Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

To all my blogger friends, wherever you are, whatever you may be doing, I wish you a Merry Christmas!





Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's The Rare Movie That I Look Forward To Seeing In The Theater.

But it should come as no surprise that I'll be there on December 26th:


I'd be there on Christmas Day if I thought I could get away with it.

If you want to know why I like horses, it's right there at 1:48.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why I Like Living In a Small Town

Stolen from a friends Facebook Post.  This is a five minute walk from our house.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven where there are no horses."

Those words were written by R. B. Cunningham-Graham in a 1917 letter to Theodore Roosevelt.

Several years ago, in the course of blog surfing, I happened upon From Hell To Heaven:  Saving Argus, which has been previously mentioned in this post.  It chronicles the story of a rescued Thoroughbred named Argus, who had spent ten of his first sixteen years confined to a 12 x 16 pen with little human contact or proper care.  This existence had taken a toll on Argus, both physically and mentally.

He was rescued on Dec. 6, 2007.  In the beginning he was frightened, terrified of the new world in which he found himself.  But, in his new home he found the care and understanding needed to adapt to a life he could never have imagined.  Over time, he become a happy, well adjusted horse.

As time passed, posts became few and far between.  After all, there was little to report, as Argus, with his best friend Ridge, was living a life not unlike my own horses.  At times the silence would leave the reader wondering if all was well.

A new post appeared on my Google Reader today.  I clicked on the link, and found myself confronted with the post that I always dreaded, yet knew was inevitable.  Argus died on Nov. 22nd.  And, a mere seven hours later, his best friend, the horse named Ridge, joined him.

I take solace in the fact that both horses are now free of the pain which was their daily companion. Should you choose to read the blog, I've been told to warn readers to keep a box of tissue handy. 

Saving Argus is, above all else, a story of hope.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Changes. They Are a Comin'.

Big changes are heading down the pike for the family BR, and our horses.  There will be some upheaval in the next few weeks, but things will be good on the other side.  Very good.

For the next few weeks, I will probably be a bit scarce in the blogging world, both as a reader and writer.  But I'll be back.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Seventy Years

Seventy years ago today, the Japanese Navy attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  Nine ships were sunk, or destroyed, and fourteen were severely damaged.  188 aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  2,403 servicemen were killed.  1177 of those men died when the USS Arizona sank at her berth.  Another 1178 servicemen were wounded.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed Congress the following day, asking them to declare war on Japan, declaring Dec. 7, 1941 to be a "date which will live in infamy".  With only one dissenting vote, war was declared. The United States of America was now embroiled in the Second World War, ending the policy of Isolationism, and any semblance of neutrality which the United States of America had striven to maintain.  The war would not end until nearly four years later, at the cost of countless lives, both military and civilian, on all sides of the conflict.

Regardless of your opinions of war and conflict, I would ask you to take pause this day to remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who died that day at Pearl Harbor.

Also, remember those who survived.  Their numbers are dwindling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Things That Go Good Together

I love the singing of "Celtic Woman".  I've been known to watch their concerts on the telly more than once.  The family BR thinks me a bit daft, but I like enjoy their singing.

Since childhood, I have also loved Christmas music.  That has not changed as I have aged.

So, Celtic Woman and Christmas Music.  I must search out a CD.


The Issue

The current occupant of the White House recently signed a bill which will allow the horse slaughter industry to resume operation within the United States.  Make no mistake, the industry itself did not end, it merely resulted in horses being shipped to Canada and Mexico where the unseemly deed was carried out.

I've been waffling over whether to post about this issue.  As a result of my delay, Jessica over at the Spotty Horse News beat me to the punch with this post, and this one.  Both are well written, cutting to the heart of the matter. Horse slaughter does not exist because greedy people want to make a buck selling their meat to those who will eat it.  It exists, as Jessica points out, because we have allowed the breeding of too many horses.  The situation is exacerbated by current economic woes, causing good people to be faced with  terrible choices.

This is an issue over which I am torn.  While I understand why it happens, I am not in favor of the practice.  One need only look into the eyes of horse, and see the intelligence hidden behind them to know that this is a fate they do not deserve.  I would have a veterinarian euthanize my horses before I would send them to a kill pen, or worse, abandon them to face starvation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Good Neighbors

In 1900, Frederick Weyerhaeuser purchased 900,000 acres of prime Washington timberland from the Great Northern Railway, thus establishing the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company and it's legacy in this state.  Depending on your personal feelings, that legacy may or may not be somewhat dubious, considering the vast swaths of old growth forests which were felled in the first half of the 20th Century.


But that isn't the subject of this post.  For the most part, Weyerhaeuser has been a good neighbor, permitting non-motorized recreation on their lands, provided it was compatible with logging operations.  Hiking, horseback riding, hunting, etc.

In the past decade, Weyerhaeuser has sold most, if not all, of their timberland to an investment group, who shall remain unnamed.  By all accounts, they were continuing the tradition of permitting recreation on the lands.
At least until Dec. 31st of this year.  Effective Jan. 1, 2012, non-motorized recreation access will require the purchase of  permit, at $75 per person, or $150 for the family.  The claim is that this is for equitable treatment and to establish rules for behavior on the lands.  I tend to believe that ill-behaved recreational users will scoff at the permit, and perpetrate bad behavior undeterred.

I, and others with whom I've discussed the matter, are inclined to believe that, this is nothing more than a means to make a few extra dollars.  Recall that the current owners are an "investment group", charged with making money for their shareholders.

There are millions of acres of public timberland in this state.  I'll keep my $75, thank you.

On The Subject of Comment Notification

As it turns out, all of the notifications were in my spam folder.  Makes you wonder way gmail would think that comments form Google blogger are spam.  Sigh...at least I know where to look from now on.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grrr...

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I am receiving only sporadic email notifications of comments left on my blog.  Thus, my failure to acknowledge your comments is not intentional.

In the same vein, I'm not receiving notifications of comments left on other blogs.  I diligently click the box requesting notice of follow on comments, but, alas!, none is received.

I'm not sure how much one can complain about a free service, but still...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for many things.  A wonderful family, great friends, our horses, good health, an amazing job, and the opportunity to have served my country for 20 years in the World's Greatest Navy.

And I am thankful for being an American.  For all the current problems and differences we face, we still live in a land of opportunity paralleled by none.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Winter Wonderland

The Blacktail Deer population of Western Washington are pleased to report they survived another season of yours truly lugging his rifle over the hill and through the woods.  I aspire to one day approach hunting in a more serious fashion, scouting in the spring and summer, planning each hunt in detail, sighting in my rifle, and having my gear meticulously packed weeks in advance. 

As it stands, my current technique is more akin to "I think I'll go hunting this weekend.  Has anyone seen my rifle?".

