Friday, March 29, 2019

quarry ride

We were the only trailer in the parking lot Sunday morning, so I thought that bode well for empty trails. I had checked the calendar: no official trail runs. As I tacked up a few runners came by, but they just looked to be the general sort.

Until I headed down the canyon. I guess a local running company was doing a trail running class. In the first 1/4 mile I passed the pretty good runners, all seemed experienced and either stepped aside or passed us when I waved them through. The next group, a bit farther down the hill, were the less experienced run/walkers. They all had obviously been told to YIELD TO HORSES. Which yes, is awesome. Except when I can get off trail to let 10 runners come though! So I did step aside quite a few times, telling them not to worry. Hoping everyone learned in the process.

There were just a few walker/hikers left in the back of the group, then we met the folks pulling ribbons. The main guy told me "I can tell a good trail horse, he doesn't care about any of this, does he?" he said amiably as he pet Major. I was pretty proud of Major for going through all those people, and have to admit, I'll take the admiration!

Let's chase the runner! Let's not!

Then we had to settle down for business, which Major now thought should include chasing any trail runners down the trail. It didn't help that they'd pass us on the downhills (where we walk) and I'd pass them on the level parts (where we trot!). But Major was listening much better than our last ride, and while enthusiastic to be out on different trails, wasn't being stupid. I'll take it!

both ears on the bridge to watch for trolls

little waterfall is pretty

At No Hands bridge I was able to see what some riders had complained about: ugly chain link over the railings. I wish they had chosen something that blended better, or historic looking (though there should be no rails!). I find this ridiculous, because go up the trail 20 feet and you can fall off the edge into the river there too. Sigh…

stupid chain link

I knew the ride for the day would be harder with more elevation than he had done for awhile. So I didn't want to push it, and descended the canyon and then out onto Quarry Road. This used to be the railroad tracks for the old quarry, and is where the Tevis riders come though in the middle of the night. Luckily it is also awesome for a big, long trot along the river.

along the cold, fast river
old quarry, now a climbing destination

At the quarry Major really wanted to go see what the people were doing, but I told him they were working. There are no horse accessible trails on the other side, but it is a neat amphitheater to go into, another time! Sadly the cool Hawyer Cave is blocked up (vandals), but there are remnants of the platform where the limestone was loaded into the trains.

platform from above

and below, it's pretty huge!

We went a bit further, but I was hoping to not add too many miles. We turned around to retrace our steps, and Major was quite enthusiastic! We passed all the hikers along the quarry road at a trot, nice to have such a wide trail!

this plant, ceanothus, smells completely disgusting!

Now up the canyon. Major was doing pretty good, though the steep hill at Robie Point tired him a bit. We still have a few miles to go buddy! We came into the staging area, where my SO was surprisingly waiting, and filming! SO then stayed to help out by doing the dirty work: washing the muddy hoof boots. I sponged the muddy beast, still too cold for the hose, and he was nice enough to roll in the green, clean grass!

graceful pony

I was super impressed at Major's fitness level, because he was still happy and moving well at the end, wasn't tired the next day, so I am hoping I judged the ride correctly. We did 13 miles with 1500 feet of elevation, and not fast, average speed 4.6mh. I have been worried that I was going to break my previously hoof abscessed, colicy, winter-vacation horse, but it looks like if I take it easy we're on the trail to many miles ahead, yeah!

so green, and he is actually clean!

As a postscript: I got a call from a ranger that they had found my hoof boot, someone turned it in. Except I didn't lose one this ride…it is from at least last spring! Pretty glad I scrawl my phone number in sharpie on the boots. The damn thing looks fine after a year in the elements, I'm glad to have it back!

reunited after more than a year lost on the trail!

Monday, March 25, 2019

monday moment: more please

There seems to be a problem with this feed pan.

It is too small.

And it is empty.

More please.

Friday, March 22, 2019


Three nice rides after a month off, then Major decided "nope!" Definitely with an exclamation mark! We had taken it easy, three rides of increasing length but not speed: 4, 6 and 7 miles, over random terrain. He'd even seemed to have a grand time on ride three out on the lake trail (water-scooping helicopters practicing and all!).

curvy forest trail

lake view

Then came Tuesday. A weekend of relaxing in pasture (while I relaxed at the beach) he decided he just wanted none of that riding stuff. He was fine tacking up, but leading out of the stable, nope! Um, yes, we will. I thought that was all the argument I was going to get, as we headed down the lane and into the forest. Ha!

