Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Belesemo Bros Rock Silver City

Tuesday July 22 2014

From the brink of obesity to the finish line of an endurance ride, it's been a long (dieting and exercise) trail for Belesemo Dude, aka The Dude, aka Dudley.

When Steph got him back in September of last year (she'd sold him in 2011), he had some bad feet to repair, and he got fat with the herd over the winter. When he started his serious diet and exercise program in February, he just had a hard time letting go of that extra insulation. He's how you define an "EASY KEEPER."

Some days it was hard to get up and go to the gym (trail) every day. We did it anyway. I felt his pain. His sweat stained my half chaps. But slowly, ever so slowly, some of the padding thinned out and firmed down to muscle.

Our main goal was to keep him sound and get him fit; the long-range goal was possibly a 50-mile ride at the 3-day City of Rocks ride August 7-9… but... only one day at a time.

He'd come along well enough that I knew he was fit enough to do at least a 25-mile Limited Distance ride at our backyard Almosta Silver City ride July 19. But a 50? I wasn't sure. Dudley could still lose another 50 pounds or so, and he's not too good in the heat (just like me!). I kept an eye on the weather: if it would be over 90 degrees with no breeze, we'd ride the LD with John and Sunny. If it would be under 90* with a breeze, and company to do the ride with… possibly the 50.

On Friday, the next day's forecast said 88* with a breeze. And then the first rider arrived in camp, and that's when the obvious decision was made. Lynn White, with her horse Roger - Belesemo Moon - would be attempting to complete Roger's first 50 miler (Lynn had pulled rider option on 2 previous attempts). "Third time's the charm," Lynn said. Dudley hadn't done but one 50-miler 6 years ago. Dudley and Roger are cousins (their sires are half brothers). So of course the terribly handsome Dudley and terribly cute Roger - the awesomely cool Belesemo Brothers - would ride the 50 together.

We'd take it one loop at a time. If they finished the first loop in good order, we'd do the next loop; and if they finished the 2nd loop in good order, we'd go out on the third and last loop.

Aside from the lit stick of dynamite beneath me for the first couple of miles, Dudley and Roger marched steadily over the first 25-mile loop, taking turns leading, trotting a steady 7-8 miles an hour. Both Lynn and I rode with heart monitors to keep an eye on our beasts' beating hearts.

Dudley didn't take long to pulse down at the first vet check, standing in the shade and getting hosed with cool water (I hosed myself down too!); it only took a couple of minutes. By the time vet Matt Dredge could check us, Dudley's pulse was 56, and his CRI 56-52. Yay! (He'd pulsed in on Friday at 40, which surprised me!)

Roger took a little longer to pulse down, but they both passed the vet check with mostly A's. (Dudley had a "B" on gut sounds - how is that even possible!?!?) 1 loop down, halfway done; 2 more loops to go!

The 12 1/2-mile Rim Trail loop 2 was a shorter but hotter loop, and Dudley took a few more minutes to pulse down at vet check 2, and his CRI was 64-60. But after the final loop 3 (a repeat of the second loop), he pulsed down faster than both loops! His CRI was 56-60, but he got A's on everything, including gut sounds!

"Who's first?" Regina asked us when we rode in to the finish. "We're tying!" I said. "For 11th place?" "Absolutely!" And, unknown to us till later, two more Belesemos finished right ahead of us! Flora Gertsch and Belesema Epic Diva were 9th, and Bethany Sargeant and Belesema Finalia were 10th. I'm pretty sure it was a historic Belesemo Arabians endurance moment.

Dudley was pretty proud of himself after he finished (though not near as proud as me). He had two most favorite parts of the endurance ride:

Carrying The Raven on their first endurance ride together.

Eating as much as he wanted during and after the ride!

City of Rocks, here we come!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stormy Water Dragon

Wednesday July 16 2014

I was astonished to see my horse Stormy playing in the water. All these years, I'd never seen him do that. He's a rather dignified old retired racehorse; I've rarely see him play at all, although Jose the Social Director has taught him a few glamorous moves that Stormy pulls out of his hat once a year or so.