My outdoor equipment is kept in a series of rubbermaid bins, clearly marked with the subject of their contents, such as "camping", "hunting", and, of course, two marked "horse".  On the surface this would seem to simplify matters, except for the one variable in the equation.  Me.  I tend to lack consistency in where I put certain essential items, such as my Survival & First Aid Kits.  Since they are most often carried when riding, they can usually be found in the horse bin.  But if last carried while hunting, I probably left them in the aforementioned hunting bin.  Or worse, left them in an unrelated location.  Case in point:  my binoculars are sitting on my dresser right now, where I put them to dry.  With any luck, I might return them to their proper location before next season.

The net result is that packing consists of a mad scramble to find and pack my gear, and usually consists of me throwing things around the garage and cursing, all while attempting to locate the less important items, such as bullets and hunting license.

When one considers that Blacktail Deer are considered by many to be the most elusive, difficult to hunt members of genus Odocoileus, it becomes clear that I am not exactly setting myself up for success.  Maybe someday.  At least I enjoy being out in the wilderness. 

Mother Nature was kind in that she provided a nice treat in the Cascade Foothills this past weekend:

 


At times, it was snowing so hard that visibility was down to a hundred yards.  I had to keep shaking the accumulated snow off my hat.

 

There was no wind, and when one stopped and stood perfectly still, the most noticeable thing was the unbroken silence.  Not a sound.  Nary a rustling leaf, or chirping bird.  The kind of silence that should only be found in a tomb.  Eerie is the only word that adequately describes the sensation.

Since it was deer season, the elk were plentiful:





Can you see her? (Click to enlarge)

A rather good weekend, I daresay.

In other news, Smokey Joe got a new blanket.  I think the color is rather apropos, myself.



Monday, October 31, 2011

Another One Off the Bucket List

Since my blogging has been rather non-existent lame as of late,  I haven't shared my latest "new adventure while riding a horse", which occurred while packing gear into elk camp.

After the first trip in, unloading the gear, lunch, beer, and other appropriate lollygagging at camp, my nephew and I made the two hour ride back to the trailers to pick up the rest of the gear.  After more beer, chocolate chip cookies from the folks semi-permanently camped at the trailhead, and loading up the panniers, we mounted up and headed out, pack horses in tow.  Departure time may have been on the wrong side of 6pm.  No worries, we should make it to camp before dark.

I wasn't wearing a timepiece, so I don't have any reference times, but it did not seem all that long before the light began to fail.  And I do mean fail.  The moon was out, but it rarely penetrated the canopy of the heavy timber.  Soon, it looked like something like this:






I exaggerate only slightly.  The only things I could make out in the dark were Smokey's neck (there's something to be said for a Buttermilk Buckskin), and the occasional cross-section of fallen trees which had been cut from the trail, which provided the only assurance that we were still on the trail. I was riding lead, ponying the Appaloosa (Jack) pictured in a previous post, and, as I saw it, I had two choices:

                 1.  Trust my horse, or
                 2.  Trust my horse

I opted to trust my horse.  For all his antics in the arena, Smokey has long since proven himself to be the wise old trail horse, who is no slouch in the wilderness.  We weren't about to break out flashlights, as that would only serve to ruin the night vision of our trusted steeds.  On we rode.

I'm not big on talking when riding the trail. For me, quiet is a key component of the wilderness experience.  The solitude this night was amplified by the complete darkness, the quiet broken only by the soft sound of hooves on the trail, and the occasional snort of equine nostrils.  At the risk of sounding dramatic, I found that, with nothing to concentrate on, save my own thoughts, I reveled in the feeling of senses stripped bare.

All good things come to an end, and before long the raw glow of a lantern appeared through the trees, snapping me out of my reverie.  The horses, not surprisingly, had found camp.  Soon, the gear was unloaded, horses settled, watered, and fed, and we settled in to a warm dinner ourselves, this new experience behind me.

On a side note, an old packer once told me that when riding at night, hanging a glow stick from your neck would light the trail ahead of you.  I can attest, from experience this night, that the claim is pure horse puckey.  I gave this a try, and the only noticeable effect was total loss of what little night vision I had.  Within two minutes, I shoved it in a pocket, never to be tried again.

I'm Not in the Market...

...but this is still funny!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

State of the Blog

After several (well, one anyway) inquiries into my well being, I thought I'd better check in.  Since I'm rather uninspired with respect to the written word, I'll catch up on my doings with pictures.

What I've been up to:

1.  Giving away a Bride.


2.  Riding to Elk Camp


3.  Coveting Appaloosa pack horses at elk camp:


4.  Returning from Elk Camp


5.  Giving away another Bride.



6.  Taking my rifle for a walk, and enjoying some fabulous views.


 




That about sums it up.  I know, I know...I lead a boring life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Observations

In the course of my life, I have met a sum total of three people who could be categorized as "famous".  That word being applied to those likely to be known by a larger segment of the population than us regular folk.  By the term "met", I mean having engaged in conversation beyond "can I have your autograph" (Sorry Bob Griese).

The first was Barbara Bush.  She was the sponsor of the second submarine I served aboard, USS Houston (SSN-713).  Touring the boat while on business in San Diego, she stopped in the Chief's quarters to chat with a few us.  A very nice lady, and while the meeting was brief, I feel that I am better for the experience.  She told us "George doesn't miss being President, but he misses you fellows."

The second was Tony Curtis.  Having served aboard a Submarine Tender in the Second World War, and starring in Operation Petticoat, he was invited as the guest of honor to the Submarine Birthday Ball in San Diego (1997 I think).  Having served in the Navy, he was wise enough to know that hanging out with the Chief Petty Officer's would, of course, prove to be the most fun.  He was exactly what one would expect an actor of his generation to be.  That is, politically incorrect, and absolutely funny.

The third was today.  As it occurred at work, I will adhere to personal policy, and not divulge the details.


The point of this post is not to say "look at me, I've met famous people!"  No, it is simply my observation that upon meeting people who, until that moment, seemed larger than life, I instantly realized that they are merely people.  Perhaps more successful, richer, or well known, but still flesh and blood people. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Small Projects

When it comes to riding, particularly trail riding, I'm always looking for ways to improve my gear, while not spending a grunch of money.

One item that has continued to be a minor irritant is carrying water.  At first, I carried Nalgene bottles in the horn bags. This is okay, at least until one is removed for drinking.  The other gear in the bag settles to fill the void, requiring the availability of two free hands to clear a space and return the bottle.  This also draws your focus away from the reins and the horse, which is never a good idea.  Should you be a trailing a pack horse, it becomes downright impossible.

The next method I tried was one of these:



I hung it from the saddle horn, which soon presented two challenges.  First, when going downhill, it would end up on Smokey's neck.  No good.  And, on at least one occasion, it flew off the horn and into the bushes when Smokey felt the need to pull some antics.  Scratch that idea.

I asked myself "what did the Cavalry do?"  As it turns out, during and after the First World War, they used this.  "Great" thought I, I'll get via eBay or some other internet resource.  Except that the going price is about $75+, a bit much to pay for a water carrier.  A tad steep for a drink of water.

