Check your ride results!

I almost didn’t look – it hurt too much to remember Dixie limping – but I did, finally, look at the NASTR results in the new Endurance News. We’re down as completing. I’ll have to call the office. Sigh.

There’s a big fire in California that’s sending a wee bit of smoke into our area. I might have walked outside, taken one look around, and run back in in a panic to check the news. Thankfully it’s 300 miles away.

Can you blame me?

I left the tack room open while I was carrying stuff to the trailer. Banders had to go exploring.


I need some kind of Trailer Organization Reality Show to select me and give my tack room a makeover.

Blink of an eye

I was making coffee this morning when I heard a tremendous crash, like a horse double-barrelling a metal gate or something. I ran out to see if it was Dixie, and she’d left her morning hay and was trotting toward the back fence very alertly. I ran far enough in the pasture to get a good view of everything and my heart about stopped. The neighbor’s old skinny horse was down, awkwardly on his side, with a fucking hog panel wrapped around his legs.

I had a brief moment of panic. I couldn’t remember the neighbor’s names and I didn’t want to take the time to get the truck, drive around the block, and bang on their door. I didn’t want to leap into their pasture and spook the old fellow. After a moment, I remembered I had her cell number listed in my phone. I decided surely I’d know it when I saw it and bolted back to the house for my phone. YES! I did, in fact, remember exactly who it was when I saw it. I called and left a message and went back outside.

Armed with her name, I stood in my pasture and bellowed at the top of my lungs “D! Your horse is down in the fence!” She popped right out, half-dressed, took one look, and said “Be right there.” I hustled up to my fence, turned it off, and slipped through my electric. I said reassuring nonsense to the old fellow. Thank god for old horses who know when you’re trying to help. Once she came out, I stepped over her fence and met her at him.

Somehow he had slipped his rear right leg through the hog panel, up over the hock. He was laying on his left side, looking fairly panicked. D was trying to figure out how to cut the panel off, but I thought if he cooperated I could just slip it back off his leg. She stood at his head and kept him calm, and I carefully manipulated his leg and the panel and slipped it off.

I won’t lie, I was terrified. If he’d freaked out and started thrashing it would’ve been very bad for all three of us. I don’t like handling other people’s horses, and I don’t like trying to untrap horses, but it needed to be done. He stayed calm while I got his leg free and dragged the panel back, and he stood up promptly on all four legs.

He’s limping on two legs – front left and rear right, IIRC – but he’s weight bearing. I know she doesn’t have the money for a vet. I gave her some Bute for him and suggested buting him for two days and if anything swells cold hosing it.

Their fencing is a disaster, and they’ve been really lucky so far. I have also kept horses behind disastrous fences. Never again, now that I’ve learned just how easy it is to pop up some hotwire. For $200 you can put up a couple rows of highly visible hottape or polywire to keep your horse off the shitty fencing you can’t afford to replace. It’s cheaper than a vet.

Lecture over! Look, I did brush Dixie’s mane yesterday.

So much lovely fluffy hair.

I also got four tons of hay delivered.

And here is Bambers. Note how there is not a single flicker of intelligence in that eye. He is crazier than a shithouse rat, but he’s my buddy anyway. :)

Action-packed day

Ok, not really. I finished stacking my hardwood then I sat down with the Kindle and read. I polished off Changes, again, then absolutely wailed on Ghost Story. I thought it was awesome. I’ve read a little discussion about it and I think other discussors are idiots and it ruled. Yeah, you could look at it as a placeholder novel full of boring character development, but it was really important character development. Of course I had some wild hypotheses after reading Changes when it first came out, and I was actually half-right about them. I’m glad I was wrong about the ones I was wrong about! Really impressed with the long term story arc that Jim Butcher has going here.

I know that’s utterly cryptic if you don’t read Dresden, but it’s non spoilery if you do. (Email me if you want to talk after you read it!)

Better than Dance with Dragons and I only had to wait an extra six months for it. As opposed to five damn years for GRRM’s doorstopper.

ANYWAY. In between my marathon of reading I did my food shopping for Lake Almanor and (drumroll please) I washed that horse. Somebody had asked about the Flappy Lip Thing, so I took a video for yall. Yeah, Dixie’s sunburned, but not too badly, and my general horse philosophy is to treat her as a free agent as much as possible. She hates the sunscreen (and I sympathize, I hate that crap too) so I don’t usually smear it on her.

