Monday, December 5, 2011

Going to Las Vegas and Ms Lily

Going to Vegas on Thursday! Cowboy Christmas here I come.

Semper is all tucked in for a mini vacay on the cattle ranch with Ms Lily. She is going to teach him the ins and outs of living the real cowboy life. He seems to be healing up and he is definitely feeling good. I took him for a little ride and I swear he was loping in place getting ready to do some kind of "airs above the ground". I had to remind him just because he is white doesn't mean he is part Lippizan. A week with RD being ridden out checking cattle and gettin' some fresh air will do him a world of good.

Ms. Lily has been with RD for 3 months. I rode her on Saturday and what a difference. No silliness, no spooking at random goofiness. She loves, loves, loves her job. We sorted and moved cattle from one pasture to another on Saturday. I rode Scooter for half the ride and Lily for the other half. They are half siblings and are as much alike as they are different. RD and her husband (this man can heel rope a cat with a piece of baling twine - on the first try - impressive to say the least) love Ms Lily. They are enamored with her ability to be a solid partner when they have a job to do. As I have said all along... this mare is always a willing partner. She knows where her feet are all the time but she needs a job with purpose to encourage her to bloom. They have given her the job and she is eating it up. She has been roped off of, dragged calves to be branded, sorted cattle, worked in the cutting pen, she has been ridden in the snow, up hills, down hills, through water and every situation they put her in, she takes it head on. She can lope a perfect circle on a loose rein with flying lead changes out in a 1000 acre pasture with 200 head of cattle looking on, dogs running at her feet - all the while dodging gopher holes. The more difficult and intricate the work is, the more she steps up to the plate. Of course RD and husband are extremely capable and confident horse people and are very strong leaders. Lily is thriving.

Here is the rub...what is going to happen when I bring her home and she has nothing to occupy that big old ed-u-ma-cated brain of hers. Cuz Little Ole' Ms Lily definitely has a brain that she ain't afraid to use. I am pretty sure she is smarter than I am and I am damn sure she can read cattle better than me. She is an awesome ranch horse... but is she going to be able to keep it together to be an awesome show horse for me? Up until now I have never wanted anyone else to show my horses but...I have asked RD to show Lily this spring at a couple of small local schooling shows. I need to see her "git'er done" in the show pen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


There are a few things that I am having trouble wrapping my head around today.

One... What is sooooo terribly wrong with serving Jellied Cranberry sauce?
or using canned pumpkin? I mean really... isn't using fresh stuff kind of like reinventing the wheel?

Next would be....Whose big fat lame idea was it to put Thanksgiving so damn close to Christmas?

The five day work week always puzzles me. Why not a two day work week and 5 day weekend? Does anything in the word "weekend" lead you to believe that it has to be two days? Why not five?

Retirement - as long as we are on the subject of work.... Why do I have to wait so long to get to retire. My mom always said that anything worth having was worth working for. Is retirement what she was talking about? If it was, I completely missed that one.

Why does coffee taste so good in the morning and only so-so in the afternoon?

How come when I'm in the shower in the morning I can remember everything I'm supposed to do TODAY and as soon as I step out of the shower I forget everything I'm supposed to do TODAY?

Pennies.... need I say more?

Does anyone ever put the Turkey on the table before they hack - ut hummmm... carve it up?

Does using dry shampoo really count as washing your hair? Or is it like using that sprinkle on powdered carpet cleaner that we all know DOES NOT work.

How many pairs of cowboy boots is to many? and should I have spurs for all of them?

Any insights are welcome. Have a stupendous day and give the ponies some treats from me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Semper and the Vet

So Friday I spent trailering my main man to the vet. I chose this particular vet because he has a wonderful reputation as a diagnostician and has the skill to back it up. His main practice is in Nevada but he comes to California a couple times a week. The ranch he operates out of in California is magnificent to say the least. I would stay in a stall there. I am not sure I have ever seen an indoor as large as this one... my guess is 220 x 400 clear span. Wonderful footing. I swear I was drooling.

Anyway... back to the big man. We went through all the basic stuff, walk and trot in a circle in the arena and then out on the hard ground. Flexation tests and more walking and trotting. The thing is that Semper has not been lame at all. But something isn't right. Semper was so sweet and he was extremely willing to do what ever he was asked. I felt like he might have been a little off in the right hind because he swishes his tail to the right alot and he tends to want to cock that hind foot. The vet decides to do x-rays and scans of his left first. What the heck? I thought it was the right! Turns out - so did he. He got a base line x-ray of the leg he thought was good so he could compare the two. He was really pleased with the quality of his left leg. His hock joint on the left were in fabulous shape. Armed with the good side he moved over to the right. Low and behold...a small tear in the suspensatory where it connects to the hock. Very small and very fixable. But for Semper, when he had to flex that joint it probably felt like a hot poker sticking him in the leg. Poor guy. It all came together. The swishing, the resting, the good stops after a week or two off and the bad stops when I would ask him for them days in a row. The penning his ears in the turnarounds. The not liking deep footing. Semper told me as much as he could without standing up, screaming at me and pointing to it. The good news is that he did tell me, we caught it early, it is completely fixable and he is going to be good to go with a month or two of time off / light riding. The vet said for a 12 year old his joints are in extremely good shape and that if I take care of him he is going to be going strong into his late teens and beyond. AND we don't have to go back unless Mr. Semper tells me he is hurting. It is such a relief to get it figured out and have a plan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Sunday show day. Again we are up at 5:30 and on the road. Today Mr. Wonderful is trying his hardest to not drive like a maniac. He is driving slow and very carefully. It still annoys me. I resolve that it must be my nerves and that he really isn't doing anything wrong and keep my mouth shut. Which is huge for me. HUGE.

We are the last ones to arrive at the show. The parking is crazy and everyone is running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Typical show. So we join in the chaos. The show secretary delivers my patterns and show order. I only have Semper today and I really didn't get to give him a good bath on Friday. It was dark when I put him in the trailer so I didn't really get a good look at him. He had a blanket on but - Yikes - The sun is out and he is really dirty. I start to scramble. I get a bucket of water and towel and start trying to get the dirty spots cleaned off. The perils of owning a white horse. Ugh. I get him saddled and go to warm up. He is swishing his tail and flinching like a mad man. He gets that way sometimes but usually only when he is getting bitten by heel flies. There are not any flies around today. He is flinching so hard and swishing so bad it is almost impossible to get him through a warm up. I am using a different saddle blanket than I normally do so I changed it thinking that might be the problem. And I covered him in fly spray to make sure he wasn't getting bit. After I changed the blanket he started to settle down.

Up first was the trail. The course had changed from what is was the day before. You start off leading your horse into a box, you bridle, ground tie and hang up your halter. Back down between a couple logs to a mounting block. Mount and back out the rest of the way out of the poles. Turn and walk over a water obstacle. Trot through the trot poles, to the mail box. Side pass over a board to the mail box and retrieve the keys out and return. Pick up a left lead and work a pattern over some poles. The pattern was tight with several transitions from a lope to a trot. Next you had to drag a log. Here is where it starts to get tricky. They have this life size cow with horns, painted like a Holstein and the rope for the drag is hanging on the horn. Semper has seen this monstrosity before and was sure that it was a horse eating demon. So asking him to get close to it was going to be a bit of a challenge. We get the drag rope and I dally. I have to drag the log through a gate - let me just say...tall horse, short gate - I had to duck...big time - So I have my head down, can't see where I am going, have to make a tight corner, not let the drag get caught on the panels and drag this log up to a fire where a guy actually brands the log. Did I mention that there was another rider simulating a heeler on the other end of the log? So a lot going on. We got it done pretty handily. Now I have to remember to keep my hand UP to go through the pole and then finish with opening and closing a gate. All and all I was pretty happy with the job we did. We placed 4th.

On to Ranch Riding. I have attached a link to a youtube video that Mr. Wonderful took of that class. This was his first time being the videographer. Please don't be to hard on him. See if you can pick out where I lost points. We came in 2nd (by one point.)

The next class was Cow Horse. I was so proud of Semper. He really tried hard to work the cow and he did a nice job. We had to box the cow at the end of the arena and then take it down the fence to put it in a pen. No turns on the fence. The boxing was good. We started down the fence and the cow took off. We got a little behind but I asked him to move out and all that power is right there. He got back to position pretty quickly and our cow went right into the pen! Yippee We placed 2nd in the Cow Work and were one of the only three exhibitors that day that penned their cow!

