Monday, February 25, 2013

A Big Presence

Heading into the woods on a fine day over the weekend, we found many horse trailers parked at the trail head to the forestry lands.

These trees are ringed with orange in the"managed cut" or "select cut" areas we rode through, on the way to the gate. They were the "chosen ones" and likely will be 60- 80 years old, by the time this area of the forest's time is due for cutting again. It sure makes a nicer forest, to leave some trees!

I was noticing that the storms of the week before, had left remnants of themselves along our paths...and the snow level has been dropping again, with winds high. Nothing like your storms in the Midwest though-wowee baby, just heard more snow dumpage with a side of those high winds are on the way -again! Heavens!

There was some gunfire somewhere in the woods, so I unclothed my "Bear Bell", so it could go before us with it's jingle jangling noise. This past year I have been told by many a hunter we have happened upon, and some fisherman from the private lands below the stable, "That bells sound really carries, and can be heard from afar off!"
So, during the thick of hunting season  we (mare too), do wear brighter hunter Orange colors, for the visual impact of being a human/horse presence in the woods.  And now, I rely upon my Bear Bell , to be the first indicator we are not the prey, to those lurking in the woods!

The folks with horse trailers, parked at the forestry gates seemed to be loaded up and ready to go...but they stood there, watching me (hearing me too) approach on the stretch of road I ride to the gate's entrance.
Once  Washashe mare and me got up to the horse trailers, a gal stood and talked  to us for a  some time about trails. She was inquisitive about all my gear and the trace clip Wa was sporting. She exclaimed too, "Your horse is HUGE!"  Then she managed to get all of the others over to see just how large my horse was. I told her," truly, she is a petite TB mare, compared to others in her breed. She just has a Big Presence".  She also said, " You smell so very good, what is that scent?" 

I could only come up with the most recent application of "Calm Coat" to my mare's mane. She has been super itchy, and has rubbed parts of it thin . This has kept her from giving herself a roach job!
After talking a little more, we were off to the rest of our riding day.
Pretty it was, with a smattering of white, her and there.

The mare was begging to dive down, and munch into the greener parts of the trails, but I made her wait till I could dismount at a specific destination I had thought of, where the greens are plenty. She loved her break and bites of sweet grasses. 


I also partook of a snack I packed along....not really being hungry for most the week, "starve a cold feed a fever" kinda thing. I made my ALLTIME favorite  sandwich!

Ready for this? 

Dave's Killer bread with Avacado, cheese, grated carrot, a tiny bit of Safflour mayo, Spinach and Almond butter.

I also KNEW the mare had " to go".  I began my "P" whistle song. Usually the "X Files" tune.  YUP, she parked out, and did her thing. 
This makes for a better ride back along the roadway and tree'd area's I know she gets uppity in. I  do KNOW her well, and am patient when she displays less than perfect behaviors.  I just begin to breath deeply and if needed, we do figure eight's around trees or stop altogether.  Then I ask her to shut down the adrenaline, by putting her head lower.  The signal to me that is happening, is a snorting she does. Then,  we can set off for home again.  I tire of her behavior  and she gets tired of my relentless antics... but, she always gives!   The snorting release is the  final straw for ...I usually giggle a little too, happy to have her calmer.

I spied "Lilly Deer" here, once we reached our stables gates.

 She is the resident fawn, that never leaves the property. She likes to bed down here, and is rarely scared of the cars, or even us as we pass by ( or shoot photos!). We all have discovered something definitely wrong in her gate. A hitch in her giddy up. She never jumps and is confined to the property, as it is entirely fenced.    Her mother used to come back every night, to stay with her. Now, I am not sure that is the case, as it may be a season for finding  some deer-love again.

It is VERY stormy again today, so I am pleased we took the ride yesterday in the dappled sunshine, with calm air.
 The wind now is up, and with it sleet going sideways, oh my!
Not fun for horse or'll steal the rides from winter, one at a time , as we wait upon Springtime to arrive!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Down a Notch

Wa in her private woods, in paddock run
I've been taken down, with the sickie-icks. Wind taken from my sails.
My man had it last week. I thought I'd been careful , though not stopping for a moment, kept  myself busy- busy! So this week has been rough. I am TEA-PEE"d about out, and taking everything under the sun, you name it, (natural stuffs)I am taking it! Last night resorted to a O.T.C.D.(over the counter drug)of which I hate the commercials for. You know,  the one with the little- GROSS- green, blobbie people that live in your body when you have a cold. It helped I have to say, but I am still home today, Raw throat, dry hacks and no voice.

