Thursday, March 23, 2017

In Retrospect~

Yesterday, I'd scheduled Farah's yearly exam with Dr. Black at Nebraska Equine.  Again, taking the recommendations of friends & from everything I'd read - this is the place to go.  Pilchuck Vet had forwarded all Farah's records - she was due to have her tooth checked again & for vaccinations.
On I-80
Butch hitched the Bronco, we picked Farah up, dropped Butch in town & were on our way by noon - our appointment was for 1 p.m.  Trucks rule!  I was surprised at all the truck traffic.  Of course since I was the one doing the driving - I noticed it more.
We've arrived!
The day had gone from sleet & 24 degrees in the early morning, to sunshine & some wind.  The Google Lady's instructions were great - right up to the last turn - where we had about 100ft. to go from 60 to zero & make the turn from four lanes to a gravel road.
Poor mare~
Dr. Black is an imposing man - well over 6', direct & extremely knowledgeable.  Farah, as usual walked in like she owned the place & was soon anesthetized.  The two of us have more in common than I thought.  Dr. Black explained that the tooth that has given her difficulty is being squeezed out - on both sides of her jaw.  Her jaw is somewhat short - so all her teeth can't rest flat on the bottom & instead, the last are where the jaw begins to curve upward.  (I had my wisdom teeth removed for the same reason!  :-)  This creates pressure on the next - so over time, those teeth will probably die.  Reduction of her usual hooks - otherwise all looked really good.  No scale here - but Dr. Black taped her at 1,050 - about 50+ pounds down from her usual weight. We've been working on that~
Dr. Black & Farah
Next, vaccinations - a five-way.  She was given Prestige V + WNV Combination Vaccine & a Rabies.  We completed her Health Certificate & used the Coggins we had from the trip out.  Farah snapped out of the sedation - one she'd received before - at Pilchuck.  I walked her out into the sunny afternoon & we headed back to Glenwood.  Butch was waiting on the main street so we could pick him up :-)  We put Farah back into her stall/run - gave her hay & headed home.  We planned to go out after our evening class to check on her again.  We didn't get the chance.

Just two-hours later, I got a call from the lady who helps out at the barn.  She'd found Farah down - down in the worst possible place - in the doorway between her stall & the paddock - in a very steep spot...  Being an RN - Candace got a halter on, got her up & called!  We made record time getting to the barn & called Dr. Black on the way.

Farah was standing, but looked dazed when we arrived.  Very stiff  - her stride in the rear short & choppy.  She was shivering in the wind, I was so thankful that we had her blanket in the truck!  We started walking her - more for our benefit than hers.  She pooed a nice pile - that was good to see!  She became more alert, her eyes brightened as the sun set... 

I called our Go-To Man - Dean Essex, DVM.  Even long-distance he diagnosed a reaction to either the sedation - which she'd had before, or the carrier for the vaccine.  He told us to stop walking the mare & wait for Dr. Black - who made the 40+ mile trip in record time.  Gut sounds - good, temperature - normal, heart rate 44 & not dehydrated.  Her HR had been 40 at the clinic.  There was a slight swelling at the injection site.  He too, thinks it was a reaction to the carrier (I don't remember the correct term.) in the vaccine.  He also took a blood draw just to be sure there wasn't something else going on.

There was an inside stall open, Farah had stopped shivering.  She was given Banamine & was much more comfortable by the time we left.  I think we were home maybe an hour - when we both had to go back to check on her.  She looked so much better - we watched as she took a nice long drink of water.  Sweet relief!
Informative Chart~
Dean taught me better - I knew better - than to schedule more than one thing done at a time.  With everything new-to-us here - I'd forgotten the basics.  Dean's protocol has always been to give each vaccine as an individual shot - in a different spot or side of the neck.  That way - if there's a reaction - you know where it came from.  This was the first & will be the last time we do a five-way.  I even hesitate with certain vaccinations - but with the traveling Farah does & numbers of horses she's exposed to - I feel it's a necessary evil.

We drove out again - first thing this morning & seeing her head over the stall door was as good as it gets!  The swelling at the injection site was completely gone.  Temperatures had warmed back up, we removed her blanket, gave her carrots & put her back into her stall.  She busily began eating the wet beet pulp we'd brought & her hay.  Dr. Black called to follow-up; saying that her blood work came back normal. We'll be watching her closely for the next few days. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Tint of Green!

After church, we drove to Council Bluffs & bought a new door for the back of the house - one with a screened window that opens.  Next, we stopped to check on Farah, who was enjoying the 80+ degree day.

