Friday, September 13, 2019

Three Days, Three Long Rides, One Lost Shoe

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

I wasn't about to get stuck on the freeway for want of a tire when I hauled last Tuesday.  These brand new tires gave me peace of mind. Unfortunately, they don't actually do the hauling for me--I have to Cowgirl Up--but they helped.

So, the fraidy cat drive update: The freeway was busy and Leah wasn't happy.  She made that clear, but she also arrived in one non-bleeding or broken piece both directions.  Yay!  I should qualify this "fraidy cat" thing a little bit.  I am not afraid at all to haul an empty trailer down the freeway--I  have done a fair share of hauling in my life, as you know.  It's the horses in the back and all the crazy drivers weaving in and out and passing us.  I'm afraid something will happen that will hurt my horses.  I'm nervous when I'm a passenger and someone else is driving, too. I drive the freeway a lot going west of here, and that doesn't bother me because I'm not going through the heart of the city.  It's the many exits and stops in a very busy corridor that stresses me out.  Spokane isn't the biggest city, but it sure is growing.

One little trick I do at stoplights, when she starts shifting and banging, is to slide forward a bit and brake hard. I always give myself enough distance between my truck and the other cars so that I can do that several times if I have to--depending on the light.  One of our last lights was delayed by a freaking TRAIN! Leah  hated the train, and she hated the wait--so I turned out of the lane and created a new way home--just to keep moving.  But the little trick does work better than nothing. When she feels the car moving, she quiets.

The ride was amazing at Antoine Peak!  It's basically a big mountain.  So, you ride straight up 800' and then down 800' in a loop.  The ride down was very steep and narrow, but Leah navigated it like a rock star.  I didn't know if she'd be able to handle that steep and long a descent.  I was impressed and relieved.

The top of the mountain.

The view along the way.

That ride lasted about three hours, and she worked up quite a sweat.

The next day, we rode an easier trail at Slavin Conservation Area. We didn't want to work the horses too hard.  It was about a three hour, mostly flat ride.

On the third day, we rode at Riverside State Park, which is much larger than I realized. I ride it a lot,  but not the area we were in.  My perspective of it was way off, and we ended up getting somewhat turned around.  When we finally found our way, three hours into it, Leah's front shoe came half off and we had to take the time to try to get it fully off.

One broken knife blade later, a friend and I managed to loosen it up enough that she could easily walk it off without losing a big chunk of hoof.  She was one week away from new shoes, but I think all the tough rides and hard terrain plus hoof growth, were just too much for that shoe.  When my farrier came today he gave her a new set and was very happy with the way the shoe had come off.  

Thankfully, she was able to pack me all the way back on just her one shoe, and she didn't even seem like she noticed.

So, now I'm taking a little break which, I'm sure, will make Miss Leah very happy!  She's out there grazing in her new shoes right now.

I have an appointment for the professional pictures coming up in two weeks.  I'll be giving it a lot of thought between now and then trying to come up with meaningful elements to include.  I will be taking photos with Tumbleweed and Leah, too.  And, my husband will join me with the dogs, as well.  It'll be a long one!


My Duluth trading Company order arrived (my puppy Piper got to it first and unbagged everything all over the yard! Thankfully, nothing was ripped!)  I was able to compare their small size to their medium.  Turns out, I was a small in this shirt, the Armachillo.

However, the thicker, Sol Survivor, shirt, that is almost a jacket, fit well in both small and medium.  If you're wearing it as a shirt, the small is best.  If you're wearing it as a jacket, the medium is best.

Therefore, I'm keeping both. It's such a cute shirt/jacket!  I wore it out to do barn chores today and it's thick enough to block the wind, but breathes enough to handle warmer temperatures and perspiration. It has the really cute collar, too.  And, LOTS of pockets--both inside and out.  It's a WORK shirt.  I'm impressed with Duluth quality!  

