Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Springtime in Oreana

Wednesday February 27 2008

It seemed to officially start yesterday.

The starlings arrived to inspect their usual nesting spot on the front porch, behind the light fixture by the door.

The killdeer and nighthawks have arrived and are busy zipping around and calling out to each other. The nighthawk doesn't build a nest, just lays egg on (preferably) sand, or a tree stump, or old robin nests. The killdeer lay eggs on the ground in the open, on soft ground offering camouflaged stones. We had a killdeer nest near the finish of last May's ride, and we changed the finish line to leave the bird alone. But this year, good luck to any killdeer or nighthawk trying to maintain eggs or babies anywhere within a mile of Girlie the cowdog. She chases everything.

Two Ravens were hanging out together in our tallest tree this morning - could one have been Hoss?

Some owl - must be a long-eared owl - has taken up a post in a tree right on the creek out the back door, and hoots incessantly all night for a mate.

New green grass is just starting to poke out of the ground, giving the horses a busy challenge of trying to nibble the tiny blades for some fresh greens.

Then of course the Raven is ready for spring, and was out visiting with Diego today, hopping on his back for a quick ride. (Diego was quite excited about it.) You can just see the new spring sheen on the Raven's velour coat if you look very closely.

Meanwhile, I rode the 4-wheeler 2 miles up the canyon to check the far gate, to make sure I could turn the horses out. Lard-butt Austin had to follow me, as did Girlie, and they ran enthusiastically all the way up the canyon after me. I slowed down for Austin, who I thought might have a heart attack since he's done nothing but lay around for 5 weeks, but he insisted on running the whole way - and back.

Far up the canyon, I found in the soft sand 2 different cat scratches where they buried their poo! Alas, it was just bobcats (small buried piles, small cat tracks) and not a cougar. I had to then return up the canyon with my camera to get a picture of the cat scratches. In the picture you can see a little cat track at the bottom right. All 3 dogs followed me this time. They were definitely slower this time around, and tongues were almost dragging the ground.

And speaking of cougars, I did get a belated report of a likely cougar kill - up our canyon! - in late December. I wonder if that was the night Austin was scratching at the front door to come in in the middle of the night - he never does that at night. Three nights ago I dreamed an old decrepit cougar walked into the yard and I had to go out and touch it. I think I did touch it just before the dream ended. And late last night, all three dogs were going absolutely bonkers on the porch, barking, yipping, howling (and normally Quincy never joins in). It was so frantic I stepped outside, but couldn't see anything. Our dogs were yipping and panting so loud I couldn't hear anything over them, but I suspect it was a pack of coyotes in the yard. But... you never know. : )

And now, the dogs are absolutely passed out in the warm spring sunshine. A quick 4 to 8 mile dog run in one day - nothing like working the extra pounds off all at once.

Monday, February 25, 2008

EMS 3-Day Ride Part II

DAY ONE - Saturday February 16 2008

"...Into the back of the Teeter's Big Blue car seat for a few hours of snoozing before a 7 AM start time..."

Uh huh.

I'm not that tall, but I was two feet too long to snooze in the back of that car. I couldn't leave the doors open, because the lights stayed on. I lasted till about midnight until my constant squirming and discomfort made me sit up and say, This is ridiculous; I'll never make it till morning. Endurance is fun. Right?

What was better, warmer in the car with no sleep, or cold outside on the ground and a real sleep? It was 36* now out in the desert... but I like it cold. So, I got up, drug my sleeping bags out onto a flat spot on the sand with no cactus nearby. I stretched out in my bags and fell asleep under a bright moon and didn't wake up till my alarm went off at 5:30 AM. There was ice in the water buckets and a little ice on my sleeping bag.

Ann had her small trailer - just tiny enough for one human and 2 dogs; but she squeezed me in and fired up her camp stove to boil water for my coffee. Now, I like Starbucks with half and half. This was instant black Sanka or something, and it was some of the best pre-ride coffee I've ever had! Plus those godawful powdered donuts I picked up in desperation at the last gas station (no grocery store for a hundred miles in either direction) were about the best pre-ride breakfast I've ever had.

