Wednesday, July 30, 2008

2008 Pink Flamingo Day I

Saturday July 26 2008

Well, you learn something from every ride.

My lessons from the Pink Flamingo Classic were: never, ever, eat another muffin before an endurance ride; and, don't just assume your horse will follow your plan for the day.

Steph and Jose, and Carol and August, left on the 50 mile ride at 5 AM. I had plenty of time to get ready for my 7:30 AM start, stuff a muffin down with a few cups of coffee. Only I looked at my watch, and it was 7:20, and I still had to get my helmet and chaps on, and I'd planned to ride Mac around a bit to warm him up, because it was a chilly, very damp, morning, and Mac had cramped up once before at a ride on a cold morning in the hind end, even after a very good warm up.

Well, it wasn't that big of a deal, I'd just start out on the trail walking a ways, then gradually take up a slow trot until he was good and warmed up, then go on from there. I led Mac up to the starting area and mounted him, all the while wishing I hadn't eaten that muffin for breakfast.

Now, Mac is from Rushcreek Ranch in Nebraska, where there is nothing but grass, more grass, and a handful of scrubby bushes no higher than horse fetlocks, with maybe a few scrubby 'trees' along a creek (like we have at home in Oreana, along which Mac sometimes grazes). He'd never seen a real TREE, much less a FOREST. I was prepared for that, expecting he might be spooking at first. Mac had done 3 LDs in Oreana (the one of which I pulled him from when he cramped up), so he had some idea of what an endurance ride was all about - horses coming and going at different speeds, passing and being passed. He'd handled Jose and August leaving him at the horse trailer early in the morning quite well. However, he'd never done an endurance ride away from home. With some horses that doesn't matter; with some it does.

The first oh, forty-five seconds went according to my plan. We let other horses go out onto the trail, then started off ourselves, just walking... but it sort of disintegrated about 30 yards from camp. I was riding a different Mac from the one I knew, one who was getting himself more wound up and excited and fretful every step further from camp. I had worried slightly about showing off on a horse with pink ribbons that might just buck me off, but it wasn't the ribbons that were stirring him up. If I had WARMED HIM UP PROPERLY, I could have let him go on with other horses for company, you know, the horses who had been properly warmed up before the start and were able to take off at a good trot. Since I hadn't done that with Mac, I worried about him going too hard right at the start, and cramping up again in the cold.

The further we went, the worse he got, and then we came to a big steep hill. Which he wanted to run up. I tried to keep him moving forward, but that turned into a climbing leaping half bolting, which expended 4 times the energy he should have been expending at this point in the ride. Robert Washington's words were echoing in my head, TAKE CARE OF YOUR HORSES. Then when a horse came galloping up the hill behind us - that was all she wrote, full panic Mac attack.

I jumped off (Mac did come to a - frantic - standstill when I said, "Whoa!"), and I started walking him on foot up the hill. Did I say this was a very steep hill? And my stomach was disagreeing with the muffin? Mac was much calmer now, and when we had a break from a view of the horses in front of us and behind us, I got back on him. We continued more forwardly (rather than the up-and-down bouncing) until some more horses came up behind us, and Mac panicked again.

I jumped off again, and kept leading him up the hill. The steep hill, which, with the exertion, was really making me regret my breakfast. Bruce Worman and Joni Cornell on Zippy and Quinn were coming up behind me. They slowed down and offered to wait for me, but I told them to go on, I'd keep leading Mac for a bit.

Mac settled down some when they were out of sight, and - I figured we were last by now - I got back on him, and he was more manageable. He was still keyed up - but at least moving more forward instead of up-and-down, and slowly we caught up to Bruce and Joni - Mac was so focused on catching the horses he knew were ahead of us, that he hadn't noticed yet he was in a forest. Which was probably a good thing.