Hope you're all doing well and enjoying end of summer adventures!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Fraidy Cat

Yes, I'm a fraidy cat.  Always have been.  And the feared thing shifts and changes.  I have a ride coming up at a new trail tomorrow and I'm afraid of hauling Leah down the freeway.  The trail ride itself is fine, but the hauling with all those crazy drivers--noooooo!  I'm taking my horse trailer in for all new tires today at noon, just to be safe.

But what I'm even more afraid of is professional pictures with my heart horse.  The photographer has been patiently waiting for me to choose a date, and I went radio silent.  Why?  Because I was procrastinating.  Why?  Because I'm afraid they won't turn out well, because of me (I'm terribly unphotogenic) and then I'll feel horrible.

I tell myself--you already have so many pictures with your boy ....

Old ones....

and newer ones...

But they're all low quality--usually snapped with our phones out on the trail. And, although phone cameras have improved, they're still not quite there.

Well, I emailed her today to set a date for this weekend, or as soon as possible.  If it doesn't work out well, at least I'll know I tried, and I'll always have the photos above.


It has been raining here for two days and I can't help but feel very happy.  We avoided wildfire season in 2019!!  Yay!  And, this rain will replenish our pastures, which were starting to get bone dry and dormant.  I even ordered my round bales from our hay supplier because I was starting to have to feed by square-bale-winter-stash.  (He's harvesting wheat, so he can't deliver now anyway.)


So, my friend gifted me a box of Elberta peaches yesterday.  Have you ever had an Elberta peach?  She loves them, and she knew I would, too.  She was like, "Cut one now!  Try it!" So, I cut one into slices and.....OMG--yes, they are pretty wonderful.  So wonderful that as soon as she left I found an online recipe for Tennessee Peach Pudding, aka peach cobbler.

Here are the Elberta peaches, picked at Greenbluff, right outside of Spokane, WA.

And here they are swimming in sugar, butter, and flour.

Add more sugar and butter

Cook them up into something resembling "healthy" food.

And add a scoop of ice cream.

Voila!  Tennessee Peach Pudding!  And since my family is from Tennessee--it's also a genealogy lesson.

All this cooking of cakes is really just me embracing Autumn.  It's here.  Lovely, cool, crisp, wet, Autumn.  The fireplace is going.  Candles are lit.  It's getting dark earlier.  Football season started.  And we're craving comfort foods.  A spring and summer of plenty are giving way to a time of rest and thankfulness.  Last trail rides.  Hay in the barn. Chores and projects mostly finished.

And soon, hopefully some professional Fall photos with my heart horse.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

A Good Ride, Homemade Salsa, & Rhubarb Cake & Cocktails!

I got a good ride in with Leah, despite the fact her eye looks white and buggy in the above photo. I had asked her to back down the hill to get in position for the picture, and I think she was afraid she'd fall off.

It's a familiar trail for her, so it's tough to know if the work ahead of time made a big difference.

Since she led out on a loose rein the entire way, I assume it did make a difference.  She was also MUCH more careful where she put her feet and how she navigated down steep, loose dirt hills.  I credit the ride from the day before for that.  Therefore, something valuable was gained.

We will be going on a ride tomorrow to an unfamiliar spot, and I think she's ready to be a good partner.


One of my friends grows tomatoes, but doesn't like them, so she donated them to me, and I made this lovely hot salsa last night.  Lots of jalapenos, onion, cilantro, and tomatoes with chipotle pepper and smoked salt.  It was yummy.

It's the end of the summer--and guess what that means?

When we had my daughter's wedding here a few years ago, in late August, we decorated with old mason jars and sunflowers.  I still have a few left, and as I was cleaning the kitchen I came across them...and thought---I NEED SUNFLOWERS!  

And Voila!

And, another friend gave me 2 pounds of her rhubarb, so I made a cake that my mom used to make for us.  She has baked this recipe for over 50 years, and she got the recipe from a woman who was very old and had used it for many years herself.  It's quite delicious.  We had it last night with a little whip cream over the top.

