Monday, September 29, 2008

Bow Hunters on the Trail Gaaaaahhhh!

Well I did not get a picture because I was otherwise occupied, but they did look just like this camouflaged dude.

Yesterday I did my obligatory dressage ride on Montana, and that is the way I think of it. I'm tuned out of dressage at the moment. Dressage and I are like two relatives who are sitting across the room not speaking to each other. Maybe we will become reconciled. Maybe not.

But after that I tacked up Johnnie and took off. I am leaving out his rude behavior at the gate for another day. Let's pretend it all went swimmingly. So we are past the human zoo part of our ride, the heavily used creek trail where we see bikes, strollers, dogs of all religions, and even co-workers for heaven's sake. And we are past the rather muddy woods part of our trail, just about to pop out into the beautiful golden galloping field.

When what to John's wondering eyes did appear, but two camo guys with giant packsacks and bows and arrows! They were rustling in the shrubbery and my first thought was "Army guys out on some maneuver?" and John's first thought was "Weirdo predators who eat palominos?" He believed strongly that we should turn around and run away. I called out to the guys that they were scaring the horse and maybe if they would just come stand in the clear, he could see that they are human.

Out they came. My first sight of true bow hunters. We have an in-town bow-hunting season to control the white-tail deer population. Their bows were not what I was expecting (think of Robin Hood), but small technical looking evil machines. Their arrows were metal (steel?) and it was their huge bags that really made them odd shaped.

I have never heard John snort like that, and would not have believed such sounds could come out of an anatomically normal horse nose. We got past them at a speed which increased exponentially and I decided no galloping for us today as it might come to an ugly conclusion. So we gaited across the big field, but then had to return the same way or else trespass.

Return trip: I was nervous, John was walking on eggshells past where the predators had been hiding. I decided to sing, and the only song that came to mind was one my mother used to sing in the kitchen: "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls".

So picture me jigging along, making up words to this 19th century favorite ('I Dre-eamt that We-e did no-ot get shot"), shaking John's bear bells with my hand for maximum racket, and poor John's ears swiveling like crazed radar screens at all this unaccustomed noise.

We saw no trace of the camo guys, but we booked so fast through the woodsy part of the ride that I thought I was going to get seasick. It was not the relaxing Sunday afternoon ride I had pictured.

Maybe dressage isn't so bad after all.

Bear in mind that I have enough blaze orange to cover both John and myself: he has a quarter sheets and leg wraps, I have a helmet cover and jacket - we could look like a big orange Hindenburg floating out in the field - but I had none of it on us yesterday. Sigh.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn leaves showing their colors

Late yesterday after a grueling week at work I put Johnnie's bear bells on and headed out for a ride. I love these bells! They give a soothing little sleigh-bell aspect to his walk, and they warn the deer (and bears, which have been seen in town on occasion) that we are coming. They also warn dogs, who sometimes need a heads-up. The look on a dog's face when surprised by a horse coming around the corner is priceless. But I don't want to give them a heart attack.

The colors are coming on fast, and the leaves on the path look like little golden coins:

John was in good spirits although ravenous. Still no hay in our pasture, and the barn owner still believes the grass is adequate. The grass is nonexistent (1/8 inch tall) and all the horses have lost weight. John had it to spare but Montana does not. Our board went up to offset hay prices and then the hay disappeared. Life as a boarder has its drawbacks. However I have enjoyed some wonderful bitch-out gossip sessions with other boarders so that's always a plus. Who would I disapprove of if I had my horses at home?! Myself?

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Toast to Horsey Friends!

Here's to horsey friends! You know the ones: they are interested in even your pettiest barn gossip, they are ready to ride out at a moment's notice, they never say you look strange in those breeches, they never say your horse is homely or rude, they are willing to listen to all your horse's little boo-boos and misbehaviors and they never say it is your fault, they never suggest you don't really need that new pair of boots, or even that new horse! and they pick you up when you do a face-plant, either real or metaphorical.

I raise my glass to you all and to all your horsey friends, in real life or in the blogosphere! Long may they live and laugh and love their horses...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

TrespassingTrail Ride; I could not resist

I came home from work today rather aggravated by some stuff going on there, and tired because there was a mandatory "Chancellor's Breakfast" at 7:30 a.m. this morning that stressed me out but which the Chancellor did not attend....which was weird.

