Friday, April 21, 2017

mistakes

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!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

reaching spring

Only a week until the official start of Spring. Usually a time of lovely trail rides, clear skies, and flowers. This year…we have flowers. But intense late season storms have brought rain and crazy hail, keeping many of the trails a muddy mess, and overcast, gloomy days are not much fun to ride in. In California's Northern Sierra Nevada (yeah, I'm right in the middle of that) we're on the verge of breaking the record for the wettest year on record, less than 1 more inch needed! A little moderation would have been nice, but we'll take it.

But exploring must be done, because pretty things lurk even under the cloudy skies, next to overflowing waterways, and along rain-damaged trails. And sometimes the sun comes out too!

turkey tail fungus

my favorite orange friend

newt, time to move on

The trails have been hard hit this winter, I took a hike to see if one major trail had been cleared, and the trail crews had been hard at work!

way above the river

yeah for trail crews!

insect supervisor
At the bottom of the canyon it is a bit warmer, and there were more flowers to show for it. But the warm rocks were a good place for a snack and to just take in the view.

river wide

purple brodeia

california poppy

Darkling beetle better get off the trail!
Lucky to have access to so many trails, after exploring the middle American river, it was time to head into the valley. The lower American is guided by levees, so is more controlled, but still rushing and cold this time of year.

lupine abounds

unique flower

ever get the feeling you're being watched?

not all is soft and pretty: spiky but still lovely

After the drought, and epic rainfall, all the plants are so green, colorful and alive. It seems like it has taken so long to reach Spring this year, but finally nature is exploding all over. I think it is time to celebrate.

found, not made! Trail emoticon




Friday, April 7, 2017

waylaid

Between rainstorms and mud, I fit in a couple good training rides that had set us up well for the first endurance event of the season. Then on our last training ride Major felt...not right. He wasn't forward, was that an off step I felt? I came home discouraged.

scary plastic on trail

at the river, too high to play in

bad trail erosion
For me, three weeks before the event is my go/no go event line. If I don't have a good ride then, I'm not going to push it. So I was sending in my cancellation when they actually cancelled the ride itself! I'm still hoping to get my entry fee back (that is a whole issue in itself) and thinking about the upcoming season.

the little bit of the lake trail not covered in debris

that way home!

I love the trail, and seeing Major improve his fitness. Competition scares the crap outta me every time. Am I going to break my horse, is he going to kill me? Is this fun?

I think it is. But I'm still pondering about it. Most years I go through this same debate. I had wanted to do this ride becasue it was different. A couple other different rides are on my list, I don't want to do the same-old each season. But first I actually have to get out there.

So took Major out on the local trails, and he was forward, sound and very silly. Too much time off, too fit of a horse. So my optimism is slowly returning. Along with a huge late season rain storm for the weekend.

I'm trying to get the alfalfa in here!

Sigh. So today instead of riding between rain storms on muddy trails I cleaned his pasture, and locked Major out so he wouldn't try to tip over play with the manure cart. Waylaid again.

Monday, March 20, 2017

stolen moments

A day off work. Sunny and almost too hot for March. And the trail ahead.

After slopping through more mud than I expected (still?!), we found the sand. The lake is low to allow for the snow to fill it (and 190% of normal snow levels makes for a lot of water). The sand is deep, and we just walk (and not rolling! I had to remind Major).

Folsom dam in the distance

grass, sand, and distant snow

We had a view of the Folsom dam one direction, and the snow-buried mountains in the other. The breeze played with Major's mane, as he looked toward home. It was just a moment, but it was all I needed this day.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

finally

The sun came out, and so did everyone else. But I did have the trails blissfully to myself for the first part of the day…

Major eagerly stepped off the trailer, and needed to be forcibly removed from some parking lot grass. He was starving you know! But he was happy with his crack alfalfa hay bag instead, and we quickly tacked up and left the staging area, trails to ourselves.

in front of us: the dam we climbed last time!

We saw a few runners (hey, that horse is wearing Crocs!), but otherwise the trail was clear. We did manage to be the first to break the spider webs strung across the trail (with my face), but the wooden bridge at the waterfall was empty, and it was clear sailing (trotting?). Down to the bridge, and now for up the other side, had any of the last rides improved his fitness?

waterfall + bridge + no people = awesome
only two tiny people on No Hands

Up and up, Major wanted to trot, so we did for quite a while. He isn't as out of shape as I thought! But he did tire out, so I did some hiking too. This ride was lots of elevation and pretty good distance, I wasn't worried about how long it took.

lovely creekside trail

snack break

Fun snack breaks and quick trotting along the creek, but then we found rocks. And mud. And more rocks. I hate this part of the trail, and usually avoid it, but took a wrong turn somewhere! Hikers were coming up the hill, we were going down, and no one seemed to be having much fun. But it was. We were out on a beautiful day after what felt like months of being cooped-up. I'll take it.

Major questioning his life choices

there was some mud…

and a pond to wash off the mud!

A lovely pond distracted us, then a good red dirt hill. But we're still on the other side of the river. Down we headed, when we were passed by a few riders. Major practiced a bit of prancing being obnoxious just being a jerk. Good practice for endurance rides, so I held him back and circled, and we walked a bit more calmly. Until the next group. Repeat. It was great actually, an opportunity to practice correct bad behavior.

red dirt hill

Major paying attention to the fisherman on the other side

But he was also awesome. A tight squeeze when six other riders coming up wanted to get by, he sidepassed over to the very edge of the trail, and stood, not moving, while everyone passed by. Yeah, trail skills!

stunning water

Back across the bridge, I was glad there weren't too many people on the bridge. But in the next three miles I passed more than 60 people. I think every idiot oblivious human was on the trail. Dogs off leash, tiny chihuahua on a short rope who escaped from his owner and almost got trampled. Strollers, (on a single-track trail). And my favorite: three chihuahuas being carried by a man, while his wife carried a huge, soft-sided pet carrier for them (what is is with Chihuahua owners?).

we're being shadowed

The bridge at the creek was covered in feral children and people taking photos. At this point I was take-no-prisoners "You need to get off the bridge so I don't smash someone against the railing." They moved quickly, and I thanked them very much, and kept going. Some days are for slowing and letting folks pet your pretty horsie. And some days are not.

arriving back (thanks SO for the photo!)

dirty, happy pony

After the ride Major was happy to roll in the only dirt patch in the whole staging area. I was happy just to sit in the sun and watch my once clean, now dirty horse, be happy in the green grass. Spring is almost here, this year more sweet than ever. Finally.