But water? Stormy is a Water Dragon? I never suspected!

We have the perfect little pond where Stormy can teach the rest of the herd a thing or two about playing in the water.

Video here:

(or link):

Stormy, The Most Beautiful Horse On The Planet, is the star of Chapter 23 in my book, Soul Deep in Horses: Memoir of an Equestrian Vagabond, available on Amazon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Heart of the Matter

Monday July 7 2014

His stomach dominates his existence, though I like to think I occupy a little corner of his affections, squeezed in behind the hay, rice grass, kosha weeds, and treats.

I think he loves me, even though, since he's FAT, I lock him up at night and restrict his hay intake. Even though I saddle him up and make him work every day. Even though I make him huff and puff and drip sweat.

Dudley's 12, and has only a single 55-mile completion on his endurance record, back in 2008. He road-foundered after that one, and has had bouts of laminitis and a tendency toward FATNESS over the years. Steph raised him, sold him in 2011, and he came back here in 2013 because, well, he's kind of part of the family, and you just can't help but love Dudley.

We were pretty good buddies when he left in 2011, and when he returned here last year, I was happy to see him, but he seemed… sad. As if he felt he'd been abandoned by us. He wasn't mistreated by any means in his new home, but I think he felt we didn't like him anymore, so we sent him away. (Oh, if he only knew how much it broke my heart to see him go.)

In the trailer ride back here in 2013, he bit a horse in the back rendering him un-rideable for a while. (I think Dudley was feeling rejected yet again, being sent away in the trailer again; I think he was acting out.) Back in the herd here, he was no longer herd boss but was chased around by many of the horses, and he often spent time standing off by himself away from the herd. My welcome-back pets and my hugs didn't really seem to sink in for a while. I swear his feelings had been hurt, and he didn't trust that he'd be staying here.

Over the months though, he regained some status in the herd, and over the winter he slowly morphed back into the old Dudley, as his confidence grew that he'd be staying here. He once again became the old Dudley forever scheming how to Get More Food, plotting how to escape his Fat Pen so he can Get More Food, working those big brown eyes and innocent expression so we'd feel sorry for him being so hungry and he could Get More Food.

After he got FAT over the winter and I started riding him again in February, every day, we've developed a strong relationship. Even though he can sometimes be lazy on a ride, even though he can spook, even though he can bolt, even though he can be a chicken occasionally and not be thinking of me (and would instead run to save himself, not me, if, something scares him), Dudley loves me again.

My modest goal for him is to ride him in and complete a 50-mile ride at the City of Rocks ride in August. If we make it, great; if we don't, I'll keep riding him every day, because The Dude needs it, he's my pal, and I know he loves me, almost as much as food.

Attentive Dudley studying a trail map Steph is drawing in the dirt.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Owyhee Fourth of July!

July 4 2014

Those national Fourth of July parades have nothing on us Up-The-Crick People in Owyhee.

Hoards of crowds gather at the Teeter ranch up the crick, lining the parade route for the show put on by Linda and her menagerie. She's been doing this for years, with a rotating cast of characters.

The dogs and goats, horse and mule and mini-mule are as patriotic as the next American and they look forward to this parade every year (well… except for Edna the donkey who, for whatever donkey reason, did not want to attend).

Enjoy the video!

(or link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFa6bLoWcAw )

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Little Barn On The Prairie

Wednesday June 25 2014

Old barns have a certain mystique about them. You can picture the older era: farm kids in suspenders running around barefoot; you can still hear roosters crowing; you can still smell the horses and cows.

This is the old barn of my great-great grandfather George Wied, who emigrated from Germany in 1854 to an area in south-central Texas. First settlers (we're not talking Native Americans though of course they were already living here and we immigrants squeezed them out) arrived in this area in 1832, but by 1873, the area was mostly populated with German immigrants - good farming stock. (Funny, since I can't grow a plant to save my life.)