 Now, I'll know - if we have what is being called a mild Winter, then the first flush of green here at home will happen St. Patrick's weekend.  (27-years this weekend since we moved to the Homestead in WA.)  Little did we imagine then - that all these years later - we'd be working to clear along another creek in Iowa!
South side of our back fence, cut vines on the right~
This little fox was the first piece of yard art I bought for the Homestead & the only larger piece we brought with us.  He'd sat out on the hill along the creek, then later up in the woods.  I thought it fitting that he find a new home along Tinkle Branch :-)  He'll be groomed with a new coat of paint this year!
Butch started in, cutting through all the tall grass & weeds, behind our south fence & to the west on the property we're purchasing.  Once that was done - I took my pruners & starting cutting all of the horrible, nasty vine Greenbriar that had grown into the trees & shrubs.
Greenbriar stem & creek in the background~
I just thought Blackberry was bad... Let me tell you - it can't hold a candle to this stuff.  So sharp that my work gloves were shredded by the time I was done.
Vine in the middle of the frame~
 With vines going well over twenty feet up into the trees.  I had to pull, tug & even wrapped some around other trees, to gain enough purchase to pull them down.  I could almost hear the trees sigh with relief.  I also found what looked to be grape vines?  They had wrapped themselves around the trunks of the trees all the way to the top.  I almost think some type of Ivy - but time will tell - unless I can get it fully killed before it leafs out.
The "piles"
The piles don't look very impressive, but you wouldn't want to try to walk through here!  Next, I'll have it all to cut into pieces & haul to the fire to burn.  My goal - is to eventually earn the Yard of the Month title from our Glenwood Garden Club.  I think it's years away!  We also planted our second tree, a Black Austrian Pine - up near the top of the hill.  It gets huge, is hearty to 40 below, deer resistant & can live 500 years!
A very warm day!
 Tired & dirty, we sat out with cold drinks, watching the sun set behind the trees.   Six-months here now & so appreciative of the friends we've met & community that's welcomed us~

Friday, March 17, 2017

St. Patrick's Day ~

  The temperatures are back up & after a week of some pretty bitter cold, the warmth felt just fine! Farah had started to shed, then stopped.  Now, she's back at it.  Shannon & I decided to meet in the middle at Waubonsie State Park
Farah watches Haily
Last Sunday, Farah got her first shoes since our move.  This shoeing is different in many ways from what we've done.  A flat shoe, rather an an Eventer rim -  totally different type of dirt &/or mud here.  Pads with frog support - we've not used those before.  Only in front - (we usually do all the way around) & a different type of packing material.  Clips on the hind.  Today would be a little test, no rock though.  When in Rome...  :-)
Shannon & Haily going down~
We'll take the advice of our Farrier & see how it goes.  Far from flat - the steep short hills are good for a workout.  Shannon set a nice pace & we really enjoyed some longer stretches of trotting.  Farah had no issues, she moved out with a super easy stride.
Down the trail~
There was one tree & a couple shrubs that were actually opening their buds!  Otherwise, the overall look of the woods is still void of green.  We did find two decent size trees down across the trail, but easily got around.
Friends? :-)
Both mares seem to like each other :-)  Haily has figured out that I carry cookies or!  Carrots were the treat today!  We did a couple nice gallops & that's so fun with the soft dirt footing.  Farah really likes to dig in.  We're hoping to go to Kansas for an Endurance Ride the end of the month.
Shell Bark Hickory!
Shannon's husband identified the tree above!  I'm so excited to learn about all the new to me species of plant life here in Iowa.  I found a recently published book on the topic that I plan to order.
Shannon & Haily
It really was a prefect day - nice to enjoy being Out!  Farah really gave me a great ride, only a minor spook.  As we were coming back to camp - where Butch was studying & Nika relaxing in the sun - Haily decided that Nika just might be worth spooking at :-)
Back at Camp~
Butch washed Farah down, she loved it.    I'm anxious to give her a real bath...   Next week we make the trip to Nebraska Equine for our first visit with Dr. Black.  I've relied on Shannon & Roxi for referrals & Dr. Black is highly regarded.  Pilchuck has forwarded Farah's medical records - so I'm hoping for a seamless transition.
Butch & Farah
We had an unexpected issue with Farah's weight - but she soon picked it back up.  I'm looking forward to getting her on a scale to confirm that she's staying in her usual range.  We were sitting at the picnic table - I'd seen Farah drop her head to scratch her leg.  A second later she was off at a trot across the open field!  After outdistancing us, she had a good roll & began grazing.  She played with us for a few minutes before letting Butch re-clip the lead :-)

The Great thing about where Farah is stabled, is that it's so close to our favorite place to eat!  We headed to Toby Jacks, went to turn up the main street & were stopped by this team!
Main street Mineola
A huge auction to benefit the local Fire Dept. was in full swing - a cannon was going to be fired, silent auction of rooms full of items & of course rides in the buggies!  There were two teams waiting for passengers.
On our way!
What a Great ride!  We circled town for half-a-mile, these guys moving out at over 7 mph!  The big hill we went up, didn't even slow them down!
Two gorgeous drafts~
I'd given Farah all the rest of my carrots, these guys were so great!  By now I was starving, so inside we went - talk about food!  Butch had the mandatory green beer & even my Margarita was tinted!  :-) Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Nebraska Horse Trail Riding Expo.

The weather forecast had called for snow, but the morning dawned just gray & cold.  The thermometer working to rise to 20 degrees with a breeze.  No problem, perfect weather to make the drive to the Chance Ridge Equestrian Center in Elkhorn, NE.
A very large & very nice facility~
The Nebraska Horse Trails Committee has hosted this yearly event since 2015 & just from what we saw, do a wonderful job!  Daily entry fee was only $10. a great bargain!  Complete with vendors, lectures, demonstrations & clinics, it was a horseman's nirvana!
Inside the groups trailer~
This re-purposed trailer holds commercial grade equipment for trail-clearing events.  It would be the envy of some Back Country Horsemen Chapters!  I do have to admit though - that the fully equipped trailer that BCH used in WA - was overflowing compared to this very organized interior :-)
No messing around with Nebraska law!
With the proceeds from last years event, the group purchased the Mule below!  Very handy in this country of flatland's & rolling hills.
Nicely set up to do the job!
Butch is thinking that he'd like to have one of these as his town run-about!  :-)  The list of this groups accomplishments is long & impressive!  The state of Nebraska seems to be very friendly to it's Equestrian Trail Riders & there were many informational displays.  Even though the state is home to a variety of game & bird hunters, they make it possible for horsemen to share the wealth of parks & recreation spots.  Check out; - to find horse-friendly campsites & trails.
Very nice logo too~
Walking through the vendor booths - we were both struck with the friendliness of the people here!  Everyone takes the time to talk, the time to make you feel welcome & often swap stories.
Wonderful handwork!
One of my personal favorites, was the booth of Wild Hunt Tack.  Jessica hand makes many of her items.  This browband, all quality leather has a grove with tiny hooks at each end - making it possible for you to buy as many different beaded inserts as you might desire & interchange them!  Jessica is willing to do custom colors too!

 Reading our program, we couldn't help but sit in on Tom Seay's (Best of America on Horseback's) presentation on Trail Etiquette!  The stands were almost full - Tom made directed comments as we late comers arrived - so I had to reply;  "Washington!  Lizard Lake!"  That really caught his attention & he instantly recapped the story of our ride!  :-)

To say that he had the crowd in stitches is an understatement!  :-)  His tips included; park next to the biggest, fanciest rig.  That way if you've forgotten something - they're sure to have it.  Another - camp near the people with the neatly stacked pile of firewood, because they are the ones who love to  Dutch Oven cook & will invite you to share!
Tom & me~
We couldn't remember how long it had been, almost four-years went way too fast & yet here we were again!  Time to head south one of these days & check out Tennessee!  Tom did get serious too - when it comes to safety on the trail - sharing stories of unwanted helicopter rides for riders who ran into difficulty.
Goodies for us both!
When walking through the vendor hall, we'd spotted the EquestriSafe booth & went back to pick up another ID tag.  They have some really well made products & with an embroidery machine right there - we purchased a new ID bracelet for Farah - with our phone number & a Velcro rescue info. tag for me.
As Butch commented, another Ford man!
 Farah's new Farrier gave a presentation on shoeing & we were disappointed that it was not better attended.  It did though - give us a chance to ask questions about shoes & shoeing in such a different environment from what we've been used to.  We also met face-to-face Troy Lynn of Top Trail - who I'd conversed with long-distance.  She was a wealth of information on the Middle Of the Trail Distance Riders Association.

Back Country Horsemen of Iowa were represented with brochures & t-shirts available - we have our work cut out for us!  There are so many "friends" of whatever park groups here - we'll be figuring out a way to entice them to join BCH & be counted nationally!

 I met face-to-face several Facebook friends & that's always so fun!  We returned home with a bag full of goodies & plenty of reading material!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Indian Caves State Park, NE~

The weatherman had promised a sunny day.  I'd heard about Indian Caves State Park - but had thought that it was quite a distance away.  Shannon & I had been trying to get together for a ride for a while now, but we'd been stopped either by snow or cold.
This time, the weather cooperated & we were both excited to get out!  We discussed our meet-up plan & I couldn't find the exit # in Iowa?  No!  It was in Missouri & Shannon actually lives in MO!  :-)
Farah patiently waits~
Butch was up for taking us - he likes to see the new-to-us riding places as much as I do.  It's always a relief to me!  Google maps on my smartphone took us right to where Shannon was already waiting in just over an hour.  From there, we turned west & next thing we knew, we were crossing the state line into Nebraska.  It was a three state day!  By the time we arrived the day was going from wonderfully warm - to almost hot!  We filled out the form at the Ranger Station & wound our way around to the horse area. 
On our way!
Sitting up high on hills, this park is beautiful, with the miles of trails that are lacking most places we've been.  The only disappointment - if you can even call it that - was that the park had just experienced a planned burn.  This must be done to control the brush & invasive plants - but I'm interested enough to look into it a little more.  Everything was charred  & still smoking in places.  I didn't take a photo of the sign - but I was amazed to read that the park is home to the Southern Flying Squirrel
Lower view point~
When Shannon told me that this was her favorite conditioning area - with lots of very steep hills, I had to think she was pulling my leg.  After all, this is the mid-west, not the mountains.  Boy was I wrong!  We did nothing but climb & climb again!  Even Farah asked to stop to get her breath on the steepest - called;  "Thigh master"!  The trail went along the top edge of the bluff - with steep drops off both sides.
Along the high point~
As Farah admired the view here, I reminded her that she is probably one of the very few horses who have seen both the Columbia & the Missouri!
At the Columbia River - 5-2-15
The wind had been blowing when we started out & was really whipping up on the ridge.  You could see for miles & miles!
Farah & the Missouri
To say that we did some climbing was an understatement!  Shannon's pretty mare Haily & Farah seemed to have a understanding.  When Farah stopped - at a large burned tree - Haily moved forward & right past it!  If either was in the lead - the other was not to be left behind!  Put two endurance riders together & between swapping stories & riding - we had a ball.
Still on the Ridge~
The ridge went on for quite a way - the signs of Spring that we'd hoped to see just weren't there - the landscape had a stark look due to the burn.  It did open up views that will be gone once the trees leaf out & things do get a change to turn green.
Heading down~
The footing here, as you can see, was perfect for our unshod horses.  While we were out riding, Butch & Nika were hiking around the park & went to see the caves!
Petroglyph of Horse & Rider
 Butch got this great photo of one of the several amazing petroglyphs of unknown date or origin.  This area is rich in history & after seeing Butch's photos I want to go back & do some more exploring.
Our route~
When we returned to the trailers, both mares were sweaty with their winter coats soaked.  The wind if anything had picked up & we heard a large tree crack & fall.  Both mares had a good roll in the grass & good drink of water.  We'd only found one place on the trail that had water, the other spot was dry.  Once I got home & downloaded my Garmin I was amazed to see that we'd had over 1,700 feet in elevation gain in the ten-mile ride!  I won't doubt Shannon again!  Great ride at a super great place!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Wabash Trace - Mineola to Council Bluffs~

