Friday, May 21, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Since the spring of 2007 we’ve been planning a move to a warmer climate and drier times. It’s taken us a while, but Matt and I are ready to say “wagons ho!” We have sold our beautiful farm in Maple Valley, WA and are primed to set sail on a new adventure in Southern Idaho.

I share this with mixed feelings as I am immensely grateful for the time we have had in the Pacific Northwest. Now everywhere I go, I look and feel things like it may be my last time, at least for a long while. Last time to eat a yummy potato burrito from Casa Que Pasa in Bellingham. Last time to view the beautiful Padilla Bay in Bow, WA. Last time for an inspirational National Geographic lecture in the spectacular Benaroyal Hall in downtown Seattle...

It tears at my heartstrings to pull away from all this and the beautiful landscape. I shall forever miss my beautiful elk herd that lived in my backyard, the coyotes that played in our pastures and howled in chorus at night, the bald eagles that soared overhead, the black bear we’d occasionally startle in our woods… and “our” woods. How will I ever be able to say goodbye to my beautiful, beautiful woods? Matt and I loved the Indian Plum, the first flowers of spring, the Red Flowering Current we’d wait for in February heralding the return of the hummingbirds and the first crystal white Trillium flower. Matt and I loved to ride through the woods while having a contest to see who could spot the most Trillium.

I have learned much, had incredibly rewarding work experiences, and best of all, I have met all of you: the best friends and work associates I could have ever hoped for. I am humbled and grateful for all this, t the powerful, poignant memories and relationships which I hope will bolster me up as we head down the road to our next big adventure.

My promise to each of you is that I intend to include you in our future plans. I will continue my Horses for Clean Water work -- with some added new twists such as hosting 2-3 day workshops that include Idaho trail riding, retreats and get-a-ways. Along with HCW themes, these might feature guest speakers or clinicians, be cowgirl retreats geared towards women, or be about reining or other aspects horsemanship and riding. Matt and I also plan a small-scale guest ranch/horse motel and boarding operation so that our friends will stop by.

So stay tuned and keep in touch as I share our journey and plans for developing our desert ranch.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Memories from the NRHA 2009 Northwest Regional Affiliate Finals

Blue skies and 70°F during the day. By night, golden sunsets with pink fluffy cloudy reflecting rosy light on the foothills. Free exhibitor cocktail parties—free beer in etched glass beer mugs; Octoberfest dinners with complimentary Washington apple cobbler for dessert; hanging out with our good friends Dan and Sue; cheering on our fellow Washingtonians as they competed and thrilling when they placed; petting puppies and admiring everyone’s dogs; shopping through the many fun venders including furniture, fancy high-end chaps, pictures, saddle and tack shops, book companies and so many more; cheering on a young upcoming reining trainer in the futurity, then experiencing that sinking dull feeling as we watched him accidentally do five spins (instead of four); seeing a photo of me and my horse used as a promotion for the show photographer...

These are just some of my memories from the 2009 National Reining Horse Association’s Northwest Regional Affiliate Finals held in Nampa, Idaho at the beautiful Idaho Horse Park this past October. In order to compete in the affiliate classes you had to be one of the top five in your club class—Felix and I qualified in three classes. And how did Felix and I do? Well, we tied for first in an NRHA Limited Non-Pro class. In our affiliate classes we didn’t do as well, although I was proud of our runs and of my horse. In a field of nearly 80 competitors, Felix and I got 7th in the Affiliate Novice Horse Non-Pro class—the payout and invitation to compete in Oklahoma City at the year end world show went to 6th place. I missed it by ONE place!! In all of my classes I was just very pleased to have qualified and made it that far, especially with a horse I had only been riding and showing since March. Felix tried hard and we both had a lot of fun. Felix is an awesome little pony, just taking everything in stride. Plus he’s so much fun to ride—quite an honor to have him to show!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Life’s a Beach

Our boys taking snooze in the sun—all worn out from a day on the beach!

This week my friend Patricia and I took two of our horses to Ocean City, WA, a sleepy little town on the Pacific Ocean. We rented a sweet little studio apartment a few blocks from the ocean at a place outfitted for horses. There was a small round pen to keep our horses in and even a compost bin for manure. Each day we could saddle up and ride down the peaceful street to the ocean public beach.

Patricia and Felix on the beach.

The beach was a vast expanse of flatness—as long, as far as the eye can reach. Just beach to the left and to the right. With ocean reaching endlessly forward, over and over.

The horses’ reactions were unpredictable: young Felix was as unflappable as ever, even with waves, seaweed, vehicles driving on the sand. Nothing fazed him. Older Harley was unnerved by almost everything that came along including plastic bags, a passing gull, driftwood and seaweed. He kept tourists on the beach entertained with his sudden, unexplained shying at an odd piece of sea kelp or an old bag. Even so, it was fun observing new things and trying something new with the horses. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed the romp along the beach as well.

Alayne, Harley and Saylee at Ocean City.

I must admit that our favorite part was breakfast at the Shilo Inn in Ocean Shores; the yummy blueberry pancakes and the pleasant and friendly staff there were a wonderful way to start out a gray morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update: Reining

Off to reining show #3 today. This show, Washington Reining Horse Association’s “The Classic” is in Monroe, Washington. Matt and I are only showing one horse this year, partly due to a slowing of the economy and less work, but also due to the fact that both of my horses are on the injured list. I had planned to retire RB this year due to arthritis in a front knee. RB, a big strong horse, is one of the most physical reiners I’ve ridden. He was a blast (almost literally!) to ride and slide. You could tell he loved his job as he would give his all when he ran. Earlier this spring while on a trail ride he managed to pull a muscle somewhere in his hip. So, he’s on lay-up right now and is sick of it, ready to at least to get back to the trails.

Bob, my other seasoned reiner who accompanied me to Las Vegas, Arizona and elsewhere winning buckles, money and awards as he went, was diagnosed with chronic laminitis earlier this year. With that diagnosis, I became another of the heart-sick horse owners to travel down the laminitis road. While Bob’s laminitis wasn’t caused by metabolic issues (it was more than likely due to poor conformation combined with hard surfaces,) metabolic issues all come into play for him now. Where things like pasture, treats, and feed types weren’t issues before, they certainly are now. As we puzzle together a management plan and struggle to bring him back to good health, I have been forced to learn more and become even more aware of nutrition and metabolic issues in horse health. Hence the article this month's The Green Horse on safer grazing incase you have a horse with metabolic issues or just want to watch your horse’s waistline.

In the meantime we were lucky enough to have another talented horse, Matt’s young reiner, Felix. Matt was gracious enough to pass on showing this year and give me the opportunity to show his athletic young horse. I feel privileged to do so as this horse has tons of ability and can easily slide 20 feet, the hallmark of a reiner. Besides that, he is sweet and quiet. A winning combination in my book!

So, if any of you are nearby feel free to stop by the Evergreen State Fairgrounds to say hi to little Felix and I. And wish us luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 Las Vegas FEI World Cup—Dressage and Jumping

I’m back from Las Vegas and I had a fabulous time. It was sunny and 80 degrees—my kind of wonderful! I went with my vet, Ramona Tingdale. A horsey friend who now lives in Las Vegas, Mary Kilgore, joined us for Saturday. Ramona had a client who gave her two free tickets plus $80/night rooms at South Point Casino—and I was lucky enough that she invited me to go with her. We used airline mileage to fly there and made it all happen "on a budget." We went for 3 days, Friday morning through Sunday evening; a whirlwind weekend! What a thrill to see all those world-class competitors up close. Such talented riders and their incredible equine partners. They were from many countries of the world that I wouldn’t expect—Japan, Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia—plus most of Europe and North America. It was breathtaking competition and so interesting to watch different riding techniques, see the horse’s reactions, hear it’s breath when the front feet landed a jump... it was just an incredibly wonderful experience that I am so grateful to have had.

Las Vegas is the only local where FEI jumping and dressage are held together, so that in itself was a treat. This event won’t be back to Vegas for a long time—at least 6 years now. The “Vegas” part of the event was amazing, too. I never expected to see laser light shows and fireworks combined with FEI Grand Prix riding. And there were an awful lot of guys in cowboy hats around—kinda made me feel at home! You know how the dressage crowd is often like the audience watching a golf tournament, rather quiet and reserved? I bet this was the ONLY FEI event where the announcer tells you to “Let the rider know if you see something you like.” This crowd never held back anything, so noise levels (and music!) were almost deafening—but in a fun way.

The dressage freestyle was UNBELIEVABLE! I couldn’t even trust myself to talk during most of it as I was choked up with emotion. It was simply breath-takingly beautiful, just like dance. The horses seemed to be floating on water, in time with the beat of the music and deeply immersed in the moment. The riders, too, seemed thrilled to be there. Most of them smiled through the whole test and positively beamed when they were done as they patted and patted their horses. They all were so very proud of their horses, gratefully acknowledging their partner's spectacular accomplishments. Scores were unusually high, one after another. The winning score for the dressage freestyle (Steffen Peters, who won the Grand Prix dressage on Thursday evening) was an 84.95, which, as I understand it, is a very high dressage score. I thought all 11 freestyle competitors were brilliant and I enjoyed them all. At the award ceremony Steffen rode his horse, Revel, one-handed doing piaffes and passages as well as lateral work in different gaits. The crowd refused to let him leave, giving him standing ovation after standing ovation. It was so fun, such a privilege to be there in person taking it all in.