Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cow On!

On Sunday, we took DN3 to the Tacoma Unit for cow sorting. She joined the High School Equestrian Team this year, and sorting is one of the team events, so practice is needed. For this event, she is riding our mare Bailey, who, with Poco Bueno on her papers, is cow horse through and through. The horse enjoys it, and knows her business.

Cow sorting is an event which consists of two round pens connected together, ten numbered cows, two horses, and two riders. The object is to move the cows in numerical order from one pen to the other within a specified time period (usually 60 or 90 seconds). If a cow should slip through out of order, it is considered a "dirty cow" and ends the run. Moving all ten in order before time is up is the ultimate goal, but getting five clean cows beats having a dirty one slip through.

The riders take turns cutting the next cow out of the herd. When not cutting a cow out, the other rider acts as "turnback", preventing dirty cows from slipping through. On one of her runs, DN3 and the guy she was riding with moved all ten cows before the clock run out, with all cows being clean. There time earned them second place in the novice division.

I took Smokey along, just to get him out, and had no intention of working the cows. The last time I tried it was about four years ago, and frankly, I wasn't worth a darn. The fact that I barely knew how to ride at the time may have been a factor. Regardless, it didn't pique my interest, so I never gave it a second thought.

Through a certain chain of events, I was talked into signing up for a few "goes" in the green novice division. While Smokey isn't a cow horse, he is willing to try. Mrs. BR has had some success on him in the past.

My first two runs ended rather quickly, with one of those darn dirty cows sneaking past either me or my partner.

My third, and final run was with DN3.

That's 9, count 'em, nine clean cows. We timed out before the tenth cow, but I'm not complaining. We were both pretty stoked. Oh, and we earned second place in the green novice division. Not bad for a half Thoroughbred Quarter Horse with a hack rider, if I do say so myself.

I might have to try this again.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope today finds you all safe, and that you have the chance to enjoy time with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rats...Part II

Monday lived up to my expectations. Snow in this region is a rarity, especially this early in the year. And, invariably, the last few have hit in the middle of the work day. The mad rush to get home before it gets worse begins, and soon the streets are jammed with desperate commuters. The snow gets packed into ice, and before long the streets are blocked with vehicles which have lost all traction and spun out. King County Metro's famed articulated buses begin articulate at the wrong times as the bus slides across the ice, soon blocking multiple lanes where it comes to a rest. Throw in a few questionable decisions by WSDOT, and soon the entire Puget Sound Region is gridlocked.

I left work at 3:30, hoping for the best. By 5pm, despite attempting several routes, I was little over a mile away from work, which meant that I had another 32 miles left to cover. I leave you to do the math. Throwing in the towel, I turned around, and went back. Better to be productive there, than idling in the pickup. Shortly after I arrived, a co-worker showed up, having arrived at the same conclusion.

DN1 works in Seattle. She gave up trying to get home, and headed to spend the night at the home of a friend who lives near where she works. She was involved in a minor 5 car fender bender. No one was hurt, no one got mad, and the Police Officer who responded declared that no one was at fault. It was just time, place, and circumstance.

Andy, who lives in Seattle, got into a minor scrape himself. He has an excellent take on the experience.

At 10pm, I decided to give it another go. I find myself stuck in Renton briefly, but after a quick map review, I negotiated some side streets to an arterial road which was only lightly populated.

I arrived home shortly before midnight. Well worth the wait.

It should be noted that the 1999 Ford F150 is quite the snow machine. Put it in 4 High, and did not slip, slide, or slither once. Everyone should have one.

The commute on Tuesday was a breeze, as many folks chose to stay home.

There, are, of course, the folks who are up in arms over the gridlock. "How could this happen?" they wail. "Why didn't somebody do something?" they bemoan.

To me, it's just a day in the life. One long night is not the end of the world. If this is the worst I experience, then it will have been a very good week. Other parts of the world get far worse than this, so we have nothing to complain about in our neck of the woods.

I did find it to be bit nippy last night, though.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Taken 4 hours ago

Because people in this part of the country can't drive...especially if the sun is out (it gets in there eyes), or if it's raining (slick roads).

So just throw a little snow in the mix, and guess what you get. I'm having a hard time getting interested in leaving work today.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rainy Day Blues

I rode tonight, the first time since Sunday. This gap is due in part to some long work days early in the week. I get up at 4:15 am, so getting home at 8pm leaves little time to do anything but rustle up some chow, and head back to bed for the purpose of repeating the it all again the next day. Not that I'm complaining. I work for an amazing company, and if long days are occasionally required to get things done, then sign me up. Besides, the building never goes to sea.

But there were a couple nights where I could have, no, should have ridden. But I just couldn't muster up the motivation.

This is not my favorite time of year. The Pacific Northwest has a well deserved reputation for rainy, dreary days. Not seeing the sun for weeks on end doesn't bother me. I spent many years at sea aboard submarines, after all. It's not even the rain really. I've ridden in the rain. Filson Tin Chaps and a good poncho will get the job done.

The thing that drags me down and demotivates me is this: In the past few years I've grown increasingly intolerant of being cold. Call me a weenie if you will, but it is a simple fact. I've found ways to keep my torso, legs, and melon warm (Under Armour Coldgear and Rivers West are perhaps the greatest things since sliced bread). But keeping my hands and feet warm has proven to be a bit more challenging. If either get too cold, I'm done. Stick a fork in me, I'm not enjoying myself anymore.

