Showing posts from 2017

In which we ride and the sky is blue and The Mountain Is Out at last!

Yesterday the sky was blue, and Swamplanders did everything short of declaring a regional holiday.

Du and Hana met us at the trailhead, and we headed out for a quick 7-mile loop.  Freya was apparently playing "Circus Animals" in the pasture last week, and came in with swelling in her legs, so she's sidelined for a bit.

Hana doesn't mind.

She may be retired from endurance competition, but Hana still gets regular exercise as a lesson pony, so she's in fine condition for trails.

Fee was happy to be out with her friend.

The trails are still too soggy for horses or bicycles, but there are plenty of roads to ride.

Seven miles.  Not too hot, not too cold, and not very many bugs (yet).  A nice ride with my friend!
And when we got to the meadow near the trailhead:

It's not easy to see Mount Rainier in the photo above.  It's a little more obvious in the photo below:

I found an interesting and not-entirely-accurate description of what we mean when we say "The …

In which Haiku Farm welcomes a new fully-weaponized resident

It's been a bonus year for rats.
Last summer was a blissful mix of sunshine and occasional rain, not too hot, not too cold, and LOTS of grass and weed seeds to fill the bellies of hungry rats and their hungry offspring.
Then came winter:  an atypically cold one.  Lots of frozen days.  Not much unfrozen water available, and even less food for hungry rats.
Except, of course, in the barn.
The barn was full of food, shelter, and water for the chickens, the goats, the horse...and the rats.

The Ratinator made a dent.  But for every rat in the trap, there were ten more rats in the barn, and most of those were pregnant.  Incidentally, if you Google "Ratinator" you can find the link to the Ratinator (TM): Human Live Trap.  Don't buy from people who trap people!
Jim's pellet gun was about as successful as the trap:  good for a few hours of rat-plinking entertainment.
Poison on a place like ours is too risky--the floofs are curious, food-motivated, and they can fit into teeny …

In which I've been riding some, but the Ride Season is starting slowly

Some years just don't go according to Plan.

My plan for bringing Fiddle back to competitions was to do an "easy" Limited Distance ride--25 or 30 miles--at Coyote Ride in March.

If that went well, we'd try a 50-miler at the April Daze ride next weekend.

All has not gone well (understatement):

First, Coyote Ridge got cancelled because the winter was so wet that their trails were still soggy and they feared the trucks would fall into a sinkhole.

Then, April Daze got cancelled because there will be military maneuvers (with HELICOPTERS!) on the trail over the weekend.

Then Coyote Ridge got rescheduled to late April in the April Daze slot...but then, my little red truck ate a bunch of money and died, leaving me without a bunch of money and without a commuter vehicle.

Are we done now?  Because I really want to ride!
Fortunately for me, the Very Large Truck (aka "the Cookie Monster")  is still operational.  As a commuter vehicle, it leaves a lot to be desired, and …

In which Foxie Loxie goes (a little bit) faster and Roo does too!

Foxie Loxie is never going to be the world's fastest agility dog.

In an earlier post, I shared some of the smallest dog's angst about agility:  the large, unfamiliar space, the loud barking from the other side of the large space (another class meets at the same time as our "Teacup Agility", but they are much bigger...and louder) and the overall newness of everything.

All this anxiety resulted in a slow, shut-down dog.  The video of his "Slo-Jam" course is HERE.

If he were a horse behaving this way, we'd call his gaits "sticky."  

I don't mean to imply that Fox hasn't learned anything, because the opposite is true:  he has made HUGE progress.  He has skills, he has focus, he has impulse control.  He didn't have any of that before.

In fact, I was able to teach this:  "On command, run to the edge of the kitchen floor, sit down and wait without barking until I bring you a carrot."  He loves carrots (all the Haiku Farm dogs lo…

In which a call for help is made and answered and there's another call

My parents raised me to follow their lead as "pillars of the community."

I can't help but answer.

So there we were, no foolin', on the first of April in the pouring rain, with tools and skills and friends and stuff.

And off we went, over the beaver dam, up the hill to the t-junction with the red trail (left) and the white trail (right).  Patty and Jason and Du took the red, and Jim and I headed out the white trail.

Jim and I learned many years ago (the hard way) not to wear work boots to trail parties in the Swampland in April.  We wear tall rubber barn boots instead.