I have gotten to the stable, against my better judgment, every day. All bundled up and suckling a rather large "KOMBUCHA" drink each time. While I don't drink them every day, I CRAVE them, when my body is low.
One nicer day, I actually rode out. Again, not so wise a move. But I needed a change of atmosphere and thought the mare could use an outing , to stretch her legs . 
She was standing in the run. (pic above)  She appeared to be keeping tabs on her two favorite Lead mares, Maddy and Zee, as they were munching hay, in the outback field. She nibbled hay a little too, and I went inside to set up our tack for the ride.
I allowed her a good roll in the soft arena to loosen up, then we headed out soon after.

The Big Woods  of managed forestry lands across the street, is where I thought to go this day. Haven't been there since last October. Two reasons: #1 Too muddy, slick, boggy
(that's  all one really) for the injury she had.  #2 Logging.

SEPT 2012 Clear cut road into Canyon Creek forest

Last October we both were surprised to find a new clear cut road, right through a gorgeous wooded area we ride. It's trail I called "Canyon Creek" trail. You could really only travel it during the driest times of the season for it's very steep decent down to a creek, then up again just as steeply, to the other side of the canyon. The mare did not like the trail much, but we'd concur it once or twice a summer. It was full of wildlife and HUGE trees that could tell stories about times gone by, if they could talk. They always talked "restful peace and beauty" to us, as we rode through them.

October 2012 Graveled Road through Canyon Creek forest
 By October, there was a substantial amount of base rock laid for large logging trucks. I knew this would probably be a winter job, since they got the piles of rock laid so thickly and quickly. When the mare and me couldn't ride out at all...I had no idea what was to be-when we finally did!

I took the less traveled trail, then went though the most recent clear cut slash trail, to this road. 

I saw that illegal vehicles had made a whole new way around the gate, and that was discouraging. It is posted clearly at the PORT BLAKELY  gated lands; that fires, unauthorized vehicles, along with hunting and shooting -are prohibited.
 As we rode along, We spied many fires had been set last fall/winter. Never have I seen so many... the scorched grounds were everywhere, with garbage and wood objects the offenders brought in to burn.      This endangers the whole forest, not to mention private property and homes that bank right up to these forests! There has been a lack of management, I have noticed over the years I have ridden the lands. Not for lack of reports, friends of mine and myself do report gates crashed and down, dump sites with couches and appliances.  Makeshift shooting ranges, open fire spots under the trees, gun shell casings ,beer bottles and cans strewn about.
Simply discouraging. And the roughest patch is that I have been asked to call authorities, with the GPS setting...and I have. Nothing. "Big Wind" is what I call that, and it stinks too!
Anywho...that is a rant that NEVER goes away for I better move on.
Though the road and some of the trail had been trashed and harrowed by illegal vehicle passage, the main  loop trail was too narrow for them to use. It was actually pristine!
 Not even last winter did it look like this. Flat, almost dry and nice. I only saw 2 sets of hoof prints!
 So many riders like myself last year, continued to ride all winter long on it.  This time last year., it was a bloody mess as normal. WOW, I was amazed, but I also thought  OF WHY!
Yup, Loggging. There would have been NO RIDING with all that.
All gone, it was completely gone!

Only a few large trees remain of Canyon Creek trail

Wa mare and me stood there for quite sometime... just staring.
We heard the voices of some of the loggers, farther away.
While the mare was not at all pensive or hesitant about riding along the trail we normally canter during the summer, I was In SHOCK!

Though a renewable resource for Oregon, I shall miss my tree friends, that had given me years of peaceful, blissful riding times.

Stunned by the enormity of how many were taken, the mare looked this way.....................

 ............................and then, that way............................

We finally were able to move away from the demolished site, to another greatly wooded area. It did  offer us refuge for the soul, as we traveled it's large evergreen shaded paths. Once at it's end, I dismounted. The mare pointing the way home as I photographed her. I loosened her girth, and the wrap began to pull it back I see, but it bothered not .

 I walked down the slick  trail with it's bogged and badly rutted  creek bottom. It has never recovered from the trail riding atrocity it sustained last spring, with a organised group  ride. 
 I minded not the walk to higher, dryer grounds along side the mare. She snorted relief at not having to negotiate the trail with me, having my own opinion(differing from hers) on traveling speed and route. This way she just followed behind me and chose her own footing calmly. 