Mac was now doing much better with some babysitters, so we stayed with Bruce and Joni the rest of the day - thanks guys! I did worry a bit that we were moving too fast for Mac, and I still kept hearing TAKE CARE OF YOUR HORSES in my head, but I knew I was expending less of Mac's energy than I would be if I tried holding him back. And I didn't want to be the tag-along whiner, "Can you slow down for me? Can you go slower here? Can you ride my ride and not your ride?" I took my chances letting Mac move on out, hoping he'd warmed himself up properly. I just didn't want to be the only person whose horse was treated today!

So Mac was settled and moving along better, but my stomach still wasn't happy. I was still expending lots of energy keeping Mac at a steady pace with my legs, and riding his big trot - he really picks his front feet up, which was bigger on the slight downhills. It wasn't till we'd covered about 14 miles that I really started to feel more normal, and notice the trails we were on. We'd climbed up into the mountains on soft logging roads and a few cross-country trails - and I didn't recall seeing one rock. Wow. Every endurance rider's fantasy - a trail with no rocks! The towering firs and Ponderosa or Jeffrey pines kept us in the shade most of the day, and we got a few scenic glimpses of the valley below.

We cruised into the vet check all of a sudden - seemed like a short loop in distance, but then, I was on a horse with a big trot, and we'd moved right along over much of it. We walked straight to the pulse taker and Mac's pulse was already down (criteria was 60), and we went on to the vet line where Nance Worman was waiting for us. She was crewing for Bruce and Joni, (and me too by tag-along rules : ), and she trotted out all of our horses for the vet. In fact, Nance generously trotted out many horses for many people all day, and Susan Favro, assisting the vets, noted that Nance probably did her own 50 miles on foot today.

It was in the crewing area that Mac found religion - Vet Check Horse Treaties! Ohmigod there was the natural meadow grass, there was hay and alfalfa, there was a BIG BUCKET OF FLOATING OATS WITH BRAN ON THE BOTTOM (!) and there was a BUCKET OF FLOATING CARROTS! It was pure Horse Heaven. Mac didn't even notice at first that Quinn and Zippy had gone on to their horse trailer, nor did he care when he did notice. He gave one little nicker and turned his nose back to the floating oats. Mac stayed and ate and ate - not knowing which Treatie was best and which one to eat next!

I finally drug Mac away ("Come on Mac, leave some for the other horses!") to the Wormans' trailer, where Nance held onto Mac (and plied him with more bran and alfalfa) while I walked back to our trailer. First thing I did was hide those wretched muffins so I wouldn't have to look at them again, and get some cold drinks, because I still didn't feel like eating anything.

On the second loop, Mac was so much more settled, he wanted to take the lead! And now, he was settled enough that he noticed the TREES and the FOREST. He was pretty brave leading in front, albeit pretty slowly and cautiously. He was so overwhelmed with the huge trees everywhere they didn't register individually, but he sure noticed some of those laying-down trees, and tree stumps, and big boulders. The 4-foot tall trees tended to be a bit scary too, especially when they were in the middle of a two-track logging road. Horse Gods only knew what those things were or what they were hiding!

A group of 5 riders caught up with us and passed us, and then Mac was happy to follow, having done his brave stint in the lead for, oh, a half mile. We passed this group again, but with the braver Zippy leading the way.

Zippy did encounter a scary cougar which produced a HUGE spook, which Bruce stayed on by flying up onto Zippy's neck, hanging on, and muscling his way back into the saddle. Zippy waited patiently for Bruce to straighten himself up, partly because I think she was embarrassed by the cougar turning out to just be a rock. It could have been a cougar though; we'd heard rumors at the ride meeting last night of a bear sighting, and prints - either wolf or feline - bigger than a man's spread hand.

This loop was 12 miles, but part of it was tough: a Big, Steep, Long, hill, and just when we thought we were done with climbing, it continued upwards. The horses were huffing and puffing and sweating just walking up it. Mac was using muscles that he probably didn't know he had, to propel himself up that steep hill.

