Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Best Cowgirl Boots

My boots are absolutely the best.
I got them at least 13-15 years ago, when John and I caught the horseback riding bug while on a vacation in Mexico. We started taking lessons, rode friends' horses whenever possible, and started planning for having horses our own. Part of this plan was getting cowboy hats and riding boots.
We went to a western-themed chain store that sold all sorts of cowboy type clothing -- I cannot remember the name of that store to save my soul. But it was there that I bought these boots. I believe the salesperson called them "Ropers." I am not sure of the brand anymore, either. Any sign of it that was either embossed someplace on the leather or stamped on the sole or inside material has long since faded away. I do not remember what I paid for them, but I do remember at the time thinking they were expensive.
We have had our own horses; "The Girls," Zora and Divna, for eleven years now. These are the only riding boots I have ever owned, the only boots I have worn riding.
They have been on horses in Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, and all over Indiana in this country. They have been on foreign horses in Mexico, Italy and Germany.
From the saddle I have watched them disappear under water when trails have been flooded, and one time when Divna decided to lay down in a trail that went through a pond's edge. They are caked with mud each spring with the thaw, and in autumn when rain turns our pasture into a mucky pit. In the heat and dryness of summer they are covered in a film of dust where not protected by blue jeans. Only the laces have been replaced in all this time -- even after all the miles of trails, who-counts-how-many falls from the saddle, and how much distance covered chasing a loose horse....
They have been better to me than I to them. After riding, I come in, unlace them and toss them under the staircase, leaving them in whatever condition they happen to be in until the next ride.
But when cleaning tack recently, I decided to show them a little care as well. Once the dried mud was scraped off, polish applied, then mink oil, and a good buffing to finish the job I realized that these are boots to be appreciated. I thought about how they have been with me, literally, every step of the way on my journey to horseownership.
And I realize they are really cool boots.
And I realize I got my money's worth.
I love them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Short Dunes Ride

We got a phone call from our equestrian friends on Friday evening about meeting at Deep River County Park for a Saturday ride. Sounded great -- we had only been there once (see my previous post), and I really like the trails. I've been sick for two weeks with bronchitis, and have been anxious to go riding again.
But this was one of those days when nothing went as planned. The problem with Deep River is that when it rains a lot, the parking area becomes too muddy for horse trailers to negotiate. And that was the case on Saturday -- we got a call from one of our fellow riders saying that the gates were closed. Some of the others we were going to meet were able to park at a nearby horse stable, and rode to the trails from there. John and I do not have a connection for that type of parking arrangement, so we knew Deep River wasn't going to happen for us. So we decided to go to The Dunes instead.
As usual, it was beautiful. The parks department has wisely added boardwalk beyond the ends of the bridges. The situation was becoming unsafe -- the ground at the end of the bridges would become mud pits at certain times of the year. Horses would be freaked out by all the mud, and I know of one woman who ended up with a broken arm when her horse spooked trying to negotiate the mud. You can see the extension to the bridge in this picture....
Unfortunately, I was not yet back up to speed from the bronchitis. After only riding a third of the trail, I realized I was not up to it. We turned back too early....
But when we got back to the parking lot, we met these two guys on absolutely gorgeous Paso Fino are the "Paso Fino Dudes"
The man in the first picture raises, trains and sells Paso Fino horses. If anyone is interested, I have his contact info.
We were too soon back at our barn, and I rested while John unloaded the trailer....
I hope to be able to hit the trails next weekend, and get in a full ride.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Clearing Trails - New Trails- Winter Hay

