Endurance develops strength of character in us~ Romans 5:4 NLT

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Farah - Safely Back in Washington~

It was with great relief - that I received news from Renee that Farah had arrived at her farm about 3:15 p.m. WA time yesterday.  She looks tired & I'm sure she was.   The hauler told Renee that Farah had;  "Saved his bacon."  He had loaded a very fractious yearling - that he thought was going to "Blow through the side of his rig."  Farah calmed the youngster down.  That was one of my worries, that she'd be injured by another horse, while in the trailer...
Farah is unloaded~
Meeting the farm dogs is as usual, the first thing that happens.  Word is that Farah; "Marched right up the driveway, past the chickens & dogs to her pen & started looking for something to eat."  Renee is sure that she remembers the farm.
Renee with Farah~
Renee said it was very emotional for her, seeing again a mare that she'd sold at an early age.  How lucky can you be to have a experiment go so well & produce such a fine mare.  Then - the true blessing of getting her back at a time you can use & enjoy her?
In the corral~
Seeing these photos, was emotional for me.  I like to think that she was looking around for me.  I've always been there at the end of any journey...  :-(  From the photos, it looks like she dropped about 100 lbs. on the trip out.  Not unusual at all - as Dean reminded me when I took a horse long distances.  He said that it is mostly a loss of water weight & they will pick that back up quickly.  We'd soaked beet pulp for over a week before she left & had been soaking Alfalfa for her all summer anyway.  We put a little extra weight on her for the trip & I'm glad we did.

The green band on her foreleg I bought as a safety idea at one of the horse expo's.  It has my phone number in huge letters.  While we were waiting for the transport, I remembered it & it gave me a sense of security to know that if something happened & she did get away - her owner could be identified.

I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow.  I'd planned the trip with our daughter last year, but after loosing my vision, felt too disoriented to go.  Now that a few months have passed & I've had physical therapy for my balance,  I've decided that the timing is perfect in many ways.  My first trip abroad!

Thank you Renee, for the photos!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Longest Ride~

When it comes to horses, I was born with them in my blood.  I'm sure the genetic testing that's being done - will show a specific - unidentified gene mutation.  My passion since I can remember, the equine species has dominated my entire life.  My maternal grandfather, who I may have inherited a heart mutation from, is also the one who loved horses his entire life.

Dean once said;  "If you are lucky enough to have that horse-in-a-million, it's your obligation to put them to the best use."  A using horse is a happy horse & that's been true for Farah.  We've traveled close to 6,000-miles together - a long, long way.  We've had some incredible adventures & seen some magnificent country.  She has never let me down & proven herself to be one of the fastest, strongest & finest of athletes.  A tribute to her species.

Bringing her with us to Iowa was a difficult decision.  I knew it would mean many changes.  What I didn't realize, was how far the reality of the riding opportunities & horse husbandry in this state differed from my childhood memories.
After her bath~
Butch & I agreed to give the move time, to see just how much riding I could do here & what arrangements we could make that would work for Farah.  The riding was dismal.  Mostly due to the distances I had to travel to find any miles of trail at all...  Last year's 400-miles of trail time took 4,000-miles on the road to accomplish.  

Once we moved Farah to the private farm, it was much nicer for all of us.  I could ride out from the farm & that was wonderful.  No longer totally dependent on the weather & whether the horse parks were open or closed.  But again, she was the only, lonely horse.  She handled it well, she handles everything well...  We didn't expect that being surrounded by planted fields would cause the ongoing problems with flying pests that drove her to jump her 5ft. corral fence.  That jump resulted in the first injury she had ever sustained.  Thankfully, not serious.

This spring, with the loss of vision in my eye, my world started changing faster than I could have ever expected.  I'll find out shortly with the final genetic test - if it's an inherited issue - which the Cardiologist is 99% sure it is.

Watching Farah standing in the heat & humidity this summer, sweat dripping in a constant stream down her legs, was awful for us both.  No electricity, so no fan.  Last winter, she was the only horse at the stable who stood out in an ice storm.  I went out to see her & found ice hanging from her mane.  Realistically, there are a few weeks in the spring & a few in the fall that are perfect for riding.  The rest of the year requires true grit!
Farah's home~
It took me by surprise when I received an email from Farah's breeder, asking if there was any chance I might be willing to consider a care/lease arrangement.   Renee is an accomplished horsewoman, having spent many years in the Thoroughbred industry, before starting her own sport horse breeding program.  Her 20-acre farm is near riding trails.  Our plan is to further Farah's training toward dressage - a goal that I've had for a long while.

