Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Riding Horses On the Road

Have you ever gotten lost on a trail ride?  Well, we did.  I was riding with a group of seven friends, trying out a new section of our massive 14,000 acre park, and we ended up going way out of the park and into a housing area far, far away.

When we finally realized we were, indeed, lost, we were left with two possibilities--1/ Backtracking 2.5 hours, or 2/ Riding the paved roads for an hour.

Dilemma: Would our horses, who had never been on roads with cars, trucks, motorcycles, and such--do well?

Or, would we die?

The red and blue lines on the map are the route we took.  The blue line is the paved road toward the end of the trip.  All told, we were out for 4 1/2  hours.  See where the white line is that heads straight up to the trail head?  That is where we should have gone.

Anyway, the horses did AWESOME!!  I was riding Leah.  She didn't spook at one car or truck or truck pulling trailers.  There were also dogs, horses, people, and bikes.

Being on the road reminded me of my teenage years, when I didn't have my own truck and trailer, and the only way to get to my friend's homes to ride with them was to take the busy roads.  I was so desperate to ride with someone, I didn't mind.  On our day of getting lost, I was so desperate to get back to the trailhead, I didn't mind then either. Hey, horses are, indeed, transportation--and they have every right to be on the road--just like motorized vehicles.

One thing I can say about the trip--it was an adventure!  And, it really deepened my trust in Leah.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Two Blogs Intersect With a Tumbleweed

Tumbleweed & Me & Rosalee.

"Cowgirls need a little love sometime."
Tumbleweed, won't  you hurry please
And bring your love on home."

I've followed Shirley's horses for years over at her blog Ride a Good Horse.  There was one baby, Rio, that I just fell in love with, but I wasn't looking for a horse at that time.  Then, things changed.  Cowboy is 23 and his days as a trail horse are numbered.  It was time to think about the future.

I decided to breed Cowgirl, which would put me at about a four year countdown--which would make Cowboy 27 and Leah at about 17.  That would be a good time to introduce what may be my final horse into the lineup.  But then, I chickened out of breeding Cowgirl.  I didn't feel up to the task.

It was time to meet Tumbleweed.

I had been really busy riding horses and away from my blog for two weeks, so Shirley stopped by to ask if I was okay.  Instantly I was like--OH MY GOSH, I wonder if Rosalee's baby was born?!?  I ran to her blog, and VOILA--there was little Tumbleweed, only three days old.  He was so cute, I figured she must be keeping him or he was already sold, but no--as luck would have it--he was available.

And the rest was fate.  Turns out, Shirley and I live pretty dang close to one another--separated only by the border of the USA and Canada. It was time for a ROAD TRIP to meet her--and Beamer (Shirley's heart horse, so I knew he was golden)--and Rosalee (who I had been admiring since Shirley first thought of getting her!)--and Tumbleweed (the cutest baby ever).

I'll tell the rest of the story through photos--some mine, some Shirley's.

I didn't want to scare him or be disrespectful to his mama, Rosalee, who I knew would be wanting to protect the baby she worked so hard to bring into the world.  So, I tried to be as gentle as I could with him.

An ear on me, and an ear on mama.

But Rosalee warmed right up and decided we were okay.

So, we soon progressed to some serious butt scratching.

To tell you the truth, my decision had mostly been made before I ever went up there.  I knew all I needed to know about Beamer and Rosalee--and that Shirley was a good honest person and excellent horsewoman.  I'd watched her with horses and I'd seen how her other babies excelled in their new homes.  Meeting Tumbleweed only confirmed in my heart what I already knew. 

I see a few more trips to Canada in my future!  Shirley has invited me to come up whenever I can and work with Tumbleweed on some basic training.  I will certainly take her up on that.

It was surreal in a way to meet Shirley, after all this time on the internet together.  But what you see on her blog is what she really is.  Her horses are just how she describes them, too.  For me, it was seamless.

