Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Win, Place, Show

Wicked Strong -- to Win

Ride on Curlin -- to Show

California Chrome -- to Place

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Long Distance

I think I have an endurance horse.

He loaded fairly quickly, after some rearing and trying to pull back. His current method of loading is to pull back, hit the end of the rope, rear up and lunge into the trailer. (Yes, we will schedule time to practice loading, standing and unloading without going any where.) Once in, he was nervous and shaking, but behaved himself. He was really stressed as we left the property. He called and called and called. He was still calling when we pulled into Fairview Vista, which a long time ago, was called Dowdy Draw and used to be a horse trail only.

As a side note, the trailer pulled easily and the truck had no problem maintaining speed up a long, steep incline.

Ashke was very unsettled when we first unloaded. His head was up and he was very nervous. I had put a rope halter on him under his web halter, which had pinched and rubbed a little bit in the trailer. I quickly stripped his web halter off and lead him around the parking lot and then into the grass. As always, he settled fairly quickly when given the opportunity to sample the lush spring grass.

 I have to say, once he knew what we were doing - confirmed by boots and bikes - he was relaxed and curious. We didn't have a single spook on our ride.

He was still very nervous as I started to groom him, but once I began putting his boots on his feet, he looked up, saw the bikes in the truck and visibly relaxed. (The last time we wore boots, it was obvious the back boots were way too big, so yesterday at the Murdoch's Bucket Sale, we scored two back boots at 20% off. Yeah me! I was like a kid at Christmas, I was so excited. And, I also scored a Carhartt lined vest which will be perfect to layer with in the spring and fall.) We stepped down to the 0.5 size boot on the backs and they are still a little big, but they didn't rub, twist or slip when he walked, so I count that a win. I will order power straps and put them on. Once he was relaxed, it was pretty easy to get the saddle and bridle on.

The trailer worked great and was an easy pull for the truck. Having a bumper pull means we can fill the truck bed with bikes, cooler, water, etc. for our outing.

It took a little bit to get every one straightened out and on the trail. There were several fails on the trip. The bike rack on J's bikc did not fit the seat post and kept slipping down onto her back tire. T (who I really need to make sure has a hearty breakfast and a substantial lunch) struggled with everything: the trail, the rocks, his new bike, his camelbak. I don't think there is anything more difficult than trying to find a way to enjoy an outing with a 14 year old. OMG, the negativity. I'm sure I was not that way.

I must say, this is one of my all time favorite rides. Ever. How can you not love riding under the Flatirons of Boulder?

There was only one time that Ashke got nervous and that was because of the family trying to fly and mostly crashing three big kites at the top of the hill. I didn't even try to ride past them. I got off and led him up and past. He was very looky, but once we were past, he was fine.

The other users of this trail were very considerate. In fact, one guy stopped and thanked me for him being able to use the trail, saying that at one time it was horse only (almost 30 years ago) and that he appreciated that we (I was all horseback riders) allowed him to run there. It was kind of surreal.

T and J stopped a lot. They were looking for a geocache, which we now believe was down on the canal, but that would have entailed going down off the plateau and then back up. I opted to remain on the plateau, mostly because of T's really bad attitude.

We stopped a lot, or at least the bike riders did. Ashke would not stand for love or money. We walked in circles, over rocks and downed tree branches. He wasn't too happy about coming back to where everyone was - this horse wanted to SEE what was coming up next.

We did the entire ride with this attitude. Tail up, moving nicely.

I would have loved to have let him canter, but the ground was riddled with rocks and fallen branches, plus the occasional uprooted sapling (hole) that I decided to walk and trot where we could this first time, then canter our next ride out.

I am getting this made into a t-shirt to wear on trail rides. Although, you can see the prevailing attitude of bike riders toward horses in the scratched out marking on the sign. This sign was every where.

This was what we did while waiting for our group. It was good practice for Ashke, because the downed limbs in the forest were like natural cavalletti. He didn't trip a single time.

