Sunday, May 14, 2017

stranger things

Our trails have oddities. Remnants of mining operations and dam building have left debris scattered and hidden throughout our canyons.

But when a friend posted a photo of the flying barrels, I had to check that one out myself. And even better, it was less than two miles from my house (as the crow flies).

western fence lizard keeps watch

maybe for measuring water levels as the proposed lake would rise?

This canyon has so many trails, most not marked or noted on many maps, but only found by exploration, word of mouth, and in my case, adventuring to find those crazy barrels!

seriously purple: purple larkspur (I think)
Down, down, down. I knew approximately where the barrels were. There were other finds along the way. But then there they were, floating above our heads, so many barrels on a wire! Kegger at the river!

barrels hanging in the sky!

strange, right?

tree isn't letting go!
Fascinatingly strange. The only clues I can find are people commenting they are from the long-derailed dam construction (it was halted in the late 1970s). The barrels would have floated on the surface of the water, to keep boats from getting too close to the dam. If so, they were WAY ahead of themselves with this project!

river stop, making stacks
After a brief stop by the river, what goes down must come up: 1000 feet in about a mile. Luckily there were lots of wildflowers to use as an excuse to stop and take photos.

taking a breather: look, fringepod!

American River below
This cliffside trail has seen better days, this winter created a lot of erosion, and there are too many low hanging branches for me to want to take my tall horse on it. But some do, as there were occasional hoofprints! I was content on my own two feet to take in the view.

Pardner's rock: Huge granite monolith alongside the trail
But I saw a lot of cool side trails, with more places to explore. And hopefully more places for stranger things.

what goes down...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

conversations with major: my day

Hi Major, why are your face and legs all wet?
I was snorkeling!
In your trough? Is that why it was broken last week?
Um, no? 
Well, let's go out and play!
Or just eat grass?
But it's almost your birthday. Let's do something fun.
MY day! Oh Boy!
acceptable birthday hat

embarrassing birthday hat

Birthday hat time! Good thing I found it, a little flattened in the trailer.
Yeah…great. Look, I already have a hat.
That is grass on your head. It does not count. It's not so bad, just one photo.
Fine. But I won't smile.
Of course you wont.

So where do you want to go today?
The lake!
You always pick the lake.
The forest is around and about in the mud, not fun.
Well, you're kind-of right.
The lake is fun!
Well, it's a mess this year.
But I want to…
Ok, no whining, off to the lake we go.

mud under the green

NOT the lake, a dumb puddle

where is the trail?

stop taking pictures of orange flowers!

Are we there yet?
We have to get through the forest first.
There is still lots of mud.
Look, the lake.
THAT is not the lake. It is a puddle. It does not count.
But look at all the tadpoles! OK, go this way.
Where is the trail? I just see snacks.
Covered in clover, hopefully we can ride out here more before our trails disappear!
Stop taking flower pictures, the lake is over there! 
I see the lake!

sticks…but grass too!

splashy fun

water, a snack, this is the best day

The lake! Oh, and sticks. Yuck.
Yeah, there is a lot of debris this year. Let's find a safe place.
Here! Snacks!
Just a bit father is a clear space.
Splashing! Snorkeling! Oh yeah!
I'm glad you're happy.
I love this!
I know.

seriously, that's the trail?

Flowers are nice, dry trail is better

Ok, let's head back now.
The trail is underwater. I don't like it.
You were JUST in the lake.
Not the same.
But look at all the flowers!

Not. Funny.

We're home, and almost done for the day.
I see my mash.
It is soaking, now you have to as well.
I'm fine.
No, you need a bath.
This is not what I want for my birthday.
It's just more water.
Not FUN water. 
heading home to mash

it's got the good stuff

Mash time?
Yes, now it is mash time.
Oh boy, it has the extra yum!
Just some rice bran.
It's my favorite!
I know. It's your day.
I liked my day. Can I have my day tomorrow too?
Always Major. Always.

Friday, May 5, 2017


a full lake, wildflowers, what could be sour?
 The green grass is delicious. Even the flowers are sweet. And Major is sour.

He drags his feet towards to trailhead. Is he ok? Does he feel sick, feet hurt, saddle pain? Turn back towards home…ZOOM!

how to pose your horse when you want a picture of the wall: mouthful of wildflowers

In the last month there hasn't been much riding. After the cancellation of our planned 50, I stopped conditioning (not planning another ride till July). I was tired of dealing with mud, which is still abundant. A few easy rides (and mistakes), but I've mostly been taking him out hiking, trying to heal my own injured elbow.

Well, hikes are only two to four miles. And he gets to stop often and have a grass snack as I catch my breath up those big hills (that I appreciate even more now). Not much real work for Major.

Our last ride was turning into a battle of wills, the minute I'd stop nagging, he'd slow to a crawl. Not working for me. Constant nagging is not an option. So we turned for home.

Not to give up, or give in, but to control the battle. Trot home! Now away from home! Now down this side trail, home, away, repeat! Do what I ask, please, and not later, but now!

Up the hill. And repeat.
I don't know if I do things correctly. I do what works for me. This got Major focused on my requests, got some energy out, but also got me a horse who walked home on a loose rein. The big, steep hill we worked a couple times might have helped too…

why walking home safely is important: pavement
going home: roadside grape vines

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


A horse trailer is such a simple box. Yet how is it that the mess is exponential to the outside simplicity? Spring cleaning the trailer is a chore I don't really mind doing (the house is a whole other story!). Once a year, this time scraping off winter slime/crud, glued on horse mash glop, making sure all was in working order, but mostly the accumulation of crap. How much crap? Trailer cleaning by the numbers:
one simple trailer: exponential mess

5 leadropes

3 halters

3 unused bit/hackamore options (I've never tried my S-hack, I need more control than that, or my myler combination bit, both bought in a discount fit)

2 sets of reins

color coordinated excess

5 girths (fat and skinny options)

4 hay nets

fat, skinny, dressage, take your pick!

5 fly masks (all in need of repair)

3 pairs of used chaps

9 hoof picks. (Are you kidding me? Where do these things come from? Are they breeding in the darkness?!)

hoof pick orgy

8 buckets (4 large, 4 small)

2 feed pans

6 brushes

3 empty fly spray bottles

1 horse. One.

Plus I have an entire set of everything in the stable. And three total saddles, with five saddle pads. I did retire many hoofpicks to the garage storage, everything else I just organized. So clean, but still probably too much stuff. Anyone else with this problem? Sigh...

Friday, April 21, 2017


Want to go on a ride? Where Major and I both made poor choices (though I can only blame myself for both of us.) Sure, it'll be fun (yeah, I said that too before I started).

There was a one day break in the weather, before more record-breaking rain (sigh). The parallel road trail shouldn't be too bad! (mistake #1) The first 200 yards was awful, sucking, slip-sliding mud. But then it got much better, except for the horrible, reaching poison-oak branches. Fun!

The Pioneer trail was lovely, glowing green. Major was in quite a mood (having already cantered up the hill in his pasture to meet me at the gate, blowing and snorting) and was hot to move out. Um, no, still to wet, though well drained. OK, maybe just a little bit. (mistake #2) Slow trot became trying to bolt off, careening around corners till I got him to slow down. OK, no more of that!

The lake trail shouldn't be too bad. And it was NOT a mistake. Lovely flowers, butterflies fluttering at our feet, a slight breeze, it was perfect. Some big, deep puddles for Major to charge into and snorkel, fun!

large trail puddle, perfect for snorkeling
we found some lupine!
Then the trail ended, swallowed by the lake. But there was trail peaking out the other side. Let's keep going! (not QUITE a mistake yet…wait for it.) A little bit more of good trail out of the water, and the water crept higher, and higher.

see, there's trail on the other side!

And here is Mistake #3: not turning around. We pushed though, because I didn't want to deal with my hot, chargey horse if we turned around. And Major is game to push through just about any obstacle. Brave horse + stupid rider = dicey situation. Because the lake got deeper, and higher ground was just a boggy mess. But better than swimming! Maybe.

should have stopped here

Because there was some dry ground, and then swamp, and then rocks IN the bog, and then lake. The short section was seemingly stretching out longer and longer. And not safe. I knew that partway through, but was going back a better option? I didn't think so, as there was more bad trail behind us than in front of us.

leaving the lake, but not the mud, behind

But we finally got to higher ground on the upper trail. And Major promptly tried to bolt off. Not happening, no more mistakes today! We took the rock trail, but slowly, over granite slabs and through more reaching poison oak, both of us dodging the larger branches, and just wanting some good, firm, easy ground!

This is my too-much-mud face

We didn't find much firm ground, or common ground, that ride. I remind myself that I am at fault for my horse's behavior (or misbehavior) at all time. And I was humbly reminded not to push through concerns or use sketchy or unsafe trails.

Me and Major, making poor life choices mistakes since 2009.

and I almost starved!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

rabbit food

A very large rabbit was seen at our stable today.

seriously, where is my treat?

He did need to be bribed with new treats, but grudgingly posed for some photos, before scampering back under his shelter.

Because it started raining…again.

The new treats were a big hit with the four horses who tried them:

Major's Embarrassing Muffins
(not those muffins!)
3 cups shredded carrot
2 cups oats
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cinnamon (can omit, but it's yummy)
1/2 cup molasses (can omit, just use more applesauce)
1/2 cup applesauce

mix it all up, shove in the tin

makes 30 tasty treats
Complicated recipe instructions: Mix it all up. Shove appropriate amounts into mini muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 35–45 minutes. Makes 30 mini muffins. These are not just tasty for horses, they're human tasty too, minus some salt!

Note from Major: Just FYI, serving size should be 30 muffins. And I should not wear ears. I have ears. White and pink ones are embarrassing.

the things I tolerate…for treats
I'm going to emulate Major and hide under my shelter from the rain, and find another craft project. I did make a unicorn earlier, he has a home on my kitchen table.

"Makes One Unicorn." that makes me laugh
tiny unicorn keeps watch

Tiny unicorns and large rabbits, maybe all this rain is driving me a little crazy…

watch for large rabbits at your stable too!