Flappy Lip Face from Funder on Vimeo.

Today was Day One of working on her mane. It’s really more than we deserve. I think it took 12 pumps of the shampoo bottle to suds it up and scrub it, then I used a good six ounces of conditioner on it, then I let it dry for a while and sprayed Show Sheen on it. I let it get mostly dry before I turned her out again. Tomorrow I will use like half a bottle of Cowboy Magic on it and brush it out into a glistening two foot long halo of silver. Thursday she’ll have scrubbed dirt and branches back into it and we’ll be back where we were Monday. Futility, thy name is horse.

I measured, and it’s 27″ long at the longest point.

Obviously she’s standing facing downhill and she’s a little stretched out, but she looks good! The stall rest lardiness has melted right off of her as soon as I started riding again.

If it looks like I didn’t even wash her body, well, I didn’t. It’s futile. See?

So much for being clean from Funder on Vimeo.

So there’s a Southern tongue-in-cheek horse myth that a horse is worth an extra $500 for every time it rolls completely over. Anybody else heard that one? Dixie’s only +500 here, but I’ve seen her get up to +1500. 😉

Littering has never seemed so tempting

Since we didn’t do much actual work on Sunday, I took Dixie out again on Monday. We trailered up to the Rides of March ridecamp near Red Rocks with Cersei. I was smart, though – I went early in the morning and I brought water for the pup!

Dixie stood like a rock for me to fly spray her and tack up. Just another amazing little Dixie transformation.

We meandered off pretty slowly – it wasn’t hot but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I didn’t want the little yellow butterball to overheat. We climbed a new-to-us road (past a rattlesnake!) to a deadend at the top of a hill where Dixie was content to stand and look at stuff for a while. I hopped off and gave Cersei a drink from her Wal-mart knockoff camelbak liner I’d carried stuffed in the pommel bag. (She had to drink out of the bag because my makeshift travel bowl had a huge crack in it.) Then I tightened up my tack and we moved on to the next hill.

Cersei’s camelbak liner has a screw top that’s kind of hard to get screwed on right. I thought my leg was wet because the top wasn’t screwed on good, so I briefly halted, re-screwed it on, and kept going, but my damn leg got wetter and wetter. Eventually I yanked the 2 liter bag out of the pommel bag only to realize that it was leaking from the bottom, where the drinking tube comes out – and the pommel bag was half full of water. Lovely. At least my left knee was cool, and Dixie’s left side was cool. I flipped the stupid leaking bag over, so the tube attachment was on top, and we kept going to the next hill.

There, I gave Cersei the rest of the water from the bag, but she was still pretty hot. I had a broken bowl and a leaking water bag and a pommel bag half full of water, and I’ve never been so tempted to throw my trash off a cliff and call it good. We’d only gone a couple of miles but I knew I needed to take her back to the trailer to cool off, so we headed back. Dixie did not want to go back to the trailer but I hollered a lot and made her. We had to take care of the little dog.

Back at the trailer I fashioned a collar and lead out of a compression strap, a carabiner, and a lunge line. I know! I’m a terrible human, taking my dog out without her collar and tags. Lesson learned. Cers has spent enough time tied to the trailer (and she was hot enough!) to listen when I told her to stay there, and Dixie and I headed off without her.

I didn’t want to go too far, just in case Cers got bored and slipped the “collar” and came looking for us, so we headed back toward the road and did some loops. The ride ended up being about 7 miles, which is right where I wanted to be. Dixie was still not very enthusiastic about going back to the trailer and back home, but I’d promised G I’d check in with him in two hours so we called it a day.

Cersei was much recovered when we came back. She’s been one with the couch since Monday afternoon, but not in an overtired way – just a lazy dog who Did Something and is now good to sleep it off for a week. Dixie was just fine. Tight legs, even with a little bit of hills, a little bit of gaiting and cantering, and more miles than we’ve done post-injury. Wednesday (tomorrow) I’m going to meet an endurance friend and hopefully do 10-15 miles with her.

I am going to submit driving directions to Red Rocks on Mel’s trail site. Right now it’s just got Central Valley CA trails, but soon it’ll have Northern Nevada trailheads too. I hope the rest of yall will consider submitting something too and maybe one day we can turn this into a really valuable resource for a lot of equestrians. I don’t mean just my endurance friends, either – all of yall can take a couple mins to type up some directions to a favorite trailhead, write a short blurb about the footing and length, and send it in. Speaking as someone who knew no one IRL when I moved to Nevada, the Internet is an amazing resource with a lot of potential! I have met less than ten percent of my current Reno-area friends from “real life” networking – the other 90% are Internet contacts who turned out to be cool people IRL. Trailheads should be the same way!

