Friday, January 29, 2010

Taking Advantage of The Situation

Of the snow situation that is! The day after the snow lightly covered the ground, I had had enough of the whole not riding thing. I was going to go! I will admit that I was a little nervous, it was still very slick and super frozen. I decided to ride Star and pony Mercy even though Star was the one most likely to have a misstep- I just wasn't comfortable riding Mercy on her first even snow ride all by myself. We started down the trail and it wasn't too bad at all:

I steered Star to the lake for our quick winter ride. We rode around almost to the 'new' city park and stopped to let them eat some frozen grass while I took some pictures. The lake was frozen solid in this little inlet. I'm sure it wouldn't be strong enough to walk on, but it was pretty impressive to see it this covered over.

After watching the birds wander around the lake's edge and letting the girls grab a few more bites, we headed back home. I loved seeing all of the people and animal tracks in the snow:

We followed the creek from the lake until we got to the 'pond.' The water was really running fast and high, so no swimming today. Plus, with the snow to it's edge, no thanks, too cold!

Where's Mercy?!:

It's a good thing I didn't lose her that day. Her camo is too good- I don't think I would have ever been able to see her, lol!

Coming out of the tall trees the snow was quite a bit heavier on the trail. I made Star move really slow and watch her feet.

Here's that refrozen mud I described in an earlier post:

You can really see how the horses would just fall through for an inch or two. Luckily I was able to get them to walk to the side where it was more grassy and solid.

Of course Star was looking too cute against the harsh winter backdrop not to snap this pic:

More mud cave-ins:

We all got back in one piece and chilled to the bone. The snow at our place had melted away with a brief sun break so the girls got turned out for a good roll naked. I regretted that later. Oh well.

It was a super fun ride. Wish TrailridinRN could have come too. I still hope we get one more snow spat before winter's officially over. I haven't had the chance to wear my new snow boots! ;)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Well It's Been Cold Enough!

On December 13th we finally got snow! Here's proof!:

OK, well, it probably wasn't snow technically, but it was frozen precipitation! Java, our 8 year old Boxer, LOVES the snow! I think he would have been much happier if he had been born a Huskie.
He has quite a bit of arthritis in his hips and hind legs, plus an old knee injury, so to keep him from getting too stiff we 'blanket' him when he goes out in the cold. While we were trying to find a new coat for him he got to wear his old show cooler. (But come on, we all know it's really a cape!) It kept him drier at least:

The horses got their winter blankets on so they could go out to the snow covered pasture. I really like to keep them clean and dry, just in case I get a chance to ride.

Java and I walked back and forth from the house hauling hot water out to the barn. The ice breakering and hauling out water had become a daily (or twice daily) chore. Our water lines out to the barn had long been frozen at this point. While walking back to the house for the last time I snapped this pic of Java, one of the few I think I will ever get of him in 'action!'
Notice the WSU Cougar collar, that's right!

Of course he has to stop and eat some snow on the way back out to the barn...

When I was done cleaning Java helped me bring the girls back to the barn. Mercy, the darling, doesn'y really like Java's cape. She follows him around trying to touch him, and unfortunately I have no doubt she would go after him. That thing on him is so threatening! *snort* She is WAY to suspisious for her own good...

After Java noticed that she was basically on top of him, he ran behind me and stayed by my side. Good boy! I protected him from the Spotted One until we left the barn. I threw the girls a little hay and back inside to the fireplace Java and I went.

Mercy must have wanted to come in too, because she was standing outside in the snow while Star at all the hay. *sigh*

Silly girl. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trailering Out Into The Cold

Three days after our last ride, my mom and I decided to venture back into the cold for another trail ride. We decided to trailer out to the Landsburg trails, hoping they were less frozen. Plus, riding down to the pipeline would mean flat, open, and easy-to-ride areas. And, if we got lucky, we might get a peak of SUN!

We tacked up quickly after arriving at the trail head and stuffed our socks and gloves with hand and toe warmers. I think both girls were as eager as us to get out and stretch their legs.

