Saturday, August 31, 2013

smoked out

Waking up to smoke again, instantly worrying if it is a new fire, is it closer, where's the cat...?

Ok, so it's the middle of the night, I'm only semi-lucid. But it's been three weeks of smoke, often so bad I can't see off my deck. Every summer I keep a bag packed, precious stuff ready (if I'm home, another thing to worry about!)

But I'm just whining a little. I am totally grateful the fires are not closer. (Redhead Endurance had a scare a few weeks ago!) I am in awe of the amount of manpower and machines it is taking to fight these monster fires. The American Fire has burned across the Western States Trail outside of Foresthill, including the historic swinging bridge. And 27,000 other acres. It is contained, but still being put out. I can't imagine firefighting in inaccessible canyons that haven't seen fire in recorded history.

But the Rim fire near Yosemite is amazing in its horrible, terrible fury. 220,000 acres. 343 square miles. I know nothing of fire mechanics, but it grew so fast. Maybe terrain, or weather, but the fire crews are sure doing their best. Some containment, the fifth largest fire ever in California, much more work to do.

The smoke is not at all bad where Major lives. We did a couple short rides, but he and I are taking a break. Just walking, grooming, relaxing, because it felt like a very long summer. The apple trees are so full, and the ones on the ground are fair game for the horses. He only gets a couple, he would eat himself sick if he could.

We walk down the dirt road and explore. I let him lead and tail him around, good practice plus it is pretty fun to see where he chooses to go. He finds hidden bites of green grass, stops to sniff something, regally stares off at some unseen interest, is suspicious of the moved jumps in the arena, fun to just hang out with my horse. No plans. No miles to train. No deadlines. He is quite happy. Me too.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tahoe Rim blues

So where did this go wrong?

I've been in a bit of a funk since my Tahoe Rim pull. My last pull (Wild West) was my own boot gluing failure. That I can live with. This time I actually broke my horse. And was the only pull.

While he doesn't show any lameness now (and was fine a few hours after the pull), I do want to give him a few weeks off and do a longer ride to see if there is actually a problem. He was also not done at the ride, pulsing in immediately, all As…except for gait. Damn. Then we had to wait a long time (understandably, it's a hard-to-access vet check) and Major was NOT happy that we were not moving down the trail. Spinning, calling, I just tied him to a tree and let him dance around...for hours. (Hopefully if his leg was injured he didn't do any more to it!)

Where are my friends? If I keep calling maybe someone will answer!
Where did they go? I'm ready, I'm ready!

I am second-guessing everything: Is this from my minimal training lately? We hadn't done more than 12 miles at a time, maybe more miles would have brought up this issue (whatever is it/was)? Or was there just a rock with our name on it?

Don't laugh at my sideburns, I get halter rubs. Call me "Wolverine."

It also doesn't help that I came back to chaos at work. And fire burning down the canyons. My brain is tired and full.

So I'll reevaluate later. For now something a little different. Saturday I am taking a friend who has never even seen a horse up close to meet Major. He better be on his best behavior! I don't think he's the type to give pony rides on, but he likes to be brushed and likes apples, which should be enough for both of us.

onward...another day.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

double dog damn

I may as well update as I wait for the pull trailer.

Yup, 18 miles in, no bad steps on trail, vets can't decide right or left front, no heat or swelling, just a bit off.

But enough off that we're done. After a brief meltdown I untacked and cleaned my horse up, who promptly found a sandy place to roll.

I'm off for an evening pity party, more later. Last night at the raffle I did win a guaranteed spot for next year, we'll see. I'm just disappointed. And worried, though Major looks great, weighting all limbs, etc. Damn.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

lake to lake

I took Major for a short drag/ride. First he is a slug, then a crazy maniac. Seriously, he keeps me on my toes! Heading out I dragged him down the road, strung out behind me. Found a good rock and mounted up, he walked out but not too enthusiastically. Then I start worrying that he is ok. I should know better.

This was just a short tack test ride (I'd washed and rearranged stuff). I just wanted to check all the equipment before leaving to the Tahoe Rim ride. Through the forest Major was a slug, so I went down to the lake. The whole lake trail is already exposed, the lake very low, drought concerns creeping in.

Tiny boat between Major's ears? Nope, a floating potty! We're classy like that.

At the lake, in the nice sand (and rocks), finally a nice trot. Not too fast, loose rein. A few lovely collected canters too. About the half way point things speeded up a bit. Then more. Soon I had a start-of-an-endurance-ride fire breathing dragon. So I took the rock trail, to make him think. It worked a bit, till we turned for home into the forest.

low lake, exposed rocks, amazing clouds, great horse, amazing view

I did ask only for trot, and I got it. The big huge one. We ran by a jogger on the wide part of the trail. Then a good sized deer skeleton. Finally slowed and saw some other friends from a nearby ranch. They joked that Major saw other horses and would want to join them. Oh no way, we were going home!

Back home I untacked and put my tack in my trailer, one last thing to pack later. Then Tahoe this weekend, from one lake to another! I am totally looking forward to the Tahoe Rim Ride, lucky that I got in, hoping Major and I are up for the challenge.

But there is a lot to pack before that!

Friday, August 2, 2013


After many rides of such control, Major and I needed a break from walking, following and rock climbing.

So we fled. Into the forest. Whatever pace he wanted to choose was fine. We trotted when I thought we'd walk, cantered over almost everything else. But when I asked just to walk, he was pretty willing. I think he knew the difference between trudging along for 26 miles (like on the Tevis sweep) and carefully negotiable scary terrain (like at Loney Meadow) and playing in the forest.

At one point though he did choose a bad spot to canter, I knew we were coming up on some exposed slick rock. I actually waited to see what Major would choose to do, knowing I had time to stop if needed. We came around the corner, he saw the rocks, slowed to a walk, picked his way over them, them back to a canter! I guess all those months of making him walk those sections of trail really did pay off!

Our flight stirred up others too. A flock of turkey vultures lifted off their sunning rocks as we came to the top of Dottie's Hill.

vultures and a very low water lake

I saw the tail end of a snake disappear into some rocks. And did not stay to investigate.

Lizards are the silliest. Sometimes they skitter into the bushes, hiding from pounding hooves. Other times they run straight down the trail in a seriously dangerous version of "chicken."

I can hear them bullying the littlest one, "What, too afraid to run from the horse?! What, not fast enough? Chicken!" It must be like the running of the bulls for them.

It does seem like they always make it though! Ground squirrels also play this game. I'm always thinking "go, go, go little guy!" as they are almost trampled. What stories they must tell later, how they survived the great, brown beast with glowing orange hooves (Major wearing his boots of course!)

Today a tiny deer caught me at my own game. We were walking along on a loose rein, I was trying to figure out what was itching my side (tick phobia!) paying no attention. Major spun and planted, I somehow stayed on, and the tiny deer probably laughed at us from the side of the trail. He did just watch us walk by. Major unconcerned now that he saw what it was.

And the deer had a friend stationed a bit farther on, but we saw him first. Actually the deer looked a bit bewildered, maybe hoping we were Mom? I think this time of year the babies are weaned and finding their own way in the world. The little deer just ghosted into the shrubs, but I did see him watching as we walked by.

tiny deer pondering the great beast

It was just a quick ride, but sometimes those are best for the spirit. I love rides where I know we BOTH had a great time. I just passed the four year anniversary of buying Major. I feel lucky to have found him. I hope he feels the same. Though he would still say that more carrots are required.