Friday, March 26, 2010

There's Something in a Name

Often, the name of a place provides key information about said locale.

Case in point. When a friend and I were planning a pack trip a few years back, the names of two places in the region we would be traveling caught our eye. Dead Horse Creek and Big Mosquito Valley. For reasons which should be obvious to the casual observer, we immediately eliminated both of them from the list of possible destinations or paths of travel.

Now, I'm not always the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I'm fairly certain that I would never build or purchase a home at a place named Washaway Beach.

It would appear, however, that some people do not think the way I do.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Horses Can Fly!

If you don't believe me, then go here, and see for yourself.

Interesting that the only video I could find was on the Telegraph. Thanks to my Brit friends!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Work Party!

On Saturday, members from three local chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington met at the Mt. Baldy trailhead for a work party to clear trails. DN1 commented that the words "work" and "party" should never be used in the same sentence. That's what we called them in the Navy, so it doesn't seem all that strange to me.

Challenge #1 was getting Smokey in the trailer. If there aren't other horses already in the trailer he tends to be a bit, shall we say "leery", about getting in the trailer (read: hell no, he won't go). Combine that with the fact that he hasn't traveled since September, and, well, I'm sure you get the picture. So there were were, me in the trailer, and the horse five feet behind, feet firmly planted, head and neck and stretched flat as I'm pulling on the lead rope. Irresistible force, immovable object, and all that.

Salvation arrived in the form of DN2, who happened by on her rounds for the morning horse feedings. After a couple gentle whacks on the rump, he capitulated and climbed into the trailer. Door shut, and off we go.

Upon arrival, horses were saddled, tools loaded on the pack mules, work briefing and off to work. I was assigned with the crew that was headed out to clear the Jack Daniels trail. With a name like that it must be a good trail. In our group was was a retired U.S. Army Colonel who had been a Ranger. Bill was riding one of his mules and ponying two others that were loaded with tools. Every so often, the mules would manage to get themselves into some predicament or the other. One one occasion, a brush cutter snagged on a tree limb, and was yanked out of the box of the #3 mule. This spooked the #2 mule, who took off running, pushing the saddle mule ahead. Off they disappeared into the woods, while mule #3, whose lead had broken free, stopped to munch on ferns. After few minutes, Bill and the other two mules re-appeared. Things were fixed, and off we went.

Bill is absolutely unflappable. Each time a problem would occur, he just let the commotion die down before doing or saying anything. Then he would sort things out, and off he would go. I've heard that mules have to treated calmly, as they never forget, and you only get one chance to make a mistake.

The weather was co-operative, if you call sporadic rain and hail, with occasional sun breaks co-operative. We managed to cover quite a bit of ground, clearing a great deal of debris and overgrowth. Poor old Smokey was pretty whooped up on by the time we headed back to the trail head. He was walking pretty slow, and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to carry him back.

A campfire, chicken and dumplings, and hot coffee were ready at the parking area when we got back. But not until horses were untacked, watered, and fed. The rule is that horses are tended to first, people second. The animals work hard for us, and they have earned that.

Strangely enough, I didn't have any trouble getting Smokey into the trailer for the trip home. I'm sure he slept good.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Folded Like a Cheap Stroller

I am now on Facebook...

Edit: Mauser Girl pointed out that I omitted a key piece of information.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yee Haw!!

This evening being clear, cool, and dry, I decided that Smokey needed some exercise, so off to the arena we went.

Well, 'ol boy is apparently feeling his oats. Each time I kicked him up into a lope, he wanted to run. Since no one else was in the arena, I did what any cowboy would do...I indulged him, and round and round we sailed, the horse choosing the speed, while I chose when to turn. It was one of those times when everything between horse and rider just clicks. My mind cleared of everything, enjoying a catharsis that I can't quite explain. A far cry from four years ago, when I was as green as a rider could get, and sometimes wondering if perhaps I had picked the wrong hobby.

I don't know how long we raced around, but I finally decided to bring him down to a walk, as I don't want him to overexert himself, nor do I want to spend an hour trying to dry out a sweaty horse.

On another note, I've been accused of being a bit indulgent with regards to our dogs. I can't imagine why.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Goats, Blankets, and Flying Pigs

I'm quite certain that at this moment in time, somewhere in the world, there is bacon on the hoof in flight. Why do I say this? My Father has a Facebook account. This is the man who didn't own a computer until a few months ago.

That leaves me as the final hold out in our family. I obstinately refuse to join Facebook. I ask you, gentle readers, am I being stubborn, or do these social networking things allow us to put too much of ourselves out there for all to see?

I took today off work, because I could. The weather was clear, albeit it a bit cool. Smokey and Bailey were paid a visit from the farrier to have their hooves trimmed and shoes replaced. Smokey's soles are a bit soft, which is common for him this time of year, so we opted to keep the pads on until next time. Neither of them had much hoof growth since last visit. This is not unexpected, as much of their nourishment through the winter months goes toward coat growth and staying warm.

With the warm days and cold nights, we remove horse blankets in the morning, and replace them at night. Most of the horses are non-plussed by this event. Note that I say most. With Dozer, our 8 year old Paint gelding, blanketing is an event I refer to as "Blanket Rodeo". As you approach with the blanket, he tenses up and gets this wild look in his eyes. On about half the occasions, the young punk will wait until you are within arms reach, and then bolt, bucking and running across his paddock. Thus one has to march off after him. He got past me twice tonight before I was able to use my best cutting moves to force him into a corner, and applied said blanket. I know I should get a halter and lead rope for this, but it just seems ludicrous for it to be such an ordeal.

"What??? I have my blanket on. See?"

On a final note, for Laura over at Fetch My Flying Monkeys, I snapped a couple photos that I know she will appreciate.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Inspiration from Buck

Buck prefer's David Lindley's version, but I'm more of an Alan Jackson man myself.

Rehabilitation Does Not Work

I guess it's my day to be pissed off. First the story about the Iwo Jima veterans, and now this.

I have three daughters, so this story hits close to home. I cannot comprehend how it is that our society continues to believe that these deviants can be "rehabilitated". Time and again, we hear stories of convicted sex offenders committing the same crime after being released from prison. I firmly believe that crimes of this nature should be accompanied by a mandatory death sentence. One appeal, no prison time. Castrate them, and then hang them. Publicly. Clean up the gene pool, and make society just a little safer.

I guarantee this. Had this sick bastard hurt one of my girls, and survived long enough to make it to prison, his ass would have disappeared forever the day he got out of the big house.

How Soon We Forget...

Why is it the U.S. Military can't help these Marine Corps Veterans?

These men willingly gave up the best years of their lives for the service of their country. They endured horror that few, if any, of us can possibly imagine. Fighting a fanatical, relentless enemy, death was all around them on that lonely island in 1945. Yet they perservered, as Marines always have, and always will, until the island was firmly in American hands. If you have never read about the battle for Iwo Jima, you owe it to yourself to rectify the situation. One casualty figure states that 22,000 American serviceman died or were wounded on the island. Over 23,000 Japanese soldiers perished in the epic struggle. Those casualty figures far outweigh those of D-Day, the invasion of France.

The debt our nation owes to these men can never be repaid. The least we can do is provide them transport to a place where so many of their friends still remain.

UPDATE: Looks like we pulled through for these guys.