Imagine my luck at a recent gun show, whilst perusing a table of military surplus items, I spied this gem:


Yes, folks, that's a M1918 Cavalry Canteen cover.  For the low price of $15.  I already possess a M1944 canteen, and felt that the leather strap and hardware would be easy to replace, so I snapped it up.

Some saddle string leather and a few pieces of brass hardware were all that was needed.  Here's the finished product:


I'll report back on whether this proves to be a good solution to the water problem.

The next item on the agenda:  Lead Rope for the trail.  I prefer to carry a and lead rope, as one may find it necessary to stop and secure the horse to a tree to permit trail clearing, lunch, attending to various bodily functions, etc.  The easiest method is to leave the halter on under the headstall, with the lead rope attached and looped up over the saddle horn.  I use a rope halter, since is it as no metal hardware to break.  I decided it was time to switch to a lead rope which does not have a snap on it, similar to this product from Double Diamond.  Unfortunately, my local tack store does not carry them, and to purchase one via the interwebs, I was looking at close to $30 after shipping, which is a bit much for a lead rope.

Undaunted, I purchased 12 1/2 feet of lead rope material, which, combined with two pieces of electrical tape and a length of saddle string leather leftover from the previous project, resulted in this:


It may be not be pretty, but the total cost was under nine bucks.  And it gave me something to do on a dreary afternoon.

Desperately Seeking Summer

INSTALLING SUMMER.....
███████████████░░░░░░░░░░░░░░ 44% DONE.
Installation failed. 404 error: Season not found. The season you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please try again...
The rule of thumb here in the Pacific Northwest is that the weather turns to Summer after July 4th.  Apparently Ma Nature has forgotten this little factoid.  While folks in the southern half of the country appear to be getting baked, we seem to be trapped in a never ending Spring.  Or, Fall has started early.  While it isn't cold, it isn't particularly warm either.  And it's raining, with more in the forecast this week.  Bah...
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort record 612 inches of snow (that's 51 feet!), and had their longest ski season on record, running from Nov. 18, 2010 to July 14th this year.  Great for the skiers, not so much for those who ride stock or backpack in the wildnerness.  Let me illustrate.
That's Crystal Mountain on the left.  To the right is Scout Pass, on the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the entries into the Norse Peak Wilderness, which the astute reader will recall is one of my favorite summer riding areas. Unless, of course, it's covered in snow.  Initial reports indicate there is a quite a bit of the white stuff on the ground still, and that trails took a beating from a rougher than normal winter.  My brother-in-law and I are going to take a drive up to Government Meadows Horse Camp sometime in the next couple weeks, and hike in to assess trail conditions before attempting to go in on horse back.  I'm trying to be optimistic about this, but I think packing season will be abbreviated this year.
Al Gore, call your office.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Diagnosis

The discomfort in my lower back has not subsided. Standing and lying down relieve the pressure, but prolonged sitting results in a dull throbbing sensation down low. Walking is at times easy, at others a struggle. On Saturday morning, I noticed bruising where there had been none. Growing mildly concerned about the possibility of a fracture, or worse, I visited the Sawbones today.

I'm pleased to report that "Lumbar Contusion" is the diagnosis. The treatment: Alternating ice and heat, Alleve, and beer (I may have added that last one myself).

This constitutes my first visit to a physician since I retired from Uncle Sam's Navy. As my employer provides health coverage free of charge, I opted to take the civilian route, as opposed to navigating the murky waters of TriCare. I was most pleasantly surprised. While there, I disrobed and dressed twice, was examined by the Doc, x-rays were taken and examined by a Radioligist, back with the Doc, treatement discussed, and a tetanus shot for good measure. One hour and ten minutes later, I was sitting in my pickup headed home.

Prior to this, my visits to medical fell under the heading "Adventures in Naval Medicine". A typical experience goes something like this:

Viewing the obviously broken bone in my hand, I proceed to visit the ships "Doc". Submarines only carry a specially trained enlisted Independent Duty Corpsman for medical staff. I was, at varying times, convinced that said training consisted of two things: 1) How to convince someone that they were, in fact, not hurt, but malingering. 2) How to dispense Motrin.

Doc: "Stop malingering. Here's some Motrin. Now get back to work."

Me: "But this bone is pointing in the wrong direction."

Doc: "Yes it is. Stop malingering. Take your Motrin, and get back to work."

Me: "I can't move my fingers."

Doc: "It's getting close to lunch time. Go malinger at Squadron Medical."

A similar scene is repeated at squadron medical, only this time you are sent to Balboa Naval Hospital. Never mind that your hand is obviously broken, drive yourself malingerer.

I was lucky, getting in to see the Doctor a mere two hours after the scheduled appointment. After viewing the obviously broken fifth metacarpal in the x-ray, the Ortho Doc looks at me and asks "what would you like us to do?" (I'm not kidding. You can't make this shit up.)

Uh, gosh, I don't know, give me some Motrin? Reset the bone maybe?

Of course, after said bone had been reset, I was left wondering if I had chosen poorly. No anesthetic or such things. That hurt worse than breaking it did.

"There's your cast, malingerer. Get back to your command." Gladly.

The only hiccup in today's visit came when the Doc asked if I need a note for work. I said no, the only thing this injury is affecting is my ability to ride horses. To which she replied "that's probably for the best."

She obviously does not own any horses.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Art of Getting Out of the Saddle

In the simplest sense, there are two means for dismounting a horse. The planned method, and the unplanned method. The former is, of course, preferred, but does not make good blog fodder.

On Independence Day, Daughter #2's Husband (henceforth known as DN2H), and I went for a trail ride on Weyerhaeuser land north of Enumclaw. DN2H rode Smokey, while I rode Dozer. You may recall, from this post, that Dozermeister has been a tad skittish. This may become important later.

Dozer is shaped somewhat like a barrel, and is lacking in a significant withers. When going down hill, it begins to feel like the saddle is going to end up on his neck. To combat this, I brought along a crupper. Any wise horseperson will tell you to only introduce new things in the arena or round pen. I do not claim to be wise. I put the crupper on in stages, and once secure, let him sit with it for about ten minutes. No reaction, so all must be well.

I put the saddle bags on, again with no problem. Until I started to walk away. This was apparently one thing too many as he started jumping around like a bronc. Oh boy. After a few tense moments, we got him settled down. I removed the crupper. This seemed to calm the youngster, and we soon hit the trail.

The next three hours were uneventful, as we enjoyed the quiet and the nice weather. We were moving up a logging road, when I heard the sounds of other riders approaching on an intersecting road. Soon, a white horse showed up on the trail.

