Thursday, June 2, 2011

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.. (Buzzard Gulch.. Sue's place) May 2-6

The week before my first Region 1 NATRC competition: Mt. Diablo

Monday:   Sue thought it would be a good idea for me to go and look at the parking options at the Mt. Diablo ride site, so we took her car and drove over..  Wow, lot's of turning, twisty 2 lane road  and that's just getting to the turnoff.  Then after that the road gets pretty much one lane and is steep with hairpin turns.  (I'm thinking.. oh my.. my trailer and truck are waay too big for this).

We get to one turn off to go to the parking area, there's no way I can make this corner as you have to turn left sharply and I don't have anyway to turn wide, so we go past that one and  up and up we go, now there is a narrow turn to the left, you can either go between a rock and a tree  or the tree and a building.  The way it looks is.. I'm not going to make that turn either.  We look at the parking options and if I can get through those turns it will be difficult to make the turn into the parking area.  So we go to plan B.  Midway down the hill, at the beginning of the property is a flat area with horse pens.  The only problem is there is a huge wet area (a seep, like a slow leaking spring) that makes maneuvering into and out of this area difficult, not impossible, but difficult.  It also means that we have to drive up the hill for all of the meals and meetings and I'll have to ride Buddy up the hill to check him in for the begining of the ride.  Oh, well.. this will do. So with that done we go back to Sue's and hang out.

Wednesday:  Another evening to ride with Lazaro, this time he gets there a bit later in the evening and when we ride into the stables the aisle way is dark.  I think ot uh.. monsters.. but Buddy just follows Paris.. his new  girl friend, right into the dark barn.  Lazaro does his thing, I ride Buddy around and practice backing around poles and side passing.. I'm not going to admit to doing those things well, let's just say I DID practice!   Buddy is still watching the goats and sheep, but not as afraid as before
As we were leaving I was following Lazaro out of the barn. He stopped at the entrance and get some feed for another horse.  I'm sitting on Buddy and it's pretty dark.. There's feed bags rustling and a stallion starts trying to "sweet talk" Buddy.  Buddy just stands there.. he normally wants to eat and I figured he'd be pawing, but nope, it was no big deal.  So off we go to ride back to Sue's. By this time it's getting twilight, I figure it will be dark by the time we get back.  As we are nearly back to Sue's, Lazaro gets a call from his son who he had left at the boarding barn with the truck, the plan was the son would drive the truck to Sue's, but guess who had the keys? Lazaro was going to have someone come and get them, but I hadn't ridden enough so I said, let's take the keys back.  We do and it gets darker.. I'm happy, I get to practice riding in the dark.  Buddy could have cared less.  Luckily no cars came down the road, I kind of wished for a blinking light or some kind of light or something, but it was OK.
One more new thing to mark off the list.. Night riding..

Thursday:  Sue's Vet comes to do dental work on several of her horses.   I get to help get horses and hold them.. my kinda work.. Also the Vet was really good on showing me what he was looking at if a horse had a tooth issue.. Cool!
 I ask the Vet if he wouldn't mind checking Buddy's manure's for occult blood to see if the Succeed is working.  Buddy had been on the Succeed for a bit over 2 weeks, not a full month, but I wanted to go ahead and see if there was any improvement.
 He was able to check and there it was, a faint trace of albumin and hemoglobin.   I didn't see the test strip when Dr. Quintana'sassociate conducted the test,, but I do remember that  she said it was faint, but definitely positive  So no change. So Sue's Vet and I discussed the situation and treatment options. He suggested using a months' worth of GastroGard (or the generic version) and seeing what happens. I agree and I get a prescription to be sent off to a mail order place.  The ride is on Saturday, but I figure if I take it slow and it isn't too hot I should be ok.  Plus he's on the Succeed which should be helping already.  It would be only 1 day of riding instead of two like in New Mexico.

The rest of the day was spent getting  ready to go to the ride: getting everything organized, shopping for groceries, and getting the truck and trailer hooked up, as on Friday we go to Mt. Diablo. Sue and her friend Dorothy are Open Safety riders so Buddy will have a friend to go with him.   He still hates being on the trail by himself.

Friday:  I get to drive the big trailer into the Mt. DiabloDUHH.. Something new to learn.

So we get parked and get settled in.. and I'll tell the rest of the story in another BLOG!

If you haven't already.. feed the fish!

How many years has it been? Visiting Lisa my first BFF

Through the magic of Facebook, I had reconnected with a childhood friend.  Lisa (Flowers) Rogers was my best childhood friend from 5th grade until we graduated high school in 1973.  We lived on the same street and spent hours together on a daily basis.. Of course we were perfect children and teenagers and didn't get into any trouble at all.

 We last saw each other at a 10 year High School Reunion, and pretty much have been out of contact until recently

I had heard from her one time by phone, but nothing until we reconnected  on Facebook last year.  Sometimes, I'm not too good on reaching out.

I had thought of trying to see her when I was in Texas, but the locations and timing didn't work out.  Lisa had read on Facebook where I was going to be living in the Brentwood area and she mentioned  to me she would be visiting her son in Livermore.  So we made plans to get together for a visit.
 I had Sunday open, we decided to get together at the Wine Festival in Livermore. Livermore is about 30-45 minutes away over a bunch of hills (small mountain range?).

  We had a great time, I was able to meet her a grown  son, his girlfriend and Lisa's new husband Eddie.. Who I liked immediately.  We went around the streets chatting, catching up, and tasting wine.  What's not to like?
 It was special that there was still a connection between us, even after all of the years that had passed.
We figured it has to be about 38 years since we really  interacted with each other ( I went to College and pretty much didn't come back home) and 28 years since we had actually laid eyes on each other.

This was a special moment in my life, not horse related, but too special not to blog about.  This trip is all about the adventures and the special, unexpected moments

Did anyone notice there is a new fish?  If so.. what color is the new one?  Just checking..

Trip to Jane's in Auburn April 29-30

I wanted to go and visit Jane Switzer who has graciously invited me to stay at her place on and off during my stay in California.  My purpose was to visit with she and her family and to see if there was room for the trailer  to get in, get turned around and to find enough room to park.   Not to worry, a bit close on the drive in, but plenty of room.  Nice pens for Buddy too.  I took Charlie so he could meet  the family dogs.  The initial meeting of dogs went well.

Jane and her parents live on the same property so, it's easy to visit with everyone.  Her Mother cooked a wonderful meal.  It was fun to reconnect with Jane, her husband and her parents.  I hadn't seen them all since 2005 when some of us Region 6 NATRC folks, <Jackie Hathorn, Bill Hinkebein, and Liz Kendall>  came out to "do the Tevis".

On Saturday, I went with Jane to run errands, stopped at a really cute place in Newcastle that is a deli and produce stand, had a yummy sandwich for breakfast. Then we went to one of her friend's Floral shop where I found a FLYING PIG.  I collect flying pigs, so I HAD to buy it.. Now I have a flying pig for the trailer.   (Pigs can and do fly, so anything is possible)

Got back to Jane's place, we  sat and chatted for awhile, then it was time to go back to  Sue's place as I had plans for the next day to meet an old Grade School friend at a Wine Festival in a nearby town.  Had a good drive back.  It's not bad to drive  here as long as you drive on the weekends and after 9:30 am and before 3 pm.  I'm just sayin'

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hanging with the Vaqueros (riding with Lazaro)

Lazaro is a trainer  who is working with Sue's little, tiny (cute) palomino, Molly, <girl> mule who's name is Paris Muleton.  (what a hoot).  Lazaro has trained several of Sue's mules.   Lazaro is from Jalisco, Mexico.  Jalisco is a  state in Mexico, of which Guadalajara is the capital.  He comes from a long line of horsemen. His father and grandfather both trained horses in Mexico, that's why I call him a "Vaquero", the title of a  true Mexican cowboy, as rich with heritage as any American cowboy.
Lazaro rides with a  traditional Mexican saddle, it has exposed rigging and a HUGE horn, doesn't look very comfortable, but he seems to like it. It is really heavy, and Paris is a tiny mule, but it doesn't seem to bother her.

