Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gordon Has Moved!

Many of you are familiar with frequent commenter and blog bud Gordon, a provider of insightful commentary, political and otherwise, over at A Political Glimpse From Ireland. The domain for APGFI has expired, and since Gordon was not the owner, he has been forced to ply his wares elsewhere. He can now be found at:

Tequila & Javelinas

Make sure you update your links and stop by to say hello.

Friday, February 26, 2010


It's a crying shame that I'm too old for the Border Patrol, because this would be my sort of gig.

Horses, guns, and a paycheck. Does it get any better than that?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympic Courage

When we think of bravery, courage, and strength, many of us will think immediately of the military, police, and firefighters.

Often, however, it shows through in other forms.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Good Sunday

Global Warming has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. About damn time, in my opinion. Daily highs have been approaching 60F. We're talk shirtsleeve weather. We've been removing the horse blankets during the day, letting the horses get some fresh air, and some quality rolling in the dirt/mud. The lack of cloud cover means it's been dipping below freezing at night, so the blankets go back on in the evening.

I was all set to ride Smokey in the arena this afternoon, but when I arrived there were already some folks riding. Two of them are people with whom I will not ride, for reasons related both to my personal safety and sanity. Not one to waste beautiful riding weather, I opted to head out and ride along the Puyallup River. This, of course, can be a hit or miss affair with Smokey. Since we were alone, I was removing him from his herd mates, and since home is "back that way", there is always the chance that he will spend most of the trip walking as slowly as possible, and repeatedly trying to turn around.

I was pleasantly surprised. We set out without trouble, and with only minimal application of spurs. There were quite a few people families out walking along and playing in the river today. The small kids are always excited to see a horse, with shouts of "look at the horsey", and "wow, he's big!". One lady's poodle was going bonkers barking at us, but fortunately, Smokey is dog broken, and was rather non-plussed about it.

At some point, Smokey finally decided we had gone far enough. It began to feel like I was riding a snake, as we he started weaving from one side of the trail to the other. Occasionally, he would try to fake me out with a long sweeping turn, but to no avail. Once he was back on an even keel, I let him turn around.

Now, he's fully aware that we are headed home. And is determined to make the trip as fast as possible, to minimize the risk of any chance encounters with lions, tigers, or bears. Seeing as the woods are full of them. So he starts to trot. I hate trotting. It's like riding a jackhammer, and my 44 year old spine does not appreciate it. So I slowly pull back on the bit to ease him down. He slows down, but only until I release pressure on the bit. So we repeat the process until the message sinks into his pea brain that we are going to walk home.

It was good ride, and the capper for today was watching the USA men's hockey team beat Canada, 5-3!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Art of Gaining Political Traction

Or, in this case, how not to do it.

I feel that the person who made that statement is an asshat. Allow me to explain.

I'll be the first to admit that Patty "the mom in tennis shoes" Murray, like her counterpart Maria Cantwell, is at best, an ineffective Senator, and at worst, little more than a tool of her political party. But, Washington being the decidedly "blue" state that it is, her political career is in no danger of immediate jeopardy.

Of course, had someone from, oh, let's say code pink, said this same thing about Senator (insert Republican here), the folks on the left would have found it to be quite the knee slapper, and the lamestream media would have given little, if any, press. Nothing to see here, move along folks.

However, since this came from the right, folks on the left will feign outrage and demand apologies, while the media fans the flames, because they have proven unable to recognize an exaggeration when presented.

We could, of course, engage ourselves in much wailing and gnashing of teeth, bemoaning how wrong and unfair it all is. Or, we could accept the fact that life isn't fair, and operate within the parameters we are faced with. If you choose to thrust yourself upon the public stage, the thinking, reasoning adult should be able to accept that what you say and do comes under public scrutiny (a fact which seems to allude many folks in Hollywood). Through an ill thought out, albeit passionate, statement, the speaker gave the left and the media fodder, and they will, predictably make much hay over nothing. The result being that attention has been taken away from the real statement and purpose, making this particular rally appear to be little more than a circus.

Let's get our act together, people!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Small Town Experiment Fail

I can't imagine that anyone actually thought this would work.

In a town that small, it's a safe bet that everyone knows everyone, and most are related at least by six degrees. Invariably, anyone who relocates there is going to viewed suspiciously at best, and treated like the outsiders they truly are. Likely few, if any, of the resident's made any meaningful effort to fit in.

I also suspect that the Tristani's didn't go out of their way to fit in. A Lexus, gold chains, and a Rolex are not the order of the day. Might as well drive around with a boom-boom-thump radio in your car while your at it.

I can understand the motivations of the parties involved. Most of us want to live and raise our families in a place where we feel safe. If one is looking to relocate to a more rural surrounding, it isn't necessary to move to the middle of nowhere in a place as inhospitable as North Dakota. Think about it, there is a reason that small towns like Hazelton are dying, as people are forced to move on for better opportunity's. That's not a criticism of small towns, in North Dakota or elsewhere. It is just a stark reality of our times.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things You Don't See Every Day

At least not in Washington during the month of February

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Horse is a Fraud

I haven't ridden with any consistency since before Christmas. To be more correct, I've only thrown my leg over the horse twice since his leg healed. The first instance ended after five minutes due to Mrs. BR's horse colicking. In an act of self preservation, I terminated the second ride after ten minutes due to an overload of fools riding in the arena at the same time.

