Thursday, December 25, 2008

we've been riding

Happy Holidays to all !! The weather the past couple weeks has been everything to single digit wind chill some nights, to almost 70 the past couple days.I really keep an eye on the horses when we get those fast temperature swings, as I worry about bouts of colic.( Not that I'm paranoid or anything) So far, none of the horses have indicated any upset tummy's. During the warmer days, hubby and I have been able to get the horses out on the trails some. We have done everything from exploring some of the old trails that are part of the original trail system, to moving out along the regular "wide" trails. Played a little bit with some log jumping, or should I say log "hopping", and climbing up and down some of our eroded areas. This has been the busy time of year when hubby worked Monday Night Football, it has been hard to find time for him to go riding with me. But, football season over for the most part, so we are taking advantage of him being home, and the Texas weather being reasonable. Of course, both can change with little notice.

So, now some of the many photos we have been snapping on the trail and otherwise.

Hank shares the trough on the trail with some of the cattle

Stirrups just about drag on each side, with the old trail washed out so deep, it is above our heads

Gee Hank, think you can fit?

Hank and I down the old washed out trail

Gambler will go about anywhere we ask him. Not always graceful looking, but surefooted.

Gambler is not much of a jumper, and is more of a step and hopper.

Hank would be a cute jumper if anyone would be brave enough to do so!

This is what hubby does. Connets the wires, keeps everything working. Pretty simple, huh?

Monday, December 8, 2008


I found I did not have time to post over the weekend like I had thought I might. So, here is the story of Hanks first ride after his surgery.

I had no set time to arrive in my mind, and finally hit the road around 10 AM.

Hank ready to go

On the way, I felt a tiny rush of that feeling you get if you might be getting a cold. So, I made a list of things I needed, and made a stop at a Wal-Mart on the way. Some vitamins, some Airborne (the stuff the teacher created to help keep you healthy when around kids with colds) and some juice. Arrived around 12:30, got parked and set up, and then headed to check in. The vet at this ride is one of my favorites. He not only vets NATRC competitive rides, but also AERC endurance rides. Has a great eye and ear to find things before they become big issues. Part of going to this ride was the fact he was the vet. I knew he’d take that extra care to keep an eye on things that I might miss during the ride. And also willing to look at the horse anytime between his regular checks if I had any concerns or questions. We walked up to him, and I told him Hank had colic surgery about 95 days ago. Poor man, I knew he’d be set back, as most seem to be much more serious than Hanks ended up being. I explained what the surgeon had to do, Hanks recovery, the vets recommendations, and that they said to “Go have fun” when I called them about going to a ride. He was thankful I told him everything. I was thinking “Why wouldn’t I ??” And then felt bad for a horse that a rider would hide all that info. Even if it meant that my horse might be scrutinized more, I wanted to make sure he was aware of what the horse had been through, and to make sure we were good to go all weekend. The first thing he checked was his gums, and asked me if I had been looking at them at home on a regular basis. Oops, I was guilty of not doing so, but will now. They were injected, meaning a little of that red, Toxic line near the teeth, and slightly yellow. Great, first thing to worry and obsess over! The rest of his check in was great. I told him I’d bring him over in the AM, before we timed out, to make sure he was looking better.

It was a chilly night, with the temp. getting down to 26 degrees. Hank had his super warm jimmies, and I had my super warm sleeping bag, and my camper has heat. 6AM came way to early to my mind, but I gave him his morning goodies, and I got ready. It was a beautiful sunrise, and I was excited to see what kind of day it was going to be

Saturday sunrise

I wanted to ride towards the back of the group, so I’d not be pressured to push quicker if someone was on my heels, and there was no place to pass, or I was trying to keep that nice window where we are not in a big group. I rode with Dolly and her horse Sparq. Hank and Sparq adore each other, as they train together some, and often it can cause issues with them at rides, but we got going and it was working out fine. About a mile out of camp, the judges had us pick up the canter, then do a halt. Chilly morning, and fresh horses can, and did, cause some entertainment for them. Thankfully, it was not Hank. Had a little hump in his back, but did not buck, and stopped pretty nice. I was thrilled, as he can, and has bucked some out of joy at a canter when feeling good. Six O ranch is a 1600 acre private cattle ranch. The trails have been created for distance rides. They work their way all over the ranch, up on some “hills” with views, and through the woods, and over prairie like sections.