I still had rhubarb left, so I boiled some in a simple syrup for rhubarb mojitos.

And, here's the cocktail.  It's not as tart as I'd like it, so I added some of the boiled down rhubarb that had been strained out.  In the future, I may try to double the rhubarb in the recipe. 

If you'd like to try this cocktail, here is the recipe.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Ugh, What an Awful Ride, Leah

I haven't really shared any of my trail rides this summer because they've been, well, uneventful. I mostly ride good old Cowboy, and he's golden.  But for the last month I have sprinkled in rides with Leah, and they've been much more, well, energetic.

During our last ride, at James T Slavin Wildlife area, she wanted to rush back to the trailer.  I didn't hold it against her though, because all of her rides had been at the same park, and that was her first time back to Slavin in a year. I gave her the benefit of the doubt that there was, indeed, a moose in the trees. That was last week.

Fast forward to today.

The good news--I was able to saddle her all by myself!  My back didn't give me any ouch signals.

The bad news--she was so hyped up over all the traffic we parked next to, she didn't pay attention to me and stepped square on my toes. It took a few moments to get her off of them, too.  And they hurt!  I could move the toes, so I figured they weren't broken, but it was an omen of things to come. (She was not partnering up! In fact, she was an ASS!)

After I saddled her, I worked with her in the parking lot--circles, disengaging, bending the neck, squaring up, mirroring my own walk, etc.  Then, we sat on a fence to let her rest and regroup, and her eyes seemed very relaxed--head down, tuned in.

But when I mounted, her head came back up and she was on the muscle.  I thought, do I call this ride off and trailer to a park she is more familiar with, or do I ride it out? The friend I was riding with was riding Foxy Mama, who was quite calm, and this friend was very familiar with the trails she was guiding us on today.  So, I opted to ride it out.

We crossed the road into the park, down some ravines, across another road, ...Leah was amped the whole way, and wanting to run.  I warned my friend that if it got any worse, I was going to dismount and take her back.  However, a steep ascent was coming up, and I wanted to see what happened after she was put to work.

Leah led the way, gawking around, not really looking where she put her feet--and it was rocky and steep--it was like she smelled something ahead.  A moose?  A cougar? Deer?

Um, no....other horses.

Sure enough, around the corner came two horses and riders--also amped up.  The trail was way too narrow to pass, so I dismounted and took her up the side of a steep hill.  That didn't work out very well for them to get by, so I backed her down and to a wider area.  One of their horses was a "green" gelding, and our two mares were really reacting to him.  They got passed us with a little drama, Foxy took the lead, I remounted, and off we went again.

Directly, we ran into hikers with dogs, bikers, and pretty much everything the trails could throw at us.  There were parts that were very rocky, steep, and had drop offs that descended hundreds of feet.  I dismounted and walked her past a few of those because I did not trust her in that state of mind, AND I'm afraid of heights!

Finally, we got off the mountain edge and to some switchbacks, which were also rocky and had sharp turns.  The horses had to really use their bodies and swing their hind ends around, while balancing themselves in front.

By the time Leah was done with a couple hours of that, she was, indeed, walking on a loose rein.  And I thought all was well....until we went through some overgrown trees and shrubs that flew back on us.  I was almost wiped off of her--and she bolted forward--but I had been anticipating her bolts and evasions the whole ride, and I was ready for her biggest bolt, too.  I was able to keep her from fleeing.

Her worst bolt was also her last bolt, which was good because we needed to traverse about a 1/2 mile on a paved bike trail where bikes will often fly by at high speeds to build up speed for the hills.  And, golden Foxy decided it was her turn to be bad with a little jigging on that trail.

It was one of those rides that was very good for Leah and I--she had to use her body in new ways and really think about where she put her feet--and I had to work on keeping her under saddle--and me in the saddle.

