Monday, March 21, 2016


Horses can make us feel 10 feet tall, or very small.

twisty oaks
waterfall tangle
tiny tree ferns

found some orange, a last autumn leaf

So can the world around us. Exploring in the rain I felt a small part of such a large world. Maybe because the trails were empty and quiet, huge gray pines leaned precariously along cliffs, and the 700+foot tall bridge loomed above, but all the tiny things were abundant.

towering bridge

UFO graffiti, complete with alien

For scale: I'm there, on the upper tier corner, a tiny figure in green.

Raindrops glistened on leaves, the roar of the river below almost deafening, towering oaks covered in tiny ferns, the view from above of the beloved No Hands bridge, a tiny span in the distance.

No Hands peeks from between oaks

No Hands and our tiny car

creeks to cross

Sometimes I see the horrible impact we have made on this planet and feel despair. Plastic flotsam along the river bank, clearcut for a new development, burned truck along a trail, paving another oak woodland for a superstore. But usually it feels right to be in places where the human imprint feels a bit smaller.

ferns and moss

yellow wildflower with tiny gnat too

a poppy stays closed until the sun reappears

purple rain

glowing red

3-leaved almost-shamrocks feel at home

silver sparkles

even poison oak and lichen are lovely

And given enough time, the trails will grow over, the roads crack, the bridges fall. Still the raindrops, leaves, flowers and creatures would go on.

black swallowtail

wild things doing the wild thing

watch your step: even banana slugs have the right of way here

It felt good to be small. Some people feel more important when they see the things humans have built. Instead I prefer to enjoy what will still be there long after we are gone.

(If you want to read more on the subject, there is a great book about our lack of lasting impact: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. I read it many years ago, and have read it again a couple times. Check it out!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Instigator: Who me, Friday? And Major? Nope, not us. We did not just come skidding down the rain-soaked leaf-covered slippery hill. Totally some other horses. Got a carrot?

Double Trouble: What? Yes, I like being this dirty, got a problem with that? You're going to take us on a walk anyway? I guess you're not so bad. Got a carrot?

On the catwalk: We're too sexy for our pastures…

And we're posing: This time get our good sides…

Fences won't keep us apart: We're in our separate pastures, but still we can be together. Buddy love!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

weekend wanderings

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”
—Robert Frost

A few days of rain are OK. A few more make me anxious and antsy (and why I could never live in the beautiful Pacific NW). I entertained myself around the house for a bit: looking at the weeping cherry tree blossoms, all the weeds this rain will make sprout how I won't have to water for awhile, staying positive. That didn't last long.

blossoms dampened


Then I worked on a recent craft project: making pretty little tags. I have way too many craft projects, this one came about because a friend gave me a little tag she bought. I loved it. I could have ordered a couple more. Instead I decided MAKE ALL THE THINGS and bought all the stuff to make them myself. For way more money than just buying a couple more. But highly entertaining.

make and label all the things!

The rain went from torrential to just drizzly, and I figured the trail was a slippery mess but put on my waterproof shoes anyway and headed out. And found my long lost friends! Orange, amphibian friends! Love that every year they return and make walking along the canal a careful trek.

river filling up

hey dude, where ya going?

look at that face!

wait, come back!

see ya later

I could stay out all day playing with the salamanders (carefully, they're sturdy but still little guys. They're also highly toxic, but only if you injest them!). I also found a trove of mushrooms, but have no idea about the varieties, so won't be picking any of those anytime soon. Just at the end of the walk, the sunset broke through the clouds. Hope on the horizon.

canal and trail panorama

mmmm, now I want pizza.

sunset breaking through gray clouds

Friday, March 11, 2016


March came in like a lion. And isn't leaving anytime soon. The rain is coming down in buckets (though nothing like the Southern US). The trail along the lake is totally underwater now, and they're releasing water from the lake to make room for the 26,000 cubic feet per second now pouring in. Really March? A bit extreme, don't you think? But we need the rain, so I'll dig another trench in the slick mud and wait for sunnier days.

sleeping under his tree on a recent sunnier day (photo by my friend S)

life is hard in my pasture

Major is impatiently waiting too. Hiding under his shelter so he doesn't melt. And he is resting too, per vet instructions. His fat leg from last week was still swollen after three days of soak/ice/poultice/wrap (I am now better at wrapping, but I truly hate it). I think the weather contributed to my growing anxiety, which began with thinking "probably an abscess" and escalated into "tore his suspensory and will never ride again."

leg wrapped, but blurry: it's dinnertime, can't stop!

So I called the vet to bring him in for an appointment, though not quite a lameness check, since he didn't appear lame. When I went to check Major, all swelling was gone. Of course. But I kept the vet appointment anyway. And Major was so excited to go somewhere he leaped in the trailer. Sorry, buddy!