We fed the horses, walked them, huddled around the little heater and our coffee cups in the trailer, then saddled the horses up in a beautiful chilly desert sunrise, and made our way to the start with 99 other endurance riders. It was great to see again Les Carr and Tulip - now over 19,000 miles for that gelding and still going! That's just incredible.

We lagged behind the cluster at the front near The Duck, who was watching people trot on out for the start; my gelding Razzy and Ann's mare Envy were so well behaved and ready to set out across country. Razzy was just great - from the beginning, he was steady and responsive, and he was eager to go, but he didn't pull on me once. It wasn't too cold or hot and it wasn't windy or rainy - a perfect day to tour 50 miles of the 'barren wastelands' of the Mojave National Preserve on horseback!

We made our way up to the foot of the Mescal mountains, paralleling the I-15 - saturated with frantic holiday traffic - then turned south into a thickening Joshua tree forest and cactus gardens - barrel cactus, cholla, yucca, creosote bushes. The Joshua tree forest along Cima Road is the largest in the world. There were a few Ravens keeping an eye on our progress throughout the day.

It's after about 10 miles - when you haven't ridden for over 2 months - that you start to notice some increasing pains, like your back, inside your right knee, your kneecaps - not knees, but kneecaps - and your feet going to sleep in the stirrups. At 15 miles, you forget the pains and begin thinking of Annie's lunch waiting for you at the lunch stop in another 10 miles or so.

It warmed up as we slowly gained altitude, riding alongside a wash, weaving through the cacti on little cow trails. Razzy had quite a bit of hair, and he slowed down to a walk when he needed to cool down. Ann and I had hooked up with Jackie and Mary, and Frannie from Mississippi, and we headed up onto Cima Dome as a group for lunch.

A wind picked up and it got cooler as we climbed; and at lunch, it was cool and breezy enough that the lunch stop was shortened to a half-hour hold. Just enough time to stuff the horses with food, chow down ourselves on a delicious sandwich, and get ready to go back out.

Aussie Jay Randle was at the lunch stop, waiting on three of her Aussie riders. "So, what do you think?" I asked her. "Well, it's different! I'm learning a lot!" Australia and the US are probably most similar in the way we do endurance rides... but then a Duck ride is definitely its own unique experience. That's why they are so popular.

After lunch, Razzy is even stronger. He wants to go faster, though he still doesn't pull on me at all. Our group loosely stays together, and he hangs back, then lengthens to an extended trot to move out front, then he slows back down. He decides he does NOT like the gray gelding that Frannie is riding, and he keeps trying to turn around to give him a Meany face, though I doubt he would ever kick at him. He just wants to intimidate him with a stare-down.

We're headed back to basecamp by the interstate, but it's a long way back... those trucks just don't seem to be getting any bigger!

As we try to avoid a deep sandy wash, we zip through the desert on little trails - or on no trails, weaving and leaning and dodging cactus and Joshua trees. I'm grabbed and stabbed by a few Joshua trees - wicked trees they are! I don't want to rip my tights so I shield them with my arms. The Joshua trees leave long scrapes, and once I get a hard stab in the shoulder. There's not really anything in the desert you want to grab onto, ever, for any reason.

The last 10 miles is like the first 10 miles... I can feel those pains, a lot stronger now. I can't bend forward in the saddle because my back has seized up, and I won't be able to walk at the end of the 50 miles. (But I could keep on riding another 50 miles if I had to!) The pain is worth it, because Razzy has been a blast to ride, and it's a beautiful day out in the desert in this riding club with a hundred other friends.

Ann and I dismount to walk in the last half mile, and I almost collapse to the ground. I manage to hobble in, we vet through fine, Razzy gets his 1000 miles, and the Raven is happy because he had a great ride.

The horses have a good roll and get their legs bandages; we join Shirley and Billy for another good hot dinner, and go to the ride meeting. The Duck actually does call out the names of all the 93 finishers, (from 101 starters) and if you're very quick you can holler out "Woohoo!" after someone's name.

