Thursday, September 12, 2019


When attending rides at the Major School of Wizardry, you might need to choose a magic wand.

heading out with my magic wand

The wand can be any species of small stick, and waving it produces amazing results. Just waving (no tapping) will increase the walking rate, while a tap with the tiny, almost useless stick, might even get a sluggish beast to trot.

dry forest trail

love to see the green!

Once said trot is established, there is no need for the wand. It is not effective at slowing down a beast. Once said beast has decided that oh yeah, this IS actually fun, there is actually very little that can stop it. Incantations of the spell "knockitoff" and "easydammit" are occasionally effective.

But green grass is the nemesis, though here heartily devoured.

amazing new grass

One ear pointed towards home always reminds the rider what should always be the goal: going home to dinner.

rock wall, turn around here?

lower trail disappearing

But the cool shade of the lake trail beckoned, until it disappeared under the water. Then the upper trail gave sunset views.

almost-autumn light above the lake

The way home was not to be thwarted, even for a pretty picture of yellow light through the trees.

stopping is optional?

The spell had been cast correctly that day, rider and beast were content.

Monday, September 9, 2019

monday moment: cheating

handsome Friday
Friday's Mom was off on a non-horse adventure, and he quickly learned I was the source of all good things (like apples). Who can resist this face?!

Major didn't care too much, he got to go graze on some dry grass (his choice, there was greener crab-grass close by).

But I didn't tell Major he missed out on the apples (because someone is a bit too fat to be eating apples, and it is not me or Friday…)

Monday, August 26, 2019

conversations with major: huh?

Hey Major?
Hi Mom!
Umm, you know you have something on your head?

What? I'm going to eat these scraps of hay.
No dude, you have something ON your head.
I have a flymask on. Can I go talk to Beau now?

I think it might run in your ear or something, I should really catch it.
Well, it just ran across your ear, down your neck and is now on your mane.
Do you have an apple?

Ok, now it is sitting on your withers.
What, a carrot?
No, the tiny lizard!
Huh, do you have flax treats in your pocket?
Got it! Here little lizard, go back on the safe ground.
Can we go for a walk now?

 (no lizards were harmed in the making of this blog post)

Saturday, August 24, 2019

trusty steed

trusty steed on bareback ride last week
My 4-legged trusty steed has taken me many, many miles, with very few complaints (just a few shenanigans in there). I just got in the mail my AERC 250 mile recognition. It only took eight years! Obviously not a priority, but still nice to be recognized. When I count up trail miles we've done more than 6,000, and those miles count to me more than anything. All that time in the saddle, training and having fun (and hiking too!).

my 250 mile patch with a few other interests: star trek, crafts and toys! (this is my normal home desk!)

My other trusty steed just had a recognition of sorts too. My trusty Subaru Forester, 220,000 miles in 18 years! Gets me there (mostly) reliably, and is still pretty sprightly. The paint looks terrible, interior looks new (with a classic 6-CD changer!), transmission is sticky, but it is paid off and is the perfect car.

still going strong

so cute!

even the trees love it and don't fall on it (this was eek the other day!)
Not too big, not too small, hauls feed and tack and takes me to work every day. My truck is useful, but I love this car.

represent: seahawks and ALT national parks

two bags of feed and a new orange muck fork!

Here's to as many miles that are left in the old beast! Oh, and Major too!

This time the trash can might be filled with alfalfa! Gotta check every week.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

tevis sweep 2019

I'm still blowing dust out of my nose, and I only rode 10 miles! (lengthy saga below, short version: a long, dusty day where everyone stayed safe, yeah!)

My sweep this year was from Dusty Corners (about 45 miles in) to Deadwood (about 55 miles in). In between is the Last Chance vet stop, then a huge canyon, then the Devil's Thumb water stop. Why so many stops in that short mileage? Because of that huge canyon! Wanting to make sure the horses going into the canyon are well, then watering them right when they are out. And people too, as many hike down and/or up to save their horses.

Just getting to Dusty Corners is a trek, about 2.5 hours of driving. Luckily we had a great driver and I just got to enjoy the scenery (if precipitous cliffs on a mostly one-lane road and canyon views are your thing!). We were there at 1:30, tacked up, and waited for the final riders. We watched a few riders come through, then they said only two more were out…then three came in!! That is why we wait for the next sweep team, as communication in the back country and lots of volunteers counting can lead to mistakes.

trying to be patient (he was not successful…)

We saw the sweep team come in (they would take our trailer to Foresthill) and then booked it down the trail! We wanted to be pretty close (not viewing distance, but no more than 10 minutes) behind the last folks down the canyon. Sadly (for me only probably) they had to take out the Pucker Point trail this year (cows everywhere on cliffs is not a good situation) but that did make the dirt road into Last Chance a nice trottable section!

One person missed the cutoff time, and there were two vet-hold horses, all who would be taken out by trailer, so we were cleared to go down the trail. The volunteers were so helpful, I just had to explain we hadn't done much yet! So we headed out of Last Chance and started down the canyon. Gorgeous views and terrible footing, single track and switchbacks, rocks held together with dust. As the slowest downhill horse Major was tripping over hidden rocks in the dust, and had to keep being reminded to watch himself and slow down, and we were both breathing it in (bandana was forgotten in my saddlebag, damn!). About half-way down the canyon you can see the water, and it looks so far down there. But in no time, because of the steepness, you're at the bridge!

the other side, just go down then up, easy?!

starting down before the singletrack switchbacks

the camera doesn't quite capture how dusty it can be

really, there is a river down there!

Major was a bit of a brat, and I wasn't paying enough attention, so I got dragged into the water, luckily just up to my knees. I think he would have kept going deeper, but I was able to stop him. The day was surprisingly cool (about 85 probably), which really helped the riders. We didn't have to help anyone in the canyon! (In hot years it is a major place to help folks out).

river horse is splashy

Crossed the swinging bridge and up the other side. The volunteer at the bridge had counted 151 riders through at that point. We headed up the switchbacks (this side is a 20% grade, which might not sound like much, but is about as steep as they make trails). About 3/4 up the hill (Major was leading, and we were stopping at each switchback to wait for the team as he was in power-horse mode) Major stopped to rub his nose on his knee. We stopped at the next switchback about 50 feet up the trail. As the other horses came through they were attached by bees/hornets/whatever evil thing was nesting in the ground! Have you ever had to canter up the steepest switchbacks you've ever ridden? We did! We had to go quite a ways before the bees stopped chasing us, and both horses behind me and one rider were stung as well (we heard some competitors got stung too, damn!).

almost too top, shady evening

what we crossed (just one canyon though!)

So we came into Devil's Thumb very hot, Major was finally smart and tanked up on the water. But there count was 151, so we hadn't left anyone behind, yeah! Onward the short mile to Deadwood. All was well, the next sweep team rook off, and we untacked the hot, sweaty horses. Then wait, they counted only 150, we might need to go out again! After a few minutes they luckily got it all straightened out, and we rested a bit before the long drive back.

Another 2 hour drive and we were back at Foresthill, with all the craziness of literally hundreds of (well-organized) people and volunteers to organize trailers, riders, horses, vets, vendors and more. Once more out of a trailer and into another (with nary a complaint, good boy Major!), swapping tack and then driving back to pick up my trailer. Then finally home, about 8pm. Major was so happy to roll and drink his own water (and eat his belated dinner!).

Tevis is a serious commitment, for literally everyone involved. It take a village a city of people to organize. I had riding friends finish, and friends pulled, and even a friend helped by another group of sweep riders. Even after the very long day, I was happy to be out there helping. It might not be my dream, but I'm glad to help out for those who dream (100 miles, 18,000+ elevation gain, 22,000+ elevation loss) big.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

tevis preview

canyons looking toward the Tevis start in Tahoe

Damn, that’s a canyon. And it’s just the first big one for riders!

waiting for our ride under early skies

totally new place, guess I should eat!

