Monday, May 27, 2019

conversations with major: supermodel

Hey Major, let's go for a quick hike.
Umm, or let's stay in my pasture!
I like my idea better.
I don't.
Well, I have the lead rope, so follow me.

Home is that way. Stop crouching and taking pictures!

I want to take some pretty pictures today Major, you can be my model!
I'm a SUPER model.
You are?
Yes, you always take pictures of me, and I'm super.
You're super something for sure.  
Can we go home now? 
We only just crossed the creek, so no. Hey, cool giant dandelion, stand there and pose.
And look longingly off camera…towards home?
Nevermind, let's keep walking.

here, hold my jacket, it is warmer than I thought.

Hmm, it's warmer than I thought, hold my jacket for me.
Dude, it's a little jacket.
Do I have to wear it all the way home?
With that attitude, maybe! Life is not that hard buddy, it's a three mile walk, less than an hour, not a Gilligan three-hour tour.
I don't know Gilligan, is he the new guy in the lower pasture?
No, it's long story little buddy, let's keep walking.

These orange monkey flowers sure look pretty, they almost match your halter. Le'ts take some pictures here!
They're not good to eat. Home. Pasture.
Not quite yet, can you at least look interested?
Sure. I am NOT interested in eating the yucky flowers. I AM interested in going home. 
Almost home, just a few photos.

supermodel uninterested face

I'm interested in going THAT way

and I'm outta here…
Yep, I'm done.
Wait Major, you don't just get to lead home.
But we're almost home, I'm missing dinner, and…
Dinner isn't for another hour.
Really? I guess maybe I could stay out here and have a little snack…
Sigh. I didn't think supermodels ate so much…

mmm, mossy!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

recent adventures

Major and I have been exploring new and old trails, and having a (mostly) uneventful time doing so!

A recent trip to Auburn we took the same old 'barrel" trail (Tamaroo Bar), but took a detour along the lovely lower river trail. It only goes for a bit over a mile (unless you're riding an actual mountain goat), but parallels the river.
dangerous river this year—cold and fast
still weird, and cool

The only problem was Major thought any time we headed south-west we were going home. He was very adamant about it too! Towards home…zoom! We have not ridden home from here this year, nor do we do it often (it is 10+ miles), so I don't know why he got it in his head. His favorite "trail" of the day where he was trying to be his zoomiest…up the (maintenance only, no cars) concrete road (we try to stay on the side but there is not always shoulder). Sigh.

Major's favorite trail, I literally had to hold him back (yes, it is heading "towards" home)
dam trail

We went another direction over to Grass Valley. Empire Mine park is lovely, but there are only 14 miles of trails (per their website). We managed 15.4 miles, covering almost every trail (and some twice). I don't come here often because I get a bit bored, but Major really likes the wide open trails (even when a pair of barking, slobbering bloodhounds rushed a fence!).

nice and shady, and space to move out!
Powerline trail (cleared for the high power lines, the pines are otherwise as tall as the stanchions!)
Almost all the trails (And I rotate their map over my track because why is North pointing down on their map orientation? Weird)

Closer to home, the lake is really full, and snow is still at record levels in the mountains! They are releasing a lot of water daily from the dam, but it will be a long time before we ride that lower trail again. A few lupine have not been swamped, and their lovely flowers gather in some hidden pockets.

lower trail underwater
clear water in the "Belize" section of the lake. Perfect for snorkeling!

Major is unimpressed by heart rocks

And after every ride, just when you are tired and want to sit down, there is cleaning up Major, putting away tack and trailer, all the chores. But no matter what, don't forget to pet the cat.

Bonnie the cat. Must pet. Or else…

Sunday, May 19, 2019

creature feature

I share the trails with all sorts of friends. Some two legged, some four. And some with no legs or many! Hiking or riding I always keep an eye out for my friends, though my pictures aren't the best with only my cell phone, I still thought you'd like to meet some of them.

I'll start with the smallest! Ladybugs love Major. I'm sure he ingests some of them while munching on grass, but they're little red/orange bodies just look too cute.

