Friday, September 23, 2011

I blame Cersei.

If you're not a resident of the central/western US, you may not know about goatheads.

They are evil caltrops. They're the seed of an evil plant and they cause evil wounds to people feet, dog feet, and bicycle tires. Not that I have a bicycle, but they're THAT sturdy. If I had a laminitic horse, I would seriously worry about goathead caltrops in its soles! Happily, a quick Google tells me that goathead plants are the only native thing left living in my yard - I erroneously assumed that That One Vine wasn't a devil plant. Since I removed all the other native spiny weedy plants - and by removed I mean I've filled up to six trash bags per week for three months - it'll be easy enough for me to kill off the goatheads.


Two days ago I found one on a sock while I was slipping on my cheap imitation Crocs. Yesterday I found another one. Today I found a third and decided to Take Action - I turned on all the lights and crawled around the den carpet feeling for goatheads.

I hope I found them all.

edited to add: after I took this picture I found one more (and two Cersei-nail-clippings.)

I would really like to blame Cersei for this. Not that I would yell at her or anything - she is but an innocent dog - but, you know, cleaning up after the dog is easier than cleaning up after yourself. Sadly, ALL the goatheads were within a couple of feet of where I sit on my couch. (As opposed to Cersei's couch - don't all good dogs have their own slipcovered couches? Trust me, it keeps the People Couch much cleaner if you just give in and let the dog have her own.)

I'd really like to pin this one on the dog, but circumstantial evidence suggests it's I who is tracking them in. :(

Virginia City 100

For some strange reason I volunteered for the early morning shift of the VC 100 last weekend. I got up way too early and drove down to south Reno. It was cold!

I got to vet scribe. Yay, that's my favorite! The ride was quite small with only 25 entries. It's been a tough year for most rides, plus VC is usually spaced out far enough from Tevis that people can do both - but this year Tevis will be just three weeks later than VC, so I'm sure they lost a few riders there. The first check is down on the edge of south Reno, just a couple of miles from The Fancy Mall. Nothing there looked interesting enough to take pictures of (plus I hadn't had enough coffee to care). After the last riders came through, I went over to the fancy mall, bought some fruit at the farmers' market, and hit Starbucks. Then up the bus plunge scenic mountainside road to Virginia City.

Basecamp is about a mile outside of VC, in the tiny (1000 people?) community of Gold Hill. There is a big foofaraw about a new open pit gold mine right down the road - most of the houses in Gold Hill had "stop the mine!" signs. I know that mining is pretty much the only thing keeping Nevada solvent right now, but I'd be pretty pissed if they were open pit mining a mile from MY cute historic house and MY well.

I think this is the mine in question.

Here's Six Mile Canyon Bus Plunge Road, which leads down to some little community between Dayton and Stagecoach. The pale stuff that looks like a sand dune is historic mine tailings (good for tourism), as opposed to current mine tailings (bad for tourism).

Virginia City.

Ancient Jeeps from Storey County fire/rescue.

Inside the Ice House, which used to be a real ice house. (Where did the ice come from? Little lakes in the Sierras?)



Pretty cool.

At one point there was a small brush fire down toward Carson City, but the crews got it contained fast and it fortunately wasn't on the trail. (I think that's the most hardcore Surface Factors pull possible - trail was on fire so we pulled everybody.)

People had come roaring in to the first vet check right on time with the historical averages, but they were very slow getting to the lunch check. I actually really enjoyed sitting around talking to the vets and volunteers. I've been forcing myself to volunteer at rides and be social and chitchat, and I'm finally at the point where I recognize enough people (and enough people recognize me) that I can just talk and listen without feeling agonizingly out of place. The vets actually spent a lot of time talking Theory of Vetting, which was fascinating to listen to - what they think the trail will sort out versus when they want to pull the horse to keep it from being hurt. Of course most of the talk was about the crash at the air race. So sad!

