Wednesday, December 31, 2014

welcome quietly 2015

I spent the last day of the year with the best view ever. 

While 2014 may not have gone as planned, I have no regrets. The expectation was of endurance plans, which were sidelined by an abscess and ulcers, then time and budget constraints.

But I still got this view all year. Major and I had a wonderful time on the trail. We did some great training (just passed the 600 mile mark) on beautiful trails, saw our average mph increase as we both got more comfortable at speed, and mainly had more fun than fights.

I hope 2015 brings many adventures with my quite brave (where the hell are you going, that's not trail?!) sure-footed (not OVER the rock!), very forward (just slow from warp speed please) horse. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

a very merry

Wishing everyone a very merry Solstice, Festivus, Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate! With many carrots. 

Drawing of Major by my talented friend Chihiro!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

conversations with major: define naughty

Hello Major. Wow, you're filthy.
Mom, let's go, let's go out.
Just hold on, let me open the gate and scoop some poop. Boy, you managed to even get it in your feed pan, great aim buddy....
let's go, let's go…FREE!
Get back in here! Major, knock it off!
I'm playing in the not-supposed-to place! Bite Bandit, tease Tux, tear up mud, wheeee! Uh oh…
Get over here. Now.
Um, Hi Mom, I wasn't doing anything…
No, back in the pen.
No buts, just wait.

OK, now we can go for a walk.
a ride, let's go, let's run!
We can't, you're healing.
I'm fine
You had a fat leg for 4 days.
Just a flesh wound.
No you had an abscess, now you have a hole.
I'm fine.
Yes, you sure think you are. I'm not sure I trust you today.
Who, me?

We never do anything good.
We're walking right now. And last weekend you got handwalked to eat grass, and got special carrots!
Not fun.
Oh really? You loved the carrots.
yeah, I guess that was OK.

Time to head back buddy.
What was that for?
Nothing, thought I saw Santa.
Santa only comes for good horses, you're being naughty.
Define naughty…

Just stand here for a minute.
Can't stand still....urrgghhh!
Deal with it.

OK, we can jog home. I'm not too fast, so just slow.
Just slow down, we don't need to do the big trot!
PRANCE, prance, prance
Ok, knock it off Prancer.
I'm not Prancer, I'm Major. 

I think you're a bit too full of it, and everywhere is muddy slippery. Want to play in the arena?
It's boring in there, just going in circles.
Well, I'm not walking you acting like this, so we need a little behavior work.
Huh? I think I'm behaving.
You're behaving naughty.
It's behaving, right?
Just get in there.

Oh, you are full of it. I don't want to even ride you silly crazy beast.
Yeah, let's ride!
We'd have to go 20 miles to calm you down.
OK! Where is the trailer!?
I was kidding
Let's go!
Oh, winter is hard…
Trust me, I'll be good. This is my I'll be good face.
That's not helping Major.

Here, back in your pen, have a cookie.
Wow, everything is just dialed to 11 today, isn't it?
11? I am 11!
Yes, now, play in your big pasture.
I think I'll just stand here under my shelter and poop.
Well, at least it's not naughty.
See, I told you I behave. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

henny penny

I'm Henny Penny, and the sky is falling!
Yes, it is supposed to, it's rain, and wind.
But the storm, oh my, the worst in five years.
Five years? Really? Worse than the five inches of rain in ONE HOUR we got last week?
Ummm, maybe.
Gee Henny Penny, what should we do?
Run for the hills! Worry, be scared!
Is this a horrible blizzard?
A tsunami?
No. You're not playing along!
How about I make sure the horses are ok, that the property will drain, and stay away from localized street and stream flooding?
Um, ok, but that sounds…reasonable.
Yes, I know.

I am SO tired of the weathermen and news this week. I rarely watch the news, but did turn it on to see when the main rain would hit. There was a national live broadcast from a storm-whipped hilltop in San Francisco, with the poor reporter getting pelted with the rain. Yes, it's raining. Drive carefully, have flashlights and whatever you need. We need the rain, though this will not come even close to saving us from the drought (you need a few YEARS of average rainfall to do that). I think we've forgotten that we live in Northern California. It rains. ok, rant over.

We did manage to fit in a ride last weekend, out to the slowly-rising lake. Quite a few of the sandy trails are pretty rutted, and we stayed off the dirt trails to not mess them up. Usually we give it 24 hours after rain, as everything here drains pretty nicely (decomposed granite is great footing). 
yes, the lake is higher, though there's a long way to go.

In between storms and darkness there hasn't been much time to ride, so Major gets visited every day and we go walking about if it's not too wet. I like it, and so does he (green grass everywhere!).

He works on tormenting the other horses over the fence, perfecting his grass-snatching skills, and of course, being muddy.

Hi Bandit, what cha' doin?

OK OK! you're crabby, I've leave you alone!