Cotton roping gloves have proven to be the trick to keep my hands warm, at least when riding in the covered arena. They keep my hands just warm enough, without removing the "feel" that I want when the reins are in my hand.

Finding riding boots that will keep the lower set of phalanges warm has proven to be more challenging. There seems to be a dearth of insulated, stirrup friendly boots on the market. But, heark! All is not lost. It would that at least one bootmaker has recognized an unfilled niche. I'm hoping that Santa Claus will leave a pair of these under the tree this year.

Don't get me wrong, there are things that I like about this time of year. To wit:

"Liquid Goodness Since 1982"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Overheard at the Arena

Mrs. BR: "These are pleasure horses, they aren't supposed to go fast."

Me: "What's the point of horses that don't go fast? Madness!"

Just sayin'.

Did Anyone Get The Number Of That Bus?

This past weekend, the annual Washington State Horsemen (WSH) Convention was held in Ellensburg. I drove over for Saturday's meeting of the Gaming Division, to keep up on the rule changes, and renew my judges card.

Part of this was election of officers. After voting for existing posts was completed, it was announced that a new position had been created, West Side Vice Chairman. Brittany, from my group (Puget Sound Zone), shouted, "I nominate Dave!" The words were barely out of her mouth when Patty, from the Canal Zone chimed in with "I think Dave should do it". Was that two buses?

The vote was unanimous, and before I really knew what happened, I was a sitting officer of the division.

Of course, I didn't put up a struggle. As many of you are aware, I enjoy Western Gaming. I also believe in the philosophy of "put up or shut up". A few years back, before I became a member, WSH gaming in western WA ceased to exist. I'm told this was due to various disagreement's and infighting. Whatever. There is a strong push to revive the event on this side, but it won't happen if there aren't people willing to step up and make it happen. We have a good group of people over here, and I know we will make it happen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lost With All Hands

I missed this on Wednesday.

On November 10, 1975, while plying the waters of Lake Superior, the SS Edmund Fitgerald sank. 29 mariners perished with her.

Never forget.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In Rememberance

The holiday we know as Veteran's Day originated as Armistice Day, in commemoration of the cessation of hostilities during World War I.

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Thank you to all my fellow Veteran's...past, present, and future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Based On a True Story

It's been my experience that there are several indicators of an impending tall tale, which is based in little, if any, fact. Instead, the product will be based almost entirely on the imagination of the teller.

One sure sign is a Sailor opening a story with "This is no shit...". I also have it on good faith from Gordon that this applies when an Airmen begins with "There I was...".

In my humble opinion, another clear warning of malarkey on the horizon are the words "Based Upon a True Story" appearing in the opening credits of a Hollywood product. Too often, the movie is then presumed to be "fact", which can result in some unfortunate opinions developing. This is often true of movies which depict the Armed Services of the United States in an unfavorable light. There are factions in Hollywood who view the military as little more than the imperialistic arm of our government, populated with unthinking, uncaring goons. They will leap at any money making opportunity to discredit us.

My last post mentioned the deactivation of the cavalry. This resulted in a couple comments evoking the movie "In Pursuit of Honor". The gist of the movie is that in 1934 the cavalry is becoming mechanized, and the cavalry units have been ordered to destroy there horses. A small band of soldiers rebels against this orders, driving a of remount horses to safety in Canada.

While long on story, it would appear that the movie is extremely short on facts. I found a host of information online that repudiates the story. The best researched example I came across is In Defense of Honor: General Douglas MacArthur and the Horse Cavalry of 1934, by Bob Seals.

Cavalrymen had a very special relationship with their horses, and I find it unbelievable that these soldiers would have ordered or participated in the massacre of their trusted steeds. The horses were considered to be soldiers every bit as much as their human counterparts, even having their own unique rank structure. I have read accounts of soldiers of the First World War who were as distraught over the death of horse or mule as they were over the death of a human comrade.

To further understand the relationships with these horses, read the story of Chief, the horse considered to be the U.S. Army's last mount. Or perhaps this account of the deactivation of a mounted cavalry unit in 1932 at Fort D.A. Russell in Texas.

I'm not able to buy into Hollywood's version of a true story.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Horses as Healers

The last horse mounted Cavalry unit in the U.S. Army was deactivated in 1946. Having served continuously since the establishment of the Continental Army in 1776, they were rendered obsolete by mechanization.

The connection to this storied past is not forgotten, however, as Ceremonial Units are still maintained.

More importantly, horses are helping some of our wounded warriors.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Case for a Dark Colored Horse

Smokey makes it.

I think Jessica is on to something with her bay horse.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ride Your Horse to School...Get Suspended

At least that's how they do things at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School in Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Read the story here.

If you find this as ludicrous as I do, please share your opinions with Principal Matthew Fox.

Edit: I unintentionally posted this before I was done writing it. I was mildly curious if the suspension may have been related to the sword strapped to his hip. As it turns out his "Squire" was suspended also, so I think this may just be another case of school administrator's hiding behind some "zero tolerance" (of what I'm not sure) policy, without applying common sense or basic reasoning to the situation.