Sunday, December 30, 2012

last ride of 2012

It started out with a little weeee!
I'm a racehorse!

maybe I'll slow to a trot
Getting some air time, I'm full of it!

Major was having a grand time in the arena. I stood in the middle while he galloped around, with no encouragement from me, for at least 15 minutes. He took a break to drink from the trough, and took off again. Feeling fine!

what're you talking about? Not me! I'm not silly...

Wasn't quite sure if I wanted to ride the beast, but I had a new saddle to try out. I tried it yesterday too, but this would be an arena and trail experiment.

I love my Arabian Saddle Company Solstice, but keep having bridging and stirrup bar issues. I found a great deal on a used Freeform cutback. I know lots of people don't like treeless, but I also know many who do. When it comes to horses, there are more opinions than riders! But after much research and demo saddles, I thought I'd give it a try.

new saddle posing

I was worried because the knee rolls are much smaller than I'm used to, and its just…different. You get used to "your" saddle! Turned out very secure and comfy. Major moved out nicely. A bit of silliness on the ride (brakes? what brakes?!) didn't budge the saddle, or me! He didn't work up enough of a sweat to seriously check fit though. That will have to wait for a day when I ride earlier with a bit more daylight and a temperature higher than 45! Too damn cold right now! But it was just the ride I like: me and Major, going down the trail.

A fun final adventure for 2012, which was filled with many miles of trail, great times with Major and friends, and our first endurance rides. I can only hope 2013 brings as many good adventures!

giddy-up Snowflake! (the barn owner made this, I love it!)

Monday, December 24, 2012

merry, happy, etc

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and any and all other heartfelt tidings of the season.

Major says: this iz my prezent? i do not know about it. didnt you read the link i sent of what horzes really want for Christmas? Everyone should read it. Willem the horse was genius. Many more carrots please, for everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Major was feeling full of it. Pent up winter energy. It was windy at the lake, a storm was rolling in. Cardinal rule of riding is to always be paying attention, but my mind was elsewhere.

And we flew. Cantering the lake trail I first thought of Thump, a fellow bloggers beloved bird who is flying free himself.

Then the mind flies, and thinks of too many lives lost in senseless tragedy. And those left behind.

And my 15 year old cat, diagnosed with kidney trouble, who I can't bear the thought of losing.

And the holidays, how my grandfather would offer up his always handy pocketknife on the pesky ribbons.

Like I said, my mind wandered. And I had one of the best rides ever. Collected canter, flying lead changes through rocks, barely a tug on the reins just to balance us both.

Again, the outside of a horse was good for me.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

conversations with major: santa who

Let's go for a walk Major, we're burning daylight!
Yeah, I like this new plan!
What plan is that?
Walking every day, eating grass, getting my mash, sleep, repeat.
Well, eventally you'll do a little more than that.
Well, the Solstice is almost here.
WHERE?! I can't see it!
No, it's tomorrow. A day to celebrate the changing season, daylight is returning, and, well, the world may end.
What, just OK?
Sure. Do I still get my mash?
Then OK.

Another grazing day, another grazing day.
Stop dancing. You have to get a hoof trim. Stand still.
Boring. Oh, some horsey crack, yum!
Yes, here is some alfalfa, now stand nicely.
OK, no problem!

Trim is done, now we can go for a quick walk.
Let's keep walking and eating, it's a beautiful day!
I know, and I totally want to ride, but I haven't bought a single gift, and I took the day off work to go shopping.
No, shopping.
Boring. Let's go explore.
I can't, maybe Santa will get you something.
Who is this Santa?

Only extra special good horses get presents from Santa.
I'm extra special.
Oh you're special all right. I said good, too.
I'm good.
Oh really.
Yeah, good at eating.
Well, that's true, but you weren't very good on our last ride.
Yes I was, I ate a good mash.
Remember before that?
When we rode to Avery Pond with Ziggy?
Oh yeah, I hate that guy.
You do not.
I DO. He is really annoying.
And you aren't? I seem to remember you being so silly coming home in the lead that Ziggy had to be in front with good behavior.
Well I remember that my mash had grass hay pellets, yum!