I eventually went home about 4, to a Very Angry Horse and a dog who didn't really notice I left. She is the queen of snoozing on her back on my bed. :)

Blog bankruptcy declared

I'm too far behind to comment.  Sorry, yall.  I did read everybody's blogs, but I hereby admit that I just can't comment on them all.  Too overwhelming.  I have been all blah'd out and generally feeling emotionally sucky - I have nothing to say about my life and nothing helpful to say to other people, whine whine.  I took that big spotted horse out yesterday and got back on track, I think.

(Email bankruptcy is when you admit that your email is insurmountable and you're just not going to try to respond to any existing messages.  I think blog bankruptcy should work the same way - I will go back to my usual commenting frequency starting from today.)

I'm putting up pictures from Virginia City and last week's ride behind Peavine and I'll get them written up and scheduled.  Yesterday I didn't take any pictures - it was just another summer ride at Red Rocks - but I did convince Dixie to gallop fearlessly canter hesitantly toward some cows. They were hovering around the trailer, eating stray bits of hay. (I didn't hassle them - they moo'd and gallumped about 20 feet away and stopped to glare balefully at us.)  I think she's finally getting the idea that she's higher up the food chain than a cow.

I have no idea if High Desert is still on for October, but if it is, I'm planning on the 25 LD on Saturday. I have convinced myself that anything longer will cripple my horse, and I just don't want to ride Sundays. Everybody else wants me to ride Sundays, but that's the day that G and I sack out and watch football and IM each other about it. It's the only day of the week where it almost feels like he's here and I don't want to miss it.  None of my riding buddies understand this in the least, but there it is.

Friday, September 16, 2011


(Not to me or mine - don't freak out, Mom!)

I never blog about the news - that's what the media is for - but this one is literally so close to home.  We live about five miles from Reno-Stead airport, and every year they have air races.  I kinda worry about a plane crashing on my house, but it's far back in the ranks of worries, like a big earthquake or a wildfire.  Well, tonight a P-51 crashed into the stands on the last race of the night.  Apparently it's pretty bad.  My heart goes out to the victims.

Volunteering at the

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nerd alert: Top 100 SF books

One for the nerds! Saw this on a totally unrelated blog, thought it looked fun.  Feel free to play along, or just castigate my terrible taste in the comments.  :)

NPR's Top 100 SF/F booklist

I will bold the ones I've read (at least partially) and snark about the suck.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card

4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert (well, I read Dune at any rate.  It didn't catch my interest enough to read the rest.)

5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin (I think everyone knows about my love/hate relationship with GRRM.)

6. 1984, by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov (Started it long ago, but it was just too old to keep my interest.  Old SF can be good, but I usually fail to suspend my disbelief when they start talking about how the super advanced computing machines can store *thousands of books* on one tape drive!)

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (Listened to this on our cross-country move.  Highly recommended, but especially good if you're driving across a lot of America.)

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman  (It's good, but do you know what's even better in the 80s book to movie world?  The Neverending Story!  Way darker than the movie.)

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan (Well, kind of.  I quit about 5 books in, after an endless slog through the Aes Sedai bathing and plotting and only two chapters about the theoretical hero.  If I am ever bedridden I might go back to them.)

13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell (First read as a kid.  Didn't really get it.  Title very misleading.)

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson (Our kids will never understand about sky "the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."  They'll think it means bright blue.)

15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore

16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov

17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein (Good stuff if you're a teenager.  Probably doesn't age well.)

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss (These are surprisingly good!  Remarkably good!)

19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick (I just don't like PKD.  I've tried several of his books but they're like bad acid trips.  I don't need any reminders of that, tyvm.)

22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King (It was just ok.)

26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson (One of my personal top 10.)

27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury

28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman (I've always meant to get around to it, but... they're comic books.  I like real books!)

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein (Space marines and weird right-wing SF propaganda!  Very entertaining, at least.  And the protagonist is nonwhite, which is rare for older SF.)

32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams

33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey

34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein (This one did age well with me.)

35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller (Read half of it last week.  Got bored.  May go back to it, but life is short and I no longer feel guilty about abandoning books.)

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells

37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne

38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys

39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny

41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings (How the hell did this end up at 41?  It's awful!  It's really amazingly trite.  I loved it when I was 14 though!)