Clearing Trails
As I recover from a particularly nasty bout of bronchitis, with a sinus infection thrown in for good measure, I thought I would update my blog on our recent horse-related activities.
About 2-3 weeks ago we had some really strong winds here in Northwest Indiana. We knew that meant the trails in our area and the abandonded railroad line where we ride would be in need of grooming. We were correct.
This is what greeted us at the entrance to the railroad line.......
We had our work cut out for us. We could not decide if it would be better to get thru this mess, or try to blaze a new trail around it. A new trail would require going up an embankment and around. Here is John, checking it out.
It was pretty steep, but we felt our horses could handle it. But with all the rain lately, it was pretty slippery, and since we wanted to ride later that day, we opted for going thru the tangle of trees on the railroad line.
In the end, we cleared enough to get under and around the tree trunks. What's a trail ride without a bit of a challenge on the way? Without that, you have nothing to talk about later around the campfire.
This is negotiable -- we rode this trail later in the day. You can pick your way around and under all this stuff on a good trail horse.
New Trails
Our riding buddy, Dee Dee, has been telling us for ages about some trails in a county park near here. So finally we got it together enough to get out there to ride, and boy was it worth it! I wish we had listened to her a long time ago.
Deep River County Park in Lake County (Hobart/Merrillville) Indiana has some very nice trails. Most people think of Indiana as flat land -- corn country. But the glacier that formed Lake Michigan cut through Northwest Indiana, leaving some irregular terraine (the "Valparaiso Moraine," I believe it is called).
The trails at this park have hills, some ponds, and the river snaking though which provides some fantastic views.
My photographic skills are non-existent, so these pictures do not do it justice.....
It was a great ride, but on this day my bronchitis was becoming full-blown. This is a ride I should not have taken. I paid dearly for it.
And then, we hBoldad to get the last load of our hay for the winter. There was no avoiding this chore....
Winter Hay
It had to be done. The last 70 bales had to be loaded into the loft. So with John doing 90% of the work, we got to it.....
Here is the face of misery.......
My only job was to sit there and hook the bales to the electric hoist. Note the small glass of "medicine" a/k/a rakija.
We got it done. I am hopeful that I will be recovered enough to ride this weekend.
Happy Trails to all.....Enjoy the ride!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Horse Play

Caught The Girls playing last weekend. Of course by the time I got the video camera out they had stopped jumping and kicking. But they were still running around a bit and playing a sort of "catch" game....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

John Rides Bareback on Zora

We finally got the last of our round pen panels so we can do some ground work with The Girls. Zora has always been a challenge -- she is way hot, and in a perfect world would be ridden every day. We are hoping some time in the round pen will help take some of the fire out of her.
John has always wanted to ride her bareback.
So here was his chance. I was nervous about it, because she is such a psycho. But he did really good on her. I think she has made him a really good rider.
Check it out...... (Warning -- It may make you a little motion sick, especially at the beginning. I was on Divna bareback while I was taking this. It took me a bit to get the hang of it)

I have a better video that I wanted to use, but for some reason it will not upload (?). That really bugs me because it was so much better. Zora was crow-hopping in that one, and John stayed on her! That video did upload to my Facebook page, so you can check it out there. I have a Facebook badge on my blog (bottom right) that will direct you there.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Came to a Conclusion

We finally took "The Girls" for a camping trip last weekend. Went to Tippecanoe State Park here in Indiana. We have been there before, and to be honest, I never really liked it. However, this time the park won me over.
When we were there before, it was one of those freak weather things -- a weekend in October that turned out to be 90 degrees. It was AWFUL! Too blasted hot, too many mosquitos, too many flies (doesn't everyone use the fly control feed thru pellets? Evidently not....). The trails seemed too sandy and tough on the horses. Plus, the horse camp is primitive -- no showers, only pit toilets....and the park "gendarmes" will not allow the equestrian campers to use the nice facilities in the family camping area. So I had a bad experience, and therefore an attitude about the park.
But since then, we developed a "shower" system to use in our horse trailer (see my post from last October), and last weekend the temperatures were mild and perfect for riding. In fact, we had three great rides......really had a chance to explore the trails there, and to my surprise, they are really nice trails. It was great riding.
But, I had an epiphany -- I did realize something........
All this time, I knew John and I were different. But now I have actually put my finger on it, and understand the reality of the situation.
Most horseback riders have a certain look and demeanor about them. They ride past our campsite, looking very much "together." Immaculate tack, riding at a slow, calm, relaxed pace....just really civilized and proper.
Quite the opposite of John and me -- no matter how hard I try, or how much I get prepared, we just always look like a couple of maniacs on our maniac horses.
This is everyone else .....
This is us.......
It finally dawned on me....if the horseback riding world was like the motorcycle riding world, John and I would be the "Hell's Angels." Everyone else is the nice, together, sensible family type motorcyclists, and we are the bad boys of the road.
Pretty strange.....

Friday, September 16, 2011

How Do You Give a Horse the Heimlich Maneuver?

At the evening feeding yesterday, something happened that scared the hell out of me. We are taking The Girls camping this weekend to Tippecanoe State Park. I had everyone closed in the stalls for the feeding because I had to leave the gate open so John could pull the truck in and hook up the trailer. I am in Divna's stall with her and Marco (black goat).
Divna took a big bite of hay, then made this strange noise, stretched her neck out, and started coughing violently. Hay was flying out of her mouth and she kept coughing and straining. I was terrified -- she was choking! I had no idea what to do. Tears started coming out of her eye, so I knew it was serioius.. I started thinking of the Heimlich Maneuver, but had no clue as to how that is done on a horse.
I thought about human anatomy, and how you are supposed to put your arms around the person and press your fist upwards under their sternum. So I tried to judge where her sternjum (or equivalent) may be, made a fist and just pounded. I then rubbed her neck upwards, and pounded again. I did this a few times. She kept coughing up hay.
In a short amount of time (seemed like hours) she started breathing normally and her eye stopped tearing. It looked like she was OK. I went and got her a bucket of water.
She is fine, but it scared me to death......

