Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Groom Wanted

Tuesday January 31 2012

The dirtbags are really going at it.

Rolling is actively supervised, encouraged, and cheered.

They're so dirty (how dirty are they?) that the brushes have run off in terror.

They're so dirty it may take till spring to get them clean, unless a groom shows up here and gets to work. 

I'd do it but… I have to go wash my hair or something.

[slide show here]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cathedral Canyon

Saturday January 28 2012

One of the best things about being an Explorer without a map is that you get to name places whatever you want. 

In the Brown's Creek drainage below the Owyhee Mountains, I'd gotten a brief glimpse of this canyon one day when I explored the lower cliffs, and then stopped for a brief look into this upper canyon, where I thought I'd found a golden eagle nest with babies (which turned out to be red-tailed hawks, duh!). 

And I've ridden by this little canyon a couple of times in some of the Owyhee Canyonlands endurance rides, but I never thought to explore it.

Until now.

It starts as a gradual wash in the desert hills, which suddenly slices down through red rhyolite, and drops four feet over a water-less waterfall, into a high-walled chamber. The passage twists and turns and squeezes 

until it comes to another water-less waterfall, which drops 10 feet into another chamber. We scrambled around the side of the fall down into this chamber - higher walls and more twisting and turning - until we are blocked by another 15-foot drop! 

We're not climbers, so we scramble back up and out the way we came, and follow the edge of the cliffs above the canyon, which is now so deep we can't see the bottom. But there is some kind of magnetic force down there, because we can't help but look for a way to get down to the bottom.

We find a steep side channel and we slip down, over mini-falls (dry), over thick layers of padded moss, into the overgrown brush that lines this canyon. Here it is wide and sheltered and the grass is high and the willows thick. 

We creep through the creek bed, keeping our eyes peeled for cougars, heading upstream. We find small bird feathers - the meal of a larger bird, then we find feathers of a long-eared owl - the meal of an even larger bird.

A big hole in the middle of the cliff walls looks inviting, but no way for us earth-bound humans to get there.

Our way upstream is blocked by a 10-foot (dry) waterfall cliff, above and behind which is a Cathedral chamber. At the far side of that, a 30 foot (dry) waterfall leads up into a channel so narrow you could touch both sides of the canyon. If only we could climb up in there! We debate building steps with rocks, but it will take a long time to fetch enough rocks. The Cathedral will keep its secrets a while longer.

We backtrack and follow a side canyon up the other side, finding a large cave (a large pack rat cave, which we don't venture too far inside) 

and, near the top of the canyon, startling a long-eared owl, whooo flies back down into the canyon. We spy red-tailed hawk nests on the cliff walls, and a shed snake skin up on the flats. We follow the rim of the canyon to the downstream entrance, where we drop down and cross a (scary) swampy spot in the creek, and abandon our hike back upstream because the brush is too thick and gnarly, and the cliff walls squeeze in, erasing an old game trail. 

Climbing back up to the road that we ride over during the endurance ride, we look back at the deep (newly named) Cathedral canyon, which gives no clue of its hidden chambers and kept secrets. But I'll never look at this piece of road from horseback the same way again.

[slide show here]

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fire He Breathes

Wednesday January 25 2012


He trumpets a warning, smoke rolling out of his nose in the frozen morning like a fire breathing dragon.

He rears.

He lunges

He bites.

He mocks his rivals.


He dares his foes. 

He leaps 

and bucks. 

He romps.

He feints, 

and he charges.

He intimidates.

He races.

He floats.


He surveys his domain, master of the herd.

He bolts

he dances over the snow. 

Perhaps, as a friend suggests, he is celebrating the Year of the Dragon!

(That is Stormy, my horse who never plays - he makes me LAUGH!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Is Coming

Monday January 23 2012

It's about time!

We only got an inch, and it started to disappear by midday, but it's the first snowfall this season down here below the Owyhee mountains.

Now we can really say Winter is Coming. (Game of Thrones, anyone?)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Down and Dirty

Saturday January 21 2012

The best thing about the 12 straight hours of rain we had, besides the great quenching of this dry, thirsty winter desert?

The canyon became a giant dirt bathtub for the horses. Our soil has a lot of clay in it, so it sticks GOOD to horses. It really grinds in the tangles and helps snarl the tumbleweeds in the manes and tails. The gray ones especially went to town. 
[slide show here]

I had a little trouble seeing where the horse ended and the desert began. 
[slide show here]

I really had trouble telling them apart.

It makes for very happy horses.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Sorry, Am I Boring You?

Friday January 20 2012

Sometimes even in the middle of play, horses have to stop and yawn.

[slide show here]

Yawns are contagious among humans, and they're contagious among horses. They are even transmitted from horses to humans.

In fact, I bet you started yawning from looking at these photos.

Did you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Tuesday January 17 2011

One of the key moves in Horse Wrestling is the Strike.

Owyhee Sensei (and Social Director) Jose teaches his students the valuable move.

He show Mac how to do it.



Mac's got it!

Jose teaches Krusty.

Krusty's got it.

Krusty teaches Batman


Jose teaches Tex. You have to be good to avoid those teeth!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Sunday January 15 2012

Rhett's one of the best rides, but he's a flighty horse. A bit suspicious. Always on guard. You don't just slap a saddle on his back, and you don't make sudden movements around him. You don't hug him and you certainly don't give him a kiss, and when he gets to snorting, watch out.

A loud and long SNOOORRRTTT! means you've done something that's put him on guard. Or he's spied something unsavory. Or there's just something in the air.

If he SNORT!s loud and short with every breath, you know it's probably just not a good day to ride anybody.

Like today, when the cold wind blew down from the mountains, and mysterious clouds of white dust whirled across the draw, and horse tails blew sideways, and something spooky was maybe up the canyon, and Rhett infected the whole Owyhee herd with his presentiments.

[slide show here]

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Takin' You Down

Saturday January 14 2012

I'm Takin' You Down! says Mac.

I'll Get You! says Jose.

I'm Takin' You Down! says Mac.

I'll Get You! says Jose.

I'm Takin' You Down! says Mac.

I'll Get You! says Jose.

I'm Takin' You Down! says Mac.

That's Right, I Said Down! says Mac.

I win! crows Mac.

I'll Get You! says Jose.