Look, you can see camp

Later after our pulse/respiration stop, the vet checked metabolics. Hank was doing great, but did not want to stand still, and got dinged a point. Bad Hank. Later the horsemanship judge had an obstacle that we were to back up a small hill. Well, Hank, who does this at home perfect, decided that he would nt only say no, but say HECK no. Even reared a little, which is something he has never done. He thinks for himself often, and I could tell those brain cells were in overdrive, and he decided he was just not going to do this. Thankfully I was able to school him, and we got it done, but got a no score. I was glad the vet did not see his naughty behavior. (we did it twice on Sunday on our own when we passed it, just fine)

Now, the part of the story that could have been SO bad, but turned out fine. As we were watering in one of the creek crossings, Dollys horse Sparq, stepped into a small, shallow hole in the rock base of the creek. Imagine a large flat rock, that has dips, divots, and rough spots from the erosion. Now imagine one that is about the size of a horses foot, and 4-5” deep. Dolly felt Sparq start to move, and then stop as his right front foot was stuck. She hopped off, I hopped off and was able to quickly tie Hank to a tree with his halter bridle combo to hold him, and she started to try to un-stick his foot. But because the rock was solid, we could not break away any chunks around it, and we could not push the foot backwards, or forwards, as rock was blocking that action too.

stuck foot

If he really pulled it would not only rip off the shoe, and a bunch of hoof, and if he went sideways, and the foot did not come loose, a broken leg was a huge possibility. But he stood perfect. I mean. PERFECT. Between riders cantering into the P&R for help, and the drag riders calling on the radio, we had some help, and tools arriving. The first, a fence tool/hammer, was not able to do much. Then a car tire iron budged the hoof a little, but finally started to bend! At last, the ranch manager and vet arrived with a crow bar. By working it under the hoof and shoe, they were able to get the foot to shift backwards enough, to finally lift it out of the hole. The shoe pulled loose, and they had to remove it the rest of the way. We rode on into the P&R, where I was able to get an easyboot on the foot and Dolly was able to finish the days ride. Towards the end, Sparq was starting to look a little bit off when he trotted. She got the show replaced, and he vetted out Saturday fine, but Sunday was a tad off on circles, so Dolly decided to pull from the ride. Looks like just a bit of stress to the ankle joint, and she said he was better Monday AM. This was such a freak thing to have happen. And had Sparq been less cooperative, the results could have been devastating. But he never flinched or tried to get out of the situation on his own in a panic. He had two people down in front of him working on the foot, Dolly holding him, and others nearby, ready to help if needed.

At the end of day check out, Hank had perfect scores, with the exception of a point loss for muscle tone. Metabolics were great though, and I was not surprised with a little MT score loss, as it was a long day for Hank. That night it was time for the ride potluck. This region sure can cook, with many yummy dishes to chose from. It was hard to not just eat a whole meal at the desert table, but I resisted, and had just a tiny piece of a couple items. Hank appreciates that I am sure. He has to carry enough of me already!

Sunday AM we headed out a little earlier, and with his trail partner not going out today, we found a pocket, and rode most of the 26 miles alone. It was a lovely day, a bit warmer, and Hank was feeling great. He had his ears up more, and seemed to be enjoying himself more.

My favorite view

We had an obstacle to do that involved crossing a creek, going over to a log and side passing it and stopping at the fence/gate, reaching down and clipping a close pin on it. They judged the horses willingness to cross the muddy creek, the side pass, and willingness to stand still as we clipped the close pin. The horsemanship judge commented that was the best she had seen that morning. Then the horse behind him, a really nice Appaloosa took it a notch higher, and was picture perfect!

The ranch has a lot of wildlife, and I came around a corner, and spooked up a doe. As I looked towards the trees to see if I could see her again, I saw a nice buck watching us trot by. Can you see him? (might have to click and enlarge the photo!)

Would you have passed the buck?

At our on trail vet check, Hank again had great metabolics, with the exception of a little slow Capillary refill. And he stood still this time for the vet. His P&R’s were great, and even had an 8 (32 in a min.) pulse at one. I really enjoyed riding along, listening to my Ipod, and knowing that the possibility of my not ever doing this again with Hank had been strong. The day seemed to go shorter, and before we knew it, we were heading back into camp.

almost done

At the final check out, Hank had perfect scores, with the exception of his mucus membranes, which were down a little, and he had a point loss. He actually got a + on final for having better MAW (movement/.attitude/willingness) than at check in. I was thrilled. That was the best moment of the ride, to know he had not been over stressed, and that we were indeed ready to get back to some rides. I was just floating as we headed back to the rig. I hugged on him and gave him some more carrots.

yummmm, carrots

Then at the awards, out of 9 horses, he placed 2nd. And while that was the icing on the cake, I think that final vet score meant more to me this weekend than anything.

All photos from the ride are

Friday, December 5, 2008

Heading South

The rig is packed, Hank was locked in the barn area last night with Gambler, so I could catch him this morning, and in a little bit we are heading south 90 miles for the "Christmas at Six'O NATRC ride". It is the first ride of the 2009 season. They have 62 entries! With that, 11 in the ride are junior riders!!! This ride is a favorite in our region, and always has a nice turn out. In our class, we have 9 Open Heavyweights, and the lightweight Open class also has 9 !!

It has been really chilly the past few nights, dipping down into the mid 20's. Daytime we did have some winds, but this weekend looks to be winds uner 10mph, and temps in the 50's to 60's. And at night, Hank has plenty of warm jammies, and I have a super warm sleeping bag. I guess we are ready for what ever the weather might dish out. I'll have my laptop along, and will post about our weekend if I can.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Warm and Fuzzy

I was fussing in the camper again today, and walked in to find I had a helper. Coony (a Maine Coon cross) decided to look in to what I had been doing in there, and was checking things out.

We have always thought it would be fun to have a cat that traveled with us, but not sure he would be as excited about hanging out in the camper if it was traveling down the road. As I was cleaning and fussing around in the camper, I got that wanderlust feeling. I'm ready for a road trip and some camping. The longest I spent on the road in the camper was 10 weeks. We have had some wonderful memories of places visited with it, so it kind of gives me warm fuzzy feelings just sitting in there. Coony is warm and fuzzy too.

I have been trying to make up my mind of Hank was ready to go to the upcoming NATRC competitive ride this coming weekend. It has been 90 days since the surgery. We have been doing more and more miles on the trail, and he has seemed to be conditioning "normal". I think the fact the surgery was done to a horse that was pretty fit, and the fact it was not as serious as some colic surgeries, where horses have infections and internal sutures etc. from parts of the intestines etc. being compromised has helped Hank do as well as he has been doing. But still, I have had doubts as to his readiness for the ride. Nothing to do with how he is doing, just me being a worry wart. I called the vet today, to ask their opinion about taking him to the ride. I'd have taken him down there to be checked out, IF they thought there was anything they could check. I mean, what DO you check? Gut sounds? They sound fine. Maybe a blood work, but was not sure that would tell us anything. So, after talking to the receptionist for a few min., she put me on hold to talk to the vet. She came back on and said "Dr. Williams said have fun". So. I sent my entry in today. The ride is only 90 miles from home, so the trailer ride is not that bad. My feelings are, I will watch him close. and any sign he is not up to the task, we can pull. But my guess is, he is in better shape than I am . He looks so cheerful out in the field. Wonder if he knows what's being planned.

