Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Ray and I started the Tradition of A Red Dress Christmas 3 years ago, when I bought this beautiful, short, red dress. Completely impractical for a Wisconsin Winter, but no one has ever accused me of being practical. My dad took one look at the dress and said "What the Hell you going to do with that?" Anyone who knows my father, knows how... 'excited' he can get and, being an only child, I love to push his buttons. I told him I was going to take my Christmas pictures with Ray in that dress (not really being serious) and he told me I couldn't do that. Well, that was enough for me!
Every year now, I try to find that perfect red dress and no matter how cold it is, I go out with my horse and make a scene! :)
Happy Holidays everyone!
Friday, December 11, 2009
My goal is to ride all 50 states, but when I got the opportunity to ride in Jamaica, I had to take it!
They picked us up from our Resort (http://www.alfreds.com/) and drove us to the Rhodes Hall Plantation (http://www.rhodeshallplantation.net/). The Plantation is beautifully manicured and you feel as if you are walking in a National Geographic Magazine.
We got into the ‘pasture’ (and I use that term loosely) to saddle up and I’ll be honest, some of the horses looked shocking. Skin and Bones and it was hard looking at them. Thankfully, the horses that they gave us to ride looked healthy.
I am one of “Those Girls” when it comes to riding. I hate wearing helmets. Call me vain, call me conceited, I don’t care what you call me, I don’t like wearing them. I realize they save a lot of lives. I understand a lot of people find it stupid NOT to wear them; however, this cowgirl is just not a fan. If you wear helmets, I commend you. Unlike me, your head will not be smashed like a pumpkin if you fall off. I have even fractured my skull and yet I still don’t like wearing them. When I ride, I want to feel free and a helmet restricts that for me. However, before I get off my soapbox, I truly feel anyone under the age of 18 should have to wear one.
Ok, so I completely digressed and I apologize, however I had to say all of that because, as I’m sure you have figured out, they made me wear a helmet. At first, I was really offended by this, until, that is, they pulled out my horse wearing an ENGLISH SADDLE riding IN THE MOUNTAINS and his name you ask? BIG SURPRISE! So, I hoped on and made the mistake of asking, “Why is his name Big Surprise?” The Jamaican man LAUGHED at me and said “Oh you’ll see.” At this point, I’m tightening up my helmet and pulling at his mane to make sure the hair follicles are strong, just in case I need to hold on.
Off we go. The Mountain trail was pretty. It actually reminded me a lot of some of the trails I have been on in Wisconsin. The guides called it Ferngulley and I guess I could see the resemblance. They pointed out all of the fruit trees they had and were genuinely proud of their country.
We rode on the beach and the sea is just stunning. A beautiful turquoise color that is crystal clear! The brought us to a swamp and told us it was an alligator pond, but I wasn’t buying that. I found out later, they actually were being serious… Oops!
We go back and at this point, I think we are finished. They take the saddles off the horses and we’re ready to walk back when they ask if we want to go swimming.
“Nah, we can swim back at the resort” I told him.
“Wait, what? Swim with Horses?”
Ok, well, I’m in! I can’t even get Ray to look at water, much less swim in it! They put a bareback pad on and grabbed our reins and off to the water, which also happened to be a Mineral Spring with healing powers. The horses walked and as we got deeper and deeper they started to suddenly SWIM! Our guide told us to grab on to the mane and just “Let go”. I floated on top of the water, holding on to Big Surprises mane and I let go of everything. I let go of holding on to the horse with my legs, I let go of my doubts and fears and I let go of beating myself up over Him….
Friday, November 27, 2009
I called to Ray and brought him in to brush him up and the thought crossed my mind. Why not bridleless? F*** it! So we did. I took his halter and crossed the lead rope to make reins and I rode that way. All of my cares went away and all of my focus went on what I was doing! It was such a powerful experience. And Ray was marvelous, however, without having a bit in his mouth, he felt at liberty to eat when he felt like it. So, we took a lot of pit stops to grab a mouthful of stringy grass and it made me happy because he was.