Now, I have a little work to do to prepare to get our baby from Canada to the USA!  And Shirley has a little work to do to keep our baby safe from himself.  I certainly have the easier job!  But I think Tumbleweed is smart enough to do pretty well.  He learns fast!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Trail Rides, And What I've Learned

There comes a time, you have to put your preparation to work for you, and that time has come for Leah and me.  I haven't been writing much because we've been on the trail a lot.  Instead of practice bridges, we have real bridges.  Instead of practice polls, we have real logs to cross.  Instead of puddles, we have rivers, creeks, and lakes.

We've been exposed to new horses, new trails, and new challenges. Each ride has been a learning experience.  On this one, we practiced bridges, and things that go over bridges--like runners, walkers, and fast bikes.

The river is high, so we practiced wading out into it.  With caution!  A couple weeks after this picture was taken I had a friend who got a horse stuck in the same area.  She said it was like quick sand.

I inspected it pretty well as we waded into it, and I didn't expect her to stand in it because I could see her feet sinking when we stood still too long.

We were in and out.

The balsamroot was abundant on that trip.  Now, there are even more wildflowers, so I will start packing a plant and flower guide in my saddle bags.  The one I use is, "Plants of the Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest" by Parish, Couple, Lloyd.

Mother's Day brought a mother/daughter/son-in-law/husband ride.  Be still my heart!!  

On this ride I learned to take my time and help everyone get their fresh horses thinking before we took off.  I planned for a long, long ride because two of the horses hadn't been on the trail yet this year.  We started at the round pen and progressed from there.  It made for a wonderful ride!

I also learned that my daughter makes the best trail partner and the best friend.

And my husband isn't shabby either!!!  I love this man.

The cowboy boot was the theme of my Mother's Day.  This one was from my daughter.

And this one, for the outside, was from my husband.  They didn't coordinate.

Lots of rides with friends.  We're just taking it easy and getting our horses in shape.  Different day, same trail, but this particular route is a really good one for exposing horses to many kinds of stimulus-dogs, people, bikes, water, trees, cliffs, logs, etc.

It's always nice to practice tying to the tree afterward while the girls have lunch.

This was the most recent ride from Wednesday.  It was wet and buggy.  What I learned is that I need to pack a lightweight, trail fly mask, fly spray, OFF (for me), and a roll-on fly spray for my horse's face.  My trail partner had taken a roll-on deodorant bottle and filled it with fly spray.  

Here is what I pack in my saddle bags:

phone (often on my hip)
flower/plant book
fly spray
fly mask
lightweight gloves

We had a tough creek crossing on this ride, but I learned it's okay to jump off and get your boots wet!  I'm trying to avoid a fight on the trail.  And by that, I mean I'm trying to get better at figuring out when Leah's no means NO.  I don't want her to feel like she has to notch it up a peg to get her point across.  She looked as if she was going to flip around and run, so I dismounted and played with her in the creek for a while. She has no problem doing anything if she sees me doing it first.  Silly girl.

It has been raining a lot, but this is my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

No pictures, but I have been taking lessons with Bee.  One was at the park--worked her, then rode  her in the roundpen, then drove her over the trail obstacle course.  The second was here at home, where we did pretty much the same.

Also, I've decided NOT to breed Cowgirl.  I just don't feel like taking the risk with her, and I don't feel qualified.  The next horse I get is going to be, most likely, my last, and I prefer to meet it on the ground, rather than taking a chance and rolling the dice.

I hate leaving Cowboy behind, but his head shaking is at its worst in spring, so I've been letting him rest a bit.  I do hope to ride him more as spring progresses and he gets better.  That's looking to be real soon.

Oh, and at DAY 93, I had reached my half way point to my goal.  That is good news for me because we aren't half way through the year yet!  We have a month and almost a half left--which means I should be ahead of schedule.  Woot!  Woot!

I hope you're all doing well and getting in lots of time with your herd!  Congratulations to Shirley on her new little Tumbleweed!