Friday, February 26, 2021

The Craziness of Late Winter, Early Spring

 Late winter, and the boys feel spring in the air. Temps will be in the 40's and 50's next week. Yay!

My daughter and a good friend are going to road trip with me to take Tumblweed to training on the 11th.

Tumbleweed boy was born to herd.

He enjoys herding the mares and Cowboy. 

With Cowboy being older, there's only so much I'll put up with that, but they're good buddies, and a little movement is good for the old man.

In fact, I think Cowboy would be in much worse shape if he didn't have such an active life with the young one.

Poor Cowboy, he looks like he's running for his life here, but Tumbleweed never kicked or bit him. Cowboy did get some kicks in at Tweed, but he missed--I'm sure on purpose.

I'm hoping to get some of that spring energy out of Tumbleweed to make my work with him more enjoyable.  

He needs work with separation again. His personality type isn't as independent as Cowboy and Leah. He has a propensity to get herd bound.  We had done really well with that all summer and fall, and part of winter. I was hauling Tweed off by himself and walking the trails with him. But I feel like we're starting over now. Sending him to training will be an excellent start to the separation. In fact, I may be sending him off for spring training for the next few years. I'll probably have Sarah reserve me a spot so that she can take him to her ranch and put him to work before the riding season each year.

He's not going to have a buddy for the road trip. I'm sure he'll be fine, based upon the many other times he has hauled alone, but I always breathe a sigh of relief when we get from A to B in one piece.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Tumbleweed's Training--Sooner than Expected

My trainer is booked out until September, and at that point, she's cutting back from 6 horses a day to 5. Luckily, I got Tumbleweed's 30 day reservation in place last summer for April.  But it struck me that I really need 45 days, to give him time to adjust, but the only way she can give me that extra is to take a spot she will have March 11th.

Eek, that's so soon...

Of course, I took it!

So, yesterday I started his refresher work. He was FULL of it.

He wasn't respecting my space at liberty. When I'd correct him, he'd run off bucking in a little tantrum.

I decided it wasn't a good time for liberty work, since he wasn't in the right frame of mind, and the trainer will want him to have good manners on the lead. I hooked him back up.  (Surprisingly, he seemed comforted and relieved.) We worked on issues regarding space, as a reminder to him of where he should be in respect to the handler: leading forward, backing up, disengaging in front and back. He did everything very well by my standards. We will probably go back and forth with liberty, but my main focus for the next two weeks will be preparing him for what happens at training.

The night before this session, the grandkids had been here and we worked with the older horses. They were all happy to be groomed, but grumpy about working. I think these extreme changes in temperature have them all on edge. (Foxy even got bucky at one point!)

Also, Tweed had several piles of loose stool yesterday, something I'm always watching for. He has been in more lately, therefore, eating a mix of grasses, but I'm not sure what he was dealing with. I gave him Probios, and today they're back to normal. With a big herd, the dynamics are weird in spring with mares going into heat. Remember how I said Tumbleweed wanted into the stalls? He does seem to want to escape the drama of the mares.

It turns out, this might be an opportune time to send him away for training and get his mind on a job. I'll get him back at the point at which we've decided to remain home for a long, long time--May 1st. The weather should be better, he will be more mature, and I can start follow up lessons with my trainer here.

I'll need to get his booster shots, which is a big bummer because the vet was just out two days ago for a farm call on Cowgirl's boosters.  He had all his immunizations done late May, so under a year ago. Because of that, I think I'll skip strangles. I also need to schedule my farrier to have him shod before he leaves.  Either that, or I need to have him done down there by my trainer's son. (I just messaged her, and she said definitely get the shoes. We chose to have her son do it, so that she can get what she wants.)

On another note, Leah has a little lameness. She is on stall rest. There is no trauma, but she has some heat in one fetlock. It showed up yesterday, a super muddy day, the day after their grumpiness. With a little stall rest, she was doing much better, and better still today. But to be safe, I'm keeping her in the stall. She's happier there anyway, and she isn't allowed on spring grass, so might as well start her confinement. I am considering breeding her this year because I love her personality and, like Cowgirl, she's reaching the end of her breeding years. She would be a maiden mare. At this point, it's just a thought.

Oh, how fast everything is changing with spring so near. The period of rest is quickly coming to an end.

Walk the World On Your Treadmill

When my treadmill wasn't working, I began researching new ones, and I became a target for ads from iFit. 

All I can say is, it's amazing what they're doing through the internet. You can sign up for iFit walking tours and the program takes over your treadmill to adjust speed and incline while you follow along on your monitor with a "personal trainer." Wow! I mean, it would never work with my treadmill....because mine is older than the hills, but if I every invest in a new one--it seems to be a standard feature nowadays.