It has been a bumper crop of caterpillars this year. They drop from the trees, crawl along your saddle, or even onto the book I'm reading at lunch.

Not quite a pipevine caterpillar, I'm not sure on this one!

tussock moth caterpillar attacking ships (on the cover of my sci-fi book!)

With caterpillars come butterflies. And those that eat them. I found this crab spider who captured a pipevine swallowtail, creepy but cool!

Another hunter: a sharp-tailed snake. He looks large, but is about the size of a pencil. He was fierce though: when I picked him up he wrapped around my finger and didn't want to let go!

This dragon blue-bellied lizard has disdain for us all. But he is so lovely (and too fast to catch!).

Out at the lake there are lots of birds, (though I didn't see any bald eagles this year). A lone black vulture perched a distance away on a pile of branches, I just liked the quiet.

And I saved the cutest for last. A coyote pup clambered onto the trail in front of us. He was looking in the distance (maybe looking where Mom had gone.) He looked back and saw Major coming, and skedaddled back into the bushes (probably where he had been told to stay!). Love this little guy.

I'll keep an eye out for all my friends. Does anyone else see any wildlife on the trails?

Sunday, May 12, 2019


A very sad event happened on a local trail: a horse tried to turn on a very narrow trail, lost it's footing, and slid down the side, where it broke it's leg. It had to be euthanized. This is a tragedy for horse and rider, and I have nothing but sympathy for them. There were posts wondering what trail it was, and I realized this is a trail I ride weekly. I never thought this section was particularly dangerous, but it sadly was for that horse.

aster among the rock

Some folks called for the trail to be closed, some for it to be inspected, (which was done, and it was determined it wasn't any worse than other parts of the trail), and some remarked that horses and riding are inherently risky activities. There was a comment that all of our trails should be brought up to a higher safety standard. While great in theory, that would literally mean about 95% of the trail in question (Pioneer Express) and probably 85% of the Tevis trail (just to name a few!) would be deemed unsafe.

This brought up many different, and sometimes conflicting, ideas in my head. I DID almost slide down a (even steeper) cliff alongside the trail myself earlier this year. Luckily my athletic horse saved us. It could have gone very wrong. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to exactly where he places his feet, and riding more aggressively, but I do let Major pick the trail most of the time. Will I be more attentive in those steep sections after that? Most certainly!

But the section where the event occurred is one I have never worried about. The American River  endurance ride had gone through this same section (and the one I had a problem with) two weeks before. The trail was not different then, and all those horses were unscathed. I'll also continue to ride this trail, and probably rarely think about the hazards. But I know some folks will now avoid this trail, as is their choice.

But on another note, I have an acquaintance who is starting a green arab. And who has done lots of ground work and prepared the horse well. But when she posted a picture of her on the horse with no helmet, I think I gasped. And I thought that I didn't really want to go ride with her if she doesn't wear a helmet. But if that is a risk she is willing to take, should I be ok with that?

I rode Major on a new-to-me trail the other day. It was safely inland, with no cliffs. And we were just walking. But he managed to find one sharp rock, and cut his foreleg. I noticed when I looked down to check his boots, and his white sock was covered in blood. It was a small cut, and I was able to clean it up and doctor it on the trail, with no lasting consequences. Should I avoid this trail? Should I be more aware that something can happen?

Why are we standing here? Because I'm cleaning your cut leg!

Accidents will happen. Some due to riding, some due to horses being horses, and some due to difficult circumstances. Is it a true accident or does everything have a reason or cause? I don't have any solutions, except what works for me. I think everyone has a comfort level, and that should be respected. But I don't want to be judged for my risk analysis and decisions being different. What about you?

feather along the trail

Friday, May 10, 2019

happy sweet 16

Happy birthday to Major, who turns 16 this year. Where did the time go?

I didn't know him then, but the cuteness! He still has that much forelock.

hiding from the birthday hat

I still managed to find the slightly bent personalized birthday hat. Which Major tolerates, but certainly it is not his favorite!

How do you keep finding this hat?

Seriously? I'm trying to eat.

Happy to spend another year with this complicated creature in my life. Here's to many more.

hiking with no hat to delicious grass: perfect birthday!