thanks for the warning
Went out on Saturday to pre-ride part of our sweep section. (I probably won't be able to take many pictures on the day so I figured I'd let you have a sneak peak!) We didn't start from Dusty Corners like we will Tevis day because it is so hard to get to. We did ride out and back from our endpoint of Deadwood, and tested the radio reception (amazingly good, no phones would work). Down, down, down the canyon of sharp shale rock and dusty dirt (but at least it was pretty shady).

heading down the canyon (Major was the slowest downhill horse so we ate dust)

rider ahead crosses the bridge

cooling/goofing off/not drinking in the river

bridge view

Down to swinging bridge, where Major is pretty brave and just marched across, legs spread a bit wider than usual. After cooling in the river we headed back up, and since I was dismounted I walked across. I felt like a drunken sailor! That thing live us to its name (extra good boy Major)!

Major wins the uphill battle, riders following in a standard-steep section!
"my" section highlighted in yellow
About 1600 feet of climbing in two miles. It felt like straight up! And if you're riding Tevis, do it again in the next canyon, and then two slightly smaller ones, after already riding 45 miles. I really don't want to rescue or help anyone (since I want everyone to be successful!), but that is what we'll be there for if needed.

starting out, they paint a rough outline for us novices

On a Tevis-related note, I randomly remembered to look at a local paint and wine studio, and they were featuring the No Hands bridge painting class! I had wanted to do it since I saw that design a few years ago but I kept forgetting. This time it was two for one so I dragged C along with me. There were only four people in the class (they needed to advertise in Auburn and tie it in with horses!). My painting skills probably would’ve been improved with MUCH more wine, but it was fun nonetheless. I even added a special touch to my painting (and made the flowers orange of course)!

basic, but I had fun!

and a tiny Major runs free across the bridge!

Because it is Tevis season, living in the area or you really can’t avoid it (in town street banners, or stop by the AERC main office or local sponsor EVR feed store for a picture.) It is fun to be around the excitement of Tevis and the manpower and scheduling for a point-to-point 100 miles of wilderness ride is seriously impressive. Big thanks to those crewing and volunteering for this epic event, Again, I'm happy to play a small part in what I hope will be a successful day for my friends and others. Happy and safe trails!

Monday, August 12, 2019

monday moment: yellow

I have no idea what this flower is, but this year the area we call the "cow pasture" is aglow with yellow. Major even seemed to contemplate the scenery for an instant.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

bucket list

My summer 2019 bucket list:

1. Decorate buckets.
fun to decorate (I have a new toy, a vinyl cutter!)

2. Get Major's approval.
Quality Control Officer is testing bucket contents for palatability (I think it passed!)

well, if it survives that mess!

It is important to get your bucket list items accomplished…

I'm helping with clean-up…

Thursday, July 25, 2019


follow the yellow (flower) road

water enough for playing

So the endurance ride was June 15. Major got a bit of a break…and it just keeps going. I've fit in a ride or two each week, and we've mostly meandered about. We've explored lake and river, canyon and mountain, rocks and sand, but quietly, without a lot of speed or determination. It's been nice.

river wander

pond pondering

twisty turning

bareback through blackberries


I'm not motivated to plan for another endurance ride this summer/fall. I really did not have "fun" at the endurance ride. Yes, after the fact I was happy we made it through and proud of Major and proud we did it. But I was anxious the whole day before and the first 25 miles were miserable tug-o-war. I love the training rides and other adventures, but if competition is not very fun, why am I doing it? Another thought to ponder.

love the "feels like." Yeah, that's just about right…

thistle is hot too

And this week it finally got really hot (as did everyone else this year, sorry!). But right now a hammock and book are calling me more than the trail. Or a cool kayak adventure! Major does not seem to mind taking a back seat to other adventures this summer.

Yuba river at Lion Head rock

kayak on lake Clementine

garlic fries at the state fair

blackberry season!

But there are a few plans in the works. Tevis is in three weeks. I am sweep riding a section again, and need to coordinate with the other riders to do a pre-ride (a new section for me this year, swinging bridge!). I need to go camping and do more kayaking. And I need to find where I put my iced tea and see if the cat has crawled into the hammock again…

Jack says: I'm not in your chair, YOU were in MY chair…