Two of the Aussies finish their first American endurance ride. Woohoo for them!

DAY TWO - Sunday February 17 2008

Razzy's left front is a little sore this morning - it actually looks like he might've gotten poked by a cactus because there's a little scab in the center of the filling. It's sore to the touch, though I couldn't feel any cactus spines in his legs yesterday.

Ann saddles up Envy to ride with Shirley for the 7 AM start, and I volunteer to help pack the trucks and trailers and go to the lunch stop with Dr Q (Bruce W), Kim from Australia, Cheri, and Nancy.

The Duck is already out on the trail in his jeep, keeping an eye on riders, turning them the right direction, checking on flagging. Annie is in 15 places at once, directing loading, checking entries and finishers and gathering lunch items and working on making awards (Tshirts, cups and coasters according to each rider's requests), and everything else under the sun. I don't see how she keeps track of everything, but she does, and remembers everybody's names on top of it all.

Out at the lunch stop at Cross Rocks off Cima Road, we unload gear bags and food and water buckets, and set up lunch tables... and start making sangas (sandwiches, in Aussie talk) - 120 of them for the 90 or so riders. Ham, turkey, egg salad (I snagged one of those delicious sangas for myself), and tuna, though I miss out on the tuna-making as I go down the trail a ways to take pictures.

As lunch is trickling to a close, 3 riders are unaccounted for. One, it is determined, turned back after the start and went back to camp. Two girls, Amber and Frannie, are missing. Robert Ribley had gone back once and found them off trail, and he went back a ways to look again, but didn't see them. Maybe they went back to camp also? Because The Duck came from that direction in his jeep, and he said nobody was back that direction for hours. Kalina has been hauled to the lunch stop with a horse to pull ribbons from lunch back to camp after the last rider.

After the last horse leaves, we head back to camp and I am able to spend a little time visiting with friends I haven't seen for a long time, and to give Razzy Skittles. He loves Skittles.

The bulk of the riders start coming in around 4 PM - a little later today, since it was a 55-mile ride, (and it felt like a 55-mile ride, say many of them).

As if putting on a 3-day ride with 100 riders a day is not hard enough to run when things go smoothly, it's now dark, and a handful of riders are missing, including Kalina. The Duck has been out searching; finally 3 of the riders come in, but they know nothing of anybody behind them. Kalina is located. It's 7 PM, dinner is being served, but the ride meeting is postponed. Out in the desert, Kalina comes upon 2 riders, one of whom is Blaine, who has broken her arm out there. Annie, calm as ever, is planning resuces out with horse trailers and cars even while she's pulling food out of the oven for the dinners.

Blaine is eventually brought in and is attended by a number of endurance riders who are either nurses or doctors. She will have to go to a hospital in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, another search is planned for Frannie and Amber, still missing. There's much discussion on where they could possibly be, and the best places to even begin looking. The Duck gives a late, very brief, riding meeting for tomorrow, then discusses with some people on where to head out to search in the dark. He debates about calling out a helicopter.

Finally about 10 PM, the two girls make it back to camp, after making it to Cima road, flagging down a car, and one of them catching a ride back to camp to have a trailer come pick up the horses. The girls were in good spirits, just worried about the horses having been out there so long without water and food for a long time. They'd gotten off trail, and then gotten behind Kalina... who had pulled the ribbons in front of them.

All in a day's endurance ride...

DAY 3 - Monday February 18 2008

Bev offered me her horse to ride half an hour before the start... but I was still in my pajamas and wandering around with my camera, bumming coffee (Ann's little stove had run out of fuel), and visiting with people and saying hi's and bye's. I think I was a little wimpy, too - Bev said her horse beat her up yesterday, and I was still a bit sore from the first day. Wah!