There is still 10 days till the Solstice. But break out the muck boots, stiff curry brushes and welcome to winter.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

seasonal stampede

I know California needs to get out of the drought, but I've gotten more than two inches of rain in the last HOUR. With thunder and lightning. Adding to the steady rain all day. Maybe a little moderation, please?

I was under the weather today (bad pun, sorry), so I mostly stayed home and did nothing. Well, I did play with ponies.

There was a tiny stampede on my dining table! I'm working on my seasonal cards, every year I make a little ornament. Every year I also wonder why I make them so complicated with lots of tiny paper cutting. Because making one or two is fun. By 50, not so much...

This year is horses, though I've also had the traditional seasonal robots, rocket ships and turtles too. Oh, sometimes a star or dove. Those are less interesting. 

I make generic for most folks, but friends this year will get an approximation of their horse with colors they like. But I have way too many friends with paint horses: they get a similar solid, I'm not that crazy. 

Well, maybe a little. I'm also working on a museum dinosaur display graphic, which also was on the table (yeah, I rarely cook, the dining room table and kitchen island are mostly used for crafts). So the dino was going to eat the ponies, Rraaarrr! 

I did manage to leave for a bit and check on Major. He was safe and dry under his cover, and didn't even meet me at the gate: he'd have gotten wet, and Princess Major can't have that. He was very happy to have soupy beet pulp with apples, since he hates to get wet I worry that he doesn't go out to his trough enough. 

I think I cook more for my horse than myself...though I did manage to make some leftover turkey soup tonight. Since it's still pouring rain, it sounds just right. Though I'll have to eat in the living room to avoid the stampede...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

thankful, even if

I'm looking forward to some family time today (I don't get to see them that often) even if my Dad and I will support opposing football teams, someone will surely say something unintentionally rude and annoy someone else, and everyone will eat too much delicious dinner to eat my pie. 

Appreciating beautiful views and great trails while riding even if my awful horse had no brakes yesterday. 

Loving my cute old kitty who rolls in the dirt even if the next thing she does is track it all inside onto the couch.

There are always the even ifs. I just remember look past them for the good things, today of all days. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, even if...

And remember to save room for pie.

Monday, November 24, 2014

the universe laughed

Went hiking for the lost hoof boot on a lovely, rainy Saturday. A good solid rain, which we haven't seen enough of, made the trails slick but pretty. I thought I'd find the lost boot: it's bright orange, most things are getting green, it can only be on about 1.5 miles of trail. I did find an orange boot!

ha ha universe, NOT funny! Found this at the waterfall crossing...

Seriously. The universe is laughing at me. Didn't find the real boot, damn. But it was still a pretty hike.

Calcutta Falls

big fall leaves

last week this little creek was totally dry

happy moss

Also managed a short ride in the quick sunset last week. Thought I'd just hop on Major bareback, he'd be fine, right? Not so much. I need to use the bareback pad, he's just to damn slick and had no interest in listening/stopping in his halter. So we mostly hiked instead! But still managed to see cool stuff.

looking stylish, being obnoxious

blurry zoom of an unconcerned bobcat drinking from a puddle

mushrooms happy to arise from damp earth

This week I'm going try and sneak in a ride between pie-baking and family visits. This coming weekend many friends are attending the last local endurance ride of the season and I'm totally envious. But between work, family, finances and logistics, I just couldn't make it happen. It sucks to be disappointed, but it's a disappointment that's easy to get over. I am still going to ride my happy horse, and doing fun things with family and friends, and be thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

trail work

The early darkness has again turned me into a weekend warrior. During the week I might squeeze in between work and dark a short forest bareback ride, but for now the weekends are the only time I have for a nice long ride.

And this weekend I took grand advantage and took Major and his favorite new non-best friend Tux to Auburn. He would not share his hay bag like with Barkley last excursion, and spent most of the tacking up time making crabby faces. Whatever. Deal with it.

We headed out down the canyon and pretty quickly came across the trail work sign. I'd read they'd been doing some, but Major needed to read it himself.

Major being cautious, just like the sign says!

Then we saw evidence of the actual work, small tractors (not so scary) and many rocks (in the wrong place Major thought). Walking down to the creek crossing is scary black plastic right next to the trail, and straw-filled wattles for diversion. Lovely. Major got through it ok, then we waited while my friend safely walked Tux through.

tractor ahead

rocks in the wrong spot
looking back at the awful trail work

Now I don't mind them fixing up trails, but this work is supposed to be for making a bridge over the crossing. Now this trail already isn't that easy coming up or down, and has always seemed just fine. But I think since the "waterfall" (really, it's never that spectacular, it's just too small even when full!) was published in a few hiking books, more people are hiking, and maybe the powers that be decided to make something easier for them. It's a hiking trail, not Disneyland. There are rocks and trees and rough stuff. OK, rant over.