A Double Rolling day!

Though we were out only over an hour, and traveled less than 5 miles...we both were beat. Wa asked to roll again, I availed her.
We'd seen so much and with me being not well, whew! Which is why I can even post this work or play for this girl.

What a day, thanks my mare! You're my Wonder Wa . 
Enjoy your time off now! See you when I'm well again~

Saturday, February 16, 2013

One Day Apperance

Testing out the "Panorama" mode on my cell phone's sometimes makes body parts disappear or sometimes adds more of them!~

While winter has a grip on most the country still, it took a one day reprieve from the PNW, allowing us a happy sunshine outing! 

There was another rare appearance too,  3 out of 4  boarders in the stable- with horses. It was fun to catch up on news . I had forgotten my girth and went to the tack room for it. I glanced back at the mare and saw this shot.

All riders dispersed soon after, so I am glad I captured the rare sight.
Off we went, down the trail solo today. We do love our adventures we two girls!
 Soon after I stopped for this shot of the sun rays through the mossy trees and the mare giving me "her look", we had a lovely trot down the lane ahead.
 OH! I am so loving riding in a saddle again. Having stirrups to do "two point" trotting, has given me such a high! 

Once we reached the corner we slowed to a nice brisk walk. The mare snorting delight and then, I caught a glimpse of him....
See the man towering above our heads, above Wa's right ear ?? He stands on the banks of "Shawna Pond" fishing and quite unaware of us, approaching behind him.

 It is the dang strangest thing to come upon someone standing that far above one's head!  The first time it sorta made the mare stop, and really ponder it. Now, we are used to it unless the one standing there is casting, as he fly fishes. The "whipping noise" of casting does get to her, sometimes.
 I normally say, "Hullo" or "Hey there!" as we approach (sneak up behind them) .  My secret giggling ensues after the initial greeting too...tee hehe... as they are never really sure if they heard it at all; they seem to feel as though they are alone in the woods. 

And that leads me to a story: ONCE , while approaching a man fishing in this manner I shockingly realized, he was doing his thing, off the side of the pond- facing us!  Yea, no hollering hello that day!  We turned and found another route out of the woods! As we passed him from another direction, minutes after, - YOU BET- he may have pondered his actions!  You are never truly alone in the woods; I have found out myself, several times!

Such a lovely day it was and the ride we had truly blissful.
 We returned to the stables to find all had left, and we had the place to ourselves. I cold hosed Wa's legs, applied "Sore-No-More" spray to them, and also her back.  She asked to be turned out in the arena as we passed the gate, for another roll. I picked her feet, groomed the arena dust off from her rolling, and  she willingly returned to her stall and run for a big drink of water. She began to finish some left over hay. 
I always say, "seeya later" to her, before I leave. She stops whatever she is doing, even eating, to look for me and the treat that ensues! I love it.
THEN- I jetted over to my sissy's barn for another lesson with D'apple mare.
Sister tried to invite her to the gate. As you see, standing in the sunshine and dry grassy area, was far more comfortable for the mare! 

Sister lunged her lightly, as I tried out the Panorama mode again on my phone's camera.
Two white horses, one woman!

While the lesson was not as "AHA" as the one last Sunday, it had it's moments of connection for the mare and me. I MUST stop trying to micromanage myself and riding! The times I saw myself in my "MINDS EYE",  those were the times I saw it correctly and did it correctly and honestly.  D'apple responded to those moments (wish they lasted into minutes) and sister also responded with "Nice" or "feel that?!"  I did feel that ! 
I am starting to compile memory for the feeling of correct. D'ap and myself had not a problem this time with direction. She was a bit fussier with her head, but sis did say, we were more controlling this time and less passive. We ended on an excellent note though. Breathing in deeply (rising of energies) to trot for 3 strides and  then, breathing out (relaxing and lowering the energy) to come back down to walk. AWESOME!   Doing this several times, we were together and very much in communication.
That really felt nice, such a cool connection. I do this with my mare without thinking really, but to do it in the school, with D'ap, well, I was elated and we ended on those *wonderful* breathing* connecting* moments.

These Short and concise doses of school, have far more impact for the both of us. 

Hope all is well with everyone....taking the Sunny day as a hopeful sign.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

D'apple teaches me a lesson

The lesson with D'apple last Sunday was amazing...for the both of us. While she was quite pensive and scared for some of it, like above, she quickly figured out how to relax, as our instructor soothed and refocused us.

Let me start from the beginning now.
For those who are unaware of who D'apple horse is: THIS POST tells a wee little bit. My middle sister is a humane investigator and was responsible, with her county team, for seizure and then the adoption of near 17 horses almost 2 years ago. D'apple is the last horse to be adopted. Her wounds were so extensive, she needed to be healed. As both my sisters have attended to her, since her removal from the abusive owner, they fell in love with her. So here we are today. She was quite gangly looking, when she came to live with my sister at Pantz's barn, and that was almost 100% better than when she was removed. No tail or mane, open wounds and no skin on many parts of her. She re cooperated in a large open field farm with some cows, and eventually another horse. She stayed far away form the horse, as she is very timid and that was part of her abuse, she was in with a herd that ran her around and constantly bit and kicked her. She is low horse, on any herds list.

We have discovered though she may have been ridden before, she has NO training. She is quick to learn and willing. If she balks, it is from not understanding or mental overload. My sissy has taken great care in not making too much an issue with any one thing, but being gentle and consistent with this sweet mare. She has huge distrust issues, but is not outwardly aggressive about protecting herself. She just gets rigid and holds her breath. So all is done around her slow and methodically, for her to gain trust towards you. Once you have gained the trust in one area, say, pick up her feet with out her slamming them may not transfer over to the trimmer, my sister found out! Everyone must prove their "safe worth" to her. 

She truly is a love of a mare and I am so pleased to be apart of her world.
Onto the lesson's she has been teaching me.
Sorry about the poor quality of the photo's below. They are actually stills taken from one of 2 videos my sister took, while I rode. The videos are really good, and perfectly timed for the great moments of "AHA" for me, but I  am still working with (cussing out and fuming at) my computer to allow me to upload them. Untill that day, these stills will have to do.

After a wild trotting session, D'ap starts to relax

D'apple reminded us that she has not been exposed to many things. From her hoof slamming, as you tried to pick her feet up, to jetting across the arena because something touched her while you were riding. While lessons were being given, she let us know that she was aware of the difference in the barn. Activities,  horses, people everywhere,  and that loudly speaking woman inside the arena with some of the horses. She snorted, as we finished tacking her up for the lesson. Her way of saying, "she was wary of things". My sister highly recommended that I connect with her through walking about the barn and then onto the arena. I was asking her to turn sometimes or slow her walk and halt sometimes. She is very good at this, and we did connect to the point where I felt confident to mount.
She sometimes takes to looking like a rocket ready for exploding, if you use the 3 tier mounting block, so I chose the 2 step, and sister held the offside stirrup for less pressure on D'ap's withers, as I mounted. 

Now this is the FIRST LESSON D'ap (re)taught me:
 (first 30 seconds)

 She quickly said, "there is someone else in the arena -unproven person she added- not to be trusted!"  I failed to introduce the mare to our trusted trainer "C"!
 After I mounted and we only walked but a few steps, she leapt forward in a trot-AWAY FROM- the unproven person!


I was being praised by "C" in the fact I was not reacting by being frantic or grabby. I was trying to slow the pace, and not fight with her at all. I learned how to keep up with her and then, slow her down by gentle half halts and  a slower posting rhythm. By the way, it is very hard to keep at because you get behind the horse as they ignore your pace, with their head in the air- and persist in theirs! 
But, we did come to a halt finally, and Da'p allowed "C" to approach. I handed her some peppermints from my side breech pocket, and all became right with the world as she became a friendly, treat bearing person.

We began again.Walking this time! 

Using a pulsating leg pressure, we did turns. 

The rest is all I learned from the D'ap, in her gentle but persistent manner of going.(towards the gate out please!)

 I have taken so many lessons from so many folks, including my sister, but until you understand something said , you just don't. Of course people say, "Keep the horse in front of you and between your reins"....My brain has always told me to sit back a little and keep a forward horse. Of course the horse is between the reins! Well, maybe not!  D'ap, wanting to slide this way and that way, towards the other end of the arena usually,  or away from the semi -trusted person speaking loudly in her large arena sized circle of comfort taught me that: if there is a slack in the rein evenness or contact or the wrong bend, The horse is NOT between the reins, but on one. 
I have had this fear of contact due to my mare reacting so violently with it, that I have "Given away" my contact in the arena. I have thought that if the horse is heavy in your hands you should give more...
While D'ap is FAR FROM being heavy in my hands, when I felt her take a hold on my hands, I gave and my elbows became straight. The trainer mimicked me as I did so!

