Sunday, September 30, 2012


Sunday September 30 2012

After being locked up for over a week in a big pen during the Owyhee Canyonlands, I opened the gate and let the horses out.

They sprinted out the gate and got about as far as the first piles of leftover hay from camping visitors, and they put on the brakes.

Bodie the New Guy tests the Owyhee waters - er, dust.

Baby Luna runs around a bit on her own before finding her own hay pile to stop and munch on.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Good Medicine

Tuesday September 25 2012

If you're feeling blah, or deflated, or out of sorts, and you really can't be motivated to be impassioned because you can't ride your favorite horse because he has an ill-timed allergy attack, the best thing that can happen is that your friend talks you into climbing aboard one of her extra lovely horses, who gets you out on another spectacular Owyhee trail, like 50 miles on Day 1 of the Owyhee Canyonlands.

When your horse takes you up to the mouth of Brown's Creek Canyon

then climbs above it

so you can look down in it

then he takes you to the Spivey Ranch on Castle Creek for lunch

then he takes you further up Castle Creek

then he climbs up out of Castle Creek

and he carries you back toward home across the Brown's Creek drainage

and across and up the steep hill out of Alder Creek 

and across and up the very steep hill out of Hart Creek

and back home,

you know that if it doesn't cure what ails ya, riding in Owyhee is at least good medicine.

Thanks Judy and Milon!

More photos and stories:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Little Flated

Wednesday September 26 2012

I had allergies so bad when I was little, my mom had to take me to the big city every two weeks for allergy shots. A lot of things would set me off with asthma so bad I could hardly breathe: mowed lawns, laughing too hard (I'd always get in trouble when that happened because an asthma attack would surely happen), pollen, DUST.

Jose's got allergies. Had a hard time breathing just like I used to. He's already more better enough that I almosta-mighta-coulda ridden him, but...

It's better to wait for another time. The 10th anniversary of the Owyhee Canyonlands is off and running, with beautiful trails and NO SMOKE, dust damped down from a slight rain we had the day before the ride.

And, although it's not Jose, I have horses on my Owyhee dance schedule!

Monday, September 24, 2012


Monday September 24 2012

after a record (for me) 16 endurance rides and 820 miles last year (14 rides and 720 miles on my pal Jose, and a year-end mileage vest!!!), this year's been a bit different. so far: 3 rides early this year (all on Jose) and a bunch of missed opportunities for various reasons. i was soooooo looking forward to our 5-day Owyhee Canyonlands ride on my favorite horse, starting tomorrow. Steph saved him for me to ride even while giving away the rest of her horses for other people to ride.

he's sick with allergies. deep asthmatic-like coughs, rattling breathing. we went on a short ride yesterday and he could barely get enough air. it's been very dusty and smoky this year.

i got mad at myself the year i got my toe broke (because i wore SANDALS around the horses and got STEPPED ON), and i was just too wimpy to bear the pain of putting a shoe on, and sticking my aching foot in a stirrup, and so i missed 2 days of the Almosta Bennett Hills ride in our back yard.

i got really mad at myself the year i fell off a horse and broke a couple of ribs the week before the Owyhee Canyonlands. i thought i could be real careful that week before, and my ribs would heal enough for me to ride… but then the day before the ride started, i tripped while walking, and i about passed out from the rib pain that caused, and i wimped out on trying to ride 250 miles (which, on retrospect, was probably a smart thing).

this year, with Jose allergic to Owyhee here at the Canyonlands in our own back yard - i'm just… deflated. 

but, as Gowestferalwoman says, "Glass half full!"

our Belgian friends Carol & Leonard are here, Canadian friends the Levermans and Balmer-Holmes are here, and many more friends for a week of horses and fun…

and Judy has offered me her horse Milon to ride tomorrow. i reckon a cure for … deflation … is to just get in the saddle and ride.

day 1 is a 50 mile loop to the Spivey Ranch and back, across 2 of our more spectacular Owyhee canyons - Browns Creek and Castle Creek. 

P.S.: Jose is already better, but I know how I felt when I used to have asthma and couldn't breathe. 

The Sweeper

Sunday September 23 2012

Forget your grooming kit - your tedious brushes, curry combs, oiled rages and rubber mitts. Just get out your broom and take care of your horse in a couple of swipes!

Finneas was not quite sure this new grooming style was dignified enough for a 5-day-ride-finishing, 100-mile-finishing, Best Condition-winning, Grandson-of-The-Black-Stallion kind of endurance horse, but when Connie assured him that it was indeed quite dignified (for all his bravado, he can be manipulated with words and tone of voice), he felt pretty smug.

It's also good for the groom - you don't get dust in your eyes. Connie said she doesn't have to wear her goggles to protect her eyes when she brushes her horse anymore.

This could totally revolutionize the horse grooming industry.

The Sweeper!

Only 39.99 in 3 easy payments! Details to follow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cain't Get No R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Wednesday September 19 2012

(This probably happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…)

I'd come on assignment to photograph the horse race, but ironically, we were only allowed to watch, but not photograph, the finish. Some photographers were quite upset, (especially the one who had his camera roughly confiscated), but I just viewed the whole thing as one of life's comedies, because it was all quite silly; and so I just squeezed myself onto the rail with the rest of the crowd, figuring I might (or might not) get a shot of a horse or two at the finish, shooting through the security guards lining the track every five feet.

I was having a good time, chatting with my amiable fellow horse racing fans, as we crammed shoulder to shoulder on the rail while getting rained on, talking horses.

I was humbly resigned to my limited view of the finish, thanks to the guards and their elbows - and then a big group of people walked onto the turf right in front of me and my group of friends, and they stopped and stood right there. Now I wouldn't even see the finish at all, and isn't that what horse racing fans come from all around the world to see - the winner of the race?

But I didn't yell, "Hey! Bozos! DOWN IN FRONT!" - which I certainly could have. No, I just chuckled at the predicament in which I and my fellow horse racing comrades found ourselves in, "Oh, nooooooooo! Don't stand right there!" The whole situation was, after all, just darn funny.

The instant the last word left my mouth, a whole bunch of things happened at the same time: the dawning realization that nobody else beside me said a word about their obscured view; the erstwhile friendly comrades beside me melted away, shrank back from me as if I had dysentery, shoving me into the spotlight (think the Red Sea parting for Moses); several previously friendly tongues beside me clicked in disapproval; the group of (uniformed, I suddenly noticed) people on the turf turned as one to face me; one prior congenial voice beside me hissed "That's Royalty;"  the elegant woman in the center of the group of (uniformed) bodyguards also turned toward me; another formerly friendly voice that had been beside me and was now backed as far away as the crowd would let her growled, "That's The Princess;" and a dreadful understanding jolted me.


I just dissed The Princess.

I'd hoped - a flashing, slim hope, but I grasped for it, as a drowning woman might - that she wouldn't identify the source of the (humorous!) whine, but thanks to my previously convivial chums who had retreated rapidly away from me, I was left center stage and the Princess' eyes locked onto mine like a missile onto a target. 

"I'm sorry," she said icily. "Are we in your way?"

My eyes bulged to equal size 3 Easyboots, and it was horror that I gasped into my fish-sized gaping mouth, and frog-like croaking that flowed out. I didn't know what to do: cry, make a joke, throw myself at her feet and beg for forgiveness, explain to the once-friendly people beside me that I didn't know it was her! And I never would have done that if I'd known! And I was joking anyway! Doesn't anybody have a sense of humor? Of course the Royalty doesn't have to move! They can stand wherever they want! I prefer looking at the back of Royalty's head to a silly horse race. I like the Princess! I think she's beautiful! I'd like to have talked to her one day (and say something better!). 

But still nothing escaped my hanging mouth; and my moment of fame in the limelight, with all hostile eyes boring into me, stretched out a very, very long time.

