Thursday, April 2, 2020

see ya

Major is like the little kid who can't just walk somewhere, he has to run. And that includes EVERY time he enters his pasture from the bottom arena. On this day I'd been cleaning his pasture, he was eating weeds around the edges of the arena (so much more fun than eating in your own pasture, didn't you know?). The gate had been open for at least 10 minutes. Then he lifted his head, and even from a distance I saw that flicker in his eye.

Up his head came, across the arena he trotted (he always slows though the moat gate with little ditch) and he galloped up the hill! There was no extra feed under his shelter, so he just wandered the alley (between the pastures) and tried to play with everyone. Glad my horse is having a good time.

I tried this "running places" thing later, and ran to the end of my driveway. Other than worrying about falling on my face, I admit, it was pretty fun…

Saturday, March 14, 2020


So, it's a little crazy out in the world, huh?! I can't even find the energy or enthusiasm to blog right now, and I know everyone is dealing with pandemics and closed workplaces and cancelled events and I am not special in that regard.

But on a lighter note, while we got no rain AT ALL in February, they're now forecasting a week of rain. And our trails are pretty and green, so if you need an easy remedy from life stress for a short time, feel free to picture yourself riding behind these ears.

my favorite curve with fern lining

buckeye, fern and poison oak, all green

Careful though, keep a hold of those reins, he's been pretty full of it.

Take care everyone.

rock trail all mossy

Friday, February 28, 2020

leap day!

Tomorrow is February 29, Leap Day! To some it is just an odd calendar anomaly, a necessary quirk of accurate timekeeping, but for me it is a FREE DAY! If you were given a free day what would you do? Well, now you have one! So get out and ride, hike, read a great book (ok, those are what I will be doing, do what you like!). I give you permission to do no chores or necessary life things (that laundry can wait).

Leap day… feel the wind in your hair!

Note that I say what I want to do. Major may have different opinions (doesn't he always).

leap day is not for spooking at the standard turkeys

leap day is not for the ear that wants to go home

it is definitely NOT for being a thug when left alone for 5 minutes

You'll have to wait four years for another opportunity, so get out and enjoy your Leap Day!

Monday, February 24, 2020

monday moment: moody

When skies are gray and you have to go for a hike, it is good to stare off toward home like a Calvin Klein perfume model…

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

cowabunga (revisited)

I apologize for the title, but I couldn't help myself! We went riding with the steer again, this time on purpose! My friend C texted me if I wanted to go riding with the trail-riding steer. Sure! I wondered why she wanted to, as the last time we encountered the steer Major was curious and her horse Friday wanted to teleport into another zip code. But we're all up for a challenge.

handsome Jazzy, the Texas longhorn

The rider is local and gets her riding steer out on different occasions, letting locals know they can join her for desensitizing. A very interesting woman with a fun riding partner, Jazzy the Texas longhorn steer!

Should we have chosen the day with 50 mile-an-hour wind gusts? In hindsight, maybe not! We were riding at a local nature preserve, very small and flat, with wider trails and good sight lines. We had never been there before (because there is a total of three miles of trail, not much exploring to do!). Major did what is important at a new place with crazy wind: eat from his hay bag.

We tacked up then the steer arrived. We watched them tack up and walk about, Major was skeptically curious but not concerned. Friday was a bit more suspicious, and another friends horse was downright nonchalant!

heading out, an unusual view!

We headed out on the trail and Major was thinking it was another trail ride. Though he was annoyed that it was a bit slow and that he was not in charge. But that steer can move! It did a little trot/almost pace gait that Major could slow trot along behind. The horses switched out places, but I will say Major did not like to be followed by the steer, that was very suspicious so we circled around.

not sure about that guy up there (that we had just been following)

best option: put your friend between you and the steer

We practiced stopping in line, passing the steer, being passed, coming across the steer standing on the side of the trail (laying in wait as Major and Friday decided), the wind was gusting, we passed some llamas in their adjacent pasture, and Major had enough.

at a break on the trail

His brain was just too full. He was getting more and more up from the steer and the wind and the new place (our last ride had been 16 miles then he sat in the pasture for a week while I was busy, that certainly didn't help), and I decided I did not need to ride the horse I have for the first part of an endurance ride on a pleasure day. I wanted to end on a good note! So I got off and hiked along, following the steer. Major decided that was OK and he could handle that.

needing a bit of a mental break

We walked with them a bit, then I got back on, said thank you, and went off to give Major a little trot for good behavior. Friday and C came with us, they had enough as well. It was very fun and a great learning experience. I'm not too worried if we encounter them on trail, but I don't think Major will be herding cows anytime soon!

windblown Major dealing with his difficult life with his friend on the OTHER SIDE of the trailer

Monday, February 17, 2020

conversations with major: thank you

Mmm, what is this bag?
It’s a present Major!
Who gave me this?
My Aunt Susie, Uncle John and family.