She taught me to remain where I was, so D'ap could "Find me there". It really was an "AHA" moment for me because that mean't sometimes, shortening my reins ( OH NO!). 
I have never wanted to be a hard handed rider, but that kind is truly different than the one I need to be for D'ap and my mare. I have no problem with a light feel, but the "being there". It is the door to many good things ahead. Like turning...we had many mishaps with turning. When I allowed the reins to be slack, and the horse lost it's direction as my outside rein lost contact..of course, the body is the true indicator for this as well..but D'ap has no muscle and her rear end, and is not quite able to respond well yet. So her rein framework is totally needed, as I turn my torso and vision the direction we are to travel. 

It got so much better after I began to "BE THERE" for her!
I also loved the fact that I was not being told to correct my leg, but she did say, once or twice, she liked my constant and soft leg.

D'apple is someone I can trust to tell me things about my riding, with out making a big fuss over it, if I am wrong. Sometimes she messed up and down with her head, but I minded not and was told to carry on "being there for her" as I did, and allow her to keep moving forward. It is reciprocity, this non fuss riding. I allow her to
experiment with where she is and is going, and she does the same for me. We are forgiving of each other. 
I adore this mare.
At one point, she had had enough...she was not tired physically so, but her BRAIN WAS ! She stopped by the gate and I was unable to get her to move. I did not fuss, but waited for trainer "C" to come over. She had me rub lightly upon her side, with my leg feeling how rock hard it was. She began to rub it lightly with her hand and the end of a Dressage ornament. D'ap became soft again, and she had me rub her slightly again...OH! Her skin moved with my touch this time and she also stepped over! 
We did that once more and she began to say, "Now hop off"- but I was in mid hop already!

Love this mare and hope to ride again soon with her, maybe tomorrow eve. And maybe even in another lesson!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

All Ears

While I couldn't upload (ARG!!) the cool photo of Wa's ears out to the side and listening, I can tell you that yesterday was an attentive, wonderful day with her. I was smiling and giggling the entire ride for the joy of having her back.
I was in the Cashel, bareback saddle and chose to use her lozenge eggbut snaffle. The ride ere now, 3 days previous, she had chosen to have a little buck was shocking and out of the blue, as she has never done that on the trail before. I suspect truly though, she is needing another adjustment and massage from her therapist, she is still not getting out to pasture, so movement is limited.

Quiet, she was quiet today. Frothing foam pouring from her lips, and all the while, her ear(s) were with me. 
She and I hand walked down the slick steep hill to the trails below.

Pure Gold! She was such a good girl, not anticipating and telling me that she'd rather turn here or there, but she was WITH ME.

After my ride and times with her, I jetted on over to my sissy's barn. 
I was to ride D'apple for her, in prep for a lesson TODAY.

There was something scary at one end of the arena.  A gal got dumped there yesterday, and had to scratch from riding the lessons today. The horses were all uppity about the place. D'ap was unusually LOFTY and round and full of herself! Even my sister commented about it, as she decided to connect some dots in asking her to walk and trot lightly, on the lunge line, before I got on.
I did get on and she was fine, just rusty and probably anticipating me...since when I show up, there is a ride that ensues! 
She  is SUPER SENSITIVE! In fact...I would call my mare The world's most sensitive-overreactive- horse!  The D'ap is: the most sensitive, honest and willing horse.  Polar opposites they are.

Comforting the D'ap

After such a short time, she was snorting and relaxed. The saddle seems to fit her nicely though, as with the other Tristan, needs a bumper pad for the cantle so as not to set me behind my leg. We used some sheepskin, and that seemed to do the trick. I have my Enlightened Equitation "Seat Bone Saver" on the spare me- bum. It makes the saddle look tall.

My sissy would be riding today, but she is still having some issues with her legs and some pain., I'll get back with ya all after the Dressage lesson, with another trainer. I can tell you that yesterday's lesson with my sister was refreshing...D'ap responded nicely and I was a sponge.