Endurance ambassador

I just got home from a quite pleasant ride at Washoe Lake with two adventuresome trail riders, and I cannot believe how good Dixie was. She really is the opposite of all the endurance stereotypes. (Hopefully I am too, aside from my fashion sense and tack choices!) She trailered great and I met up with T at the turnoff to Eastlake and we waited there for a couple minutes for H to show up to lead us to the park at the north end of the lake. Dixie did not kick the trailer to pieces; she just stood and waited. Then we got down to the park and I fly sprayed her.

A million years ago, when Dixie was a real Problem Child, she would try to break halters to get away from fly spray. I tried to roundpen her out of her fly spray fear and 30 minutes later, dripping wet, she’d still panic and run from the sight of the bottle. I have off and on squirted her with water from a spray bottle – and by off and on, I mean maybe 5 times in the last two years. But she’s been so good about stuff, and I decided that I’d just assume she was going to be fine. I showed her the bottle, squirted it all over her neck and butt, brushed it in, squirted the brush, brushed her face with fly spray. No big deal. She didn’t like it from the near side and danced away but I just told her to quit and kept spraying and she stood there like it ain’t no thang. So: if your horse comes totally unglued about fly spray, ride 500 miles a year and she’ll improve. Nah, it’s not the riding.

We saddled up and rode down to the lake. Dixie hasn’t seen Washoe Lake (or any lake) since the trail trials last spring, and she didn’t like it one bit then. She was snorty and dance-y and sort of hypnotized/terrified by the motion of water on sand and I didn’t push the issue because she was pretty worked up that day. Today we rode to the lake and the big TB waded right in. Dixie walked up to the shore and snorted a bit. I let her look and asked her to walk in. She offered to duck out, I straightened her up, and she walked in. Like it ain’t no thang.

We rode a mile or so down the lake til we hit a patch of biting flies, then we veered inland and went to check out the other horse park at the south end (the one where the Washoe Ride is held). We walked over and looked at the new stuff and found a tank of water. I knew she wouldn’t drink, but I asked her to go stick her nose in the tank and she did, then we hung out while the other two horses decided not to drink either. 😉 We all gallivanted around the nice new arena then headed back north toward the trucks.

The road was nice hard sand, not the deep sand by the lake, so we decided to trot and canter. Dixie gave me some nice gaits, plus a lovely round canter for a bit, all on a loose rein and totally calmly. The other two horses were not so perfect – not so their owners had any trouble, just bad enough to make Dixie look like a spotted angel in comparison.

The wind had picked up so we went back to the lake. There were whitecaps and waves, and those were pretty scary, so I’d let Dixie walk on the dry sand for 100 yards, then ask her to go let the waves slap her hooves for 10 yards, then repeat. We were maybe a quarter mile from the trailer when Dixie suddenly pointed the tips of her ears straight back at me in a very quizzical manner and the woman behind me said “you lost a boot!” They both told me at the same time!

I got down, got the problem back boot off, got the other back boot off, and got back on. Just like that. Dixie didn’t run in circles or scream or yank her feet away or try to walk off while I was mounting. Absolutely no drama. Ain’t no thang. (Boot failure: The toe strap came unstrapped. The velcro on those boots is pretty old, and I’ll need to replace it before I do an e-ride in them, but I was pretty impressed with how well they stayed on in wet deep sand.)

In fact, the only drama was back at the trailer, where I had to beat* my poor horse into walking over and getting tied up at the trailer to eat hay. She didn’t want to stop. That’s three rides in a row now where she’s very clearly said “I’m not through and I’d like to do more please.” I think tomorrow I’ll get up early and go up the road to Cold Springs and let her scramble up the foothills of Peavine – maybe that’ll satisfy her!

*Ok, I twirled the lead rope at her butt for a while then cracked it quite forcefully on the saddle to make her move. Abusive, I know.

I am going to break one of my unspoken rules and tell yall that I love that horse. She is a fine beast. I didn’t know what I was doing with her but I was stubborner than her and she’s turned into quite a good trustworthy mount.