Tuesday, July 31, 2012

all is fair

Every year the California State Fair comes around to Sacramento. And I think I don't want to go…and then I go for a few hours and it is fun. I don't like big crowds/unruly children/loud stuff. But the cool of the evening leaves the crowds at home, children corralled in the kids area, and the only loud part was a 1980s hair-band cover act which was pretty funny. ("Pour Some Sugar on Me" is still stuck in my head)

There is lots of junk food, which I amaze at: deep fried butter? Key-lime pie dipped in chocolate on a stick? Oh, chocolate covered bacon! My indulgence is a once-a-year funnel cake, powered sugar only, that's enough fried food to last me another year.

But it IS fun to walk around and see the exhibits. I like to start at the animals. This year my SO went early and walked through all the booths selling stuff, so I didn't have to (true love!). I don't care about special tupperware or sheets or tortilla warmers or magic lotion or fancy knives.

In the livestock area there are very few horses, just a few for demos, and they are in a separate barn, probably so people will not feed them their fingers. A mini-horse jumping (in hand) demo was going on, and a pretty team of Clydesdales came by. There were enormous long-horn cattle, actually quite scary how huge they are on their tiny pens. But goats, and baby piggies, only days old! So cute.

this guy liked being scratched on the head
stealth sheep costume (I know it keeps him clean for showing)
I love bunnies, raised them when I was a kid
After livestock (and a stop for giant ear of corn) there are buildings to wander though with art, displays, etc. In a building celebrating toys (called Toytopia) there were toys from every era, though of course I gravitated to the Breyer horses…and the video game corner (vintage Space Invaders anyone?). I was distracted by all the shiny things and didn't take any photos.

The counties building has a display from many (duh) state counties. Some are pitiful, they should have let some elementary students come up with something instead of a bureaucrat. They had a nature section too, of animals that could not be released due to injury. A bobcat slept away in the corner, hiding from everyone, but the bald eagle sat there grandly, with only one wing from an accident.

The art show has two very different buildings. One has amateur art, most done by students, much of it still very good (and much better than I could do!). The other building has professional art, most of which is great/interesting. The driftwood horse was pretty neat.

how cute, right?
Driftwood horse
But I WANT THIS! It is huge, the height of the entire building, and just glows from within. It is so cool. It is like all my favorite sci-fi brought to life.Wow.

Device for Creating Stars, Model A

After all the exhibits I'm a bit brain-fried from looking at everything. So that is when I get funnel cake. And wander back to the car, looking at random stuff, tired after walking 10 miles through the fair, glad to be leaving, but glad I came.

Didn't ride this year, but love any merry-go-round

Always ride the outside one that goes up and down!
Poor saddle fit? No turnout? This horse doesn't seem very happy.
Can I have a pony? Can I have a pony? Can I have a pony?
"see you later" says the totally creepy rabbit...haunting your dreams...

Monday, July 30, 2012

tevis fever

Everyone is buzzing about Tevis…me too! Previously I've only gone and watched the riders trot by, which is impressive. But this time I'll be crewing. I have PAGES of info to read and hopefully memorize. This for this horse and person, change this tack out at this check, drive here in the car to do this, then take the truck there, get some sandwiches, ice, for the horses or people? Make a mash, super sloppy at this check, only a little sloppy at this one.

It's crazy and a bit stressful, and I can't wait! It is good that my riders are very experienced, (15+ buckles between them) and we have other crew who have done it before. I'm good at following directions, not as good at waiting around, though there will be so much to see and do, I know I won't be bored!

I know other bloggers will be heading for the region, and have arranged to meet, if anyone else wants to join in let me know. And if anyone needs a hot shower or place to stay (who doesn't relish sleeping in a truck at the fairgrounds?!) let me know, I have inside locals information…

The moon last night was coming full. I was thinking it was about the same as the riders will have in those dark canyons. Crazy. Cool. Five days away.

Friday, July 27, 2012

anniversary 3

Three years ago I bought Major. It seems both a long time ago and just yesterday! This year we did lots of training, discovered new trails with new friends, and started our endurance career together. I can't wait to see what the next year brings…

I tried to take a graceful, lovely picture of him. Instead I got him looking for a carrot (we did carrot stretches earlier). I think it shows his personality more anyway!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

just camping

It wasn't riding for miles with my horse and my friend, like I'd planned on, but it was camping, and it was fun. Just me and my SO hiked the trails, scouting for the next horse camping trip. After all the hiking, I really appreciate what my horse does! Some trail is rocky fire and logging roads, with a few clear places. More of the trail is very technical, with everything from large rocks, downed trees, smooth granite and steep slopes. But all of it was gorgeous, with amazing views everywhere, and the lakes…wow. Jumping into a cold, clear mountain lake halfway through a hike, I could get used to that!