Have a lovely Sunday ya'll! I'm off the the stables! 
All Ears I will be!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

To my Delight

Evening Phone shot, out our back window

I grew up with my dad saying that old phrase " Red skies at night, sailor's delight. Red skies at morn, sailor's take warning." So, last weekend when I had the day free to myself, I took a special delight in our "false spring" and took an offer to ride with a friend . 
Having to  trailer off property, only to the vet's place the past two times, I hoped the mare would be receptive to hopping on the trailer, as she normally does!

The mare was wound up somewhat that morning, as we had strangers trailer into the stable, for some lessons. So sensitive she is to changes and her surroundings. I coaxed her to come to me, inside to her stall from the run, and brought her out to load- after -I had packed up the trailer with all the gear for the days ride. I knew better than to do much in hand, while there was a hubbub of unfamiliar horses about. I just put her trailer "head bumper" on, and shipping boots and we walked away.

She was such a good girl...but, kinda uppity for the walk to the trailer. Not wanting to make another trip to the tack room, I had my hands full,  foolishly so, with more gear. The mare trotted  ahead cutting me off, then around me.  I just stopped and allowed her to do so a few rounds. Then I insisted she stop, back up, and only take a few steps before halting and waiting for my body to go on again. This way I had her attention, and she did calm down too. There was no hesitation whatsoever, to hop right on the trailer either! I so love this mare!

Arriving at the local State Park, "Milo McIver", there were about 15- 20 horse trailers in the lot already! It is a huge parking lot though, and I was able to park to one end. My friend had to cancel last second, but that hindered me not, here we were and with Blue Skies!

Phone shot from the top of the park

As I was tacking up silently and unhurriedly so, taking in the sights and other's commotion to go going, I realised there was a huge rig coming in and the spot next to me would be the perfect spot for them. I saw the gal driver scouring the lot for the best scenario for herself. I quickly moved my mare out of the way and waved her in. She smiled, and adjusted her rig to come along side.
It was just her this day, with a living quarters 3-4 horse rig!
After she parked and got her little Arabian out, she said, " I know you...what is your name again??"
 I said hers first, "You are Becky!" Yesserie, we know each other from a mutual friend that does dog agility. She also has this wonderfully contagious smile and attitude about her. She called me up one time, after she found out I may wish to do endurance riding, and offered me to ride with them and she'd show me the ropes. Her photo is used for the "ACTION RIDER TACK" magazine. A real go getter!

She was tacked and ready to ride out in 5 minutes. Decked out and matching in her gear. I should have gotten a photo, but was not in the mode yet.
I too was on the ride in a matter of minutes...the mare was astounded at all the activity around us, me too! I set out a direction I did not see any others riding, in hopes that we may not have to follow any or lead any.

New phone has the "reverse camera" more long arming it!

The really amazing thing about this park is that, even though you 
can be riding with 20 or even 30 others horses, sometimes you see none! It's big, and this day I was looking forward to-come what may- since we had not been out at all.
This shot truly made me crack up. Us in the shadows, the mare wanting to go,I could bare see anything so, I just had to shoot it, forget about it and go! Normally, I would re shoot the shot over and over, till I had it the way I wanted it to look.
This is the result- haha! I never even saw those 2 little trees, off the the sides!

The mare was happily snorting most of the ride. Even down the hills, which were NOT slick, as this park is maintained so well by O.E.T. (Oregon Equestrian Trail riders)
There were some new objects at the park.....some obstacles. I failed to get shots of the Gate and the fenced in pathway, but the mare really stopped to look at them. We've been riding here for 6 years and the mare notices everything new!
I did get the shot of the polls here. They were large CONCRETE ones...and spaced out( photo does not show how far) a bit too far for walking, I am afraid. The mud was so deep also, I would not risk hurting my horse to go over them.

Though Washashe mare was wanting to trot and go-go...we held it down to a walk. I knew how far we'd be going and the hills that were to come.

We rode the normal trail around the perimeter, seeing only 5 horses this day, out of all those I knew were out here! We did not take the side line trails like the Dam road  jaunt or cut through the middle to make more miles. The 4.9 mile ride we took, looking down upon the river here from being right next to it, a mile or so earlier, was plenty for our first outing.

 Soon after stopping for this above river shot...the rest of the hills, back up to the top came. The mare stopped a few times to ask, "Really, we still going further?" She forgot about her need for speed and we took them as they came.
I knew this ride would wipe her out a bit, but I also had good things planned, for afterwards. 

Once we returned, I un tacked the mare, and proceeded to the goodies...none of it she'd have, except the massage . No beet pulp, no oats no water, hardy any grass....she just stood and stared at the continuing saga of riders- coming and going.