Mom? You said something about a present.
Yeah, from Santa. You get stuff from me all the time.
Who is this Santa guy?
He brings presents to good creatures.
How do I know it's him and not Chris, the feed guy? He brings me yummy stuff too. I like him. He calls me Major D. I'm a rap star.
Well, Santa wears a red suit and hat, and a big belt, and black boots and is fat with a beard, and laughs "ho, ho, ho!"
Sounds scary. Like a clown.
He's not a clown. Clowns are scary, Santa is not scary. Oh wait, he kind-of is...

WEEEEE! weeeee!
You're pretty full of it Major, be good.
I'm tired of being in my pasture, I want to run around on the trails!
You can run around in your pasture.
It's not the same.
Hopefully soon, but it's getting dark, I need to go home, see my other spoiled creature.
Oh yeah, the cat. You let HER get away with everything.
She is cute, and tiny. You are obnoxious, and big.
But cute.
You're just too much, Major.
Too much? I can never get too much, I love grass.
Thomas kitty helping lick the beaters, the best part. Don't worry, they get washed well!
One last bite.
It's very dark, your dinner will be served. The mash is waiting.
It can wait, this is delicious.
I know, but let's go back and wait for Santa.
When is he coming?
In a few days, be a good boy.
I am.
I know.

Monday, December 17, 2012

a major award

Look, my major (Major?) award! I love it.

I'm glad I kept playing the Big Bad Bloggers Distance Race. I already track my miles, it just took updating my profile one a month.

And I came in second! Of two people, whoo hoo! (Congrats Rafikah Rose first place, and Redheaded Endurance, first place Pioneer division). And thanks to Endurance Granny for organizing it all.

Hey, it's a cool award. And a trophy! I haven't won one those since I was showing rabbits in 4-H. Have to be careful, it could be fra-gee-lay...

But not as cool as a leg lamp.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

whine…and some fun

I'm whining about the weather. It is gorgeous but cold right now, while I am trapped at work, but of course this weekend is supposed to be rainy. And it is dark at 4:45. Whine...

So now for something completely different...and funny. Earlier this year (when the weather was nice) I came back from a ride, and put my tack away in the stable. And noticed there was a table, filled with shiny fabric. On closer inspection, it was a table full of bras!

What, you don't have bra tables at your stable? Bras, lawn mower, tack, just what you'd expect to find!

A fellow boarder is a wonderful sales person for a "delicates" company. And she has sales samples she shows to buyers, then after the season, brings for us! Score! I might love buying my horse a new blanket, and I don't even mind scoping poop, but shopping for a new bra, torture.

All the women had fun looking through the samples, nothing for boys, our stable guy was left out.

Even horse Mystic got into the fun, probably about a 38 DD, though she would have preferred a lace-cup. Major was left out, but he might have been glad not to be the model for this particular photo!

Stables can be the most unstable of places. But this was pretty fun.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

all I want for christmas

The catalogs are filling my mailbox. Horsey stuff everywhere. I don't like cutesy things, or really need anything, but still feel compelled to flip through them, to see if something catches my eye.

And I saw the Best. Gift. Ever.

Hop-a-long plush horse hopper! I was so sad at the 100 pound limit. I had a basic one when I was a kid, not a fancy one, it just had a head with handles. It wasn't even a horse, though I pretended it was. The local tack store has a coin-operated pony, that I also desperately want to ride, with a 75 pound limit.


I goofed off and searched online, just being silly. And they have bouncy horses for grown-ups! OK, an adult looks pretty silly (and you HAVE to check out some of the other photos, so very bad).

Yeah, it might be silly, but it WOULD still be pretty great exercise...

Friday, December 7, 2012


The fog was so dense I had to run my windshield wipers as I drove to the barn. I optimistically thought it might burn off before noon, when the vet was scheduled to arrive.

Quickly saddled up with C and C for a short forest ride. We knew it would be muddy. And there would be downed trees. And the horses might be full of it.