And what do you think was at the top of that hill as a reward for our efforts? Not just the beginning of the long winding downhill, and not just a big water trough for the horses, but a nice young man handing out frozen OTTER POPS - and he even cut the tops off for us! Mac dove his nose into the water, and we humans eagerly grabbed our Treaties and groaned with pleasure. With all the great trails, the plenty of water on the trail for the horses, the great Horse Treaties at the vet check, and these Otter Pops, we decided this was one of the best rides ever.

Horse flies started coming out around noon on the trails, but they weren't too bad for us. The 50 milers later in the afternoon got swarmed at places. Luckily, there were none in camp.

We headed on down logging roads at a mostly gentle angle, at one spot passing a group of Drill Team Gaiters - a drill team from Boise riding gaited horses (a good number of Tennessee Walkers were at this ride, like last weekend's ride at Bandit Springs, Oregon). I couldn't talk them into doing a little performance for us at the ride meeting and dinner tonight.

We came to a right turn off the logging road - that we almost missed, and that several people did miss, going by the horse tracks continuing on straight - a steep long downhill trail, using the other muscles Mac never knew he had (we got off to walk), coming out eventually on Diann Simpson's ranch. Diann's an endurance rider, and since her main endurance horse was off right now, she was helping with the ride. A couple of easy flat miles through the grassy valley, passing a herd of cattle that Mac looked at inquiringly ("are we going to go round them up now?"), we quickly came back into Horse Heaven (Ride Camp) and the finish.

Mac's pulse was immediately down again, Nance vetted him through, and we went straight back to the Horse Treaties. The Raven, who'd had a great time in his Raven bag, with his own pink neck ribbons flying in the wind, got his own vet check. Dr Danny Borders checked him over thoroughly, and marked him down with all A's! Go Raven!

Mac chowed down on the Horse Treaties before I dragged him back to the trailer. He ate more there, then fell into a doze in the hot sun. As a reward for his strenuous performance, I took him for a walk - back up to the vet check for more Treaties. We did try to leave some for the other horses who were still out riding - but I was so pleased that Mac was eating and drinking so well. When Jose and Steph came in from finishing their 50 mile ride, Mac and I escorted them to the vet check - where Mac sampled the Horse Treaties again. (Really couldn't help it!)

The ride dinner started at 6:30, with a long line of hungry people waiting to be served chicken and sweet beans by one of Sally Tarbet's sisters (several of us had asked her, are you Sally's sister? They could almost pass for twins.) Then for dessert - what - only 1 small box of brownies?! I confess I was one of the ones who ran, shamelessly ran, up to grab one of those brownies, leaving many people behind me with an aching sweet tooth (I did at least grab the smallest one! Does that make me a slightly better person?)... but plenty more brownies were soon brought out for the rest of the crowd (and I did not go get another one!)

66 of 68 starters finished the 50-mile ride, the only pulls being a horse lame that had been kicked, and a rider option. 41 of 43 starters finished the 30-miler, with the 2 pulls being the riders taking wrong turns. The trail was very well marked, but if you aren't paying attention (as almost happened to us), you might miss a turn. I believe these two riders were pointed in the wrong direction and ended up following different colored ribbons. Happens to many of us at some point in our endurance careers. Best of all, no horses were treated, and I sure was happy that my horse and I were included in that statistic!

All of the finishers got nifty camping chairs as ride awards - perfect for sticking into your crew bags for out vet checks, so you don't have to sit on the ground (like at Steph's Owyhee rides) and get stickers in your ride pants - and there were awards for the youngest rider, oldest rider, and riders who came from the furthest away (which was Canada and California, both over 1000 miles).There was the best Flamingo Camp award, and the Best Dressed award: Vicki Green, who looked like an inflated walking flamingo. There were Mid-Pack awards, and Bad Day awards. I think there could have been a Handsomest Horse award, which would have gone to Dick Root's huge half mustang half ? (surely part draft horse), Rocky. He's near 17 hands - Dick gets him to lower himself by moving forward his front legs, so Dick can mount a little easier. He's "a little heard-headed," said Dick, and he uses one big bit on him, but he sure is one good-looking horse.