I called Ray from the pasture, and of course, he came running. I groomed him over, put the bridle in his mouth and off we went into the fields. As you already know, I love riding Ray bareback. I feel like we become closer and have a stronger bond. Nothing is in between us. We were riding along just fine, and Ray, of course was a pro. We were coming up on some thick grass and I barely remember hearing a noise, when that darn black cat, that stalked us before, came out of nowhere and hissed at us like a cougar! Well, Geez, my heart stopped so you can only imagine what Ray did! He went up on his hind legs and I didn’t have a chance… Down I went. Luckily, my trusty stead didn’t go too far. Once I fell off, he stopped and kind of looked at me like, “I’m not sure why you are on the ground, but I didn’t do it! And if I did, I didn’t mean too!” I got up, dusted myself off and checked him out to make sure he was ok. Unfortunately, I haven’t mastered the art of getting on bareback without a stool, so I did the walk of shame home with a bruised butt and a bruised ego.
Long Beach, Washington has probably been my favorite ride without Ray. (http://skippersequestrian.tripod.com/) It wasn’t exciting as far as things we saw, but the experience was incredible.
Again, it was just Christine and I and the wrangler, who was just amazing. The ocean was so loud, it sounded as if a freight train was coming through. My horses’ name was Spruce and we did A LOT of loping! Running on the beach was dreamlike, only something I ever saw on movies. The horses would run and we’d have to stop after awhile because we were laughing so much! You know how you get when you are doing something really fun and it and just makes you happy? For someone who had never been on a horse before, Christine proved to be a natural! And did it all in Sandals… :)
We drove to Pacific City to ride on Oregon’s Pacific Coast at sunset. We got a real cheap Motel Room and rode with Oregon Beach Rides (http://www.oregonbeachrides.com/index.html). Luckily, Christine and I were the only two riding with the two guides. I got a horse named Cola, which at the time was poetic justice since I had just given up Diet Coke… (Key words there are: at the time, as I sip on my Diet CokeJ).
We rode in the woods for a while. A lot of evergreen trees and trees that had moss growing on them; I almost felt as if we were riding in the Rainforest a few times. The ground also had a carpet of green moss that looked extremely spongy. We stopped every so often and there were huckleberry bushes and, it was our luck that they were in season. Huckleberries look a lot like blueberries and taste like them as well; however they have a hint and aftertaste of apple. At least they did to me.
The beach and riding in the sand, and actually we even got the horse’s hooves wet, was really cool for me. The sand was sugar white and we even saw seals hanging out and playing in the water. As they sun started to go down we were able to trot and even lope for awhile. The sunset was breathtaking and the sound of the crashing waves of the ocean was awe-inspiring.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I shined Ray up a bit and put the Bridle in his mouth and started to walk him out of the barn.
‘Pa’ comes out and says “Where you goin’?”
“We’re going to ride in the field again” I said.
“Well, aren’t you forgetting something?”
I paused for a second, looked Ray over then myself and said “No, I don’t think so”.
‘Pa’ then said “Well, aren’t you going to put a saddle on that crazy Arab?”
I laughed and grinned “Nah, he’ll be fine”
“Okay, well, I’ll get the 4-wheeler ready in case you need me. Want me to feed him when he comes back before I get ya?”
“Sure, that sounds great” I told him.
As I explained last time, Ray got a lot taller on me, so I had to grab the mounting block. It wasn’t pretty getting on him, but I struggled up and got comfortable. I gave Ray a gentle ‘click’ and off we were.
The nice thing about riding bareback is you get to feel, wholeheartedly, what your horse underneath you is doing. Every step, every tail swish, you feel it until it becomes a part of you. Every time he moves a muscle, it’s as if where you connect becomes one. His muscles become yours. Until, quite literally, the two of you unite.
We had an amazing ride despite a black cat that started stalking us. I saw it’s green eyes hunting us, and while I’m not usually one to recoil from a challenge, I thought it best not to fight this one today. We stopped as the sun started to go down just underneath the trees. It was so bright I couldn’t look directly at it, but I leaned down and hugged Ray’s neck. At this moment, I was happy. True happiness is so rarely felt, but this one of those occasions.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Ray, as you know, is my 6 year old Black Arabian. I got him when he was 2 and I wonder how I ever lived without him. Despite everything in the past 4 years, Ray has always been my constant. In January, he hurt himself. He cut his hock real bad and to this day, I’m dealing with it. I have not ridden him since last year about this time, simply because I have been babying him, so I thought today might be a good day.