Major's buddy Friday traversing the puddle, and the fog

We were right. I can't blame the horses: a week of rain after weeks of 30+ miles, Major is raring to go. But no "raring" would be allowed today, not on the slick trails. We did fit in some trotting, and behavior was mostly OK.

Until we split, since I needed to get back earlier. Major wondered where his friends went, and then started remembering we were going home! The silliness, which included much prancing and even some bucking attempts, was thwarted. What I really would like to do: take him some nice dry place to just GO. But no trails like that right now, so he has to behave.

stolen bites are the most delicious

Back home he hadn't sweated a drop, but I knew he'd roll after the quick ride, and didn't feel like presenting a wet, muddy horse to the vet. So I hand-walked him to eat grass, and he also got to steal a few bites of hay from Fridya's travel hay bag. Naughty.

And then the vet arrived. Major is unconcerned about the vet, and a good patient. After the basic checkup (36 resting heartrate, weight 970), the vet set up the dental equipment. While Major is a good boy, he is also a cheap drunk. It didn't take much to put him under, and an inspection of his teeth revealed a few points and waves, quickly fixed. I really like that the vet points things out to me, explains and shows what he does.

To add insult to the whole procedure, while still under sedation Major also got his sheath cleaned. I try to do it during the year, but can never quite get it. Like a frightened turtle! Now everything is squeeky clean.

so sleepy, droopy lip...

It took Major about an hour to recover from the sedation. I walked him around the arena, the only place with nice, smooth footing. We also just stood around a bit. And there was still so much mist it was almost raining. Soon he was completely recovered, and was so happy to get an extra mash (I got a nicker for that one).

wet winter leaves and mud

Here is hoping the clouds lift and we see the sun. This morning dawned clear, but in the valley, 1000 feet lower in elevation, it is foggy and cold. I'm having hot chocolate and thinking of long rides in the warm sun.

Monday, December 3, 2012

after the rain

It was a lot of rain. And wind. Then more rain. But our low reservoirs and rivers had no problems containing it. Watching the local and national news was actually pretty funny, we must all be under water! But it was fine, now just very wet. I don't imagine the trails will be passable for awhile, though it will be interesting to go into the forest and see the damage. This is a good time of year for hiking with Major, but yesterday I wanted to see how full the rivers were.

Confluence very full!

same view in October

The confluence is the best place for this, it is amazing to see the Middle and North forks of the American River coming together is a great surge. The middle fork was much muddier, it travels father since the dam was my thinking. (The North fork dam is not far, just at lake Clementine, a few miles up from the confluence)

final leaves hanging on
happy moss

ferns peeking between granite

The wind and rain had finally caused the trees to mostly drop their leaves, and the moss was so lush and happy. All the little ferns have popped out seemingly from nowhere, they only last till the warm spring comes, but for now are almost magical.

the trail has turned into a creek
this waterfall and creek were beautiful...across the trail!
The trail had a few issues, mainly an entire creek going across it! I know along this section there would be a few more to cross, and didn't feel like getting too wet, so turned back. SO pondered that Major might not cross the creek, but I knew it would be no problem (Though the trails are too slippery and yucky right now, also riding would do too much damage to them.)

Just south of the confluence, No Hands Bridge has stood for 100 years, through many floods, which have washed away upstream bridges many times. The original builders sure knew how to build, and located the bridge in the right place.

plenty of fresh, yummy grass
Back at the stable there was little damage, just lots of mud. Major was happy to get out and have a snack. After this storm there is also a plethora of mushrooms! I don't eat them (yuck, slimy fungi), and good thing! There was a recent local tragedy where 4 people died from eating wild-picked mushrooms.

slightly rude mushrooms
The winter is frustrating in the lack of riding, but fun in other ways. This week Major and I will do some hiking, exploring the soggy forest, mud boots on!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Its only been raining for 12 hours, already I have 5 inches in my new feed tub (sophisticated rain gauge). I know we were in drought conditions, but now we have flood warnings. Mother Nature likes to overdo it a bit.