Some horses can sit in the pasture for months on end, and then be ridden as though they been working daily for that entire time. Smokey is not one of those horses. And lest I forget, he spared little time in reminding me.

A wall is being built at one end of the arena, to serve as a wind break. As a result, there are 2x6's, ladders, tools, some cones, etc. at that end of the arena. As soon as we approached the work area, Smokey just about jumped out of his skin. He whirled, and would have headed for the hills, except that with a pull on the rein, and well placed spur, I turned him around to stare at the horse eating demons. He would turn his head as if to leave, and I would gently pull it back. Once he had settled down, I forced him to take one step toward the work materials. This went on for about five minutes, until we were standing next the pile of lumber, and he was idling sniffing it. Then we moved over and stood next to the ladder, until the same result was achieved. The rest of the day's ride was uneventful.

Rumor has it that a horse was eaten by the pile of building materials last night. Or so it would seem, judging by Smokey's reaction today. We were trotting towards the pile, when, in the blink of an eye, he whirled and started in the other direction. Again, rein and spur pointed him in the direction I wanted to travel. Again, he whirled. This repeated itself as we spiraled ever farther from the object of his fear. Having had entirely enough of this, I pointed him at the pile, and dug in. He took off towards it, until realizing it was still there, he slid to a stop and began power backing.

At this point, I nearly fell out of the saddle, I was laughing so hard. I found the whole thing to be terribly amusing.

We finally worked thought it. although not without much snorting and blowing. Or so I thought.

Some time later, we were riding past the pile, when he spooked sideways, again headed for the hills. I straightened him out. When this again repeated itself, I decided enough was enough. This horse is being an imbecile, and it's going to end right now.

With Mrs. BR providing helpful cues, I rode the hell out of him near the construction area. Tight circles, figure eights, and rollbacks. Once he was sweating and breathing hard, and paying attention to me, and not his fears, I walked him over to the pile and let him stand. Not a peep. The goal of this is for him to associate the "scary place" with the ability to rest. Thus, instead of something to fear, it becomes a safe haven.

Believe it or not, I call this a good ride. An opportunity to school the horse, and to test my riding abilities. I must have a good seat, because when Smokey spooks, it's BIG, and comes without warning. I could very well end up in the dirt.

Why do I say he's a fraud? While riding yesterday, one of the resident goats broke his moorings and wandered into the arena. I rode right up to the goat, and Smokey just sniffed him. No fear. We have encountered bears, deer, and elk in the wild. Not a flinch.

But construction material? Run for your life!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Petey (left) and Ellie this morning:

Petey's New Shoes

Good hoof care is one of the basic needs for our horses. As the saying goes, "no hoof, no horse".

As I mentioned in the previous post, Petey's feet were in need of some quality care. Said care came in the form a visit from our farrier, Jake, last night.

He found signs of an old abscess in one of his front hooves, and one of the back hooves is rolling under slightly on the inside. Jake feels that this can be corrected over the next few trimmings, and shouldn't present any problems.

Before trimming:

Post trimming, and sporting shiny new shoes:

As I was observing the work last night, it dawned on me how rather amazing it is that these half ton animals stand perched atop four rather spindly legs. Honestly, there legs are smaller around than a human leg.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Apparently We Needed Another Horse...

...seeing as we drove all the way to Port Townsend to pick up a six year old gelding named Petey.

DN3 has been in need of a new show horse, as her mare Bailey has become burned out on the whole affair. So we picked up Petey the Paint Horse on a one year care lease, with an option to buy. Care leasing is a situation where the leaser does not buy the horse, but is responsible for all care and associated costs for the period of the lease. Not unlike leasing a car, but no monthly payments are made to the rightful owner. The money is spent on feed, vet costs, hoofcare, etc. The advantage for both parties lies in the fact that the owner doesn't pay for the care, and the leaser doesn't have to keep said horse if the animal and rider prove unsuited for one another.

Petey's owner is in college in California, and has not seen him in some time. He was under a care lease with another person, who couldn't pay the asking price, so was letting him move on.

Here is Petey as advertised:

Here's what he looked like when we got home today:

If you blow the second picture up, you can see ribs. He is easily 100-150 pounds underweight, and clearly hasn't seen hoof care in awhile. We do not believe it to be due to willful negligence, but rather a tight budget, and perhaps a dose of ignorance thrown in.

Had we been looking to purchase Petey, we would have left with an empty trailer. We are, however, reasonably certain we can feed him up to his ideal weight, and with a few visits from the farrier have his hooves returned to pristine condition. As a precaution, we are going to have the vet give him the once over.

He's a big sweetheart, with an easygoing disposition. He was completely non-plussed at being moved to a new home, and wasted no time digging into his alfalfa and beet pulp. And DN3 is completely in love with him already.

I'll keep you posted...