As with any time you make plans to transport an animal, you are at the mercy of the hauler.  Our original time frame was delayed by over a week.  That week was one of the best & worst I've ever gone through.  For Farah too, I think.  Farah reads me like a book & she knew I was very sad.  On the last ride from the farm, she came to a halt at the top of the last large hill & stood gazing out over the countryside for several minutes.  She had never done that before.  I, of course, started crying.  I put my hand on her shoulder & the two of us were one...

Sat. after her bath at home, we returned her to the farm for her dinner, while we went up to Tobey Jack's for ours.  When we got back to the farm, Farah would not let Butch halter her.  She went into her stall.  I walked up with the halter & she dropped her head into it, then held her head next to my body...  Once back home, she was happy to be grazing.  We sat out in the dark watching her, enjoying our family time - for one last time.

Farah raised her head when she heard the semi...  She knew...  Butch went over to help the driver load her boxes.  I sent all of her blankets, tote of grooming supplies & enough zip-locked food for a couple weeks!  Then, the back doors opened...  I walked her over, tuned to the rhythmic sound of her shoes on the paving. She was right by my side as I handed her lead over... Stepping up & in like the professional she is.
A last view~
I spoke her name & she turned to look for me.  The doors closed & I had to walk away...   Today, when I saw the first recording of my heart, the technician could actually see the time of Farah's departure.
Leaving Iowa~
Our last ride, we actually got to go through water on the trail! Very rare here! Farah just loved it! She took a big drink of the fresh water, then splashed several times! I knew how much she'd missed the rivers of Washington.
This photo is fitting as our last...  Me - only a shadow on her back, camera in hand.  So sad, yet so happy & relieved that she will be back on a private horse farm, in her home state.  A much more moderate climate, trails nearby, excellent care & other horses for companionship.  I look forward to getting updates on how Farah settles in & the next phase of her life.  I've already made plans to visit her in Feb.  

Roxi has made it clear that I am welcome on her farm - so I'm not giving up my saddle just yet :-)  She may tempt me - with one of her beautiful Arabians - to do some catch riding.  

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Pierce Creek - Dissapointment~

A Sunny Saturday & Butch had an activity to drive.  A perfect day to head south to one of our favorite places to ride, Pierce Creek.  The last time I'd been here, was the end of April, when I'd first lost vision in my eye.  We'd dropped off fuel for our BCHIA SW Chapter, for a second day of trail-clearing & turned back to the optometrist office in Glenwood.
SW corner trails~
That same group had spent a hard days work last November, with chain saws, cutting back the trees & shrubs for this new trail.  All those Volunteer man hours & effort to open over a half-mile of trail through the timber.  I'd spent another day last fall following the Ranger to get the general idea of where the trail was to go.
Lake at Pierce Creek
 The April BHCIA work crew had finished off widening the trail enough that the Rangers could mow it.  I was so excited - finally - after all this time - to ride it!  There was a light breeze, it was a cooler day & the humidity was amazingly low.  Especially as wet as the ground was.  The most saturated I've ever seen it - though I'm not here as often as I'd have liked.
Crossing the dike~
Such a spectacular day!  Such a spectacular place, so rare in this state that has been dominated since it's inception, by thousands of acres of crops.
View from the SE corner~
Blooming  Goldenrod  dominated the landscape.  There were butterflies everywhere, Monarch's in abundance!  The bugs were still very bad, much worse than this time last year.  I was going to use Farah's mask, but instead just used spray & a roll on.  It wasn't enough.
Into the Timber~
We both knew where we were heading!  Farah trucked right in to the timber trails.  Even the grass areas were overgrown & hadn't been mowed in a while.  That should have been my first clue...
At first, I rode right by the turn-in to the new trail, but within a few feet realized that we'd passed it.  No wonder, it was impossible to see.  Farah turned right in, she knew where it was & didn't hesitate.  At least not until she started lifting her front end off the ground, followed by stomping her hind legs!  I dismounted - to find her Covered in burrs!  Her legs were a solid mass of burrs going right up onto her chest & belly.  She had a light sheen of sweat, which helped as I started using my hands to scrape them down & off her legs.  She was so good to just stand there while I worked to get the worst of them off.  I remounted & looked around.  If it had been up to just me, I would have never found my way out.  With one eye & no depth perception - it was a jungle...

I gave Farah her head, she started back, only changing direction slightly once.  Once we were back on the main trail, I decided to go to the far end by the campground & try to go in there.  After all, I couldn't imagine that it wasn't open at some point?  Wrong!  Again, we got in a short way before we were again covered in burrs.  There had been absolutely No attempt by the park Rangers to keep the trail open.  We fought our way back & to the campground.
On my leg...
I spent at least 30-min. removing burrs from Farah, the cinch, my legs, boots etc.  How discouraging.   I almost thought about taking the roads back to the horse park, but instead remembered that the main trail was at least rideable.
Our attempts to ride the "new trail"~
It's not just the amount of volunteer hours that went into getting this trail in.  It's also discouraging that the people who come here often to ride, can't manage the few hours it would take to go through & keep it open.  Not hard work, at least it wasn't earlier in the season when BCH had it all cleared.
East side of the lake~
I was glad we'd taken the trails.  It gave me time to wear off my bad feelings towards the people who manage this park & those that are lucky enough to ride here - yet do nothing visible to maintain it.  The firepits were full of cigarette buts & trash etc.

I just had to take this little video of Farah :-)  She knew that I was paying no attention to the reins & was filming - so eventually she had to take advantage :-)
Looking back across from the west side~
Back over the dike & onto the much better trails near the gun club.  Better - as long as it's not a day that the shooting is going on.  We crossed the other access road & went up onto the hillside where Farah likes to move out.  Move-out we did!  We galloped our running hill twice, the second time, Farah kicked it into high gear & we had our Yippee run!
Bronco & Trailer - Between the Ears~
I'd been going to give her a bath before heading home, but the fly's were So bad!  I put her out on her ground tie, put her face mask on & let her graze.
Starting a roll~
She laid down & had a wonderful roll, back & forth!  Enjoying every minute, since she's not had a good one on grass in a while now.  I sat & spent the time taking more burrs off myself & our tack, before loading her up.
Our route~
It was a great ride!  All rides are Great rides!  But my disappointment in the management practices here know no bounds.  I just hope that BCHIA hasn't given any funding to this park.  At least not until they are sure that the money is used to actually maintain the trails!

Friday, September 7, 2018

On the Back Roads~

A gray Friday.  I wasn't supposed to ride for two weeks.  Like that's going to happen!  When a decent weather day comes along it's got to be taken advantage of.  If it weren't for my being able to ride out from the farm, on the back roads, the wetter than normal summer would have limited my riding even more.
Looking down at the farm~
We'd helped friends haul cut trees & branches in the early afternoon, but Butch had his afternoon bus route & an activity into the evening, so I had plenty of time left to ride
Taking in the views~
Farah felt my mood on this day.  She stopped several times on her own, just to look across the countryside.  It's amazing how quickly the soy beans are turning from green to gold.  There was a light wind, coming from the east, which seems a little unusual out here.
Don & Farah
We stopped at Don & Jean's.  Farah's favorite place to visit.  Don took her off grazing, which they both enjoy, while Jean & I chatted.  We waited for the grandchildren's school bus to arrive.
Enjoying the horse :-)
As usual, Farah was more interested in all the bright green grass than she was in the kids :-)  Of course her grazing time has been way more limited than we'd imagined when we did all the work to put in fencing for a pasture for her.  A pasture hardly used - due to the incessant attacks from all the buzzing, biting insects...
Thanks for the great photo Don!
I look about as under-the-weather as I've been feeling lately, but the mare looks as magnificent as a three-year old.  When the Vet was out to take care of her leg, he commented that she looked very young for her age.  Only twelve, she has many, many good years ahead of her.
The way back~
Again, Farah stopped on her own to take a long look...  I do spoil her, our rides have always had to be fun for us both.
Lunch Break~
We stopped at Carolyn's driveway for our short break.  It wasn't that long of a ride, I didn't want to push my luck.  I hadn't had lunch & had brought a few peanut butter filled pretzels :-)   We did some trotting, where I worked to minimize any bounce & a couple short gallops.
Iowa Windmill~
Such an impressive landscape, one I never tire of & constantly changing.  The view from the saddle reminds me of the title of a book by a well-respected endurance rider;  Julie Shur.  Ten-Feet Tall Still - is the story of one woman's journey on horseback.  She led an interesting life - traveling to the ends of the world.
Heading West~
Farah & I haven't traveled the world, but we too, have had our adventures.  It's all about perspective & mine has been those few feet higher - so much grander - to enjoy the wonders of nature from the viewpoint of the saddle...

By the time we were back at the farm, Dean & Janice were taking care of their calf.  A good chance to get a photo of the two of them with Farah.  Both such kind people.  Farah & I have been blessed by their generosity.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Horse Heaven~

Changes, always changes.  Of the seven tests I've somewhat unwilling participated in these past few months - the last yesterday - was the worst.  I'll be graphic & say it felt like the Dr. was driving a dull ice pick into my chest muscle. I stayed down...  this morning.

John came by to put up a panel on the back deck.  He's always so cheery & we love to talk.  Between the two of us, if we weren't both work-alcoholic's - neither the deck or porch would have been finished last year!  Since it was raining, he took the panel material with him & said he'd return later.  Butch & I were having lunch when we heard the panel go up.  Within minutes John was heading to his truck.  I ran out to pay & he wouldn't give me a price.  Absolutely refused.  It was the second of act of kindness that came our way on this day.
Butch & Farah in front of the Grainery
My spirts were immeasurably boosted.  By the time Butch was home & early evening arrived, I felt good enough to go out to see Farah.  As we pulled up, the sun had broken through the cloud cover.  It was that perfect - late afternoon light - of late summer.
Farah's Quarter Horse pose~
Butch has bought me a new point & shoot camera.  My old Cannon has turned over 9,999 + photos since I bought it for our Joshua Tree trip in 2015.  As much as I do use the camera on my smartphone, I still like the format & ability to zoom with the Cannon.  I wanted the first photos with this new model to be tested on my favorite subject.
Beautiful Quilt Block
Janice's new barn quilt glowed so beautifully against the bright white of the Grainery.
Ah - heaven for a horse~
This area is so full of clover & with all the rain & heat, the grass is growing inches in front of our eyes.  Farah thought so too!
Her powerful shoulder & hip~
A blogger friend recently did a post on the Egyptian Event Europe, complete with some nice photos of the horses.  As much as I've always admired the breed, I have to say that the extreme type that most are breeding for now, isn't what I'd want in a horse.  It seems like a strong, athletic & balanced body has been sacrificed for the look...
Past the Machine Shed~
I have to give credit to the American version of the sport of endurance.  At least there, for the majority, you'll find more of the old style Arabian lines.  Horses capable of going down the trail for many miles & staying sound.
A few more bites~
My tastes have been changed forever, because of a one-of-a-kind horse.  Forever blessed - that she came into my life.  Sensible, strong, balanced & even though any horse can be faulted - the proof of her ability has been in the miles we've traveled.  Never once has this mare taken a lame step.  I do plan to total our miles again & find out how close to 6,000 we are.  Over all those, I've only come off once!  A tribute to her kindness & my seat!  :-)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

To Mineola!

This ride had been a goal since earlier in the spring. Butch & I had driven around the area of the farm to see if we could find any other Grade B roads.  We not only found one, but also found where it met up with the Wabash Trace.  My idea was born - to ride from the farm to Mineola.  Of course I'd had grand plans to ride miles & miles of this trail - before I found out that it was exclusive to bikes...
Past that pesky herd of cattle~
I'd had an appointment with the retinal specialist in the morning. My eyes were so dilated that I could hardly see a thing, so we had lunch at the Gathering Place on our way home. There had been a light rain in the morning as we were driving into Omaha.  After lunch, it was still relatively cool & the rain had stopped.  I hurried to the farm & saddled Farah.  I had the horse trailer still hitched, so the plan was...  If I wasn't back to the farm by the time Butch was off work, he'd come out & take the Bronco to find & pick us up!
Corn turning golden~
I sprayed us both down with all the bug spray I could.  Now, it's the mosquito's...  Twenty-two cases of humans with WNV this season & 14 hospitalized.  I'm thankful that Farah has had the vaccine for many years now.  There was a light breeze, but the road had been freshly rocked.
"Ditch Weed" :-)
The photo above is for my WA & CO friends :-)  Yes, wild ditch weed does grow in the ditches, but I doubt it would bring the big bucks that the legal growers get!  We made good time all the way to the two silo's - the furthest north we'd gone.
Almost to the Grade B Road~
As we passed Jean's house, Farah wanted to stop, but they weren't home.  We did take a short grazing break at the silo's.  Then made the turn onto Cary road.  I'd forgotten that it was still gravel for a way.
From gravel to dirt~
We were going forward, east, down the steep hill & onto the dirt.  Sweet relief!   Again, no way could or would I road ride without shoes.  Even with steel, I kept our pace to Farah's nice little 4.5 mph walk.
On the dirt~
I was surprised at how washed out & rutted the road had become since Butch had driven the truck on it.  Some of the washouts were close to a foot deep.  It was so beautiful out here though.  Quiet & just the occasional buzz of a fly.
To the Wabash!
It was just under five-miles to the Wabash.  Farah recognized it & set a pace like she thought we were going all the way to Council Bluffs.  I wish we had been.
Looking back the way we'd come~
Since the sun had definitely won out over the cloud cover, the heat & humidity had shot up.  It was great to be in the shade of the trees.  I often think of how beautiful this state & all the US was back in the day, before it went under the plow or loggers axe.
Cooler & beautiful on the trail~
Linus had mentioned that there was at least once bridge & we soon came to it.  It looked sturdy & Farah was happy to cross.  It seemed to have a slight tilt to it, but I think it was more the way I see things now than that it actually did.

Soon, we were at the Barrus Road crossing.  No traffic, so we hustled across to the far side.
Crossing Barrus Road~
Now, it reminded me of sections of the Centennial Trail, where the trail parallels a road.  There were a few cars, but nothing like the traffic we used to see in WA.
Mineola sign - between the ears~
It was fun to line up the town sign between Farah's ears as she checked out a dog on the far side.  I had just stopped her as we'd crossed a second bridge to take a photo, when we were buzzed by a group of at least five bike riders!  I'd felt Farah tighten up & in the next second they were flying by just off my left stirrup!  Rude...  Farah reacted even faster than I had.  She snaked her neck to the left & barred her teeth in a direct threat at the last rider to pass!  He looked shocked as he took evasive action & actually apologized!
We arrive at Tobey Jacks!
I called Kathy to let her know that the her crazy customer with the horse was in town & going to come by for a photo. :-)  She & Wayne met us out front.  Wayne with a nice fresh apple & Kathy went to the kitchen for peeled carrots!  Farah politely took turns taking a bites of each :-)
Thrown in the Hoosegow?
Kathy had a pretty good idea of how we'd gotten there & she's involved with the Iowa Heritage Foundation local trail organization.  I think we were lucky that we weren't thrown in the Hoosegow!  Lets face it, Farah would have hardly fit!  We didn't leave so much as a mark on the trail surface.
Looking West~
We trotted up the big hill past the Lutheran Church, on Main street, before turning south on 8th.  A couple sitting on their front porch waved at us as we went by.  Coming up on the last hill before Jean's house, Farah dropped her head, took the bit & broke into a huge gallop all the way to Jean's driveway!  There was no way she wasn't going to stop to see her friends!
Farah's friends, Jean & Don!
Farah is totally enamored of Don!  She gives him kisses & acts like he is the top man in her life!  I have no idea how Don has managed this friendship - but he could certainly have another career as a horse whisperer!   While we were talking, Butch pulled up in his truck?  Still waiting for his new hearing aids, he had misunderstood the plan.  He went back for the Bronco, but by that time we were almost to the farm.
Almost back to the farm!
He'd flown past us on the last leg, heading for a turn-around spot & Farah was furious as she watched her trailer go by!  The expression on her face was priceless.  Something like;  "How could he have possibly missed seeing us?!"
Our Route
When he came along side, I told him to just go on, we only had a mile to go & were at that stage where the tough get going!  Whether it's twelve rock hard road miles, or the fifty of a race, those last miles are priceless.  It's where you know that you are a team & you have accomplished a great goal.

A bath before the mosquito's came out, more spray, dinner & Farah was bedded for the night.