Reining was next. Semper was working really well in warm up by this time. We were in a smaller arena with shallow footing. He was sitting his butt down and stopping pretty. His turn arounds were fluid and nice. We were to do a reining pattern and then rope the dummy. I had practiced roping a little bit earlier in the day and he was very patient, stood quiet while in position at the dummy. The pattern starts with a run in and stop. He blows the stop. He acts like he wants to stop, but just won't stay in the ground. He stops without me pulling him into the ground but he isn't happy. Tail is swishing, ears are penned. Not pretty. I now believe that he is hurting somewhere. He has to be. So I finish the pattern and don't ask for much speed in the run downs so that he doesn't have to stop hard. The rest of the pattern is pretty and his turn arounds are fluid and nice with energy. Oh....but the roping. I am lame. Totally and completely lame. I untie my rope as I am walking towards the dummy. And then it happens. Semper spots the mule that he has fallen unequivocally in love with. The mule is just about 20 ft away on the other side of the gate. All he can think about is getting back to his new found love interest. I get the rope untied and he is not really dancing in place but he is shifting his weight and not wanting to stand still. He ears are forward and he is locked on to the mule. I start to get nervous and fumble with the rope. I make my first loop - way to small and I know it, but I throw it anyway. What the heck? Of course I throw it like a girl and it isn't even in the same zip code as the roping dummy. I get another loop and Mr. Semper is still moving around and not paying any attention to what I am doing. He and the mule are making goo-goo eyes at each other. I make my second loop and it is nice in size but I am concentrating more on keeping Semper quiet than I am where the rope is going to go. I throw and confirm to everyone watching that I am completely and undeniably roping challenged.

I placed fourth in that class. What the heck??? When I get the scores... I would have placed first in that class had I been able to handle my rope and horse at the same time. I lost 3 points for him not standing still and 6 points for not catching. Ouch. I actually didn't lose any points for my rope handling skills. Go figure?

The last class of the day is halter. And you all know how I feel about this. I know this horse is made right. The last show I was all butt hurt about my placing in halter. The judge is a western pleasure / halter judge so am feeling pretty good about this one. Semper goes in and stands square. Yippee.... go man go! Then he cocks his right hind. I set him up again and he cocks his right hind. This goes on and on. What the heck. He just won't stand on that right hind. I realize now that he may have been a little sore on that right hind and didn't want to put weight on it. Duh. He wins the halter class hands down. Overall. YESSSSSS.

We came in 3rd in our division. Won a nice hay bag. I left the show with a ton of thoughts bubbling around my head. Mr. Wonderful had videoed the ranch riding, cow work and reining for me. I hate watching it, but I can't stop watching it. As I am watching it, I shake my head and talk to myself like a crazy woman. Another thought that is bouncing around is "is there something wrong with my horse?" This is a horse that is always willing. He is acting like something is not right. I came home and made an appointment with a vet. He comes highly recommended to diagnose hock, leg and hip problems. Even though he isn't visibly lame, I feel like something is going on and I want to head off any problems. Wish us luck!


At 5:30am on Saturday I am up and getting ready to go to the Ranch Versatility Clinic. We get the horses and are on the road. Right out of the gate, I start in on Mr. Wonderful's driving. It is my nerves or am I just being overly sensitive?

Cow work was first up. I wanted to work Semper on cows since we hadn't seen cows since August at the last show. He wanted to stand and visit with his new friends. He fell in love with a jenny mule that was there. She wasn't quite as enamored with him as he was with her. She was a beautiful mule. The cattle are used up corriante roping cattle. They haven't been worked by cow horses before but that doesn't make it any easier. They want to run, run, run. All they think about is getting to the other end of the arena and they don't care who or what they have to run over or into to get there. It is our turn and he moves like he has cement in his legs. He finally gets the lead out and starts to get into the work when the cow takes off. Right through the line of riders that were supposed to be holding herd. One of the lady's colt takes to bucking. Hard. She rides about five good jumps and then goes off. I hate watching this stuff. I thought that she got kicked in the head for sure. He stepped on the back of her thigh and tore her jeans but other than that she came out unscathed. Thankfully. I think she was more worried about her pants being ripped and her butt hanging out than she was the ginormous bruise she was going to have. My daughter had left a pair of pants in my truck so I offered them to her not realizing they were Capri's. She put them on over her jeans and finished the clinic. My hat went off to her. But with all the commotion I didn't finish my turn on cattle with Semper. A couple others went and the clinician offered to let me have a go on Lily. I switched horses and let her have a go. I wanted to go really slow and work more on position on the cow. She wants to be in a hurry so my job was to keep her correct and slow. She did great. The clinician decides that we could all use more work so everyone worked another cow. This time Mr. Semper had his game on and after a little discussion about stopping straight before the turn he did really well.

Then on to trail. I think this lady stays up nights dreaming up these trail courses. I won't bore you with all the details yet, but I thought it was a really tough course. Little did I know that the next day it was going to be even more challenging. I rode Lily and worked on swinging a rope from her. I spent a few minutes just walking around swinging a loop. I probably looked like an idiot and Lily was probably embarrassed by my lack of prowess. She tolerated it. She did the walk overs and we worked the side pass. She always knows where her feet are so those types of things are easy for her. I went and got Semper and worked the rope because I have never worked a loop from his back for real. Then we walked through the course and found all my holes! And there were some big holes. I was supposed to be jogging through some cones. The clinician keep saying "put your hand up, PUT YOUR HAND UP". I am thinking that my hand is up. Riding reiners you are taught to keep your hand in a 6" x 6" box in front of the saddle horn. When I finally put my hand up, up came those shoulders and he floated through the cones. Go figure.

After the trail was Ranch Riding. I have come to really love this part of the event. Probably because Mr. Semper likes it and he looks good doing it. I had to make some space and timing adjustments but things were o.k. The judge is a Western Pleasure/Equitation judge. So I needed to ride more like I would in those types of classes. I was pretty good at Equitation as a youth and thought it wasn't going to be an issue. Well is seems that I have developed a slump. Call it a reiners slump or cutter slump, but I am having trouble keeping my shoulders over my hips, my back straight, and my shoulders back. What the heck? When did this all go to hell in a hand basket?

Next was reining. The pattern is an easy one. I should be able to ace this one. Really? Alas....Not so much. You run in and do a stop past the center marker. Back up to the center. 2 turnarounds right, 2 1/4 turnarounds left, and depart on the right lead for a small slow, change leads to a left large fast, change leads to a right lead wrap around, stop, roll back, wrap around on the left lead, stop, roll back and stop past the center marker. First I forget the back up. Then I do three turns to the right. Not to mention that in the run down Semper was swishing his tail and penning his ears. What is going on? Thank goodness it was a practice run. The circles and lead changes were fine but the stops were horrible. I have to pull him to the ground and he is cranky. Then the clinician tells me to back him up hard and ask again. I do and he is a pill. Do it again and it starts to get better but he is not happy. This is becoming an ongoing issue. I am starting to think that something else is at play here. He finally gives me a couple mediocre stops and I let it go. RD and I have been tossing around the idea that he might be sore or something isn't just right in his hips or hocks. He isn't lame. He just isn't doing this part of his job like he does everything else. This horse is a pleaser, so when he doesn't give you what you want, it makes you wonder what is up.

I rode Lily some more just asking her to stay with me and get her used to all the commotion of the day. She handled herself like a pro.

I annoyed Mr. Wonderful all the way home about his driving and bent his ear about what could possible be wrong with Mr. Semper. It was a long day and we still had show day to go.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last weekend I went to another Ranch Versatility Clinic and Show. I took Friday and Monday off and spent the time riding and horsing around. Boy-O-Boy, I could get used to doing that full time. Anybody out there know of a job where you get paid big bucks for spending time working on your horses and your horsemanship? Hmmm... Probably not.

Friday I spent with the new trainer that I have been working with. Let's call her RD. RD is a dedicated wife and mother first and foremost. I appreciate and respect that. It is important to me that I spend time with people that share the same set of core values that I believe in. "Surround yourself by quality people", that is what my mom used to say. I am very lucky and thankful to have a lot of quality people in my life. RD is a ranch wife and I would venture to say one of the hardest working women I have ever met. With that said, it appears to me that she loves her life. She has an easy smile, a pleasant way, an unbridled confidence and a tremendous work ethic. She has been working with Lily and they seem to just "click". I rode all three horses with her on Friday. Since I was taking Lily to the clinic I rode her first. I planned on riding her in the trail and ranch riding portion of the clinic and Semper on the cow work and reining. Lily has come so far. I am excited to see where she is going to be in February or March. Really excited, like a kid waiting to go to Disneyland for the first time excited. Almost giddy. She is so quick and reactive - but in a positive way. All that energy is being focused. Have you ever seen the Pantene commercial where the lady's hair is a wild, dried out mess? She looks confused and distraught, like she stuck her finger in the light socket? Then she uses the shampoo and her hair is all pretty, sleek and controlled and she looks confident. That is what it reminds me of. (Don't ask me where these comparisons come from, I haven't a clue.) All the beauty and ability is there but everything is a frazzled, out of control, crazy mess. You knew it could be stunning and refined, it just needed something to rein in the chaos (pardon the pun). RD is taming the mess, smoothing out the tangles, and refining the look. She is doing it with a confident hand and unrivalled leadership. Lily is eating it up.

Semper was a dream to ride on Friday. He floated around, soft in the bridle, and willing. Since he was being so good and was going to have a long weekend of riding ahead we didn't ask to much of him on Friday.

Next I rode Scooter. Have I mentioned that I love that silly little red horse? He is a goober. I think I always pick the goobers. Look at Semper. It is like we are kindred spirits - us goobers. In a lot of ways, Scooter reminds me of Semp. Must be a gelding thing? Anyway... he was his usual self, he carried on like a fool while he was tied up waiting for his turn, then under saddle he was happy and as good natured as a pig in slop. I asked RD to keep him for the weekend and to leave him tied - a lot. She obliged and said she would even take him for a ride to work on getting his head down more correct.

