Thursday, January 26, 2012


Even if Blue is never a 50-mile horse, I hope to give Janet Tipton a run for her money in LD mileage one of these years.

Awesome! (photo by Sue Butterfield)

Janet rides Blue's long-lost sister, Ladybug (Lady Jasmine), a bay roan mustang who likes to work. I was always aware of them in the back pages of Endurance News, racking up impossible LD mileage every year. As far as I can tell, they must do an LD every weekend in the summer and several multi-days too. How else do you rack up 700 LD miles in one year? She had 26 completions, that's how.

She's a heavyweight rider with a spunky little mustang. I could be her! I WANT to be her!

Here's what she says on the BLM facebook page: Ladybug is a 15 year old mare from the Antelope HMA in NV. I adopted her as a 3 year old. She is the most versatile horse I have ever seen. We have over 2,500 distance miles together through AERC and just two weeks ago at a 3 day ride in Idaho she took the following places: Day 1 - 1st place, best condition and high vet score, Day 2 - 5th place, best condition and high vet score, Day 3 - 2nd place, best condition and high vet score all while carrying a "heavy weight" rider. Last weekend (6/11/11) we competed in an Extreme Horseman's Challenge in Grantsville, UT. We placed 1st in the Open division with a score 0f 97 out of 100. We also participate in an all mustang drill team, she has done parades, pony rides in downtown Salt Lake, pulled a cart, and shown English and Western. She particularly loves cow events and reining.

That's how it's supposed to be, folks. Blue and I are going to get out there and make it happen!

Consider the gauntlet ever-so-gently tossed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ol' Buttons, the Wonder Horse

The drive to Portland pretty much looked like this:

The road looks clear because it is covered in a solid inch of black ice.

But we made it to the hotel safely enough.

A glorious view of sunny Portland, Oregon.

 I don't feel any particular need to talk about the convention. It was great; I learned a lot. Sooner or later someone else who was there is sure to write a post about it.

What I really want to talk about is the phone call that Heather got from from her husband on Saturday afternoon. What he said, in short, was that Bunny had caught her back leg in the fence. He said that she had cut herself "close to that part of the back leg where it looks like it's bent the wrong way."

We deduced that he meant her hock.

Since neither of us were home to consult—and because we had the towing vehicle in Portland—he had the good sense to call the vet our for a farm visit. I feel bad for the vet since the rainslushsnow was still coming down at that point.

So here's the result. On Monday, Heather called the vet to ask her about the injury. She found out that it was a fairly large laceration but there was no sign that it had gotten to the joint capsule. The vet mentioned stitches with tensioning devices being under the extensive pink bandage Bunny had been sporting all weekend.

Here are the tensioning devices:

I use the same devices to keep tension in my blouse.

Have you ever seen a horse held together with buttons? Me neither.


In other crazy news: I just accepted a new job in Salem, Oregon. More on that in future posts. Everything is up in the air at the moment. But if you live near there and know of a good boarding option, I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Doesn't "wintry mix" sound like it should be delicious? I'm picturing Chex party mix with candycanes or something. Or maybe a hot, cocoa-based adult beverage.

Not so, my friends. "Wintry mix" is what the weather gurus are calling the slushrainsnow that we'll be driving through on the way to PNER Convention in Portland today.

Wish us luck!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pride goeth before low-back pain

Over my long Christmas break, I brought the Specialized home for a thorough cleaning. This saddle hadn't been soaped since... well, I'm guessing it had been about two years. You know, I put the seat saver on it and suddenly it was a lot harder to just take it apart on a whim.

Anyway, I cleaned it. But during this process, I foolishly forgot to notice and/or mark what stirrup hole I had been using.

So this Saturday at Madame Dorion, I noticed that I had put them back a little bit long. Just a little. Maybe one hole. It wasn't a big deal to ride that way—or so I thought.

Yesterday, on the road, I remembered that my stirrups were too long pretty quickly as I struggled to maintain something akin to a balanced position. As I flopped around in the saddle—my heels up, my thighs gripping, my posture forward—I considered stopping to fix the problem. But we were making such good time, and nothing bad had happened, and it wasn't like... you know... a big deal.

Except that today, we have this:

So let this be a lesson to you, dear reader. Next time some part of your equipment isn't quite right, take a moment to get down and fix it. If my back hurts this much today, I'm betting Blue's hurts a heck of a lot more.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Heat wave

I was browsing around the national and regional climate office websites trying to find you a good chart. (Because nothing makes a blog page more interesting than a good chart, right?)

But here's the thing: It actually would be a pretty neat chart. Our daytime temperatures have been averaging 10 to 20 degrees above normal since before Christmas. I'm a bleeding heart, Save-the-Whales liberal... but even I am starting to see the upside of climate change!

Today for instance, I got three-quarters of the way to Heather's house before I realized that I had left my gloves at home in the dryer. In a normal January, that would be a deal-breaker. I'd have to drive all the way home and get them or take a chance at losing fingers to frostbite.

Instead, this happened:

Hello, I'm the sun. And I am going to BEAT DOWN ON YOU RELENTLESSLY.