We rode down to the pipeline where the sun welcomed us to ride further. The shadowed areas were still frosty and completely uninviting. Needless to say, we stayed on the side with the sun.
Stopped for a quick photo in the sun (Wow Starlett's clean!):
Mercy was more interested in the dry, crunchy grass...

After crossing a road and riding through a few gates, we continued on. This blueish building has been here on the side of the trail forever. Star and I used to ride past it all of the time when we boarded out here a long time ago. Back then it didn't have a fence around it... so of course it is much scarier now. Go figure. Usually nervous around it, Mercy could care less this time.

We meandered down the road until the taller trees prevented the sun's rays from reaching us, so we turned around and headed back the way we came. We found a trail that neither of us could remember was there before, so we took it. I knew it would hook up with the 'Putman trail' but didn't really know where. It was nice in the trees and hearing the Cedar River down below. The trail looped back around to the pipeline at the scary blue building after maybe a quarter mile. We were glad to reemerge on the pipeline, it was getting mighty chilly!

After crossing the road and going through the gates again, we took a trail into the hills to make our way back to the trailer. It was a short ride, especially for all the 'trouble' of hauling out, but it was very cold and we were all happy to get home. All I have left to say about this ride is thank goodness for toe and hand warmers! They really do make outdoor activities in the winter a pleasure again!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everything's Frozen... Still

December 9th was more frigid than the day before. Yes there was sun gloriously peaking out, but oh it was still so bitterly cold. My girls needed to get out; the ground was so frozen at our place that they were not getting much turnout. I did not need someone going lame because they twisted a fetlock... or something...

Our ride was slow and short, only traveling to the lake and back. The trails we ride on are almost always in the shadows of the trees. Between the crazy cold temperatures and never seeing a glimpse of sun, the trails were solid ice and crunchy, mud ice crystals. This makes for some interesting trail conditions. As you can kinda see in these photos, the ground had thawed, frozen, and re thawed so many times that the usually wet areas had become cavities in the ground.

The horses would step on the crystals and their hooves would fall down and inch or two until they hit solid ice. This make for some slow moving...

Neither horse panicked and we made it to the lake all in one piece. There were no other people or animals in the area, so it was quite unusually peaceful.

Then I took a look out past the shoreline. The little cove had frozen almost completely over! I have never seen this happen since I have lived here.

After taking in the beautiful sight, we moved a little ways off to the grassy slope. While waiting for the girls to get their fill of frozen grass I took some shadow pictures. This is the only one that turned out...never knew a horse could move so much while standing still...

On our way home I was able to get some good pictures of the frozen vegetation throughout the forest. Again, the sun never reaches this area because of the gigantic Douglas Firs and Cedars.

Sure made the rest of the ride look a whole lot warmer once we broke into the sun's rays once again. Although short, the ride was relaxing and inviting. I couldn't wait for the next one.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Quick, Frosty Winter Ride

On December 2nd, Mercy, Starlett and I headed out into the subfreezing weather to stretch your legs. It wasn't bad out, besides the cold. No wind, rain, or snow. Just some overcast skies and the frozen ground.I decided to ride Mercy and pony Star on our ride, hoping that Star would actually move out a little faster to keep up with Mercy's mega fast walk. Well, the trails were iced over, so Mercy was kept at a slow walk. She really didn't appreciate that. We had to stop often to reinforce that freaking out and pulling through the bit was going to get her nowhere. Here is her 'can we go now?' look:
And then 'Oh! What is that?!'... and looses what we had just worked on... standing still until I say so...

*sigh* We ended up just doing the short loop, a 30 minute ride at most. That was just fine with me; Star really has a hard time on ice, especially when she hasn't been out very much and her arthritis is acting up. I didn't want to risk her getting hurt.
As the sun was getting lower in the afternoon sky we made our way back home. Right as we broke into the clearing before our house, 'our' three deer looked up at us. Not even caring about our sudden appearance, they returned to grazing a few feet away from us.