It's interesting to watch him work with Paris.. he has her drag a cattle panel around behind her before he leaves Sue's place.  He ropes and dallys the panel and off they go. Around and around in the small enclosed area  in front of the house. Then off to the local Mexican Boarding barn about a 1/2 mile away, where the guys there have "Race Horses".  
I asked if I could ride with him, so I saddled up Buddy and off we went.  Lazaro and I both don't speak each other's language very well, but we made do with "Spanglish".   The boarding barn is a rough hewn bunch of buildings and barns where there are stalls, a big round pen, a  training track that has been disc-ed up with, a tractor and a small 2 stall starting gate.  There is also another disc-ed track around the big field where the race track is.
When we get close to the boarding barn, I see a huge amount of sheep and goats, old shaggy sheep with horns,  old goats, pigmy goats, sheep and goats of all ages, shapes and colors and all MOVING around. The kids were jumping and playing, often jumping straight into the air.  Now I'm  telling this because Buddy isn't used to sheep or goats or anything that will jump straight into the air.  So he's watching and snorting, but doesn't try to run away because he has his friend Paris with him.  We go into the barn area and ride straight into a low ceiling barn and down the barn aisle.  The barn is full of horses in stalls, many of them stallions.  I figure Buddy is going to freak out, but he does OK.
 There are several men either chatting with each other or working with their horses.  No women to be seen.  I get stared at a bit, but 'm sure it's because I'm a "gringa" on a big, fat, funny colored horse.  Oh and I have a helmet on, I'm sure it was the helmet they were looking at.

 I great them all in Spanish, Lazaro  ties up Paris and goes to get his 3 year old Quarter Horse Stallion. This horse is small, but cute. Nice head and a pretty shiny bay color.
I notice Lazaro has the horse tacked in a racing bridle, but no saddle. Only a towel with a rope holding it on and Lazaro has his feet through the rope.  EEK.. But the man sits that horse as if he were on the deepest dressage saddle you could find. He never moves, even when the horses acts up and jumps around.
He trots and breezes the horse, while he's doing that, I take Buddy and ride him on the track around the outside of the field. One time I was by the track as Lazaro galloped by, Buddy jumped and twirled, but he calmed down pretty quick.  He wasn't sure why that horse was running past him so fast.  I think he thought he should be running away from what ever monster THAT horse was running away from too.

Then Lazaro takes the horse back and Paris does her job, she and Lazaro pony (leads) the Stallion in circles while he cools off. Then Lazaro gets a friend's horse and Paris is now a Pony Horse, which means she gets to trot and gallop alongside the race horse..  This little mule with a very small trot and walk keeps up with the race horse and gallops along with him.. doesn't miss a step.  It's so funny watching her gallop alongside this big horse.  When that is done, she  leads this horse in circles again until this horse is cool.

As I'm waiting for Lazaro, I notice more farm animals I didn't see before, a herd of Brahmas.. Momma  Brahmas, baby Brahmas and of course, at least one BIG bull.  Brahmas are the big cows with a hump that are ridden in the Rodeo, they can be not so nice.  I figured Buddy would be concerned about the Brahmas, he could have cared less, he was still watching and being concerned about the goats and sheep all moving and jumping around.
   After Lazaro works the horses, we go for a ride around the neighborhood. we ride by a fast moving highway,  next to farm equipment, over and next to irrigation ditches.  Buddy had never seen an irrigation ditch.  There were  other bad, scary monsters.. Like a big boat and an abandoned hot tub and the worst thing ever, a pile of big logs.
 He actually did well, Paris spooked more than he did.  But remember how he is deathly afraid of Llamas?   Or "Yamas" as Lazaro called them, well, he isn't too fond of Alpacas either.  There was an Alpaca farm we had to ride by.  I knew it might not be the most safe thing I would ever do to ride by it, so I got off and lead him by the Alpaca farm.  He did Ok
 Poor Lazaro, he couldn't figure out why I was off leading the horse, he even offered to get off and give me a "leg up" (put me up on the horse). I told him no thank you as I didn't want him to throw out his back. I'm not sure he understood me exactly.  Once he saw how high I needed to be in order to get back on, he understood why I was walking so far.  

So back to Sue's we go.  The Vaquero, Paris Muleton, (the Race Horse Pony Mule), myself and Buddy (the wonder horse) who wonders when he gets to go home to  Missouri and quit being  terrified by all these new scary monsters.  What a wonderful evening, something I would have never experienced if I had stayed at home in Missouri.  What an adventure.

