Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Barrel Racing Curly...the rest of the story.

Hello All,

We had a blast these past Sunday afternoons running the barrels at Golden Curls Ranch. Well, actually we walked the barrels...a lot! Our class was a nice size of four ladies with an very knowledgeable instructor. The class members are all good friends from way back which makes it nice when your instructor keeps yelling at you "You're on the wrong lead - which was translated by English riding friends as "diagonal". 

The first part of class we would patiently sit in front of the big marker board inside the barn while trying to understand Barrel Racing division breakdowns and what the heck an arc was and why you need to correct your bowing, so that we could saddle up our horse. 

Everyone rode a Curly. After a nice grooming, we would put on our saddles and bell boots. The first two Sundays it was muddy and even rained during our class but hey "what's a little rain - we joked, nobody's gonna melt". The last two Sundays were perfect. So we met early just to ride more:)

My favor memory was watching, Mr Wide-derriere, Lakota flexing his hind end and turning those barrels like they were tiny teapots in the sand with Lynn's soft, gentle hands. And Marion determined to ride in a dressage saddle; more comfortable she claimed; while our instructor said..."there 'aint enough leather on that saddle for me". Still, Marion and Lakota showed us they could dance their way around the barrels.

We had a great time and we will definitely have more classes. Once again, our Curly horses have proven to the horse world they are versatile as well as handsome and intelligent.

Best wishes from Texas


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trotting the Back Roads

As I mentioned on my blog (last week) - I was totally ready to throw in the towel and call it winter. it was cold and miserable- I had to plug in my water heaters because of ice and snow was forecasted several times. BUT--- all the snow went south.. and we are FINALLY experiencing a little Indian Summer ! Perfect for riding- except.. the Hunters have taken the woods hostage until the end of November. A few weeks for every imaginable weapon ~ Zoe and I ride the dirt roads during hunting season- but it's still just as beautiful.. especially at this time of year.

Lately- it's been Keri and Reverie (Zoe's Day Dream). They have become good buddies. We are working up the mileage - as Rev has not been ridden in some time. Also looking to get in canters often and for more extended periods of time for Rev. Yesterday, we had a great ride- included the mile long hill- which is perfect for a horse learning her balance and abilities in cantering.

Mostly- I took photo's of the scenery. The Beech trees are at their most beautiful right now- although typically yellow and brown in the fall, I love a Beech tree when the sun is out- quite dazzling. There's nothing prettier than a grove of Beech.

When I was posting in my farm blog- and looking at the photo's I snapped during the ride- I noticed a theme.. ponds and fall colors. We passed by 2 beaver ponds and one real pond-- all of them gorgeous. As usual, I posted many photo's on the farm blog- which you can go view.

And anyone who has followed my blog posts- knows I am intrigued by stonework of any kind.
So I had to stop and get a close up of these artfully placed stones and rocks.

A very noisy Kingfisher protested our presence here - sounding like more than one bird with his constant loud mad chatter.

I have to wonder the purpose of this - who and why ? and when...

Trot home on my most favorite back road in our area- Crow Hill Road.. which used to be quite narrow with I think only one or two homes-- no electricity along the road until recently.. as more houses and camps are built. Still a beautiful road though.
Keri was feeling a bit pokey- but we had a great ride and plan to go out again today.
A new route though - don't want Rev to get complacently brave just because she already knows the way !
Enjoy your day ~

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Last True Fall Hurrah?

October 25th…it will be November the next time I get a chance to ride, and this day was GLORIOUS, so I was bound and determined to enjoy today day from the back of my Curly. AhD had different ideas. Note the high head and tight rein. His main idea consisted of, "Let’s get back to the barn because I don't want to leave Mister Man today." He was also thinking, "This wind makes me frisky and fresh." Or was that my thought? At any rate, it fit him today. I tacked him up in an eclectic blend of English and Western flavored with purple. We did the give to pressure and backup routines beforehand, but he was still a handful. I rode next door to talk to my husband, who commented, "Gawd is he fat; he’s fatter than I am!" I retorted, "Not a chance!" AhD promptly attempted to stomp on my neighbor’s Puggle, so we did another Backup Routine before I mounted again. He still felt repeatedly like a coiled spring, so I headed him into the woods and then left the trail to bushwhack. As I have previously mentioned, he is very good at this, so when he thwacked my knee hard against a birch, I was MAD. I cuffed him twice on the neck, which he barely noticed, but now it was ME with The Attitude, and he did take notice of THAT. We bushwhacked some more and crossed a couple of streams. AhD settled down a bit; he was still go, go, go but I kept him in line, line, line. Wow, was it ever beautiful, everywhere we went. Leaves carpeted the trails and that earthy fall smell abounded. We had a few nice, springy trots and an invigorating in-hand gallop up a fairly long and steep hill. We returned to the barn, and I hadn’t had enough, so I took off the saddle and headed back out bareback. What a blast! AhD was all sweaty and sticky ~ perfect. I wrapped my legs around his barrel and felt right at home. We cantered up the first part of Jason’s loop and then criss-cross-walked down a really steep hill, AhD with his haunches properly tucked underneath him. We trotted down another trail and, whoops, I lost my camera out of my pocket, so I jumped off and backtracked a bit. Luckily it landed on soft ground. I put AhD in the stream and used the banking for an easier mount up. He stood still like a good boy, and we headed for home, still energetic and happy. I don’t really know which part I liked best, the fast charge up the hill full bore or the whole bareback episode, but this ride surely was fantastic!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Catching the Last Rays

AhD and I caught those long fall evening rays on this power line ride. It was absolutely beautiful, warmer than the 40 degrees it’s been, and AhD was in forward mode big time. We skipped up and down the steep, rocky terrain. AhD was very energetic and kept me on my toes, but didn’t offer one single scoot or fake spook. The color of the drying wildflowers reminds me distinctly of AhD, a beautiful shade of reddish brown with creamy tips of fluff. This was the very last strong stream of sun before it disappeared and our ride became shadowed. We crossed over the stream with nary a problem and stepped over some gorgeous deep red moss. I don’t think I’ve ever seen moss such a shade, but a photo will have to wait for another day due to the poor light conditions. There’s nothing like riding a handsome, forward Curly to relieve the stress of a Monday!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Racking up RAC in hand

I am in the middle of doing some trail horse training....tuning up our mare "Ally" for packing and training our mare Izzy ( she is for sale ;-) to pack....both mares will be used on our 10 day trip of camping/hunting on the rim of Hells Canyon. We had advanced the mares from hobble training, standing tied quietly for very long periods of time, general handling, and now..packing supplies and fresh game. We packed both the mares with fresh game meat on Friday, and they handled it like they had done it forever. Mike loaded the mares up with water jugs filled almost full..the water sloshed around and make a whole lot of noise, we then added fresh game meat too. I have to once again THANK Denise, for having an in hand section of RAC...on a year that I have had little riding time, this has been a wonderful goal for me to RAC up the miles on!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Powerline Ride

We had a beautiful ride down the power line this evening. Crisp air, clear sky, and the smell of leaves underfoot was heaven to the senses! AhD was a good boy. Doesn't he look like such a good boy in this picture, all innocent? Well, he WAS good...perhaps not as good as the Angel Face in the photo, but fun ride all the same. We veered off the power line and headed into the woods for awhile. There seemed to be a lot of colored leaves underfoot but a lot of green leaves still on the trees. Not a typical fall. We bushwacked and came across a tree stand. AhD was all antsy near it; I assume my neighbor had been sprinking some deer scent around the area. Back out on the powerline, we crossed the stream. AhD stopped to splash a bit, as usual. He is so fun to ride! We rode the powerline until we came to a very steep hill that was too much for my boy Ian on Mister, so we backtracked and cantered up a nice trail in the woods. As we came out into the sun, it was so pretty that Ian took the photo op. Me and my handsome steed. We headed home, but I just didn't get in quite enough riding, so back out AhD and I went. I decided to take one of my Labs, Grace, because she absolutely loves to tag along. AhD has come so far in his tolerance of dogs; he actually paid Grace no mind. And he is getting the idea that snatching leaves and grass on the trail is no longer allowed, because his attempts were halfhearted at best. I really enjoyed this two part ride and wish it could have been longer! I have firm plans to get in another ride tomorrow, and I hope you fellow RAC'ers can/will do the same!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What a difference a week makes

A week ago yesterday, I took my first ride on "Flash's Carmela DeAlegria"...barn name "Ally"...we will be doing a major horse camping trip soon, spending 10 days on the edge of Hells Canyon...and no one has ridden Ally for a couple years, as she has been spending time raising, I knew she would need a tune up to be a safe and enjoyable mount for our trip. Mike is Ally's rider, but I knew she needed a tune up on some level, and a little extra training would not hurt either.
I have an instructor who is wiling to come here to our place for my lessons, and since Virgil does not like to teach from the ground, it was a chance to get some good professional training on Izzy at the same time I rode Ally...

Last weeks lesson was less than stellar on my part..I have been having some trouble with my hip, and Ally did not seem comfortable or her usual self at all, she was not real willing to go forward, though we did get going after a bit, it just seemed hard and not a whole lot of fun :(

Fast forward a week....during the week, I went back to saddle fit on Ally and also added a crupper to her saddle, to help the saddle stay where it was supposed to be....When we finished our lesson yesterday, we BOTH were comfortable....Saddle fit is so important...esp when fitting a gaited/bred the cinch really only has one place to lay, yet you must stay off her shoulders and with my obsession with saddle fit, it made all the difference in the world! Virgil and I rode my lesson, circles, backing, roll backs, lots of move the feet exercises, lots of quiet, steady work...and afterwards? the sweat patterns on Ally were PERFECT !!! all parts of the saddle were in contact, yet, I stayed completely off her shoulder, letting her have the freedom she needed to move ;-)

Virgil is making great progress with Izzy....after my ride, we continued work with Izzy, this mare is going to be an exceptional riding horse, and I might add...LOL..she IS for sale ;-)

After our camping trip, I will turn Ally back out on pasture, and concentrate on Izzy's training...I plan to have her through all the levels of our Creekside Trail Horse Deluxe by spring. Did I mention she IS for sale....?


Fall Leaf Peeping Adventure

Like Susan- I also have the wood-cutting duty as a priority.. however, I cut my wood every morning for an hour or so after chores.. so I am always a little ahead and can devote my 'free' time to Saddle time :)

Columbus Day weekend in Vermont is the big touristy leaf peeping vacation. "Southerners" travel up to drive slowly through the maze of country back roads to view the artistry of leaves turning-- Normally, in a good year, the sugar maples are blazing scarlet. This year-- again as Susan mentioned - there is more yellow than any other color on the palette-- add to that, a persistently drizzling sky dampening the brilliance... still beautiful though.

Zoe and I had a route mapped out in our heads for Saturday- which involved being transported to the end of Wymans Falls Road (where we searched for the falls last big trip). It was - in addition to leaf peeper day, also the first day of hunting .. bow season. From now on- all fall-- there will be some kind of hunting season... each one featuring a different weapon. What a way to ruin good riding weather ! Anyway, we were traveling on all posted land- so we weren't too worried.

This trek turned out to be the longest journey, covering the most locations, that we have trotted to date. The weather of the day was not perfect conditions- but nothing was going to come in the way of our intended ride out.

Here's what we saw for the day's start. It did not veer from that much. And as I mentioned on my farm blog- we tried to clothe ourselves appropriately- but we trotted briskly in more ways than one.

Wymans Falls Road is a typical dirt back road - very shady, following the brook. It "dead-ends" into a trail and then turns back into a road as it comes down the other side of the mountain in Cavendish.

Since we saved all that travel time- arriving by horse taxi.. we had more time for exploration. We trotted down nearly every trail, left and right, to see where it went -- this way we can make up new plans for trips.

Passed several old cellar holes- evidence of long ago homes and cabins along the route. After I have ridden a route- I like to get on-line and read more of the history of the area we've just traversed.. kind of fun.

Eventually, the trail brought us out into fields and pastures-- This is where we get the chance to really view the color...

If the sun had been out- this would have been a dazzling sight. Still pretty for a bad leaf year.

We look back from where we came- You don't notice the color when you are in the midst of it.

Another touristy photo.

Pasture path turns into the
traditional maple lined Vermont country lane.

The valley between these two mountains is where we are headed - called 'The Gulf" by locals.

There are many more photo's on the farm blog.
Much to see, all new territory for me and lots of descriptions of sights and places.

It's getting chilly- and we try like turtles to get down into our jackets more. I take turns holding the reins with one hand, while the other is in my pocket warming. We briefly discuss cutting the trip short-- but -- in the end.. we added a long side trip.

Trotting down this side hill lane out onto Route 103- we cross over onto Cavendish Road which will bring us into the Baltimore section of Chester, by way of Dean Brook Road - all back country dirt roads parallelling beautiful brooks and old farm land. Once we reached the end of Dean Brook Road- Zoe and I conferenced again- and decided... since our climb to the top of Hawk's Mountain earlier this year, we did say we wanted to return in the fall. Here we are- just around the corner (sort of) from the entrance to the mountain trail. So off we canter off and up the steep Hawk's Mountain trail-

The white buildings in the bottom right corner is where we'll be headed next. We will trot by those on the way home.

That might be New Hampshire over there but I am not too sure of my compass directions.

You can see rain on my camera lens. This was intermittent throughout the trip.

Looking at our watches - we really need to jet home now. You'll read about my adventuresome tricks on the trek down the mountain trail on the farm blog :)

Wouldn't you know it-- here's the sun only 2 miles from home... and here we searched for it all day !

This was a fabulous trip - and we have learned so many new routes and passages for more adventure.. can't wait !!

Enjoy ~

Monday, October 12, 2009

Watchful Eyes from Heaven

As you all know, my sweet Daddy (Roy Jackson Ross) passed away this May 2009 and I posted the last pic taken of him and me several months ago in my dedication post to him. Today, while going through computer files, I found this photo and wanted to share with my Curly friends. It wasn't too long after we brought Warrior's Custer Dun ("Custer") home to East Texas from Stag Creek Farm a few years back. In the background, you'll see the watchful eye of my sweet Daddy standing against the fence, ready to coach me (or come to my rescue!). I miss him everyday, but I know that he is still guiding me, encouraging me on, looking down on me daily.

Curly love to all!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Colors in New England

Fall colors are everywhere you look in Maine right now. I was dying to get out for a ride on AhD, but we had wood to cut up and store in the shed first - five hours worth. Finally, with the sun waning and the wind blowing, we got out on a BEAUTIFUL ride! Out back on Jason's loop, I noticed many of the trees are yellow instead of red this year. But, then I made a great discovery! Jason made a new trail through the woods!It was littered with red maple leaves making a beautiful carpet. Since AhD has not been out in two weeks, the air was crisp, the wind was blowing....I figured I might be in for an "interesting" ride from an overly naughty guy. So, I before I started the ride, we did a small refresher in giving to pressure and staying out of my space. I also did not allow AhD to snatch one blade of grass or one leaf on this ride (I have been reading how this has helped the Denise/Reese team), and I kept my seat and cues as relaxed as I could. All of these things combined to work wonders, and we had a spectacular time out in the crisp fall air!Just look at the color in these leaves I found up off Back Street! AhD was FULL of vigor, and when we weren't bushwacking he walked so fast that he seemed to be gliding. He also gaited quite a bit, which was also awesome.I enjoyed this ride very much. I know Betsy and Zoe went out for a trail ride into new territory today, and I can't wait to hear about it. Harold, best wishes out to you to be back in the saddle soon!