Sunday, December 29, 2013

Da Bull

December 28 2013

Every winter, we get a stray bull or two who wanders on down our canyon and either gets stuck, or decides he likes it with us, rather than heading on down onto his own ranch. I don't mess with bulls anymore. I leave them to the cowboys.

And anyway, just by watching this bull, I could tell I didn't want to be anywhere close to him. I perched my binoculars on a fence post and stared at him for 15 minutes until he turned his head just right (he never took his eyes off me) so I could just read his ear tags/numbers. Then we called the right cowboys to come get their bull.

Here's a short photo narrative of the adventure.

Content Bull

Suspicious Bull

BullCatcher #1

BullCatcher #2

The Jig is Up Bull

Wary Bull

Chagrinned Bull

Herded Bull

Bull with Other Ideas

Pissed Off Bull

Pissed Off Bull and Cowdogs

Charging Bull

Caught Bull

They rather easily caught this one - compared to another one I watched - though it was more Luck than Easy that got him in the trailer without too much of a fight.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


December 26 2013

When the temperature dips to -16°F - rare for southwest Idaho, even in the winter - the horses turn their thick coats broadside to the rising sun. Their 90° body angle to the sun exposes the most surface area to the warming rays.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas Hoar Frost

Sunday December 22 2013

Wikipedia says the ice crystals form on cold clear nights, but I've always seen hoar frost after a moist fog blankets an area well under freezing temperatures. "Air hoar" is frost crystals on the surface of things - baling twine, horse hair, even horse coats, eyelashes, manes and tails. "Surface hoar" is fernlike ice crystals deposited directly on frozen surfaces (like, say, the ice already in your water troughs).

The word Hoar, says Wikipedia, "comes from an Old English adjective for showing signs of old age, and is used in this context in reference to the frost which makes trees and bushes look like white hair."

We'll call it Santa's beard here.

Merry Christmas all!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Memoir: Manuscript Edited!

My completed horse-life memoir is back from my editor Pat Barnhart! This after I completed the manuscript at the end of NaNonFiWriMo challenge on November 30th.

I guess I was a non-fiction blogger before my time: as far back as I can remember, I composed true-to-life animal stories, written on paper, illustrated by drawn pictures.

I still possess one of those first animal stories I wrote around age 6, where I drew and carefully scribbled in pencil on paper the story of a little chick, which I shrewdly named "Peep-peep", that my parents gave me. (The drawing was, um, clearly done by a 6-year-old.)

Even though I was born obsessed with horses, since I never got a horse as I was growing up, the true horse stories came much later, when I could at least hang out around horses, and when I got to start working with them on the King Ranch in south Texas.

When my photography hobby started a little later, my horse photos and horse tales naturally coalesced; and since then, I've used both words and images tell my horse stories. Then came the emergence of the traveling bug obsession (I think I'm a throwback to another time and place), and with the merging of those three passions sprouted The Equestrian Vagabond. My horse memoir has long been in the making and the waiting… but now the waiting is over.

I'm not interested in traditional publishing. I like the term "Indie publishing", and I like the concept of creating everything myself. I like the challenge of learning a complete new language and a whole new set of skills, in writing, designing, e-publishing and print publishing, and marketing, by myself. It's an experience I'm enjoying… even though it's a bit intimidating!

To learn how to e-publish, I recently used Scrivener and Ed Ditto's book How to Format Your Novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (which took me longer than one afternoon!) to write and e-publish some short stories on Amazon (Racehorse Tales! and Traveler Tales!). The learning experience was enlightening, and the stories are quite successful, which will help a lot in formatting and publishing my memoir as an e-book. Harder will be the printed book, though I have an idea where I'm leaning there.

There's so much to read on-line about Indie publishing - so much that it's hard to filter it all down to even learn which steps to take next. Writer and publisher Joanna Penn's is both informative and engaging, with how-to articles and videos, and interviews with other successful authors and publishers. It gives the newbies hope and inspiration!