Sunday, September 11, 2011


After trailering The Girls to Bluhm Park for a ride a ride back in June (yes, June....I am really behind on my posts!) we came home, unloaded The Girls, emptied out the trailer, and went to put it in its parking place. I always get out of the truck and guide John into the parking spot, telling him when to stop when the trailer wheel is at the proper position. On this particular day, I had to stop him before he even got near the parking place.
Ms. Turtle selected a place right in front of the parking spot for the trailer to lay her eggs!!
We left the trailer out in the pasture. Not knowing how long we would have to leave the trailer out, I checked the internet too find the incubation period for turtle eggs. As it turns out, it is quite a long time -- much longer than I would have thought -- most likely 2 months, possibly longer.
Unfortunately, about 2 weeks later while cleaning the pasture, I found that the egg spot had been raided. It was most likely a racoon. The eggs had been dug up and eaten. There were shells littering the area. It was really sad.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

This is Getting Ridiculous!

I just looked back, and my last post was in JUNE!!!! I really miss blogging, and really miss all the blogs I normally used to read! This new schedule of ours has wrecked my "blog-life!" I simply must find a way to get more time on the blogs......
A lot has happened. It has been a lousy summer for riding -- to blasted hot and humid, and WAY too many bugs. But we have managed to get in a few rides, and of course they have each had their own little adventures attached to them. Now let me see if I can remember back over the almost three months since I have updated this site.
One of the neatest things to happen this summer was around the 4th of July weekend. We had absolute monsoon rains. It was like something out of a movie. It was just a deluge for over 24 hours, and everything was flooded. My drive to work was a nightmare in my little car. Fortunately, our home is on a hill, so forutnately and thankfully our house did not flood.
But our property did in some places. So we decided to go check it out with the horses and goats. We were completely surprised by what we found. Check this out...
It was pretty deep, and it just got deeper the farther we went into that particular section of our property.
I was really worried that the goats would freak out and do who-knows-what and cause all kinds of chaos....

.....but as you can see, they handled it well!
It really was a neat experience.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I'm Back!!! It's a Long Story!

Wow! It has been over a month since I have posted anything or read any of the blogs I follow!!! I have a perfectly good reason/excuse for my absence. ..... and it is the subject of this blog posting, which will be broken up into stages because there is so much ground to cover....
First -- I think most of you know John and I have a real estate business with a sub-speciality in equestrian properties. Well, the real estate market has been in the gutter for a couple of years now, and the way things are going, it doesn't look like it is going to come back. At least not soon enough for folks like us in their mid 50's to be able to rebound financially. So we finally had to face reality and close our business. It was not an easy decision -- we have put so many years into this, and a lot of effort -- as corney as it sounds, a lot of love and dedication. It was very difficult. (Also, we lost a lot of $$$$$ )
Along with the decision to close the business, we realized John had to get a job. So he has been job hunting. It is not easy out there for unemployed people....especially one who is older -- even though he has a master's degree. But thankfully he did find something....he went to Kelly Services, a temp agency, and got a job at a local manufaturing facility. We are so grateful for the job.
However, this brings me to Part II.
John starts work at 5:00 AM. This means getting up at 3:30 A.M. On top of it, he works until 3:30 -4:30 p.m. -- 10 or 11 hour days. Needless to say, we are still adjusting!!! We have been living like zombies....walking around during the day with glazed looks on our faces....sleeping at odd times on the weekends. It has been strange, but a good strange. HOWEVER, he is still looking for a job with a more normal schedule, and one that is more in line with his degrees and experience.
This has all played havoc with our horseback riding. Which brings me to Part III.
Part III
We had been planning for a few months to go up to the North Woods of Wisconsin where my brother lives. He met some people who have horses, and they told him to tell us to come up to ride with them...they would board our horses and show us the trails and everything. Now, the North Woods are just BEAUTIFUL and we were so excited, and really touched by the generous offer to board our horses and show us the trails...we planned to go up there over Memorial Day weekend. I was going to take Thursday, Friday, and the following Tuesday off.
As fate would have it, John got a job the week prior to the holiday week. So we had to cancel.
We had a long weekend on Memorial Day weekend, but the weather here did not lend itself to horseback riding. It was rainy every day until Sunday when it was 90+ degrees! So we did not ride at all over the long holiday weekend..
Part IV
So , we finally got a chance to ride last weekend. We went to a local county park, and when we got there, we noticed some familiar horse trailers. As it turned out, some of our friends were there riding! It was great....
Above is Karen with Misty......
Below is Paul with Easy....
We rode along for a while, and then sure enough we ran across them on the trail. We all had a great ride together. But the best part was our friend Dolly, who gets a"Part" in this blog all her own.....Part IV, Dolly Gets a Gaited Horse......
Part V
Dolly and Klassic Dr. Pepper
Dolly is a quarter-horse rider who has been with us gaited (Tennessee Walkers, Rocky Mountain) horseback riders for years now. She has been considering getting a gaited horse, and has now officially taken the plunge!!
I think she and "Pepper" belong together.. they are both blonde and petite....
They had a great ride that day.....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mane & Rein - Indian Joe - Another Day at the Dunes