The trees were awesome, even if the trail was rocky. It is one of the things about this area - the closer you get to the mountains, the more rock there is on the ground. (Hence Rocky Mountains. Hahahahaha. I crack myself up.)

Ashke had settled into a 5 mph walk, hips and shoulders swinging, that he could have comfortably gone in for hours. We spent more time waiting on the bikes (the trail was very rocky) that I am pretty sure we added a mile to what the bikes rode.

Always with his ears up. 

We had a bad moment when J thought she had lost her phone. Before I knew what was happening, Tia and T had taken off back down the trail. I gave J my phone so she could use the Find My Phone app. We've discovered that doesn't really work in the wilderness. I told her to call her phone to see if anyone had found it, and to help Tia and T locate it. She did and discovered the phone in her pants pocket. Yes, it was that kind of day.

My horse was so happy!!

We crossed small streams and narrow bridges without issue.

My new favorite picture.

That far distant little fleck of white centered between the big tree just to the right of Ashke's ear and the little nubbin of a shrub to the right, next to the ribbon of trail: that is the trailer. This is where we parted company so they could sail down the trail.

Ashke knew when we had made the circle and were headed for home. The bike trail had smoothed out on a long downhill completely clear of rocks. It was perfect for the bikes and Ashke and I moved back up the plateau to allow them to ride as fast as they wanted or was safe. They flew down the hill. Ashke and I trotted, for the most part, at one time sidepassing at the trot in both directions to help slow his forward momentum. 

 Waiting at the bottom of their "fun" run, which was the only part of the ride that T enjoyed, watching us come down the hill.

 He trotted down the hill, which he never wants to do.

 We could have gone for much longer under the correct circumstances.

 Ashke felt as awesome coming back as he did going out.

He got his bran mash at the end of the ride, complete with carrots and smartpak.

 This picture just absolutely cracks me up. Could he be more blissful?

 There was bran every where. He is a pretty sloppy eater.

Digging in.

Mush Face!!

He ate about half the mash and then I loaded him. He had some issues with wanting to load to go home, and managed to nick the front of his neck on the door handle to the trailer before he reared and then jumped into the trailer. The nick was superficial (even though it bled just a touch) and I know we need to work on the loading process. Ten minutes later we were back at the barn and unloading. 

This is very deceiving, since one of the times I looked we were averaging 5 mph at the walk (he was really moving) but we stopped a lot and that always effects what the numbers look like. The speed and pace numbers in orange are what we are doing at that moment. Since I was standing still, I figure those don't count.

The really cool part about this trail? We could have ridden all day. The trails go for miles and miles. Once the construction on the underpass under 93 is complete along the canal trail, we can cross 93 and ride on the open space on the other side of the road. Or we can come down the plateau and ride in Eldorado Canyon. Or we can follow the trail into Boulder all the way to Chautauqua at the base of the Flatirons. 

Boulder has held a part of my soul since I first moved out here. The city has done a lot of work to maintain their open space and their trails all connect. I could ride a 50 out here, with a little planning. Since it is my goal to ride the 25 mile ride at Happy Jack in August, this is an area where we can put some miles on. Now there are four places to ride off property: Dowdy Draw, Bear Creek, Evergreen and Chatfield. Of them all, Dowdy Draw will always be my favorite. I can't wait to go back next Saturday!!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Today and Yesterday

Today is the first time we take Ashke out, sans another horse, to do an off property ride. I'm both a little excited and a bit nervous. Although he does well on rides where we are alone or with J, this will be the first time trailering to do so. The good news is, if this goes well, 1) he'll get much better about trailering, 2) we will have the freedom to ride wherever and whenever we want. I plan on taking the makings for his mash and feeding him half before the ride and half after. I also plan on putting the light weight black rope Parelli halter on under his regular halter (I would never use a rope halter in the trailer) so that when we unload I can hook to the black halter without taking everything off. (This is a safety precaution to ensure he does not get loose, even if he is a bit unsettled.) I will then leave the halter on under the bridle. That way, when we stop for lunch, I can slip the bridle and let him graze.

