Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moab Canyons Endurance Ride Day 2: Just Magnificent

Tuesday October 29 2013

More photos of the spectacular trails, on Day 2 of the Moab Canyons endurance ride.

Jose gawking at the scenery (just like I was doing!) at his favorite place - the highest point.

Leading down a steep hill from one canyon into the next.

Jose ogling the scenery some more - I mean, what else can you do in country like this?!

See how high we are on this mesa on loop 1? On loop 2 we will be on a trail in that valley directly below us (Jose spotted the horses), going all the way around that massive Lost World Butte on the left.

Coming into the vet check below The Needles

Just - beauty. Gasp!

Weathered, rippled slickrock sandstone. We're headed for a shelf right alongside the cliffs ahead.

Lots of sand, from all the sandstone cliffs: white sand, pink sand, red sand, deep sand. Climbing out of the Lost World Butte valley.

Jose and The Raven had an awesome ride!

Steph had an excellent camera and got some rare photos of me!

Stunning cottonwoods along the Bartlett Wash

Climbing above yet another canyon on slickrock - easy going in the horses' rubber easyboots!

Pausing to let Jose gape. With his elf eyes, he spotted horses far in the distance.

I. Love. This. Country. I could ride among its mysteries forever. (Well... in fall and winter, when it's coolest!)

Possibly my favorite photo of me and Jose, anywhere, ever.

Climbing red slickrock beneath a gargantuan mesa.

More photos and a recap of the ride! at:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Moab Canyons Endurance Ride Day 1: Grandeur

Sunday October 27 2013

It was a sad thing for John, who at the last minute could not make it, but a serendipitous thing for me, because Steph asked me to go to the Moab Canyons 3-day endurance ride in his place, and ride Jose Viola, no less.

There's something about this part of the country that grips me fiercely, and gloms on at the cellular level (see Beneath the Red). I've spent far too little time hiking and camping here, and always when I drive through the country, the question consumes me: What is it like out there, beyond the roads?

Now I know. We rode in it, for 105 miles.

There isn't really a single word in the English language that captures the spectacular magnificence (see? I tried it - that's two words that don't come close!) this country wears and the near-spiritual worship it incites in me. We rode days 1 and 2 (then had to leave), and my jaw muscles ache because for 105 miles, my mouth hung open in awe-struck disbelief.

Here are a few pictures from day 1:

We rode up to the base of, and all the way around this table mesa, which was some 7 miles or so long. You can't tell from the photo how tall, massive, and imposing it was. In some places on this mesa and many others, you could see the many different layers of sandstone. The rounded tan domes on top which you can't see in this photo is Navajo Sandstone. The red here is several different layers, probably Kayenta and Wingate. But don't quote me!

Just look at this staggering country we got to ride through!

Steph and Batman riding over slickrock by some of the pillars. (It's called 'slickrock' but with the Easyboot glue-ons and gloves our horses wore, they had great traction.)

The weathered sandstone came in many shapes and sizes. Steph called these knobby things 'dumplings'.

Loop 2 was total Outlaw Country. If you look really really closely, you'll see Kerry Redente on her horse in the middle of the picture. See? Total Outlaw country. She blended right in with the landscape. (Well, except for her yellow shirt).

Jose could see outlaws from the past. I saw many, many, many places to hide, if I were an outlaw. But of course I'm not.

Moab outlaws. (Me and Jose!) (photo by Steph!)

And back at camp, a good roll was had by all. Batman and Jose could hardly wait for their saddles to be stripped so they could plunge into the red dirt and roll and scratch and wiggle and itch.

(My point n shoot camera was low on battery first thing in the morning of day 1 (!! - some photographer I am, and what bad timing!) so I was conservative on the photos. I also wore a go pro helmet camera, and I'll put together videos of the ride later. More spectacular photos from Moab at: http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2013Moab/, and Day 2 coming next!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Racehorse Tales - Sunstorm: The Rugged One

Sunday October 20 2013

    Horses were always coming and going in our claiming barn at Longacres racetrack, and as a groom, I tried not to get too attached to any of them. But I have to admit, from the first moment I laid eyes on Sunstorm, I took a liking to him.
    He roared into my life from California in early April. His name fit perfectly his flaming red hide and his stormy temperament. I assumed he was a stallion, but when I looked underneath, there were no tell-tale signs hanging around. "Acts like a stud," I mumbled, as I led him off the van and toward his new stall. He kept his jaws busy, ferociously snapping at nearby arms and fingers attached to the end of his lead rope.
    He refused to follow me straight into his stall, and instead pulled me to a stop in the shedrow. He shook his head mightily, in a surely oft-practiced move, artistically causing his thick mane to dance about his muscled neck; and he let out a studdish bellow that shook his entire body. Towering over me, Sunstorm looked me in the eyeballs, I am in charge, here, let's get that straight from the start.
    And there you have it – I fell for him…

Above is an excerpt from Sunstorm: The Rugged One, one of my series of Racehorse Tales, available on Amazon/Kindle. These short stories are a tribute to the lovable, (or maybe not-so-lovable), hard-knocking, working class Thoroughbreds that I groomed for so many years on the racetrack.

No two racehorses are created equal. Sunstorm may not have run for a million bucks, but the macho chestnut gelding's attitude and rugged good looks are what I fell for instantly. The cheap claimer left a great indelible mark on my heart in his barn at Longacres racetrack.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Owyhee Harvest Moon - Day 2

Wednesday October 16 2013

I've done these loops many times - to Regina's place for a vet check, around Wild Horse Butte and along the Snake River and back to Regina's for a vet check, then back home. The scenery never gets old.