Meanwhile, Stormy and I will be carefully reviewing the manuscript, and gauging the reacting of the helpful horse herd.

The next big steps: getting an ISBN and revealing the title!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Owyhee Chills No Frills

December 16 2013

Our last 50-mile endurance ride of the season was November 9th, but it's never too late to look back at it.

We rode the same trails, by the Snake River, around Wild Horse Butte, over the Oregon Trail… but it never gets old, and it looks different aboard different horses. And the golden autumn light made the trails spectacular as ever.

And, I rode 2 different horses on each loop. Normally that's against the rules in endurance riding, but this was special extenuating circumstances. Both horses were technically Sunny (John's beloved mare), but Loop 1 was Sunny Dink and loop 2 was Sunny Super Endurance Horse!

Long shadows over the blue Snake River

Sunny and I rode with Steph on Rhett, Amanda on Chant. They were also Dinks the first loop, and Super Endurance Horses the second loop!

Sunny, Super Endurance Horse (loop 2, obviously!) headed for Wild Horse Butte

This spot where we first turn along the Snake River is always stunning!

Our regular posing spot above the Snake. We always have time to stop for photos!

Sunny and me by the Russian Olives by the Snake.

Travelling the Oregon Trail

The Raven and Sunny, relaxing after their ride!

Read more on this 2-horse ride here:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Stagecoach Etiquette #5: Don't Snore Loudly

Saturday December 7 2013

It's time to peruse rule number 5 of Stagecoach Etiquette, so we will all have a pleasant trip when we revert to this form of transportation in the near future. (Hey, we still have some of the original wagon and stage trails in varying states of existence in Idaho!)

"Don't snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passengers shoulder for a pillow; he (or she) may not understand and friction may result!"

First of all, if you can really sleep in a loud, bouncy stagecoach, more power to you. Snore all you like, I say, flout the rules! Nobody will even hear you snoring.

However, if you've ever ridden in a stagecoach over a rough road (or, maybe, say, in a covered wagon pulled by three mules over the Oregon Trail), you might not just cause friction, but some serious bruising if you use your fellow passenger's shoulder for a pillow. I recommend following rule #5 of Stagecoach Etiquette for this very reason.

I've seen Adam Cartwright napping in a stagecoach, and he doesn't snore and he manages to keep his head perfectly straight. But then, he's a gentleman with impeccable manners.

Stagecoach Etiquette #1 is here.

Stagecoach Etiquette #2 is here.

Stagecoach Etiquette #3 is here.

Stagecoach Etiquette #4 is here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Owyhee Racial Profiling

Tuesday December 10 2013

Here in Owyhee county, I like to think we're pretty open minded and tolerant, for all our differences. We have desert rats and 'city' dwellers (well, er, the largest city population is about 4200), cowboys and endurance riders, the gunless and the arsenal-laden, gay people and straight, religious and agnostic, artists and ranchers and scientists, cold-weather lovers and summer-worshipers.

Sometimes, though, the situation is TOTALLY DIFFERENT when a cow shows up.

This heifer wandered down from the mountains in November and found her way into our canyon, instead of on down the road to her home.

Sometimes we call the cowboys to come round up their cows, but we let her stay - she had plenty of grass and water in a quiet part of the county, and it was good training for the horses, when a random cow decided to wander up to the house and share their hay.

The horse herd was not so accepting of this other Four-Legged race.

The Beast With Cooties came down one bright snow-less winter day, and the horses all shunned her, stared at her, and stayed away from her.

She came down again in the snow, perhaps for companionship… but again they shunned her, stared at her; some ignored her; and Luna the baby even started to chase her.

The Beast With Cooties decided to leave this formerly idyllic canyon, where racial profiling does exist. She wandered out the gate that I opened for her, and she headed for home.