Major will be standing in his shelter, totally dry. Later I'll take him a wet alfalfa cube and beet pulp mash, I worry with the rain that the horses don't drink enough.
While Major won't go out in the rain, if I take him for a walk he'll happily go. I just have to decide how wet I want to get.

Monday, November 26, 2012

oh, behave!

I was prepared for the craziness. Major's meltdown on Thanksgiving morning was just too much silliness. Arena work it is, then a long working trail ride.

Of course the arena was busy with a trainer working a horse. Lunging with tarps and balls, no issues for Major, but I needed the room, and didn't want to disturb them. So I'd work the gravel road. And we did. Up and down, no problems, listening. Fine, so out we went, maybe the issues are trail-specific.

Down the road, out onto the trail, a nice normal trot, then we came upon a little deer. This poor young buck only had one skinny antler, and was looking for a way though the fence. The ridiculous gated community erected a 12-foot fence around their huge rural property (gee, can't let the deer, who lived here first, use the forest, or they might eat the flowers!) I didn't want to spook the deer, and tried to give him room to get by, but he just ran ahead. We followed quietly behind (though Major thought we were herding him!) until the deer got to the end of the fence and went around.

Now a true test, onto the main trail. Where Major was perfect. For 14 miles. His one bad behavior? Trying to pull over and go home. I kept telling him we had a trailer waiting in Auburn, but he'd pretend he had to pee in the weeds, pull over, and then turn around. At first I fell for it. Once he peed, there was no fooling me (yeah, I'm not that swift sometimes, he's clever about that). We crossed the noisy stream at Mormon Ravine without the usual bridge tap dancing, and continued on.

Avery Pond? Really a puddle right now.

American River? Maybe creek at this point!

We walked, trotted, cantered. Then we came across a downed tree. There was no going over or under, too big to move. It was on a very steep slope, no going below. I could have turned around and gone home, but I thought we could make it. I climbed the bank above the trail, and pushed the tree as much as I could. It only dropped about 6 inches. But that was enough to step over it, on the slope above. So I climbed over, tugged the lead, and Major clambered up, sliding, stepped over carefully, and slid down the other side. GOOD pony!

hard to see, tree down on steep slope

The trail is pretty level, with just gradual uphill (though with steep cliffs) until Auburn. We crossed the creek at Oregon Bar, defeating the terrifying stump monster (the only little hesitation of the day). The trail was lovely here, a bit damp in the shade, but some nice fall color, with the river alongside. I tried a video, which is lovely, and would make everyone seasick. I hope to get a helmet cam in the future! (anyone have one, any recommendations?)

stump monster

lovely fall trail

Cardiac Hill, always good to rest here!

Then we get to Cardiac Hill, where the trail pretty much goes straight up. But Major does like hills, so we climbed right up. Major kept thinking we were almost there (the last few miles do seem to take forever.) I decided to take the Cardiac Bypass, which isn't quite as steep, and we cantered up a beautiful hillside, but had one more hill to go. And it's a nasty one. I got off, ready to hike, and I think Major thought we were done. The look on his face, "Oh no! We have to go up that?" was precious. Poor boy, at least I'm not riding you!

What? We have to keep going?

nasty trail, all round, slippery rocks, bad footing.

At the top he was fine, miraculously recovered, and trotted most of the rest of the way to the staging area. Awesome SO was waiting with the trailer, though Major didn't want his haybag, he preferred all the yummy new grass. And pranced around after a bath totally full of it. I think he thought we were just going to ride home! I probably could have worked on some of the bad behavior problems if we headed home, but I wasn't up for another 14 miles! Since didn't need to do an LD that day, Major got packed into the trailer and taken home.

deserved snack

It was a fun ride. But I didn't work on any of the bad behavior. I'll try later this week (between the rain?) at home, which may be the main problem. Not AT home, or AWAY from home, but NEAR home. Horses sure make us problem solvers...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

turkey trot

I hope everyone had a good holiday. Some people may have done a benefit run or walk, gotten a cool tshirt. My old barn used to do a quick morning ride, and I like to continue the tradition.

