Monday, August 31, 2009

Red Hill Ride

WOW! What a weekend!

I am back from a weekend at Red Hill Horse Camp and ready to share the stories and pictures with you.

Friday morning after dropping off the little ones at school I headed over to the barn to pick up Frankie and Susan's horse Butter. I arrived in the rain to find Frankie a real muddy mess. I had to take the time to wash him off as he was covered in mud and I was not sure of the facilities where we were heading. So after a quick rinse off and packing a few more items in the trailer we were off.

I actually had Frankie load himself this time! Thought I would give it a try so I just stood at the entrance to the trailer and guided him with my hand and smooched and up he jumped all by himself. Cool! Butter loaded with no issues as well and snug as a bug they were in there.


The traveling was easy as most of it was straight down I 75 the camp is in Livingston, Ky about an hour and 20 minutes from my house. The road to the camp proved to be a little more challenging, it was filled with uphills and curves but certainly manageable. We arrived around 1:30 to a vacant camp. In fact the gate was closed and I was doubting if something was wrong. I did speak with the owner just two nights before and assured him we were coming. We opened the gate and found the mess hall, there were trail maps and release forms sitting on a bench on the porch.
We signed the release, got ourselves a map and continued on. We found a very clean well laid out campground. We picked a spot to camp close to the barns for the horses, we unloaded the horses and set up camp.

Here was Frankie's house when we were not riding.

The weather was kinda muggy and we had a few stray showers every now and then but we were not dismayed. Friend Carlene showed up about an hour after we arrived and she grabbed a camp sight next door. After putting out the awning and setting up camp we decided on a short ride. We saddled up and tried to translate the trail map we had picked up earlier. We found the trail head at the end of the camp and proceeded into the woods. The trail was narrow and unfortunately very steep and rocky. We felt bad because Butter was not shod on the back feet. Frankie was doing well and was getting an education on having dogs along for a ride. Susan had brought her two jack russell terriers and her yellow lab along. I never have ridden him with dogs and it took him just a bit to get used to them running ahead, behind and darting out of the brush at any time. All was going well until around 30 minutes into the ride.
Then, on a very narrow trail going downhill Frankie started shaking his head side to side and refused to go onward. I thought this odd as he has never refused anything I have asked of him. I gently encouraged him onward. This was rewarded with a complete blow up! He reared, lunged forward and went into full throttle bucking mode. I yelled for Susan to get out of the way as she was just in front of me and we were temporarily out of control. I mean I'm not talking crow hopping buck here kids but, full throw your a** to the ground bucking. He nearly had me off but I was a hanging by the 4 inch Oh Sh*t handle and lots of mane! As soon as I got him under control and back on trail I dismounted to check tack, surely something was out of whack to make him behave that way! I could find nothing on the girth or breast collar and no welts to indicate stings. I remounted, no easy task since Frankie has seen it necessary to grow to 15.3 hands. We walked on and he started again with the shaking of his head and refusing to go downhill. I knew something must be wrong with his hocks, back ??? This was so out of character for my horse so I dismounted and walked the half a mile back to camp. No easy task since A) the trails were narrow and I had to walk in front of Frankie B) The trails were steep, uphill and down and C) There were rocks to contend with. By the time I got back I had a deeper appreciation for my horse and the things he does for me. I unsaddled him and checked again the pad and his underside, nothing. I gave him some bute and put him in the stall. The three of us girls brainstormed and tried to come up with an explanation to the behaviour. I knew it had to be pain related as Frankie is just as laid back as they come.

We cooked dinner and decided we would try some reflex therapy on him after eating.
Susan brought steaks and fresh squash for dinner, a package of instant potatoes rounded out the meal.

As you can see Dawg the jack russell is patiently awaiting dinner as well.