Above Lindsey Lake
trail choices
meadow of mules ears (no photoshop, it was this color!)
hard to see...but there be dragons...and Upper Rock lake
some rough trail
Penner Lake, a great cold swim (or call it refreshing)

small part of Penner Lake with trail on the right
near Island Lake
Lindsey Lake sunset
I can't wait to return and explore on horseback. Both the same trails I hiked, but with a different perspective. And there are many more trails left to explore…

Monday, July 16, 2012

trailer modification: vinyl floor

Who thought carpet was a good idea in a trailer dressing room? I'd replaced mine two years ago when I bought my new-to-me trailer, it had been moldy and smelled funny. New indoor-outdoor carpet installed, looked good, for about a week. Then hay and dirt and mud and everything else got embedded in it. Sweep it out, shop vac? I'm not very neat in the rest of my life, but it was driving me crazy! After being closed up weird smells would arise. Yuck.

I decided to replace the carpet with some sort of vinyl/linoleum floor. There are just a few steps:

1. Find cheap vinyl remnant. I'd looked at the big box stores ($40) and was gonna hit up the smaller places, when I searched on craigslist and found a perfect piece, $10. (Even better my awesome SO picked it up for me, it was closer to his work. And weird seller wanted to talk too much, glad it wasn't me.)

2. Take out existing trailer carpet, or make a template. I used the old carpet as a template, worked great. And when I took up the carpet and saw gross stains and tons of dirt underneath, I was vindicated!
dirty floor beneath carpet, though some is old carpet glue
3. Make sure it is more than 100 degrees in your garage. Don't wait till it is cooler because you are impatient. Suffer and sweat. It also helps if there is a huge forest fire less than 20 miles from your house, so it is really smoky and gross.

4. Assemble tools. Not much is needed: pencil, razor knife, long straight edge, that's about it. I needed tape too as my piece was a little wide but short. Patched with Gorilla tape, looks great, no problem.
old carpet on top of vinyl as template

template cut-outs for support beams, every trailer is different

patch for too short piece, go gorilla tape!

all trimmed, with tools used
5. Have a cool cat supervising. Shoo off cool cat because she is annoying and not helping. So she goes and uses a rock for a pillow, because life is hard.

gratuitous Tomas the cat picture because she's too darn cute

6. Take everything out of the trailer again, and roll out the cut vinyl. Trim if there are some places that don't fit.

rolling vinyl out in trailer
trim to fit, looks awesome!

7. Put all crap back in the trailer. This vinyl seems nice and thick, and seems to stay down without any glue or caulk. All the stuff holds it down too. Cheaper vinyl may roll up, then you'd need to use glue.

never be this clean again

will usually have more stuff in it than this too!

8. Sit back and admire the floor that will never look this nice again. And is nicer than parts of my house. And get antsy to actually USE the trailer and go somewhere!

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Major watched me walk across the arena, then go to the barn. And he again stood and watched as I rode around, on another horse!

Ok, Major watches anything that goes on in the arena, but I still felt guilty!

My barn owner T has too many horses, knew Major was recuperating, and offered to let me ride. It was a very nice offer. It was a bit strange. I've never ridden with her, and she hasn't seen me ride much. But I took her up on it, but it has been three years since I'd ridden a different horse!

Strange to say the least. Chili looks full Arab but is half Paint (hidden, he's a bay like Major). He and Major have opposite nose blazes, and Chili is much smaller, I think 15 hands. I tacked up with her gear (strange too) and tried him in the arena. I could easily mount from the ground! (But used the mounting black anyway.) Slightly different cues, very light in a hackamore, not a lot of lateral control. And then I asked for a trot. Bounce, bounce, bounce around the arena, tons of movement, I'm sure it's very pretty, but hard to adjust my posting. Felt ok, and headed out on the trail.

Barn owner T was riding her very green paint, me on a new horse, ready for adventure. I was ready for anything, Chili is very high-spirited, always looking, moving, something. I contrast to Major who I now see as SO mellow. But it was good. Just a quiet trail ride, mostly walking, some trot. This is the longest these horses have been out, about 6 miles! But I can remember when that was a huge accomplishment with Major too.

It was different to be on a green horse, who didn't have the muscle memory for a trot up a steep hill, and pulled himself along, and tried to canter when it got hard. I think Chili could be nice, when he learns to channel some of his "up" movement into "out," he might get smoother, or that might just be him. He was willing and sweet, a little in your space. But that is a personal preference of mine, no horses in the bubble. Which Major of course is always invading too.

I'd like to try riding him again, though well see if my saddle fits. I'm not a fan of the little Stuebben jumping saddle, I want my deep seat, knee rolls, caged stirrups and other life saving devices!

Major was not completely ignored. He got taken to a green patch of grass and stood around eating with his ice-pack on. And many carrots from his guilty mom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It is easy to get caught up in a busy life, and get frustrated, and whiny: my horse is a little bit broken, I work too many hours, it's 105 degrees... I was reminded today to be grateful.

My wonderful trimmer was out today, every four weeks since Major's feet grow like crazy. He's been trimming Major for almost three years, we talk and know the basics of each other's life. We were talking, the usual banal chit-chat about weather, his horses, kid, etc, and he said he'd been busy with family stuff. I'm not the type to pry, so I just said I hoped everything would be OK. He told me about his family tragedy, and my heart just breaks for everything they're going through.

