Thursday, June 18, 2009

tales from the trails....

I figure I have kept you in suspense long enough for details of the cottonwood patch trip. Still cannot believe I forgot my camera, think I will tie it around my neck as Luanne suggested in a previous occasion where I forgot it. I did manage to grab these pictures from Susan who thank goodness remembered her camera and to actually use it while we were riding.

Friday morning found rain again, I showed up at Susan's at 7am as planned. We had hooked up the trailer the night before so all we had to do was load up and go. Susan had Frankie all haltered up with fly mask on ready for me to load him. Since Frankie won't back out yet we loaded him first than Payback. We set off with Mapquest directions and another version from one of the fellas from Georgia who had been there before, it was estimated at 5 hours. We hit rain off and on down I 75 but nothing major. We had one stop for lunch and ice before we got off the interstate for good. We turned on Ga 2 and headed into what we thought was the last leg of the trip, after 7 miles we determined this was not the Ga 2 we needed to be on. We found a turn around and backtracked turns out we turned the wrong direction,
just in front of us were two horsetrailers. Susan thought she recognized them as Ga riders, they turned off to the right and I kept on straight as my good ole GPS and navigator Susan instructed, this turned out to be the best thing that could have happened on Friday. The road quickly went from paved to gravel with more switchbacks and uphill then I could tell you, seven miles of this folks. Oh yeah let's not forget the two little narrow bridges we had to cross with my dually. Just when Susan started to doubt we were in the right place again I saw the horse trailers off to my left. I made the remark that I was glad I was not pulling a long rig as the roads were narrow and no shoulder just drop offs. We pulled in the campsite at 2 o'clock and several folks were already set up, they actually came in the night before and were out for a ride. Two friends were in camp and we figured out where to park and then got down to setting up camp. Unfortunately, there wasn't any really good place to place a picket line that would have been in the shade so we opted to tie the horses to a hitching post in the shade instead. Frankie never pulled back but..... he did untie himself and payback a few times until we hard tied him. Soon things were shaping up and then we heard a loud bang and horses banging in a trailer. Just after that Ralph a Ga rider came walking into camp saying James'
trailer was off in the ditch with horses inside and that it was BAD! We walked up the road and this is what we saw:

Now kids, if you are going to drive a goose neck trailer..... remember to swing out before your turns or this will happen.

Yes, there were two horses inside. Yes they were down and on their heads. The fellas had to dig out the hill behind the trailer, empty the rear tack, collapse it and go in and get the horses out. They both had cuts and were shaken up but thankfully they were otherwise fine.

Here is a side view so you can see what it looked like

These are the wrecker drivers who drug it up out of the ditch some hour and a half later. The young lady is one of our camp members who could not resist the uniform.
Ya see, I am glad they took that turn and that I got into camp before this happened or we would have been stranded up there on the road waiting for the wrecker to clear it. There was only one way in and out of the camp.

The rest of Friday was spent socializing and eating yummy fish the group fried at the campsite. Frankie seemed good on the post although I must confess I slept little and checked him about every two hours by looking out my trailer window.

Saturday was clear and beautiful when we awoke. The crew treated us to bacon and eggs for breakfast and we decided to split into two groups to ride for the day.
Fast, long ride for the gaited fellas and slow half day for us er quarter horse riding gals. We packed lunches and headed out for the iron mountain trail, a 12 mile loop around the campground with lots of hills and two river crossings. Frankie had already attached himself to Payback in a fierce way and if she got to far away he started his whinnying and antics of jumping around. Ugh.... I decided to make him lead for awhile and give him something to think about. The trail was not real wide and the drop offs were steep, it kept me on my toes since he is such a greenie.
I know it is out of focus but here he is plodding along.

Actually, he was moving out good and enjoying himself until.......this giant flat rock appeared when we rounded a corner. It startled him so that he jumped to the right and fell over the side of the hill. Well kids, I was thinking this could go really bad here or.....
Well, he wasn't panicking or freaking out, he stopped when I asked him to and when I accessed that we could not back up or go forward we just did a cute little 180 degree turn on the side of the hill and popped back up on the trail. Thank goodness he had reining training! Everyone was surprised at how well he handled it, other horses gave trouble with the rocks throughout the day as well. Frankie got over it after that one little incident. We meandered through the woods and I put him in the middle and in the back just to see how he handled it. When his girlfriend Payback was in sight he was fine but let her get out of view and he worried and jigged me around. Our next surprise came when the horse in front of me tripped over a downed branch in the trail, this turned out to be a God send as a big timber rattlesnake was laying on the trail just beyond it. Here is a shot of the noisy fella.