The vet looked him over, poked and prodded. When I saw Major squirm I worried, but the vet checked the other leg and got the same reaction: he was just squirmy, but not hurt. I trotted him out on the hard ground, and the vet could see a little hesitation. Just a tiny bit. Not enough to raise big flags for the vet, who was very nice and assured me that my conservative protocol was just fine. That some more rest will probably be enough. But there is always the word, probably.

We also tormented Major with his vaccines, very few as he continues to react badly. Major thought the worst part of his day was standing tied to the trailer and actually getting rained on. I knew he'd have a fit so I put him in the trailer before he got too wet.

So Major is resting, and if there is no improvement I can take him back in. But I'm a bit less anxious about the whole thing, as his leg continues to look fine, and the rain continues to come down (forcing him to rest). I'm a bit tired of all these extreme swings in weather and mood, so a rainy weekend inside sounds like a perfect plan. Major probably wishes he was inside too, but would prefer his own personal Bedouin tent!

how Major thinks life SHOULD be, complete with bale of alfalfa

Thursday, March 3, 2016

acceptable/unacceptable game

On a recent ride, I again realized how expressive our horses can be. How does each individual horse determine what is acceptable and not acceptable? What do they pay attention to, what do they ignore, what do they chase, what do they object to? Ignoring something in their environment, as prey animals, is a pretty big deal. As is chasing down something interesting!

lake creeping up on trail

So let's play a game! As I rode I compiled a list. Try to guess the four things Major found unacceptable, and also the four things I thought would be a problem but were not. All the unacceptable things also resulted in some form of unacceptable behavior! (Though only one spook. Bonus point, guess the one spooky item).

a. big rocks
b. entire ROTC group with flags
c. giant baby stroller with twins
d. small, empty ditch
e. other horses going the opposite direction
f. other horses going the same way
g. rotten, fallen tree
h. kid in backpack
i. speedy mountain bikes
j. three off-leash puppies
k. giant, adult 3-wheel trike bike
l. standing in the lake
m. leaving the lake
n. meeting friends and talking
o. cantering up Mooney Ridge
p. going back down Mooney Ridge

taking in the view from Mooney Ridge


OK, did you guess? The four unacceptable things were:

d. small, empty ditch. Obviously was the Grand Canyon, as when I asked Major to walk over it he performed an airs-above-the-ground, leaping, stupid move. So ditch was then walked back and forth over until normality returned.

f. other horses going the same way. Major thought we must chase and be stupid, or be crabby because we must pass they they are going too slow. He objected by pulling like a freight train, and kicking out at my leg cue. Not acceptable! Much conversation ensued about acceptable speed and behavior around other trail users. Horses going the other way: totally fine, who cares.

g. rotten, fallen tree. This actually got a rare spook sideways and side-eye, both directions, and running off the trail into the weeds. I did not expect it, hence why we ended up in the weeds.

m. leaving the lake. First request resulted in Major putting his head down and splashing. OK, fine. Second request was head-shaking and backing up into deeper water. I don't think so. Then I worked him in the water knowing it was hard. That was still acceptable to him. So he got smacked with the reins, finally deciding "Oh, you meant leave the beach."

Major in Folsom Lake Belize

Four things I thought would be a problem but were not:

b. entire ROTC group with flags. The group was loud and boisterous, Major stopped and stared. I said "It's just people and flags." He went "Oh, it's just people and flags" and proceeded to charge up the trail towards them. I slowed him before the group, though they looked a bit nervous, and they parted to either side of the road, so Major stormed on through. I think he was pretending to be a war horse.

k. giant, adult 3-wheel trike bike. Down the beach it came rolling: a giant, adult tricycle, complete with beach tires. I do not have photographic proof because I was attentive to what Major was going to do! He glanced at it, unconcerned, and kept playing in the water.

n. meeting friends and talking. Major hates waiting around, especially heading home. I was expecting a bit of a fit when I stopped to talk with two friends and their horses. But Major stood nicely, I think he was actually a little tired!

p. going back down Mooney Ridge. I thought Major would object to going back down after just coming up. But he gamely walk/trotted back down, and then charged back up, three times! He would have happily continued if I hadn't decided it was enough. Yeah for short speed/climbing training! (history fact I just learned: Mooney Ridge is named after a cattle rancher whose property was condemned by the government so they could fill the lake.)

 ceanothus is blooming everywhere, and it smells AWFUL

Luckily, the list of Major-approved trail obstacles is pretty high. Though I'm sure something scary is lurking out there, or something unexpectedly interesting! Which is why I love trail riding, something fascinating can be just around the corner…but you better be paying attention.

Yes, I like my grass with dirt clods attached