I said hello to them and we finished the trail home.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Riding up a Mountain

My mom and I took the big plunge a few days after Thanksgiving; we rode the horses up Taylor Mountain. We have lived in the area for well over fifteen years, but I guess we have never felt a need or reason to ride these trails. Well, my friend had ridden these trails for quite a few years and had brought me along on a ride this fall. What wonderful trails! They are very well kept by members of the Backcounrty Horseman chapters in the area, so I thought we should take advantage of them.

We loaded up the trailer on that cold Sunday afternoon. I think it may have gotten to 32* by the time we reached the parking area. After saddling up the girls and activating our toe and hand warmers we headed off. We entered a wet forested area that slowly started heading up the hillside. The ground is very clay based on this mountain, making the trail slick with all of the recent rain and snow. I think I had just got done telling my mom I hope we didn't meet anyone coming down the hill when a group came around the corner. It took a few minutes to get our girls turned around and back down the slick hillside to a safe place to turn off the trail and let the other riders pass.

I was still working with Mercy on her speed control, and this included going up steep hills. I really wanted her to walk up the slick hill, but at some point I realized we just needed to get up the hill to firmer ground or the horses were going to loose their momentum and have a hard time getting the rest of the way up. So we trotted. And this was the view from the first rest stop to let the girls air up:

We zigzagged across the mountain making our way to the first 'peak.' The ground was still a little shifty, but not too bad. At this point we kept things at a walk. A few parts of the trail were pretty steep and I didn't feel like making my way back down the hill doing back flips... Mercy responded well when I practiced placing her feet around soft spots or rocks on the trail. Star was doing pretty good for being out of shape; she kept up with Mercy-the-speed-walker for the most part.

After reaching the 'peak,' we headed down into another forested section of the trail that had been recently renovated by the BCH. Gravel was hauled in to make the hill stable. As we made our down we had to dodge massive old growth trees hanging over the trail. At the bottom is a creek that, I have been told, runs even during the hottest of summers, making it a great place to rest up and water the horses. Mercy wasn't impressed:

Star seemed a little more interested, at least giving the water a quick sniff:
A little way up the trail we met a couple who had been hiker and taking scenic pictures. Mercy could not let the cameras out of her sight. She REALLY wanted to see them. I had to insist quick roughly that we move on, but she continued to look back until she could no longer hear them. We took one more switchback up the mountain. Almost at the top we met a nice man and his dogs taking a rest on the side if the trail. After exchanging greetings we finished climbing the mountain. Proof:
Both horses enjoyed gazing off into the distance, looking for their barn no doubt... My mom and I remarked that it would have been smart to bring the binoculars. Oh well, next time. We could only speculate where our house was, along with the surrounding towns. If the now sprinkling clouds weren't there, we could have seen Seattle and Bellevue. Again, next time...
On our decent down the mountain we decided to take a switch back that takes us to the gravel service road, which leads us back to the trailer area. It was a quicker route down and at that point in the ride we wanted to make going down easy on the girls. Neither my mom nor I was looking forward to riding the slick clay trail back down, so the road it was. Once we got there, we met a few other riders and chitchatted a little. We headed down and let me tell you, Star was hiding a little something in the back burner. She was walking out so fast that Mercy couldn't keep up! What?! This never happens, ever. Until then. She knew the trailer was up ahead:

We were all really worn out by the time we returned to the trailer. Both horses stood like statues to be unsaddled and brushed. Starlett got here new pink cooler thrown on her and into the trailer they went, happy for some hay and happy to be heading home.
What a ride. For all of us.

New Computer: Check!

I have finally bought a new computer! It's a super simple and small Acer laptop, good enough for the stuff I do: go online and load pictures from my camera(s). I am thrilled with it so far and can't wait to get back into the blogging scene! I have a LOT to share, so it will take me a while to get my typing skills back up to par. Here is a quick teaser pic: