Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Owyhee Feathered Hooligans

Wednesday July 29 2015

Up before dawn, to bed long after dark; during all hours of the day, these Owyhee Gang Bangers are causing a relentless rowdy, raucous, roisterous Raven ruckus.

From the Raven nest up Bates Crick came 5 or 6 juveniles. They must have joined up with the gang of 2 or 3 juveniles from up the Pickett Crick canyon. And my, they are a formidable feathered bunch of ruffians.

They fly about in a mob, never failing to state their opinions, on everything. Constantly. LOUDLY. EMPHATICALLY.

Hollering, cawing, shrieking, screaming; while swooping in the air, bouncing in the trees, strutting on the ground. They scream from fence posts. They shriek from the hillsides. They shout in the horse pastures. They screech in the air. There's no mistaking where they roam, up and down the crick. You can hear them a mile away.

Everything is important to juvenile Ravens, and everything is open to copious discussion and debate. That's how they learn. Testing, sampling, turning over rocks and leaves and sticks and having endless discourse about everything, all at high volume. Except for a few hours of darkness when they are finally worn out from their long important days, they never SHUT UP.


"AH! A MEAN KESTREL IS CHASING ME!" "ATTACK THAT KESTREL!" "FLY AWAY FROM THAT KESTREL!" "BAD KESTREL!" "LET'S ALL GO GET THAT KESTREL!" ((The Ravens and Kestrels around here have an ongoing, eternal war.)

etc. On and on.

Any time they fly near me, I call out, "Hi Ravens!" They look at me and go on screaming. If they're strutting about in the field nearby, I'll holler at them, "Hi Ravens!" Oh, they notice me, pause in mid-strut and look, then go back to their pertinent investigations and shrieking. They enjoy scrutinizing horse poop, sashaying from poop pile to poop pile in the pastures; I wonder if the horses notice the constant Raven Cacophony?

The noisiness is not just about sharing learning. It's a sort of defense system. Whereas some birds will hunt and move about by stealth for safety, the noisy gregariousness of the Ravens serves as a veritable gang against would-be predators, and as a very noisy warning system if anything seeking a Raven dinner is approaching, while they are about their busy tasks of discovery and higher academic learning.

They don't respect many boundaries - they don't turn off their generators when it's bed time, and the underage delinquents stay at the bar long past closing time. They're back at the bar far too early in the morning, demanding the sun get up and start the day already.

But I don't begrudge my Raven hoodlum neighbors. I love the noisy little buggars. They provide delightful, endless entertainment!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beautiful at Any Angle

Friday July 24 2015

As he ages, he stands a little bent over at the knees; his withers get sharper as his belly sags a little further downward. He's getting gray hairs. He'll often stroll in after the herd runs back down from the canyon, although if he puts his mind to it, he can still turn on the afterburners and lead the charge. He seems to know he's getting to be an old man; he and the other old man Krusty hang out together a lot.

But none of that matters, because Stormy is beautiful at any angle, any light, any distance, any pose.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Bandit Springs: Forest Dude

Saturday July 11 2015

He's a Desert Dude, used to wide open spaces and few trees that monsters can hide behind (only small monsters live behind sagebrush).

Bandit Springs last weekend in Oregon was Dudley's first forest endurance adventure. He went with his pasture mate Smokey and his neighbor August. The best part, of course, was the grassy meadow we camped in. Ohhhh, that rich grass smorgasbord reaching to his kneecaps, that he loved to stuff in his mighty mouth at every opportunity!

You can see he's scarfed the tall grass in his immediate reach, and he's plotting how to reach the rest

It was Dudley's first time on a high tie, which I was a bit leery of, since we were camped in such a tasty meadow. Middle of the first night, he was pulling and yanking and squeaking and stretching that high tie so hard, he woke us all up, and Steph took the high tie down and I tied him right to the trailer.

My biggest fear for Dudley at that ride was him getting loose, and getting lost in the forest, and me never seeing him again. Horses have gotten lost before. And guess what happened the second middle of the night, right before our Saturday ride. He got loose! Suspicious noises woke Steph and Carol up (they were sleeping in the horse trailer; I was sleeping in Helen's freight liner.) He was on the other side of our trailer, devouring an entire bucket of beet pulp!