So I took pictures while the riders headed out into the sunrise, then visited with the Aussies before they headed off to Sin City - Las Vegas. Lela had gotten to ride 2 days on Kat Swigert's horse, and the plan is for her to ride the horse in the 20 Mule Team 100 in a couple of weeks, if all goes well. The Aussies enjoyed the EMS ride and the hospitality of the US riders - many offered the Aussies places to stay and horses to ride during their month tour of the US. At the Eastern Mojave, many people shared bunks and food and horses with the Aussies; Bruce Burnham not only provided a horse to ride, but gave up the bed in his trailer, while he slept on his dining table. He's planning to return to the 20-Mule Tea ridem, to provide a base for the Aussies to operate from. Jay was overwhelmed with the generosity they'd encountered.

So while the ride didn't turn out quite like I'd planned (3 days of riding), I did get to ride one day on a lovely horse, in the scenic desert with good friends and great weather, I got to visit with people I hadn't seen in a long time, I got to meet some new Aussies, and I left with invitations to visit them. That's what's so great about endurance riding - as I already found out when I went to Australia and other places last year - there's riders like you and me all over the world, who will happily and freely offer you a horse to ride and a roof to sleep under, and you know you'll be able to return the favor along the way.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Saturday February 23 2008

Well THAT didn't take long. After one whole day of punishing me for abandoning him, Finneas caved in.

All it took was a little TLC.

Finneas' back leg still has not completely healed. It was a big gaping wound at first - almost 3 months ago now, and on the front of the hock - a hard place to heal because any movement breaks open any scabs that form, and it's so dry and cold here, it was hard to keep it moist.

Before I left for a month, every day when it wasn't 30* or below and blowing a gale, or when the hoses weren't hopelessly frozen, I'd hose his leg off (with him getting to eat a bucket of oats of course) and then put vet cream on it. Those days and weeks when it just got too cold to hose, the wound crusted back over, then cracked open, over and over. It just didn't make any progress while I was gone for a month. Didn't get worse, didn't get better.

Well. Today - between yesterday's and tonight's snow storms - I set up the water hose, filled a bucket of oats, and yelled out to the horses eating at the hay bale. "FINNEAS!" I held up the bucket and whacked it.

Finneas, who ostracized me yesterday, straightaway left his bale of hay and friends and girlfriend Quickie, and walked up to me, to resume his exalted position as pampered spoiled poor-baby Big Hoss.

He soaked up the attention (and the oats), and I hosed the leg off for a while, working the scabs off and exposing the healthy flesh underneath. Pressurized water is good for cleansing and stimulating the circulation. I then dried the leg off and put cream on the wound.

When I led Finneas back to the paddock with the other horses and turned him loose, he stood at the fence, blinking his big brown eyes, waiting for me to come kiss him again (or give him a carrot).

Guess he's happy to have me back after all.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy To See Me

Friday February 22 2008

Or not.

Finneas is not in the least overjoyed to see me back in Oreana. Before I left for Arizona, he was getting all that great attention every day for his big back leg owie, (it was above and beyond the call of duty after a while), either getting bandages or medicine on it and lots of nose kisses, or getting it hosed off (while eating oats) and getting lots of nose kisses and some carrots (sometimes dipped in molasses). Which he naturally thinks he naturally deserves. All that special attention stopped when I left, and apparently he's letting me know I abandoned him.

He pins his ears at me when I try to pet him and if I don't stop he walks away from me. I have been dissed. : (

Diego is happy to see me, and in fact stayed with me when the rest wandered off to eat hay. He has grown a bit horizontally (not vertically) and his mane is thick as a wild stallion's. He is happy to hear that his friend Jose is well in Arizona, though he is sad he won't be coming home yet to play for a while.

Mac requested some neck scratching for that extra hair he finally grew to stay warm.

Quickie could take my return either way - and she would be happier to see me with a carrot in my hand.

The new guy, Kazam - Jose's brother - is quite pleasant and friendly. Finneas doesn't like him.

Princess and Dudley have gone somewhere to be ridden for 30 days (perhaps to South America, where perhaps there is no snow.)

