Saturday, February 23, 2013

I spy

A chronicle of a ride:

One horse eating his breakfast
Interesting spelling choice on barn blackboard

One horse tacked up
2 endurance riders from next door
Barking Dog trail aka "the servants quarters"
Big tree chopped up
Chestnut mare butt
Bay gelding butt
Very alert ears
Mucky puddle
Long Bar picnic table
Boy Scout troop

Trail towards home
No more other horse butts
Tiny spring ferns
Hobbit rocks
Snake alley
Bridge with broken railing
Boy Scout troop #2
Horse eating log
Palm trees where they don't belong

Runner ahead
Side trail
Rattlesnake Bar trash can
Hiker with 2 Australian cattle dogs, one hiding behind him afraid of horses
Cantering section

American River 50 first vet check area
Wildflowers: Indian paintbrush
Hikers with tiny tiny naked chihuahua
Glorious red Manzanita tree
Full water trough
Avery pond
2 pairs of ducks

Mountain lion warning sign
Powerhouse generating electricity with water
Smelly Mel's portapotty named "wee chateau"
Runner eating snack next to Wee Chateau
Mormon Ravine bridge of death
Park info sign describing generator and view

Oblivious runner
Old orchard
Nice runner
Grassy spot to take a break and turn around

Coming home, read most of the previous list, in reverse order, much faster! Then add in:

Wild Cherry tree in bloom

People with puppy Labrador
Wildflowers: tiny iris
Giant power tower with scary spikes

2 French bulldogs: one mini, one regular
Knee knocking rock

Boy Scout troop eating lunch at Long Bar
8 trailers at staging area
Dog with cone of shame
4 cars speeding
3 other trail riders coming home
Tiny scary landscape flags
Yummy green grass
Expectant horse wanting snacks

Both boots on
Cleaned-up horse now rolling in the worst area with poo

One tired rider

Thursday, February 21, 2013

conversations with Major: I'm cool

Mom mom mom…
What Major.
Look what I found on the ground!
Oh, some mountain bikers glasses, I'll put them on a post, they can hopefully find them.
No, no, put them on me!
Um, they're too small.
But they're sooo cool! I want to be cool.
Ok, like this.

No, that is not cool. Old people wear it like this. The cool way.
Like this?
Yeah, yeah, that's cool. Take my picture.
How's this?

No, I look dumb.
Well, you're trying to eat the camera.
Ok, do it again.
How's this.

Oh yeah, I'm cool. I'm like "yeah, whatever..."
Yeah, you're the hippest horse around Major.
I know, that is why they call me Major D. Take another picture, I'll totally pose this time.
There you go, what do you think?

So awesome! That is totally my album cover. I am so great.
You look a bit furry in this, I swear your winter coat is just now coming in.
Can you fix it, make me look even cooler?
Sure. I house you, feed you, give you treats, take you on adventures, walks for grass, I'll just do some Photoshop work and make an album cover too.
Yeah, do that. I'll be famous.
Ok, horses don't get sarcasm. If you're famous I guess you should just go on tour then.
Would I miss dinner? They just served my dinner.
Yeah, you'd miss dinner.
Nevermind, lets just go get my dinner.
Whatever you say rock star.

 (I obviously have way too much time on my hands…)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

tshirt weather

It happens every February. And it still seems strange. Almost 70 degrees, but dropping 30+ degrees every night. Major has just started growing his winter coat when everyone else is starting to shed. I was able to wear just a tshirt for two lovely rides, before I actually had to put on a long-sleeve for the third. Pity! The thought of tshirt weather makes me sing (sorry) the fun song of the same name by The Lucksmiths.

A long weekend left lots of time for riding. On Friday I headed out for a ride with manners. And speed. At the same time. It took awhile. Heading down to the lake on the quartz trail was fine, Major was a bit jiggy and hot, when we got there it was just beautiful.

You can't see it. But there was a monster. And it ate a mountain biker.

At the bottom on this hill we usually ride right. There is a cool rock wall with a large ditch/hole behind it. And mountain bikers doing tricks. Major was fine, until one of the riders rode down into the hole was eaten by the monster. Head up, dragon snort, maybe time to flee! I didn't give him a second chance, and hopped off. I needed no explosion today!

We walked up to the riders, Major snorting and being ridiculous. Till he saw they were riders, with bikes. And then he didn't care, and tried to see if the guy had something for him to eat. Sigh...