Dozer spooked so suddenly, and so quickly, that before I even realized it, I was flat on my back on the ground. I'm fairly certain the only reason Dozer did not manage to bolt is the fact that old Smokey Joe was standing in the way, with a look on his face that seemed to say "what's all the commotion about?" Finding one rein still in my hand, I jumped to my feet and gave a jerk on it to stop him. As quickly as the rodeo had begun, it was over.

I straightened the bit in his mouth, and climbed back in the saddle. A quick self assessment revealed the bottom of my left forearm to be, well, a bit scratched up. More on that later. A few other cuts and bruises, and my back was a wee bit sore. We rode up to the other party. Lo and behold, it was a friend of ours, and a whole group of her friends. We talked for a few minutes, laughed about my dismount, and then headed in on our separate paths. As DN2H put it "only your family would run into someone you know in the middle of nowhere". This does seem to happen regularly.

I asked DN2H's what happened. He put it rather succinctly: "Dozer did a rollback, I heard a thud, and you were the ground. You got back in the saddle, rode up, and started talking to your friends".

We headed back to the trailer without further event, unsaddled, loaded up, and took the ponies home.

It wasn't til later that the pain set in. It was a hard landing, cuz I don't bounce like I used too. My lower back hurts (sitting down is the worst), and my forearm looks like someone took a cheese grater to it. But, as they say, pain let's you know you're alive, so I'm alive and well. Although it may be a few more days before I climb up in the saddle.

BTW, this was my fault. I know Dozer has been skittish, and I heard the other riders coming. I should have been prepared for his reaction. Had I been, I probably would have stayed in the saddle. Sometimes I just have to relearn a few lessons.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flyover Country

Seems it isn't dead yet. Follow the link over at Lex's place.

I wonder if you could find that much civic pride in a city of roughly 775,000 people on either of the coasts?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Freedom Isn't Free

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.
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.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Rough Life of Our Horses

For Those of You Who Have/Want Kids

Kipp over at Rockbottom has a way with words:

rockbottom: Mystery meat

News on the Front

Despite appearances from the previous post, it wasn't a bad week...just a long one that seemed like it might never end. But Friday finally came, and since I woke up this morning, the much anticipated Rapture appears to have been postponed.

As DN3 had qualified in four events to participate in the High School Equestrian State Meet, last weekend was spent at the Grant County Fairgrounds in Moses Lake, WA. It was a good weekend overall, and she and her riding partner placed 5th in Ranch Sorting.

On the down side in the horse world, there has been an outbreak of the neurological form of EHV-1 (Equine Herpes Virus), which can be deadly to horses. This article from the local news sums it up in layman's terms. There have been conflicting reports as to whether an exposed horse was present in Moses Lake. In addition to the WAHSET meet, there was a Reining Horse event at the fairgrounds. I would conservatively estimate that 500-600 horses were present last weekend. Thus far the two horses we took aren't showing any signs, and while we doubt they were exposed, we are playing it safe.

So is most of the horse industry. Shows, organized trail rides, and just about every planned gathering of horses for the next three weeks have been cancelled. Boarding facilities are in lockdown, with no horses permitted to come or go. While this may seem a bit knee jerk, when dealing with a virus that has no prevention or cure, it is the safest course of action to take. While I would much rather be on a trail ride today, it's more important to know that my horses are safe.

Deb sent me this link to a good video* about EHV-1 that may be of interest to horse owners.



*Posting this video does not constitute an endorsement of Parelli.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Solo Trail Ride

Sunday's weather was clear and bright, with the high reaching in the upper 60's. With the Ladies BR off to shop for wedding dresses and attend showers and such, yours truly declared it to be a fine day for a trail ride, and to try something I've been wanting to do for some time. I was going to ride alone. I know I've ridden Smokey along the river levee alone, but riding within a mile or two of home doesn't really count in my book. I'm talking pack the horse and tack in the trailer, drive somewhere, and ride.

Mrs. BR suggested that I should take our Paint gelding, Dozer. I though, "why not", and loaded the young man up.

Dozer is DN2's horse. She bought him him when he was four. He's nine now, and has spent the last two years leased out to a girl who has used him for 4H, but she is done riding, so he's headed back to our care. He has spent the better part of the time being ridden in the arena only, and has become a bit punchy. Dozer is a tad skittish, goofy about his off side, and has run off once or twice while his rider was dismounting. At the 4H show on Saturday he did his level best to unseat three different riders. What could possibly go wrong on a leisurely trail ride?

Dozer needs a confident rider. Horses are very sensitive to their riders mood, particularly if nervousness, trepidation, or fear enter the equation. You are the leader when riding, and if you're scared, most horses will sense that there is something to be afraid of, and will make heroic effort to "get the heck out of here". As the horse becomes more skittish, the nervous rider gets scared, which in turns scares the horse more, which causes the riding to become seriously frightened...wash, rinse, repeat. Possible recipe for a bad ending.

We went to Mill Pond, a series of equestrian trails on Weyerhaeuser land off Hwy 410. After saddling up, I looked him in they eye and in no uncertain terms informed him that it was a nice day, and we were going to have a good ride. That, or he would go to France in a box. And off we went...for three uneventful hours.

He was uncertain, but he paid attention. He stopped on occasion, requiring some added encouragement (read: spurs) to get going again. If we encountered other groups of riders, he became certain that we needed to follow them, and would get a little loose in the steering until I applied proper motivation (read: spurs) to get him pointed in the desired direction of travel. Beyond that, nary a problem. A very enjoyable ride, and, I think, good for his mind.

It was interesting to contrast the differences between Smokey and Dozer on the trail. At 22, Smokey is very trail wise, and follows the path with little to no rider direction. I'm reasonably certain I could take a nap in the saddle and still find myself on the same trail upon waking. Dozer, on the other hand, would occasionally lose sight of the trail and head off into the trees. Dozer has a quicker walking pace, which I rather enjoyed. Smokey can be a bit of a slow poke, which can be infuriating at times.

I know that one ride is only a data point, but Dozer just may have a future in the mountains.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Allright, Already...

Well, I guess I will refrain from putting this blog in mothballs (at least for the time being). Truth be told, I've lost interest in the whole affair. But I'll try to resuscitate this thing. Just not tonight.

But we will take a moment out for the 2nd Amendment. Via email:


Shooting Advice:

Never let someone or thing that threatens you get inside arm’s length and never say "I’ve got a gun". If you feel you need to use deadly force for heaven’s sake let the "first sound they hear be the safety clicking off", and they shouldn't have time to hear anything after that if you are doing your job.

'The average response time of a 911 call is over 23 minutes… the response time of a .44 magnum is 1400 feet per second.'

Clint Smith, Director of Thunder Ranch, is a drill instructor (Thunder Ranch is a firearms training facility in Arizona ). Here are a few of his observations on tactics, firearms, self-defense and life as we know it in the civilized world.

"The most important rule in a gunfight is: Always win and cheat if necessary."

"Don't forget, incoming fire has the right of way.."