The dogs now - there's an ecstatic reception I got. Especially when, yesterday evening, (pre-snow), I said, "Who's ready to go for a walk?" Girlie proceeded to flip inside out, Quincy about knocked me over while I was trying to get my shoes on, crawling underneath me and trying to tip me over, and Austin - I was afraid he was going to have a heart attack, he was hyperventilating so and leaping with all 4 (heavy) feet off the ground and twisting in the air.

The riding here may be postponed a little longer, but the dogs and I will be continuing the daily hikes. Alas, while Carol kept the dogs on their strict diet, the dogs did not keep up with their exercise. (Do ya think they could go on a walk on their own? No!) While Girlie managed to slim down even more, Quincy grew wider, and Austin ballooned outward in all directions. And it ain't dog hair making the extra padding.

Strangled Again

Friday February 22 2008

Carol picked me up at the Boise airport yesterday, returning from a sunny, warm winter month in Arizona.

I had missed another 10" snowfall in Oreana just after I left, and it had continued to snow on and off all month. Cold, white, ice, melting, mud, more snow, always cold, very little riding. The ground was solid white flying on my last leg from Salt Lake City to Boise.

As we got near home, I could see last remnants of snow sticking to the north-facing hills, but, Carol said with great relief, "I think it's over - spring is finally here!"

"Oh, I hope not! I want one more snow!"

This is what I woke up to.

Carol is ready to strangle me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lunar Eclipsed

Wednesday February 20 2008

My last night in Arizona I was treated to an outstanding natural phenomenon I haven't seen in a long time. The lunar event was totally eclipsed - obliterated - by a CRACKING lightning storm.

I was the last one up at night, watching (sadly) my soap opera, when by a great flash of light through the windows, I became aware of a storm going on. It had probably been gong on a while - I'm fairly deaf to thunder - and by the time I jumped up and peeked outside in the dark, the cold wind was swirling, the electricity popping, and big raindrops just starting to spatter the sand.

Rhett had to be blanketed - he had been the sickest, and he's partially clipped.

And here was my dilemma - I'm afraid of lightning.

I've been caught out in the middle of 6 bad lightning storms - 1 of them with three horses on a pack trip - and lightning just terrifies me.

But Rhett had to be blanketed... so I just couldn't think about it, I just ran out, grabbed his blanket, and ran to the pen.

Bolts struck the ground to the west and north, sheet lightning strobed in all directions of the compass, blinding flashes lit the earth brighter than day, and finger bolts split the sky, with booms and sharp cracks shaking the sky from all directions and overhead, the kind that shook and rumbled your insides.

I cringed and ducked with every flash, clenched my teeth. Holding my breath helped.

I climbed the fence into the pen with the blanket; the wind whirled around, making me look like a black ghost. Rhett though I was coming for another stealth antibiotic shot - Rusty and I usually came out this time of night - and he wanted nothing to do with me and his scary blanket on this dark and stormy electric night.

I moved close, he'd move away. Jose stuck his nose in my face, Put the blanket on me! I got close to Rhett, he dodged away; I got close, he dodged away - as bolts ripped across the sky and my knees shook. "Oh please Rhett, please, please, I'm scared," and Rhett stopped and stood still, in the howling win d, lightning bolts and big fat raindrops, and let me put the blanket on him.

I ducked at the flashes (really, it doesn't help), and my trembling fingers hooked his snaps, and I used the bright flashes to see what I was doing. I gave the two of them a quick pat, then leaped over the fence and sprinted back to the safety of the house.

But still, I was fascinated, and stood out there (peeking out from under the roof, feeling safe) and watched the dazzling electric display. I expect the moon eclipse was good - but I wouldn't have traded this show (and adrenaline rush) for it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Eastern Mojave Scenic 3-Day Ride

Friday February 15 2008

It's been - yikes - 5 months since I've done an endurance ride (!), and a good two months since I've really ridden a horse, due to all the snow and ice in Idaho this winter. But that wasn't stopping me from heading to the 3-day Eastern Mojave Scenic ride near Baker, California - 3 days in the beautiful desert of the Mojave National Preserve. And it would be nice story for to cover. Put on by The Duck, you can always expect great scenery, a challenging trail, good lunches and dinners, a good crowd of people who enjoy riding their horses long distances in scenic country - and this year some visiting Aussies - and... a few surprises here and there.

