Monday, May 21, 2018

monday moment

Found this hitchhiker: he looks like a bit of a punk. Who knows how far he's traveled? I gave him a lift and left him at the nearest oak tree.

Western tussock moth caterpillar, hitching a ride…

Thursday, May 10, 2018

conversations with major: birthday

Happy birthday Major! Damn, where's that birthday hat...I can’t find your birthday hat.
What a tragedy…
I remember using it last year...
Gee darn, let’s move along to the grass now.

Oh wait, here it is!
I’m thrilled, can’t you tell?

Pose and smile for your birthday hat photo!
This is my birthday smile. 

Major: this is my birthday smile

Me: please, try a bit harder?

Hey, it's not all bad. Look, some presents! A new, clean 12 foot lead rope!
That’s not very exciting, but at least it’s orange.
Look what else you got! A new saddle pad. It’s so nice and clean and fluffy…
Not for long.
OK Major, you could at least pretend to be happier on your birthday, maybe grateful?
Fine. What else did I get?
What else do you need? You have a nice pasture, and friends, and don't work very hard…

fluffy new pad and bright leadrope

photo outtakes: awkward, too close, crabby, distracted: being a model is hard!

Oh, I made you a new stall sign!
But everyone already knows who I am.
They do?
Yeah, I’m hard to forget.
Gee Major, and so humble.
Yeah, whatever that is, I’m that too. 

hmm, I can't chew on this one…

Are you sure that all I get? 
Well, maybe there is one more thing…
OMG, carrots! A whole bucket, all for me!
Well, no Major, you have to share with the stable.
What? I couldn’t hear you, I was chewing MY crunchy carrots!

bucket o'carrots!

I'm 15, I should eat them all!

Happy 15th birthday, Majestik Mirage!

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Where to take the Spring dragon horse today? The sun was shining, the horse was shining, there were no trail races planned, we had all the options. But I had training in mind: mental training. So we rode from home, always a more difficult choice,

Spring dragon horse
Heading out, the trail goes though a very squishy marsh area. It takes until at least June for this area to dry out. We were startled by a flapping of wings, a hawk on the ground! Oh no, was he hurt? I stopped Major and just watched the hawk, he appeared stunned, but managed to climb onto a low branch. I decided to wait to call bird rescue if the hawk was still there when we returned.

The green is overwhelming the trail right now. I turned a corner, onto a section we call rattlesnake gulch (there was once a rattlesnake there, we're not that creative) and we could barely see the trail! In a few places Major was a bit nervous, you couldn't see past the wall of green!

wall of green in rattlesnake gulch

But we headed down the trail, trotting but not silly, then we climbed the hill, his happy hill, where he took in the view. He loves climbing that hill, it is an old road, with dirt and crumbling, rutted asphalt surface, that goes nowhere (dead-ends in a fancy house). But he always pulls to go there, and occasionally he gets to choose!

taking in the view

Then we got to the beach, and there was lupine! I had thought it was all under water, so Major had to stand while I tried to take pictures. That was less than successful, so then we had a standing lesson (but not while was trying to take photos!). He didn't want to rush home, he wanted to rush out to the lake! But he did not get to go in the water at that point.

lupine ahead
oh so lovely

We continued, seeing no one else. No runners, no hikers, no fishermen at Avery Pond. But we did get to see, and hear, the fist pissed off rattlesnake of the year! The snake was sprawled across the trail, then crawled into the bushes, rattling away, as we came by. Always cautious, but the snakes that warn us are the safer ones!

leftover trail ribbon, and the snake was just ahead!

Across the bridge of death, with rushing waters, and finally a hiker! The canyon trail opened up with river in full view, beckoning. But it was about time to turn around, Major was losing hope we'd ever get home, and 85 degrees was feeling way too hot. Was it time for the battle/conversation/who is more determined to begin?

I'm not posing for any more stupid flower photos

and miles to go before I sleep...

