Friday, September 30, 2016

choose your own adventure

The days are getting too short. Time is speeding faster and faster, so I'm fitting in all the rides and adventures I can. What will you join me on? Choose from Ten Buzzard Ride, Canteriffic Sand Pits, Vet Visit, or Early Exploring.

What? you don't choose the vet visit?

Vet Visit Luckily, it was uneventful. I wanted the doc to give me the all clear on Major's large splint. Poked and prodded, trotted out completely sound, (all after a 10 mile ride the day before, which I did as a diagnostic). I also had the vet weigh Major on the big scale, as I think he's a bit...chunky, right now.

probably should stop the snacks

ok, maybe we're not this bad…yet

1070 pounds. Vet thought he was fine at Major's height of 15.3, just a little bit fat, nothing more exercise can't fix. So with the all clear, we're ready for increased adventures!

Major thinks there is something suspicious up the hill

Yes, Major can read! This ranch adjacent to the vet has flying pigs!

Ten Buzzard Ride Evening rides are squeezed between getting off work and the encroaching dark. Often I take no photos, and just enjoy horse and forest time. But finding the high point in the forest and seeing the lake view with eight circling turkey vultures (and two sitting on the rock), it stopped us in our tracks. (I had read earlier that more than 20,000 turkey vultures pass through California on their migration from Washington state south to Mexico every September. Here was a small group. How cool. Another random fact: A group of flying turkey vultures is called a a kettle!)

Canteriffic Sand Pits Working on our listening skills (OK, Major's listening skills) we worked on trot, walk, whoa, back, trot, mixing it up for a mile out to the lake. By the time we got there he was actually listening (yes, I should work on this more). Trotting through the sand he asked to canter, and picked up a lovely canter on single track through shallow sand. He even jumped a tiny log on trail while cantering (this horse does not jump, he's pretty dumb that way, me too.). Then we hit the sand pits! And we walked, even Major knowing speed is too hard and not safe through the deep sand.

sand shadow

lake getting lower!

sand pits

a shady break

Early Exploring The local park is not that special, but we hadn't been in awhile and needed a change of scenery. But it gets inundated with bikes and clueless hikers by 10am. So let's get it done early! Almost empty trails, golden early light and Major was having fun exploring (in spite of suspicious dead sticks). Traded trail back and forth with a nice group of mountain bikers, stopped and splashed in the green creek, and almost got ran into by another idiot cyclist coming around a blind corner at speed. Luckily, we were not the reason that four emergency vehicles passed us on the fire road, and that two fire trucks were in the parking lot when we got back!

early morning light and shadow

along the quiet creek

dead sticks are weirdly stacked

have a seat?

head-eating slime

I love how every adventure, even over the same trails, always has something different to discover. As every day gets shorter, Major and I speed up a bit, anxious to fit it all in before the dark and cold catch us.

Monday, September 26, 2016

trailer modification: hanging stuff

The trailer is an ever-evolving storage space. Sometimes saddles and tack and extras for endurance rides, sometimes day-ride stuff, soon winter blankets and more. Always it has brushes and boots, emergency supplies and water, feed and tack. Just add horse, ready to go! But so much stuff!

Keeping it organized was a chore, I'd rather ride. The thing is my aluminum trailer didn't have any way to screw something into the wall. Enter my clever SO who figured out an awesome hanging basket system.

This should work for any trailer (especially aluminum) with "channel" type supports. The baskets are sturdy, they're not coming down. Sometimes a few little things come falling out, (but maybe if I didn't have the baskets so jammed packed that wouldn't be an issue!) All you need are many washers, nuts and bolts, basket of your choice (mine are from Ikea) and a little time, but not long, I promise! One washer in the channel, one on the outside, basket, washer, bolt, nut, tighten, done!

simple washer, bolt and nut

washer sandwich supports baskets!
plenty of storage

In a few years of use, only a couple nuts have loosened and come off, I keep extras in the trailer supplies box (because finding one lost nut on the floor of a dark trailer isn't gonna happen).

washer nut bolt system also works on wood hanging rail
and a tool rack!
 I'm also never without many bungee cords and caribiners. They solve a myriad of problems!

I use bungees like this to wrap around the pile o' buckets so they don't roll all over

giant caribiners support little caribiners with pads and girths galore

The whole trailer is able to stay pretty well organized with this. And even if it isn't organized, it's at least off the floor! When I was a kid that was how we cleaned our room: as along as the floor was clean and Mom could walk across it, it counted as clean! I'll take it.

organize all the things!

Major doesn't care about any of it. Except where the food is stored (black plastic box). Now to go for a ride!

just stop with the orange mom!

P.S. Another trailer item: The tack room vinyl floor I replaced four years ago has held up great! I love it, so easy to clean! So much better than the gross carpet (what terrible idea is that in a horse tack area?)

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Sometimes it all just clicks. When there are no expectations. And you learn something new (that your horse has been trying to teach you for years.)

morning light

I've done this trail more than 20 times in the last few years. And of course, so has Major. So it is sometimes a bit of a slog to get him interested. He is difficult to condition, he sees no benefit from repeated loops, going away from home, seeing the same trail, etc.

autumn light

But this time was different. I think the difference was we're not conditioning. I have no expectations. I have nothing on our calendar. We were on the trail JUST for fun. And he somehow knew it.

Heading out in the early morning, sun already high but a tinge of fall in the air, no one on trail, he ate trail for breakfast and left behind us a small cloud of dust.

lush river bend

The usually busy canyon bridge empty. River below quiet. Cantering across No Hands with no one in sight.

quiet canyon bridge

this is the little "waterfall" that people hike to!

Heading up the other side of the canyon. A few runners. All of us in our moment, sharing these trails we're so lucky to have. Major wanting to continue, but we didn't need 20 miles. I turned him around at the top of the other canyon, he reluctantly listened but would have happily continued.

shady side

posing in NEW halter bridle!

Back down I got off to hike. Which he hates (dragging him behind me). It occurred to me, click!…why not tail down the hill? It isn't too steep, he was listening nicely, and maybe I finally listened too.

Major: I've got this

Because he loved it. Power walking down the hill that is usually a horribly slow slog, nicely waiting as runners came down more quickly and passed us.

He did try to detour us up the steep Pig Farm trail. He loves that damn trail, though it wasn't heading home, so I lead us past while he longingly looked at his missed opportunity. At the bottom of the canyon I got back on to cross No Hands again.

not going there

And the trails were still pretty quiet. Runners and hikers, well behaved dogs, but none of the madness that has been other weekends. Major brought his own excitement, not pulling, just having fun moving down the trail at speed, working together.

Major wanting to chase the runner

Almost back, we passed the half-mile marker to the staging area. I dropped the reins. The reins lay on Major's neck, within reach, but unneeded. And Major continued boldly on, happily powering along. I felt like we were flying…click.

coming home