This early in the Spring, the invading brush is almost all thorny.  I didn't get a good picture of the wild rose vines rosa acicularis, also known as "prickly wild rose."  They grow knee-high and grab your clothes and you need sharp tools to cut them down at ground level.

I did …

In which bad things happened elsewhere, and people are talking about it

There was an incident at a ride in Texas, and some horses died. That's bad.

The official word from AERC:
"...[an] incident happened at the Shanghai Trails Ride in Texas, and three horses are deceased after a breakout from a hot wire-type enclosure at the ride.  The AERC Board is aware of the incident and will have their next scheduled meeting on April 10 (by phone).  If you wish to make any comments to the board, please do so by the "Send an email to AERC Directors link on the AERC Board Page: "

From the safe distance of a few time zones, I see several issues:

The hot-wire fence problem.  I've written about my (bad) experience with hot wire HERE.  I know people who have used hot wire fences at rides for yonks and there were no problems with their horses, ever.  I consider those people lucky.More than one horse was enclosed in a single pen.  Some reports say as many as 13 horses in a single enclosure, but that number…

In which Spring isn't springing very quickly (but we ride anyhow)

It's a good thing I have raingear.

At this time last year (according to my Timehop app), the grass was sprouting hopefully, the trees were flowering, and all the world was happy.

This year, the cold clammy climate seems to have moved in to stay.  There are 9 month old babies visiting my library who have NEVER seen a sunny weekend.

But, you know about endurance riders: we are a special kind of crazy.  And I have all that raingear, after all.

So of course, I ride.

When we were walking up a steep hill the other day, the water sounds were everywhere.  In the video (below) it sounds like hissing.

That's the noise of the entire hillside (camera right) shedding water downhill.  Around :50 you can see the creek running through a culvert, but most of the water is unchanneled.

The trails are still closed because trotting feet + muddy trails = completely destroyed trails.  The armored logging roads are built to keep fully-loaded log trucks from sinking into the mud, so they are fine fo…

In which we ride in the rain and have a Sensible Misadventure

I know I've promised not to complain about weather that doesn't need to be shoveled,  but seriously: ENOUGH WITH THE WINTER, ALREADY.

Fiddle and I went out solo today despite the rain.  I have good raingear, and we really need some time together on the trail, moving out at Dragon Speed instead of Baby Horse speed.

The spring plants are way behind the usual schedule.  There are very few budding leaves, and no flowers at all, except a few Swamp Tulips.

It was while trying to take a slightly better picture of the Lysichiton americanus that Fiddle and I went slightly askew.

As usual, I was trying to steady the camera (phone) with both hands, so I dropped the reins and took off my gloves and poked and prodded at the phone to get the telephoto to engage.

Dropping reins is normal for us.  That doesn't make it a Good Idea.  Don't try this at home!

I reckoned without Fee's itchy face.

She's finally starting to shed ("It's still winter in Canada!" she say…

In which I remember some good old times at an unexpected place

I've written before about the HUGE used tack sale in Monroe.

The sale is a huge wintertime social occasion for horse people in our area.  It doesn't matter if I stand in line with a large group, or wander in late with just one friend, I'm guaranteed to meet up with people I know.

Plus, of course, there's All. That. Tack!

There are always the weird/laughable items.

Sometimes you could find the same item, brand new, for a better price, online.  But sometimes it's possible to find something amazing.
Like this:

The little purple map pocket (above) might not seem amazing to most people, even at the super-cheap price of $1.

For me, however, a dollar purchased more than just a ditty bag.  You can't really read the logo on the front anymore, but it says "Bully Wully I & II"...

...and it was the finisher's prize at the very first endurance event I ever attended.  My ride partner and I did the 14-mile novice distance and figured that we had Gone Far.

I w…

In which Du and Freya have an adventure and it's not terrible

Time to check in with Duana and Freya!

What have you been working on lately?  For the past several months, my focus has been dressage work.  In part because the weather has been so wintery, but mostly because I really needed more skills and confidence before getting out on the trails. 

What seems easy with this horse? What seems to be harder than it should be with this horse? Neither of those questions particularly resonate for me as I didn’t have any really good expectations, having never worked with or owned a young horse.  My community has grown immensely and I’ve found lots of great friends through the process who struggle with similar learning curves and confident related challenges.  
I think for me the hardest part really is my personal confidence and lack of experience.  I’m learning to forgive myself and also to ask for help even if it seems like I’m doing so over and over.   Since I have the gift of a fantastic trainer/mentor/confidant (now two with John) and a strong community of…