In the end, I did the only sensible thing: I RAN. 

I melted into the crowd, ran, ran, ran, down, down, away from my shame, to the far end of the racetrack where the crowd trickled down to individuals - where I found friends, a refuge.

"Ohmigod!!" I screeched, hiding my head under their umbrellas. "You'll never believe what I just did! I just dissed The Princess!!" and I proceeded to tell them my faux pas. "I was going to take off my coat, but I'm already wet and cold; I was going to put on a hat to hide my face, but I don't have one, I would take off my glasses, but I can't see anything - quick, give me your jacket so I look different!"

My friends didn't recoil from me with repugnance, didn't tut-tut, didn't disown me. They laughed at me; they sheltered me; we watched the finish of the horse race from a distance in the rain, just guessing at who won, and we had a good time.

Post Script:

But really, *IF* this event actually did happen, and I'm not sayin' it did, I sincerely (anonymously) apologize to The Princess. 
Also totally unrelated to this post, I recommend a sense of humor as a useful gadget for everybody, from Big People down to the little peons of the planet, so that we can all get along.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Owyhee Spaghetti

Monday September 17 2012

It's that time: time to try to decipher the pile of spaghetti on the trail maps - the red, orange/purple, pink, blue/purple, green, blue, yellow, and orange arrows, and the squiggly lines of roads, trails and cow paths,

and get marking trail for the Owyhee Canyonlands 5-day endurance ride, which starts in 8 days. The spaghetti will become perfectly clear, once you are riding the trails on your horse.

Stormy gets to work, earning his keep, marking a couple of miles of the trails with his friend Taxi. It's a good thing I have Stormy to keep track of the colors: blue/purple out, pink out Pickett Creek; blue/purple out Steph's Trail; orange/purple in, pink in, blue/purple in, and yellow/purple out on Linda's Trail.

Just as we arrive back at the house,
Steph is headed out on the ATV.

About 20 miles of trail marked; about 230 miles to go!

Fun video previews of some of the trails are here:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Smoke Alarm

Sunday September 16 2012

What you see above is not the magical golden light of autumn. What you see below is not flat land in the Owyhee desert. There are 4000 feet worth of mountains straight ahead.

Smoke moved in this morning, quickly, thickly, obscuring the Owyhee mountains, covering the area like a heavy blanket. Eye-burning, lung-singeing, cough-generating, panic-inducing smoke. 

A flurry of phone calls: neighbors, 911; check the fire websites, ride the ATV up onto the flats to see if there's anything to see. Nothing to see but more smoke; nothing new to report.

The closest fire is the Trinity Ridge fire in the Boise National forest, about 50 miles as the Raven flies from here, 146,000 acres. It started on August 3rd (human caused), is 64% contained, estimated containment date October 1st.

Incredible how smoke can travel so far in such a dense pack, up and down mountains, through canyons  and draws, with wind twisting it up and down and sideways, and it still arrives all of a sudden in a mob on your doorstep 50 miles away, thick enough to scare you into thinking it's just over the next hill.

Not a good day to go on a 20-mile ride, or to hike trails to start putting out ribbons for the Owyhee Canyonlands. 

(This is home, 1/2 mile away)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Big 4-0!

Thursday September 13 2012

There are few dates during the year that are as momentous as the threshold just crossed: after a loooooong summer, the temperature finally fell below 40° at night. (39° bottom left was the low!)

I recently marked a few other exciting historic dates on my Owyhee calendar: the day it finally didn't reach 90° (August 30); the night it fell below 50° (September 2), the first yellow leaf sighting (!!)(September 7), and last night, the night it fell below the Big 4-0 degrees.

It was another long and brutally hot (my opinion) Owyhee summer, with too much sweat, too much suffering (whine!), too many flies, too many night bugs, too many rattlesnakes… but now there is hope.

Blankets can be piled on the bed to be burrowed under at night. Fleece can be unpacked. Gloves might even be worn on an early morning ride.