Now to finsh prepping the camper and the trailer for the ride. I bet I have more help from the cat.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for many things, but one is the fact I have Hank with me today, and was able to take him for a ride.

Met up with some friends who came to our local trails to camp for the weekend. Patti has ridden the trails during NATRC rides, but her hubby had not been here before. We headed out on the while loop, which is about 13 miles. Hank seemed to enjoy having horses along, even if they did not know them. Patti was on a newer horse that she got a couple months ago. Nice Arab / Saddlebred cross. He has not been many places, but was doing very well out on trails he had never seen. One of the pastures near the trail has Llamas, donkeys, and various cattle, including Longhorns, and a big pretty grey Brahma. We stopped to check them out, and some came over to the fence. The horses were very fascinated, and just did not know what to make of the Llama, but all went up to check it out closer, even sniffing noses. Made for some great photos.

The fall colors are still very pretty in some sections of the Grasslands, with the trees still clinging on to those leaves for a tad longer. It won't be much longer, and they will all be on the ground, and the signs of winter will be setting in. But for now, we will enjoy the fall colors a little longer.

Oh, and I came around a corner at a trot, and about 15 turkeys were in the middle of the trail, and all took flight as they saw us. Missed that photo. Oh well.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Meet me in a couple hours

Another great day for riding in No. Texas. Hubby and I loaded up Hank, Gambler, and the dog, Thelma, and headed over to the trails. I was meeting Dolly for a quick 2 hour ride. While the hubby likes to trot out some, he has not been able to ride enough between work to get in shape to trot as much as we do when conditioning, so he went one direction, to take an easy 5 or so mile ride with the dog tagging along, while Dolly and I did one of the 10 mile loops. We have an extensive trail system, that has multiple loops, all coming back to the same central camp area. The loops were designed with endurance and CTR rides in mind, with 2 - 15 mile loops, and 2 - 10 mile loops, and one 25 mile loop. Over the years the trails have shifted some, and mileage is not as it used to be, but they are close. Each loop has colored paint markers on trees and posts, along with mileage markers for each loop. Here is a map, just to give you an idea of what the trails look like. And of course, we are often going part of the way on one loop, then changing to another. We also have miles of unmarked trails through out the Grasslands. (click photo for larger version if curious)

So, off we go, with a goal of trying to do about a 5mph pace. The weather was warming up, and both horses worked up a bit of a sweat. Hank was a little doggy in the beginning, but I think he was confused that Gambler came in the trailer with him, then went the other direction. About 1/2 way through the ride, he perked up, as he knew we were now heading back towards the trailer, instead of away from it.

When we got back at camp, I was not surprised that Gambler was tied to the trailer, saddle put away, and the dog was laying down in the shade. But I was surprised to hear that hubby got to the short cut I suggested he take to head in making his smaller loop, and decided they were not done yet, and wanted to ride further, and finished out the loop back to camp. Might get him back in shape after all !

Weather looks not bad the rest of the week. I have been working on a few projects / repairs on my camper. Had some issues with the fridge when on the propane setting, and I got that fixed, and had to replace an outside section of wood and siding under the door. Now to check to see if any of the darn mud dabbers have made any nests over the summer in the water heater area, or if they have stuffed grass in the water fill spigot. Decided to do the projects before the weather turns cold again, in case I want to go some place with the camper. Might just be doing that shortly.... thinking about it. (more to follow) :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

If you don't like the weather, wait a day

In the past week/ week and a half, Hank and I have hit the trails a few times. Each time we have gone out, I have been asking a little more of him, to see if he seems 100%. What had been the 4-6 mile walks with a little trotting, is now about 10-12 miles, with more trotting. Texas weather is always unpredictable, and one day it can be windy and in the lower 40's, and then the next, a day like today that is in the mid 70's, and darn near perfect for riding. Hubby and I rode last week, and had a lovely ride over some of our more remote "non-official" deer/cattle paths.

It was very peaceful out in the late afternoon with perfect fall weather. Saw a couple Armadillos, but no other wildlife that day. Tried to get a photo, but it saw Hank, did the famous "jump in the air and RUN" maneuver, and we were not able to keep up with it. Well, we did have one other critter, but not wildlife. One of the bulls that is on a grazing lease out there was along one of the trails.

Then, Saturday, Hank and I went out in the cold and wind for a couple hours, and then again Sunday, which was much nicer, warm, no wind for a couple more hours. All seems to be going well. He is perky, ears up, and willing to do what ever I am asking of him. Feeling pretty much like he did before the surgery. So we did about 30-35 miles over 4 days.

I do ride a lot by myself, and wanted to make sure before we started back riding with my friend Dolly, that he was up to the distance we usually would ride together. Today was our first ride with Dolly since before the surgery. I think he was happy to have Sparq along. I bet he was tired of listening to me sing since I play the ipod when I ride alone. Did I mention how nice the weather was today? What a pretty, pretty day. Warm, no wind. Thankfully Hank is not as fuzzy as Gambler is, or he would have been a sweaty mess. Gambler has a coat like a Yak. Maybe hubby can take him out with me later this week, as he has some time off before Thanksgiving. Tomorrow it is to be cold and windy again.

Here is a recent body shot of Hank after he got a bath this week!

Oh, on a non-horse note, our friend called us tonight, to tell us to look up at the sky at a certain time, and we saw the space station and space shuttle zipping across the sky. Well, it just looked like a huge bright star, but it was darn cool!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall from the back of a horse

Wow, 2 and a half months since Hank had his surgery. Seems like it was just yesterday I was changing bandages, giving shots, and taking him for walks in the dark to graze. Last week I got Hank out for a couple rides. Keeping things short, we did from 4-6 miles, mostly walking. The first day went well, and he seemed "normal". So, decided to take him out again the next day. I am a bit paranoid, I am sure, but I had convinced myself he was walking with a much shorter stride. Also he was not wanting to graze along the trail like he had been. (a sign he is upset with something) So, I cut things shorter than planned, and headed back to the trailer. As I sat in the tackroom doorway, I looked up and he was standing there with his eyes shut, napping. So, not sure if we over did things, or he was just having an "off" day. So, he had some days off, and was acting just fine out in the pasture. Still moving around fine, and chasing poor Gambler. And, he appetite was not telling me anything was amiss.

Saturday we headed to the trails again, to take in more of this unusually glorious weather. Even though the trails were busy with other riders, we found ourselves riding along with just the two of us. He was back to his normal self, and I could not find a thing to worry about. We did about 6-7 miles, and at the end, he did not seem tired, and could have gone more. Today we headed out again, as the weather is about to change, and wanted to get him oat and see if he showed me the weird behaviour like the last time we went 2 days in a row. As we headed out, I hear my name, and see one of our NATRC friends out on her horse who has been on a long lay up. We rode back to where they were parked, then headed back past my trailer, and on towards our planned route. I try to cal or text hubby with my planned route. I found nothing unusual with him today, and he really acted no different than he did before the surgery. He was willing to trot when asked, spooked at all the stupid things he spooks at, and when I went to open one of the gates, he started thinking ahead, as to which way we were doing the gate. Push, pull, go through forwards, backwards etc. Darn horse just thinks TOOOO much sometimes. We saw only a couple other horses, and again enjoyed the trails to ourselves. I had my Ipod along, and I sang to Hank some, but he never seems to appreciate my efforts. The ear buds are connected to my helmet, so they are near my ears, but not inside. This way I can hear my music, but also the noises around me, depending on the volume I have set.