So off I went with Lily and Semper for the weekend. I meant to got some roping pointers from RD before I left but I was so wrapped up in everything that had gone on during the day, that I completely forgot. Oops. More on that one later.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Because I am a little neurotic...

I go back and re-read my post before and after I post them several, maybe even dozens of times. You would think that I would catch more of the grammar and spelling errors.
But no.
I just realize things like... "Huge Mistake". How many times can / will a horse let you make huge mistakes and be forgiving about it?
I am starting to feel sorry for poor Mr Semper. He must think that I am a complete and total moron, a sorry excuse of an owner. Then I remember that he has a dentist, a massage therapist, a celebrity shoer, several vets, more stable blankets, sheets, coolers, fly masks, Lycra hoods, sports medicine boots, skid boots, etc than any one horse should have. And he gets fed at least twice a day and has a warm dry place to live. That makes me feel somewhat better about myself being such an incompetent twit. He could probably care less about all that - with the exception of the massage therapist.. It is just obscene how much he likes his massage lady. To get the full extent of his admiration...I will have to photograph one of his sessions. It is almost triple X rated. Yikes.

Back to the topic... Huge mistakes. So when I say "huge mistake" what I mean is that I have done something that let him down. Like the bridge... that was a HUGE MISTAKE. And this is why. I completely, 100% let him down. I wasn't thinking ahead about how it's movement would scare him. He trusted me to not put him in a frightening situation and I just went about it with reckless abandon. He crashed down and he lost trust in me. I hate that. I never want him to think that I am not a good leader. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that is exactly what he thought. We have since worked through the bridge issues. I can't help but wonder if there is a little voice in the back of his walnut sized brain that says... "watch out she might have a brain fart and let the world fall out from underneath us again". I pray that I don't make to many of those HUGE MISTAKES and that he continues to be forgiving of them.

The other kind of mistakes I make are the ones that are thought out at the time but end up being not so thought through in the long run. Like the cookies in the mail box. It wasn't really huge in comparison to the bridge incident. I don't think that I let Semper down with that. Heck, he was getting cookies. I think that I let myself down for not thinking things through completely. I am just hoping that in the back of my walnut sized brain that my little voice will scream at me next time!

In the end...the most important thing is that I don't make the same mistakes over and over.

Now go out and hug your faithful, forgiving horses. Give um' a cookie for me and say thanks that they are in your life. (Just don't put the cookie in the mail box.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ranch Versatility - Part 2

The next class in the versatility was Ranch Riding. This is where this organization differs a little from AQHA. AQHA Ranch Versatility does a Western Pleasure class. Walk, trot and lope directions, you know the drill. NVRHA does what they call Ranch Riding. In my limited knowledge of dressage... it resembles a low level dressage test. I have never done dressage or ridden anything like this. They set up cones in a pattern. You must ride from one cone to the next and transition from a walk, to a trot, to an extended trot, to a walk, to a lope, to an extended lope, change direction, etc. Each transition should be executed exactly on mark. In my opinion this is where it separates the doers and the wannabes. If you don't ride your own horse you aren't going to know how to judge the distance it takes for them to make the transition or stop. You aren't going to get away with having your trainer go out and walk, trot and lope your horse around and then jump on and get it done. Ain't gonna happen. I found this pattern work to be challenging and fun. Trying to ride more with your seat and legs so that your transitions are smooth and your horse is responsive is what it is all about. This class alone will make me a better rider.

After Ranch Riding we moved on to Working Cow Horse. We ran a reining pattern and then the Novice and Youth boxed a cow while the rest of the divisions had to go down the fence and rope. The reining pattern was very much like a reining pattern at a NRCHA class. We got that done with little or no trouble. It had one each large fast and small slow, lead change each direction, three and a half turn arounds each direction and 3 stops. We have boxed a cow before so that wasn't foreign. It isn't always easy and during the show we lost our cow and had to retrieve it. I have done enough WCH to know to take it slow and just go get it and finish my run. The Corriente cattle are a little harder to work then the regular cattle they use during WCH shows. They tend to want to run to the other end of the arena because that is where they go when they are being roped and they know when they get there they are done.

The last class is Halter. Out of all the classes this is the one that I thought I would ace. I mean, Semper is always in the first or second place. Not that I have shown that much halter but he looks very much like a halter horse. We were 7th... ouch. He was the biggest horse at the show, by probably 2 inches and 200 -300 lbs. Maybe more. And of course he was the only big WHITE horse there. The first 6 horses were all very uniform in size and look. That made me feel much better to see the consistency. Only 40% of your halter score is judged on where you fall in the actually line up of the halter class. The other 60% is judged on your horses form to function during the events. So even if your horse is a little less than perfect conformation wise, the halter won't completely submarine you.

After a long day, kind of overwhelming show day, we all waited patiently to see our scores. I was just obsessed to see my score sheets. I am not usually that way but this was so challenging and different. My mind was reeling about what I needed to work on, what I thought I had done well, where I bombed! Because everyone does each event individually you watch all your competition and I saw a lot of great riders and showmen all day long. People were supportive of each other and helpful to fellow riders. The staff and helpers where positive, offered advice and cheered all the riders on all day long. It was just a very positive and enjoyable day. It really never occurred to me where I placed in the grand scheme of things. Their were seven riders in my division and Semper and I took reserve champion. Won a purple (my favorite color) halter with reserve champion on it. I did get my score sheets and studied them for days. I made friends with another rider and we talked on the phone comparing score sheets and discussing where we could improve. Semper stayed with me all show day - he seemed to accept the change of pace that each class offered with a cool head and a willingness to try. What more can you ask for?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ranch Versatility - Part 1

I went to my first Ranch Versatility Show at the end of August. This is the real deal. It separates the doers from the wannabe's.

I am going to go into detail on this because this was one of those events that I found completely exciting and challanging - Mind, body and soul.

Because this is a long, long post I am going to work on part two while you muddle through part one.

Ranch versatility is made up of 5 classes. Herd Work, working cowhorse, ranch riding, trail, halter/conformation class.

This event was part of the National Versatility Ranch Horse Assn. The way this club or group operates is great for beginners. They start out by offering a clinic on the first day. You can go and learn what it is all about. Get coached through each event and in this case - the judge was the clinician for several of the classes. Talk about a learning experience. They also offer several different levels of participation. From Open, amatuer, limited, novice, and youth. The Novice class doesn't have to rope in the working cowhorse and the trail course is a little easier. Other than that everyone is expected to do the same elements.

We started the clinic doing the herd work. Each rider got a chance to work cattle out of the herd. The clinician would walk you through what he was looking for and then critique you as you rode. When you were done he would tell you what was positive and where you needed work. Herd work is challanging if you are not riding a super cowy horse. Think about the big paint horse here. Semper will work a cow, but at 16 hands he isnt't quite as "catty" as the smaller cowhorses. He has a lot of power and can move quickly but he tends to want to get ahead of the cows and that makes me late coming through my turns. After you work your cow you have to take it around a cone, down the fence and put it in a pen. During the show we worked out of the herd well. When I was ready to move the cow down the fence, I asked my herd holders to move and went to drive my cow to the fence. The cow stopped in the middle of the arena, snorted and took off down the center of the arena. In the cows defense... these were used up corriente roping cattle. He was doing what he was supposed to do for roping. Not so much for herd work. I had about 45 seconds left and the audience was yelling at me to take him back down and around the cone. I might have been able to bring him back and put him around the cone but I would have risked letting him get back in the herd. I made the decision to just follow him to the end and pen him. It cost me 5 points for missing the cone. Afterward the judge talked to me and said I did the right thing. If I had lost the cow back to the herd I would have taken a no score.

Next we went to the trail course. This isn't your run of the mill arena trail course. This is a trail course set up in a natural environment. On a hillside with pine needles for footing. The course consisted of a gate, lope over poles, cones to jog through, a dummy to rope, a log to drag, rotten hay bales to walk through, a pole to move around a barrel, a bridge to cross, walk over poles, trot over poles and then stop in a box, ground tie, open a mail box, drop your bridle, pick up all four feet, and remount. It was a lot in a very small area.
The gate was easy. But from the gate the first of the lope overs where about 15 feet, so you were facing to the right, had to turn pick up the left lead and lope over 6 poles set about 5 feet apart as you started to go up a hill. I have mentioned a time or two that Semper is a big horse right? Everything in this course was TIGHT. We got it done but it wasn't real pretty. He ticked the last couple of poles. Then we were supposed to drop to a jog to go up the hill and jog through 3 cones. Again they were tight. During the show I let him drop to a walk because I was pretty sure we had to much forward motion to make the cones at a jog. He was able to get it done in the clinic.
Next was rope the dummy. I have told you all that I can't rope. I have been practicing but I am in no way proficent. You are supposed to untie your rope and rope the dummy. They let me use a loaner rope in the clinic but I had to have my own the day of the show. I didn't have one of my new ropes in the trailer because I have been practicing at home. I dug around and found this ancient rope in the trailer - think of a petrified snake. It was old, had been coiled wrong for decades and had black electrial tape on the end to keep it from splaying apart. I got it done, didn't catch - again not pretty. The thing is that Semper let me work it out. And that is what it is all about. He was patient, he didn't get jiggy or nervous, just stood relaxed and waited till his roping challanged rider made every error known to man.
Next was the log drag. Around a tree on a hillside and you had to dally. First I have never attempted to dally properly. Ever. The nice young man that was working the course during the clinic was very patient with me and did his best to teach me how to dally so that I wouldn't lose a finger. Of course all that went out the window during the show. I was still so befuddled about he roping dummy that dallying was just as foreign to me as flying an airplane. The one thing that I did remember was to leave enough rope so that the log didn't hit my horses legs. Points for me. Semper could care less what I ask him to drag. He is a trooper.