Established in 1994, the Mojave National Preserve at 1.6 million acres is the 3rd largest national park service area outside Alaska. It may look barren from the interstate if you're in a hurry to get to LA or Las Vegas, but hop on a horse and ride out there among the canyons and mountains, cinder domes, sand dunes and sandy washes, Joshua Tree forests and beautiful but wicked cactus gardens, the long-abandoned mines, homesteads, cars, and rock-walled military outposts, and you'll never want to spend time in LA and Las Vegas again.

Gretchen was bringing her two horses for us to ride, and I'd be bunking down in the back of their comfortable big white truck. I made us a yummy popular casserole, but left the details (morning coffee, half n' half, oatmeal, extra food, snacks, ibuprofen, eye drops, shower, freezer for ice, oven for warming up the casserole) to Gretchen.

Now, all us endurance riders know that when it comes to endurance rides, you can't always plan everything out and expect everything to go according to those plans. We must be quite flexible - your horse has different ideas, the weather can be awful, different adventures can happen before and during the rides that change your course without you really having a say in anything. I brought my Raven and extra water and sleeping bags, and I brought several bags of clothes and things (Rusty said "HOW long are you going to be gone?!"), because you just never know what all you might need. (And if you do forget something important, Rebecca J will have it!)

The Raven was excited, hopping onto the dash as we drove out of Scottsdale in the rain (again!), and headed across Arizona to California. I decided to turn on my phone about an hour from ridecamp, and, for someone who does not use their phone at all, there were FOUR messages waiting for me. Oh dear, this can't be good.

It wasn't.

The first message was Mike, Gretchen's husband: "We were just getting ready to leave for the ride and something happened to Gretchen (she had surgery a month ago), something ripped internally, we're in the emergency room. Jackie might be able to bring you another horse if you call her right away. Sorry!"

Second message is Jackie B: "It's Jackie - if I hear from you, like now, I can bring you an extra horse, but I'm leaving now, and I don't want to bring her if I don't know if you're coming for sure."

Third message: "It's Gretchen (sounding very drugged). I'm home, call me."

Fourth message: Sharon L, the producer of the Gospel at Colonus show I'm a sound engineer for: "We can't do the show in July in Athens, but we can do 4 days in June, with one performance. Everybody can come, just waiting to hear from you and Butch." (Ohmigod! - but this is a whole 'nother can of Ravens, for another story!)

The calls were from several hours ago, and since I was so close, I might as well continue on to the ride. Maybe I'd find another horse, or I'd help at the ride, and either way, I'd take pictures and do a story. I had plenty of gear - maybe short on food, and of course no grocery store anywhere, but I could bum off people. I know some people who do that anyway : ) Coffee would be a sort of necessity in the morning, but that shouldn't be too hard to find.

The first people - rather, horse - I see when I get there, is Sierra, Shirley R's horse. A group from Ridgecrest was at Shirley and Billy's trailer, and Shirley and Billy offered me dinner, and Ann K offered me her extra horse Razzy to ride! In five minutes I had a hot meal going down and a horse to ride for tomorrow.

After we ate, Ann and I saddle up our horses (Razzy had his special saddle) and we took them out (with Rebecca from Ridgecrest, riding her first 50 tomorrow with Shirley, on her little pony) and I tried out my mount. Ann said he could be a bit feisty, but he was a great little horse. And not so little - he's over 15 hands, and quite stout. "He's a good keeper," Ann said. She didn't expect him to lose any weight during the ride, that's how good a keeper he is. And tomorrow, Razzy would get his 1000 miles.

After vetting the horses in, Ann and I came back to the trailer to try to get everything organized... we rushed around in the dark, setting up horse food and crew bag and gear for the night and tomorrow.

I brought the Raven along to the ride meeting at 7 PM... I knew Jay Randle from Australia was supposed to be here... and it was Jay who picked me out after the meeting. I pulled the Raven out of my pocket for a meet n' greet... I don't know who was happier to meet the other - Jay or the Raven!