I was very pleased with how he did. It took away some of that paranoia I had after watching him nap after that one ride. Might have been that warm sunshine! I snapped some photos of our Fall colors and scenery. Because we did not get a quick frost/freeze, the colors have not really popped this year. Just a slow change. But still beautiful out there, and more beautiful from the back of a horse.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Where the metal meets the trail

After my return to Texas on Tuesday, we had a farrier appointment on Wednesday. It was time to get Hanks shoes back on, as we were going back to work. We meet the farrier at a friends place, as it is a nice set up, and he just does not drive over into our area. It is worth the 30 min. drive to have him do their feet, as her does a great job. Just took Hank and Gambler, as the other two are not wearing shoes, and I can keep up with their feet. Hank as usual, stands really nice in the cross ties as he gets his feet done, so I don't have to hold him.

Gambler needs held, and talked to, as he is just odd, and worries about everything going on, especially the horses in the barn if they look at him wrong. But he was good, and before we knew it, we were heading home with them.

The next afternoon, we caught the boys and headed over to the trails. It was late afternoon, and just a beautiful day. Our Fall weather has been spectacular for the most part. Thelma convinced us she really wanted to do to, although she gets tired pretty quick, and really does not like the horses. But, she gave us those brown sad eyes, and hubby gave in. The surgery was 2 months ago, and Hank has been doing super. The vet told me he could go back to "light" work 30 days after surgery, but I decided to wait for 60 before we started riding him again. We mounted up, and headed out for a short loop on the trails, Thelma actually got out in front of us briefly, but that never does last long, before she is tagging behind.

We took turns leading the way. Gambler prefers to follow, but does not fuss at being out front. Just would prefer to stick his nose behind Hank, and tag along. Our fall colors are just starting to change. Will not be a super pretty year, but still nice to have trees that change with the seasons.

Hank was acting like his normal self. Looking at everything, Checking out every little dip and stick in the trail. We trotted a little, and he was more than willing to do so. Sure was nice to be back on MY horse. Gambler is OK, but Hank is my guy.

We did our small loop, and enjoyed the quiet of the late afternoon. We did spook up a Doe and a Buck, who crossed the trail in front of us. I was surprised, as they usually "know" when hunting season is close, and are then hard to see. But the best part of the ride, was watching the sun get low on the horizon, and be able to look between Hanks ears and watch the sun lower in the distance. I had been missing looking between those ears! Hopefully I will be able to do so for many years to come.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Driving Arizona

Last week, I flew to Burbank CA, to go help my friend Vickie at a Combined Driving Event(CDE) with her lovely horse Galent. The even was in Sonoita Arizona, which is south of Tuscon, in the Southern part of the state. I arrived Tuesday, helped her finish packing the rig, and getting ready, and we hit the road early Wednesday morning. It was about 600 miles away. The trip was uneventful, and we chatted the whole way. Because I am a control freak, I love to drive, so I took care of that duty for the 12 hour trip. We arrived after dark, but found our way in, got Galent into his stall, and then headed to town to find some food, before heading to the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at.

We found a little diner/bar that was still open. This is not a big town, and most everything was closed. But they had food to eat, a juke box that played some good music, and some local cowboys that were very friendly, and entertaining as we ate our meal. I love meeting locals in areas like this. Probably because I live in a smallish town myself.

So, off to the B&B, which was tricky to find. It included some small dirt roads, and a narrow driveway, and a gate. But once inside, we found it to be a very lovely setting. We had to settle for a room with one queen bed the first 2 nights, and since I get restless legs, I opted for a pad on the floor with bedding, so I would not be kicking Vickie all night. The next morning we had an awesome breakfast made by the couple who owned the place, then off to the barn to work the horse.