"Make your attacker advance through a wall of bullets. You may get killed with your own gun, but he'll have to beat you to death with it, cause it's going to be empty."

"If you're not shooting', you should be loading'. If you're not loading', you should be moving', if you're not moving', someone's going to cut your head off and put it on a stick."

"When you reload in low light encounters, don't put your flashlight in your back pocket.. If you light yourself up, you'll look like an angel or the tooth fairy... and you're going to be one of 'em pretty soon."

"Do something. It may be wrong, but do something."

"Shoot what's available, as long as it's available, until something else becomes available."

"If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. That's ridiculous. If you have a gun, what in the hell do you have to be paranoid for?"

"Don't shoot fast, unless you also shoot good."

"You can say 'stop' or 'alto' or use any other word you think will work, but I've found that a large bore muzzle pointed at someone's head is pretty much the universal language."

"You have the rest of your life to solve your problems.. How long you live depends on how well you do it."

"You cannot save the planet, but you may be able to save yourself and your family."

"Thunder Ranch will be here as long as you'll have us or until someone makes us go away, and either way, it will be exciting."


More Excellent Gun Wisdom…

The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield, and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.

1. Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.

2. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

3. I carry a gun cause a cop is too heavy.

4. When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

5. A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him 'Why do you carry a 45?' The Ranger responded, 'Because they don't make a 46.'

6. An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

7. The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. 'Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?' 'No ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my rifle.'

8. Beware of the woman who only has one gun, because she probably knows how to use it very well.

'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

A people that values its privileges above its principles will soon lose both.

"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not..." - Thomas Jefferson.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time to Join the Mothball Fleet?

Mothball:

1.
to deactivate (as a ship) and prevent deterioration chiefly by dehumidification

2. to withdraw from use or service and keep in reserve : put aside


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nuclear Power Plant Troubles

It should be fairly obvious that while serving in Uncle Sam's Navy, I did my sea time aboard submarines. Yes, I went to sea on vessels which were designed to SINK ON PURPOSE.

What may not be obvious is this: I was a nuclear power plant operator, referred to in Navy jargon as a "nuke".

I'm not going to downplay the events in Japan. Things are not good. The plants were capable of withstanding the earthquakes, and were automatically shutdown as designed. The problems were created when the resultant tsunami disabled the backup electrical systems which are used to keep the coolant pumps running. Even after shutdown, a reactor core will continue to generate an immense quantity of heat for many days, or until it has been purposely cooled down. For the plants in Japan, with no electrical power available, there was no way to remove the heat, which caused a bad situation to get infinitely worse.

However, none of the explosions were a result of the reactor cores "blowing up". The enriched uranium used in nuclear fuel is not capable of exploding. The explosions were the result of hydrogen which built up in the containment buildings following the venting of built up water pressure into the structures.

Of course, this event has permitted the anti-nuke crowd to fan the flames of hysteria, enabled by an all to willing media.

For a better explanation: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/fear-the-media-meltdown-not-the-nuclear-one/

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One of the Benefits of being a Master Chief...

Was the ability to speak what was on my mind with little fear of repercussion.

To wit:

A young Navy Officer was in a terrible car accident, but due to the heroics of the hospital staff the only permanent injury was the loss of one ear.

Since he wasn't physically impaired he remained in the military and eventually became an Admiral. However, during his career he was always sensitive about his appearance.

One day the Admiral was interviewing three Master Chiefs for the Command Master Chief position.

The first Master Chief was a Surface Navy type and it was a great interview. At the end of the interview the Admiral asked him, "Do you notice anything different about me?"

The Master Chief answered, "Why yes. I couldn't help but notice you are missing your starboard ear, so I need to know whether this impacts your hearing on that side."

The Admiral got very angry at this lack of tact and threw him out of his office.

The next candidate, a Seabee Master Chief, when asked this same question, answered, "Well yes, you seem to be short one ear."

The Admiral threw him out also.

The third interview was with a Submarine Master Chief. He was articulate, extremely sharp, and seemed to know more than the other two Master Chiefs put together. The Admiral wanted this guy, but went ahead with the same question.

"Do you notice anything different about me?"

To his surprise the Submarine Master Chief said, "Yes. You wear contact lenses."

The Admiral was impressed and thought to himself, what an incredibly tactful Master Chief. "And how do you know that?" the Admiral asked.

The Submarine Master Chief replied, "Well, it's pretty hard to wear glasses with only one fuckin' ear."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

RIP: Lance Corporal Tasker and Theo

In the rush to keep up with the latest celebrity foibles, some of you may have missed this story.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

No Bad Color on a Good Horse

Whilst perusing Dreamhorse.com, this fella caught my eye.

"Kenny" is coming five this year, is green broke, and has been ridden primarily on trails. He's well bred, with cowhorse on the sire's side, and running Paints on the Dam's side. The Cowboy-in-Law tells us that Doc O'Lena and Peppy San descendents are know for their speed, when asked, and for the ability to turn it off, when asked, which makes them ideal cutting horses. The owner feels that he has the potential to be an "all around" horse, and that he is willing to do what is asked of him. That's a trait I find appealing in a horse. Smokey, for all his quirks, has always been willing to do what is asked of him, even if he's not necessarily good at it, like cow work.

The owner needs to pair down to two horses, feels that he is the one most likely to sell, and is more concerned with finding him the right home than whether she makes a buck off him. She stated his biggest vice is that when he gets scared he spin and try to get away. Sounds like a certain Buckskin horse I know, so I don't find that too bothersome.

She's also willing to consider a short term care lease, so that I can be certain that he is the horse for me. I find that appealing, and a sign of honesty. I'm not a horse trader, and just as Smokey will live to the end of his days as "my horse", I'm looking for a horse to keep for the long haul. Conceivably, I could be riding "Kenny" until I'm in my 60's. She also wants to see the place he will be kept before letting him go.

This picture is from last year:


I feel a trip to Sequim coming on.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WAHSET Meet #1

We trekked down to Ridgefield, WA late last week for our first ever Washington State High School Equestrian Team meet, at the Clark County Fairgrounds. This event comprises six high school teams, and well over one hundred riders. Riders participate in 5 individual events, and 5 team events, of their choice.

For the Thursday afternoon drive down, Ma Nature decided to bless us with a rare snow. As I posted on the FB, towing a horse trailer in a snowstorm was not on my bucket list. We encountered near white out conditions on two occasions. I didn't need to change my skivvies afterward, but there was a distinct crease in the drivers seat of the Excursion. Around milepost 86 on the five traffic slowed to a crawl. "Great", thought I, "we'll never get there." At milepost 78, the cause of the slowdown revealed itself. A big rig with it's trailer perpendicular across the road, front tires of the cab hanging over the embankment. I'm certain that driver needed to change his britches.

We were also blessed with a DAMN COLD weekend. We left the hotel early Friday morning, arriving at the the barn around 6am. The temperature peaked at around 32F that day.

