Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 20, 2009: Riding Bareback: Morrison, WI: State #1

Ray did so well the day before I decided to take him out in the field again but this time I was going to ride him bareback. Bareback riding is something I am just not accustomed to, but yet it fascinates me. Since Ray really can’t run right now, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for me to get use to riding this way.

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

September 19, 2009: Morrison, Wisconsin: State #1

It turned out to be a beautiful day today, so when I got done with work, I went to the barn to see Ray. There’s something about being at work on a Saturday knowing that you can see the man you love right after you get done.

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.

My cousin’s wedding was yesterday. Teryn and Brent finally made it official and I am so happy for them. When you are 24 and single and you go to someone’s wedding, you start to get that hot flash, panicky feeling like your clock is ticking. People at the wedding ask you where your date is and you say “he’s at the barn.” They wonder if he is going to show up later, at which point how do you explain that he’s a horse and you were just being cute? Ray, aka Mr. Fabulous, is the perfect man. He’s sweet, good looking, doesn’t talk back, LISTENS. If you get into a fight, you can stick him in his stall or back in the pasture and walk away and when you come back, you both have forgotten what you were fighting about and he’s actually happy to see you. He gives you his entire heart and expects nothing in return. I truly believe this is why most horse women are single. You have a perfect relationship with your horse and you automatically assume it should be this way with a ‘real man’. Ladies, it usually doesn’t work this way. And, we have no one to blame but ourselves. There is a huge difference between compromising with a partner and settling for a partner. Never settle. At least for anything less than butterflies. And, make sure he loves horses. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

June 7, 2009: Cape Cave, AZ: State #2

This is a state and a ride that I did in June before this blog started. The Sunset Trail Ride in the Foothills of the Mountains at Cape Cave, Arizona.

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.

September 5, 2009: Honey Creek, MO: State #6

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.

September 5, 2009: Fort Leavenworth, KS: State #5

I am not a morning person. I like the concept of morning, but to actually get out of bed is usually a struggle. And, if I do have to get up early, the first thing I need is a Diet Coke. Diet Coke is probably the antidote for mornings. On this morning, I had to get up at… wait for the drum roll… Drum roll please… 4:00 a.m. Now let me just explain, 4:00 usually only exists once in my day and not being a morning person, this was an effort.

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

September 4, 2009: The Language of Friendship is Not Words But Meanings

Jane came over this night to work with Rio and I. As I said before, they had started to grow apart and Jane didn’t seem to know what to do. Sometimes an outsider coming in not really knowing either party can help. I was just that outsider. There are all sorts of training methods and EVERYONE has the RIGHT way, however, I am NOT about to say what I do is right for everyone, but it seemed to work for Rio and Jane.

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!

September 4, 2009: The Secret Place, Iowa: State #3

Friday was a beautiful day and we took advantage of it by going to “The Secret Place” in Iowa. “The Secret Place” was a beautiful sanctuary almost, with a slightly large lake and weeping willows cascading around it. Wild flowers decorated the shores and there were fields surrounding with trails cut into the wild grasses.

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.

September 3, 2009: The Best Thing You Can Do When It's Raining, Is To Let It Rain

This was the day of rain. Hardcore, Thunderstorm, can’t hardly see, Rain. Not a good day for horses or horseback riding. However, if you are trying to find the silver lining, it’s a PERFECT day for SHOPPING! And that is what we did. We drove out to Lincoln, NE and found the true, small town USA gas pump. I felt like I was in Mayberry and I half expected to see Barney Fife arresting some old lady for jaywalking.

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?

September 2, 2009: Two Rivers, Nebraska: State #4

It was suppose to rain on this day, but apparently luck was on my side and it did not. We were able to go to Two Rivers, Nebraska. State #4!

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

September 1, 2009: Riding in Iowa: State #3

My wonderful friends, Linda, Tom, Tigger, Dunkin and Annabell had been my wonderful and gracious hosts during my time there. Tuesday morning, I got up late and visited Linda while she took care of Tigger. Tigger has this toy that looks like a giant, green plastic penis. It is amazing watch him work this thing to get the treats out. He really knows how to work his toy.

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.

August 31, 2009 Iowa/Nebraska Trip

The first day of my trip to Iowa/Nebraska. Basically, the day of traveling. I got a late start (did we expect anything less?) and hit the road at about 11. Everyone told me “Iowa is the most boring state to drive through, hope you have enough songs on your Ipod.” Ok, Ipod packed with good songs, check. Saddle packed, check. Packing in general (of course I waited until the last minute), check.

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