Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween

Friday October 31 2008

Did you know, horses like to eat pumpkin? Connie carved one and we thought we'd set it out to see what the horses thought of it.

They wanted to eat it, is what they wanted. She had to rescue it.

She got Finneas to stand still a while and put it on his butt. Mac came up to check it out again, and I lunged to grab it just before Mac bit it and knocked it off his butt. It would have made a big splat, because it is a heavy pumpkin. Then Finneas took off - he didn't want anymore to do with any pumpkin he couldn't eat. Pumpkins don't belong on horse butts, thank you very much.

Then we got the dogs to pose with the pumpkin for a picture, which was no mean feat. It took some bribing with treaties. Then Austin almost got his head stuck in the pumpkin trying to get at the treaties. Later the horses got some pumpkin leftover treaties from the carving.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Purple Stickies

Tuesday October 28 2008

... are not a good sign when you have been gone all day, and they are stuck to your computer to read when you get back, and the writing starts with "Stormy has a big Owie..."

Damn - not again!

Wait - maybe Connie was kidding! Remember she told me a few days ago that Stormy had an abscess on his neck and I better go tend to him in the pen... and I ran out to find him with a present for me wrapped around his neck.

I skipped to the end of the Purple Stickie notes: "(Not kidding)"


I skimmed the note: "crusted over... tissue... sweated it... bute... stove pipe leg..."

I ran out to see, and indeed, Stormy was in the pen, with his leg wrapped up below a stove pipe knee.

I took him to the washrack, unwrapped the leg and had a look at it - looks like he got kicked good (DUDLEY!?) - a rather deep cut under the knee joint. Connie cleaned it off well, so I just cold-hosed it some more, cleaned it again with Betadine surgical solution, and re-wrapped it in a furasin sweat with good pressure from the bandage.

He's not lame on it (yet), but he's going to stay locked up a while (AGAIN - just when I started riding him again). He sure didn't mind the doctoring and the sympathy from both of us, and I'm sure he's not going to mind being pampered the next several days.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cowpokes R Us

Sunday October 26 2008

We've had 3 cows of Rancher Rohl's on our upper 200 acres for a couple of weeks now. Rohl was going to send 2 of his cowboys a while back to fetch them, but, either they got busy or they forgot about it. (I think it's really because his cowboys are afraid we somewhat incompetent cowgirls will come along to 'help.')

Anyway, the cows are well-fed and happy where they are - plenty of grass, and they've picked a spot where the creek is running - but we thought we'd just do Rohl a favor and round them up and drive them off our property, and either along the fenceline till Blond Cow Wash, or up and over 2 ridges and into Blond Cow Wash, where they'll make their own way home into Oreana with the rest of the cows drifting down that way from the mountains. Couldn't take more than half an hour.

John saddled up Mac the Cowhorse (who was very excitable last time I tried this with him), I took Quickie (John said 'Oh she's good at it' - that should have made me think twice), and Connie took Finneas (who's all about looking good). The other four geldings, who'd been excited about seeing the cows up the canyon, thought they'd come join us, and trotted right behind us up to the gate, where we had to shoo them away.

Connie had seen the cows next to her property; first we rode up our outer fenceline and opened a gate we thought we'd push them through. We then rode in and around to where they were supposed to be, and yes, they were still there, and we had a fairly easy time of getting them moving, across the creek, up the fenceline toward the open gate, and on out, patting ourselves on the back.

Only thing was, we'd only moved the two mama cows - the baby was missing. Before we'd started moving the mamas, I wondered, should we try to find the baby first? But who knew where he was, or if he was alive anymore. And the ladies sure hadn't bawled for him at all.

The other thing was, once out the gate, the mamas turned up-creek along the fenceline, and we hadn't had a plan for that. It took us cowpokes a while to decide if it was better to let them go up the fence a mile or so till we came to the end of the canyon, and a trail up and out, or to turn them and send them back down-creek, where the fence would guide them all the way.

Three indecisive people on a cattle drive you don't particularly want. We did finally decide to turn them, and we used a jog in the fence to do it, so that was easy. The girls were quite cooperative too - not like the last bull Rohl had come to round up, the one that went through a couple of fences before Rohl caught him.