From there you had to jog through 3 bales of hay set in a zig zag. No big deal.

Here is the one that I had never seen before. Two barrels, one 10ft bamboo pole. You pick up the end of the pole that is resting on one barrel and rotate it around the other barrel. Can you say leg yeilds? Thank goodness for the clinic. The clinician walked me through it - once you get it, easy peasy.

Next you had to go down the hill an onto the bridge. I don't know if I have every told you all about the disasterous bridge incident. Let me fill you in. One time at band camp... Oops wrong story. One time during a clinic with a very well know cowboy clinician... We had to do an extreme trail horse course. I had to leave before we got to the bridge so the next morning before the clinic, I decided to take Mr. Semper over the bridge. It was a teeter-totter bridge. Huge mistake. He walked on like a champ and when that thing broke over and came down with a thud... he thought he had died and gone to hell. Every since then... trail course bridges have been a huge challange. Real bridges are no problem. I had worked with a new trainer on getting him over one and he was doing wonderfully the weekend before. The one thing that I did not want to do was have it in MY head that is was going to be a problem. So we came off the hill and I just looked up and sent him. He started to say "no way Jose" but then he went on. He kind of rushed it but he did it. I let the rushing go. But because he rushed it, he had trouble with the walk overs that were directly after the bridge. Small sacrafice.
Then you picked up a lope for about 10 ft, dropped to a trot at a set of logs, and trotted into the box and stopped. Sounds easy enough. Yeah Right! Tough. Took me a couple of tries during the clinic but we finally got it. The day of the show we got it but his toes were touching the board at the end of the box. Now here is where is gets comical. When I first got Semper I was schooled him to open a mail box from his back. I would put cookies in the mail box. After he let me open the box I would give him the cookies and ask him to stand quietly at the box while I closed it. Again - Huge mistake. At the show, I had to get off, ground tie and go open and close the box. He saw that mail box and was sure it was a cookie dispenser. During the clinic he kept trying to follow me to the mail box. At the show, he stayed put but I had to give him an "evil eye" and say "whoa" a lot. The upside... His ears were forward and he was watching me the whole time.

The last thing you had to do was drop the bridle and pick up all four feet. No issues there.

.... stay tuned for part two.

Where does the time go...jez!

So quick update.... Went to my first Ranch Versatility show. Wow. It is my new love. More on that later.

Moved horses AGAIN! and will be moving yet again this weekend!

Prepared Little Bit to go to a sale and she left yesterday. My goal is to get down to 3 saddle horse and the old broodies. Not real sure when that is going to happen but that is what I am working towards.

I have been spending time with a new trainer. She has Ms Lily and they are doing great. She and Lily just seem to click. I think I am going to have a phenomenal horse when it is all said and done. That makes me happy.

I have been riding Scooter a lot and I love him to pieces. He is like a big red sponge. Ride him for 20 minutes and he learns something. Come out the next day and it is still there and he is ready to learn something new. He may be a plain headed, little red horse but pretty is as pretty does. I would rather ride a horse like him seven days a week and twice on Sundays than some fancy looking horse with no heart and a poor mind.

Went to the Snaffle Bit Futurity in Reno for a get-a-way weekend with hubby. Shopped, had fun, and relaxed.

Finished reining season with Semper and won a buckle for Reserve Champion Green Reiner. Next year I have to compete in the Rookie class and things are going to get tough.

I have so many things bumping around my head, just haven't had time to get them written. I have been working on a post for Ranch Versatility and my bucket list. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My ever, ongoing, growing list of things to do before I can't do anymore.

This is a list of things that I would love to do before my body or mind give out on me. They are in no particular order.

1. Learn to rope (ranch rope and/or out of the box)

2. Show Semper in a Ranch Versatility Class - DONE - (can you tell I started this list some time ago!)

3. Become proficient at shooting skeet. That means actually hitting the clay pigeon.

4. Show in the Bridle horse class at the Snaffle Bit Furturity in Reno.

5. Own a horse that can compete in the Bridle horse class at the Snaffle Bit Furturity. (like I said - random order)

6. Get my concealed weapons permit.

7. Learn to shoot a handgun - safely.

8. Ride one of my own horses on the beach.

9. Retire and ride everyday.

10. Have a horse that I bred and raised be successful.

11. Visit Yellowstone Park camp out with my horses and spend the days riding.

12. Visit the Grand Canyon and see it from an airplane. (I really don't live that far away from either.) Take a mule ride in the canyon. An overnight one!

13. Visit Belize and scuba dive/ snorkle the blue hole.

14. Visit Ireland and find "Mooney's Pub"

15. Train a horse - Start to Finish

16. Help a horse crazy person become a successful and eduated horseman

17. Drive a team of horses - My grandfather drove a six up hitch.. how cool is that?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Its been awhile

and a lot has been going on. Not all good, not all bad. Here are some of the highlights and then I hope to get back to regular posts.

Went to a Sandy Collier clinic. What an awesome lady she is! Straight forward, no bull kind of gal. I really enjoyed her and learned lots. I bought her book and am reading it for the second time. There is so much in it that it is going to take a couple of reads to really get it all. I took Little Bit and she ran out of gas about half way through the second day. Hindsight says I should have taken Lily. She has enough go to last through multiple days of riding and learning.

I took Bob Harley to the trainer to start his education. Here comes some of the bad. The trainer feels that he has no sense of self preservation. Not good. I sent him to the same trainer that started Scooter for me. I really like and respect him. I listened to what he said when I picked him up last week and am mulling it over. I turned Bob out with the broodmares and am going to give him until next spring to kind of soak up what he learned and then give him one more chance at a trainer to see if he matures or changes in his time out. I hate to give up on a horse to easy, but on the other hand I hate to throw money away too.

Haven't been to any horse shows - Most of the ones that I had planned on going to were cancelled due to the EHV virus. Some of them were rescheduled to later this year. I opted to not go to the MacArthur show this year. I had a great time at that show last year and was really looking forward to it. I only had one horse that was really "ready" to go. Entries would have been upwards of $600 plus the expense of a hotel, gas, etc. It just didn't make good financial sense to me to go.

I spent an amazing weekend with friends riding the Pacific Crest Trail. We stayed at a local B & B, rode out one early morning to a Drakesbad, had lunch and then rode back. We rode, ate, drank, laughed and had a great time. I am truly blessed that I have such wonderful friends. I took Lily and my daughter went along and rode Semper. Here are some pictures of our weekend.

Lily and I taking a picture of Warner Valley

My daughter Trista and I

Of course Semper lost a hind shoe on the way and we had to have the Drakesbad wrangler put his shoe back on. As you can see Semp was being very accommodating while being shod. He had is butt braced against the hitching post and his hind leg is at quite an angle! And as a side note... Nicholas the wrangler.... all that and a bag of Doritos! Worth the ride into Drakesbad. :)

Laura and Ruth at Drakesbad

Trista at the end of the ride

You can check out Drakesbad at:
Great place to visit if you love nature and like to ride or hike.

We stayed at the St.Bernard Inn - Highly recommend it!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

odds and ends...

I kind of like to think of myself as a common sense kind of gal. Kind of a middle of the road person. I have been following the EHV-1 virus thing on several blogs, network boards, and state sites. Trying to stay informed. What I have noticed - is that the people with the least risk are the ones that are overly protective and the ones who have a higher risk seem to be a little more relaxed about the whole thing. Not saying they are not concerned. I am sure anyone that has a sick horse or has been in close proximity with an infected horses is hugely concerned. I know I would be. But I am not going to go crazy about it. Middle of the road. Evaluate the FACTS and make a common sense decision. What I do know is this virus isn't new. It has been around for a while. And it will raise it's ugly head again.

Of course with all the virus commotion, all the shows that I was planning on doing have been cancelled. I am a little disappointed but I totally agree with the decision. The Sandy Collier clinic that I had planned on in late May was moved and is now in late June. Gives me something to look forward too.

I moved out of SCR this Memorial Day weekend. The owners decided that they didn't want to be in the boarding business. They needed the room for their horses that are in training. It was such a great SAFE place for my man. I will miss it.

I moved to a private residence for the summer and hopefully I will find a place to call home with a nice indoor arena before winter comes around. That is...if summer ever gets to CA. As I write this, it is about 60 degrees outside and they are predicting thunder storms and rain. Ugh. We had tornadoes last week. I think that I may have been teleported to another state and just don't know it.