42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson (Read the first one.  Although now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I even finished it.  It was meh?)

44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven

45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin (Fascinating look at gender.)

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Again, perhaps if I'm bedridden for months.)

47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White

48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman (Very good!  I read Un Lun Dun shortly after I read Neverwhere - that's fun.)

49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke

50. Contact, by Carl Sagan

51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons (They're good, they really are!  Sadly Dan Simmons appears to have gone totally insane.  But these four are still worth a read.)

52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman (Good, but how did this get more votes than Coraline?)

53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson (Another personal top-ten.  I annoy my husband to no end by constantly quoting bits of Crypto at him.  Am very tempted to name my firstborn Bobby Shaftoe.)

54. World War Z, by Max Brooks

55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle

56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman

57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett (I've tried a few Discworld and I just can't get into them.)

58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson (Started it as a kid/teenager.  Too dark.  Never went back.)

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind

63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson

66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist (More teenager stuff.)

67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks (Seriously, how did this get on here?  If you're 12, and you just read LOTR, and you want something exactly like it, read this!)

68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb

70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger

71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne

73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore (I was a kid!)

74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson (I'm such a Stephenson fangirl.)

76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke

77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey (I read one.  Weird mix of politics and kinky sex.)

78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson (Started it this summer.  Didn't finish the first book.  Meh.)

82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde

83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks (Oh man, these are awesome.  Just discovered them this year and ripped through the whole series in like a month.  Yes, I do read ridiculously fast.)

84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart

85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson (His weakest book, IMO.  Too much philosophical yammering, too little action.)

86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher (Why is the crappy Codex Alera on here and Dresden isn't?  I read the first one.)

87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe (I have a love/hate thing with Wolfe and I haven't gotten around to these yet.)

88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn (I never liked Star Wars enough to read the fanfic extended universe works.)

89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan (Well, I read two or three when I was a teenager.  I hear the last one gets seriously weird.)

90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock (Read part as a kid.  Not to my taste then.)

91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley (Sunshine is *excellent!*  Everything McKinley wrote is wonderful, actually.  Aerin from The Hero and The Crown was probably the first awesome female hero I ever read.)

93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge (Quite good, along with the loose sequel, A Deepness in the Sky.  I haven't liked his other stuff.)

94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov

95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson

96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis (I love her time travelers!)

98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville (Ehhh.  I really liked Un Lun Dun but haven't enjoyed - or even finished - anything else by Mieville.)

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony (I was 10, ok?  Why is this on here?)

100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Milton never went to California

Paradise isn't lost, it's hiding in the Sierras.

Doesn't look like much from the topo map, does it?

At last week's NEDA ride, R invited me to come ride the high country with her. Monday I went to Paradise Lake with her and two other high country trail riders. Words fail me - I can't describe how beautiful it is up there. I took a lot of (bad) pictures so they'll have to suffice.

I got to the parking area at Boreal a little early - I wasn't sure how long it would take to get up Donner Pass with the trailer. I wasn't quite motivated enough to braid Dixie, but I did play Pretty Pony with her.


Dixie was remarkably solid the whole time. She didn't spazz about the mountain bikers, but she did worry a lot about backpackers. She tripped once, just like each of the other horses. I can't tell you what a relief it was to be on a surefooted trustworthy horse! She stepped over some very large logs, followed me up a 2' ledge onto a bridge and back down the ledge on the other side, followed me down a very tricky rockfall section of trail, and stood patiently whenever we stopped. Such a good horse.

This is near the trailhead.

I think this is looking from the ridge along Andecite Peak toward Castle Peak.

The biggest meadow we crossed.

My poor iPhone just can't handle pics at high altitude. I've noticed that the higher I go, the worse the overexposure is.

The altitude didn't bother me - I actually hiked quite a bit of trail - but you could tell you were very high up. The sun was brutally intense - and, of course, there were snowpacks and wildflowers everywhere. This little meadow was waist-high in yellow, white, and purple flowers.


R has a picture of Dixie and I standing on a big snowpack - when she sends it to me I'll add it here. :)

Dixie approved of Paradise Lake.

