Monday, March 19, 2012

Wet Side Story

Western Oregon resembles eastern Washington very, very, VERY little. You cross those mountains (or thunder down that gorge), and basically you’re in a different country. A very rainy country.

And sometimes snowy! Yay.

The West Side (AKA, the Wet Side) is home to people who have adapted perfectly to their environment. Store racks are laden with flannel shirts, cardigans and varying weights of raincoats because, dammit, sensible layering is the only way to win the battle with the weather. For example, on Sunday, we had rain. But we also had a period of warm sun. Then high winds. Then hail. Then rain. Then clear skies and plummeting temperatures. Either you layer, or you invent a self-heating shirt (I’m picturing the girl-on-fire costume in The Hunger Games).

Since I have arrived, I bought three more cardigans and a very spendy pair of muck boots. I would estimate that I wore muck boots in Walla Walla a total of twice a year. Now I wear them Every. Single. Day. I still need a “nice” raincoat for work. (For my birthday, before I left WW, Shana and Heather bought me a light raincoat for riding, but it stays too dirty for public wear… what with all the mud.)

This is the wet side. These people invented grunge. (Can you blame them?) They invented espresso stands and Starbucks because you need regular infusions of hot liquid to combat the cold, ever-gushing liquid from above. Their school playgrounds are covered—a phenomenon that my wet-sider husband finds perfectly normal, but which baffles me.What is the point of going outside to play if there's a roof over your head?

Horsekeeping in a perpetual swamp is a completely new experience for me.

I didn't take any pictures of the first place I boarded. But I kid you not, the mud was over my ankles in all the turnouts. It was slick and squishy and horrible. This new barn has a lot more gravel. It's still muddy but at least you don't sink in.

In Nebraska, we had plenty of precipitation (usually), but the sun and wind tended to burn the puddles off pretty quickly. The horses had free access to an old barn, but they hardly ever went in there when it was wet. They were a lot more likely to go inside on hot days to get into the shade and away from the flies. I didn’t blanket in winter because the horses could go inside if they were cold. And they were wooly. That was fine because I wasn’t interested in riding when it was 20 below outside.

When I moved to Washington, I was introduced to the idea of blanketing in winter for a couple reasons. For one thing, there wasn’t any shelter at Heather’s. Not even trees. For another, the winter weather was milder, so we were riding year-round. The blanket kept the worst of the winter wool away, so you could saddle up and ride without overheating the horse.

Now, on the wet side of Oregon, I still have Blue’s heavy turnout blanket for everyday. But I’ve been informed that I may want to buy a summer-weight rainproof turnout sheet soon because it is getting too warm and wet for a full blanket. 

With Blue’s history of skin problems, this is sure to be an uphill battle.

When in doubt, the answer is C. If you are a fan of the PNER Facebook page, you may have seen my post:
I think I already know the answer, but would you pick A or B?

Boarding option A:
• Full care $200/mo.
• 30-35 mins from home.
• Roughly 3 miles gravel trail on the property, multiple water crossings and lots of elevation in that space.
• Almost unlimited logging roads rideable from property.
• VERY muddy paddocks with hodgepodge fencing.
• 60 ft indoor round pen, no arena
• Owner is kind of old school on horse care. For instance, several of his horses have rain rot, which he says is OK because it always clears up in the summer. No frills here. :)

Boarding option B:
• Full care $375/mo.
• 20-25 mins from home.
• 1 mile of gravel trail on the property, water crossing, but property is pancake flat.
• 5 miles of dirt field roads rideable from property, also flat.
• VERY modern, well-run facility. Everything is clean, automatic, and top of the line.
• Two all-season outdoor arenas, one large indoor arena.
• Owner is very up to date and seems conscientious about supplementation and safety.
My initial boarding place in greater Salem—the place I "landed" when we moved—proved to be inappropriate for an endurance rider. I mean, I guess some intrepid person would find a way to make it work. But I was having a hard time doing anything but a few piddly minutes in a small, crowded arena. And then when I found that an important section of the "trail" I had been promised was paved and slick as snot from moss... well, there's only so much a girl can take.

So I decided to strike out for greener pastures, so to speak. I visited option A and option B a couple days apart. There were things I liked about both of them, but I wasn't sure. Of course, my PNER facebook friends identified my problems with both of them right away on and helped me see that I needed an option C.

And, indeed, that's where I ended up.

Option C is so great. It makes horses faster:

 It makes horses taller:
Meet Blue's new friend, Chance. When I stand next to him, I can't see over his back. His muzzle is literally as big as my head.

 It improves the weather:
Trails as viewed from the bobcat.
It's scenic:

More photos are here.

The inside of the barn is bright and open:
This is just the indoor exercise pen. There's a huge arena off to the right.

Plus there are trails. Five miles of lovely, lightly graveled trails:

Let's just hope the honeymoon lasts!

PS for Shana: There are these decorative metal cutouts all over the property. I thought you'd get a kick out of them :)


  1. Welcome to the Swamplands! But you can't say that you weren't warned. >g<

    You're right about Option C: the best choice so far. See you at HOTR?

  2. Ah, no. Another unfortunate side effect of changing jobs is that I'm not allowed to take a day off within the first 90 days. So by that logic my first ride will be Mt Adams. BUT I'm hoping to finagle my way into leaving work early in a couple fridays to do Grizzly and Prineville. But it really depends what my boss tells me tomorrow.

  3. Hey thanks, sorry it took me so long to catch up on my blog reading! Love it!

    1. Aren't you the one who has the old Red Roan Running Mare? I thought it was nuts that he has all these sheetmetal copies of a Breyer mold.