Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dudley's Excellent Championship Adventure

September 27 2016

Dudley travelled to Utah for the first time for an endurance ride, he rode on an island for the first time, he finished the AERC National Championship 50 miler for the first time, he rode with buffalo for the first time, and he got his stomach pumped for the first time!

Wait - what?

I rode The Dude in the AERC National Championship 50 on Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake. We finished next to last, but that's not the point. The point was, we rode nonchalantly amongst the buffalo on the island, and, since I'd convinced (well, almost convinced) Dudley that they were just Big Fat Hairy Cows, he had pretty much no problems with them. 

He Stink-Eyed some of them away from a water trough that we wanted to drink from. 
We had to pass through a herd on the trail, and he just stink-eyed his way though them, even though buffalo sound exactly like Khaleesi's dragons on Game of Thrones, with breathy fire-breathing gurgling rumbling coming out of their buffalo throats. If you don't watch Game of Thrones, this is what dragons sound like (around 0:56 to 1:02).

The only time he got a little scared was when a big bull laying near the trail lifted up his hind foot to scratch his head. That did not look like a normal cow, and Dudley scooted waaaaay wide off the trail.

We rode with our new best friends, Simone Mauhl and Boogey. The boys got along great together.

Dudley felt great after the ride… felt better every day in fact. And except for some hand-walking around camp several times a day, he was stuck in his pen at the trailer… feeling better and better every day. I was reporting on the event, so didn't have time to ride him around any more.

So, what happens by Saturday afternoon, right about the time that the front-running 100-mile riders are coming into camp for the finish? I see the back horse trailer door wide open. I see Dudley's head down, and he doesn't hear me and pop his head up to look at me when I call to him, like he'd been doing all weekend. 

UH-OH, oh $hit.

Dudley had finally figured out how to open the back trailer door, where the grain was stored, and he got into 2 bags of senior and oats. Well, I freaked out. I cussed worser than the worst cussing sailor or pirate in the history of maritime cussing.

I had no idea how much of the grain he ate; I only knew that Dudley is prone to laminitis, and he has foundered before. Ohhhhh, I panicked and howled and beat my breast and moaned and cursed and cussed some more. Dudley knew he was in big trouble. 

I was afraid he might colic or his feet would be destroyed. Neighbor Cindy suggested activated charcoal, which she has treated her naughty pig of a horse before, when he got into grain. It can be used to treat toxic ingestions and as a form of gastrointestinal decontamination.

I found Kathy Backus, Dudley's favorite sweet new vet. (Sadly, she'd been pulled on the 100 mile ride - sad for her, but lucky for me and Dude!). Kathy soothed my panic, sure, she had activated charcoal and she'd bring it right over. 

Dudley thought this nice, happy, fun, laughing vet was so sweet, but - wait, what was she doing, putting this syringe of nasty black crap down his throat!?!? Ooooh, it was so horrid, but the vet was so nice and happy and competent, he just kept swallowing it and wrinkling his nose, and she finished and petted him and laughed and left, and I told Dudley, "Well? THAT'S WHAT YOU GET!"

I still don't know how much grain he ate, but I do know that he did not founder, and I do know that I learned a big lesson that I already should have known, with Dudley around - ALWAYS LOCK THE DOOR TO THE GRAIN.

Dudley pouted and wouldn't look at me the rest of the evening. I took him out on a long moonlight walk that night, and he seemed fine. 

In the end, he was fine. He must not have ingested enough grain to cause damage, though to him, I'm sure the icky treatment was worth whatever grain he got!

It was a good ending to a most excellent Championship adventure.

You can see more photos from the National Championship rides, including more buffalo, and more lovely scenery, and read a few more stories at

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Santiam Cascade: 37 and 73

Wednesday August 17 2016

When I finished the 50 mile ride at the Santiam Cascade ride near Sisters, Oregon this weekend on Dezzie, that made, over my endurance obsessed life, 37 different horses I've ridden for over 7300 miles in competition (The Raven too!) - some for just 25 miles, some for over a thousand. (And Lord Knows how many different horses, on how many training miles!) But, who's counting? The point is that I've gotten to ride a lot of horses, all of them different just as people are different, and all of them that I learned something from.