More lake shots.


I firmly maintain that I have a horse because I'm too lazy to walk places, but I am seriously tempted to buy a tent, hike nine miles out to that lake, and sleep on that rock ledge.

I continue to be impressed by my Renegades. I bought some new toe straps last week - the rear straps were pretty grotty and one of the fronts was failing. I couldn't remember which front strap was bad, and they looked about the same, so I just shrugged and left the fronts alone. Turns out it was the right - that damn strap kept coming undone. I hopped off and re-velcro'd it several times on the trip out, and on the trip back when it came undone again I just left it loose for a mile or so. The boot never budged, over rocks and logs and through bogs. When we stopped to give the youngest horse a rest, I pulled the rear boots, put a good toe strap on the front right, and we motored on home. Straps are cheap - don't buy three just because you know one of them is good. Just buy four straps, Funder.

Dixie didn't drink as well as I'd like, but she's gotten really good at grabbing grass on the move, and she didn't sweat a lot. It was a hard ride, but very slow and pleasant, and she never huffed and puffed. Of course she didn't want mash at the trailer. R suggested I try wetting her hay at home, to get her used to eating gross soggy food, and I'm going to try that tonight.

My rig towed amazingly well over Donner Pass. I had plenty of truck to get up the pass, and it held its speed on the long downgrade coming home.

I got some great feedback on my trim post, and I haven't forgotten about it! Smazourek, thanks especially for the comments on Flickr!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hooves, August 2011

A couple of people have talked about hooves / trimming on their blogs, so I thought I'd get some pics of Dixie's feet for comparison. I have been trimming them myself this summer - not sure why, and I should get my awesome trimmer out to take a look. I feel like I've been so busy though!

She has desert hooves. If you live anywhere that isn't bone dry, your horses' feet won't look like this!

Front right, heel view. They're too long (I was going to trim the day I fell off) and you can see how they're flaring on the outside. That tight crack in her frog probably means there's thrush in there.
Front right

Sole view. The funny looking stuff on the sole is just really dried out dead sole. In wetter climates that's the white crumbly stuff you can dig out with a hoof pick. You can see the bar on the left side is high and starting to fold forward, and that whole heel quarter is flared. Her walls are very thick and rock-hard, from the climate, and her white lines are more stretched than I like to see.
Front right

I scraped at her sole with my hoof knife. I know she has thick live sole and I just poked around a bit to see if any of the dead stuff was ready to pop off. I dug the dead stuff out around the bars, to make sure they weren't folded up under there. Then I rasped the walls for a while from the bottom, then rolled them from the top. She has a lot of concavity and a lot of dead sole in there, so I just leveled the walls with the dead sole - they are still above live sole level, and hopefully she'll walk out some of that flaky stuff now. The heel on the left was starting to crack so I rolled that a little higher up, to take the pressure off of the cracks. They should grow out fine.
Front right

Rear right, heel view. Her rears are flatter, spade-shaped, and tend to flare on the outside wall. The flaring is because of her conformation or way of going, one of the two. I try to touch up the roll on the outside rear walls more often to keep the flaring from getting worse. The walls on the rears aren't nearly as long.
Rear right

Sole view. See how the bar on the left side is sort of collapsed forward and smushed down? I pried and whacked at it with the hoof knife but didn't do a very good job trimming it.
Rear right

I didn't take a very good after picture of the rear, because there wasn't much to do. I rolled the walls from the top, especially the outside quarter and heel. You can see some bruising on the outside heel, where the walls got too long and started to pull away from the hoof. If I remain injury-free and diligent about rolling that area, the heel will grow in nice and tight.
Rear right

She is sound over any surface. I don't do long distances over rocks without boots, but she's perfectly happy to trot over rocks. If she showed any kind of soreness or hesitancy, I'd be more worried about the bruises and treating for thrush. But now that I've seen her get hurt, I know that she's not some stoic hiding her pain, so I'm not too worried about it.

Here's some side shots on concrete.

Front right (from the inside). I think her front heels could come down a little more?
Front right (inside)


The wonky curve I'm always battling

The full set has a few more shots. Trimmer friends - what do you see?