The sun has started its magical golden slant, with that tint and angle you only get in the fall and early winter in the northwest. 

I know for sure that once again, coffee will soon steam from its cup in the mornings, coats will grow thicker and longer, steam will curl out of nostrils… and the Ice Princess will be thrilled.

We've turned the corner. My next momentous occasions will be the Big 2-0, and the Big "S" word, but I won't scare you winter weenies with that just yet!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Owyhee Canyonlands Preview: Hart Creek Trail

Tuesday September 11 2012

The spectacular Hart Creek trail will be Day 2 of the Owyhee Canyonlands ride, September 25-29. 

The Old West really comes to life when you ride this trail. When you pass the historic detritus of an old homestead, you can't fail to think about the pioneers who settled this country, and you imagine what it must have been like without cars and phones and internet, in the drought-summers and snowy winters, depending solely on the running water of Hart Creek to keep you going here.

(This is just the White People history; of course the Native American Indians were here doing their thing long before the white people invaded - their leavings are harder to find, and I'd just as soon keep them secret anyway.)

[video here]

More to come, and a recap of the last 9 years of the Owyhee Canyonlands at:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Evening Stroll

Saturday September 8 2012

Whether they're up the canyon, or just across the creek, they always come back down around dinner time: 3 of them get grain, the others are forever hopeful.

Sometimes they come thundering down; today they strolled lazily down to the house.

All except for the 3 stragglers:

Mama Perry



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Owyhee Canyonlands Preview: Sinker Canyon

Wednesday September 5 2012

We took a 20-mile ride to Sinker Canyon in the Owyhee Mountains. The Sinker Canyon trail will be Day 5 of the Owyhee Canyonlands ride, September 25-29. 

I am looking forward to riding Jose!!!!

On this day, Rushcreek Mac took me on the Sinker Canyon preview ride, with Steph and Rhett, Linda and Tex (aka Ted), and we made a video preview of the trail:

It will be the 10th anniversary of the ride… and it may be the last hurrah. (Next year may have fewer days… or may be pre-empted by the date-changed City of Rocks.) Last year at the Owyhee Canyonlands, it was Jose's and my first ever 5-day ride, and Jose,got the overall Horse of Excellence award! 
♥ ♥ ♥

More to come, and a recap of the last 9 years of the Owyhee Canyonlands at:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It Was a Good Day

Sunday September 2 2012

He's a funny horse… BIG personality, always expecting royal treatment (in the form of food and treats), always has to be in charge, bossy, generally having a very high opinion of himself. I nicknamed him The Opinionator. You get on best with him when you make him think everything is his idea…

Like when you want him to take a trail that turns away from home, and he doesn't want to go that way, you make him think that he really wants to take the Away Trail, by steering him wide the wrong way, then telling him what a GOOD BOY he is for choosing the correct Away Trail as he accidentally finds himself on it. Then he puffs himself up like a peacock because it was, after all, really his idea to take the Away Trail, and he's hearing, "Good Boy!"

I'm Connie's jockey when she's away, so I keep Finneas fit in Connie's absences. Usually the first time I take him out after he's had some time off, he's pretty enthusiastic on the trail, only objecting at the start to having to go out on the trail, and occasionally objecting if we turn onto one of those Away Trails. Today was his ride back after some time off, and not only was he agreeable to going out, he was completely ardent about it.

He took charge from the beginning, marching out away from home on the trail, trotting or cantering whenever he could, agreeing to turn even further away from home out on Spring Ranch Road, and then cantering all the way back up the wash - all uphill, some of it in sand - working hard. I let him roll because it was all his idea. He worked so hard, I let him choose the trails home, and pick his speed - which was still trotting and cantering, not because we were headed home, but just because he felt so good.  

And icing on the cake of this good ride was that Finneas found not only the water bottle that Sarah lost on her last ride here, but a red-tailed hawk wing feather.

It was the best ride ever on Finneas!