And then came the Raffle drawings. Sally's sister-in-law Theresa, a breast cancer survivor, headed the raffle, to raise money for the American Cancer Society Strides Against Breast Cancer Research. It turned into one rip-roaring, jolly good party, all for a good cause. It was expected that close to $2000 had been raised here at the ride, and, that amount would be added to by entry fees from this Pink Flamingo Ride, and by Sally Tarbet's husband's company. Raffle prizes - including plastic water tanks, artwork, restaurant dinners, horse blankets, gift baskets, etc etc - were donated by so many companies and individuals.

It was like Christmas for Naomi Preston - who had been crewing all day, so she had much spare time to keep buying tickets and dropping them in the buckets - and a handful of other people - like Steph Teeter. Steph had left me at the raffle, while she and Carol walked our horses, to "pick up anything she might win."

Well. Steph won so many things, and of course, nothing small, that I had to borrow the big Hot Pink Wheelbarrow (won by Sally Tarbet) to cart all her things back to our camp - where Steph was really shocked when she saw her loot!

And so concluded Day I of the Pink Flamingo Classic. I learned a few things at this endurance ride - about horses and breakfasts, and Mac learned a few things too: there are a lot of REALLY REALLY big plants out there that stick way up, like 210 hands (!) into the sky, and some of them lay on the ground and might attack you or hide things that might attack you; and, Vet Checks are the best things since cracked corn, because they have Really Great Horse Treaties!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reveal Your Inner Pink

Friday July 25 2008

Friday morning I saw Rhett far out in the pasture by himself, which can often indicate something is wrong with a horse (recall the story of Phinneas, where he'd about sliced his back leg off and was out laying by himself) - especially Rhett, who never does that.

I hiked out to see what was up with him, and oh, no, nothing was wrong with Rhett. He just didn't want to get in that trailer that we'd pulled up and parked in the yard. If you don't want to go to an endurance ride, what do you do? You hide, peeking out from under some shady trees to see if anybody is going to notice you.

Rhett hadn't been lame but he did have a mysterious crack in his coronet band for a week, and Steph decided last night for sure she wasn't taking him to this weekend's endurance ride. Rhett hadn't gotten the message, so he decided it was better just to hide. Maybe it was really the thought of wearing Pink that really scared him, because, if you go to a Pink Flamingo ride, there is a good chance you are going to be dressed up in pink, whether or not you think it is a manly color for a gelding.

Which happened to at least 2 geldings from Owyhee County. Jose and Mac willingly hopped on the trailer, and Steph and I headed off to the 2-day Pink Flamingo Classic endurance ride in the "cool, forested mountains around Cascade, Idaho," about 3 hours from Oreana.

As we drove into ridecamp, in a private meadow full of rich grass by a creek, we heard the first (and, as it turned out, fortunately, the only) casualty of the weekend - while out riding one of the trails earlier today, Marilyn Hornbaker had, in a freak accident (with horses, many are freak accidents), fallen off her horse, and was airlifted to the hospital. She'd turned to swat one of the nasty horseflies off her horse's butt, and was turned one way in the saddle as he jumped the other - and landed on her hip, and broke it. Later we found out she actually broke the femur where it joined the hip, and she had a rod inserted during surgery. Sally Tarbet, who along with Linda Walberg manages the Pink Flamingo ride, reported that Marilyn was mad - mad that she would miss the Pink Flamingo ride this year.

There was a bigger number of riders than Sally and Linda had expected this year - 68 entered in the 50 mile ride and 43 entered in the 30 mile ride. There was also a trail ride each day.

We were advised at the ride meeting to RIDE SMART, said head veterinarian Robert Washington. "We are here to help if anything happens, but we do NOT want to have to treat your horse." A lot of the horses and riders were from desert country where little hills and sand training is common, but here there would be a lot of hills and some steep climbs, and it would be a warm day. "TAKE CARE OF YOUR HORSES." More and more vets at the endurance rides are giving these talks at the pre-ride meetings, but people always still seem to listen. New riders are always encouraged to come see the vet after the ride meeting for any questions they may have about the ride.