My friend and I went on a ride on Saturday and did a lot of long trotting and loping. We were trying to find the end of the trail, instead we found a BEAR! Yes a bear was getting a drink out of the lake and since it wasn't an encounter that I found particularly enticing... we turned around and headed home. Got back to the trailer just before the sky opened up and dumped buckets of rain.

Took Bob Harley (Bob Marleys red neck cousin) to start his education this weekend. Picked up the Scooter man and brought him home for some rest and relaxation. I plan to spend some time working on him in the next few weeks. He sure is a sweet boy. I rode him on Friday and he was willing and very easy going. I worked both the mares on cattle this weekend too. Boy I gotta tell you... they are as opposite as they are a like. Does that even make sense? They both will get down and work a cow, but they do it in completely different styles. One floats around like a butterfly, smooth and fluid and the other one is like riding a bumble bee, hard hitting and fast. It is fun, fun, fun.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Bubba

Last week was a rough one. I lost my stupid little dog Bubba. Two Labradors tore down our gate into our back yard and mauled my little dog. It was absolutely devastating. I loved that stupid little dog. He had a punctured lung and a huge tear in his abdomen. They tried to do surgery and he almost died on the operating table. They were trying to get him stable and thought that if they could stabilize him, I could take him to UC Davis for surgery. At 5 pm he still wasn't stable enough to move and the thought of him laying there all night, alone and in distress was more than I could bare. I made the decision to put him down. It was without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I miss him.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3rd horse show

Where does the time go? I went to the third horse show in the series at SCR two Saturdays ago. I can say that I stayed consistent. Zero-ing the first class and placing 3rd in the second class. In the first class when I asked for the lead change to the right Semper only changed in the front, I pushed his hip, he changed and changed and changed, front, back and side ways. He gets all balled up when things go wrong. Because I get all balled up when things go wrong. So about 2/3 of the way into the first half of our circle to the right, he is finally on the right lead. We were supposed to turn and go down the middle but were not in a position to do that without a hard, quick turn to the right. Instead of trying to finish the pattern correctly I decided to school the rest. I didn't want to get him any more confused and up tight than he already was. I went down the side and did my stops and just reminded him to stay quiet and get back on track. The second class we did pretty well. The lead changes were beautiful and he just floated around. We lost points on the stops again. I know it is me. I get bracey and nervous and it goes right down my reins and legs and into him. We had schooled stops before and he was stopping really nicely. I was relaxed and feeling pretty confident. But then we go into the show pen and it all goes to hell in a hand basket. The last show in the series is about 3 weeks away and I am hoping to get past this nervous crap by then.

I have another show this weekend. It is a cowhorse show and I am taking Semper to do the dry work and the limited boxing class and Little Bit and Ms Lily to do the limited two handed cutting. The girls are going just to school. They have never been out to a show and I am thinking that this is going to be as much of a learning experience for them as it is going to be for me! They are both a little bit of drama queens so it ought to be an interesting day to say the least. My plan is just to get them into the show pen and work on keeping them calm and focused. I don't care if they get anything done with the cattle as long as they don't lose their minds. I have had them on cattle at least once a week for the last 3 or 4 weeks. It isn't as much as they need but it is better than nothing. I took Semper the last couple of times and he is doing a decent job. Still a little bit "shiney" (easily distracted at shiney objects) but he is trying - bless his heart.

April 28th was my birthday. Not just my birthday but my 50th birthday. It was the most amazing birthday that I have ever had. We planned a party and invited friends and family. At about 10am on the morning of the party, my best friend from LA shows up - surprise! I had no idea she was coming. I was so excited! We have been friends forever. Seen each other through the good times and the not so good times - we have history - shoot, we made history! She is the closest thing to a sister that I have - I love her to pieces. We got to take a few hours and go riding. Came home and spent the evening surrounded by some of the most awesome friends and family a person could have. It was definitely in the top ten best days of my life.

Speaking of top tens.... I am compiling a list of sorts... a bucket list - I guess. Things I want to do before I get to old and decrypted. One of the things is to learn to rope. I called my horse shoer - who is an amazing roper - and asked if he would get me started. He agreed to give me a few lessons and told me what kind of rope to buy to get started. Got my rope last week and am going to go take my first lesson in a week or two. More on what is going on the list later.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2nd horse show

Saturday was the second horse show in the series of four at SCR. I don't show until the afternoon so I didn't jump out of bed. I was having a cup of coffee on the deck with my husband when we heard a large crash. Upon further examination - ha ha - it was a chunk of our ceiling in the kitchen that had fallen. We got a lot of rain this year and our house has a section of roof that is flat and it ALWAYS leaks. This year we thought we had it under control. Obviously not. Last week hubby called me and told me that a section had come down and how I owed him for cleaning it up. He has been obsessing over repairing it all week. So when this piece fell, I laughed and was immediately given a very perturbed look. No appreciation for my sense of humor at all. I helped him clean up some and then he told me to get going. He didn't have to say it twice. :)

I left the house and stopped to get a sugar-free non-fat mocha with carmel- it is better than it sounds. As I was waiting I looked one more time at the entry info and realized that I had memorized the wrong pattern. I had been memorizing pattern 2, I was supposed to be running pattern 8. OOPS. I got to the barn at around noon and they were just getting ready to break for an hour lunch. When they started back up it would be my first class - the Rookie Class. I got Semper out and warmed up. I really worked hard in the warm up. I "raised my expectations" and asked him to do things perfect. I worked until they were about 3 in front of me. I figured it would give him about 15 minutes to air up but still be ready to go. I entered the arena still feeling good about our warm up. I did the spins to the left, then to the right and then went blank. I knew I was supposed to start to the right but I couldn't remember how the circles went. Crap. So I ran half of pattern 2 and half of pattern 8 and basically just schooled through. He went where I told him to, he was soft and compliant. I was brain dead.

The next class is Green Reiner. I had gone back and really looked at the pattern and had it down. Spent some more time warming up and he was working hard. Ran the pattern like I knew what I was doing. We scored a 69.5 - only lost 1/2 pt on the right roll back. I was stoked. I was the 3rd to the last to go so I decided to wait to see where I landed in the grand scheme of things. I ended up tying for 3rd (out of 11). I think that 69.5 is my best score to date. Very happy with my boy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Taking advantage

Yesterday was another beautiful day in Northern California and I took advantage of it. And I don't feel the least be guilty about it either. We took Scooter up to the trainer yesterday and dropped him off. He is going to spend some time learning the basics and being a ranch horse. I told the trainer that he needs a lot of time at the thinking post, just standing tied and learning patience.

When we got home I threw Ms Lily in the trailer and went to the lake for a ride. I love to ride the Potters Ravine trail. I don't love that the state has raised the parking fee to $8. That is just ridiculous to pay $8 to park your truck and trailer. Being the rebel that I am, I usually just chance it and don't pay at all. Unless there is a human in the box there to take my money, then it is a little hard to get around it. Yesterday there was a bass tournament and the place was crawling with state workers. I figured that I better pay or I would surely get caught. I could have trailered over to Saddle Dam and rode for free but I knew everyone and a their brother would be there. Saddle Dam is an equestrian only trail. Springtime at Saddle Dam brings out the crazies. People who haven't seen their horses all winter long except at feeding time. The first nice day they catch their horses, knock the major dirt clods off, load up and they are off. Horses are excited about being out, but completely out of shape. Riders are out of shape and stupid. Not a good combo.

So I chose the path less traveled. It is a multi use trail. It is open to hikers, bikers and horses. I was a little apprehensive about the possibility of meeting bikers on this trail but I figured it is going to happen sooner or later, might as well not prolong the inevitable. I have never encountered rude bicyclist. They are always thoughtful and pleasant. I always let them know I am there and they do the same. So off we went.

As luck would have it we did meet some bicyclist. I could here them coming and knew they were moving pretty fast. When I thought they were close enough that they could hear me, I stopped and called out - "I'm here". Four guys came around the corner and put the breaks on so fast that I thought they were going to go ass end over tea kettle! Ms Lily and I kind of snickered. They all got off their bikes and moved off the trail. You have to love polite bicyclist. We exchanged greetings and then moved by them. My little girl was so good. Even with all the shiny bicycles and Lycra clad, helmet wearing riders she didn't even give them a thought. As we passed one of them hollered back "I'm single". My only thoughts were - I'm not and I have ten horses! I just smiled to myself and kept on going.

This ride is above the lake. The lake is almost full! By late spring the water will be almost up to the trail. In the picture below you can see the debris. That is how high the water will get. All that grassy area will be under water. This is one of the spots that I like to let the horses play in the water. The footing stays good and it isn't too rocky or steep.

This is a new addition to the trail this year. Someone has a sense of humor. That is a piece of Styrofoam from a buoy. They painted a face on it, stuck some twigs in it for hair and an arm. Ms Lily wasn't quite sure what she was seeing but she just kept an eye on it and went right on by.

Another reason that I like this ride is Dead Cow Trail. Marked by dead cow bones - how appropriate. It used to have a sign but someone must have thought that the bones were enough of a clue and took the sign home.

