Thursday, October 22, 2020

d.i.y.: zombie skeleton horse

I love Halloween. I don't actual love scary things, no scary movies for me! But I had an inspiration while cleaning out my shed, and finding a box labeled "Horse Hospital." These old guys were well loved, broken legs, all scuffed and beat up (they did "fight" when I played with them as a kid!).

old guy, seen better days
I was going to donate them, but thought: I can make projects out of these! First up: running black appaloosa, but with broken leg and lots of scuff marks. He is "vintage," but of no value in his sad condition! You can make your own skeleton out of an Breyer, or any horse model from the thrift store (I see Barbie horses there all the time.)

I had a popsicle stick taped on his broken leg!

new leg, from Sculpey clay
First I had to fix his leg. I used some Sculpey clay I had (it only dries when you bake it, so you can work it a long time). I modeled the leg (pretty roughly) around a piece of wire. When it was done I sanded it to better shape, and drilled a small hole in the model leg. A bit of epoxy and some paint, good as new! (now this is not a perfect fix, but good enough worked for me!)

pretty simple supplies
I thought about painting the whole model flat black, but I liked the original finish, scuffs and all. I found a horse skeleton graphic online and printed it as reference. A pencil, some craft paints and small brushes, that's all that is needed.

draw, in pencil, rough skeleton

see, rough, not accurate!
I penciled in the skeleton roughly, this is not anatomically accurate, just close enough. The pencil lines can be covered with paint or erased later if needed. I did not take photos while painting, because it was pretty straight forward: apply paint inside pencil lines. I ended up doing two coats to get a solid color, and my color was white with a bit of black and brown to down it down just a bit.
accented with a bit of red
I did paint his eye red after I decided he was a zombie horse. Also a little red in his flaring nostrils, and that was it. 

final zombie horse, I love him!
He'll sit on my dining table with the warty pumpkin for the season, I think he is super fun (and easy)! Do you have any horsey Halloween decorations? If not, make this guy!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

coin flip

I love horses. Since you're reading a horse blog, I'm assuming you do too. The care and time (whether that is riding, training, etc) of horses takes up many hours in the week.

But what about other interests? It is hard to make the decision sometimes! Go for a ride or a hike? Sit and read a book or watch the horses quietly munch hay? Go for an early morning swim and ride after? Most of the year that is the balance I try to find.

But every fall my interests collide, when a beautiful Sunday morning dawns, and I stay home, not riding, because football season has begun! I know for many people that is what drives them OUT of the house, but I have been pretty passionate about NFL football for many years, and have to decide on any given Sunday, horses or football?

I check the game schedules, who is playing when, and decide my game plan. If my team, the Seattle Seahawks are playing, I am for sure watching, from coin flip to final minutes. If other teams I like, or a game is supposed to be competitive, then I'm watching. The horse, and other interests, can have the other six days. 



I recently ordered a new helmet (too many whacks with tree branches!), and decided my interests needed to collide a bit more. I made some mostly subtle stickers, just black on gray (with a green hawk eye!), but enough to show my NFL spirit while riding. Just a bit, I'm sticking with orange for tack (I haven't switched our colors to Seahawks wolf gray, college navy and action green! Though I am asked in this area, in my orange and black, if I support San Francisco Giants baseball!). 


new logo and old school football

 The only problem is, I think Major might support the Broncos, or the Colts (but never the Cowboys)…

I support actual turf fields, no astroturf!