Well - now that we got the mamas on the correct side of the fence, and they were headed in the right direction, toward home, we looked back and saw, across the creek on our property, the calf. Dang. Well, John and Connie would go fetch the calf and drive him this way and on out the gate, and Quickie and I would wait above the gate to make sure the calf turned down the fence when he came out, after the mamas.

I forgot to mention that by now, Quickie was becoming pretty durned excited. She was starting to throw her head up and in a circle (her boy Dudley does the same thing), paw, and dance, instead of stand still. Or do anything else I asked her to do. Finny was getting pretty excited, and so was Mac, although I think Mac knew just what to do. He was in his sagebrush-leaping mode, and once I heard a yelp, and saw John up on his neck. Mac, smart cowhorse that he is, stopped and waited for John to shove himself back in the saddle and retrieve the stirrup that his foot had lost. ("That was the only time I got scared!")

Connie and John got around the calf, got him across the creek and moved him toward the gate, a ways back from which Quickie and I were waiting.

Everything's going smoothly, cow nearing the open gate, walking along... then he stops and faces Mac and Finny. Calf makes a break for it. One horse turns him back. Calf makes a break for the other side... and gets through. Mac takes off after him. Finny moves off to get around him and they disappear from view. Quickie gets really excited and starts prancing and head throwing and snorting. I wonder if I will remain in the saddle.

It happened again, they chased the calf back to this side of the creek, drove him slowly but steadily to the gate, and again he turned and made a break for it and got through. Naughty calf!

This time I joined them in the pasture (Quickie REALLY excited now, bouncing like a dressage horse and snorting like an elephant) - John got the calf turned around, we spread out and got behind him and slowly and steadily moved him toward the gate... if he'd gone just a little further, he'd have seen his mama and auntie slowly meandering back along the fence towards us. But instead he turned back and broke between Connie and me, down a little cliff that for sure neither of us were going to dive down. Man From Snowy River we ain't.

Finny found a path down and galloped after the calf and just reached the creek crossing before the calf did, and turned him back up the fenceline. No problem - they slowly moved the calf up the fenceline, where Quickie and Mac would be able to join in again to push him toward the gate... when suddenly the calf just went right through the fence, up-creek.

"OK, time for a Dr Pepper!" About two hours after we started, we called it a day and headed in.

We might want to give Rohl another call and remind him to come round up and pick up his 3 cows. I don't think we'll tell him we tried to round them up and failed.

Indeed, Cowpokes Are Us... but you probably wouldn't want to hire us to round up anything.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Saturday October 25 2008

"WHAT THE H***!" (H stands for Hoover)

I'd been inside watching the Breeders' Cup all day, and just finished watching Curlin get defeated in the Classic by Raven's Pass (guess why I liked that horse), and I was going to go ride my horse Stormy - on a birthday ride.

I was just putting my shoes on, when Connie came in and said, "You better go look at Stormy. He's got an abscess on his neck. I put him in the pen. You might want to put a hot towel on him."

"WHAT THE H***!"

What happened to him now!? If it's not one thing with Stormy, it's another! He's lame half the time from navicular, especially after shoeing. Time before last he got shod, it was 3 weeks before he was rideable. But before I could ride him, he ran in with the herd from up the canyon, and was so dead lame he couldn't put a hind leg down for a week (he pulled a muscle up high). When he finally got over that he got such a vicious bite on his back I couldn't put a saddle on him. When that healed, he got shod again, and was lame for 3 weeks. I'd just started riding him again 3 days ago.

Now - an abscess! Who kicked him!? Or what did he puncture himself on and who ran him into it!?

I ran outside to kick some horse butt... and this is what I saw.

Stormy helped me empty the bag and open the presents.

Then we went on our Birthday ride.

A great way to celebrate the day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Murder of Crows

Tuesday October 21 2008

I was saddling Jose this brisk breezy morning for a ride, when I realized the cawing I was hearing - lots of cawing - was from Crows - at least a hundred of them. What's unusual about that is we have Ravens here, not Crows.

The two are of the same family Corvidae (as are Jays, Nutcrackers and Magpies), though they are different species - similar cousins, you might say. The Crow is smaller, usually has a higher voice, and has a fan-shaped tail in flight opposed to the Raven's spade-shaped tail.