The views from Dead Cow Trail are beautiful. The trail is narrow and rocky but Ms. Lily did just fine. Have you ever notice how a young horse always wants to walk on the edge? Why is that? I am constantly pushing her over - away from the edge. I have noticed this with all young horses I have ridden. Weird. The real reason that I like Dead Cow Trail is that after you get past the rocky, narrow part there is a wide road going up the hill. The footing is good and it is perfect for long trotting or loping to the top. It has a few twists and turns and a pretty good incline. We trotted and loped to the top. Ms. Lily was breathing pretty hard when we made the top so I stopped and let her air up before we started down the hill.

This was supposed to be wild flower but as you can see, you can't see any. There are millions of wild iris along this trail. They are a very soft lavender and ever so delicate and dainty. It was right here that I noticed that my Iphone was running out of juice. Great. This being one of my favorite rides you would have thought I would have went out with a full charge. Duh. I decided against taking any more random photos because my favorite spot on this trail was coming up.

This is Potter Point. This will all be under water in a few weeks (hopefully). But for right now, what a view! In the distance you can see the Bidwell Bridge, and the boats in the marina. I could have taken pictures of the back side of the Dam and the north fork of the lake if my battery had any juice.

This is the last photo that I took before it went completely dead. But what a great picture. Ms. Lily looks like she is enjoying the view. We came out of Potters Point and started for home. The thing that I really like about Ms Lily is that she stays alert and forward on the trail. Her ears are always forward and she walks out like she's got somewhere to go. She will spook at little things but she just jumps in her tracks. No whirling or taking off. She seems to be aware of her surroundings and picks her path like a pro.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

65 degrees

Yesterday the sun was shining and I had the day off. I took the day off because I had to take the horses to a vaccination clinic and the shoer was coming. I figured since I had the rest of the day off and I had just spent a considerable amount of cash on the critters that I deserved a little me time. I took Ms Lily and we went for a little trail ride. Taking Ms Lily anywhere can be an experience. She is cranky in the trailer. She is quite the "looky lou" on the trail and she can whirl with the best of them. But yesterday she must have needed the day out as much as I did. She was a perfect partner, sure footed and forward. It was a great ride. I took my Iphone so that I would have a camera and I am so glad I remembered to do it. I want to share pictures of my "back yard" with you.

I live about 7 miles from the tallest earth filled dam in the United States. I believe that Pakistan has the largest and Egypt has the tallest. Since we have had so much rain the lake is filling rapidly and they have started to release water from the spill way. Last week they were releasing a lot more than what is in the photo above but it is still very impressive. They don't release very often so it is quite an event when they get a significant release. The spillway at maximum allowable release is 150,000 cubic feet per second. If I remember correctly they can actually release over 200 CFS but the river can't handle that flow. Pretty impressive amount of water.

I saw so much wildlife. Ducks, honkers, turtles, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys and even a few wild flowers were starting to bloom. I guess they were all out enjoying the sunshine too. There is 160+ miles of trails to ride in the recreation area. This particular section is always rideable. It is the old train tracks (they removed the rails) they used when they were building the dam to take the rock and earth to the site.

There is an old tunnel that you have to go through. When I was much, much younger there were no lights in the tunnel and we used to ride through it in the dark. Of course we made up all kinds of stories about the bats that lived in there.

We did come across a couple of downed trees. We had to go up and around this one. The state is very good about clearing the trees so the next time we go they will all be cleaned up. We also have some of the nicest horse camps that I have ever seen. They have pipe corrals, a round pen with wash racks. The restrooms and showers are first class and very clean. The only thing they don't have is RV hook ups for power and sewer. The link below will take you to the state parks site for more information.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into my back yard.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday night drill

At our lesson last night we did a drill that TL had me do before but I had forgotten all about so I am writing it out for my much dementia'd (is that a word?) brain to remember.

I wanted to work on moving the shoulders around. First start out walking a quiet counter arc circle. Nose tipped to the outside slightly - so I am walking a circle to the right, nose and arc to the left. When you have that going, stop, take a couple of steps back, and roll back to the left. Pick up the right shoulder and counter arc to a left circle. Fix the back up if it isn't fluid. Don't lean. (boy do I need work on that one) Don't ask for a fast or hurried roll back. It sounds easy enough but to make it fluid without making it hurried is a little challenging.

I rode Little Bit last night and I have to say it was one of the nicest rides I have had on her to date. She was quiet and willing. I know that I painted kind of an ugly picture of her on a recent blog. I took a picture of her a couple of days ago so here it is. I took it with my Iphone - it was rainy outside so I tried to get an indoor shot - forgive the quality.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tasty Kitchen

I added a badge! Yippee for me. I look at Tasty Kitchen everyday and a lot of nights we dine on a meal that I saw a recipe for that very day. I like to cook. I like cooking even better when someone else tells me what to cook. I like it even more when they tell me what to cook, compliment me on how good it was and then they clean up the mess. I am often disappointed when it comes to the last item.

My friend Jennifer calls me on occasion and will ask me questions about how to prepare something and I enjoy talking to her about recipes and food. She is kind of a health nut so her idea of good food and mine are a little different. I like butter, heavy cream, butter, whipping cream, cream cheese, butter, and meat. Pre-WLS meat would have been at the top of the list but since I had WLS meat is one of those foods that just doesn't set my world on fire anymore.
Jen had a baby. He is the cutest little guy. But as babies do, they can kind of turn your world upside down. Jen was stressing over how to get dinner on the table with a new born at home. I tried to be helpful but I am several hundred miles away. The whole need for putting butter and cream in everything that I like to cook kind of got in the way too. I knew that I was really in trouble coaching her when she called and asked... what is "whole milk". I told her it was regular milk. She said "vitamin D milk?" I said yes. She says but it doesn't say whole milk. I tell that all milk has vitamin D in it, whole milk just doesn't have a reduced fat content. She sends me a picture from her cell phone making sure she had the right one. She did. I hope she drank a glass of whole milk so she knows what she has been missing. Just a footnote... I hate milk - whole, reduced fat, low fat, or non fat. Yuck. But if I am going to cook with milk, it is going to be whole milk.

I had just tried a recipe for Beef Drip and it worked out for a couple of meals so I typed up the recipe and some left over ideas and emailed it to her. I also sent her a copy of The Pioneer Womans Cookbook for Christmas. It is a beautiful book and even if she didn't cook out of it, I knew she would love the pictures and stories.

So in honor of the new badge that I figured out how to add in one try, I am going to share the recipe ideas with you. These are some of the best beef sandwiches that I have ever eaten. Recipe is off Tasty Kitchen / Pioneer Woman.

Dinner #1 -
• 1 whole Beef Chuck Roast, 3.5 To 4 Pounds
• 1 can Beef Consomme Or Beef Broth ( I used the stuff in the box – the whole box)
• 1 whole Large Onion, Sliced Thick
• 3 cloves Garlic, Peeled and cut up
• ½ cups Soy Sauce
• 1 cup Sherry (cooking Sherry Is Fine)
• 3 Tablespoons (heaping) Italian Seasoning
• 1 teaspoon Salt
• ¼ to ½ cups Water
• ½ jars (16 Oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, With Juice
• Buttered, Toasted Deli Rolls
• Monterey Jack or Mozzarella Cheese

You can not do anything wrong with this recipe. You can not screw it up and you will never make it the same twice. If you don’t have soy sauce, who cares, put some Worchester sauce in there, no sherry, dump some wine in…Live dangerously. The main thing to remember is that you want a lot of liquid, it should cover the roast. And it needs to cook, cook and cook some more. It only takes maybe 10 minutes to put together. But it needs to cook for hours.
Put the chuck roast, onion, beef broth, garlic, soy sauce, sherry, seasonings, water and pepperoncini in a dutch oven or crock pot and simmer for 6 – 7 hours. Walk away and just let it go. The longer it cooks the more tender is it. You want it falling apart. Trust me.
Take meat out and shred using a fork. You can put the meat back in the juice and keep warm till you are ready to serve. Use the juice for Au Jus dipping.
Butter and toast rolls, put beef on, then cheese, put in broiler for a few minutes to melt cheese and then serve with Au Jus for dipping and a salad. Your man will think you are a goddess.
Dinner #2 – Because you are NOT going to able to eat all this in one night.
You can either plan the next night’s dinner or you can freeze the meat to be served in a week or two. Just drain meat put it in a zip lock FREEZER bag.
Option #1 – mix left over meat with your favorite BBQ sauce for BBQ Beef Sandwiches – serve on a French roll or hamburger bun. When I do pulled pork - I use a French roll, add caramelized onions, and blue cheese. I know it sounds gross, but it is to die for. To caramelize onions you slice them, and cook them in butter and brown sugar until the are limp and slimy. Devine. It would work with this beef recipe too. Try it - don’t be a big fat chicken.
Option #2 – mix left over meat with taco seasoning or enchilada sauce and make tacos using lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, olives, lime, avocados, etc. and either flour or corn tortillas.
Option #3 - use left over meat to make enchiladas. Dice an onion and cook in olive oil till tender (about 5 minutes) mix meat in and cook till warm, use flour tortillas, put meat /onion mixture in, ( if you want to get a little crazy you can put cheese in, or olives, or the kitchen sink) roll up, pour Las Plumas Enchilada Sauce (big can - mild for you whimps) all over it, put lots of cheddar or jack cheese or both on top and bake for 45 – 60 minutes (or until hot and bubbly) at 350. Serve with sour cream and a nice green salad. Or refried beans if you are feeling really Mexican.