It's another sunshine day!  In the 70's - in February!  I'd had a plan in my mind for a while now...  I wanted to ride the Wabash Trace Nature Trail!  I made calls, looked at the published map & could not find where horses could enter the trail - besides the top/north end at Council Bluffs. 
Bike Parking at Mineola~
We knew there was a large parking area at Mineola - it's close to where Farah is stabled.  Butch agreed to drop us off there - then head up to the trail-head at Council Bluffs to pick us up!  Both Farah & I love point-to-point rides & it had been a very long time!
Picnic area too!
Since we hadn't pre-ridden the trail with our bikes, I had no idea what we'd encounter on our ride.  (Later Butch told me he'd had to back up the drive to get the truck & trailer out.)
The signage made it more than obvious that horses were not welcome here.  We both wondered why this is?  I hope to find out.  Regardless, Farah & I have ridden the length of the Centennial Trail - through towns where horses were not allowed - yet made friends along the way & did no damage.  As the Chairman of the Centennial Trail Coalition, I worked to keep Equestrians Right-To-Ride in the public eye.  I knew horses were allowed on the section near Council Bluffs, so hoped to find the parking area that made that possible.
On our way!
It was a exciting challenge for the two of us!  Farah moved right into a trot & her speed just kept going up!  :-)  It has been since our last ride in WA that she's been able to move out!  I know that she knew right away that this would be a one-way ride :-)
The first bridge~
When I saw this from a distance - my first thought was that it had steel grating...  That would not have been fun - but Farah wasn't shod - so that would have helped the steel on steel that we'd experienced one day near Arlington, WA!  We were in luck!  It was gray wood decking!
Water flowing below - I think Keg Creek~
 The trail was making a big bend to the north.  Soon, there were trees on both sides - it was just beautiful & reminded me very much of a section of the Whitehorse Trail that we used to ride often.
These views, this time of year, are all shades of gold & browns.  Not the lush greens that we'd already be seeing where we're from!  As we rode along, I wondered when the first flush of green starts appearing here.
Cowboy Pass?
We came to the above pass!  A Cowboy Pass where no horses are allowed?
Our first of six road crossings - Applewood Road~
Here I was really hoping to see some sign of another trail-head, but there was none.  We were also looking for anything that looked like a horse trail!
Resting spot~
There were several benches placed along the trail, some in perfect spots to sit & enjoy the day.
Flag flying!
Farther up & we could see the American Flag flying from quite a distance off!
Bike nirvana!
Wow!  What would horsemen do to have a nice place like this along the trail!  Ton's of parking for bikes, covered picnic area & trash container that was overflowing.  Just across the way was a private residence & a historical marker.  A town that lived off the commerce of the rail line.
Dumfries - April 26, 1895 - October 7, 1931
From here we continued on - still searching for the illusive horse trail!
On we go~
It was So quiet out - no roads, no traffic noise, just the sound of the breeze in the trees & the birds chirping.  We were both having a wonderful time!
I didn't see any traffic on the road above.  Farah marched in & we were through & moving forward.
Mileage Markers~
Plentiful mileage markers - almost every quarter mile.  It was just shortly after this that we found the horse trail off to one side!
On the horse trail!
Farah recognizes a real trail when she see's one & she saw it almost before I did!  It was oh so nice to be on one!
The next bridge!
The trail would weave from one side of the main line to the other.  We usually knew when we were  coming to a bridge, as the trail would go up, or down - to it.
Out in nowhere~
 This was the most remote section of the trail & it was stunning.  You almost felt like you were out in a wilderness area.
Main Trail below~
We loved the hills!  Farah - the hill machine - hasn't had any opportunity to put her skill to use.  Here she bounded up - but I'd have to ask her to slow as we approached the top - not knowing what would be on the far side of the crest.
Needs work~
This section was a bit tricky, the ground was wet & slippery, the downhill side was steeper than it looks here & at the bottom was a grizzly wire fence that had been knocked over.   On long stretches of the trail there would be barbed wire along side.
Pretty all the way~
It was such an amazing day - we hadn't seen a soul the entire way.  One spook over a black squirrel - but otherwise we were both enjoying ourselves a lot!
This windmill was on the far side of the fence from the trail, but it was spinning rapidly in the breeze.  That wasn't a problem, but I think Mark should incorporate one of these in his Trail Course!
The shadow~
It was the shadow!  I tried to get a video - but I was too busy :-)  The shadow of the blades whipping around right on the trail was something neither of us had ever seen & Farah really thought that it might get her!  :-)
At your own risk~
There were a couple times when I really hoped that the bridges were strong enough to support the weight of a horse!  This sign did nothing to improve my confidence. :-)
The longest bridge~
The decking here was almost new & in great shape!  The last of the seven bridges we crossed.  I never dreamed there would be so many.
The final underpass~
Butch had called to see how we were doing & warned me about this tunnel.  It was low!  So low that another inch & the top of my helmet would have been hitting the top!  I should have gotten off - but didn't.  We cruised right through.
Late afternoon~
It was getting later in the afternoon & we both knew from the noise of the traffic on the road - that we were getting close.  There were two large trees blow over across the trail, but we made it around.  This would be a good place to do some trail clearing & cleanup too.
We find Butch & Nika!
These two had walked several miles of the trail - but agreed to come out again to meet us!  Nika was pretty surprised, but Farah had things figured out!  We put the hitching post at the Tastee Treat to good use & sat up at the picnic table to enjoy two absolutely yummy shakes!
End of the Trail~
Finally, we walked the final few yards to the end - or beginning of the trail - depending on which way you're heading!  At just ten-miles - it was a really great ride!   Farah was not surprised to see her trailer waiting.  We took her back to her stable, I spent an hour grooming her - she's finally losing a few hairs from her winter coat.  Then - on to the car wash - to clean the truck & trailer.  This is an event almost every time we take them out.  Lots of road grime from going on the gravel roads!

Now, I have a new focus - trying to find a way that Equestrians can share this trail.  Many horsemen have mentioned that it's scary when the bikes are out in numbers.  On this ride, the two we saw near town didn't make a sound as they flew by.  The signage says that the bikes are to yield to everyone - but does that ever happen?