Enough for now.  Time to feed the fish and to go to bed.

 As always.. More later..  <sometimes much later, I'll try to be more timely>

Adventures with Sue (April 21 to April 28)

As I said before I was so happy to get to Sue's place.  Buddy settled in nicely, but Charlie and Jethro, Sues' Blue Tick hound didn't make friends quickly.   Jethro had to make sure Charlie knew his place.  No dog fights, but some growling and snapping on both of their parts.

Sue has a perfect place for me to put my trailer, so I unhooked and made myself at home.  Sue and I  got into a routine fairly quickly.  Coffee/juice together in the morning and generally dinner in the evening,  we'd  either go out or one of us would fix something.  Sue  brought back  Burritos from a local deli for lunch a couple of times, fresh, like home- made even..

 Early on, we spent a good deal of time planning and arranging travel  for our Alaska trip in July.  Sue is going to judge a NATRC competition, I'm going to ride the ride manager's horse and then we are going sight seeing.  We will be flying into and out of Fairbanks, Alaska, so wanted to see as much as we could of the rest of the state.  We will be there a little less than 2 weeks, so we decided on a  train trip  to Denali and then down to Anchorage, where we go on a jet boat ride to see a glacier and a float trip back down the river.

We had planned on taking a rental car back to Fairbanks, but, it was cheaper to fly back. so we are going to fly.  It was going to cost somewhere around 500 dollars to rent a car for 3 days.  Anchorage is only 350 miles  from Fairbanks, a good days drive, but it was a bit over 100 dollars to fly back.   It was a hard decision to make since I would have liked to have run up to Wasilla, Alaska to see Russia..   Or have coffee with Sarah Palin.   When we get back to Fairbanks, we have a few days to unwind, there's a Gold Rush Festival  we are going to go to, plus a Riverboat ride that's kinda neat.
 I made all of the travel arrangements. I have great fun doing that, I should have been a travel agent.

The first weekend I was there, we hauled over to a local park (Round Valley) close to Mt. Diablo and rode there for a few hours. I saw my first ground squirrel, how cute I thought, long tailed prairie dogs.  I didn't think they were so cute once we got on the trail and I saw what kind of holes they dig.  Ones that your horse's hooves can go right into.  You don't even want to get off the trails there. The place was riddled with holes.  You really had to watch on the sides of the trails too.  One wrong step.. not good. Not so cute ground squirrels.
  Sue pointed at the top of the huge hill and said, later on our way back, we'll go over that.  I kinda thought she meant around it..Nope, over it we went.    Buddy had his first long climb of many more long climbs to come.  Up and up we went, some long climbs, a few steep switchbacks..  He just dug in and climbed, I was a bit concerned on the narrow sections and it was a long way down.  I always tell myself  I'm going to jump off to the left or right, which ever the high side is, just in case.. I want to have an emergency escape route.

He did good going  down hill, sometimes he's very slow on the down hills, but, this day, he was just walking out and he quickly  left Sue's mule Henri behind.
Sue said Henri wasn't happy about that and even threw a buck in.. which  he never does.  
It was a good ride, nice conditioning and a good preview of the trails for the Round Valley Ride to be held in the middle of June.

The next day was Easter and Sue invited me to join her at her Parent's home for Easter Dinner.  We had a nice visit and a wonderful meal.  It was kind of Sue to invite me and I enjoyed meeting her parents.  I did miss my family, as they all get together at my sister's farm for dinner and an Easter Egg hunt, but I called and talked to them all and was able to vicariously share in their Easter celebration.

The days go by so quickly.. soon it was time to get ready to go visit Jane in Auburn. I had  wanted to go visit with she and her family and see if my trailer could get in and out of her place.    I ran to Auburn on the 28th, I'll tell that story soon, but the  next story I must tell, is about riding with the Vaqueros.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Quick update

I've moved to my second location in Auburn, California.   Got here Sunday eve... seems like I'm just pooped in the evening when I usually blog.. I'll try to fix that this weekend.  MY competition  this weekend was cancelled due to a contagious horse virus.. So I'll use that time blogging..