Day 1 is chock full of events. DN3 participated in Showmanship, Stockseat, Huntseat, Barrel Racing, and Cattle Sorting. Her team finished Cattle Sorting at around 11:30 that evening. And the event was only half over.

This is the view that greeted us in the truck as we left:


Not as cold as a lot of places, I know, but after you've been out in it for 18 hours, layering notwithstanding, the bones are cold.

Day 2 consisted of Working Pairs, Canadian Flags, Figure 8, and Bi-Rangle. Working Pairs is a team event, 2 horses, 2 riders. They perform a pattern, set to music of their choice. Costumes are encouraged.

DN3 and her teammate SW choice "Kryptonite", by 3 Doors Down.



Appropriate costumes were donned:


On Sunday, the final day, temperature reached 37F. A heat wave, I tell you! The only event DN3 participated in that day was In Hand Obstacle Relay.

Despite the cold, it was a great weekend. DN3 had a wonderful time, never complained, and thanked us every step of the way. All the girls on her team are fabulous people. There was no bickering, and they all helped and cheered one another on.

Her placing were nothing to sneeze at either, if I may be permitted to brag on my child:

Showmanship - 1st
Stockseat - 5th
Huntseat - 2nd
Barrels - 25th (1.95 seconds separated her from 1st place)
Cattle Sorting - 18th
Working Pairs - 4th
Canadian Flags - 4th
Figure 8 - 27th
Bi-Rangle - 12th
In Hand Obstacle Relay - 4th.

Not a bad showing for her first time out, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What She Said.

Because I'm suffering from my first bout of the crud in years, and my mucous filled head is exerting too much pressure on my brain to write.


Monday, February 28, 2011

Moral Dilemma

RIP, Corporal Buckles


The last surviving American veteran of the First World War I, joined his comrades yesterday.


I could only hope to be half the man he was.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bailey Baroo

I am known for, among other things, giving multiple nicknames to every member of my family, and every animal we've ever had. Each of my three daughter has no less than 5402 nicknames, and I can trace the origin of each. Just ask them, they'll tell you.

DN3's favorite horse is our mare Bailey. They have that bond that most riders only dream about.

I have always called that horse Bailey Baroo. And for years, my movie line deficient family has had no clue regarding the origin of said nickname. Tonight I finally let them in on the secret.

Free Horse

I tried to avoid coloring the previous post with my own opinions. I received some good feedback, much of it in line with my own thoughts on the subject. Thanks to all who commented.

I'm not a stranger to "free" horses, having given away a mare two years ago. But I was absolutely transparent about why she was free. Something to do with the fact that her first instinct when I would plop my butt in the saddle was to rear up and dump yours truly in the dirt.

Regarding, "he is a beautiful, very unique horse with a strong personality and so, so smart." In all fairness, that could very well be a description of Smokey. While I'm not up for a bronc whose first instinct is to bolt, neither am I interested in a lackluster horse that doesn't require that I earn the right to ride. But, as WomanWhoRunsWithHorses pointed out, it could very well mean that the average rider doesn't stand a chance.

"Needs a job". I hear that line too often, and honestly find it to be horse pucky. I need a job, so that I can care for my family and own horses. Horses need to eat, drink, sleep and crap. It's just more likely that they will be able to do the first two if a human has them engaged in an activity.

I'm not too keen on taking a horse with "terms" either, unless it was a care lease situation. If it is for the purpose of ownership, once I take the horse, transfer the registration, and start bearing the cost of upkeep, the seller doesn't, in my opinion, have any say in the matter. I'm good with permitting first right of refusal on a horse, but that's about where it ends. I'm not obligated to keep anyone informed of his progress. Except, maybe, for Mrs. BR. And all my readers. And family and friends. Well, you get the idea.

I have mixed feelings with regard to the lesson with the trainer. This can be helpful in learning what cues the particular horse has been taught, as opposed to spending time experimenting. On the other hand...

There is no certification process to become a horse trainer. Heck, I could hang a shingle out claiming to be to be such, convince some hapless victims that I know what I doing, and voila!



I've met a few "(insert big name trainer here) certified" trainers whom I wouldn't let train a stuffed animal, let alone a horse. I even find some of the Big Name Trainers to be a tad on the hokey side. But that's another post. And while I subscribe to the "Natural Horsemanship" idea, the phrase seems to be getting a bit worn out.

At 14.2 HH, he's also a bit on the short side for my tastes.

In closing, I'm going to let this marinate. The family BR will be in Vancouver, WA this weekend for the first High School Equestrian Team meet of the year, so there's no time for looking at horses for at least a week and half. If he's still on the market, I might take a trek to Olympia for a looksee, since it's only an hour south of here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thoughts, anyone?

Via Craigslist, a free* Buttermilk Buckskin. As many of you know, I have a special spot in my heart for Buckskin colored horses.

Free horses can raise flags to the horse shopper, but in today's market, an average, healthy, yet unremarkable horse is difficult to sell at best. Sellers who hold out for a certain price usually spend more money keeping the horse than they ultimately make at the time of sale.

I am looking, albeit half heartedly, for another horse. No, not to replace Smokey, who I feel has at least another good three or four years left in him. I'm looking for the horse to bring up behind him when he is ready or retirement, to further challenge my riding abilities, and to carry my luggage and groceries on pack trips.

I'm in no rush, however, and I feel that the right horse will appear at the right time.

*Most horse owners will tell you that a "free" horse really isn't. While you may not pay any money up front, these four legged hay processing plants will cost you in feed, vet bills, and hoof care, at a minimum.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Customer Service Strikes Again, Part II

I received a new email from the previously offending saddle shop yesterday. It read, in part, "We received the choc/black on our truck yesterday, so I will send the one you ordered." I also received shipping information for the pad and cinch. So, I guess, all is right in the world again. I'm remotely curious as to how it went from not available until the end of the month, to be shipped yesterday, but not curious enough to actually ask.

I'm mildly disappointed that they didn't throw me a consolatory bone, like free shipping. However, the fact remains that their price for the pad is $30 cheaper than anyone else. This also the only less than pleasant experience I've had with these folks, so I consider it to be a one off. And, as WomanWhoRunsWithHorses pointed out in the previous comments, the weather down that way has been none to hospitable.

If this is the worst the week had to offer, then I daresay all is right with the world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Customer Service Strikes Again

On Jan. 29th, I placed an internet order for a new saddle pad and cinch with a well known saddle shop based in Texas. I subsequently received an email acknowledging the order, which also stated that tracking information would be sent to me at the time of shipment. As of Feb. 4th, no such information had been received. I sent an email informing them of this fact. No reply was received.

I contacted them again yesterday. Here is the reply I received this morning:

"We apologize for the delay in your order. Due to weather conditions, we have been unable to ship or receive. The pad that you ordered is not available until the end of this month. Wrangler does not have any in stock and is waiting on material. I can send you a different pattern, or if you prefer to wait, I can have them ship as soon as it is available."

Really??? It took twelve days in the internet age to inform me of this?? And the pad I ordered is out of stock?? Then why was I able to order it?? Oh, and by the way, the pad isn't made by Wrangler, it's made by Professional's Choice!!!!

Immediately after reading the email, every fiber in my being was screaming at me to pick up the phone, call them, and unleash the retired Master Chief on someone. But, clearly I'm getting soft. After talking myself off the ledge, I replied with "Thank you for the information. Is the pad available in Tan/Black, size 34"x36"? If so, that would be an acceptable replacement. If it isn't available, then I would like to cancel the order."

Of course, I haven't received a reply. I suspect that will take another twelve days.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Arena Etiquette

Arena Etiquette goes into play the moment more than one horse and rider are present in an arena. This is a set of written or unwritten rules which are, or at least should be, more common sense than anything. Ride in the same direction. Don't cut someone off. Don't stop abruptly, or back up without looking back first. Slower riders to the inside. The bottom line is safety for both horse and rider. The more horses in an arena, the more important this becomes.

At organized events, be it shows, western gaming, cow sorting, or what have you, there is invariably a "warm up ring". This tends to be a smaller arena, and soon becomes a teeming mass of horseflesh. Invariably, one or two riders enter the fray who are seemingly unaware that they are not alone. They cut in front of others, stop without so much as a "howdy do", and suddenly back their horse without warning. Throw in the newbie rider with no control of a psycho horse they've been "given", shake well, and you can imagine the impending disaster brewing. Oftentimes the ring announcer can be heard bleating something over the PA about safety in the practice arena, but of course, the only folks that hear and heed these announcements are those of us who are already riding safely. Apparently poor riding skills are accompanied by hearing loss.

I make it a point to clear out once the situation begins to approach critical mass, but on at least one occasion, I've made it clear to another that if they cut me off again, things probably won't end well. I have a limited amount of patience, and I'll be darned if I'm going to use it up on people who aren't worthy.

Some horses don't have patience for this either, which presents a whole new set of hazards. During a 4H clinic last year, one of the girls in our club was riding Smokey. Another horse kept riding up on Old Joe and bumping. Now, if Smokey were human, he'd be the guy holding the M1 saying "get off my lawn." He is not particularly fond of other horses, particularly when they are behaving badly. After being bumped twice, he had had his fill.

The third time the offending horse rode up on him, the scene began to unfold as if in slow motion. Subtly, Smokey turned his head to look at Mr. Bumper Car. His pace slowed, his left hip moving ever so slightly to the inside of the arena. Realizing what was about to happen, Mrs. BR began yelling at the girl riding him to watch out, but Paulhamus Arena is rather large, so it's doubtful that she was heard. The distance closed. Smokey cocked his leg, and, at precisely the right moment, kicked out.

Whether he connected or not is up for debate, as the scuffle was over as quickly as it began, with no apparent injury inflicted. However, it could have easily ended in injury to horse or rider, simply because one rider didn't have the good sense to steer her horse clear of the others.

I suspect, that among my readers who ride, I'm preaching to the choir. And of course, oblivious people exist in all facets of life, not just in the warmup arena.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I've Been Awarded!

Thank you to Dock Start at Adventures in Colt (Filly) Starting and Rebecca at There's a Horse Outside My Window, who both felt that my blog was worthy of an award. Or perhaps they were running short on newly discovered blogs to share ;)



I've been dragging my feet a bit on this one, but in the spirit of things, I'll get on board.


There are rules that go along with this award:
1.Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3.Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4.Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

1. I'm fiercely proud of being an American.

2. I like to read. My preferred genre is history, primarily the Second World War, but I look forward to Clive Cussler's latest Dirk Pitt novels.

3. If a friend needs a favor, I will help out without question. But, I will never ask anyone for help. I'm just funny that way.

4. If someone had told me six years ago that horses would be a large part of my life, I would have laughed them out of the room. Now I cannot imagine a life without them.

5. I used to be extremely introverted. I'm still not very adept at making small talk if common ground for a conversation can't be found, but I'm no longer the quiet guy in the corner.

6. I'm nostalgic. I sometimes wish I had been born to an earlier era. Not because I think life was better, but rather because it was simpler.

7. I think that riding a horse at a dead run is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Fifteen recently discovered blogs:

1. Spotty Horse News.
2. A Year With Horses.
3. Andy's Place.
4. Full of Love and Life.
5. Kat's Scribbles.
6. Murphy and Other Stories.
7. Observations of an Okie Biker.
8. Rockbottom.
9. When it Strikes Me.
10. Hoof 'n Barrel.
11. Life at Sweetpea's Heaven.
12. A Filly's Best Friend.
13. On a Chicken Wing and a Prayer.
14. Innominatus.
15. MiKael's Mania.

Whew! One less thing to procrastinate on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Stuff

At the weekly Backcountry Horsemen meeting last night, the comment was made (in reference to a local tack shop) that we should shop local, because if we don't, they soon won't be there, and we'll have no choice but to shop online.

I've been thinking about this, and too be quite honest, I'm a bit torn. Shopping is generally not high on my funmeter, except at Cabela's or Big J's. Shopping online saves me time, gas, and usually money, as I can find better prices. But, I must admit, there are times when I want to be able to hold something in my hand before making the decision to buy it. And, at least where the tack store in question is concerned, it's too small and jam packed, rarely has anything I'm looking for, is overpriced, and, by the way, the proprietor is an asshole. Doesn't make me want to stop in.

Mike's Western, in Enumclaw, is a little better. It's still too small and crowded, but Mike, who is a good old boy from Texas, knows where everything is, and if he doesn't have it, he can get it. His prices are fair, and generally negotiable. He recognizes you when you come in, and will take time to shoot the breeze.

So, I guess for me, the decision to shop local or online boils down to the experience. Your mileage may vary.

Speaking of tack, I picked up two new pieces of tack at the gun show, of all places. One is a leather scabbard that fits a scoped rifle. It's clearly seen use, as the leather is soft and well broke in. It's in excellent condition, and I talked the seller out of it for 40 bucks. Brand new, it would have been at least $125 or better.

The other item I picked up is a 1957 Marlin 336 RC chambered in 30-30. What's that? You don't think it qualifies as tack? Pshaw! Mrs. BR and the daughters buy fancy show tack and clothes, but my idea of tack merely takes another form. Besides, I've been jonesing to get my greasy mitts on one of these classics for awhile, and this one is in better condition than most of the newer ones that were for sale, and the price was better. So there!

I rode a different horse tonight. Our friend B is away at college, and her gelding, X, hasn't been getting much saddle time. She's happy to let us use him, and, since I am considering care leasing him come Spring, I need to test him out. X is a Morgan-something or the other cross. I think he is eight. I decided to give him a go tonight. DN3 suggested that I longe him first. To which suggestion I cast a rather baleful look. While I don't criticize the activity, it just isn't something I do. I want to saddle up and get to gettin'.