First water crossing was balked at. He NEVER balks at water. We stomped though it after a little fight (backing up, me circling him, oh fun). He wasn't that determined, so we got across fairly quickly. And then went back and forth a couple times to remember that balking is not an option!

maybe he objected to my wardrobe choices. Orange, plaid and swirl don't match?

Into the forest, I was planning on just walk/trot 4-5 miles. I went less than 1/2 mile into the forest and Major kept trying to turn for home and not listening to steering or speed instructions. So I set up my forest "arena." He was not a fan.

heading for the hill again

We worked on circles, backing and side pass on the forest road, especially at intersections for home. First he was fast and rushy, and I was super frustrated, BUT I figured out sooner rather than later (sometimes I'm a better learner!) that wasn't going to do any good.  So I sat deep and breathed and told him I had all the time in the world.

He was still rushy and dumb, but slowly came around. Maybe after the third time he had to WALK up the big hill, no trotting, no me getting off (the usual situation). Or maybe it was halting and finally backing nicely. Or backing up hills, or crossing the ditch without jumping. He was sweatier during this ride than trotting for 5 miles along the sandy lake!

I don't want to totally annoy him, just remind him of the supervisor situation, and he seemed to be much improved. So we began to walk towards home, and again, he forgot the previous 45 minutes, and we worked on trotting back and forth on the road towards home, and then crossing and recrossing a different creek, and standing nicely wherever I randomly tell you to stop.

I could have worked on all of this in the arena. Except he won't behave like this in the arena, so the forest seemed like a good option. There are enough slightly wider trails to do real work on, and good hills to engage brain and body!

sweaty Major regretting his life choices…

Coming home I got off half a mile from home (I always get off in different places) and walked him home, letting him snack on grass. The rest of this week I haven't ridden, but did do a good marching hike where he seemed to listen a bit better than usual.

But did any of it stick? I'm riding Sunday, so we'll see!

I love this view on my daily drive: mandarin farm and barn

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

hairy equinox

Happy equinox! The days only get better from here, but today's 12 hours of daylight and 12 night is such a great turning point.
major grazing, me playing with shedding hair

I've been a little bit stir-crazy. How stir crazy? How about making-shapes-with-hair crazy.

M for majorly hairy

Here's to more sun and less hair, more riding and less rain, and more time to enjoy it all.

gold brown star to the best shedding brush!

Monday, March 11, 2019


It had been ages since I had ridden Major, our last ride was in January! So of course I lunged him thoroughly, did an arena ride, got right on my crazy arab for a trail ride! He had looked sound (in the round pen) for more than a week and we were just doing a walking ride to see how Major was feeling.

"retired" horse is skeptical
snacks and puddles

The trails are a muddy mess, but the yellow globe in the sky was out (strange and wonderful sight) and the ride was awesome. I sure missed those ears! We kept it mellow, and just walked around the forest for four miles, but he sure seemed fine and game for it! I'll be taking it easy and easing him back, I don't want to stress his abscessed foot or month-vacation fitness level (though I know they keep their fitness for a long time).

I missed those ears

green grass everywhere!

Since I hadn't done much on the ride, I was feeling antsy. And an extra hour of daylight, best holiday ever! So I headed over to Cardiac Hill, near the dam site. I like to make a loop: down the dam road and bypass trail, then up Cardiac Hill and back along the level canal trail. Cardiac Hill is super steep, but yes, up is easier than down! Only .8 miles, but climbing 1000 feet. Partway though the hike the clouds darkened and ominous rumblings were coming from the darkness. Then the hail started, slowly at first, but damn, it hurt! In the distance I could see sheets of rain/hail and the canyon rim turning white from all the hail, but luckily I was just on the edge of it.

moss and lichen line the trail

cool fungus, turkey tail

Under the tree cover there was just a bit of hail getting though, though the trail was as rocky and muddy as I remember. But the green moss and cool fungus and adorable salamanders made it all worthwhile.

California newt is cool

river far below
Back home I had a lot of hail on my deck, and made a hail snowman that even Major would approve (at least the nose!) With extra daylight, clear weather ahead and a healthy horse, I'm hoping to finally start on some spring adventures…

happy hailman

Friday, March 1, 2019


Damn, I am so glad February is over. After vast amounts of rain, two trips to the vet, multiple late nights, early mornings and worrying, Major seems to be on the mend.