Eventually the community took on the name Wied, after the Wied brothers, Henry and August (sons of George), whose land was used for a cotton gin, a store, and a blacksmith shop.

The barn was still standing at least around the 1960's when this photograph was taken (my mom painted a picture of it at some point). While in college I zipped down to Wied, where there wasn't much more than a sign and a few scattered farmhouses, the barn long gone.

These family relics always seem to become more meaningful as you get older, and you wish you could go back and stroll through the barn, listen for the ghosts, pick up an old horseshoe, run your hands over the old plow harness. I have this old photo of my dad and his brothers as kids on a horse, but the horse and my dad and this old barn are long gone, and all that's left is the imagination of memories lost to the passage of time.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Angry Birds

Sunday June 22 2014

The kestrels have claimed holy war against the Ravens.

The 6 baby Ravens up the crick have fledged. They aren't so 'baby' anymore - they're about the size of the adult Ravens, and they sure make a lot more noise. Sounds like there are 16 of them.

The 6 roisterous Raven siblings roam everywhere like an Owyhee gang, commanding the skies, spilling out of the trees, strutting about in the horse pasture eating bugs and horse poo, and all the while yelling and shrieking. Nothing hollers and shrieks like a juvenile Raven, much less 6 of them! Sometimes they'll sit on a hill, not quietly discussing things, but hollering their opinions on life. Once they sat on a hillside, shouting down at us as we rode our horses on the trail below them. We couldn't get in a word edgewise!

The kestrels and the orioles have been hopping spitting diving mad the last month. While feeding the babies, an adult Raven often flew toward the nest with something in its mouth, and several orioles and a kestrel or two would be furiously screeching and chasing it. It wasn't an egg in the Raven's mouth a couple of times I saw it; I wondered if it was a tiny kestrel or oriole chick.

Now that the parents aren't flying back and forth feeding the baby Ravens, the kestrels and orioles attack the roaming juvenile Ravens. In fact I know exactly where the Ravens are, or which direction they are going, by the shrill screaming of the pair of kestrels, who are intent on Raven murder. They'll dive-bomb the Ravens anywhere and everywhere - in the trees,

in the skies,

on the ground,

incessantly, for hours, any time the Ravens are in kestrel land (which happens to be just over a small ridge and up the next crick), in which the Ravens happen to invade and swagger about all the time.

The kestrels are about half the size of the Ravens, but they don't give up. Sometimes their sorties are so fierce and constant, that the Ravens give up and flee across the border back to their own crick territory.

Then they sit in trees and discuss their next strategic rowdy raucous Raven ruckus.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Soul Deep in Horses: "A Thrilling Book"

Monday June 16 2014

I was thrilled and surprised to see my memoir, Soul Deep in Horses, reviewed in the Sunday Idaho Stateman!

Pam Brewer, one of the Idaho Statesman's Book Addicts writes:

"This is a beautifully written, emotionally charged book that takes you to exotic places and lets you meet some amazing animals."

The full review is here.

On her blog Discovering Ranch Life - Photography, international equine photographer, Maria Northcutt writes:
"It’s a thrilling book, about one crazy girl’s horse adventure around the globe. If you love horses, it’s a book that makes you cry and laugh out loud, over and over again. She takes the reader to thrilling heights, and dangerously high speeds."

Read the rest of the review here:

On a Soul Deep in Horses relevant tangent, I'm having a book signing at Naomi Preston's Wild West Bakery and Espresso in Eagle, Idaho on Saturday June 21 from 11 AM to 1 PM. If you're in the area, come on by, and have some fabulous Wild West lunch while telling us your funnest and wildest horse stories!

Soul Deep in Horses is available as soft cover or e-book on Amazon, or autographed copies are available on my website, www.TheEquestrianVagabond.com.

**(From these two reviews and the audience responses they generated, the e-book shot up to #4 in its category on Amazon on Sunday. Though I don't watch the stats, I really don't!)