Galent was a little full of himself, so we decided Vickie should ride him a bit first, as I needed to adjust some harness on him, and that is tough to do when he is squirming. But, as she was getting on, and I was holding him, he had a horsey brain fart, reared (something he has never done before) and he then fell over on her. She was fine, bt her shoulder was sore. She had surgery on it in the past. After deciding it might need looked at, we talked to show management, and before we knew it, the EMT's were heading our way, with the sirens on! We got them radioed to turn of the sirens, it was not that critical. The arrived and took great care of Vickie. Had her move the arm up, down, around, took vital signs, and told her it did not look like they needed to take her anywhere, but to get it looked at. Since having t looked at, ad X-Rayed would not "fix" it, she opted to wait until returning home. But now, she could not drive her horse, and I was the new driver. Been about 10 years since I have driven a CDE. I did not have all the proper clothes, ut we tossed things together. And as we were making the decision, a good friend, Chris Downing, who I have known for years, but had not seen much since moving to TX arrived, and said she would ride with me on the marathon. The recently moved to CO, and came to help out. I worked Galent some that day, and the next morning, and boy was he strong! Pulling, and a bit tense with me. Might be just the new driver, or he was not liking the bit, r just fit and ready to go.

We did our dressage on Friday, and while I was pleased with how he drove, and how he listened, the judges thought otherwise, and he had a poor score. But since Vickie was pleased with what she watched, and I was happy, we just disregarded the scores, and continued to enjoy ourselves.

Saturday was the marathon. It was a bit warm, and a longer course than we thought he was fit and ready for, but he did awesome. He was strong, forward, ad wiling. Did not want to walk when he was to do so, but lost no time. Breezed through the vet check, and then we headed to the hazards. Training level is not timed in hazards, as they are just part f our over all time on course. Three gates to go through, A,B,C, in alphabetical order. Try to drive nice and smooth, no jerking or hard, sharp turns. These hazards had some tighter turns that I'd have liked for a horse newer to the sport, but he did really well. The water hazard was great fun. We did not have to go through the water, but it was a great chance to school. I expected him to balk, but he never missed a stride, and trotted right on in like a pro. At the end of the marathon, he had another vet check, and was one of the few horses the vet did not need to see back again.

Sunday is a cones course, that you drive through, trying to not hit a cone, and knock off the balls. The clearance is the same distance for everyone. He was again strong and pulling, but responsive. We did not knock down any balls, and did the course in the time allowed. Good boy!

We packed up and decided to head home Sunday afternoon, so Vickie could get to the doctor Monday. Our 12 hour drive got us in about 1-2 in the morning. Boy did I sleep well! Next day the doctor found she had broke her clavicle, and to just rest it, not use the arm, and see how it heals.

Tuesday I found myself on the plane heading back to Texas, thinking about the great time I had driving such a beautiful horse in Arizona, but sad that Vickie hurt herself and could not do so. And for those curious, he is 63/64th Arabian, with some pinto in there for color. No Saddlebred blood. Born in Montana, from Ravenwood Farms.

The wonderful photos of us from the event were taken by Peggi with Cactus Creek Design. You can see all of our photos, and more of her work at this link:

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Its a Gamble"

Had a nice late afternoon ride with Gambler, and Hank in tow. The air is starting to feel like Fall. The leaves are slowly starting to drop, and before we know it, they will be naked and bare. Saw a couple wild turkeys, and heard some deer. Did about 6 miles, and a little more trotting. So far, Hank seems to be doing well with the light work outs ponying him on the trail.