Hope you all enjoy. And if you don't already own the Pioneer Woman Cookbook - get you one. Trust me - you won't be disappointed - like when no one does your dirty dinner dishes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

1st horse show and Semper the Celeb!

We went to our first reining show of 2011. It was on our home turf at SCR. Semper and I had a really good warm up. I entered the Rookie and Green Reiner Classes. In the rookie class we started out really good. He was floating around his circles but he was getting a little pushy. I tried to get him to come back to me and he wasn't haven't it. We did a nice lead change to the left and then a couple more nice circles. Then when I asked for the lead change to the right, he changed but he stuck his head up in the air and got really pushy in the bridle. Wouldn't rate, wouldn't give his face just wanted to go. So I took him two handed and set him into the ground. Backed him off my hands and then asked him to finish the pattern. I schooled the rest. He started to get sluggish in the turn arounds and I gave him a swift kick with my spur and said get over there now! Before our next class I went out and really gave him a good warm up. I made him work a lot harder and wouldn't accept anything but perfection. I gave him a little time to air up before our next class. He was way better in the next class. He did start to get a little pushy but he came back to me. I was happy that he was listening. I finished the class and got a 65. Not a great score. I know each place that I lost points. Our lead departure wasn't as good as it could have been. He was late and ducked a little into his lead change to the left. The roll back to the right wasn't perfect. The roll back to the left was outstanding. The first stop wasn't good but the next two were o.k. The turnarounds could have been better, he acted like he wasn't sure what we were going to do and he was trying to anticipate the next move so he may have taken a few too many steps forward into the turnaround. The good news is that we placed second out of twelve.

On another note...Interestingly enough...there is currently a custody battle going on over him. When I die that is. If I should go before he does. I was telling my BFFITU (best friend forever in the universe - haha... I made that up!) that I was going to put in my will that if anything should happen to me that she is to take Semper. She has the money to care for him, she loves to ride and I know that he would live a good life with her no matter what. My daughter, Trista, was eavesdropping on this conversation and when I hung up the phone, she got really indignant with me. "What the hell do you mean you are giving Semper to Lisa?" she said. I explained that I didn't want to burden her or her siblings with taking care of an old horse - hopefully he will be really old when I die, right?. She wasn't hearing it. I went home and was telling my husband about her getting her panties in a twist over custody of Semper and my older daughter pipes up and starts ranting and raving about "how could you just give our brother away? Semper is part of OUR family" she says. Wow. I don't think that it would have caused this my drama if I had given their real brother to Lisa.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is there a perfect time?

I have this filly that I call Little Bit. Her registered name is One Busy Freckle. It really doesn't fit her. I traded Lily's full brother for her. Never have been quite sure that I did the right thing but it is done and you just gotta go on. Right? Anyway I know it was the right thing for Little Bit. She isn't the type of horse that I normally admire or drool over. She definitely does not have that halter horse look. Her conformation isn't perfect. She is a little cow-hocked - OK - she is a lot cow hocked, has huge ears, think donkey here, and platters for feet. I bet that painted a purdy picture huh?

She is bred to be a working cowhorse. Her pedigree is at for your viewing pleasure.

TL had Little Bit for four months last fall and got her going for me. After that I brought her home and let her sit for a few weeks. Got a bright idea to send her to spend some time working cattle with a young guy that I know. He was supposed to work her on cows daily. You would think that I could have thought this through a little better. I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent but I don't know what happened here. Really. What WAS I thinking? I sent her up there in November.
I know they don't have an indoor arena.
I know the price of cattle is high.
I know that they weren't planning on replacing the ones that they for awhile.
I knew that Northern California typically gets a lot of rain in the winter.
I knew the holidays were coming up and I wouldn't have a lot of time to go up there.
So how was I expecting to get anything done? The good news is that something did get done. He did work her on cattle every chance he got, he has her coming out of the herd and he did spend time just loping her out straight and teaching her to carry herself and a rider. But really... This could have been a black hole that I was throwing money down. I need to think these things through better.

So here we go again. Last week I sent Lily up to the cutting horse trainer for a couple of months. She has been getting better and better on cows and I wanted to keep up the momentum. The trainer rides 6 mornings a week - Monday through Saturday. It is impossible for me to ride during the week. Pesky job gets in the way. I planned to go at least one time a week to ride her. Here again, it is starting to be that busy time of year and I already have a couple of Saturdays that my schedule is full. I did think this one through a little better. CT has an indoor and fresh cattle. Now it is up to me to make it happen.

Is there a perfect time to send a horse to the trainer? Or is any time the right time? What should my expectations for the trainer and myself be? All these thoughts get so jumbled in my head. The "what if's" start creeping in. All the planning, expectations, exceptions and excuses start to get muddled and run together. I spend days over analysing and end up dizzy. In the end I just throw my hands in the air and just go with the next idea that comes into my head.

How do you make the decisions regarding trainers and timing? Do you ever feel as though you are "chasing your tail"?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Randy Rogers Band

I always have music going, at work, at home or in the truck. When I can figure out the stereo system in the arena, it is going. (Figure out = when I have my glasses on and can see the flipping thing.) The other day at work my perfect child, princess Trista was listening to a new band. Of course she didn't say "hey mom, I found this great new band" she just keeps things like that from me. She is becoming less perfect all the time. I hope she reads this. I have to ask her who it is because being the perfectly (selfish) princess she didn't share that information with me willingly. Please let her read this. She finally gives up that it is the Randy Rogers Band. I asked her where she heard them and she gives me some random answer that now escapes me. Anyway because I am not a perfect princess I want to share this with you all.

I really like this band. Randy Rogers voice is haunting, imperfect, but pure and emotional. The guy has a gift. Wow. And she - Trista kept this from me. For like 3 days. Gawd... I hope she reads this. Anyway I love, love, love this band. They have taken up resident in my CD player right along side Miranda. Miranda never leaves - she is a constant - has been for about 3 years. Kid Rock has a spot a couple spaces down that he has occupied for quite a while. I am thinking that the Randy Rogers Band are worthy enough to be there in between.

I am not exactly sure what genre I would call them. Some sort of country - but definitely not country pop or traditional twang. They kind of remind me of the Marshall Tucker Band - I am not exactly sure why or if that is a good comparison. They do have their own sound.

The song "In My Arms Instead" was the first one that grabbed my attention. From there I went to "Steal You Away" and had to own both CD's. I downloaded and burned them and couldn't be happier. Both CD's are filled with great music. They have a website were you can sample their music and are on Facebook.

Give them a listen and let me know what you think.

Someday I am going to write about the perfect princess but I think that it is better to what till she is already peeved at me so that if it makes her mad I don't have to go through it twice. Man - I Hope she reads this... Love ya girlie.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Trainer Conumdrum

When I started riding again after 20 plus years everything had changed. I mean everything. I quickly realized I needed help. I started riding when I was 7 and learned to ride by trial and error. Learning to ride bareback and backwards, upside down and what ever else we dreamed up gave me a pretty good seat. That all came back pretty quickly. But a good seat doesn't make a you a good rider. Don't get me wrong, it is a big part - you know - the being able to "stay on" part - but that is about it. In my younger days I didn't start taking lessons until I was in my teens. Even then they were pretty limited. I would guess in the 10-15 years that I rode I only took maybe 20 lessons. And of course I was a teenager when I was taking them so I pretty much thought that I knew it all already and probably didn't get as much out of it as I may today. Back to the conundrum... I love that word. It just sounds confusing doesn't it? I had noticed that a lot of riders bounced from trainer to trainer. This confused me. How could you go from trainer to trainer and learn anything? I have enough trouble absorbing information from one person let alone getting differing opinions and conflicting views on horsemanship. I decided that I wasn't going to be a "bouncer". That I was going to find one trainer and stick with them and learn at my own pace. I wanted to be a good client too. I wanted to be loyal and treat my mentor with respect. I didn't want the reputation of being the flakey client that didn't pay on time, went through trainers with reckless abandon, used trainers and threw them away, or viewed as someone that wasn't serious about their horsemanship and riding.

When I needed to find someone to give me lessons to bring me out of the dark ages of my horsemanship, I found TL. I have ridden for with TL for about 5 years. She has started 5 babies for me and done a fabulous job. She trained the big paint horse to where he is a further along in his training horse than where I am as a rider. She is clear and concise with her instruction and explains things in a manner that even I can understand. She has definitely made me a better rider. I hear her in my head all the time. "Ride the horse you are on." "Raise your expectations." "Leg, leg, leg!" "Don't let him do that" and a myriad of other bits of wisdom float around up there. Sometimes I hear them and have trouble putting them into action, but they are there and I try to put them into practice every ride. I also like to do clinics with other trainers at least once a year. I have ridden in clinics with Craig Cameron, Tom Neal, and Richard Winters. I don't view doing clinics as bouncing from trainer to trainer. They are usually a one or two day event and I don't know that I will ever see or ride with them again.