They’re so nice! I can’t open it, give me!
Be polite. And patient.
I’m not very good at that.
Yes, I know Major.

OK, please give it to me? nom, nom, nom, these are delicious!! I need many more please.
Just three.
Not nearly enough, but ok. 

What do you say?
Give me more!
No, what do you say?
oh yeah, THANK YOU (now give me more.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Major surveying the trail clearing: I can see the skate park now!

We started down the trail, heading out of Auburn for a longer ride. I'm in no rush for competition, but wanted to see where Major's fitness was after three months of not much.

a quiet moment on single track

After the first empty mile we encountered three teenagers walking along. It was a wide part of the trail, I said hi and they turned to see us. "Damn, that horse is an absolute unit," commented one man. I assumed this was a good thing (later confirmed it's a Reddit thread of cool big animals, so I guess OK!). On we traveled.

We stopped for the next woman to come hiking up the hill. "May I pet your horse?"And she proceeded to give starting-to-sweat Major a big hug and smelled his neck. I apologized for his dirtiness, but she just noted "Horses, they smell so good!"

Two encounters in two miles, not counting the people we just friendly waved to, hmmm. I remembered Dom's excellent post about being an equine ambassador and knew we were a part of that today.

Above the waterfall we waited for some people to climb the single-track section below. While we waited a runner, also standing there, asked to pet Major, "I've never pet a horse before, thanks!"

A distance trail runner (you can always tell who they are), came from behind and slowed down, I waved him through saying the horse was fine, "That is a bad-ass horse, cool," he said as he ran past.

Closer to the bridge now, two teen girls were taking selfies with the river in the background, I heard them exclaim, "A horse, a  horse!" I asked if they wanted a selfie with Major, and their faces lit up as they posed and took a couple photos.

I said hi to probably 50 hikers, people with strollers, babies, dogs and actual runners. It barely slowed me down. I know not everyone wants to take the time, but if you can, I really think I made a few people really happy with our interactions that day, and on this incredibly busy shared-access trail, I think that is important to do.

We headed up the other side where Major decided to kick it into higher gear. Fewer people use this steeper side, and we were only passed in the opposite direction by the distance runner, "Hi again," we exclaimed.

a warm day in Cool

Over in Cool I was going to just turn around, but Major wanted to head to the staging area. Where he proceeded to ignore the water trough, ate a bit of grass, and was on fire to keep moving.

So back down the canyon we went, again passing almost no one until the bridge. There we splashed though the large puddle in the middle, while someone took a distance photo from the other side.

keeping an ear out for bridge trolls

Now it was really crowded, but there is a time and place. We kept trotting but slowed for everyone and said hi, then sped up the the clear area. Major thought this was a very fun game! At the waterfall again I waited at the top while some people climbed up…and it was a friend from work! Talked briefly, but she could see Major was on a mission (though he was standing quietly).

sweaty Major looking back towards the trailer

Once past the waterfall the trail clears abruptly, and we motored along. Then we came to a halt, there was an emergency rescue crew in the middle of the trail, putting a person on a trail gurney. Glad they're there to help, even happier it wasn't me!

working on patience while emergency crew helps someone

The ride was a bit of everything: social hour, trail conditioning, patience training. We accomplished the 16 miles and 2200+ feet in three moving hours, 3 hours 20 minutes total time. Subtracting time at water stops, waiting for other users and being an ambassador probably took 10 minutes of a three hour ride. It was trail time well spent for Major and me, the impact we made to others is even more important.

Monday, February 3, 2020

monday moment: spicy

Major has an entire pasture to burn off energy in. He is turned out 24/7. But on a recent walk I was either walking a ticking-time bomb or a kite…

I decided to just see if he wanted to run around in the area. Usually he just eats weeds in the corners. My pictures aren't great (I didn't catch any of the good bucks), but they sure are silly!

oh boy!

want me to come over?

sure, you can trust this wild eye!

no? ok, see ya!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

bright days

The month of January has seemed unusually gloomy and gray. There is typically more sun to dry out between the rain, but this year the overcast has prevailed. The slippery mud is avoidable but not much fun (plus my football team lost in the playoffs, another depressing thought).