Friday, October 9, 2020

the wait

We were on the trail at 5:30pm. The leaves are so dry they don’t rustle, they just crack and fall into pieces. A dust trail behind us shows our slow progress. But the sky was blue for the first time in ages…

Everything WAY too crunchy…

We headed down to the trail, and on the edge of the forest Major stopped. I swear it was just to take in the blue sky and the trail stretching away in front of us. We rode along the sandy lake trail where the dust stayed behind and we enjoyed the evening air. (So did way too many boats, but I was trying to be an optimist and ignore their loud engines and bad stereos). 

pausing for the view

final view of the lake

Drafts of cool air come off the lake, and the rocks and sand combine into something wonderful in the shadows. Coming back through the forest we went slowly, to clear old smoke from our lungs and savor the time. Our shadow raced ahead, we were in no hurry to catch up this time.

shadow winning

Last month we had just started back with some walking rides when the state caught fire again, and I gave up. Hazardous air for the horses and riding, worrying about family nearer the fires, (plus, Covid, politics, etc!!!), it was just too much. So I hid from the smoke, working and reading, and just waited, again. I feel like I lost a summer. No long rides, no horse camping, not much exploring. 

I usually hate fall, with colder days, darkness coming soon, all a harbinger of winter damp darkness. But I think this year I'll be enjoying our fall rides a bit more, as a good escape from the world, maybe taking a little more time to appreciate that golden glow of the lower sun light through trees, untainted air.

are you sure we can't go back out?

Friday, September 18, 2020

falcon crest redux

oh boy, where are we?

A couple weeks ago, on a day of supposedly "light green/yellow" air quality, I headed out with C and Friday to Falcon Crest staging area. Now, I knew it had been a few years since we visited (and blogged) this staging area on the other side of Folsom lake, but when I looked it had been February 2012! Where does the time go?!

long, very creaky bridge

low lake, no playing
 I remembered how the trails connected, but not much else. Parking was easy, and the trails were all pretty shady. Lots of oak trees, dry grass, yucky star thistle and buckeye trees. The lake is WAY down, and not safely accessible (sucking mud), so no cooling in the lake for Major and Friday.

car chassis, been there a LONG time!

feed me sandwich…

The horses did appreciate the break when we stopped to eat our snack. How can I ignore this face? PB&J sandwich is always shared.

nice trough for drinking and scooping!


lovely, old oak
It was not a long adventure, the smoke layer was lowering, and we didn't want to do too much as it was also getting hot (double fun, yeah!). There was a nice trough where I used my scoop and cooled Major off, I wanted to get in myself!

I think I'll put this on my list to go back to in Spring. And not take eight years to do it!

re-create photo fun!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020


 We've been living in an old ashtray for almost four weeks, but I'm learning to deal with it and actually pretty happy with that.

We have not had to evacuate (though all is packed and planned as it can be). Every morning the first thing I do is check the air quality app, and am sadly disappointed.

this hay is so much better (exactly the same)
mmm, hay bag is tasty

Major and the rest of the horses seem largely unaffected, though incredibly bored. I've been giving him a slow feed hay net with the string removed and locking carabiner on top. This is great fun to throw around the pasture, keeps him busy. He did tear down one shade curtain and removed the safety pipe around some poles though…

Trying SO HARD to be good, see that look though?!

As far as we go, just to the forest entrance

I've been taking him on a short daily walk, and he tries to be very good. I can handle about half an hour outside, and try to find him some hidden green grass, but I've come home walking a dragon/kite a few times now.

hazy Foresthill bridge

I tried a short hike underneath the Foresthill bridge on a "less than 150" day. Yeah, I need less than 100 to manage outside I discovered!

Even the Magic 8 ball can't help me

When this smoke clears we'll need to ease back into riding, as the horses have been breathing this bad air for weeks. Taking it easy will be a tough sell I think! (We did one short ride on a day when it was less than 100 air quality, but it was 95 degrees, so that helped lower the enthusiasm!)

our "new normal" sunrise

Until we can ride/hike/kayak/camp again at least there is work, and crafts, and football to occupy my time. The sun shall rise (though smoky), and I shall have to be patient. Not mine (or Major's!) strong suit, but we're certainly having to work on it! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

d.i.y.: stirrup leather covers

This project came from necessity: it was too dang hot to ride with my half chaps! I tried a ride without chaps, and even with my full sheepskin cover, the leathers would still dig in (maybe I just have sensitive shins?). I could have bought some $45 sheepskin covers, but 1. they're longer than I need, and 2. $45!