Last night we rode for a short bit in the big arena. We did some walk and trot and canter. I can feel in his movement how the saddle still does not work for him, but since I am still waiting on my Spanish saddle, there's not a lot I can do. After we rode two big circles in the outdoor, we opened and closed the gate to let ourselves out and then rode up to the hill.

We did one walk, one trot and eight canter trips up the hill. Only one of the canter trips was rough. It was toward the end and he was getting tired. I think he was cross cantering. I made him work it out though and the next time we cantered he was on the same lead. Our only issue was a long piece of blue and orange baling twine dropped in the center of our path that Ashke kept spooking at. I used Mark Rashid's advice and just kept riding him through it.

After cantering the hill, Ashke and walked down the incline and crossed the creek at the edge of the property near the bike path. He was much less hesitant this time, despite the gurgling creek. At the top of the other bank, we went over and inspected the new barrels. He immediately started to poke and bite at the toppled barrel like he used to with his ball. (This inspired me to pull the ball out last night and get it pumped up. It will be fun to see if he likes playing with it in his run.) We wandered over and played with the gate, walked over the bridge and meandered our way to the back of the property. I had an idea about riding over to N's house to get the trailer key so I could get Ashke's helmet out of her trailer, but the barn crew has built a fence between the property and the neighborhood, so that wasn't an option. I decided we would wandered behind the barn to the other side and go in the side door. (I was walking to cool him off.)

We came to the far end of the barn where the BC had ripped out a bad piece of fencing between two runs and had cut and painted the new posts to go into the ground. The posts were leaned against a fence and Ashke wanted nothing to do with them. I was patient and allowed him to think about it. I was willing to let him make a wide circle around them as long as he moved forward. He took two steps and then reared, spun and tried to bolt. (I laughed and thanked the Myler bit I am riding in.) I stopped him and decided to address the shenanigans. I stepped off and walked him up to the logs. He was snorty and all curved neck and pricked ears (he's so beautiful when he's like that) until he touched his nose to the wood, then the nonchalance came back. We walked over to the door and went back inside after sniffing all of the noses.

After I stripped the saddle and bridle, we went to the round pen with Dessa. I worked Ashke in a circle at a trot in both directions and asked her to see if she could see any lameness or favoring of his feet. He was tracking up under himself very nicely and showed no favoring of any limb. I think what I am feeling is his hesitation at the shoulder because of the saddle.

I can not get the Alta quick enough.

Friday, April 25, 2014

VCMBH: Appreciating What You Have

Thanks to Viva Carlos for this blog hop. 

Let's take a moment to appreciate the Pros of our current ponies, whether you own them or just ride them in lessons.
I appreciate his physical fitness and soundness, because he hasn't always been this way. He has had a great attitude doing the work that I term "physical therapy" and although he may have gotten tired of riding in a big circle, using his back and haunches, it has helped immensely. He has never given up on himself. And he's forced me not to give up on him.

He has awesome ground manners. He is respectful and gracious on the end of the lead. He is never afraid of anything, as long as I am on the ground with him. I think he would follow me through fire, if I went first. I have no hesitations at having J or T lead him, knowing that he is trustworthy and safe.

I love how affectionate he is. He whinnies when he hears my voice in the barn. He whinnies when I come out of the tack room. He nickers and flutters his nostrils at me when I bring him his mush. He licks my shirt, my hands, my hair, and anything else he can reach every time he sees me. (Yes, he has nipped me twice and bit me once. Both nips were in the first six months of owning him and the bite was when he was loaded into the trailer first and was really stressed. That one was accidental and he felt bad about it later.) He is curious about people and one of the most favorite horses in the barn.

He enjoys the work. This is a horse that meets me at the stall door, gobbles carrots from my hands, and shoves his nose in the halter. He loves to go, whether its in the indoor taking lessons, or the outdoor working on his canter, or on the trail. All of the rest pales in comparison with his enjoyment of being on the trail. He loves to go new places. I hope he feels the same way after our first solo trailer adventure tomorrow. He wants to know why I haven't been out if we miss a ride. He does best when he is being ridden five days a week.