The owner of the camp, Gene, showed up not much later. We asked him the which trails were flatter since the downhills seemed to be the only thing bothering Frankie. He told us that most of the trails required hills and valleys. He questioned my saddle and saddle pad, if either were something new to the horse.
All at once a light bulb went off in my block head!! This behaviour came about in a lesser degree the last time I rode him at the reservoir, he did not buck but did not want to go down the last hill on the way home. I had used a limpet pad on him that day as well. It is a closed cell, neoprene like pad. I generally ride him in a wool pad. Ah Ha! We felt all over his back and sure enough he was sore on either side of his withers. We did massage therapy on him and decided to try some more in the morning. We went back to camp and made a fire and swapped riding stories.


I did not sleep well that night. I was torn on what to do with Frankie. Of course I wanted to ride but I did not want to hurt him. Morning came and we found his back much better, he did not flinch at all when we touched him. Carlene did some more therapy and reflexology on him and we did administer 1 gram of bute to him. After breakfast we saddled up with my wool pad this time and headed out. We tried a smaller downhill to start, he was a little off but nothing like yesterday. I still had pangs of guilt at riding him.
The trails were beautiful.


We came across an older couple riding walking horses at an intersection of the trail.
They asked where we were riding to? We told them we did not really have a plan that we were just going to ride wherever the trails lead us. They explained that they had been riding the woods for over 40 years and knew all the trails. They asked if we would like to ride to moonbeam rock with them. We all agreed it sounded like fun and off we went. They actually rode at a slow pace and our quarter horses had no problems keeping up with the walkers. The gentleman's name was Bill and he was very conscientious about the trails, stopping to pick up trash and cans the entire way. He told us how it saddened him that people littered and that he usually goes back with his saddle bags full of cans and trash every weekend. His darling wife Ruby, was a joy to talk with and I was amazed that she was still riding at 68 when she told me of her previous injuries. We rode 8 miles through the woods together to moonbeam rock. It is a sandstone rock shaped like an arch about 80 feet up on the mountain.

Here is a shot of it.

We ate lunch there at the rock and talked about other trails. We mounted up, me with the help of a downed tree, thank you LORD! and down the hill we went. Frankie was holding up well and we were kidding around about all the badges he was earning this trip toward his master trail horse status. We rode the trails along a creek bed and Bill told us of how people had lived along this creek once upon a time. We passed the remnants of an old school house and several shacks. Here is one that was in the best shape of them all.

We crossed creeks and a concrete bridge, passed an old cemetery and ended up back where we started. We exchanged phone numbers with Bill and Ruby and promised to come back and ride with them again real soon. We made it back to camp around 4 in the afternoon and figured out that we had ridden around 15 miles that day. We found that we had some neighbors in the camp when we returned. They came over to see how our ride went and asked where we rode. They planned on doing that ride the next day.
The horses were treated to a nice hosing off and lots of carrots. We began dinner preparations, the menu was salad and brats for Saturday night. Gene, showed up again around dinner and we started kidding him that his nose must bring him around.
We reminded him that there was not hot water at the shower house and he apologized and went to turn on the water heater. He also came back bearing gifts, in the form of moonshine! I must confess, us girls did partake in the tradition of having some shine. It is rude to turn down gifts ya know.

Ms Susan trying out the shine.

We had another visitor at our camp that night, a young fellow named Monroe who claimed he was Amish and was not sure if he was going to stay Amish. We teased him and called him Semi Amish Monroe the rest of the evening. It was interesting to hear about his home life and certainly something new to me. I wish him well and felt a little sorry for the confusing time he was facing.

Sunday we awoke to a crisp 56 degrees! A cold front snuck in while we were sleeping.
We decided on a quick breakfast and to sneak in one last ride before we broke camp.
We saddled up and the horses were in good spirits from the coolness. We rode the lowest loop trail which basically went around the side of the mountain. We saw lots of rock formations and some caves along the way. I love this next photo, the way the sun beam is shining right down on my head!

We did encounter a large tree down on this trail and the horses had to walk over it as there was no way around it. Susan's horse refused and I tried Frankie. He had to step over a log that was higher than his knees, no hesitation he just slowly went over it the best he could. What a guy!! Another badge for him! The other horses followed and I was so proud of the boy. We rode for about an hour than headed back to camp. We cleaned up our site and the stalls, loaded the horses and headed out.