It seemed to start with a basic abscess. He was three-legged lame, soaked the foot, saw the bulging heel bulb, and let him rest on it. It burst in a couple days, and he was more comfortable, but now had a hole in his heel bulb so deep I could stick an entire q-tip in there (so like 3 inches deep!), eek! (there are not pictures of this because I can barely tolerate it myself).

rain, rain go away

He really seemed not himself. He wasn't walking around, it was pouring buckets of rain and he just moped under his shelter. Until I drove up and he was standing in the rain. Most people would think "Oh good, he's getting out." I knew something was wrong. Major does NOT stand in the rain. He'll leave his shelter to drink or pee, and that's it.

When I got there I could see he was coated in mud and had been rolling. I didn't even think twice: called the vet, said we were coming in, and hooked up my trailer. Major reluctantly walked down the hill and loaded in the pouring rain. I am grateful the amazing full-service equine clinic is only a 10-minute drive away.

Even feeling crummy, Major didn't want to go into the exam area. He hates the weird mats and ceiling! He did have gut sounds all sides, but faint, and poop was in there but dry and had been there awhile. So he got the whole colic treatment: IV banamine, buscopan, tubed with water, electrolytes and oil, rectal (sorry buddy!) and seemed improved. The vet thought it was just a combination of hurt foot, too much rain, new hay he doesn't like, a perfect storm that lead to colic.

in horsey jail (later it had lovely shavings but he was not happy)

But my stable is not a full-care place, so I had Major spend the might at the vet for observation. Poor guy thought the lovely nicely bedded stall was prison, and was pacing as I left. That was a hard thing to do, drive home with an empty trailer.

and not just rain, actual icy cold, sigh…
so hungry he tried to eat the straw wattle

The next day Major was improved, and I took him home. No real food for quite a few hours, and then only mash and a little hay, but kept a watch on him. I made him wear his blanket since he was a bit compromised, and just hoped he wouldn't feel trapped in it and cast himself (yes, he's done that before, which is why he doesn't wear blankets!)

Bonny the kitty says I sit in your lap and you pet me and feel better. She is right.

 He moped though a couple days, but something was still not right. His foot was still bothering him, but it was something else. Damn, the banamine. In all the craziness I did not start him on ulcer meds right away. And it was day three of banamine, and Major was showing all his signs of being ulcery. Or was it something more sinister? I was worried that it was another colic episode coming on, or something worse with his foot…back to the vet. Of course this time, on a Sunday.

yeah, I got pretty good at the hoof wrapping with duct tape (orange of course)

Major, who normally jumps in the trailer, was highly suspicious and balked for a few seconds. Then his manners reminded him to get in the moving box, and we went back to the vet. Of course, once there, he pooped about 10 times out of nervousness, so it looked like colic was ruled out! He was well hydrated, but his foot was just bothering him more. So xrays it is.

Can we leave yet? We just got here Major.

The xrays showed nothing amiss, no gas pocket which would indicate infection, but since Major did have some cellulitis the leg was expertly wrapped with a whole bunch of layers of stuff I could never recreate so neatly. Vet agreed on ulcer probability, and said to continue that treatment as well. Back home Major showed off his new bandaged leg by limp-trotting to his pasture, and was pretty happy with wet mash meals a day and all the alfalfa he wanted.

nice leg wrapping! (sadly, they did not have orange)

snacks is good, blanket is dumb

With his leg improving, daily double-dosing of ulcer meds and no rain, he seems to be getting back to himself. He dragged me down the road yesterday for grass snacks, and while his leg still has a little swelling he is weighting it and walking pretty soundly. How will that giant abscess grow out? I have no idea how much hoof sole he'll lose, that'll be another event in the future. I'm still anxious about the whole thing, and just grateful I was able to get him help.

getting better!
For now I'm glad the scare is mostly past, though I'm super paranoid about any strange step, weird face or thing he does. And it still isn't done raining, but now Major has a closer water bucket and an extra mash every day, and a paranoid owner checking on him constantly (and super great friends at the barn who keep an eye on everyone too). I'm really ready for the sun to start shining and daylight savings and good things to come.

optimistic spring blooms