I've discovered that, even without the treadmill compatibility, you can use the app and follow along with the virtual hikes--adjusting the incline and speed manually. I downloaded the program to my iPhone, and signed up for a 30 day trial. So far, I've walked in Istanbul and Southern France, with a personal trainer guiding me and telling me everything about the region's history and natural facts. If I decide to keep the subscription, the basic cost is $14.99/month and I can cancel anytime. 

Here are some examples of their guided hikes--but there are many, many more.

As I was walking along in iFit Istanbul, I thought--Hey, I bet they have virtual walks on YouTube for FREE.

We have a large "Smart" TV in front of the treadmill, so I searched "virtual walks treadmill," and hundreds of options popped up. 

Zion National Park

Bozeman, Mt (winter) No thanks. I have enough winter hiking right here.


Wailea Beach Path, Maui Hawaii. (Since I have snow all around me, this is a refreshing walk.)

Rome, Italy. Be still my heart. My husband and I spent time there in 2005, and we LOVED walking the streets of Rome, especially at night when the tourists (like us) were in and the locals were out.

Palm Cove, Australia

Monterey, California


The Streets of London

You know I love Sedona, so I had to look up virtual walks there. One of our favorites was Devil's Bridge.  And here it is!  Since starting this post, I've taken this virtual walk.

The Llama Trail, also in Sedona, and one we've done several times.

We have a short vacation planned for Florida in two weeks, and then another to Houston to see kids and grandkids in late April, but after that, we are staying home. In fact, there will be much less traveling, at least for 2021-2022 due to a number of things happening here--my youngest son's wedding in August, on our property. A new puppy (hopefully). And at least one grandbaby being born in October.  So, traveling will not be in our cards.

I plan to continue my iFit subscription because I do enjoy the guided tours they offer.  If this treadmill really does bite the dust, we will upgrade to one that works with the internet.  For now, I plan to use the treadmill we have, and I upgraded my old iPad--which doesn't even support iFit--or YouTube--or any modern day app--to a Samsung Galaxy 10.4" tablet. I'm going to pick it up today, after the snow we just received starts to melt. Viewing the videos on my apple iPhone is just too difficult for me with my old eyes. I have to wear reading glasses while I'm walking--not fun. Hopefully the 10.4" will help in that department.

Also, the iFit app is only compatible with Android or Apple platforms. The app wasn't available for my Smart TV. My daughter pointed out that you could use a mirroring app on your phone to project it to your tv, but I've found that creates a delay in audio.

At any rate, nothing beats hiking in nature, but this is a fun a way to get going in the morning and learn about new places.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Fifty Shades of Gray

My husband fixed the treadmill, but yesterday it was still broken, which meant I was forced outside into the cold, dark, grayness of ice and snow. 

You know it's a gray day when every picture looks like this ↓↓↓

My phone camera was like: 

"Ma dear, there's no difference between this color and that, it is all a variation of one color--GRAY. You ask too much of me. I quit."

I was like: "Fair enough, that's why there are photo filters. They turn 20 shades of gray into 50!"

Aha, a little better. 

On my walk. Looking for beauty. Finding it, but not being able to capture it with my cell phone. Not getting enough steps, even though I cleaned stalls, organized the barn, rotated horses in and out, hiked the neighbor's property and our own...but I kept going. Kept walking back and forth to the barn.

It started to change. Subtly. 

the clouds looked just a little thinner. 

Then, there was this.

The great big ball in the sky made an appearance--almost like an eclipse in the way the clouds dulled its rays. It made me want to stare into it. 

And I did. 

And it blinded me.

Here are few shots of my big, golden-hearted sidekick, Loki. His bright spirit always brings sunshine into my life.

Tumbleweed stays out most nights with the herd, but yesterday he snuck into the barn and wouldn't leave. He took over Cowboy's double stall. 

I finally got him out mid-afternoon, but it didn't last long. He wanted back in. 

It made me nervous, so I kept checking on him via camera.

That's Tumbleweed sleeping. (Kind of like reading an ultrasound.)

As he slept, Cowboy stood next door.

About an hour later, I looked again, and Tumbleweed was standing. Cowboy was sleeping.

I love having cameras in the barn. It's the closest I can come to living in there with them.

Next week, we have temps climbing into the upper 40's, and I hope to get some serious time in with the herd.

I started a 5 year journal in 2018. It has 5 spaces for entries for each day--you fill in the year. As you add an entry, your entry from the years previous are above it. I was looking at my entries for last year and apparently, I was out riding the trail everyday!  Crazy!! It must have been before the shutdown, because when it came, our governor had them tape off every trailhead and forbade us from using state parks. It was a heartbreaker, and it still hurts to think about it.