We all agreed we would definitely ride here again. Go give it a try if you are in the area!

Happy trails.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Donk is tame I swear

Since moving to the bluegrass there have been many changes to horse life around here.
For one the horse and donkey are no longer in my backyard or my care all the time.
Although I do see them everyday and clean their stalls and them some things are not in my control. One thing that is in my control is the farrier. I of course had to find a new one being that my farrier did not want to travel three hours to do two animals unless I agreed to pay him copious amounts of money! I don't blame him.

So..... enter the new farrier Juan Carlos. He has a nice rig, well equipped and seems genuinely interested in how I want my horses done. I made sure I asked if he would trim a donkey before we got started. He was a little apprehensive but said yes he would try to do the donkey. I assured him that Jane was the best little donkey ever and that she would give no problems being trimmed.

Look at her! Does she look like she would hurt anyone???

We ended up having five head to trim and shoe that day, Jane included.
I brought out Frank and explained that I wanted shoes put on the front and that I wanted him at a 55 degree angle. I also told Juan Carlos that he needed to be quiet and gentle since Frank has not had shoes on before and not been handled that much.
He was extremely patient with Frankie and did a great job putting the shoes on.
I need to put on shoes since Frankie had an old injury to his right front and had bad cracking and I was worried that with riding I was going to destroy that foot further. I asked JC if he would like to do Jane next, he declined and said bring another horse out. This happened until the Jane was the last one to be done. I was snickering to myself, knowing that he thought my donk was gonna give him fits when he attempted to trim her.

Finally came Jane's turn to be trimmed, I went out to fetch her.

She looks ready to eat someone doesn't she?

I brought her up to his tools and he again asked me if she had been trimmed before.
Well, you could look at her feet and she that yes she had been trimmed regularly.
But I was amused and said, "OH yes, she is great at it!" JC proceeded cautiously with the trimming, especially the hinds. He seemed genuinely surprised that she stood quietly and gave no problems. I asked him why he wanted to do her last and he said that usually the donkeys are a real rodeo to trim. He exclaimed that she was the best donkey he had ever worked on!

We knew that all along!

Happy trails.......

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why is it that.......

In life that no matter what we have, we want something different?

Human nature?

I wonder if horses think this way? Like does the stalled show horse wish for pasture time to run and play with buddies? Does my own horse wish for more stall time? Does Frankie go on these trail rides packing my fat butt up the hill and wish for Cory's nice indoor arena instead?

Life has been more than busy lately and I wish I saw an end in sight. I long to go and ride the Frank and start his training again. I feel like all I do is run out there clean his stall and knock the dirt off him and then I am off again. I know he misses me, he whinny's and runs to the gate when he sees me. I wish he was in my backyard still most days. Part of the problem is going to be solved this week, the littlest starts pre-school four mornings a week. This will give me time to ride, but where? There is no arena at the barn which leaves paddocks or an open grassy area. Unfortunately the footing is not great in either area and makes me leery to do to much like work on loping and leads. This in turn makes me long for a barn with an indoor arena with footing. I would have to give up having him five minutes from my house and a whole lot of dollars that are hard to come by right now. For some crazy reason here in KY most boarding places are self care. I could handle once a day but probably not twice most days not to mention when I travel to judge or run show offices on the weekends. Hmmmn...... life's little problems. I know things will work themselves around and out eventually so I will just be patient and wait it out.

Onto a better note. Hubby and I were able to replace the mats in horse trailer this weekend. Yea! I have been wanting to do that since I bought "big blue". The previous owners had put a conveyor belt mat on the floor. It was dangerously slippery for horses with shoes and definitely made practicing backing Frankie out really scary. Now I can start that process this week since Hubby is home and the trailer will stay hooked up as I am heading out for a camping trip this weekend!!

Susan and I are heading to Red Hill Horse Camp a place we have never been but have been wanting to try. It is only an hour south of the house so we are off for a weekend of riding. Now off to clean out the dressing room of the horse trailer and start packing!

Happy trails......