But everyone else was busy cooking. My pies were made, I had the time, so I saddled up Major and went out with my SO running along. The weather was gorgeous, perfect blue skies, 60+ degrees (it's November!), the trails are a bit drier.

But my horse was still an idiot. Go-go-go he said. So walk-walk-behave yourself I said. I won. Barely. We did a little trotting, but his brain would fall out, and it wasn't the day I wanted to deal with it (knowing I had pies to deliver, turkey to eat, and 15 family members later in the day!)

I think he was the trotting turkey. Tomorrow we do arena work and then a long ride, we'll see how the turkey does then.

(Turkey Major still got some Thanksgiving treats, leftover from the apple pies. Probably didn't deserve it, but it was Thanksgiving, a good day for forgiveness.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dear horse thief

To whom it may concern (horse thief!),

I would like to request that you return my horse ASAP. Sure his cute face is deceptively similar, but I noticed the changes.

Do not be deceived, the original version is missing!

I did not notice at first, as we walked through the muddy forest. We were going to keep it quiet, a nice barefoot ride on newly-soft trails. We picked up a trot without any crabby ears, and he listened nicely to slow through the puddles and slick muck.

first puddles of the year

on our way to losing his mind

Out at the lake, this "new" Major was apparent: this horse only comes with three gaits: jig, manic extended trot, and runaway canter.

Luckily he also came with a stop. Notice I did not say a "whoa." But he could be dragged to a stop eventually. I took some photos of the lake for evidence. See the pricked, excited ears? This is not the crabby, supposedly tired from a season of training horse I had two weeks ago. This is not even the horse I had last week on a nice lake ride with friends. Some dark evening you came and replaced that horse with the "new" Major.

threatening skies, low lake, excited ears
"my" rock high and dry
see all the rocks? no wonder there is Granite Bay and Rocklin towns nearby
canal puddle muck, this poor horse had to walk right through the middle after stupidly trying to walk on the side

At this point I was pretty suspicious, but the next part of the trail confirmed it. We left the canal trail to take the upper trail home. This crazy beast continued the manic 14-mph trotting, through my entreaties to "easy," "slow" and "whoa, dammit."

here there were trees to "slow" our flight. Excited horse didn't even want to eat grass!

If you were testing my resolve to one-rein-stop on slippery singletrack and muddy dropoffs, don't worry, I always maintain that ability. This Major did too, little good it did. Over and over. And again. Repeat. Oh boy.

I thought we'd continue on, to at least wear this new horse out a bit, and continued towards Rattlesnake Bar. I thought the craziness would dissapate, because this new horse still obviously knows where home is, but he wanted to just keep going! It however did not seem prudent, as this trail was way too slick for antics.

This trail seems to lead to the Hobbit Shire...tucked among the rocks I suspect.

Turning for home it was totally obvious that my horse was switched. Even on a trail my original Major knew, this horse was doing the little jumping spooky my Major used to do, long ago. And jigging. When asked to maintain a simple trot, I only got freight-train pulling. So we jigged home.

I do thank you for at least leaving a semblance of brains, so when we started down the muddy embankment and started sliding this Msjor kept his footing and did not worry at all as we slid about 10 feet. He also clambered over the newly-fallen tree blocking the access road/route home.

On the road home we can often walk quietly. This horse had to prance, so I walked alongside, trying to keep up. At home he tried to roll in the arena with his saddle still on, and once untacked pretended to be the original Major, by going right back to his leftover breakfast, and asking for carrots.

Now, I know some of this may be my fault: I joked with another rider the other day, saying we could mix her horse's excitability with Major's calm attitude. Maybe you're not a thief, maybe this is some sort of "Freaky Friday" (the original, not the dumb new one) or "Big" and magical powers were involved.

Either way, I'd like my original horse back. Any one of these too-early dark evenings would be fine. Sooner than later would be best, this Major was exhausting. This Major will require some arena work, which I have very little time for, and remedial walking behavior lessons. At your earliest convenience, I'll leave the gate unlocked.

Thank you.