She made the point, however, that he hadn't been getting much exercise, so I said, fine, have at it. It was quite the show, with X looking more like a bucking bronc than a saddle horse. It did give me pause to question whether this was a good idea, but having seen him under saddle on numerous occasions, I knew all would be well. He was being a bit lazy, and, I suspect, testing me out. Once he realized that I had a clue, he became very responsive. His trot is a bit rough, but he has a nice lope.

I want to work him back into shape, and then try him out on some trail rides. If that works out, I'll probably lease him, and train him to carry a pack saddle. I'm excited about the prospect.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What He Said...

Dude nails it. (Bad word alert).

I tried to embed the video, but it wasn't working.

Friday, January 21, 2011

No...Just No. Not Ever.

Watch it full screen to get the true effect.



I got vertigo just watching this.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just Because...

It combines two of my favorite things...a good Western and Tom Petty's music.


Can a Horse Have a Case of "Ants in the Pants"?

The farrier was out last night to trim and shoe Smokey and Leo. Now, being nearly 22 years old, Smokey has had his fit trimmed and shod and times, I suspect. Rough math yields an estimate of 120 to 140 times. One would think he'd have it down by now.

He is usually well behaved, unless it takes too long, and then he gets a ornery, jerking his feet away, and, on two occasions, kicking the farrier. I guess age makes a fella impatient.

Our regular farrier is out of commission, with an injured hand, so his partner Jerry came out to do the job, which is of no concern, as he does good work.

I don't know what was wrong with Smokey last night, but he was a complete imbecile. He would not stand still, was constantly snorting and blowing, showing the whites of eyes, and spooking at every little thing, even the barn cats cats. Talk about a moving target. Jerry was really earning his keep, and didn't appear to be the least bit bothered by it.

Right up until Smokey knocked him over, that is. He was on the last foot, right hand, when he went sailing across the barn. He was allright, but I can assure you that Smokey got a butt whupin' after that. Enough was enough. Jerry insists that Smokey did not kick him, but rather pushed him. I'm not convinced that he wasn't just being gracious. He didn't charged me extra, and assured me he would come back next time.

I'm not really certain what was wrong with Mr. Fidgety Horse. Admittedly, the barn was a bit busier than usual, with people, horses, the tractor, and cars coming and going. Still, these aren't things that normally agitate him. It was a clear night, with full moon. Maybe he's a Werehorse.

Needless to say, he's going to spend some time in the round pen before his next shoeing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ruger Super Blackhawk - First Assessment

I took the new revolver to the range on Sunday for its maiden voyage. I started with the target at 5 yards, just to check the sights, firing 240 grain, jacketed hollow points.


That hole in the center of the target? That was the first shot. No kidding. I have witnesses. Of course, as you can see, it went downhill after that. I consistently shot low and to the right through the rest of the session. Some sight adjustment will be necessary.



As you can see, there's a touch of recoil. Once I relaxed and let myself roll with it, my accuracy improved.

I previously mentioned that I had fired my Brother-in-Laws Super Blackhawk a few weeks ago. There are two differences between the individual revolvers. Mine has a 5.5" barrel, and his a 7.5" barrel. His also has Pachmayr Decelerator grips, while mine has the factory grips.

Assessment: I like this revolver. It's definitely a keeper. However, while the wood grips are very pleasing to the eye, they are a bit on the short side. Half of my pinky hangs below the grip, and the corner of the butt digs into it during the recoil. As the Pachmayr grips are longer, they will solve this problem. I did buy it for function, not form, after all.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Here We Go Again


I wish the housing market would hurry up and recover, so we could sell this place and move to higher ground. Fat chance, I suppose...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Heh!

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears.

I've mentioned that I have encountered two black bears while riding in the hinterlands. In two minutes. Yes, the two were within 100 yards of one another. A wee bit unnerving.

While black bear attacks are fairly rare, they can and do happen. According to these statistics, sixteen fatal encounters with black bears occurred in the last decade. I wasn't able to drum up stats for non-fatal attacks, but they do happen. Grizzlies are also starting to migrate south from Canada into the Pasayten Wilderness area of Washington, an area I hope to ride in someday. Fatal encounters with grizzlies seem to be few and far between, but I have no desire to be one of the unfortunate souls who do comprise the statistics.

Mountain Lions are also present in this area. I know of two experienced outdoorsmen who have been stalked by mountain lions, an experience neither cares to repeat.

Many hikers, backpackers, and trail riders carry bear bells and/or bear spray to ward off Ursus arctos horriblis, ursus americanus, and puma concolor, which is all fine and dandy, I suppose. As for me, should an encounter with one of these predators turn sideways, I want to know that there is more between than an aerosol can, harsh words, and sleigh bells standing between me and death by mauling. But that's just me. Therefore, I pack a sidearm.

Revolvers are my weapon of choice. They do not jam, and should a misfire occur, simply move to the next chamber. Up til now, I have carried a S&W Model 19 chambered in .357. This is a wonderful, well balanced revolver.

I tend to spend a great deal of time doing research on activities that I participate in. I like to be well educated. In the area of wilderness defense, said research led me to the realization that my .357 would be adequate against a two legged varmint, and passable against a mountain lion. Against a bear, however, it would likely serve only to further anger the aggressor.

Bear defense is best performed with a big bore, short barreled rife. Think Marlin Guide Gun chambered in 45-70. A portable cannon, which is not for the faint of heart. Realizing the impracticality of that option, most experts agree that the next best choice is a large caliber revolver chambered in .44 magnum, .45 Long Colt, or larger, if you dare. Semi-automatic pistols, such as the .45, are not preferable due to the slower velocities of these rounds.

When reading about the .44 magnum, I kept finding the statement "for those who can manage the recoil". This makes it sound a tad fearsome for the handler, no? Since I'm not the biggest fella on the block, I though perhaps this wasn't the round for me. But, proof is better than speculation, so I borrowed my Brother-in-Laws Ruger Blackhawk, purchased a box of ammo, and headed to the range. Fifty rounds later, I left saying "I gotta have one of these." Very manageable recoil.

I am now the proud owner of this beauty:


Ruger New Model Blackhawk in .44 magnum. I chose the stainless steel, since, well, it rains in these parts once in awhile (read: most of the time). It's single action, meaning one has to cock the hammer before firing, but I did that on my double action revolver too. It makes for less trigger pull, and greater accuracy. I admit I was initially skeptical about the "cowboy" style handle, but this pistol feels absolutely perfect in my hand.

There is one other reason for horse riders to carry a firearm, which I have mentioned before. Should a horse break a leg out in the boonies, there are few practical options available. None of us ever want to be in that situation, but it can, and does happen. I have heard one gruesome story o how this was dealt with when no gun was available. I'll spare you, but suffice it to say that the teller of this tale has never ridden unarmed since.