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rehomed horse update

Funny how life is....... just the other day I was talking about my older horse Tank that I re homed this past May and I get an update from his new owner in my mailbox.

Some of you may remember my old fella Tank, a big beautiful Dun QH that I had the privilege of owning for many, many a years. When the time came for us to move here to Ky I knew I would have to alter my horse keeping habits and the horses would not be in the back yard anymore. The decision to re home Tank was not an easy one but I felt it the best one for all involved. He was really to old to do the kind of trail riding that I do, which is sporadic and challenging most of the time. I did not have the time to keep two horses fit and take care of the young ins and household.
I felt he still had lots to give to someone wanting a great horse to ride lightly and enjoy his sensible and comfortable style.

Here is one of the last photos I took of him at my house.

He is such a handsome devil and always kept himself in good shape and easy to keep.

I am happy to tell you that his new Mom Linda is enjoying him immensely. Linda is a special lady that rescues all kinds of animals from dogs to horses and everything in between. She does not have a rescue per say but just does it on her own accord and out of her own pocket. Matter of fact her husband Sid said to me when I dropped Tank off that this was the first one that did not need medical attention or weight put on him. She rides him occasionally around her 40 acres and he has a whole herd of friends that he is turned out with. What more could anyone ask for their best buddy?

Happy trails...

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm home

Well HI everyone!

I am finally back in the bluegrass and happy to be here. It seems I brought the hot weather from Florida with me though. It was 91 degrees here yesterday. We haven't seen any heat here since June, I guess all good things must come to an end.

I won't bore you with the Florida trip details, it is something we must do at least once a year for family sake. I know I sound like an ingrate but man.... the planning and packing and traveling with the wee ones wears me out. Not to mention the ag factor when I get there. But we did manage some fun and got to see my family and I must say my kids adored the beach.

This is what shear joy looks like!

My littlest was content to run and play in the surf and build sandcastles with mommy all day.

Dad and the oldest did brave the surf and had some swimming time, but for the most part we did alot of this.

You will notice there a no pictures of me on the beach. I officially started the plan again today to drop the extra pounds I have packed on. I simply must get back in shape and get riding Mr Frank more often.

Which, actually I did yesterday!

Susan and I headed over to the park by our house for some new trails......

It was super hot and humid and Frank was sweating bullets and the ground was slippery from all the rain we have been having but he was a real gem again.
Such a nice colt he is.....

This is one of the shady trails we opted for yesterday. The big black horse flys were in abundance and Payback was sporting her quarter sheet for protection. Susan has learned the hard way to use this as Payback bucks huge when one lands on her.
Frankie did not seem fazed by the bugs, I did spray him well with the Pyrahna aerosol spray, It rocks!

Here is Susan an Payback in a clearing before we head back into the woods for shade!
We rode for about two hours and called it a day. A very nice relaxing Sunday morning.

The little ones started school today so I am aiming for riding more now. My goal is at least three days a week. Hopefully I can do it and get going on some of the things I really want to work on with Frankie.

Hope you all are having a great start to the week!

Happy trails.......

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Note from the road

Hi kids!

I realized today as I sat on the beach that I have been neglecting you. Yes, I said beach. No, there is no beach in Ky that I am aware of. I am in sunny and sometimes stormy South Florida visiting family. It was a last minute trip and one I am glad we took. Life has been really hectic and busy this summer and a nice trip here puts things in perspective.

Frankie is of course back home gorging on bluegrass getting fatter by the moment. That is OK, I have something planned for him when I get home. Another horsey trip!
Not to far from home but a new place to go try for a few days with girlfriends.

So far we have had a pool party with my family, a pizza party also and a beach bash today. They are all heading back South to Miami today and we will stay here in Port St Lucie for a few more days and visit hubby's family before heading out on Wednesday for home. School starts the 10th for our oldest and we must be back on Friday for the big orientation at the new school.

Just wanted to drop a line and say hello from the road. Hopefully, things will resume back to normal one of these days and I can post regularly again. Miss you guys but am enjoying the beach!