I already had all these materials, but I think this would cost you less than $5, even if you bought your favorite fleece pattern!

What you need for this incredibly complicated project:
  1. scissors
  2. pins
  3. glue (I used E6000, but hot glue would work, though probably less washable) and a stick to spread glue (if needed)
  4. ruler/cardboard
  5. piece of fleece (I used one approximately 24x24, and only used 24x20 of it). This made two 12 inch tubes. (If you need longer, just a bit more fabric would be needed. I've seen many stirrup covers are 18 inches long, so you'd need one yard for two covers.)
1. I had a metal ruler that measured 1.25 inches wide. Since my leathers are 1" wide, this was a good size to wrap. If you don't have a ruler, just cut a strip of cardboard from all those boxes of horse stuff you know you order.
2. I placed two pins, one on each end, NOT along the length. You need to be able to remove these later (and if you do the whole length they'll be stuck inside the tube, ouch, stabby!).
3. Place a line of glue along the edge, and roll ruler and fabric over to cover.

4. Neatly roll the ruler/fabric up in a tube. I rolled mine about 8 times, more if you want it fluffier.

5. When you get the thickness you want, cut that edge approximately straight, and run a line of glue along the edge.

6. Fold that final piece over, and let everything sit for awhile while you have a celebratory drink.
7. After the glue has dried, remove the ruler and the end pins.

8. I cut my 24" tube into two 12" pieces. (If you do longer ones just do this twice at 18", probably easier than one 36" long tube).

9. Put them on your leathers! Now I have wintec webbers, which are a single strap, but this would fit standard leathers too, maybe just a bit more shoving, fleece is a bit stretchy! Amaze at your matching ensemble (or just use black fleece, which would show less dirt!)

I have only used these twice, one was a longer ride (before the heat wave/smoke) and I give them a stamp of approval! The only downside: now the disgusting horse sweat is on my leg and not my half chaps, but I'm cooler! I'll probably make a second set to have while these get washed, but I'm pretty happy with this simple DIY. Is this something you need? Try it!

Friday, August 28, 2020

disaster fatigue

I'm am overwhelmed between covid new normal, heat wave, hometown area on fire (again), smoke inundating the area and not riding, so there is much complaining in the next few paragraphs!

yucky smoky skies

The amazing fire crews have a better handle on the Walbridge fire, caused by the crazy lightning storms, that was decimating the area near my hometown. Other areas are still under threat from the same lightning complex and damage assessment will begin. (A favorite state park, Big Basin, has all the infrastructure gone, though luckily the redwood trees are amazingly resilient!). And now hurricanes (luckily not here!). Flood, fire, plague…I'm afraid to ask what next?!

neat river rock lichen
manzanita bark

 The air quality has been terrible, and even when it doesn't smell like smoke there is so much particulate matter in the air I can't see the other side of the canyon one mile away. I thought the river air might be cleaner, but it is at the bottom of the canyon, and I was really wrong, it was worse! At least I was then cool and smoky, instead of so hot!

hiding under olive tree, not wanting to go home yet

my usual view

Major has been cantering up to the gate to meet me…all because he is desperate for a real ride. He drags me down the road as I tail him, but I can't handle more than about a mile of walking in the disgusting air. He seems fine, but I know strenuous activity is out (a walk is good for our mental health). We did a ride one evening when the air felt better, but I cut it short after half an hour, unable to breathe. He was very good after no riding for a week and a half, and only took off cantering in one sandy trail stretch where he just couldn't take it any more. I understand buddy!

smoky fire ball, sinking

It's been hard to find a silver lining, so why not re-watch British Bake Off? Such a pleasant show to lose yourself in, and I even finally tried one of the "basic" desserts, and it turned out amazing. Now layer cakes and strange icings and pastry are too much, but this was lemony-perfect. 

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle cake

The air quality is now in orange, and not red or purple warning, so I'm hoping in the next few days it will get even better I can can burn off some ennui on the trail.

from my favorite Edward Gorey series

And the sunrise was pretty. Sometimes it is the little things.