Walked a bit more and got back on. Worked on control…Major wanted to just all-out go for it on the nice sandy trail. But he was being a locomotive, not listening, so we walked, trot, stop, listen. And headed for the upper trail, all singletrack. I love singletrack. And so does Major. And he actually listens up there. So we went to Granite Bay, speedy but not silly. And back. He wanted to canter. Fine, but I asked him for collected canter not strung-out ridiculousness, and got a lovely response, nice round canter, which just eats up the trails and turns. Fun! I know it doesn't solve my issue of open territory silliness, but it was a good place to work from.

sparkly lake, fuzzy ears

The next ride was completely different. Major had to be on his best behavior, as we were showing K and Falcon how to get to the lake trail. We took the most direct route through the forest, it is a maze of trails, I just wanted to show her the easiest way first. Then we rode along the lake, warm sun, tiny breeze, mostly behaved horses. Major was a little bored (too bad, deal with it) and actually was seeming to try and look for things to spook at. Like other horses. Sigh. But was mostly fine. Going back home up Barking Dog Hill he wanted to move out, I had to remind him we were being a nice guide pony, no more silliness. We all arrived home in one piece, it is fun to show people who haven't ridden here how many trails we really do have!

take the alflafa out of the perfectly good bucket, eat the yummy pieces, make a mess

now eat the leftover on the dirt, yum!

And one more ride! Major (and I) were happy to head out with his best buddy Friday (and my friend C) for the first time since our Cronan Ranch misadventure. C is still recovering, but wanted to do a short ride, just to get back on the horse. Friday hadn't been ridden for almost a month, we just did walk trot in the forest, with very good behavior. Towards the end of the ride Friday was finally figuring out, "Hey, I'm out. This is FUN!" and tried to pull some shenanigans. No such luck for him, we rode the rest of the way home and let our (not tired) horses munch on grass while we all stood in the sun.

But just like that, our tshirt weather has turned to rain. Since it really hasn't rained anything measurable since the beginning of January, I'm fine with it. I'll sit in my office and imagine another ride. Major can stand under his roof, where he won't melt, and dream of spring grass.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

love 4 ever

Sure, Valentine's Day has become a marketing holiday. Of course it was years ago too, when I had to buy just the right little cards (Muppets? Scooby Doo? Hello Kitty?), and give one to every single kid in my class. And I agonized over which candy hearts to give which boys: UR CUTE? UR GR8? DREAM? What candy hearts might our horses leave for us?

Life is simpler now, the people who I love know I love them. And I'll tell them too. Even my horse knows. So he doesn't get anything extra special, just the usual carrots. But I love vintage holiday cards, and couldn't resist coloring it to look like Major. So here is a Valentine from Major to all of you.

Hug your pony, appreciate your loved ones, and don't despair if you eat the chocolate in the office break room.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

tahoe detour

The weather is gorgeous and perfect for riding. But I like to give Major some down time, and not put in so many miles. He doesn't especially agree with this decision (hence some of the naughty behavior) but it is better for his long-term health and soundness.

So I headed to the mountains with my SO for a weekend of snowshoeing. I do not like the snow. I get cold very easily, and am wrapped up like a mummy/Michelin man the entire time. It is quite ridiculous, especially to people who live where it is actually cold in the winter. I couldn't do it, you are brave souls. A weekend of 25 degrees was all I could take.

But the weather was nice, views gorgeous, and I was all the more appreciative to get home to much warmer climes.

Enjoy the view.

Spooner Lake, near where Tahoe Rim ride will be this summer!
snow clouds rolling across the lake
morning dawned clear on the west shore

the water is so gorgeous
rough panorama

General creek

Ehrman mansion, and the little summer gazebo

gratuitous eagle falls, fannette island, emerald bay
a few clouds rolled in
Donner Lake, with Donner pass in the background
Donner lake, some parts are frozen, small icebergs

that little line = train tunnel

Donner from a lower pass

Per usual I am pretty awed when hiking in the area, not just the beauty, but the sheer audacity of the settlers who decided to leave the comforts of home for this unforgiving landscape. Many of course didn't make it, but the thousands who came for the Gold Rush came through these passes with wagons and oxen. I'll stay with my trusty Subaru.

These emergency ramps tell the story of how steep it is (I once saw a truck carrying bees drive into the gravel pit, that was something!)