There would be a raffle on Saturday after the ride dinner to raise money for the American Cancer Society Strides Against Breast Cancer Research. There were some great prizes on offer donated by many companies and individuals, with, of course, many of them in the Hot Pink variety. There would also be awards for the best Flamingo camp, and the best dressed rider.

I hadn't planned to dress pink-ly, and I don't own one item of pink clothing, but... there was the Pink Bling for the horses to consider. It all started with that pink marker we used to put numbers on horse butts. I put Mac's number 503 on one side of his butt in flaming pink, and the other butt got... a flamingo. The one flamingo led to a couple of flying flamingos on his other big white spaces - shoulder, gaskins, forearms, and his forehead.

And, we did bring along some bright pink flagging tape. Might as well put a few ribbons in Mac's mane, right? Well, you know how it goes, one pink ribbon led to another, and soon not only Mac's mane and tail were flowing with long hot pink ribbons, but Jose's also. Oh boy, I bet the cowboy that used to ride Rushcreek Mac at the Rushcreek Ranch in Nebraska would love to see pictures of him like this!

Even though the Raven doesn't normally do LDs, he got into the Pink Bling Thing too, tying on a few pink ribbons around his neck and hopping into his Raven bag on the saddle.

And it was early to bed for the 6 AM start of the 50 miler in the morning - for Steph and Jose. I'd be sleeping in, having a few extra cups of coffee waiting for my 7:30 AM start on the 30 miler with Mac.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cowboy John

Wednesday July 23 2008

"I'm not going to show up in one of your stories am I?"

Well what else you think is going to happen when you come to the Owyhee Riding Spa?

Connie's friend John from Seattle came to visit for a few days. He came more for the company and the scenery and the surroundings, but got as a bonus: great food, red wine ("wow, you guys really eat well out here!"); a great porch to sit on and watch the birds go by or sleep on with the dogs; evening serenades by screech owls and early morning serenades (not so welcome) by LOUD Eurasian collared doves; an inside fascinating view of a trip to the vet (Connie's horse Finneas is mysteriously lame); and what could be better, and more lucky for John, than a short road trip to the historic mining ghost town of Silver City in the Owyhee Mountains with the Raven?

Well - maybe a scenic horseback ride in the evening with 3 women. On a scenic trail that we only take people we like on.

John's a biker but had only been on horseback a few times in his life. We put him on Mac, Steph's Rushcreek ranch horse. We took him on the Rim Trail, which never fails to impress people (if you won't be impressed, we won't waste it on you). He was impressed. I am impressed, every single time I ride this trail. Even Jose likes to admire the scenery. (One day I'm going to see a cougar from this rim.)

We'd thought we would be walking the whole time, since John claimed to be a novice rider, but he looked quite balanced, with a good seat, and seemed to be comfortable - or at least he wasn't outwardly exhibiting any clenched jaws or a tight grip on the reins. So pretty soon, we got him trotting. He didn't bounce off, so we trotted quite a bit on the ride, and he even cantered on Mac! Unintentionally, but he cantered! We said we'd slow down for him if he screamed. "Why would I scream?"

"I don't know, pain? Fear? Falling off? Extreme pleasure?"

It was a great ride, and we all made it back - even coming down our little Tevis trail in a Big Wind that had suddenly whipped up - with nothing even close to a mishap. "We waited till you got back safely to tell you how many people Mac's bucked off." (Which was nobody here in Idaho.) The horses had a good ride too - Mac sure enjoyed taking John for a ride because he got to graze quite a lot on the way.

John wasn't limping or walking bowlegged when he got off back at the ranch, and he SAID, next day, that he wasn't sore. His biking muscles must have helped prepare him for riding.

Although we were all wondering how he'd look getting out of his car after a 10-hour drive back to Seattle.