 Buddy is fine, he's well, but everyone is staying put and not gathering bunches of horses together until this virus blows over. Charlie is good too.   I'm off to go drink wine at one of the many wineries in this area, so I'd better get ready to go.. More fun stories to come..

Thursday, May 12, 2011

One Water Pump, Serpentine Belt and Sick Horse later

I can't say that my stop in Farmington was all bad.  My semi operating fridge in the Living Quarters finally decided to work on the propane, after I bought a large  wheeled cooler at Walmart!

 I had a great time with Judy and Cristy Cumberworth.  I really enjoyed the trail that was laid out for the ride, Buddy did great both days with the observations and handling the terrain, and everyone was so kind and good to me. 
The evening Buddy coliced one of my neighbors asked me if I wanted to come over and share their grill and basically share some  dinner.   They knew how tired I was and how worried I was.  That was so kind.

Monday, Buddy was better, so  I moved him back into a pen and decided to go back into town for  diesel and to buy a few more bales of hay.    I met Cristy for lunch and we talked about horse massage techniques that she was learning.   When we went back to the stables, she demonstrated on her sister's horse, then did some work with Buddy.   After that, Buddy and I were models for a Ad that will be placed in the Appaloosa Journal promoting NATRC.  That was fun.
 Cristy is such a good photographer..  Hopefully she didn't have to Photoshop the photos too much.

 By the way.. I think Cristy "traded out" this Ad  with the  Editor of the Appaloosa Journal.  Meaning it didn't cost NATRC anything, and was a donation from Cristy.. Thank you Cristy!

Monday night I got ready to pull out in the morning..

Tuesday, I left Farmington, headed to Interstate 40 to begin the turn toward California.  I had heard from Jonni Jewell about a KOA in Williams  that was very nice and had horse pens, so I decided to stop there, even tho' it was just a bit over 300 miles.   I decided I would stay on the better of the two choices for highways, this one took me to Ship Rock, New Mexico.. It's a huge Rock that just juts right out of the valley floor.  I saw it when we were on the trail and it had to be over 20 miles away.  I couldn't get a good picture since Iwas driving, but I sure remember the magnificence of the structure.    There was some construction on the road but it was straight and had good shoulders, all I ask for.

The KOA was every bit as nice as Jonni said it was, it even had a covered pool area with a HOT TUB.  I did my wash and sat in the HOT TUB until they closed the pool. It was delightful and a great way to end a day.
I do have to admit to a small sewer dump problem.. or the" horrible embarrassing  incident" as I call it.  I had to buy an additional hose and hook up thingy and let's just say that when I first started the dumping process, the hook up thingy sprang apart and it wasn't a pretty sight.. or smell.

Wednesday, I was on my way to California..  Techapi to be exact.  Techapi is pronounced "to hatch a pea".. took me forever to learn how to pronounce it. The drive from Williams to Techapi was pretty unremarkable, except to say I skirted the Mohave desert.. Not very many towns out in that area. Cristy gave me a heads up about where to buy fuel so I wouldn't get gouged by the places closer to the desert.  Her tip.. buy fuel in Kingman Arizona, which I did.

 I did get close to Edwards Airforce base, the  space shuttle uses this as an alternative landing site.  I can see why.. Lot's of land to put several shuttles down on.

 I found a "bed and barn" outside of Techapi California,  Lynn Wolfe who runs it, invited me to dinner and  fixed great steaks she also had bagels, juice and coffee for breakfast.  She just asks for a donation for the meals.  The place is nice and clean, and she gives you  a feeding of hay for free.  It's a bit off the road, but worth it.

Thursday was the last leg to Sue's house. What a long drive.  Not a hard one, just long and tiring.   I did my first bit of Mountain pass driving and the Exhaust brake worked great. 45 mph going down hill and I hardly had to use my brakes.   I got to Sue's around 5 in the evening, got the horse settled in and we went to a Mexican place for dinner..  We chatted for quite awhile  at her house,then I was suddenly exhausted and went to bed.  I was so happy to be at Sue's place.  I finally made it.. horse, dog and the big huge horse trailer.

More adventures to come.. there's a new fish in town.. he's mighty hungry....