Junior Sarah couldn't make it to the ride, so the Raven and I were Sarah's jockey on her horse Dezzie. We rode with Steph and Smokey, and Connie and DWA Saruq. The ride was a bit dusty, and a bit rocky, but I always like to say, relative to what? Dusty compared to my Tevis ride? Oh, I think not! Or, rocky compared to Nevada rides I've done? Nope! Besides, the heat is always the toughest factor of all for me. It's all part of endurance riding.

We had a fun ride near the Three Sisters, a complex volcano with 3 peaks: North, Middle, and South Sister, all above 10,000 feet, all still carrying a good bit of snow, which I totally wish I could have been close enough to go roll in!

It did get hot, into the mid-90's, but with my cool vest, and a Mission Enduracool neck gaiter given to me by Lynn Rigney, and dunking both, and my helmet, at every water trough, conveniently placed every 5-6 miles along the whole ride, I managed to stay not too hot. We sponged the horses at every trough too, and slowed down on the last loop at the hottest part of the day.

We finished with plenty of horse(s) left, fit to continue for the next ride on the calendar!

A full recap of the ride is here:

These two below are fabulous ride photos by Jessica Wynne photography… check them all out at https://jwynnephotos.smugmug.com/Santiam-Cascade-2016/ !

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

To My Forever Friends Sue and Kevin

Wednesday July 6 2016

I hope you can still hear me.

The day you left this world, the bottom fell out of mine.

When you left, you sucked some of the oxygen out of the air. 

You stole away some of the light and laughter in the world. 

You each left a corner of my heart in shreds, one that will never quite heal.

Your light, your laughter, your hugs, your joy, all of it stolen from me, from all of us, too soon.

Nobody asked my opinion, but this is it: It was unfair and I wasn't ready.

I look forward to the day I can laugh about the memories, instead of cry about the sadness, when thinking of you.

I will always, always think of you both when I ride.

Farewell, my dear friends. See you again on the other side. Until then, happy trails on good horses.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Double Blessed: Stormy's Bloody Shoulder

Monday July 4 2016

Already, Stormy carries the "Thumbprint of the Prophet".

But now he must be doubly prophet-blessed, because in just the last month he suddenly showed up with the "bleached bloody shoulder."

One of many versions of the legend of the bloody-shouldered Arabian mare is:
a powerful shaikh rode his beautiful milk-white, pregnant Arabian mare into battle. He performed with great honor but was wounded badly. After the battle, as his mare carefully carried him home, blood from his wounds dripped down the mare's shoulder. By the time the mare found her way back to camp, the shaikh had died. That night, the mare foaled, and her colt was born with the bloody stain down his shoulder.

Legend has it that the dead shaikh arranged with the gods that his mare’s dedication would be commended so that forever after, any descendant of hers who was possessed of outstanding courage or ability would bear the blood stains as a mark of honor.

Obviously, Stormy has been visited and blessed by the prophet, again, like overnight. I mean - what else could it be? (Never mind he's not Arabian and he's not white, and the 'bloody shoulder' is usually chestnut colored on a white body.) 

Or, it's ever so possible that Jose, the Owyhee Social Director, was experimenting with bleach and vinegar and baking soda to make an Owyhee volcano for one of his outdoor geology classes, and he spilled some of the liquid magma on Stormy's shoulder, which bleached it out.

But either way, it must be another super well-deserved blessing for Stormy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It Wasn't a Ghost

Tuesday June 28 2016

He was the best cat ever. Kitten. He never got a chance to grow up. Just one of the cats on the ranch I didn't intend to get attached to. I think Sinatra was actually more than a cat, like an avatar from/to another world, but that's another story.

One day he was gone. Disappeared. Likely a coyote or owl or dog got him.

I was devastated. Wasn't even my cat.

I ran around everywhere calling for him, walked the creeks, calling, calling, day time and night time, searching, calling him, "Sinatra, Sinatra," calling, yelling, pleading, whimpering, crying. 

A few days after he disappeared, I saw a white cat in the garden. I ran out there. Sinatra wasn't there. Nobody was there. But I saw him. Or his ghost. I know it was him. 