Bandit Springs

Saturday July 19 2008

Well, I didn't find a horse to ride, but the Raven did ride along with Australian Melissa on the last 80 miles of the 100!

All the rides had over 75% finishers. Nance and Jazzbo finished the 100, and Bruce and Isabelle finished the 30. A little chihuahua ran off and was lost for half a day... and was found the next morning with an antelope chasing him down the road.

The weather was fabulous: a cool clear day, the trails were good. A few of the front runners in the 100 saw some wild horses in the morning.

Next year - I'll just have to try the trails myself on horseback (with the Raven). : )

For more on the ride - stories and pictures:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Tevis: Bandit Springs

Friday July 18 2008

Like a great number of other people, my plans for going to Tevis changed when the decision to cancel because of the smoke and fires was announced. So I headed off to Bandit Springs, Oregon, with Idaho locals Nance and Bruce Worman and Bruce's daughter Isabelle, where for the 18th year an endurance ride took place in the Ochoco National Forest on the eastern slope of the Cascades Mountains.

While ride manager Jannelle Wilde was sorry about the cancellation and smoke and fires and headaches (and worse) for many people, she was tickled that at least 15 extra riders that had been headed for Tevis decided to give Bandit Springs a try this year. There were plenty of rides to choose from: 100 miles, 80 miles, 50 miles, 30 miles, a 10-mile trail ride, and for the very intrepid: a Ride N Tie. And not only a 30 mile Ride N Tie, but an elevator - if you didn't get enough at 30 miles (!), you could elevate up to 50 miles, 80 miles, or 100 miles.

The distance were covered over 3 loops, of 10, 20, and 30 miles, with 90% of the trails on single-track dirt, and the rest on 2-track logging roads. There would be a good chance of seeing wild horses on loop one, and maybe a stray elk or two on all of them. You'd be riding over or near historic and prehistoric archaeological sites and trails, old cabins, camps and mines. And you'd have a bit of the full moon if you were doing the longer distances.

And, icing on the cake: it would be a pleasantly cool day with no fires to worry about. Veteran endurance riders the Vanderfords - Hugh and Gloria, and their great granddaughter Haily Daeumler - arrived on Tuesday, to get out of the smoke and fires in California. "We've had lovely blue skies and white clouds, and no smoke!" Gloria said. Hugh would be riding the 80 miler ("I'm a wimp"), and Haily - 14 years old as of today - attempting to complete her 4th 100 miler, with Gloria.

Ride camp was in horse heaven: a meadow with horse-belly-high grass that you couldn't pull the horses' noses out of as soon as you unloaded them from the trailer. And oh I've missed the forest - I love the desert, but it's the forest that really gets to me: here in the dry eastern slope forests, there are the blooming flowers - purple lupines, white yarrow, red Indian paintbrush, orange columbine; there is the smell of the firs, and the Jeffrey pines that when you stick your nose in the cracks of the bark, you smell vanilla (I hugged one of them!); there is the sound of the wind in the pine needles (which is different from wind in leaves), and cheeseburger birds (the chickadees that sound like they're saying "cheese-burger!").

Coming from furtherest away - and diverting here from Tevis - was Melissa Longhurst from Australia. She'd be riding Ernie Schrader's National Show Horse, a big paint named Captain Calypso. The first thing she asked me was, "How's the Raven?" I'd met Melissa last year at the Imbil ride in Queensland, Australia - by which time I'd lost the Raven I. So while she and half of Australia knew all about the Raven and his exploits up until his disappearing, Melissa had never actually met the Raven. That changed when I told her I'd brought Raven II along - I was hoping to pick up a horse to ride here at Bandit Springs at the last minute so brought the Raven and the Raven bag along. I produced the Raven for an introduction, and Melissa said, "Maybe the Raven wants to ride with me!"