Now my second biggest fear, almost as big as the first, is Dudley getting loose from his trailer and getting into every single bucket of grain in Ridecamp. Fortunately, he was easy for Carol to catch, but who wouldn't be, after a big satisfying bucket of beet pulp, from which he was still licking the crumbs? He had pulled his entire halter off his head, but I think it was from scratching and trying to rub behind his ears, because he was very itchy there. Nevertheless, Carol put his halter on tightly, and I gave him a stern lecture, because he scared the crap out of me (and a hug because I was so glad he wasn't lost), and I went to bed praying he would have no ill effects from a bucket of beet pulp. Needless to say, every time he made any kind of noise (banging his hay net against the trailer, sloshing water while drinking, peeing, or farting) I instantly sat up, wide awake, and looked out to see if he was still tied to the trailer. I didn't get any more sleep before my alarm went off at 5 AM.

Carol and August led Steph and Smokey, me and Dudley, out onto the trails for the 50 mile ride on Saturday. We had a twenty mile loop back to camp and a vet check, then a 30 mile loop, with an out vet check. The previous day we'd gone out on the 10-mile loop for exercise and to get used to the scary forest monsters, like fallen monster trees, scary tree stumps, and a herd of over 50 elk whose bugling squeaking trumpeting calls so alarmed our horses that we all jumped off before they ejected us. The elk herd seemed to want to make our acquaintance, and I left the horses, screened behind trees, and ran out to scare steer the herd away from us. Yes, a person on foot can turn away an entire elk herd that's bearing down on you!

On ride day, our horses weren't scared o' no stinkin' tree stumps or monsters. Or elk, which was fine with all of us, because they might have still been a bit alarming. The horses know the difference between deer or antelope, which they know, and elk, which they do not!

Dudley's other favorite part of the forest ride was the two wild turkey feathers he found, that he had me stick in his bridle. (Dudley always finds things: feathers, neat rocks, deer antlers.).

And his other favorite part of the ride was the vet checks where horses had a treat of oat soup waiting for them!

The other best part of the forest ride was the cool weather and the rain. Everybody I talked to only knew Bandit Springs as hot and dusty. We got lucky this year, the 25th anniversary of Bandit Springs. It was so pleasantly cool in the morning, in the 60's to 70's, and in the afternoon, scary-looking thunderheads built above us and finally blanketed the sky with heavy dark clouds. After the vet check, a delicious rainstorm, with no lightning!, soaked us and turned the trails to slick-snot mud, as we plodded through the dark forest, the pine and fir trees beating with dripping water. My other favorite part of the ride, besides the forest trails, the Ochoco Mountains, riding a big handsome beast, and the rainstorm, was the lovely trill of the hermit thrush which serenaded us all day long.

Always mugging for the camera!

Our horses walked the entire last 12 miles or so, because the mud was so slick. But we finished before the cut-off time, and our horses looked and felt absolutely great afterwards. The six Pickett Crick Musketeers did it again!

oops, not quite a wide-enough angle lens!

And the other best part of the ride was the 25th anniversary handmade ride award necklaces and key chains made with jasper and quartz rocks hand picked by ride manager Janelle and her son Spencer from Doyle Spring on the trail. The Raven had a hard time picking his favorite one.

And the best best part is, Dudley's not just a desert horse anymore. Now he's a Forest Dude!

More stories and pictures from the 25th anniversary of the Bandit Springs ride here!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spirit Horse Magnets!

Monday July 6 2015

I can think of only one good reason for it being so bloody hot here. My Spirit Horse art pieces were so soft and flexible, I was leery of the pins bending right off them.

Enter the Spirit Horse Magnets!

They'll do just about anything a Spirit Horse Pin will, without the pokey part.

Each Spirit Horse is one of a kind, handmade of clay, wire, beads, and yarns picked up from around the world. They're fun and whimsical; they shimmer different colors in different light. You can bend the legs to stand straight, trot, gallop, or fly.

Hang your Spirit Horse in your home or horse trailer for good luck.

Besides you're not going to the Oscars till next February, so you won't be wearing a pin on your designer gown for a while.

Each magnet is approximately 3" long by 3" tall. . . not counting the long fluffy tail. They are $20 each and $3 shipping for up to 5 at a time. Contact me at TheEquestrianVagabond at gmail dot com.

Here's the gallery slide show:

Or link:

And click on the tab above, Buy Spirit Horses! for more details and photos of the Spirit Horse Magnets, and Spirit Horse Pins.