I met the other 4 Aussies, Jane, Lela, Kim, Rebecca... several of whom had chattering teeth, as it was a bit colder (about 43*) than the Aussies are used to this time of year.

Then it was back to the horses and trailer, make sure everything was ready for the morning, then one more change of plans for my sleeping arrangements - into the back of the Teeter's Big Blue car seat for a few hours of snoozing before a 7 AM start time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

And So It Begins...

Feb 14 2008

The 53rd Annual Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.

It's officially kicked off this evening with a concert by Heart and Emerson Drive.

All week, vans have been pulling into the WestWorld grounds, unloading horses, setting up barns, conditioning and polishing horses.

Today, last minute work and training creates a busy atmosphere, for a show expecting to attract over 2500 horses, competing for over $1 million in prize money in more than 640 classes over 10 days.

The tents:
There's UPS and FedEx and barn supply delivery trucks rolling in and out of parking lots, delivery men and women scurrying in and out of tents, and media and show office trailers. Volunteers and workers unloading boxes, stacking brochures and programs, constructing trusses.

The vendors:
Still-empty booths; booths set up and ready for business tomorrow: pony tails for your hair or your horse's tails; boots for you or your horse; rugs, sparkly belts and blouses; hats, tack, horse statues, Western decor, photography, silver and turquoise jewelry, art. I stop by and say hi to endurance rider Janice Taylor of Janus Studio from Kentucky, with her lovely fabric painting and wall hangings. And there's still more. Food stands getting ready: hot dogs to gourmet coffee to sushi. Blindingly-shining new silver trailers, trucks, sports cars. Plentiful ATM machines strategically placed.

The barns:
Last touches being put on the barns: newly planted flowers, canvas and wooden panels with stable names resembling permanent barns, artificial grass, wood chips, neatly raked paths. Cars, trucks, horse trailers parked by the barns, jamming the aisles, unloading horses and equipment. Barns in every direction of the compass, and spilling out across the street to the north, filling up with horses.

The arena:
There's horses training: dressage, driving, English and Western pleasure, lunging sprinters going around and around and around; prancing shining Arabians; high steppers and slow-motion 4-beat canter-ers; greatly bowed necks, high-headed and high-tailed spirits; tail bags, neck warmers; sweating necks, bathed bodies; whips N' spurs, spit-polished silver tack that makes you squint in the sun, double reins, monster bits, martingales; three (that's THREE) young girls wearing helmets.
Trainers training: "Don't let him do a quarter turn with his hip out there or you'll have a lot more to fix." "It's not jabbing, it's pressing him over." One 10-year-old girl on a high stepping Arabian, riding like a pro, wearing a two-way radio on her belt, being coached by her instructor while weaving through 15 other riders in the covered arena.

The first classes begin tomorrow morning at 8 AM.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Bit of Team Roping

Sunday February 10 2008

I went to watch some team roping...

More photos at

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sharing Strangles

Monday February 11 2008

This was Rhett 3 weeks before:

And this is Rhett now. Getting better, no temp, last of the lump under his jaw disappearing, legs no longer swelling, good appetite, tail carriage up, finally putting weight back on. Symptoms started coming back 10 days ago, so he went back on the daily antibiotic shots; and fearing his guttural pouches had become infected - which would mean a costly, and rather dreadful, treatment - we Xrayed his head. Fortunately, nothing showed up, but we are keeping with the antibiotic shots a while longer to make sure this is going to really get knocked out this time.

Rocky finally started showing symptoms of strangles a few days ago - thick snot in one nose, and coughs. That makes the last of the 7 horses having finally gotten the nasty disease - though some got much sicker than others.

They all feel good enough, when I turn Jose and Rhett with the others, to run around the big paddock together, and, if you're Rocky, to run around to avoid being caught.

The horses all had the strangles - and now I've got it. Thick snot on one side of my nose, swollen glands, cough, feeling like absolute crap. I know how the horses felt.