Gasp! The Raven riding with somebody else - why, it had never even been considered - the idea never even conceived! And riding with someone representing another country with a big Raven following - what a great idea! I told Melissa, "It's a B - I - G responsibility you know," and very solemnly Melissa said she was well aware of that. So with a few butterflies, the kind I don't get when I ride, I agreed to attach the Raven in his Raven bag to her saddle sometime tomorrow.

There were, at first glance, a good number of lame-looking horses at the vetting in. Only they weren't lame; they were gaited horses - Tennessee Walkers, Rocky Mountain horses, Missouri Foxtrotters. Many of them didn't trot - they paced (instead of diagonal legs moving forward simultaneously, the legs on the same side move forward simultaneously) which produces a sort of rocking and rolling motion, or they had a running walk, a unique 4-beat gait. I've ridden and packed with Missouri Fox Trotters, and while the pace to me feels awkward at first, it gets to be a very smooth, ground-covering gait to ride. Several of the "gaiters" were asked for a second 'trot out' - but all of them were sound. And they all made me want to hop on them and try them out!

At the ride meeting, after outlining the basics, Jannelle handed out half a dozen empty wine bottles to people. "I want you to hold on to these bottles. And if you hear anybody whining tomorrow, hand them your Whine Bottle!" Endurance riders don't usually do too much whining, and with the heavenly setting and good group of Northwest endurance riders and others from further away, it didn't seem likely the bottles would change hands too much over the weekend.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Great Balls O' Fire

Wednesday July 16 2008

Northern California is burning (and parts of Washington) - many huge forest fires some 600+ miles away from here - and we are feeling the effects. Seeing the effects, in the sky, with haze clouding the Owyhee mountains 6 miles away to the west - at one point yesterday we almost couldn't see them at all, and coloring the full moon a deep orange. Feeling the effects, (us endurance riders anyway) because Tevis has been cancelled this weekend.

Some riders who were planning on doing Tevis are instead going to Bandit Springs in Oregon, where there's a 100, 80, 50, and 30-mile ride, a Ride and Tie, and a 10-mile fun ride. I'm going along with Nance Worman and her family. Nance is doing the 100 on Jazzbo - who she was going to ride in Tevis. I'm going to take pictures, but then if somebody puts a horse underneath me, I won't object. I've got the little pocket camera that's great for trail pictures. : )

Meanwhile, here in Oreana, our horses aren't exactly burning with desire to hit the trails. It's hot, (although not TOO terrible in the mornings), and maybe they have the hot summer blahs (and I know EXACTLY how that feels). Jose and I rode with Carol and August this morning, and neither horse was eager to be out there, even though we found a nice breeze up on the ridge. Connie - who got here yesterday - got on her beloved horse Finneas for the first time since the Fandango ride in May, and he was equally un-excited.

Maybe when the smoke clears and it cools down (like in October??) the horses will regain some enthusiasm.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Home Again

Friday July 11 2008

It's good to have the opportunity to travel, but it's also good to get back 'home'.

Some things are just the best ever:

Opening my suitcase over the washing machine and dumping the contents in there

Having a WHOLE FREEZER full of ice cubes, readily available for my drinks (I defy you to find this anywhere in Italy)

Wadding up my own special pillow under my head

And even better than the best ever:

My horse actually interrupting his eating (!!!) to nicker and come up to see me and welcome me back : )

Looking at every (real) Raven here and wondering which one is mine (I haven't told my Raven story yet)

A nice welcome home ride in this boundlessly beautiful high desert country on my pal Jose

A good-luck long-eared owl feather on a hike with the dogs on a beautiful, and not so terribly hot, golden evening, on the ridge

Yes, it's great to be back : )

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2008 Gubbio Nations Cup Italian CEIO

Friday-Sunday July 4-6 2008

Here are a few photos from the Gubbio ride - the vet in on Friday,

the ride on Saturday,

and the best condition and awards on Sunday.

If you want to see the rest of the hundreds of photos, or read the stories, find them here:

In short, Karin Boulanger of Belgium won the 160 km ride, and Team Belgium won the teams trophy!