Thankfully, he slivered over to the ditch and proceeded to warn us to stay away with his big rattles. I was surprised how calm the horses were as they passed within 6 feet of him. We could hear the river as we approached it, the shallows running over the rocks was beautiful and the horses were happy to have a long cool drink.

After letting the horses drink and cool off we headed up the other side and found that it was a good spot to park for lunch. We tied the horses and sat along the river enjoying our sack lunches. Frankie was more than happy to stand and rest in the shade of the trees. We finished up our goodies and saddled up for the rest of the trip, we decided that when we got back we would take our chairs and head to the river for our own cooling off. The trail paralleled the river for about a mile or so and it was so relaxing hearing the water and feeling the coolness of the river
a perfect ending to the ride. We did have to cross a small wooden bridge and then a big steel bridge to get back to camp, Frankie handled these in stride as well. Frankie was a worn out fella when we strolled back into camp at 2 pm. After I unsaddled him I sponged him down with a bucket of water and he was happy to see that hitching post and his hay bag!

We set off for the river with beverages and chairs in hand, the water was cold! We sat in the sun knowing just how lucky we were to be there in God's beauty. A short while later the boys came riding up and checked on us, I inquired about Frankie and if he was still tied and they told me he was laying flat out on his side tied to the rail. We all laughed and commented at how well he handled the day but that his little mind was probably exhausted like his body.

When I think about his life before me and all that he had to take in this past weekend I am pretty impressed with the guy!

Happy trails.......

Monday, June 15, 2009


That is what the weekend was! It was a five hour trip down there to the Chattahoochee National Forest but well worth it. I am happy to tell you all that Frankie did survive and he did great! It was not without some mishaps for me and others but no one was seriously hurt and all did have a good time. I was so stinking excited to go that I forgot my camera. No fear Susan was armed with hers and she did shoot some great photos. I am not going to tell you the story until I have the disk of photos since it is a must to show you some of the events. Just know that we are back safely and we did have an awesome time and are planning the next trip as I sit here and type!

Happy trails....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's time

Well, I have had the Frankie out several times trail riding and we have had really good rides each time. I think the time has come for...... ROAD TRIP!!!

Yep, all this busy and hustling and bustling around here has me plain cranky so my solution is to go to the woods and center. Frankie is going to get himself a crash course in camping and trail riding this weekend. Best Friend Susan and I are heading South to meet up with friends from Georgia for the weekend. We are going
here .
We are leaving on Friday morning and coming home Sunday.

This will be the longest haul for Frankie yet, but Payback will accompany him back there. He will have to be put on a picket line when I am not riding. My hope is that this will help him with his pulling back problem and that he won't make a complete *SS out of himself. I think he is ready for this and it should surely help get him in shape and more confident.

Going to dig out my camping stuff!

Happy trails......

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm riding again!

I thought after the move things might calm down a bit, but so far it is full throttle around here. This past week I did manage to get the satellite TV hooked up and a phone connected. Since I was captive all week I decided to go commando and potty train this very stubborn almost 4 year old boy of mine. We have tried several times with no success, my fault too since I am always on the go. (no pun intended)
But, I am happy to say I think we have rounded that corner this week as well.
Friday was a trip to Toys R Us for a job well done and yes the dreaded Chuckie Cheese adventure..... shoot me now! After that we drove a very sick and fevered Dad
to the Cincinnati airport for a flight to New York. He went against my advice, work calls you see. It is just an hour to the airport but with two small boys it felt like twenty!! We then booked it home, stopped for groceries and shavings for the equines and went to Susan's to prepare Frankie's new stall and paddock. I got the stall bedded and filled the water trough and buckets in the stall.

Saturday morning I went and hooked up Susan's big aluminum stock trailer and thank God she watched my boys as I drove to Indiana to fetch the big ole Perlino man.
Two and a half hours later I arrived and promptly loaded 78 bales of hay into the front of the trailer. It has a cut gate and that was what I could fit in the front section, was hoping for 100 but oh well. I then went to Tiffany's house and loaded up Frankie and all his paraphernalia into the trailer. Despite the trailer being something totally different and this being his 6th time hauled he did great.
I made it back to Susan's by 3:30pm and proceeded to unload him and some hay.
I turned Frankie out into his paddock to let off some steam. The rest of the horses were up in the barn and this distressed him terribly, not to mention Jane started the hee haw express in there. As I unloaded hay he basically trotted the fence and whinnied to whoever would answer.

