terror but fortunately Desire’s amorous intentions got Farley enough under her wing that direct harassment by Rory wasn’t allowed for long. Current status? Everyone is getting enough to eat, no undue violence, except from my mini horse, who is back to literally backing at horses at high speed squealing, to hell with pinning ears. I hurt from laughing and I know, we need a video!

Spark is looking and feeling good after Wild West. I need to get a shake out ride in before Gold Country 50 next weekend!

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Heh..heh…Spark and Apache, the odd couple

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And now..another new roommate, found through a good friend. We lost our good old buddy JJ the Shepherd mix at the beginning of May. My husband had rescued him before we even met and he lived a grand ranch life, passing peacefully with us stroking his head.

JJ the firewood collector

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It left a hole in our outdoor dog force, something we very much need living in a rural area with small animals and predators of enough types that you just want a big barking dog outside. Thanks to that vine of friendship I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was recommended to a local with years of experience with Shepherds, and the day after boarder Farley arrived we were very excited to bring home 3 1/2 month old Shepherd pup that we named Jasmine, “Jazzy.”

no big deal, just a car ride with strangers..

our first glimpse at her awesome brain (she did vomit copiously, but that’s only fair)

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I feel like I barely need to caption these..she just fits in. And gets it. And is very trainable. Thrilled with our Vista Farms girl. Thank you.

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so that’s how it’s done..

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Now ME try! 

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even old Georgia is taking to her well 

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Meanwhile, it’s been over 100 degrees *every day*. Our amazing firefighters stopped a 75 acre fire 3 miles from us on Wednesday. Last night, heading out in a hot breeze we were nearly first witness to another fire roaring up in a residential area, as thunder rolled and lightning forked through the sky. I’ve been recruited to the county fire scanner Facebook administrators and I am so happy to help in any way. It’s an intense and good time to be alive, and we need to watch each other’s backs.

foothill sunset

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veggies beating the heat…one moon til Tevis! I’ll be crewing again

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sunrise after last night’s rain(!?!)

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Coming up..

Gold Country 50

Sheza’s First Endurance Camp

Apache Trail Time

Working Critters

The temperatures are climbing higher every day but there’s still work to be done, critter or human. Be you curvy pony or enterprising dachshund, there’s a task for you.

First time being caught in a while, Apache had a serious life question to consider

To Be or Not to Be With Human

As the husband intoned from across the early a.m. pastures: “He Chose…Wisely.”

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I discovered my round pen had regrown it’s star thistle army working on the line in the arena it was

Apache’s current task: breathing, giving at the poll, and all things associated with or helpful to that enterprise

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Rushcreek Aurora’s full time job: Training Assistant/PITA Creeper

seconds before this photo she had 3 coils of lunge line crammed down her gullet..

can’t you almost hear the innocent casual whistling?

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the bantams work at composting

at least 2 are now crowing, or some version of it

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dachshund fish finders never run out of batteries  and rarely err

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After the human did her job of clearing the round pen again..

Sheza’s job: eye candy, and storytelling

BLARGH

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OH! HUMAN!

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brainlesspeedtrotbrainlessspeedtrottrot

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not ready, noNoBLARG!

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huh, it’s hot..and human doesn’t object to this speed,  maybe this is a better speed

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oh yeah, slower is better, hmmphh, I’m fat, I’m sweaty, Humannnn I’m done

(human must not let herself be convinced by filly. Human is boss!ish..)

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a nice, slow, low, working trot compromise, tongue out and all

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A few more nice circuits at an ever slower and bendier walk, dragging the long line around in the rustling grass, and that was that for Sheza’s story this morning. Oh, and a cool bath, as a princess must have.

And the rest?

Spark is having a few days off after WW, with one ride to be done between now and Gold Country 50 in 2 weeks.

Blaze, Desire, and Napoleon can’t claim to be any more useful than endearing old friends, at the moment.

dear old Georgia crew chihuahua is hanging in there, for now. She loves the hot weather fortunately

Coming Soon

A fellow blogger mare will be moving in soon to mix things up!

Gold Country 50

Apache Trail Time

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..

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

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

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a small thursday evening ride meeting

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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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post ride, same horse as pre, hah!

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day 1 WW 2015, credit Baylor/Gore

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working on building those meaty cheeks 😉

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much bigger ride meeting Friday night

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bright eyed for Day 2

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heading out with ride partners M and Confetti

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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

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

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fun trails after lunch

Day 2 WW 2015, credit Baylor/gore

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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

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

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

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A well earned celebratory roll!

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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

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

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

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

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Rory is bigger than ever..

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

to redistribute some weight…

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

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good boy! 

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

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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  

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

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cozy quarters!

Lots of battery operated fans on board for this weekend

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