But there are moments of bright, and I've tried to take advantage. A quick after-work ride stolen here and there, and one longer ride from home on local trails (which was more frustrating than fun with Major being a monster beast).

fern grotto

I needed a ride with some available long trots, so to the dam site we went. The trails there are well draining gravel roads and rocky trail, with a little sand thrown in. Just the footing we needed. How I tell how much we needed this type of ride: I took almost no photos in ten miles because we were flying along having too much fun!

pay attention here, the trail is tricky

can't get though (the access road/trail is literally 100 feet on the other side of this jagged rock pile)

a nice longish gravel stretch

Plus the sun was shining, I practically had the trails to myself, and we wandered and explored with no set plan. Down down to the river, then following the river on the sand and later rock trail. We headed back up the hill and Major was on fire, so I let him canter (he later regretted his life choices when he figured out it was hard and steep, too late buddy, keep going!).

I love the weird barrel trail
and we found the lower end of the barrels too!

We cut over and headed up the old asphalt road, mostly riding on the side. There we power-trotted up while fancy bikes in low gear struggled up. Horsepower for the win!

watching construction (yeah, I know you want to go back up Major, nice ears!)

Lots of trotting and elevation make for a happier horse and human. And looking forward to more bright days ahead.

Friday, January 24, 2020

ride along

I thought I'd take you on an after-work ride, mostly in photos. My plan did not quite go according to plan (oh, drama!) but just be patient and wait till the end, it's something cool…

The sun finally decided to shine after four days of murky, cloudy and rain. That is too many days for me (yes, you all can laugh, but it's why I live in California!). I left work at 3:30pm and headed over to get my horse, planning on being on the trail by about 4:15 (it's lighter later, but not much!).

How dirty could he get overnight? His new name is PigPen, sigh…

not ashamed of being muddy and disgusting, glad he is brown!

AND the other side too, sigh…

But he got as clean as I cared to (note in all the upcoming photos I totally missed his right ear!) and we headed out down the lane at a walk.

down the lane

into the forest…

crossing the little creek
high road or low road (we stay on the low rode, don't want to slip!)

The woods are lovely, dark and deep (thanks Robert Frost for those words) and wet. I haven't retouched these pictures, and we didn't stop much (as you'll note from the blur). Major was as happy as I was to be out and we walked the muddy bits but he quickly picked up an easy trot.

moon/shark fin mossy rock

I carry a pruner, but someone has chainsawed these trees, so nice!

I love the winter trees
 The trails were a bit slippery but Major is sometimes actually sensible about that, and will slow down (though we still discuss that he does NOT get to go around the puddle in the middle of the trail, arghh). More trotting because the footing was better than I thought it would be!

speedy single-track

two roads diverged in the wood

At a fork I turned left to go on the ridge trail (I often take the trail to the right when I am hiking with Major, makes a nice three mile loop). I was on a mission to go up on the ridge trail and try to find the deer remains I'd seen in December. But it had been awhile, so I was sure the forest creatures had dragged everything off, but it's a pretty trail anyway! Major likes this trail as it is a bit more open and he can trot for longer stretches!

heading up to the ridge

pine-needle sunset

ridge trail

my not-so-secret trail…the road less traveled

I took the turn to my secret trail (totally not secret, in fact I marked it with a piece of flagging tape hoping more people would explore. I guess most people aren't so crazy adventurous around here). Major is great at scrabbling over a fallen tree and through a winter-dormant stand of poison oak (ok, so I don't always make the best choices, kind-of like my horse!), I saw it!!

Found it! 1.5 months in the forest, freshly dead to skull, amazing.

The deer skull was still there, with antlers attached! The jaws were there but scattered about with the leg bones and spine. I hopped off Major and picked up the skull, a couple vertebra were still attached, but came off pretty easily. It was mostly all clean, just a little bit rank.

I'd wanted to make this a longer ride, but with the addition of skull, that was not to be. Major didn't care at all about this long-dead thing, so I clambered back aboard, awkwardly trying to hold skull and reins. No real way to tie it on without stabbing Major! Major did take a bit of advantage when he figured out I wasn't in as much control as usual, let's just say there was much jigging involved (and the need to remind myself to train Major to neck rein, though rating him is another issue!).

Viking ride home!

As we headed home I felt like a bit of a Viking, holding this skull and trying to manage my very up horse. (And I totally pictured a great mystery detective: how did we find this rider on the side of the trail, impaled on a deer skeleton antler, and hoofprints all around?) But we got home safely, if in a bit of a blur.

my only attempt at a photo while juggling phone, horse and skull.

Back home the sun was well set and darkness was upon us, but Major had mash and hay waiting, and I had a smelly skull trophy (though it is a present for a friend). I thought it was a very successful after-work adventure…though not sure you'll want to ride-along with me in the future if I keep finding dead things…