I thought in this blog, I'd tell a bit more about Gambler. His registered name is Rushcreek Gambler, and he was bred on the Rushcreek ranch in Nebraska. They have been breeding Arabians to use for their ranch work since the 1940. They have over 150,000 acres that they ran their cattle on, and the Arabians were suited well for the Sandhills of Nebraska and all day riding. When a horse was ready to be sold, and new, younger stock rotated in to the work string, often endurance riders would purchase these tough horses. Usually they had large bone, big feet, and a big heart-girth, and broad chest. Not at all what Gambler looks like. He is a smaller build horse, with nice bone, but not something that makes you stop to look, small feet, that remind me more of a mule foot than the big round feet of many of the Rushcreek horses, and is not well sprung at all. The ranch horses are also known for their laid back attitude, that don't get upset over much. "G" is a quirky horse. When we went to look at him, the owner said he was "quirky, stand-offish, and did not really like people". That summed it up pretty good. I was needing an additional horse to take along to the long XP endurance ride in 2004, and buying a horse already fit for endurance was a huge bonus. I did flexion tests, saw one hock a little ouchy, but not bad enough to keep him from doing rides. Otherwise, he seemed sound. He had started his endurance career in 1999. He has only done 2 LD (Limited Distance) rides, finished 3 100's, finishing 11th, 8th, and a 1st. The rest of his 1665 endurance miles were 50 - 75 mile rides. Lots of Top Tens, and a couple of Best Condition awards. He had been raced some, and while I personally do not "race" at endurance rides, it was something I considered when I bought him, as I knew the damage that can be done to the legs of horses ridden fast. But the price was right, and about a month after I bought him, we did 3 days of the 5 day Bryce Canyon XP ride (50 miles a day) in 2003. Then he did some days for me on the 2004 long XP ride, and we made an attempt at Tevis in 2004. This horse has some of the very best recoveries of any horse I have ever worked with. He could trot along through those Sierra Nevada mountains, come in to a pulse check, and in the time it took me to get off, water him, and grab him a handful of hay, his pulse would be down in the 40's. But the issue was, we were going along tripping constantly. For 70 miles, we tripped along, and I feared riding him in the dark on that trail, and was not upset when he came up lame after the 1 hour hold. We have since figured out his tripping is from his hocks hurting from arthritis, so he shifts his weight off them, and forward on to the front end. Then he trips. When he is on Adaquan and Legend, he does pretty well. These days he does not have to do much. He is mostly the hubbies horse, and kind of a back up horse for me.
And, his personality is still quirky, but he really does like people. He is just cautious about them. He is the low man on the totem pole, and the others pick on him. Except when I am riding him, and he will sometimes get brave, and make a face at Hank as I pony him. I remind him that Hank will remember that, and get him back when I am not around. But I think the cat could intimidate him if he wanted to. When camping, he actually becomes very personable, and does the quietest, softest little nicker when he sees me come out of the camper. Not bad for a horse that does not like people.

Gambler along the Pony Express Trail in Nevada. (on the left)

Gambler along the Tevis trail

His nickname is Tornado, since his star kind of looks like one, and his personality is FAR from being a tornado. Also, look close. Last winter he got light brown "eyebrows" over his eyes.

Gambler seems bored with my hubby. ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A trail outing

Six weeks after surgery now. Today was time to take Hank for a little outing. He has been moving around the pasture a bunch, and looking really good. Eating well, and getting a tad chubby again. But, weight still low on him, and I am sure that it will take awhile for the topline to build back up as he goes slowly back to work.

I caught Gambler and Hank, and we trailered over to our trails. We had a TON of pleasure riders parked at the trail head. This Fall weather has been pretty nice, and our trail system is one of the most popular in Texas. Even had to search for a parking spot. Reminds me why I usually ride week days, and have the parking and trails almost to myself.

I saddled up, and headed out on Gambler, with Hank in tow. He is one of the easiest horses to pony. Will fall right behind on single track trails, or come up next to me on the two track trails.

We walked along, and he was wanting to stop and graze. He usually is very picky about which grass he will eat, but today when I'd stop, he was not nearly as fussy. Seeing his appetite good on the trail is very encouraging. Hopefully it will carry over when he gets back to being ridden, as I'd like him to eat more than he always has on the trail during the rides. Hank was very cheery (I know I use that term a bunch, but not sure what other word works!) with his ears up, and seemed to be happy to be out there. At one point we were trotting for a short section, and he was starting to pass Gambler in his nice free moving trot, and some grass hanging out of his mouth. Something I was sure looking forward to seeing for the past month.

We were out about 1.5 to 2 hours, and I'd guess we did around 6 miles. I'll keeping ponying him for awhile before I go for a ride on him. The vet said "light work" after a month. Not really sure what light work is for a horse who had been in condition to do long distance rides. I'm feeling cautious enough with him, and hopefully he will let me know if we over did anything.