So I decided to give her a tube of Electrolyte paste, and call it good.

While most of the trailers were gone...a hole new group of them kept filtering into the parking lot, as we readied to leave. More and more came in, this fine False Spring day. To everyone's Delight, it was a beaut of one- to go riding!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

All-Weather riding

Trees in a silvery frost
Though Oregon's cold isn't as cold as the rest of the country's cold; in the single digits, ours was a record setting for this past January. I think we'd all just vaporize, if that single digit temperature stuff ever happened (or wish to)!
20's during the nights and 30's in the daytime,  for a few weeks. While it makes for a "cleaner winter" with mud frozen and makes getting water to the horses harder, and sometimes driving out to the country, dicey!  
We people here in the PNW were in a state of shock, at least most of us. It rarely stays that cold for very long. I am less active on those colder days, only getting to the stable and work.  It sure does make for a beauty and spender in the trees and surrounding vegetation though.

The mare was happy to see me those colder days. She longingly looked out her stall towards the back of the stable. I told her we were going out there, this cold day. It would be our 3rd ride since October.

It was truly nice to get out on the open trail. The shadows of the bright white foliage and ice spots had the mare on her toes...last time we were out, it surely DID NOT look like this!!

Coming home at sunset in the wintertime, never looked so good! The dense fog was perfectly glorious for seeing the sun rays of this frozen world.

At home in the city, we have had Hummingbirds to look after here in Oregon. One would not think this would be true, that they may migrate onto warmer climates. But that said, there 2 species that will remain in our parts for the entire winter, one of which is Anna's. With the freezing temps though...the  liquid food will not thaw, if left out  all night. That would be terrible for our little visitors breakfast! So, I bring it in every night and have a "Hummer food alarm" set on my phone, to wake me 10 minutes before sunrise. Our  current resident hummer apparently is not an early riser. I am all bundled up over my P.J.'s, waiting for her to show, and she did only once at daybreak, for 2 1/2 weeks!!
In the past they have greeted us-hovering an arm's length away, as we set the feeder up for them . This one comes soon after we set the feeder up, she is quite shy, sitting atop the branches watching warily.

The first week back to riding with my mare was pretty cool, with the grounds hard and not slick, and the lands decked out in their finest!

Washashe was doing her best to keep cool, but she was bursting with pent up energies. I knew better than to allow her to go too long in a trot and to walk up the slick hills on foot, with her.  She has no muscle for being off so long, and trotting is easier(not better than) walking up hills. And much harder!

On our third outing, it was a dappled sunshine day. We strode along blissfully , soaking up the sunshine. I was aware of the mare's muscle atrophy and soreness in some sections of our ride. I plan on walking ,walking, walking with her for many miles and hours, to build her back up.

She is with this plan whole heartedly, I can tell. She has had no turn out since October and to get out of her small environment is healthy  and welcome!
We went by the lower ponds to find them frozen somewhat. It made them look glass like, and pretty.

Another day , it was a foggy wonderland...making the roads look unending and mysterious~ the mare a little bit pensive for what lay ahead.

All in all the rehab has been good, though the hock has never returned to normal. It remains puffy, and also hard in some sections. There is no apparent heat or pain now. I try to do all that I can with massage, cold applications and micro current, stretching exercises and give her supplements that help ligaments and joints. 
Her gait has been super strong, and she does tell me though, when she has had enough of any one thing.

Local farmers field new view , recently clear cut trees just beyond

Returning home from one of the last rides we had before this February weekend, I made a definite notation between saddle riding and bareback soft saddle riding. I was worried that my mare could be feeling a difference between the harder tree'd saddle and the closed cell foam "Cashel soft saddle". Nope, this day with the new, older Stubben  saddle I bought on ebay, she acted no differently than when we rode with the "Cashel soft saddle". The saddle is so very compy for me too. I am so happy to have stirrups again!

We both heaved out a large, contented sigh, the mare and me....we made it up the long, slick hill coming home . I walk this coming and going for now, while the conditions are quite slick. The mare walks nicely, while I hold to the  stirrup leather, near the bar.

 Home again near sunset. The sun rays sliding gently down  through the trees, as they do, before hiding behind the earth altogether. This frozen earth went easy on us, for the first ride times out.

Now, as the world thaws out, and the sunlight begins to brighten the lengthening days and certainly~ spirits~ our mission is to

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