I saddled him up and he stood like a champ. Despite having a year off, he knew what to do. We went into the yard and I saddled up. Little did I realize how much bigger Ray had gotten on me. Last year he was a measly 14.3 hands and now he had sprouted up to be an impressive 16 hands. As I struggled to get my 5 foot 2 leg up in the stirrup, I paused to look at him. Wow, he really has grown up. He has such a presence about him now. Quite stunning how his black coat shines in the sun and his beautiful espresso eyes glimmer. I could go on for hours, but I’ll save that for a different time.
We rode around the hay field on the property. Not an exciting ride to the Average Joe, but to me, this was one of the best rides I’ve ever been on because it was with my boy! It was almost as if he didn’t forget a thing. Nothing seemed to bother him. It could be that I wasn’t uptight, so then he wasn’t. I’m not really sure.
As we rode in the open field, I could feel Ray getting excited and wanting to go. He has so much heart and as much as I wanted to let him go, with his leg, I just couldn’t. I made him walk and it broke me as much as it did him. Nothing is better than letting him go and letting the wind whip through his mane and my hair. At that point, we are one, or at least as close to one as possible. The wind picked up and it started teasing him with a game of tag. We’d have to forfeit this game…
Monday, September 14, 2009
September 13, 2009: Maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed. Maybe they just need to run free till they find someone just as wild to run with them.
Friday, September 11, 2009
My horse was a 7 year old wild mustang that was caught when he was 2 ½. His whole herd was caught by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), but they couldn’t catch him. So, the BLM called a guy named White Snake. Took him 3 days, but he caught him. He trained him and fed him Necco wafers as treats, which is how he got his name. Except everyone got confused, so it just became Echo. He was a spirited horse, which is why I got him. His spirit, however, still didn’t compare to Ray’s, even if he was a true wild mustang. Maybe it’s because he didn’t truly belong to anyone except the land which he wasn’t allowed to roam free anymore. But he was treated well and fed well at this ranch, so I suppose he was one of the lucky ones.
Since we were in the foothills of the mountains at sunset, this was a walking trail; didn’t want to disturb those rattlers in the brush and around the cactus. So, we rode around the trails just listening to the clip clop of the horse shoes on the stone path and our guide.
Our guide, let me just tell you, was amazing. Ian was a Cowboy with the theory of “keep our feed bills high and our vet bills low.” He was a ‘horseshoer’ who never stayed in one spot for more than one year. He had some incredible stories of him and his buddy running with wild mustangs in Nevada. He also told a lot of bullshit stories that the other tourists were eating up.
Right at sunset we stopped on the ridge and watched the sun go down under the mountains. The sky turned a cotton-candy pink and it was gone. The trip home was pretty quiet. I think everyone just wanted to savor the experience.
I got off Echo, gave him a carrot, a pat and said goodbye.
After Kansas, we drove an hour to Honey Creek, Missouri. At this point, I have been up since 4:00 and I can’t believe I’m getting State #6 done!
Brenda and Alex were already on the trail and we were going to meet up with them. The trails here were steep hills with rocks and mud. The horses really had to pay attention to where they were walking. The trees covered the trail and deer were hidden among them. Every once in a while we’d come upon a farmer’s field of soy beans and I had such an urge to take off galloping in the open.
We met up with Alex and Brenda halfway through. The two of them are a modern day Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Brenda is one for living in the moment while Alex is cautious. Alex spoke his broken English so fast; I couldn’t understand a word he was saying half the time. However, they have a love story that most people would be envious of, including me. They met at a boarding barn through their horses. When they fell in love, neither one spoke the other’s language so they taught each other.
It can be difficult trying to find places to ride in other states, but I finally managed to find a place called Fort Leavenworth. Okay, perfect. It probably should have been a clue when Linda looked at me a little funny but hindsight is 20/20.