A little. Major's intention is to trot as fast as possible for home. (well, anywhere for that matter). My intention was to have his brain join his feet. And I think it was successful! After a previous frustrating ride, this was much less so! A few circles, backing, remembering that's I'm up here moments, and I had a fast, but rateable, horse. The rateable part, that is the momentous moment. Major sure doesn't make anything easy. (We won't discuss right now that two days later I had another ridiculous ride, sigh, it's all training)

We walked (also amazing, not jigging!) back the last mile, and through the marshy area. I got off and looked everywhere for the hawk, but I didn't see or hear him. I hope he just had a bad moment and was back soaring. Maybe for us all.

good hair day, playing in the river

Friday, April 27, 2018

out and about

Spring is flying by, and really, I've been riding, but with no time to write about it! Mud and rain have given way to green and flowers, but this is fleeting, already some grass is browning, let it stay spring awhile longer…

this awesome tree watched us for at least 1/2 an hour, good patience practice.
My Spring horse has arrived in full naughty dragon mode. One still-drizzly day a two mile mellow ride turned into 2.5 hours of patience practice. I had the time, he had the energy, but finally I had four hooves on the floor, not dancing around, when I asked for a halt. A 4-beat walk and we headed home. Sigh.

crabby ears are crabby that favorite trail is under water
Another day Major was incredibly crabby that he did not get to play in the lake. The water has been rising quickly, there was debris everywhere, and it was hard to see where the edges dropped off. Crabby man felt like he needed to dash home to wallow in his misery. No, so we walked home, passed home, and kept going until there was some attitude change. I hate Spring horse sometimes.


so many options, so little time

But we’ve also had great 18 mile rides in the canyons, dodging hikers, dogs and strollers on single-track trails. (Sadly, another addition to our last long ride was helicopters circling above us and recovery divers in the water,  looking for a person who jumped off the 700+ foot Foresthill bridge. Their body has still not been found.)

Foresthill Bridge

rocks are not fun
One favorite trail has been transformed by two years of rain and lack of trail maintenance, it’s now two miles of rock, like a creek bed. Major got a bit discouraged heading up this climb, but was rewarded at the top by acres of grass, dry trails and room to chase distant runners (or not, as I reminded him).
this doesn't get old
I'll take this view

I've been also having fun out on my own two feet: hiking to waterfalls, finding creatures and avoiding poison oak (without success).

gorgeous clover

waterfall looks tiny from far away!

garter snake is MAD!
black swallowtail morning warmup

My Spring dragon horse might be naughty, but gives me enough good times to outweigh the bad. And coming home along a poppy-lined trail is a pretty great end to any day.

Friday, March 30, 2018


Now Las Vegas is not a place I normally choose as a destination, but a work trip put me there. And while I marveled (and squinted) at bright lights and crowds, I kept thinking of all the juxtapositions between where I was, and back home.

I'm always up to explore, no matter where I am, especially after sitting in conferences all day (plus, they close the pools at 5pm!)!

dry desert, snowy Sierras
The basic differences are easy to point out, but then it got interesting.

local pool (Folsom Lake, Hi Major!)

water feature
There was lots of walking all over, as I'm not a gambler, though I did lose a bundle ($3) on some epic skee-ball (my absolute favorite). I did come out a winner: I gave my game tickets to a little boy who was just so excited to have them, win for all.

bright colors abound

royal felines

monuments to achievement (rock pile at the top of a big hiking hill)

When I couldn't take the crowds any more, I did find a quiet, dark place to just chill: an aquarium inside a hotel! You can't go wrong with that kind-of shark (not the gambling card kind), and the lionfish giving me a hard stare was epic.

creature feature: lionfish stare, salamander side-eye


But there is beauty to be found everywhere. My parting vista of fluffy clouds over the desert was lovely, but I still think I prefer the furry view between Major's ears.

Vegas Vista
Major view (and hair problems, nice forelock?)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

cool stuff

While Major hid under his shelter for the last two weeks of rain (now a week of summer is upon us, love the strange spring), I was stir crazy and had to get out. Luckily, it wasn't too cold (well, except for the hike that included snow, hail, rain and sun, truly 4 seasons in one day), the flowers were out, and there is just cool stuff around here!

Cool stuff: like our wooden bridge! They are finally fixing this so the public can walk across it again (it has been years) but it is still fun to go explore. The original toll for a horseman: 50 cents!

Bridgeport Covered Bridge

amazing oak canopy
sunny portion of our 4-season day

The river runs clear one day, and muddy the next, depending on how much rain the region is getting. But the flowers are happy either way.

plain iris, still pretty.

brilliant shooting star wildflowers

I think this is Forget me Not
now for crazy: California Pipevine flower! I see a rooster.

And the green! While the groundcover hasn't caught up yet, the ferns are happily soaking up the rain.

green tree fingers reaching
happy tiny tree ferns

There is always something to find when exploring, from the largest to smallest. I honestly never get tired of crawling in the dirt taking a photo of a flower, or listening to the river rushing by. Or just finding something cool and unusual along the trail. Find anything good lately?

eyeball rock is watching you