Life changes for everyone. Goals and life situations change. Incomes fluctuate, jobs get in the way, family situations change, or sometimes you just decide that you want something different. This is true for everyone no matter if you ride horses, race cars, or do patchwork quilting. (Patchwork quilting? where did that come from?)

I attended a clinic with a semi-local trainer for a Ranch Versatility Class. Just for the sake of clarity I will call him TM. I have gone back to him a couple of times to get some experience working cattle. He has expressed to me on more than one occasion that he doesn't like it when clients don't train with him exclusively. His main focus is herd work and he does a decent job. While I enjoy lessons with him occasionally I can't see myself making a commitment to be an exclusive client. I also don't see him turning down my payment for a lesson whenever I want to take one regardless if I am exclusive with him or not.

A couple weeks ago I got a wild hair and made an appointment to take a lesson from another semi-local trainer. He has been recommended to me on several occasions and he is closer to home than TM. He trains cutting horses and has fresh cattle to work all the time. Lets call him CT. His methods are very different from what I have done in the past with TL and TM. Ms Lily took to working cattle with a vengeance. I have had her on cattle a handful of times at TMs and he was never overly impressed with her. While he always says she was doing better ever time he never really liked her. TL was never overly impressed with Ms. Lily. I have to admit, there are days that I am not overly impressed with Ms. Lily. She is tough, stubborn, she can be lazy in the arena, she doesn't like loping circles or doing anything that is generally repetitive. She has a huge attitude and the attention span of a gnat. With all that said she redeemed herself at the cutting lesson. Go Figure. She worked hard and stayed focused. She was actually a pleasure to ride. Although she did get me off center on several occasions when she went to work the cow - damn she can move when she wants to. Is this going to be her thing? I have no clue but it leads me back to my conundrum... finally huh?

Am I bouncing trainers?
Am I being the person that I didn't want to be?
Is this being fair to TL, TM or CT? Is it even my job to worry about being fair?

My goal is to find the niche that these horses fit into and that is my first priority. Can I do that riding with one person? TL is an awesome reining trainer and I believe that if she had cows she could be the whole package. TM has cows sometimes and has the cowboy skills to get the herd work done. In my opinion TM can't get the reined work done. CT has cows all the time and has a different approach to working them. I don't know enough about CT to know if he can get the reined work done. These are just my opinions. They aren't etched in stone or the end all.

So Friends....What is acceptable or etiquette in the world of trainers and clients? Is it acceptable to train with more than one? Is it proper to disclose the trainers you are riding with to each other?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Judges Seminar

Yesterday I spent the day in a Reined Cowhorse Judging Seminar. It was a really good day and there were several industry icons in attendance. Ron Emmons, Bobby Ingersole, Andy Anderson, Bill Enk to name a few. My husband and I went as auditors with no plans on taking the test. Even though you know what you are supposed to be doing when you are in the arena showing, you really don't get the full picture until you sit in the judges chair. Riding today I could hear them saying "check minus" "check" etc. It made me realize that I was giving away 1/2 points all over the place. Semper can do the maneuvers at least average and some above average, there should be no reason for him to ever get a check minus. Maybe the stops are an exception to that but if he stops clean, even if he doesn't stop big, they will be a check and not a check minus. I need to work on "raising my expectations" (Thank you Regina). The clinic was free with my paid club membership, I learned a lot, got to visit with some awesome horse people and came out with a renewed attitude about where I want to be.

Scooter and I spent some time together today. I took him out to give him a second dose of his strangles vaccine and thought that I would just let him graze for a few minutes while I brushed him. He seemed to enjoy the attention. He was quiet and relaxed. I slipped my spurs off and asked my husband to give me a leg up. Scooter had a halter on and I just pulled his head to my left side and laid my body across his back. Just hung out there for a few minutes and let him have his head back. He went back to grazing. So I wiggled about, patted his butt, flanks, neck and wiggled some more. He didn't even move. I asked him to stop grazing and I swung a leg over, fully prepared to swing off at the drop of a hat. He let out a big sigh and just stood there. I let him have his head and he went back to eating. I wiggled around, rubbed my hands and legs all around and he just stood there lazily grazing. I asked him to lift his head and walk off and he did. Turned when asked. Stopped when asked. I was on him for about 20 minutes just goofing around. I slid off and petted and brushed him some more. The strange thing is that when I was sitting on him bareback, he felt relaxed. It made me feel relaxed being up there. I have ridden all my horses bareback and usually the first time they aren't really sure about being ridden bareback and you can tell they are nervous and unsure. He was relaxed, he was quiet, he didn't tense any muscles, didn't gawk around or skid or scoot off. So far everything that I have put in front of him (with the exception of being tied) he has accepted without a fuss and remembered the next time around. What more can I ask for?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Scooter side note...

On a side note about Scooter. He is getting better about tying. He will fuss for a few minutes but then he quiets down and just stands there. Lately when I have been tying him in the barn to saddle him he has been really good. No fussing, just standing patiently. The day that I put the first ride on him, I asked him to stand tied when we were done. He was his old usual fussy self. Dug a hole to China, bucked in place, etc. I just ignored him till I was done. I brought him back to the barn and tied him up. I had he and Ms Lily to unsaddle etc. I started with her first. He threw a fit. Started kicking the aisle walls. I picked up a brush and tossed at him and told him to knock it off. I was a good 20 ft away and he turns his butt to me, parallel to the aisle wall and started kicking the crap out of the wall. I just lost it. He knew exactly what he was doing and he definitely was doing it on purpose. I took him outside and knocked the crap out of him. Made him move those feet that he was so intent on using to destroy the walls. After about 10 minutes he came in and stood tied quietly. His expression was more like "I want to be invisable".

I was just amazed at his attitude. He looked right at me, flipped his butt around (as if to say F-you) and went to kicking the walls. I know he wanted my attention. And he got it. Maybe not the attention he was looking for. He reminded me of a spoiled rotten child. I am going to resume tying him up in an effort to fix the fussing issue, but I have to wonder if even after he learns to stand tied patiently if this behavior is going to rear its ugly head when he doesn't get what HE wants immediately?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Semper, Scooter and the big dilemma

I have been working with Scooter about 4 days a week. Lunging, round penning, leading, saddling, bridling, etc. A couple of nights ago when I was working with him, the asst. trainer was in the arena and offered to work with him a little. We took him in the round pen and he put a foot in the stirrup and bounced around for about 15 minutes. Scooter could have cared less. He didn't want to stand still at first but he really didn't get stupid, just fidgety. It took about 5 minutes for him to just stand there and take it.

I decided it was time for me to get on so I enlisted Laura's help and off we went. Laura's job was to call 911 if I got bucked off! I took him out, saddled him and off to the round pen we went. I worked him pretty hard in the round pen. First just moving him around, then I "bitted him up" a little and worked him, then a little more and worked him around. I figured this was as good as a time as any. I put a foot in the stirrup and bounced around and stood up. Then down, then up, then down. He stood still and gave me the "just do it already" look. I went to the other side and did the same thing. Again - nothing. So I put a leg over and relaxed in the saddle. Sat still for a minute and let him think about me being there. Pulled his head from side to side. Scratched and stroked his head, neck, and butt. Nothing. He was enjoying the attention and just stood still and relaxed. Next I ask him to move by banging his sides with my legs. His feet were stuck to the ground. He had a bridle and halter with a lead rope on. I took the end of the lead rope and gave him a light over and under while I kicked him and he walked off. We walked around the round pen both directions and he was as quiet and relaxed as could be. When he would start to stop I would bang his sides or use the lead rope and he would keep moving. I asked him to speed it up and he trotted off. Nice and smooth without any silliness. He was a perfect gentleman. After about 20 minutes of him walking and trotting, I got off and let him stand tied. He was a total brat about having to stand tied but I just ignored him and went on with the rest of my ride on Lily. I was so pleased with his performance in the round pen that I was willing to forgive the rest!

Semper is a big baby. Huge. He lost a shoe and he walks with an extremely exaggerated limp and thinks that his life is over. He is out on pasture, there is lots of mud, and it is rainy and cold. He has a blanket on and is still filthy. He is not a happy camper. He has a dry place to eat and get out of the rain and mud. But I can tell he is miserable. Him being home didn't work out as well as I had planned. Him being home was the only way that I could have Scooter at SCR and work on him. I had to take Semper back to SCR so that the shoer could replace the missing shoe and decided that he was just going to stay there and that Scooter was going to have to come back home. I am kind of disappointed because he was coming along so well but I just can't work it out to keep both of them and Ms Lily there. Ms Lily is doing really well and she has NO winter coat. I really couldn't bring her home even if I wanted to.

Of the positive side, Semper is very happy to be back at SCR and to have his shoe on. On the negative, Scooter is not a happy camper. He got a taste of the good life and since he has been home I don't think that he has come out of the barn.

My New Years Resolution is to get Scooter and Bob Harley going. Scooter - I am going to continue working myself and Bob is going to go to a trainer. If I am successful I will have 5 horses under saddle. There is no way for me to keep 5 horses going. Along with my New Years resolution I am going to have some hard choices to make in the next 12 months. Who to keep and who to part with. They are all so much a part of me that I feel like such a dirt bag even thinking about selling one.