When we got there and the place was surrounded by a huge fence with spikes on top of the posts. Security to get into this place was amazing! Turns out, this place is a PRISION! Who knew?! I must have missed that in History Class…
We found where we were to ride and there were a bunch of other people riding as well. Mostly Hunter/Jumpers. One lady was jumping over a log with her horse and she fell off and the horse psychotically ran away. It didn’t help that the horse had shoes on and it was attempting to run on concrete. The lady just stands up and calmly walks in the direction her horse went. We call that “Cowgirl up”. It takes a special breed of people to become a hunter/jumper. I do not mean that with any disrespect whatsoever. I mean it in quite the opposite way.
We saddled up and got on the trails. Apparently, it had rained the night prior, so the trails were awful. A lot of mud puddles and large rocks, and the mosquito’s were having Thanksgiving dinner on our backs. It always happens that I put fly spray on the horses and forget about myself, at which point I am just a magnet. I am asking for the mosquito’s to eat me. “Don’t eat my horse; I enjoy getting my blood sucked.” The worst part isn’t even the fact that they are taking my blood; I could care less about that. It’s the fact that they leave little bumps that itch like crazy!!!!!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The truth of the matter was they didn’t really grow apart as far as Jane had thought. I showed Jane some of the ways I worked with Ray and it seemed to click with them. Respect should be mutual between the horse and the rider, most definitely not lopsided. By the time she left, Rio wasn’t walking all over her, Jane lounged and rode Rio safely and got him into the trailer all by herself. Yay!
Even Paradise had it’s tree of knowledge. The object we had to worry about was a tree the locals called a Locust Tree. The trees had thorns or spines on them that could be about 3 inches long. The branches, that were full of those thorns, would hang over the trails. It’s not so much that they were painful, because believe me, they were, but they are ‘poisonous’ in a way. Most people who were scratched by a thorn would get a big welt and it swell real bad. I must have been one of the lucky ones not to be effected by that tree. My scratch did not swell or cause a welt.
Trail Riding with Linda is a lot like Riding with Miss Daisy, I bet. We are going along and suddenly the trail stops. Linda had decided to make her own trail and we got lost. Not lost to the point of “OMG we are lost!!!!!” but we defiantly were not on the trail. The horses didn’t seem to mind too much and the terrain wasn’t that bad, so we eventually found are way back to the trail and continued on our way.
The Fort is a Tack and Western Store in Lincoln. Store probably isn’t an accurate word… a better word might be… huge? Millions of boots, billions of jeans! Everything you could possibly need or imagine was here. Everything, except a pair of rhinestone jeans that made my ass look fabulous.
That night Linda, Tom and I had dinner at a Mexican Restaurant with their horse friends, Jane (Rio’s owner), Doug, Brenda and Alex. We talked horse and Brenda mentioned that Missouri was not that far away. We couldn’t…. Could we?
Nebraska, like Illinois, is one of those states that you have to PAY to get in. They should be paying us to get into it, not the other way around. It’s not a lot of money, $2.00 I think, but it’s the principle of it.
Rio was my trusty steed for the rest of the week. I really liked this horse, although some might wonder why. He was gangly and had a crazy, thick mane; he was sort of mahogany in color with milk chocolate eyes. But he was a sweet boy and an excellent ride and reminded me of a combination of both of my boys. Him and his owner, Jane had sort of grown apart in the past year. She was having some issues with him and I’m sure he with her. Jane graciously let me use Rio to get more time on him.
Nebraska is full of wild sunflowers. You see them everywhere you go and in large, beautiful fields. It’s almost like a sea of yellow and grasshoppers are all over the place.
We rode around this big pond first. The pond had sand around it complete with big, tall trees. There was even a small snake that looked like a stick on the trail. Linda believed it to be a stick even after I said it was a snake, until the stick moved. Snake! I love being right! :)
When we took the trails in the woods, I was amazed at how narrow and windy they were and the horses were fabulous! We met up with flock of turkeys, who were as un-phased by us as the horses were of them; and, we were blessed to see a Momma Doe with her Bambi Fawn.