Well, anyway, this year should prove to be much different. Once these shades of gray start to lift, I expect spring, summer, and autumn 2021 will be a great period of renewal. I hope so.

At the very least, my treadmill is working again!  Yippee! 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Atwood's Nevada Hat: "The Hat That Cowboys Wear"

I received my Atwood hat a few days ago. 

It has a 4" brim and a 4" crown, so it's not easy to take a selfie.  Instead, here are some of their promotional photos. I think the one below is the Nevada with a different hat band. You can buy them with different sized brims. 

They are a versatile, functional piece of equipment. Not that I need it now, when we haven't seen the sun for three days, but I have faith that I'll need it soon enough. My hope is that it keeps the sun off my entire face and neck during those hot summer rides. 

When I say "versatile," I mean that you can form a palm leaf hat into almost any shape. They're amazing!

Here's a video of a cowgirl shaping a hat after dunking it into the water trough, but there are many videos on this subject. This will also take care of any sizing issues you might have, if the hat feels a little tight.

The woman in Scottsdale measured me at a 7 3/8, but I had a nagging doubt that instead I was 7 1/4--judging by the feel of the 7 1/2 on my head. I went with her measurement because she was dead certain when I pushed her on it.  Unfortunately, I was right. (I hate being right.) But it's very close, and I'm not going through the hassle of sending it back.

Instead, I bought these:

They fit underneath the band. It's a bit disappointing since a palm leaf hat can be expanded a size by just wetting and wearing it, but it can't be brought down a size.  I'd recommend erring on the smaller, not larger side.

I'm not sure if you can see it, but the hat has loops to hook on a detachable stampede strap. I'm not sure if the Atwood came like that or if Buckaroo leather added them. It's kind of cool. On days that aren't windy, you might not want to sport the strap. On the other hand, if you're on a ride and the wind picks up, you'd be out of luck if you left it behind. I also question the sturdiness, compared to bringing it up and around the entire hat.

It's a cool hat to look at as it hangs on my hat wall. I might do a little shaping of it--and I have a horse hair hat band that I will probably add to it off another.

Speaking of hats, or my hat obsession--one of my all time favorites is the one I wore in my photo session with Cowboy. Last year it flew into the water during one of our boat trips--which is the horror of all horrors for a straw hat. (That's the difference between straw and palm.)

Every few weeks since then, I searched it to see if anyone posted another for sale. (It's 4 years old) Search terms: Urban Outfitters. Straw hat. Leather band.

As you can see, I found it for $15 and free shipping on another used clothing site called Mercari.  It hasn't arrived yet.

I do most of my shopping online nowadays and either receive the orders at home or for pick up. Since I'm shopping online anyway, it doesn't really matter from which store I purchase--whichever has exactly what I want at the best price.

So, for years I've been using Aromatherapy lotion from Bath and Body Works--specifically, "COMFORT."  Last year I stocked up during their big holiday sale--purchasing about 10 bottles for $4.95 each.  It seemed to last forever....until it was all gone.  So, onto their website I went...but no Comfort. I waited and waited and waited.  Finally, I lost patience and went to their store in the mall, where there was long line that split, and then continued on the other side of the mall, due to their limited capacity numbers. 

I wasn't going to stand in the line, so I approached the young associate directing it. I asked her if they had discontinued Comfort--and she said, Oh yeah, I know what you're talking about. My mom wears it. My ears heard her saying,--thus the reason it should be discontinued. But she said no such thing. She asked the manager who gave me the answer I already knew. It was discontinued.

Ahhhhh!!!  You know how I feel about change.  I don't do it.

Off to Amazon!  Ebay! Gotta buy every last bottle left of COMFORT!!

I found three. One was on Amazon.  Two were on eBay.  Oh, did I mention they also have to be in the GLASS containers? The plastic one just don't smell the same to me.

Well, anyway, they arrived.

Two separate shippers--same problem.  I have no doubt it was caused from freezing in transit.  Lesson learned: don't purchase lotion in glass bottles during a national arctic freeze.

In other news, I broke my treadmill. It was old--I'm guessing 12 years old. ProForm. We're not sure what we're going to do--fix it or replace it. At any rate, by the time we do either the temps should be warming and I'll be outside anyway. This seems to be the universe's way to tell me to get my behind outside, even during the gray, foggy, cold, snow, ice days--like today.

Currently, I have way too much time on my hands to shop online. Blog about all my shopping. Obsess about teeth, steps, life and death, NDE's, and a million other things.