Batman and The Raven and I finished Day 2 of the Owyhee Harvest Moon endurance ride on these familiar trails.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

up top:
We had a whole lotta water here from a flash flood about 5 weeks ago. The water rearranged many trails and hills and washes. Here a good deal of water sat for a while until the ash-y mud dried and cracked.

Alan joined Steph and Amanda and me for part of the ride. The Snake River is always pretty at this spot!

Me, Amanda and Steph posing at our regular spot above the Snake River.

Batman is checking behind him, to see if there is anybody that needs saving.

Riding an old canal near the Snake River. The only thing Russian Thistle - aka tumbleweeds - is good for is the pretty reddish color it turns in the fall. Other than that - nada.

Batman likes a variety of food at vet checks. He tries food from every dish that is near him. He was even eyeing my hamburger!

Batman and The Raven finish another ride together!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Owyhee Harvest Moon - Day 1

Monday October 14 2013

Seven weeks after surgery is much more better for riding a 50-mile endurance ride (or, 3 of them in a row!) rather than 4 weeks after surgery.

We put on the first 3-day Owyhee Harvest Moon endurance ride, and I got to ride Batman all 3 days - and I made it through all 3! I was pretty whooped after day 1, but, just like the horses usually do, I felt stronger, and less tired, each day. Funny how that happens.

Batman felt like he could have easily gone on and done another week or so, and I could have too. And Batman was one of 4 horses to finish all three days - and he got overall Vet's Choice! Which is only fitting, since he's such a superhero (except when he's scared of things, which is only occasionally.)

Here are a few photos from Day 1.

It's The Raven's first time to ride Batman - whose real name is Ravenwood Dark Desire - a fantastic coincidence or what!

Shadows at the start

Following Steph and Rhett into the always spectacular (but particularly in the fall) Sinker Canyon
(top picture is in Sinker Canyon also)

Batman is particularly alarmed at this 'plane crash' in the desert. It's actually an old washer/dryer combo that somebody must have blown up with a bomb. Batman was afraid somebody was in the wreckage and he was needed to rescue them.

Coming out of the Birds of Prey Badlands

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Traveler Tales: The Mighty Zambezi

Tuesday October 8 2013

A series of Traveler Tales, short stories by me, are available on Amazon, iTunes and Kobo.

(The first one, Traveler Tales: The Other Side is here.)

The second Traveler Tales: The Mighty Zambezi, is a turbulent rafting trip down one of the world's wildest navigable rivers, the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe. How or why I didn't die on this tempestuous whitewater, I don't know. It still curls my toes thinking about it!

An excerpt from the short story:

We had time to exhale and laugh and joke and regroup before our next rapid, #5, Stairway to Heaven. Our guide Warren gave us the lowdown. “It’s the highest commercial-run rapid. The drop is 16 feet.” (16 feet?!)

He told us how to technically negotiate it which I immediately forgot, except for the very first step. “We MUST hit this dead center, and paddle HARD! and then…” Whatever, I forgot. That’s all I could retain. My heart was still slamming at 180 bangs a minute, but now the physical exertion was gone and the fear had crept back, worse than before, pounding the adrenaline out to my fingertips. This time, I'm going to die, I thought.

I jammed my right foot under the center inflated cross-tube – my only anchor – and choked down a swallow with a dry mouth.

“Here we go!” Oh, shit. We hit the lip of the second rapid, the roar becoming deafening, and when the nose of the boat pointed down that big drop, I saw a bottomless pit.

“DIG!” yelled Warren. “DIG!”

I dug, I yelled to Janet, “DIG!” She yelled “DIG!” and dug with her paddle. Down, and down, the nose of the raft pointed. It was like going over the brink of a roller coaster – down and impossibly more down while it left your stomach up top. I screeched in panic as our boat slid down into the HOLE and bucked back up through the wall of water the surface of the HOLE formed.

I felt the boat go up, and up… like it was heading over backwards. “SHIT!” I screamed at the water, and stabbed at it with my paddle. I chopped through air. I sliced again and again.

The raft objected to the whimsy of the white-water, bucking and folding in half like a piece of paper. I was thrown again, into the center of the raft. We were all hurled about, but Warren kept yelling out commands. I didn't know if he was in the human pile or if he was the only one left paddling...

You can get the rest of this story, which is available on Amazon, iTunes and Kobo (and soon on Smashwords - but sorry, Nook is not an option for the time being!) here at my website:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Equine Paris Hilton Extensions

Tuesday October 1 2013

Mac went and lost most of his tail to a few short inches, from flipping it so much at flies.

So I made him a new one.

Thanks to our farrier Linda Black who suggested it to me!

The supplies needed: rubber bands for securing the tail braid, baling twine, vet wrap, and horse.

Mac and his sad little tail.

Very short and pretty useless!

Braid the tail, making sure to leave it loose enough from the bottom of the tail bone.

Secure the braid with a rubber band or 2.

There are different ways to do this, but this is how I did it: slip the strands of baling twine through the top of the braid so that they hang evenly.

If the tail is long enough, you can flip it up through the 'hole' at the top of the braid and back down the front (be sure you aren't putting any pressure on the tail bone), and start wrapping the whole shebang with vet wrap.

Also run the vet wrap at least once through the 'hole' at the top of the braid.

There you go.

Make sure you cut the length so he doesn't step on his new tail.

The perfect equine tail extensions - yet another great use for baling twine. Paris Hilton, eat your heart out!