Monday, October 31, 2016

Sweet Senility

Monday October 21 2016

It's late, cold wind howling outside, and I've just about taken that last step into dreamland when a horse whinnies.

Huh? That's a bit odd. Sure, we have plenty of horses out here, but they don't stand around in a herd together and whinny at each other. I couldn't tell who it was or where it came from.

Then another somewhat panicked whinny - that's my horse! Stormy must be separated from the herd! I heard the whinny moving around - he's left behind, and he can't find the herd; and now there's no way I'm going to sleep, listening to my panicked horse running around in the dark trying to find his mates.

Connie says Stormy's a bit senile… and I think she's a bit right. He's 25 now, and he doesn't really rush anywhere anymore, and he's mostly motivated by food, and me. In that order. If I go out to see the herd, he'll come up to me… unless he's eating, or unless he's headed to food. If he's headed to food, he'll mow right past me, as if he doesn't even see me standing there.

He'll often be left standing at the hay feeder eating when the herd leaves to roam up the canyon. Or, he'll be grazing up the canyon with the herd, and they'll leave to start heading home… and he's left behind. He must be so focused on eating that he doesn't notice them leaving. 

It's not till I yell, "STORMY! Come on ThurBred!" that he'll look up from his food and realize the herd has left him, and he'll start moseying along after them.

Same thing must have happened last night during the wind storm. Great. How was *I* supposed to find the herd in the dark on 300 acres?

I crawled out of bed, got dressed, grabbed two headlamps, and plunged out into the cold wind. I went directly to the back pen, where Stormy came up snuffling and sniffing to me, I lost my herd!

"OK, Come on Stormy, we'll try to find them." I walked through the pens out to the front, Stormy at my side. He whinnied now and then (the herd will rarely ever answer when one horse is left behind), but he was content to follow me because he knew I'd save him and reunite him with his friends.

It was darker'n the inside of a cow (says a friend's husband) but for the brilliant stars in the sky. My two headlamps barely pierced the desert, as if the wind was blowing the light back at us. Sagebrush and rabbit brush glowed ghostly in my lights, but I couldn't see any eyeballs blinking at us. I had no idea where they'd be. Across the creek? Just up in the front pasture along an old drainage ditch out of the wind? Or way up the canyon? Or way up the canyon across the creek? There was no way of knowing. My lights were too dim to detect any fresh tracks, and we just had some rain anyway, not to mention an endurance ride, so it would be hard to tell what tracks had been most recent.

Stormy followed me contentedly, throwing out a whinny now and then, as we headed up the canyon. The cold wind singed my ears and made my eyes water. We walked on and on, searching for reflected eyeballs, Stormy sniffing the road like a bloodhound. 

I walked about a half mile up, and realized how futile it was looking for the herd. They could literally be anywhere on the 300 acres. I stopped, ready to turn around and lead Stormy back home, maybe grab Mufasa and lock them up together so Stormy would have some company.

Then I heard a whinny - it was Smokey calling to Stormy! Bless you Smokey! I walked another 50 feet up the road, and there were the eyeballs looking at us, wondering what the heck I was doing out at midnight strolling in a wind storm with my senile horse.

Stormy didn't show any emotion as he reunited with his herd, because of course he knew I was going to lead him to them.

I turned around to walk back home, and the whole herd followed me all the way back with Stormy. I told them all to keep an eye on the old man from now on.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Owyhee Canyonlands Day 3: Can o' WhoopAss

October 14 2016

What I want to know is, who fed Finneas a can of WhoopAss before his 50 mile ride on Day 3 of the Owyhee Canyonlands??

This will not be much of a pictographic account of Day 3, because there were few moments where I could take one hand off the reins to take any pictures. Finneas was a two-hander, tougher-than-snot, total-concentration mount on Day 3, because 1) he hadn't done an endurance ride since June, 2) he was a fired up hot potato in his last couple of conditioning rides, 3) he spent the last 3 days before the ride cooped up in a small pen with the herd, 4) he always has to win, and 5) he's the Grandson of the Black Stallion, and don't you forget it, because he surely does not.

Thinking I'd ride with Sarah and Connie was a mistake… I should have just taken off in a Bubble (LOVE the Bubble - no riders in front and no riders in back for a ways), or waited 15 minutes after the start. But no, I tried to start with Sarah and Connie and that was a wash before I even crossed the starting line. Oh well. We went onward, or should I say, Finneas took charge and pulled me onward and upward.

We had a few little Bubbles on the first loop where I got a bit of a respite, but the rest of the time it was like this:
Finneas: "GO-GO-GO-GO!"
Me: "NO-NO-NO-NO!"

and back and forth we argued negotiated. Finneas already has a heavy winter coat (!!! hopefully this means a long snowy cold winter in store!!!!!!!), and I wasn't about to let him go as fast as he wanted to go (which was winning, like he knew he should be doing).

Finneas is a very rude snarky-barky horse when he passes others; he tries to mow them over, and if he can't do that, tries to cut them off… I came upon several riders in a wash that we passed, and I apologized ahead of time and re-apologize here for his obnoxious grandiose Grandson-of-the-Black-Stallion behavior, though I was successful in not allowing him to blow anybody into the side of the wash. I told Finneas they were all just going to be passing him later, but he didn't care.

Connie said later, "I hope you didn't tell them it was my horse!" and of course I told everybody that Finneas bulled past, "It's not my horse! It's Connie's horse!" :)

After a couple miles when we got to a disappointingly empty water trough, where I got off to lead, and let everybody we passed go back by us. Finneas was not impressed with my decision, but there you go.

Finneas walked the hot and steep uphill Hart Creek ridge, and we had a somewhat nice Bubble on the way back to camp. I was surprised he pulsed down pretty quick, since it was hot, and he's so hairy.

Connie and Sarah weren't too far behind us, but I made sure I left on loop 2 in another nice Bubble. But on loop 2, Finneas wasn't big and bad Grandson of the Black Stallion, he was just a relaxed, fun ride. He took on a steady trot and carried it for miles and miles. We caught and passed a couple of riders (he was either polite about it, or I took him way wide, just in case), and he didn't really care about it this time, just kept up his steady trot. 

The last 12 or so miles were completely solo, relaxed, and delightfully uneventful - just right to evenly balance out the boisterous first loop. 

An entertaining ride on the Grandson of the Black Stallion!

More photos and a recap of the ride at:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Owyhee Canyonlands Day 1: Rockin' the Dude

October 11 2016

Coming off his terrific 50-mile ride in the AERC National Championship in Utah last month, Dudley and The Raven did 55-mile Day 1 of the Owyhee Canyonlands in our back yard.

Here's a pictographic account of the ride.

We headed out with Connie and DWA Saruq, and Sarah and Dezzie across the Owyhee desert toward the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area. Steph and Smokey started out with us too, but they smoked onward after a while.

The Hallelujah Trail

First vet check, lots of yummy food! (Dudley's favorite part of endurance rides)

Headed for the loop around Wild Horse Butte,

along the Snake River,

and on the Oregon Trail. (Dezzie is saying, Stay back, Dude!)

vet check 2, more yummy food!

headed for the Birds of Prey Badlands

almost home!

That makes over 800 miles for Belesemo Dude!

You can see more on the ride at: