Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spring rambling

We're back in a period of absolutely beautiful weather here, and I've had two more lovely rides. A few thoughts:

I love that pommel bag. I've started carrying water for the dog in one bag and the camera in the other bag. And I figured out a clever way to strap the GPS on the pommel with some carabiners and the bag straps! Carabiners are just as important as vet wrap and duct tape, and they don't get enough credit, IMO.

I think the boots are working out ok. She seems to move ok in them - up and down hills like a mountain goat, and she can canter in them. I made sure the pastern straps were way looser today and didn't have any rubs.

I've been looking through the USGS maps, and I have some names for places. Today we went up in the Coyote Hills. Here's a view back over the lake toward Peavine:
More Peavine

This picture from over the weekend is of the Petersen Range. It's just west of Red Rock Road, right on the CA state line Apparently the easiest way to get there is from Hallelujah Junction, California, and you can dig for opals and smoky quartz. Cool, huh?
Petersen Range

I've been taking pictures of the wildflowers, too. It's amazing how the greeny-grey boring sagebrushy desert has exploded in blooms of different sizes and colors. I'm going to keep adding to the set - there's a blood-red shrub I haven't snapped a picture of yet, and a bright purply-pink flower with blooms the size of pencil erasers.

Still haven't remembered to work on the trot-out. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fly mask fitting

Here's some goofy pictures of Dixie modeling her Cashel long-nose fly mask, which took the slow boat from the East Coast.

I got an awful lot of these:

because she's sure the phone is actually food. I did manage to outrun her enough to get a few full-horse shots.

I have no idea what to look for. I mean, her ears go in it, the velcro fastens around her jaw, and it's not poking her eyes as far as I can tell. That's all there is to it, right? (I know her forelock's supposed to come through the slit between the ears, but I didn't feel like fussing with it for a 5 minute fitting.)

Here is a bonus shot of Dixie's pet goat. She just loves this little dude. He eats with her, plays with her, even climbs on her when she's trying to nap. I have seen the hoofprints on her back!


That horse is the weirdest damn creature I've ever owned.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Snow far behind


I just wrote a huge post and Blogger ate the whole damn thing and it's my fault for not saving it to the clipboard before I clicked submit. I am just furious. Here is version 2, which is not as awesome as version 1 was.

I'm way behind on reading yall's blogs. Sorry. :(

I think Dixie's in good enough shape to do 2 LDs in mid-June, so I've been riding to have fun and to test out gear, not to get miles or increase fitness. Saturday I rode with all four Renegades, and today I rode with the new crupper. Here's Saturday's ride:

I think Dixie looks awesome right now! Great weight, great muscling - she's totally ripped for a TWH. And look at all that amazing mane!

I put all four boots on.

I think maybe the pastern straps were too tight. When I took the boots off two hours later, she had some warm pink spots on her heel bulbs where it looked like the hair was worn, and I'm pretty sure it would've turned into rubs. Renegade people, any advice? Here's the front and back pictures, if they help.

We rode up in the hills toward Antelope Valley, and I got this cool picture of the storm moving down on Reno.

Cersei hung in there with us.

Dixie met some burros. The word burro always makes me think of burrow owls, which makes me think of that Dead Milkmen song. (Warning! It's offensive. And weird. And funny.) Anyway, Miss Hateful didn't pin her ears or squeal or kick or bite the fence - she loved them, even though they didn't live in a hole in the ground. It was totally adorable.

After I pried Dixie away from the burrow owls I turned on the video camera and cantered on home. Warning! No matter how smooth you think the canter really is, it makes for a very seasick video. Still, it was totally cool that I could do such a thing.

Right as we got back in the neighborhood, it started snowing again. My husband edited this and subtitled it - thanks, sweetie!

Snowy Summer from Funder on Vimeo.

The day was actually really pleasant. It was cold when a cloud was blocking the sun, and pleasantly warm the rest of the time. Just weird Nevada summer snow. I'm not complaining :)

I'll put up today's ride tomorrow. And read some blogs!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vendor reviews

Here's a tale of two vendors for you. One I already loved and will definitely order from again, and one I used out of convenience and probably won't use again.

My pretty princess pony has a very white nose, and it gets fiercely sunburned in the summer if she's not stalled. The first summer I had Dixie, she was in horse heaven - a 40 acre pasture - and it just burned. Last year, in Ohio, she was in a stall and the BO would (sometimes) smear sunblock on her nose when she turned her out. This year, I am trying a long nose fly mask. I'd looked around for a while but just hadn't gotten around to ordering one when I bought that damn trailer and joined USRider, and USRider gave me a $10 gift cert to Dover as part of my membership package. See? Procrastination pays off!

So the Sunday before last, May 9th, I ordered a long nose Cashel fly mask from Dover. The cheap $10 shipping and the $10 GC cancelled each other out, so I ended up paying $27.85 for a fly mask. The package didn't even ship til Wednesday, May 12, and it shipped FedEx SmartPost. IME, SmartPost is a horrible way to ship and takes way longer than USPS mail.

One week later, on Sunday May 16th, I ordered the crupper and a pommel pack from Griffin's Tack. I had to call to read Henry my CCV number from the back of the card, and he mumbled something about "Tuesday." I thought he said "You should get it by Tuesday" but that couldn't possibly be right - I mean, he's only 50 miles from me, but still! Nothing orders, packs, ships, and arrives that fast. Anyway, I paid $12 for that shipping.

Tuesday the package from Henry Griffin arrived. Via US mail. Less than 48 hours after I ordered it. Today, Wednesday, the package from Dover arrived, via FedEx, all of ten frakkin days after I ordered.

I'm not sure whether I'm more disgusted with Dover/Fedex or happy with Griffin's/USPS, but I know where I prefer to spend my money now.

I'll review all the stuff properly once it gets applied to the model horse, but for now I think I'm happy with everything I bought. The fly mask looks comfortable? I guess? I don't know much about these things, and smart money says Dixie destroys it. The crupper has stiff wire in the tail loop, for flexibility, and it's ~C's shade of blue. (Sorry C!) And the pommel bag looks like it should attach ok, the zippers look indestructible, the workmanship is fantastic, and it's a fantastic royal purple.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I rode my horse downhill at a pace with a crupper on and did not die! I didn't even have to walk home. She gave one tiny hop when she felt it activate, then just gave me the "quizzical ear" - where the horse swivels one ear completely back at the human like "Are you sure about this?"

It was a really beautiful day to ride in Hungry Valley. Dixie and I never quite clicked, and the whole ride felt like a slog for both of us, but we got the miles (that I think) we needed. My whole face is sunburned, and my knees feel like bone is grating on bone, but I'm very happy anyway. Here's the ride.

We rode out down Chickadee, into HV, and up to the (slowly drying up and turning green) stock tank. I knew she wouldn't want the water, but I made her sniff it to acknowledge it, then we moved on up the valley. We went past the mini RC airport, where somebody was flying a super cute radio warplane. It sounded like a very angry hornet. We went a long way north, past the Indian community, to a manmade pond, then turned around. We went back to the stock tank, where I hopped off and snapped the crupper on.

I tugged at it and she didn't buck, so I got on and we walked off. I asked for a trot and she didn't buck, so I asked for a canter and she didn't buck, so away we went! We headed up into the hills - had to navigate past some very polite ATV people - then finally crested a little rise and started downhill.

The saddle slipped a skosh forward. Nothing.

The saddle tried to slip forward again. The crupper held it in place. Dixie picked both rear feet up an inch off the ground at the same time, then kept pacing forward. She gave me the WTF ear and kept on rolling downhill like a pro. Hey ~C, I ordered my very own crupper from Henry tonight, so I'll get yours back to you ... soon? Maybe Friday?

Man, I love that horse. She spent all day being reluctant and annoying and throwing weird not-a-gaits at me, but strap some nylon under her tail and she's all "whatever" about it. And headed out, we trotted on a gravel road like it weren't no thang!

I have been dithering all day and I think I will send in my entry for the 2 days of 25s at Cooley Ranch. I bet she could do a 50, but I don't think 2 days of 50s is a smart plan at all. I think my horse will be better off if I spend twice as much and enter her in two LDs. And if the entries are closed... it's not meant to be. But I'm dropping the entry in the mail in the morning!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

At least the horse is sound!

So I've had a pretty sucky couple of weeks. First, my horse tried to kill herself in that stupid trailer. Then last weekend I found out that I failed the damn bar exam, which totally sucked and completely ruined my weekend. I admit, I fell into a funk.

I've been temping, and for the last two weeks I've been at a medical office that I've worked at a few times before. When I went to work Monday, I found out that one of the other employees there was sitting at the hospital - a family member had been shot over the weekend and was in critical condition. That snapped me out of my self-pity a bit.

This week I've been alternating between feeling sorry for myself and trying very hard to appreciate the good stuff that happens every day. I'm trying really hard to just focus on the good stuff. I don't have enough money to just up and buy a slant, but I have enough to go to Vegas in a couple of weeks to meet up with my BFFs. I didn't pass the bar, but at least I have a job. And my horse is a badass who only gets more awesome every day. Maybe we'll even get to go to a ride in CA in June!

I know I should Buckle Down and Train My Horse and Make Those Miles Count, but I haven't been feeling it. Last weekend, I rode once for maybe 12 miles, then headed out for another ride but turned back because the weather went from "pretty nice" to "sideways sleet" in 10 minutes. Yesterday I took Dixie for a "normal people short ride" after work. We went out for 20 minutes, just to stretch her legs. Then today I took her and Cersei on an "endurance short" ride. We did 5.5 miles, out of the neighborhood, along the shore of the (shallow, seasonal) lake, then back along the road to the subdivision again.

Dixie is just an amazing horse. I've been working with her since we moved to LV, and now we're at the point where I can mount up in "her" driveway and ride the 2.5 blocks to open land. Up until last week, I'd been walking her in hand, so she could get used to the monsters along the way. Today we made it past a house where three people were loading (very calmly, I might add) a horse in a 2h straight, a bunch of dogs, riders headed in the other direction, some cars coming home, some cars zooming past, and even two motorcycles. Then on our ride - she wasn't exactly pushbutton about going on this strange new trail along the lake, but she did it without a big fuss. And on the way back, she offered to canter on gravel. And she trotted just fine over gravel! I think I have a Gravel Crunching Horse, finally. How cool is that?

Tomorrow: many, many miles. Just me and Dixie, and maybe I'll even bring my little ipod shuffle. The weather should be totally beautiful. May all of yall get some lovely rides in too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Flooding 2010

So if you're a really long time reader, you might vaguely remember that when I lived in Memphis my riding area flooded pretty badly in 2008. I've got a whole series of posts about it. I rode Champ (miss ya, buddy!) through water that came up to MY knees. Cersei was a tiny thing, and the water was really frustrating for her. Most of our trails, along the Loosahatchie River, were completely closed off - a few a couple miles up the floodplain were rideable.

Apparently, the part of town I used to ride in has flooded even worse. The Mid-South had a series of really violent thunderstorms come through last weekend. My mother-in-law lives in Millington - her house flooded! Where I used to board is in Frayser. Those are the two worst-hit areas of Memphis. "My" river, the Loosahatchie, rose twenty-three feet in 24 hours. That's the height of a normal one-story house! In water! Here's the local news about it.

Nashville's actually even worse off than Memphis... but I didn't live in Nashville, so I'm not following their news as closely. Sorry, yall. If you want to read their crazy flood news, check out the Tennesseean.

If you do go read the old flood posts, Quinn is Dixie. When I first got her, I thought Dixie was a dumb name for a TWH so I tried out some different names. None of them stuck. And I still think Dixie's a dumb name, it just suits her better than anything else I can come up with. It's just really cliched, like naming your paint Hidalgo or your palomino Trigger. I must say, the further I move from Tennessee, the less dumb "My Walking Horse's name is Dixie" becomes. :)

And I rode today. We had a perfectly normal very short ride, so all is well between us.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Suicidal horse

So Dixie tried to kill herself yesterday, but she's fine today. I am not so fine; my nerves are completely shot.

I packed everything I own in the truck and trailer, then got my horse out and dressed her up to go for a ride. I put the red Renegades on her front feet, to protect her heel bulbs, then I put these snazzy new shipping boots on all four legs. Then I spent an hour and a half trying to get her to load. I tried coaxing, annoying with the whip, food, clicker training food, pushing on her and crying, threatening to sell her at Fallon, and finally ignoring her. Ignoring her actually worked - the other ladies I board with, who had been quietly watching and occasionally offering helpful advice, came out and loaded the mare. One had treats and the other shoved from behind. We tied her head on the left side of the manger and left her standing diagonally in the whole trailer.

I thought there was no more horrible feeling than the totally impotent rage of your evil demon-horse going on a trailer when someone ELSE asks nicely, in the same way you'd been asking. I was wrong, actually.

I pulled out very slowly, in a textbook-perfect example of driving with a horse. At the corner, I stopped at the stop sign and made my right turn, and halfway through Dixie put her right foot in the manger. She immediately started thrashing around, so I turned on the hazards, leapt out of the truck, and yanked the window at the front of the trailer open while I frantically called ~C. She said to try and shove Dixie's foot back down, maybe with a rope to help lift the hoof over the lip of the manger, or just open the doors and let her try to get free on her own. I untied Dixie's head and she started thrashing around even more and got her head on the right side of the manger divider. Right leg on left side, head on right side. I have never been so scared in my life. I was so sure that she was going to break her leg or rip all of her tendons.

I couldn't budge the leg, so I ran around to the back to open the doors. As I headed around the trailer, there was an explosion of thunks and crashes, and when I got to the back my fucking horse's head was wedged in the back door window and she was wheezing. Her body was curled up sideways, with her back facing the doors. I have no idea how she did that - some kind of somersault backwards, I guess. I flung the doors open - gently shoved her head in as I got the second door open - and she hauled herself to her feet and walked out of the trailer completely sound.

I could not believe it. I still can't believe it, but the horse is completely unscratched. Her head isn't banged up. Her legs are cold, tight, and totally unscratched. Nothing is puffy or obviously sore.

I walked her the half-block back to the house, then walked back to the truck and drove it back to the house. I'd left the driver's door open the whole time, and there was a little kid standing at the fence next to the truck with her jaw dropped, just staring. I guess none of it took that long.

The trailer's kind of banged up. When Dixie somersaulted backwards, she hit the doors so hard that the divider thing between them is bowed out an inch and a half. The doors don't shut so good anymore. I think I can fix it with a come-along, if I can figure out where to attach the come-along. And I'd really like to fix it, because as soon as I get the title back from the state I'm selling it. I cannot think of a way to put that horse in that trailer where she'll ride without killing herself.

A couple people suggested I load her and take her around the block, because she probably learned something from getting her foot hung. I don't think humans usually learn anything from their mistakes, and it's the worst kind of anthropomorphism to think a horse, which is a creature not really known for its critical thinking skills, would learn from its mistakes. I think the only thing she learned is that (yellow) bumper pull trailers are absolutely, positively trying to kill her.

I don't know when I'll get another trailer. I still don't want to finance one, but once I sell the trailer of death, I could put almost 50% down, so it wouldn't be much, but I don't want to finance anything, ugh. And right now, I don't even want another trailer. I am so shaken by how I almost killed my horse that I don't want to do anything that might kill my horse. This is a problem because horses are huge idiots who can conceivably kill themselves doing anything at all.

I brought her an apple today. She ate it, then ran off the chickens who were scavenging for apple juice drool, then charged the fence to run off the low-ranking mare on the other side, then ran off the chickens AGAIN for good measure. Then she came back over to me, licked my hands for a long time, and fell asleep while I scratched the two permissible itchy spots - her poll and her withers. So I'd say Dixie is completely fine, and that's the only thing that makes this ordeal bearable.