So, I decided to go to Madame Dorion. No particular reason. I was debating where to go even as I was pulling out of the driveway. East or west? East or west? I picked west, and it was time to do a little pre-HOTR prepping.

When you go to Madam Dorion, there are certain choices to make. You can ride on the nicely groomed gravel roads...

...or you can go Hidalgo-style through the sand dunes.

I'm not actually trying to bow a tendon. This spot is by far the deepest, loosest section.

I'm partial to the sand for a few reasons. For one, back in the days of Naughty Otto, a hard ride in the sand was about the only thing that would slow him down. (And honestly, shortly before I sold him to Laurie, he was so fit that sand wouldn't even do it.) I also like the sand trails because they ask a horse to do a lot of different things. The sand itself is challenging, but a lot of the trail is also slaloming through the sagebrush and juniper bushes. It's kind of like doing pole bending for three or four miles. Horse and rider both have to be light and alert to do it right.

We had the added challenge of tens of thousands of geese and ducks ready to fly at any moment. You would not believe how loud they are!

Blue still had gas in the tank, but the sun was setting.

Look how sweaty! We'll be doing a trace clip in March for sure. Lucky for me, my wonderful husband bought me clippers for Christmas.

Tomorrow, we're planning a 13-mile road loop with Heather and Bunny. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but our options are limited by Bunny's trailerphobia. When I got back from MD, we spent half an hour putting her in and taking her out, but Bunny still panics when you touch her bum. I'm sure actually closing the back doors would inspire a meltdown. Still, I see progress. She goes in a lot more easily than she did a week ago. And she will eat once she's there. Next step, closing the door and letting her figure it out.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weather (or not)

It has been absurdly nice outside.

Heather and Bunny on Lone Fir Road, Christmas Eve
Blue, unimpressed with the Kuda saddle

This one's for Cartman, Pinky and Dazzby. I know how much they like red hair.

Heather on Christmas Eve: She says a Christmas Eve ride is a family tradition of hers. Her parents used to send the kids on a trail ride with a picnic on the day before Christmas to get them out from underfoot. :)

Me and Blue on Christmas Eve

Another shot of us on Lone Fir. The part we did was 3.5 miles gradual uphill... then turn around and do 3.5 back down.

Those are the Blue Mountains in the background. Nevermind that they're pink. :)

The Christmas Eve ride on Lone Fir was a big success. It's a pretty hard ride for us, especially this time of year, but both horses were game. And you won't find a better road for conditioning. There are maybe five houses total, so it's a very low-traffic neighborhood. The way I see it, the long, gradual uphill builds cardio and the long, gradual downhill helps with balance. It's a win-win!

The day after Christmas, we took them up to Madame Dorion and kept up a blistering 8mph pace. OK, the speed itself is not too notable. Bunny could easily do double that. The thing that was notable was that we never let up. There was no slowing down or stopping for naughty behavior or equipment malfunctions. The whole thing was very steady. From deep sand, up and down steep hills, onto limestone gravel, we just kept going. Very, very steady.

Well, anyway the riding was steady. Not so much the ride over.

Gradually, Bunny has been getting less and less trailer-friendly. She left a hoof chip in there after our last trip to dressage lessons with Anna. She banged herself up a little on the way up to Lone Fir on Christmas Eve. At Madame Dorion, she came out of the trailer soaked in sweat and wedged against the door. She got back in willingly enough, but that was the last time. All the way there and all the way back, she banged around, barely keeping her feet under her and pulling pretty hard on my steering. Something was clearly not right with Bunny in that trailer.

Since the Dorion trip, Heather and I have done two training sessions with Bunny just to get her into the trailer.  Everything is parked and chocked. It's going nowhere. But the first time we go her in and shut the butt bar behind her, she had a full-on panic attack.

I have never seen a horse lose it in the trailer quite like this. It's a little two-horse cracker box trailer, so there's nowhere to go. After banging on the door and leaning and blowing and snorting and shying and head-tossing, she did the damnedest thing—she dropped to her knees, then dropped her rear-end. And she lay there, quiet as a lamb waiting for the slaughter. That moment of respite gave me enough time to unhook the but bar. As soon as she heard it, she was out of the trailer like a flash. I don't even remember her standing up. Just one minute she was on the floor, the next she was outside.

It took a good half-hour to get her all the way in again. And she'd back out immediately. If Heather so much as touched Bunny's rear, as if closing the door, the poor horse would tremble. And if Heather applied pressure, Bunny would bolt back out.

So that's where we are. I don't think it is a trailer problem. Blue has been completely unfazed throughout, and both horses have ridden in both stalls. I took Blue to the lake by himself on New Years Eve, and he was in and out of the trailer, same as always. No banging around on corners or anything.

Even so, I'm going to call The Trailer Place and see if they can go over it front to back... just in case. It's due for repacking anyway, and it needs some cosmetic fixes after both Bunny and Sinwaan have done their best to remodel the interior with their hijinks...

Is it just a fluke that my horses are all good travelers?