Wednesday, November 23, 2011


For: Family. Friends. My SO. A job. Health. House. Major. Thomas the cat. Friends pets and horses. Living in a great beautiful place. Sci-fi books. The New Yorker. My iPhone. Music including BNL, Cake, The Decemberists, Hey Marseilles, 80s punk and Oingo Boingo. Pumpkin muffins with cream cheese frosting. Someone else cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Wood burning fire. Good tea. Hot chocolate. Warm socks.

(not necessarily in that order)

Things Major is thankful for:
Carrots. Apples. Coming home after a long ride. Grass. Mash. Mom scratching my itchy spots...did I say carrots already?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

more wild(life) ride

Where to go...always a dilemma, but we headed towards Granite Bay, through the forest sprouting green grass and yellow fall leaves, onto the upper Pioneer Express trail. Friday and his owner joined us, we were all happy to be out, and she noted how the dropoff is either into the lake or onto the rocks, depending on the time of year, not something she likes very much.

And then we came around the corner we met a rider and hikers at the most awful part: Rattlesnake Point! No going around, very little room. Major had enough room to just stand aside while the woman decided to get off her horse. The two hikers just stood on a rock off the trail with their dogs. Friday had no room to step aside, so he backed for awhile, then they were able to pass. There is a leash law, where all dogs must be leashed, but these dogs listened to the owners and were just good. No problem with those kind of dogs!

We then came across a few worrisome dogs. One man had two very happy golden retrievers, who had no recall whatsoever, and while Major and Friday were fine with them as they ran up and bounced around their hooves, some horses would not be, and those dogs might get stomped (or spook someone). Another group of about five people had 10 dogs between them, none leashed. We had been going to trot that section, but kept it slow, thinking about the dogs seeing a running things and coming after them. I love dogs, but common sense isn't so common out on the lake.

Coming out of a forested section, I thought there was another dog on the trail, but there was a beautiful coyote ahead of us. Often they are mangy and scrawny looking, but this guy looked so healthy and fluffy. He was trotting down the trail ahead of us, in no hurry, so we just walked along. He just stayed on the path, traveling wherever he was going. He was only disturbed when a rider was coming the other direction, and dodged off the path to the side, and stood watching us. The rider was a friend, and we chatted for a bit, he had thought for a moment that the coyote was our dog! As we moved off the coyote had already melted into the bushes, I'm sure to hunt some mice (or look for some little dog that people might bring!).

We were going to head to Granite Bay, but it was warmer out on the lake trail in the sun, the trail through the sand was so nice, so we headed back along the water. The whole trail is open now, even the boggy area, and the horses were happy to move along. It is only a few miles along the lake, and we quickly came up to the staging area, which was just packed with horses and people. A whole group was back from a ride and having picnic lunch, with paper crunching and tin foil blowing, quite a gauntlet. I had told Friday's owner I was taking her somewhere a little evil, but I actually hadn't meant the staging area!

Instead I meant we tricked the horses, and didn't go home the road, but trotted through the housing development: gravel, then driveway, gravel, driveway again. I wouldn't take a shod horse over that at speed, too much slippery concrete, but Major with boots and Friday barefoot were just fine. Back in the forest we were almost home, and tormented Major some more by making him trot side-by-side with Friday, keeping pace, when he just wants to be in front and win that race.

Finally stopping, I found a couple cool feathers in the same place I saw the owl last week. Are they owl feathers? I can't tell, but they were soft and fluffy and Major wore them like a good indian pony.

Walking back there was also a dead tree filled with little downy woodpeckers, chirping and carrying on. Major was happy to stop for a snack while I took a couple photos and enjoyed watching and listening to them.

The clouds were rolling in as we finished, the temperature had dropped, but Major was already dry, and I treated him to some soaked grass hay pellets, carrots and salt. He was happy to slurp it all up, and go finish the breakfast hay he had missed. I just watched him for awhile, he seemed content. Me too.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Major hates the rain, so I had to drag him for a walk. The rainbow was awesome, almost worth missing a day of riding.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

mish mash

Lately, horse time has been a little bit of everything. With the sun already gone after work, I have just enough time to quick ride in the arena (blech, I know I should, but the forest is calling) or a quick hike. The hike is great for both of us. I try to get finished before complete darkness sets in. Major is perfectly happy out there in the dark. Me, on foot, not so much...lions and tigers and bears, oh my! (well, we do have the lions and bears!)

sunset, with Major...
It is good to work with Major on the ground too. He is so much better already at trotting along behind me when I run. I still don't completely trust him going downhill, he forgets and is too close, breathing on me. No way! Back up sir! I think he likes the forest hikes (he also gets to stop for grass). We see some great wildlife: huge bucks looking for girls, and an amazing Great Horned owl floated up out of the field where it had been hunting, to perch in a tree and swivel it's head to spy at the intruders.

Great Horned owl on the tree
I did fit in one ride this weekend, where Major was just confused. We headed out, and did 6 fast miles on our own. Major thought he was going home, and we cantered up the hill to the staging area. Where we met Friday, and went back out and did another 6 miles. Major was not exactly pleased with that situation, so it was great to do it. I told him it was like a mini mini endurance ride, with a "hold" at the staging area.

squiggly branch and fresh green grass
I think most of the winter will be spent like this, just happy to fit in the horse time. Adapting for the season. Hunkering down, warms coats for us both, hot chocolate and warm mash, quiet hikes and lake trails.

Friday, November 11, 2011

rainy day recipe

Stuck inside a few days ago, I desperately wanted to bake something. But did not need any more cookies (Halloween candy is still haunting me.)

So I made Major some cookies! I have made them before, but usually I just throw some stuff together. This time I figured I'd write it down, to have an actual recipe, in case some other bored horse friend would like to spoil their beasts.

Super easy. And you can use healthy/unhealthy ingredients, depending on how cheap you are/how much you love your horse/what you have in the house.

First grate some apples. How many? I did 3 large red/green apples. Any kind. You can use carrots too. I do not suggest grating your thumb. It really hurts and is pretty gross.

grate apple (not thumb)

Add some other stuff. I added:
2 cups oats (just the regular kind)
1/2 cup brown sugar (seems healthier than white, ha!)
3 Tbsp salt (good for the horses)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup syrup (I used generic bad fake maple syrup. If you love your horse you can use molasses, but it is kind-of expensive)

add all the ingredients, easy!

Mix it all up. I also added the leftover-crumbs-at-the-bottom-of-the-bag granola and grape-nuts cereal (just to use it up).

mix it all up, looks and smells yummy

Put it in a mini muffin tin. I sprayed it with some vegetable oil. You could try to make little balls too, but it is pretty wet. If you want to do that, leave out some water. Tins are way easy. (As a side note, I hate the silicone muffin pans. Useless crap that everything sticks to even if you spray it).

shove in some pans, a little messy

Oh, turn on the oven to 300. Shove the pans in. Let them cook 1-1/2 hours. I just make sure they seem really dry. Sometimes longer. Then I just turn off the oven and leave them in there, to get them really dry.

Then I put them on a pretty plate and serve them to my precious pony.

perfect treat for ponies

HA! No, I throw them in a bag and keep them at the stable for treats. They're always a hit, no matter what I throw in there. Major will eat anything, but all the other horses love them too.

feed many many many (this is from Major)

When baking, it makes the house smell really good, like apple cake, but if you try one (yes, I did) they're a bit salty for human taste (and too hard!). Make some! Takes just a few minutes, cheaper than the store-bought ones, and your pony will love you.

Disclaimer: These treats are not for horses with sugar issues, etc. I'm sure you could make them better/more healthy, etc. I just wanted to make a yummy treat. If you grate your thumb off, also not my fault.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ride torture

See those ears? They were mighty crabby that we were not headed the other way. Which was towards home. Instead we got this far, turned around, and backtracked over our path. We were not going home because SOMEONE could not control themselves, and thought we needed to canter everywhere, including over rocks, downhill, around blind corners, and not listen.

Back this way, then again did not turn towards home. Instead we continued past the trail towards home, and took the lower trail, then the upper trail, then the lower trail. Major was all in a tizzy. Which was the point.

At least it was helpful. Not especially to Major, but I did come across the same people 3 times, trying to find their way back to the parking lot, and was able to help them. Major needs more help than that (at least on this day: it was cool, he'd been standing around the day before from the rain, and he just wanted to GO).

It actually was a really fun ride. Is it wrong to enjoy tormenting your horse?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

conversation with Major: rain ride

Major was already under his shelter.