Last Saturday we decided to take a trail ride at The Dunes again. It was a pretty day, and we got the trailer hooked up and loaded the tack the night before (efficient, for once in our lives) .

We were hoping for some trails under water, like they were a couple of Springs ago, but not this Spring -- the trails were pretty dry. Feeling really comfortable in the saddle, we had an exciting ride.

I rode for a while with her mane in my reins -- I like doing this. It makes me feel really connected to her.

During a calm stretch, I leaned out and got this shot of Divna -- she is such a great horse. I love her so much!!

After the lively ride, we walked The Girls the last stretch back......

Back in the parking lot, we met up with some other trail riders. We have met these people before, and talked with them out at The Dunes. One of the men is someone knows as "Indiana Joe." He rides Paso Fino horses, and is very good at handling them. He showed us a trick.....

He can get his horse to lay down.....

These pictures may look strange, but trust me -- he was gentle and it was not hard on the horse or painful for the horse....

It was quite a sight....

And later, he took the halter off the horse, and the horse just followed him around like a dog...pretty impressive!

We also met some really nice people from Chicago that afternoon that we hope to see again in the future and possibly become friends.

Great riding! Great Day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making It To First Cutting

The hay supply was getting low. A count of the bales and simple math told us we would need about 50 more to safely get to 1st cutting, which around here is somewhere between late May and mid-June depending on rain.

We were told about a farmer with hay in LaCrosse, about a half hour drive from us, so we set off on a rainy Saturday morning to pick it up. We took the horse trailer, praying that 50 bales would fit. We don't ever pick up our own hay -- the farmer we usually buy it from delivers it on a flatbed trailer. But he did not have any extra, so we got the lead on the LaCrosse farmer from someone I work with.

Using the GPS and directions from my friend at work, we still managed to pass up the turn to his house, and had to take the long way around. He was a really nice guy and helped us load the hay into the trailer. All 50 bales fit, even though it took John and the farmer both leaning on the door to get it shut. I know John was glad he did not have to put any in the bed of his new truck...

I thought I took some photos of the horse trailer all loaded up, but evidently I didn't.... I wish I had.

It has been raining so much here lately, that we could not pull the horse trailer into the pasture. We had to park in the driveway as close to the barn as possible and carry the bales in. They are stacked up in our tack area in the picture above.

Since we only had 50 bales, and had to bring it up to the loft from the tack area, we could not use our electric hoist. So it had to be done the hard way.....

Yes, that is John up there, pulling the bales up by hand. I am in the tack area and attach the hook to the bales, and then he hoists them up. For 55 he is in great shape....

He got all 50 bales up into the loft and stacked them, though I did help with some of the stacking.
The cats were there to keep us company. Here is our boy cat, Simo....

And "The Princess," Sonya

So now our critters will be fed until more hay is harvested....

Time to take a break.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Critter Walk

Lately we have taken to going for walks with the goats and horses. It always proves to be quite an experience.

We have the horses on halters and lead ropes, and the goats are just free. They don't wander off -- they are truly of the heard mentality. But they always keep things interesting.

A lesson was learned on this walk -- keep the lead rope short! At one point we had both goats tangled up in lead ropes and two nervous horses! It dawned on us that a few years ago, we would have panicked at this situation, and it could have been disastrous. I guess that we have learned something after all over all these years. We got everyone untangled and the situation did not get out of hand. Thank Heavens for these small miracles!

We went thru the woods on our property and over to a nearby house that is vacant right now. The grass there has its spring growth happening, and no one there to mow it. So we took all four of our critters down there for a treat.

It is a nice way for all six of us to get some exercise, for John and I to spend time with the animals, and for them to get a little change of scenery. We plan to do this more in the future.