It was also one of those rides where you're happy to be back in one piece, having a picnic lunch stiff drink, and watch your horses relax and stand tied while you just go --- WHEW, it's good to be alive, AND I need to ride that bad girl more often!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Rent the Biggest Little Farm, Buy a Sun Shirt, & Do Some Back Stretches

If you get a chance, rent The Biggest Little Farm, and you won't be disappointed.  It's all about looking at problems as opportunities so that everything in your life on your farm, works in harmony.

It really captures the struggles of getting a little farm going--and bringing what was neglected back to life.  I watched it twice last week, and then ordered a copy for a family who I think will really relate.  I'm glad I watched it twice, because I had missed a very important detail about Greasy, the Rooster. It's quite touching, the way different types of animals care for one another.

And, if you like the Avett Brothers' will LOVE the theme song--Sun, Flood, or Drought.


Back to sun protection shirts,... Grey Horse Matters recommended I look over at Duluth Trading Company for a good one, and I found two--the Sol Survivor (a little heavier, per reviews) $59.99 plus 15% off for a first time order.

And the Armachillo--$54.99 plus 15% off for first time order. (A lighter sun shirt)

Each one had excellent reviews--well made, stylish, lasts forever and ever and ever and ever, amen.  I'll let you know how they work out when they arrive.  Choosing a size was very difficult.  I'm about 135-140 and 5'6", so I went with a Medium, since that is what I normally wear. Fingers crossed.  If they don't fit, I may be out of luck returning them for another size--depending on if they have sold out of them (they're on clearance).  Plus, the time involved getting them back and forth.

Currently, I am living in my Eddie Bauer shirt, and since they changed the style and are clearancing out what was left of the old style, I ordered one more EXACTLY the same as the one I have now (pictured above, today, after it's first wash and hang out to dry).

I found a USED one in gray, my size, on Poshmark, and ordered that one, too.  They are so comfortable!  And they look dressy. I don't even care that it's used!  They don't wrinkle, they repel dirt, don't shrink, they stretch, have super sturdy buttons, flattering pleats, and they breathe!  (But beware the new style--no pleats, plastic buttons, and they're boxy. I will probably be sending my new style shirts back for a refund.  But some of the reviewers like the more relaxed fit.)

When GHM recommended Duluth Trading Company, it reminded me that I had purchased my summer sandals there--the Keen Kaci Ana.  I bought them late spring, and have worn them almost every day.  I've walked long distances in them, and worn them into town for dinner, concerts, and plays. I even garden in them! I have them in Dark Earth and Black.  But when I went to the site to pull their information for the blog, I saw they're clearancing them out!!  So, I bought a couple pairs for next year.  I'm boring like that.  When I find something I like--I buy as much of it as I can before they get rid of it.  (Refer to my panty peeve).  Anyway, I reviewed them while I was there, too.  I can't recommend them highly enough. Word of warning, black is already sold out.


And now, for my last NON-horsey topic--back stretches.  I am 9 days post back injury, and starting to feel almost normal.  (I won't be throwing my own saddle on just yet though!) But GHM mentioned that she also has back pain--which came from seemingly nowhere. (SO FRUSTRATING!)

Here are the stretches my brother recommended--some of which were already part of my yoga routine.  For lower back, doing nothing actually makes it worse.  Gentle stretches help open up the connecting muscle/tendon/ligaments around the injured site--giving them room to breathe and feel better.

This one feels soooo good!!


And the Cat-Cow Yoga stretch--back is screaming...yes!

While you have your yoga mat out, why don't you just do the yoga routine for lower back? (You'll thank me.)

I told you I got into yoga last winter, and I can't say enough good about it.  I LOVE YOGA!  I love the independence of it, the meditation, the thankfulness, the stretching, strengthening--basically, the WHOLE mind / body experience.  Light a candle, start some music, and stretch and pose to your heart's content.

Well, off to clean the barn!  Happy Trails!