They rarely ever mix, and I don't recall ever seeing a Crow out here.

This was a big gang of Crows - a 'murder' of Crows, gracing our little drainage with their presence as they randomly passed through, on their way to... somewhere. They came from downstream, landed in our cottonwood trees along the creek, flew up and around in wavy circles, landed, flew, landed, slowly working their way up the drainage. You could hear them cawing as they worked their way up Pickett Creek. Clearly, they weren't all business and were having some fun, and probably had come from a communal night roost, and were generally lacking in purpose.

Three remained behind, sitting in one of the trees for a while, maybe having a rest from a long morning of carousing and covering long distances, letting out the occasional caw.

The hallowed event had indeed been something to Crow about.

All F'd Up

Monday October 20 2008


Now, I'm all for multi-use recreation areas, but then this is what happens sometimes.

The Bilbo Baggins trail is no more. What was once a nice 7 mile loop, half of it a nice soft dirt trail through a sage brush drainage, has been completely destroyed by motorcycles. I know who it was and when it was - it was a motorcycle race happening the same weekend as our 5-day Owyhee Canyonlands ride last month.

They took a nice trail, left most of it so rutted - some ruts over a foot deep - that even those motorcycles couldn't ride over it anymore. And you know what happens when motorcycles can't ride over a trail in the desert? They make another one next to it. And when they rather immediately F that one up, they make another one beside it, and another one beside it, and another, and another. At a few spots I counted FIVE trail gouged through the sagebrush. Now, nobody can use this 'trail'.

Now, I'm not complaining about Whoop-De-Doos. I HATE them, and my horses hate them, but I'll give them to the motorcycles, just sucking it up as something that has to be dealt with when you share recreation trails. They, after all, have to put up with the occasional horse poo along the trails. (Of course, Horse Poo does not wreck a motorcycle's tires, like Whoop-de-Doos wreck horses' legs... I was pulled once from a ride when my horse went lame from going over too many WDDs on a ride.)

I don't see an excuse for this destruction. There are thousands of acres of OHV BLM land to use in this same area. Why destroy another good trail?

Now, those of you who leave this destruction behind might say, "It's My land too, I can do what I want." Sure it is - try taking care of it and using some sense. Or, you might say, "It's just a desert, there's thousands of miles of desert, who cares?" Well, it's my back yard, I care, and it's ugly and destructive what you've done.

You can't use the argument horses are as destructive as motorcycles when it comes to trails. I can prove it. The motorcycles had what - 20, 50, 100, 200 riders in the race? Doesn't matter. We had over one hundred horses going over our trails - 5 days of hundreds of horse feet over our trails - and you can't tell we've been there.

Perhaps the BLM can come out and bulldoze the whole thing up and make a runway out of it. Wouldn't look any worse, and then planes could come use it too.

You just better watch out. When I found your house(s) I will borrow a Monster Truck and leave ugly destructive ruts all over your front yard and let you live with that.

F, by the way, stands for Focaccad'ed. It's a word, look it up (but you have to guess on the spelling).

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sunday October 19 2008

You never know who you're going to meet endurance riding. A King, a Shaikha, a Countess, a new second family in the Netherlands, or maybe a Board Member of the Boise Symphony who offers you tickets as their guest.

Connie and I were guests of Tennessee-Walker-riding Phil Carroll and his wife Margaret. Phil and his wife came to our Owyhee Canyonlands ride in September; Phil rode his horse Timer on the Trail Rides (see Timer's story here).

Not seeing each other on a horse, or wearing a helmet, it took a while for Phil and me to find each other, in the sea of civilizedly dressed syphonic patrons.

It was a night of Beethoven, the Boise symphony superb and the guest pianist, Alpin Hong, simply stunning. One of those things you can't believe you are seeing and hearing while it's going on right before your eyes and ears. It doesn't seem possible that anybody's hands and fingers can move that fast and that perfectly. He was so beyond good I can't even imagine what it's like. I'm not that good at anything.

Living way out in the boonies I don't get to see too many things like that on a regular basis, so this was not just a treat but an event - thanks Phil and Margaret!