We came upon one of the rivers and let the horses get a drink. Rio is not a fan of water or mud or getting his feet wet so, it took some convincing to get him to cross the river. The part we crossed was only about 4 feet wide and a couple inches deep. We took our time, however, and I tried not to make it a scary thing. Patience is your greatest skill when it comes to horses.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I want to let you in on a little secret. White, linoleum bathroom floors are a long, black haired girl’s worst nightmare… Our hair is everywhere to begin with. It is the tattletale of flooring. When I have a place of my own, the floor will be BLACK! Or at least darker…
With this being my 3rd state to ride in, as I got ready, I decided “responsible panty day”. No thong, this had to be taken seriously. I couldn’t be worrying about my thong sticking out, or it getting stuck up too far and having to ‘take care of it’. So, I put on my pink paisley with white lace trim. As I slipped them on, I realized why I don’t usually wear this particular undergarment. But still it was “responsible panty day”.
This day, we were riding at Linda’s friend Resa’s place. Resa was a wonderful woman with a golden heart. Food equals love with her, so nothing is hungry at her place. She offered her horse, Twister, for me to ride, but I quickly discovered how she got her name, and it wasn’t the twist on her face. Trying to lounge her and she bucked and reared like I haven’t seen since my early years with Ray. She offered me a gelding, Star which I swiftly accepted.
Our trusty escort on the trail was GW, a golden retriever who was named after our former president. I never got a chance to ask if that was a joke or just hardcore because they said W in true southern fashion that I had to control myself from laughing.
Resa’s property was absolutely beautiful! Nothing from what I expected of Iowa. Iowa, to me, was flat and corn. Don’t get me wrong, it had corn, but it was far from being flat. There was a small stream that went through and it reminded me a lot of home. Big, beautiful walnut trees towered the trails and provided a canopy from the sun. The air smelled of sweet grass and I kept taking big breaths to fill my lungs with the sugary scent.
My horse was a good boy and only bucked once. Not a big buck, but one big enough to make you think about it for a bit. Resa, Linda and I enjoyed chatting throughout the ride. Resa has an accent that reminded me a lot of Paula Dean. Everything is real Looong in her language. Made me smile thinking back at home, we wouldn’t have time to talk to her.
After the ride, we had a picnic style lunch of make-your-own sandwiches, with fresh picked tomatoes. Mmmmm….. It was so good.
I also got to meet the rest of the ‘family’ on the farm. As I said before, food=love for Resa. There was the biggest, fattest, chubbiest cat I had ever seen, and how he jumped up on that chair is beyond me. He probably has not moved from that chair in 2 years. That cat was LOVED at Resa’s.
Time to hit the road. Barely in the next town is when I saw the true Wisconsinite, driving his Harley down the highway in full leathers. Big ole’ flag attached to the back of his bike and, I shit you not, a dog riding bitch. I probably had to do about 7 double takes before I realized this poor dog was real… He too, was in full leathers just like his counterpart, but the dog had doggy goggles on and a black leather baseball cap.
I was in the middle of Wisconsin when the truck driver blew me a kiss from his cab. What does it mean if a truck driver blows you a kiss? Is it good luck, since they are on the road all the time? Or is it bad luck, because, well, let’s face it, truck drivers can be creepy?
I took a deep breath when I got to Iowa. The boring state… “I could do this!” I kept telling myself. I got into Cascade, IA and up ahead is an eagle soaring ahead as if he was leading the way. I’ve got this thing for Eagles. I find whenever I see one, usually luck follows me.
Iowa did not bother me one bit driving through. The main things about Iowa is: 1) The speed limit is 70 (of course I went 80) 2) There is no shortage of country music on the radio 3) There is corn in beautiful, perfect rows EVERYWHERE 4) Almost as abundant as the corn, are herds of Black Angus 5) Equally as plentiful are the sunflowers in the ditches and 6) Everyone thinks YOU have an accent!
The Ipod never failed me. Although about an hour left of the trip I got stuck on this one song by Julie Roberts “Break Down Here”.
God help me keep me movin somehow
Don't let me start wishin I was with him now