We headed down and over to Cool. I have enough pictures of this that I've grown complacent and forget to take out the camera, no matter how lovely the view. Plus we were cantering across the bridge. But my friend had a GoPro, the video is pretty short but entertaining. (linked in picture caption).

watch the video here

Up to Cool but a different way for me: Pig Farm trail. Very steep and slippery, we made it up, only to discover it comes out on the dreaded Training Hill! Luckily almost at the top, where we waited. Major thought I'd drag him down it, but we turned to head for the troughs.

blurry Pig Farm trail, luckily no real pigs in sight

Training Hill: longest .9 miles ever

waiting "patiently" for Tux (love those crabby "why are we waiting" ears)

Major did some epic snorkeling, but little drinking, and the Olmstead Loop troughs. He was more than happy to head home, back across the bridge and up to Auburn.

snorkeling and making a watery mess

heading back on dry trails, but green is appearing!

Major was not as happy going through the construction on the way back. There were about eight people and kids sitting on the lower rocks, black plastic, straw wattles, muddy water: he thought we should just skip it and proceeded to back himself about 10 feet, and into Tux! (that embarrassing moment also captured on video, linked in picture caption below). With enough encouragement we walked suspiciously through. It'll be interesting to see what the trail ends up looking like, with a bridge, supposedly still creek access, signage, and whatever else they do.

watch the creek crossing video here
Luckily the rest was uneventful, except for losing a boot. While I'm glad he just keeps going and his feet aren't sore, I really didn't want to buy a new boot! Damn. I'm hoping to hike the trail this weekend and look for it.

Back at the trailer the sun came out even more, and Major found a great dirt spot to roll in before getting back in the trailer. It'll be another weekend till we can get out again, and I want the rain but maybe it can just rain on weekdays? These weekend rides help keep the darkness at bay, getting out in the sunlight. I know there will be enough days when there is no sun, and no ride, and it is too wet and cold, but for now I am enjoying the time we have to play.

the end

Monday, November 3, 2014

return to the scene

Some people may remember when Major and I and a friend were attacked by pterodactyls (actually: terrified by parasailers) at Cronan ranch. I hadn't been back there, though not for any bad reason, I just hadn't made the trek. But friend S wanted to ride there, and spoiler alert: no one was harmed during the course of this adventure!

big and little, how cute is that

Major has some small horse friends right now, though adorable arabian/connemara Barkley more than makes up for it with his gorgeous mane and tail, enough for at least two of Major's pitiful examples. They became fast friends in the trailer, and Major even (mostly) shared his crack haybag.

We headed out on lovey trails, the dust subdued by a day of rain, but green grass still hiding beneath dry stalks. Soon. After a nice loop we took the big hill connector trail to the main trails. (sidenote: Every instance on every sign of what should be "Connector Trail" is spelled "connecter." It drives me crazy. Not standard english usage! So I'll pretend it is named after some "Mr. Connecter" out there, who donated the trail. Rant over). 

"Connecter" connector trail...

valley floor
from the ridge trail, distant river

Everywhere has great views, the river flowing below, long views across the valley, well-signed (except for spelling) trails. Major and Barkley had a grand time trotting and cantering, we went up the ridge trail to see the whole ranch spread below us, with some snow on distant peaks (and no parasailers in sight). Then back down the long gradual slope (for what seems like forever) to the valley floor, and visiting the old movie set.

movie set

Major wonders if there are treats in there
The river borders one whole side of the ranch, though part of the trail is closed in summer due to the hordes of professional rafting companies that use this space as their lunch pullout spot. But this day we were alone along the river trail, and worked our way down to an easier access to the rocky shore. Most trees here are evergreen, so the few yellow highlights along the river are lovely.

fall colors

There was one scary moment when some other riders came through the brush and startled Barkley. He jumped farther into the river, but only a couple feet, then figured out it was riders and settled right down. Major was a bit bored about the whole thing, he didn't want to drink, and thought standing here was dumb. The footing is really unstable too, with large rocks as bad footing, so wandering about the water isn't as fun as in other places!

silly horse captured mid shake in sparkly water
impatient Major waits for us to just go...
rocky river trail

Back on the trail we wandered around a bit, and Major had one naughty fit when he was passed by Barkley and thought he was losing the race…sigh. So then Major had to tortured (follow behind), where he trotted with flattened ears and crabbiness for awhile, till he figured out that didn't get him anywhere. Happiness resumed.

great cantering hill, here comes Barkley!
Heading back there are some super fun long cantering hills. My usual home trails don't have anything like this, so it was a blast! Major didn't have to be told twice that he could run as fast as he wanted! It was a great day on happy horses, a perfect start to the coming dark season. I was glad to return to the scene, to confront the old demons and replace them with new, fun memories.