The last glimpse I got of the lonely heifer was crossing the ridge, looking for her home and her own kind, leaving this Owyhee canyon and its tight horse herd behind for good.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Racehorse Tales - Ol' Holme: The Witch

Sunday December 8 2013

I always tried to give humans and horses the benefit of the doubt. There was almost always some good in everyone, if you waited long enough or looked deep enough. But I should have listened to my instinct, the minute I laid eyes on the plain brown filly whose ears didn't go anywhere but flat back against her head. Some things were just bad news. I should have waited to take the next horse off the van and let someone else grab this brown one.
A load of horses arrived at our barn at Longacres from Yakima in February, and whether it was fate or bad timing when I reached out to take the shank of the first one down the ramp, it was this frowny-faced 3-year-old filly that I put into one of my empty stalls. Maybe she was just having a bad day, or she hadn't enjoyed her van ride; but this Ol' Mom's Holme didn't look like a very amiable horse. But I'd give her a few days to settle into her new barn and her new routine before I would pronounce a final judgment on her...

Above is an excerpt from Ol' Holme: The Witch, one of my series of Racehorse Tales, available on Amazon/Kindle. These short stories are a tribute to the lovable (or, in this case, not so very lovable), hard-knocking, working class Thoroughbreds I groomed on the racetrack for so many years.

Some horses are like people: born on the wrong side of the barnyard. Ol' Holme is bad news, and she and I have to figure out a way to get along during the filly's racing career at Longacres racetrack.

Check out Racehorse Tales, and if you enjoy them, please recommend them and consider leaving a review on Amazon!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Owyhee Winter Wonderland

Saturday December 7 2013

It's that time of year, when I wax poetic about winter, the cold and the snow - a time for flitting in the flakes, cavorting in the chill, and generally wallowing in the weather.

Depending on your own tolerance of the cold, you'll think the horses are either freezing, or comfortable in this lovely winter blast, some of them wearing snow blankets on their bodies. I'm sure you can guess which opinion I have!

Do you think they look cold, or comfortable?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Big Itch

Wednesday December 4 2013

When it itches, ya gotta scratch it.

This is a Thoroughbred foal with One Big Itch.

Incidentally, this photo, titled "The Big Itch", was my first of (currently) 44 magazine covers ! Lisa Groothedde, then of the Texas Thoroughbred, gave me the first opportunity in 2000.

This is Rhett, Steph's very dignified (and balanced!) endurance Arabian, with One Big Itch.

This is Stormy, Itchy-Scratchy all over! Notice his upper lip, and that he's biting his tongue in ecstasy. Jose comes up to supervise.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Southern Racehorse Cover Shot - 2014 Stallion Register

Tuesday December 3 2013

My photo of the Thoroughbred stallion Gold Legend (Seattle Slew - Gold Beauty, by Mr Prospector) is on the photo of the Southern Racehorse 2014 Stallion Register.

The handsome stallion stood at Valor Farm in Texas (where I shot him) before moving to Esquirol Farms in Alberta, Canada, where he passed away April 12, 2010.

That is my 44th cover photo/s on 7 different magazines, including New Zealand and France!

See more samples of my published work here:

Thanks again, editor Denis Blake!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Completed! NaNonFiWriMo!

Saturday November 30 2013

November is the month of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - and NaNonFiWriMo - National Non-Fiction Writing Month - and on November 1st I committed to finishing my horse-life memoir.

I not only finished it but I sent it off to my editor today!

So far Stormy, a main character in my book, is quite pleased with what he's heard, particularly the chapters about him. So far my editor Pat Barnhart peeked at only the Prologue and…(heart in throat)… she loved it! (Actually the words she used were "LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!")

The Owyhee herd is excited and can't wait to sit around a campfire this winter and hear some of the stories.

Stay tuned… I will have updates here on my blog, including title, cover photo, inside excerpts, and publishing progress!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Owyhee Thanksgiving Day Parade

Thursday November 28 2013

They come down the canyon to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Rhett leads the way,

until Stormy takes the lead near home.

Only 1 human and 4 dogs witness the Owyhee Parade, and we are thankful for it!