Anyhoo I sat around for awhile and then decided to get my act together and go ride John as it was a pretty autumnal afternoon/evening.

We went out and I trespassed on the neighbor's trails. He is a richy-rich plastic surgeon. He and his son both ride, and they have a trail system that they use for horses in summer, cross-country skiiing in winter.

The temptation to trespass is huge:

These trails are hilly and are actually mowed (by a slave I mean employee of Dr. GotMoney). They are gorgeous.

There is a vague and undiscussed 'permission' for our barn people to use these trails but also a lot of no trespassing signage and some cables have shown up this year indicating that no, he does not want us over there. I think Dr. Rich does not want visitors on his trails.

But! I went over. It was such a quiet beautiful afternoon -- and I was alone so I thought I woudl not make much of an impact. Still, it was weird.

By going that way I get to the power lines and the galloping field by a different and more solitary route.

My Lordy I wish I owned all that land and had the $$ to maintain these trails. I do know that wandering over onto this guy's land is bad but this was a day I just could not resist going there and we were out for 3 hours having a golden autumn blast.

Here's a photo I took of myself at arm's length while John was visiting the Snacketeria:

Fun times! A good autumn day and some law-breaking, do they go hand in hand??

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It begins! Best time of year for riding

In this part of the world anyway, fall is just the best. Cool, brilliant, horses feel good, the flies disappear, and the Big Chill has not yet set in but it is coming, so we get out there with a frenzied energy. All too soon it will be little circles inside the tin can of the arena, bundled up like the Michelin Tire Man, with horses that need 20 minute warm-ups and cool-downs.

Yesterday evening I came home from work just bushwacked; this big class (150) at 8 a.m. is killing me even though I love the subject - I get up at 5 a.m. and I am consistently over-prepared and over-caffeinated. It's over by 9 and I have the whole rest of the day yet to get through including more classes, but I'm already tired whiney-whine.

Anyway I had no intention of riding yesterday but it was a golden afternoon and I finally just went out there and rode John on the near trails alone for 2 hours. In the photo above you see our galloping field. It's a nice big open area with some snowmobile trails that are packed and thus have no gopher holes or other little boo-boos to worry about so we open it up out there. I love it; last evening it occurred to me that this is my idea of heaven: a willing horse, a golden evening, and an open stretch ahead...

What is your idea of heaven? Here's John's:

And by the way what do you think of this carrot that came in the farm box last week?

It scared me a little...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Two Questions in My Mind

(Yesterday evening on the trail 7 p.m., a storm was rumbling off to the south but it never reached us; I love a storm sky!)

1. What do you think of this sweat pattern?

This is from a 2-hour ride including some galloping, on a hot day. It is very typical. The part of his back that is under the saddle is dry, while the part that is just under the blanket is wet:

I just wonder if the dryness is saying the saddle isn't resting properly, or I am so heavy that I am forcing all the sweat into the blanket & need to lose 40 pounds, or everything is fine.

2. How much eating on the trail is too much eating?

Here you see John going through nose-high tasty grass. He likes to grab a mouthful as he goes. He likes to grab another, and then dive for a big bite, and then...well you see the direction. His pasture has very little grass these days and they aren't putting out hay, so while he is in no danger of drying up & blowing away, he
is afflicted with the munchies. I like to let him eat at stopping points:

but I am thinking this means I have not exactly drawn a bright line for him about road food. And John understandably might think, if it's ever OK to eat under saddle, it is always OK.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Dude, WhassUp?"

"Wanna do somethin baaad when we get back home?"

"Like chase the other guys around the pasture? Or steal someone's jacket off the fence?"

"Duuude, I like the way you think."

These two clowns enjoyed a morning ride which was rather balky and wavy on the way out, but straight quick and businesslike on the way home. Guess they had their evil pasture plans in place. They are of the same breed, both gaited, and both as full of mischief as a first grade class.

I had never noticed my friend's cool riding gloves (click to see the little horseshoes!) which I now seriously envy:

And afterwards husband and I went in search of vital nutrients:

Every so often I get a Taco John jones and nothing else will do...mmm those little tater tots in a cardboard cup. You can actually feel your heartbeat slow down as you eat. A good day so far!