The weeks, months, years went by. I can still cry over that cat. When I grab and snuggle with Audrey the Wispy Terrorist - one of Sinatra's only remaining group of 4 kittens, I always remember Sinatra, and know he's a little part of her, and she always gets an extra squeeze because of that.

Then a month ago, Connie said she caught a glimpse of a cream colored cat in a neighbor's empty barn. The neighbor does not have a cat. Connie didn't get a chance to see if the cat had blue eyes or not. Sinatra!?!?

I went there the next evening with a can of wet yummy cat food. I saw no cat. I left the food. It was still there the next day when I returned with another one. Still no sign of a white cat. 

The vision, memories, slim, resurrected hope of Sinatra faded to the background.

Last night, I saw a white cat. This was no ghost. It was a white cat. Running across Dudley's paddock at dark. I froze in my tracks. Called, "Sinatra!?!?" The cat stopped. Stared at me ten seconds. Twenty seconds. "Here kitty kitty! Good kitty. Sinatra!?!?" The cat ran on to the creek. Too far away, too dark for me to see anything other than it was not a ghost and it was a white cat.

I ran to get some dry cat food, put it in a noisy dish, shook the dish, calling Here Kitty Kitty, Here Sinatra, taking it to the barn, which our ranch cats no longer frequent. I put the food up by the window, called out the window and shook the dish, "Here kitty kitty. Here Sinatra. Come get some food."

Nobody around here has white cats anymore. Who would have driven all the way out here to dump a white cat? Nobody. It's too far from anywhere. How could Sinatra have survived all alone for 4 years and never attempt human contact, when he was such a love? (It also could be his other white litter mate Nancy, who disappeared first.)

This white cat last night was not a ghost. 

I would give anything if I could pick Sinatra up and squeeze him again, and I would never, never let him go.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Little Squeaky Toys

Sunday June 26 2016

It's hard to believe (once again) I never found the screech owl nest along the creek, particularly since it fledged four babies this year.

In the evenings, they start squeaking and tooting away (they totally sound like dog squeaky toys), and I step outside and creep closer, and peer through the trees and spot one or two or three or four of them, and we stare at each other, bobbing our heads at each to get a better focus, and talk and toot to each other.

They sure don't sound like what you might think an owl sounds like!
A little down this page:
you'll find some screech owl calls (the adults sound like ping pong balls). The babies in my trees sound like the one labeled "Agitated bark and bill clap".

I actually saw one fly into the glass door one evening (!!!!) and was afraid/hoping I might have to rescue him. I've saved a few birds who have flown into the glass door or windows, though some hit too hard and were too far gone. He sort of ended up on the porch rail, and after he sat there a bit, he flew up into a tree. I walked after to watch him, and he just kept bobbing his head and looking at me.

I like to think of them as my own little live squeaky toys, glad they allow me in their presence as they are growing up.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Oreana–Where the Deer and Antelope Play

Friday June 17 2016

Coming to the high desert country of Owyhee County to visit fellow horseback riders, the author decided to make Oreana her home.

I've lived in really big cities, smaller cities, little towns, in the boonies, on the road, and you could even say a tent for a while. It's easy for me to shed one persona and slip into the other, rather inconspicuously and fluidly. I'm comfortable in all of them. But I do have to say that living in less than a town, out in the boonies, with horses of course, is pretty darn nice. 

I always say I live in Owyhee, which is the SW county of Idaho, but the 'town' I'm associated with is barely a blip on the map, and I live outside that town anyway. But it's home. I did a feature profile on Oreana in the June issue of Idaho Magazine. It starts out:

“Oreana—Population 8, Maybe 9.” That hand-painted sign tacked to a telephone pole greeted me as I drove down the hill into the little community of Oreana for the first time in 2005. I’d come to this fairly isolated corner of Owyhee County in southwestern Idaho to visit some endurance horse-riding friends for a week. I stayed on for a month. It took that short a time for the high desert sagebrush country to get under my skin, because two years later, I was back to stay…

And I must say that not all editors are so easy to work with, but I really enjoy writing for and working with Steve, the editor of Idaho magazine. 

You can read the rest of the excerpt here (and the whole article is available for purchase or subscription):