You never know who you might meet at an endurance ride. And, you never know who you might meet at the symphony. I heard one of the oboe players rides endurance horses : )

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Kid on the Block

Wednesday October 15 2008

Neighbor Linda came calling yesterday with a New Owyhee Resident in tow - a spotted donkey. The dogs gathered 'round for a visit with her too. We set about spoiling her right away with carrots. In fact she followed Linda right up the steps to the front door for a farewell carrot.

She's in foal to a miniature stallion, so her baby will be a "hinny" - a mini hinny.

Won't THAT be a cute asset to the golden babies on the ground now, and due next year along Pickett Creek!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Bones

Wednesday October 15 2008

On a nearby trail (going up to our little Tevis trail), along a spot I've ridden and hiked over a thousand times by now, and that Carol's probably been over 4000 times, one day she noticed part of a big bone on the side of a trail - part of a leg bone. She looked closer, and noticed those were fragments of bone and teeth - not rocks - we were walking over. Then she noticed some more fragments sticking out of the ground right beside where we step.

She dug around a bit and pulled out a jawbone - of a horse. (Pretty sure it's not a cow.)

She showed me the spot the other day, and I couldn't believe I never noticed any of it, since I walk around looking for cool rocks all the time. (Just ask John about the 30 or so pounds of my collected rocks he gathered off the kitchen table and put in a box, so we could sit at the table and eat).

I hiked up on foot to have a closer look at the bones. One is definitely a jawbone, and there are fragments of teeth. There's a big something stuck in the lip of the trail at foot level, but when I tried to scrape dirt away, part of the bone crumbled. I can see how archaeologists excavating ancient ruins must be very very careful.

Hard to guess how old it is, or how it got there. Did it just wander there and die? Did some rancher drag it there? Was it from the turn of the century Cavalry Remount program horses that were raised right here?

I could keep digging at the bones to see what all is under the dirt... but maybe it's better to let sleeping bones lie.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mounted Ribbon Games

Tuesday October 7 2008

I watched Mounted Games (similar to Gymkhana) in the Horse of the Year Show in New Zealand last year - what FUN!!!

I think you'd do a bit better with ponies than our bigger and not-quite-so-nimble endurance horses, so Connie and I invented our own Mounted Ribbon Games as Connie and I pulled the ride ribbons from the Hart Creek loop.

The rules were, if you can pull a ribbon off a bush without getting off your horse, you can clip it in your horse's mane. If you drop it, or have to get off to get the ribbon, then no hanging it in the mane. The horse with the most ribbons in their mane wins.

It got a bit more challenging as, on the trail climbing out of Hart Creek, the bushes got smaller and smaller, and so the ribbons got harder and harder to reach.

Now Mac is a great ranch horse: i.e. he knows how to stand still. So standing still while I leaned off his side to pluck a low ribbon was no problem. It took a little convincing at first for Finneas to stand still for Connie.

After a while he was getting the hang of it, and stood like a statue even when Connie had to reach for a ribbon almost on the ground. She was able to get the ribbon... but then she got stuck hanging off Finny's side and couldn't get back on! So she had to bail. No pinning it in his mane.

She tried another one almost on the ground, and got the ribbon, but when she tried to shove herself back in the saddle - grabbing onto Finny's breastcollar, which caused him to throw his head up which helped shove her back in the saddle - she dropped the ribbon. So no ribbon in his mane.

Here (on the black horse) Connie demonstrates the almost-right-way to retrieve a ribbon. (Except for the falling off - or bailing - part.)

Here (on the white horse) I demonstrate the proper way to retrieve a ribbon. Although, if you'll notice, my ribbon was a few inches higher, and my horse was shorter or my arms longer than Connie's.

By now, our bags were getting full (most of the ribbons didn't have clothespins, and were just tied on the bushes), so we just started clipping any and all ribbons on clothespins in their manes, because the horses just looked cool.

At the end of the trail on the plateau, we had a couple of paper plates to pick up; the horses wore them too.

Next year when we put ribbons out, we'll put points on the ribbons. 1 point for an easy ribbon, 3 points for a ribbon you have to lean out of your saddle for, and 5 points for a ribbon near the ground.

Maybe Steph could add this as a new riding competition option, in addition to the 50 mile rides, the 25 mile rides, and the Trail Rides...