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.