He is never mean or nasty under saddle. He takes care of me and listens well. He is willing to learn all of the things. Side pass, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches: all garner honest effort, even when it causes him discomfort.

Mostly, I am thankful for his willingness to be a co-being with me. How, although other people can ride him, he gives his best effort to me. He is a one woman horse, and I am a one horse rider.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Hi. My name is Karen and I'm an addict.

My addiction started when I was fifteen. I got my first fix and unlimited access to my drug of choice when I started working at Taco Bell. It was easy, available and free. I didn't realize then what a slippery slope I was starting down.

I am addicted to Dr Pepper.

One of the really bad things about fast food companies is the unlimited access to soda that they offer. In an eight hour shift, an average employee could drink a gallon or more of fountain soda without even realizing it. I worked in an environment that allowed the consumption of unlimited free soda from 1979 to 2006.

Dr Pepper became the first thing I reached for in the morning when I woke up. On a bad morning I could be on my third soda before I left the house for work. I never drove any where without a Dr Pepper in the cup holder of the car. It was what I reached for after sex. I could drink Dr Pepper like other people chain smoke cigarettes, popping one open after the last one was finished.

When my addiction was at it's worse, I was drinking twelve a day.

I bragged at one point in my management career, that I was living on Dr Pepper and stress. That comment was not too far off. It is still my go-to when things get tough.

I stopped drinking Dr Pepper for ten months when I got pregnant with my son. It's the longest I've been able to go without having a Dr Pepper for 37 years. Since then, with my diminished metabolism and advancing girth, I've tried to stop drinking it again. Every time I have failed.

It is the reason I gained back the weight I lost in 2012. I self-sabotaged by believing I could drink Dr Pepper and not gain weight. I mean, I drank Dr Pepper for years and didn't gain any weight, why would this be any different. I began to drink Dr Pepper in private, hiding it from those who I love. 

My brain keeps telling me that I can continue to drink Dr Pepper and be skinny, but my body is not believing it so much. I struggle to limit my consumption, even now. No, I do not drink 12 a day any more, but at my age and with my metabolism issues, three is just as bad.

On Monday, when we put Preacher to sleep, I had three.

I told J on Tuesday that I could no longer make the same choices I've been making. I want to be able to ride without feeling uncomfortable. I want to ride without Ashke wincing at me bouncing on his back. I want to be able to look down and see my feet. I want to be able to see a picture of me on Ashke's back and see something other than how I look.

I asked J to make me feel guilty at wanting a soda. To tell me no and get mad at me. To hold me accountable, because my brain and I are not on the same page with this Dr Pepper thing.

Pray for me. I'm going to need all of the help I can get.

Monday, April 21, 2014

To the Bridge

He came to us at 4 weeks old. His mother was feral and had her kittens in the garage of a co-worker. The mother was killed when the kits were about two weeks old and my co-worker had bottle fed them. We had one eight month old kitten already and he really seemed to want a kitten of his own. In fact, he asked for a kitten specifically. We decided that we would bring him home one. I went to my co-worker's garage and met our new kitten. He curled up on his back in my arms and fell asleep.

It was love at first sight. He was about the size of my palm.

We brought him home to introduce him to Taz. Taz started to purr as soon as he set eyes on our new kitten. Our new kitten puffed and hissed. Taz purred.

And then this happened:

He was the sweetest cat

He and Taz loved each other.

We named him Preacher, because he talked all the time. When we moved into our own place, it was the first place he had ever lived that had stairs. He wandered around meowing for days, because he was so lost.

He was my little snuggle bug.


This morning we sent him to the Bridge. J and I held him while the vet released him from his pain. He was with us for sixteen and a half years. Our second oldest pet.

Tonight Taz sleeps alone.

I will miss you, Preach.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


We bought a 2-horse, slant load trailer for us to use around the area, so I can ride more trails than the Fairmount and the Mountain.

This was a much more practical purchase than the Bison 3-horse, slant load with LQ that we first looked at.

And I finished the browband I made for Ashke.

I love how this looks on him. It's perfect.