The mountains are calling and I must go. —John Muir

Thursday, February 7, 2013

wrong rocks

We encounter a lot of rocks on the trail, but these were in the wrong place: at the barn!

Hmmm, what are these doing here?

Smells like different...can I eat this?

Noffing...I'm not dooin nuffin...I don't have one in my mouf... (yes he did, seriously!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Revenge is sweet. Just a little bit...

investigating balloons

Superbowl balloons along the road gave Major a pause, so I made him investigate. And proceeded to torment him by picking them up, moving them around, generally bothering my horse.
Major, me and the balloons, a very Magritte photo!

OK, I'm a small petty human, but after all the hassle he gave me the other day, this made me laugh.

And last night I took him out for a bit of a training ride, trying to beat the quickly-setting sun. I headed out on the trail. Some people would practice this in the arena, but the issue is that Major listens great in the arena. it is the excitement and energy of the trail that makes his brain fall out. I wanted to get him a bit riled up, because honestly, when he is calm he is a totally good boy. So we "chased" some mountain bikers who were headed out on the trails, then with a pretty full head of steam continued up the hill, where I asked for whoa. "What?" Major wondered, "In the middle of the trail?" Yes.

And we continued like that, a little trot, him trying to pull away, make him slow, whoa for a bit, was he listening? About 20 minutes into the ride he had figured it out pretty well, I got some very nice medium trot even while headed home. He wasn't very happy about the whole thing, but neither was he fighting me.

I stopped, took a photo of the lovely sunset, asked Major to mellow out and eat some grass. Heading home there was no unasked-for trotting allowed. Often I do let him choose our gait, when he is being good. Today, nope, had to listen. And he was very good. Going home I got a huge, loose flowing walk, just lovely.

At home he was more sweaty than the 40-minute ride warranted. Maybe making his brain think made him sweat. But toweled off and put back in his pasture, he was happy with dinner. I was just happy that the training is still there, just forgotten in the heat of the moment. More rides like this will be scheduled.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Major's grade for today, D+, and that's being generous.

Started out with B and Major's nemesis Ziggy, added in A and Justice. Justice is just learning to be an endurance horse. He is not very brave, (in fact is a giant chicken and won't lead the group) but follows just fine.

I had an inkling of trouble when Major led us off with his big trot. That is usually reserved for going home. We switched places a few times, Ziggy leading, Major in middle or back. We tried to trick Justice into leading. Got him in front for about 10 steps, grudgingly. He'll get there in time.

Major was ok, not entirely listening, but following fine. He got a bit freaked out by a group of runners (that we passed a few minutes before), coming up behind. After last week's ride with lots of runners: seriously Major, really?

We got to the trough, not interested in drinking, but interested in turning for home. Not yet, we went to Avery Pond and tried to chill a bit.

And headed back, jigging already. So Major lost leading privileges, and was second. We came to a big hill, Ziggy balked, Major took the lead. Trotting turned into locomotive pulling, and a last blast canter turned into flying buck, aimed at poor Justice who was just following along. But also created the best line of the day, from A, who claimed "I could see his penis" the buck was so high. Ok, funny, but NOT funny.

Soon after Major was behind when he completely lost it, not listening, trying to catch up, tripping over himself. I was done. I let them go ahead, said I'd maybe see them later, but just head home.

We turned back. And Major didn't care at all, we blasted back towards Avery Pond. Nope, not in my book. We circled, side passed, backed and otherwise worked. He has way more stamina for misbehavior than I do. Going fast is one thing, completely tuning out the rider, not an option.

Turning back towards home every trot step a jig, turning into a locomotive: faster faster, till I'd shut him down. Slower trotting was a pulling contest. Walking was more up than out. At least it was only five miles. Sigh...I would have loved to just go and do another 15 miles, maybe he'd figure it out? But that would have to wait for another day.

We did catch up with Ziggy and Justice about a mile from home. And Major still pranced all the way back. B took a lovely photo, I'm smiling (grimacing) while Major boldly (pulling) strides ahead. I had some choice words for him today.

Back home he danced around for a bath, obnoxious on the lead, and ran around his pasture some more.

A few evening training rides are what I have in mind right now. Reminding myself: I love my horse, I just don't LIKE him very much right now!

Friday, February 1, 2013

somebody's watching me

I always feel like somebody's watching me...

Major is unconcerned while the front pasture herd carefully checks out the intruder outside their fence.