Showing posts from March, 2011

In which it takes a village to write (and illustrate) an article

In my copious spare time, I write. 
I write this blog, obviously, and in November each year I write a 50,000+ word novel just for "fun" (hey, it rains a lot in November--"fun" is scarce on the ground then!) and I also write articles for library magazines and Endurance News and whatever else seems interesting.
My latest writing production just got published online as a PDF file:  it's an article about Standardbreds (of course) in endurance (of course).
But I didn't do it alone!
Blog reader Dom from the Collection of Madcap Escapades blog, her friend Erin from the Now That's a Trot! blog, Monica from the Horsebytes blog, and several riders and photographers from the Pacific Northwest Endurance Rides contributed material for the article.  (Not all the photos and quotes were included in the finished article--the editor is queen, and we abide by her decisions!) 
So:  thanks for the help, y'all! 
You can view the entire AERC EXTRA edition pdf online here.

In which I share all the other goofy photos and stuff from Home on the Range

Luna likes road trips. Road trips are where you gets to be on the couch (truck seat) for lots of hours, and sometimes they give you french fries. And when you get to the place, people say "Oh, what a pretty doggie."

Luna likes being pretty.

Mimsy likes being in the middle of activity. She wants to be a Quad Dog!

Alas, she's afraid of the engine, and the rolling, and the wind. So she sits on the quad when it's parked.
Back in the rig, Jim discovers what happens when you leave an entire box of granulated sugar in the camper for the winter: it turns into a brick. He had to chip sugar out with a screwdriver!

Ryan brought his new standardbred to the ride! Whiskey is going to make a terrific endurance horse.

Ryan did the 25 miler with Whiskey on Saturday, and she did great. Whiskey not only did well on the ride, she had plenty of energy left over to pester Fiddle after the finish line.
I'm sure you can just imagine how popular that was with Miss Grouch Puss!
Whiskey gets t…

In which Fiddle completes her first fifty-miler and is "fit as a fiddle"!

At this ride last year, Fiddle completed the 25-miler, her first distance event, and was convinced that she had gone as far as it was possible to go. This year, I entered her in the 50-miler, her first endurance ride.
There is an eternal debate among riders about the status of Limited Distance rides, which less than 50 miles--usually between 25 and 35, but AERC rules are clear: an endurance ride is 50 miles or longer. I consider events shorter than 50 miles to be good practice for the real thing.
Truthfully, in the back of my mind, I consider everything "practice" because my eventual goal with Fiddle is 100-milers. And if I'm being really truthful, I'll admit that even the 100-mile rides I want to do will be practice for the ride I've wanted to do since I learned that it existed: Tevis.

We aren't nearly ready for Tevis yet, obviously. But at Home on the Range this year, we got some good "practice" at going FAR.

Fee was an absolute MONSTER at the vet-in…

In which we finished Home on the Range, but first: a very quiet word

Although the weather for the LD and 50-mile riders at Home on the Range was quite lovely, a wet,  windy, nasty storm front moved in on the late hours of the 75-mile riders.  Even from a Swamplander's perspective, this weather was the kind that makes you thankful for a roof and a bottle of rum.
However, endurance riders being what they are, a bunch of them went out in it to finish their last loops, and tragedy struck:  rider Naomi Preston and her mare Karlady stumbled into a fence.  The horse spooked, dumped Naomi, and ran off into the rain and dark. 
Many folks were out for hours in the worst weather, trying to find the mare, and at daybreak this morning I saw many more folks throwing saddles on their horses to seek the missing one.  It was too late, however:  Karlady's body was found mid-morning, caught in a fence.  I spoke to the ride vet who had the sad task of filling out the AERC paperwork, and he said that it was unclear if the wire fence was the actual cause of death.  …

In which an obstacle is moved, and there is no crisis on the trail

The recent windstorm knocked a bunch of trees into the roads where we ride.  Most, we can jump over.

However, the only way around this tree was under Patty brought tools to remove it.

In back of me while I'm holding the camera, Sirie is holding onto Shade and Arianna.  You can hear them react when the tree broke...but Fiddle really did just move her head. 

Her feet stayed planted.

Dang, I love riding a Standardbred!

In which the Bad Idea Fairy's meal planning is contemplated

Today we did about 15 miles in 2 hours (moving time), in preparation for the Home On the Range ride next weekend. The actual "gone from the trailer time" was almost 3 hours, because we ran into some obstacles left by a recent windstorm: Patty (pink helmet) is signed up to do the 75 miler with her gelding Shade.  Sirie (blue helmet) is recovering from hip surgery, so she'll do the 25 miler with Arianna.  And Fiddle is as ready as I can make us to start her first 6 days!  Almost 5 days!   Wahoooo!
 For the first time in months we had REAL, SUSTAINED SUNSHINE. 

My body's solar battery was reading "zero charge" yesterday, but a few hours trotting trails this morning brought the meter back up to "happy happy joy-joy"!
 One of the best part of riding with the Fish is the conversations. 

Patty has been riding endurance for yonks (she looks about 13 years old in her Tevis Cougar Rock photo, but then again, she looks about 15 years old now, even tho…

In which Fiddle and I emulate our friend the Grand Old Duke of York

I have an endless repetoire of annoying songs. 

With no provocation whatsoever, I will burst into "If You're Happy and You Know It", the "Hokey Pokey", and "Bunny Foo-Foo." 

My co-workers at the library are always a bit cautious around closing time, because my most effective technique to clear the building by 9pm is to announce that the library is closing in 8 minutes and I will begin singing in 7 minutes.  It's amazing how quickly this threat gets the most sedentary of library patrons out of those comfy chairs and into the parking lot.  The accoustics of the library lobby are outstanding--if I sing out loud in the lobby, they will hear me back in the paperback shelving.

If I'm grumpy, I will sing "All Gods Critters Got a Place in the Choir", which will stick in your head for hours, and you'll find yourself trying to do the hand motions while you brush your teeth before bedtime.

If I'm really, really grouchy, I'll sing …

In which it is a good day to share a story, so I think I will!

I got a call from the local elementary school: "Can you come tell us a story for Saint Patrick's Day?"

You betcha!  I thought y'all might enjoy it also, so here it is:

A Field of Buttercups – an old story, greatly retold
It was a long time ago and far away from here in the green land of Ireland that a girl woke up early on Saint Patrick’s Day morning, jumped from her bed, kissed her mum on the cheek and waved goodbye, for she was off into the countryside to catch herself a leprechaun and make her fortune.

She walked for a very long time, and as she walked she kept her eyes wide open, and she kept her ears sharp up, for she knew that a leprechaun is very small, and very quiet, and very tricky to find.

She walked up hills, and she walked back down them.

She walked across creeks and she walked across bridges, she went around rocks and trees.

And as she walked, she kept her eyes wide open and her ears sharp up.

Finally, in the late afternoon, she heard the sound she’d b…

In which veterinary medicine is found to be superior

I've said for years--in all seriousness--that if I get sick or injured, I don't want to be treated in a hospital. Those places are awful. It's difficult to imagine going in there and actually getting better, you know?

I'd much rather be treated by any of the veterinarians I see at my local vet clinic or at endurance rides. Those docs know how to treat some serious injuries and illnesses...and they don't mess around.

(Notice that when I gashed my hand, I actually did go to a doctor for stitches and a tetanus shot...but my follow-up laser treatment was done with the vet!)

Yup. That's my plan: I'm going to the vet.

Maybe next time I'll get that pirate's hook.

In which I blow my opportunity to get a real pirate hook

I lost my balance on a short ladder the other day, and grabbed at the barn frame to "save" myself from falling.
Ugh.  That's a sharp edge!  I applied a compression bandage and drove myself to the doc for a couple of stitches.
(I went unwillingly, of course.  You expected something else?  But Jim pointed out that I couldn't remember when I got my last tetanus shot, so off I went, grumbling and cussing all the way). Jim met me at the doc's office to hold my (other) hand and take photos. 
He also got some video footage of the stitching...but since that soundtrack includes some very amusing girl-conversation comparing tattoos, I will spare my gentle readers.  However, the doc's advice on tattoo placement is very good.  Ladies: do NOT get a rose over your heart on your 20th birthday unless you want the rose to be "long-stemmed" by your 50th birthday.
The doc said she'd give me a PIRATE'S HOOK instead of a finger splint if I didn't swear through t…

In which Jim visually demonstrates Haiku Farm priorities

Jim created this tag-cloud image of the Haiku Farm blog.

aarenexagobahbarnbellinghambitblogbuildingbuycameracoldcommentscookiedaysdrygetsglovesgroundhaikuheyhomehorsejeanjimkeeplabelslinklotsnostrilpmpompostedpulsepurpleridesidebarsnsomethingstorestuffsuppliestiddlytowntrailtrainvetwarmweatherweekyears created at

He said that he's glad that his name is as significant as the word "barn" and more significant than the word "bah."

He also said he doesn't mind being mentioned less often than "horse" (obviously), but he did think that he should be mentioned at least as often as the word "cookie."

Fiddle sez that if Jim brought more cookies, he would get mentioned more often.

In which we ignore bad weather and ride, and get to the "bliss-out" point

The weather: rain, wind, with forecasts for Lots More of Everything. We went anyhow.

(note nearly-invisible rainbow above Fee's ears!)

Fee was grumpy with lots of horses around us, until about 5 miles from the trailer I asked to get up in front and just let her run. She ran! With no horses around her, the ears went forward, and we galloped up the hill. And trotted. And cantered. And trotted. All on a loose rein.

Sometimes, ya just gotta blow the steam all the way off. She had gone about 3 miles when I got out my camera to take some video.

Sorry you can't read the GPS. It says: "Going Pretty Dang Fast."

Somewhere along that stretch of road, somebody dumped a bucket of bliss on Fiddle and me. When we got back to the trailer, the bad ears were gone!

Life is good.

In which we go up and up and Fiddle is ready for ride season

Look! Up in the sky! What's that huge glowing yellow object surrounded by blueness? We headed up into the hills to find out.
Obstacle in the trail... although it's labelled "FEENAUGHTY" , the big yellow construction equipment was not a problem. Under the yellow thing we go, and up the hill. Sadly, Nikki's horse was taking a bunch of lame steps, so she and her mom headed back to the trailer.
The rest of us headed upwards towards the Hill of Death, aka Mt. Washington. Although the sn*w has melted at home (finally), we gained some significant altitude and ended up on trails covered in the white stuff.
Traction was fine, so we went up. I've been worrying that Fee won't be fit for a fifty (her first!) at the first ride of the season, so this training run was important to me--if she can trot the entire Hill of Death (more than a mile long, 8% grade incline or steeper for most of it) and still have "plenty of horse left", then I'm satisfied that she&…