Spring, you can come anytime now!  

Friday, February 19, 2021

A 'Downy Flake': Finding My Way Back to Joy in February

He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise. 

William Blake

Yesterday was tough. It would be easy to blame it on the weather, but it was really a series of bad choices, with a lack of good weather to brighten and make up for them.

Small, small steps...

the wrong direction.

No doubt, some of it was getting the tooth pulled and having to recover.  But some of it was what I chose to dwell upon.  I know better, too. In winter, when the days are gray and short, we have to be aggressive about pursuing joy, and avoiding that line between. 

I woke up ready to change directions and run towards whatever is good--far, far away from the line.

To start, I spent less time reading my phone and drinking coffee and got right down to a guided meditation (it was about not allowing past choices to affect this moment). I meditated, prayed, and then walked on the treadmill. While walking, I watched a show about NDE's--Near Death Experiences. (As I continued my day, the stories and research provided something positive to dwell upon--and to discuss with my husband during our hike.)

Mid-morning, I started down the bad path again--analyzing my morose and trying to find the culprit.  I was looking for answers--easy to find--easy to point fingers at this or that and that and this. My mind went everywhere, like a runaway puppy heading towards a busy street, out of a safe pasture, and not knowing to heed the call of its master.

The shutdown, that had to be the source of ALL misery--no live music from our beloved symphony--no projected date to start up again. No live theater. No Gaiser Conservatory--where we'd go to bask in the warmth and glow of live tropical plants in winter.  No coffee get-togethers with friends.  Rarely seeing my family.

I started to feel very...robbed.

But I had errands to run, so I showered, dressed, and headed out.

Something interesting happened on my errands. I had a pickup at the first store, and I donned my mask for it. But the second store, Lowes, where I was sent to get supplies for the shower project, I somehow forgot my mask and had NO CLUE the entire time I was there. No one looked at me like, OH NO, it's an ANTI-masker! Shame! Shame!

I got zero looks.

I didn't even realize I was maskless until I returned to my car and saw my mask laying there on the seat. I touched my face and just went NOOOO!!  Then, on the way home, I reflected back on the above--what does it mean that no one looked at my masklessness or made a big deal of it? Are we in some new stage of this process?  ...did I remember to wash my hands? I going to get Covid?!?

While I was there shopping...maskless...I couldn't find what I was sent to get, but like Jack and the Beanstalk, I did find this...(Jack's mother must have sent him out to sell the cow in February.)

Flamingo-Lily. or Painter's-pallette. Or Tailflower. It will join my other February blues purchases from years past.  I have 3 now: Calla lily, a palm, and this flamingo-lily.

I've been able to get a few hikes in per week, and when I finished my errands, I asked my husband if he'd like to go on another. I wasn't really feeling it, but I knew it would be helpful to get distance from that line. Of course, he absolutely wanted to go. He has the February blues, too, but doesn't talk about it.

Off we went to the Pinebluff trailhead, where I have ridden my horses many, many, many times, and the memories of them--Cowboy, especially--flooded over me at each snow-covered corner.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

Oh, the times we've been up and down this little hill, adjacent to the now quiet, dry Deep Creek (below is the quiet creed bed.)

The Deep Creek Overlook where we'd peer out over the Spokane River and tower above the creek, which feeds it.

At the end of our hike, we came to this path. 

This path holds a sad story, and one that haunts me on every trail ride. When we moved to Spokane, almost 15 years ago, a tragedy had just occurred where a woman--a hardcore eventer--excellent horsewoman--"married to a farrier"--had been out winter riding alone, as she usually did, but her horse slipped, fell, and crushed her. The many people who related the story to me said "it happened up at the Deep Creek trail." Later, I would be riding with a woman who knew the exact trail, and as we were making our way up, let me know this was it.

At the top of the trail was a tree. A tree with beautiful bark.

I stood for a long time with my hands on its bark, allowing myself to feel it--even to be it-- for a moment. To witness what it witnessed. 

As I stood, hands on bark, little snow flakes started coming down, as if it was crying on me--or bathing me--or renewing me. I thought it was coming from the branches, but my husband said it was starting to snow.  And, it was.

Really, there was no sadness in the majestic pine, only my own sadness. 

How could you trace its shape to the sky and see anything but triumph? A great oneness with all of creation--the snow, the crows, the many horses which had passed there, coyotes, mule deer, moose,...the tragic death of a woman doing what she loved, the suffering, the joy...over and over--all one, all inescapable. 

I have choices to make today, too. Trees to touch. Snowflakes to feel on my face. Horses to kiss. I will take the good with the bad, but run hard towards the good.