Later that evening Susan had a cookout and by then he was settling in and relaxing some. Until...... I turned out Jane. Her paddock is across the driveway from him,
he can see her but no contact. He pawed at the ground and paced a small section where he could see her, she could have cared less. By the time I left at 10pm he was worn down and grazing peacefully.

Today after driving back to the airport to fetch said sick Dad who is now even sicker, I decided to go and ride with Susan. So at 2 o'clock we loaded Frankie and her mare Payback and headed to the reservoir to ride. The reservoir is not actually a reservoir it is just county land that may one day be used for that purpose. It is only 15 minutes from the farm. Frankie did well considering that he never had another horse haul with him in the trailer, I don't have slants just an open box. When we arrived at the parking lot there were about five other trailers there. We had seen a deer on the way in and that was only the first of many today. We unloaded and saddled up the ponies. Frankie did his classic pull back on the lead when I was about to saddle him, something we must work on. It is frustrating because he doesn't always do it and he is completely calm after doing it. After that outburst he was fine while being saddled. Susan had daughter Eliza along for the ride today in her buddy seat on the back of payback, she is six. We headed down the road and immediately crossed a concrete bridge with 4 culverts running under it and sticking out the sides like evil monsters. Frankie just had a look as we were passing over them. We found the trail head and went into the woods, it was a single file trail and Payback led. It was nice and shady and the bugs did not bother us today. We climbed some slippery hills and this did give Frankie some nerves but he handled himself very well. The trails were in the woods then opened into big fields,
we saw several deer and Frankie never spooked or acted up at all. We did some water crossings with no problem either. Of course I forgot my camera but Susan managed to snap this one with her Blackberry.

Can you see the topography in the photo? We did some serious climbing today.
We rode for about an hour and a half and when we arrived back at the trailer little Frankie was pooped. He was actually trying to sleep while I unsaddled him. We headed home and he got a nice showering off and some rest in his stall until this evening when he will get turned out for the night. Me I am turning in also, I am sore all over from slinging hay and tomorrow it will be from riding. That's OK, I am so glad to be back in the saddle again....

The mare may come this week for a trial basis to see if she fits my program, she sounds to good to be true so we shall see......

Happy trails......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here comes the judge

That was one of the first comments I heard from a little girl on Sunday morning.
Funny how wearing a jacket identifies you as the judge. I drove up to Indiana on Saturday evening and spent a quiet evening in a hotel. Well, it was quiet until mother nature produced some violent thunderstorms at 11 pm just in time to wake me up. I tell ya, I needed that time alone to re-center. My life has been a crazy mixed up busy time as of late. But yeah I know you want to hear about the show....

I arrived at the grounds at 8:15 am the show was to start at 9am. The weather had cleared and it was cool and very pretty out. I submitted the office staff my patterns for showmanship and horsemanship and received my judges cards. They bulldogged a fella named REX into being my ring steward for the day. He was a part time farrier and pleasant man to work with. The show was not very large, partly I think since the previous nights weather. It is an outdoor facility and I think people may have been afraid that it was wet. They actually did not even get the storm that I had at the hotel some 12 miles South.

This was an open show put on by a sweet elderly lady that owns the boarding stable where the facility was. Her name was Rosie and she told me that she and her late husband had been hosting this show for over 40 years. She holds the show both days of the weekend with the same show bill both days and a different judge both days.

The show started at 9:15 and halter classes were first up. It was a little unusual as the classes were mixed genders and all breeds of horses. I mean I had 16 hand horses and minis in the same class! I really could not take pictures for you as I was judging but believe me the minis were so freaking cute! I especially loved the little mini studs, they had such attitude and presence. I was so happy to see so many youth competing and they were all very polite and well behaved. I am sad to tell you that no one competed in the mini obstacle class or the at liberty class.
I judged English and western but no contesting or trail classes. There were some pretty nice horses there and in a few classes I did have to ask for some extended work out of them to decide. We did have one mishap where a young girl of around 8 did come off her horse but she was OK just shook up. Made me have a gasping moment though. My favorite part of the day was when I was getting ready to leave and two young ladies of 6 and 8 came and thanked me for judging their show! I was impressed at the manners and poise of these young girls.

I landed another judging job while I was there for July, a 4H fair show. Ooh, ought to be good and hot by then. I am pleased, I really enjoy it and working with the kids.

This week I am trying to get into a schedule here at Valkyre house. Happy to say we are all here except Frankie. I am going Saturday to pick him up first thing. Jane is shedding off nicely and has made herself at home in the new barn. Susan loves being serenaded by her each morning.

BIG NEWS to come.......I am trying out another horse.....stay tuned.

Happy trails.....