"It isn't even raining yet!" I scolded him.
"But it is going to, and I can't get wet."
"We're going to do a short ride, I think we can make it before the rain starts," as I slowly walk him down the hill.
 "But it might rain, and I could get wet, I might melt, and I think it is dinner time."
 "It'll be fun, you'll see your friend Friday. Could you BE walking any slower?"
"That was sarcastic Major. Honestly, move it out."
"Fine. But horses don't get sarcasm Mom."

Saddled up and headed down the road, dragging my horse behind me.
"Rain, gloom, doom, wet, no shelter, miserable."
"What did you say back there?"
"OK, let's step it up, we're meeting Friday. You remember Friday? We're taking him on a rehab ride, so you have to be good."

Major tries to stop to snatch grass. Stop to poop. Stop and longingly look towards home. I keep marching ahead, and realize I've forgotten my helmet! I find a convenient rock and mount up, trotting towards home.
"Yippee, home! Yeah, let's canter the road!"
"OK, let's go Major!"

We canter up the road, arrive at the gate, dash inside, grab my helmet, back out the gate, hop on my horse, turn back down the road.
 "Nope, no arguing, we're going to be late!"

Back down the road we go, and see Friday's trailer in the staging area. Friday is hiding inside, because it is raining! But we head out anyway, and actually both of the horses seem pretty happy to be out. We stick to the forest, thinking under the trees will be less wet. Major whines a bit.

"Why does Friday get to be in front all the time?"
"Because we're mostly walking, and you trot too fast and too much, we have to take it easy. You were too fast and silly yesterday, so think of this as your community service."
"He seems fine to me."
"Yes, luckily he seems to have recovered, but rehab takes awhile, just be patient!"

Back at the trailer we say our goodbyes, and Major is happy to head back down the road. Back at the stable, I dismount, and I can hear the ATV filled with hay distributing dinner. It is raining pretty hard now and almost dark.

"OK, let's head back in. I'm wet, you're wet, and now my saddle is getting wet."
"Mmmm, grass, this is delicious. Let's stay out here, this is good."
"But you're getting wet, you might melt," I remind him.
"Nope, I'm happy!"

I drag Major back inside despite his protests, where he gets the indignity of being toweled off, and put away with his mash and plenty of hay. He nuzzles me with a disgusting mash face, looking for another treat.

"That wasn't so bad, right?" I ask.
"Nom, nom, nom. Don't bother me anymore, I'm eating." 

He has already forgotten, living in the moment of good food and shelter.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

goodbye Hickstead

I was going to write about my great, fun ride along the lake today. But I came home, checked online, and am devastated by the loss of glorious Hickstead.

I love watching showjumping, the amazing partnership as these horses trust their humans so much to launch over huge jumps, and Eric Lamaze and Hickstead were such a pair. The gold medal at the 2008 Olympics was spectacular, and Lamaze always gave so much credit to his horse. This photo breaks my heart (not graphic).

I will NOT be watching the video of Hickstead's collapse that is all over the net. I'll remember him in his glory. He gave his all until the last second. You never know when that ride might be your last.

I need to go thank Major more. Even when they annoy us, they give so much. Hug your horses.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

burning daylight

So little runs through my head every minute lately. I hate this end of season, back to dark after work, brief forest forays, weekend warrior rides.

I was about to head out yesterday when my barn owner stopped me. Our new boarder had fallen off earlier in the day, and I got a status report (broken ribs, some internal bleeding!). I feel terrible, she was going to do her final endurance ride of the season this weekend. The barn owner cautioned me because it was really windy, but she knows I'm determined (and that Major is good).

So I headed out. Blustery wind, but needing to ride. I am sure Major can sense my desperation, and we cantered through the forest, on paths that will soon be too dark to navigate at speed. The light even at 5pm was filtered gold, the sun's last rays blindingly low through the trees.

He was pretty up, the crisp air, fallen leaves, bursting quail. I was adjusting a new set of reins (not sure if I like them yet) so stopped a few times, where he did stand nicely while I pulled and messed with things, then I'd ask him to move off, and we'd spring into a trot. I didn't want to do too much and raise a sweat, another hazard of these cooler evenings.

Coming home I even let him canter the final gravel road. He wasn't interested in going home for dinner, so we stayed outside the gates munching grass and watching the sinking sun. By the time everything was put away, the sun was gone and a glorious purple sunset made the trees into silhouettes. That made up for it, a little bit...