You never know quite what to say in such a situation, except a heartfelt "I'm sorry." People going about their lives, doing their jobs, and you may never know the background situations they're dealing with.

Play with your pets, enjoy your horses, love your family and friends. Simple. Grateful.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

injured reserve

Damn. No fun camping trip. No riding for four weeks. Major is on the injured reserve list.

On Tuesday after an evening ride I noticed a hard knot on his left front. It was better on Wednesday, and since there was no heat, no soft swelling and no lameness, I figured it didn't need an emergency holiday vet call. But I did my research, and of course panicked.

It is great to have equine medical books, and the internet, but also a curse. Options include: his leg was going to fall off and die, horrible cripple, some expensive but solvable thing, minor inconvenience or it was nothing.

It didn't look like nothing, my best guess was a lateral fracture of the splint bone. But usually that involves a hard smack on something, which hadn't happened on our ride. I made an appointment and took Major to the vet, knowing an xray would be needed.

I was able to get an appointment on a Saturday, which was convenient. My vet was Dr. Langdon Fielding, who was great, and also an endurance rider. Major mostly behaved himself, though he got a bit antsy inside the building at the X-ray machine. He had to stand still, or they'd have to sedate him, but this is only the second time Major had ever been inside a building! But we got it done.

And I was right. This time I don't like being right, but as injuries go this seems to be pretty minor. Dr. Fielding said his horse had a similar injury before Tevis one year. Major's prognosis is good, just rest for the bone to heal. He doesn't have to be confined if he's not an idiot: we shall see. Re X-ray in four weeks. Until then, watch us both go stir crazy.

Seriously, no riding? That's ok, but can't take Major on a hike, nothing? Arrggh! I'm seriously going to find something to occupy my time. Definitely need to exercise more, and then? Finish painting the house? I have no idea.

* * * 

Major says: I went in the box this morning, I thought we were going for a fun adventure. When I was in the box two screaming things went by, loud!

They were fire trucks Major.

Then I got to this place that smelled like lots of horses. Mom said it was the V.E.T. It was ok, but I wanted to explore and Mom wouldn't let me. 

We have to wait our turn Major, plus you can't go explore everywhere, there might have been sick horses around.

I bet I could make them feel better! Oh good, we're going somewhere now. Oh, I don't want to go in the scary room!

We'll be OK, just pay attention and behave.

There's no sky! Scary, dancing, can we leave!!??

Just stay still a bit, you're just claustrophobic. 

I like grass and trees and sky, that's all I know. I don't know closet-phobic. Standing, standing, this is about all I can handle...

Knock it of.

standing, standing...

OK, done! See, not so bad. Let's go home.

Yeah, home, must roll off the V.E.T. smell. Oh, and carrots! Hmmm, icy thing on my leg...whatever, carrots!

You were a good boy, Now you get a long vacation. Oh, and I got you this better mask which will help the sunburn. 

Is it the smelly nose lotion? I don't like that stuff. Oh, a new face thing. It feels funny, and doesn't come off when I shake my head! Don't laugh, I had a bad day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

back to it

After the ride, a bit of ennui set in. So much prep and worry, the event was a blur, then you're just done and home. I gave Major the week off, but then it was back to riding.

what? back to work?

I did a fun ride with friends. They think Major is fast, he has the nickname of "Rocketman." Which makes me off-tune hum the Elton John song, or sometimes David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (a personal favorite)...Ground Control to Major Tom....

OK, focus now. Maybe Major isn't the only space cadet right now. I have vacation brain. That's because in a couple weeks I get to take Major camping up to Loney Meadows, which I explored on foot the other day. No words except gorgeous!

Loney Meadow wildflowers
Lindsey Lake
near Carr Lake view

I'm still fitting a few rides in, though without the pressure as before. I'm not planning an endurance ride until the end of August, so just taking it a little easy. I'll be crewing for an experienced Tevis rider (12 buckles!!!) more info on that to come.

I did take Major out to run with the SO. He is getting awesome at trail running, anyone need a ride-and-tie guy? But Major does think he needs to stay with his friend, and was an idiot tripping down hills, not paying attention, trying to catch up. I wasn't expecting the bad behavior, so had to step up the law enforcement, which was fine in the end. I also took Major on that ride sans boots, wanting to see how he did on the summer-baked rocky trails. He powered over the hard ground, no problems. Being in his irrigated pasture doesn't seem to cause any issues.

Major: Waiting for my friend to come up the hill!
Major: OK, he's the leader, that's cool.

I also was adding up my mileage for the Big Bad Blogger's Distance Race (most people have dropped out/never participated. Too bad, fun way to track stuff. A couple people are way ahead, but I think it is fun anyway). But I realize I have 574 miles for the year. OK, some people ride lots more than that, but that's pretty far for me! Not just long rides, but lots of little rides add up pretty quickly too. And now we can all sing "500 miles" (or not, you seriously don't want to hear me sing).

Out for a ride tonight in the heat, then Major gets a holiday and I spend a few relaxing days on a lake. With a boat. And good food. And a book. And a few fireworks thrown in too.