Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A few Photos

I don't have much to tell, other than the last event of the season for our booth was a huge success!  We had people who showed up just to come shop with us, and folks who had no clue we were going to be there, but ended up spending a ton of money anyways.  Anytime I can get 3 saddle sales out of one event...I call that a success.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

On top of that Mary and I have been trying to find the right person to help us with some custom leather work.  I kept telling her of guy I had met once before and have been trying to find his card.  Out of the blue, he rode up on his big paint horse, we got to talking, I introduced him to Mary only to find that they already knew each other from years ago. She just didn't know that he was doing leather work.  This should work out great as he can do things that we cannot, and we can get things that he needs at a discounted rate.

These two pictures are of the saddle line up I had prepared for the display the next day.  I even have a Crown C in there, which did not get near the response I was hoping for, and I'm starting to wonder if purchasing it was a smart move.  However, it won't end up being a money loser.

Here are some pics of our booth

Here are a couple of the pics from the NFR

I took a day off on Sunday and got some riding done.  I think Trax is wishing I would hurry up and get another lesson so we can work on our communication skills.  I was pretty proud of myself though for recognizing that he was not doing proper roll backs (turning the hip instead of the shoulder) and remembered what to do to fix it.  First I fixed my riding position and clarified my cues.  Then I reached down and popped him on the shoulder with a rein.  Not hard of course but just enough to make him say "YOU HIT ME!!"  However, it sure got his feet moving like they were supposed to, and MAN can I feel the difference!

After that we did pretty well.  I've started trying to work on our counter archs, and at first we really struggled, till BEC suggested that perhaps I was asking for too much arch. So the next time I tried it, it asked for a little less and a few less steps to start with, just to be able to reward the try. After that things started falling into place.

I rode Princess Melly that night too.  I guess I need to just make the time to get her back to the desert.  There isn't much to teach her, and we are getting our lead changes down, so the best thing for her would be just trail riding and going back to getting her a little less reactive.  It isn't going to happen in the arena I don't think.

In the last 4 days I have taken in so many new saddles.  I bought an old Heiser for next to nothing, which is my next before and after project.  I'm pretty excited about that one.  Then on Saturday, I took in 3 more consignments.  Sunday brought 4 more and another Heiser which I will recondition for a gal.  Monday, I went and picked up another at the post office which I bought on line.  That does not include the 3 I picked up the week before.   So I have plenty to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks.  I can whip out a conditioning job pretty quickly these days, depending on how bad the saddle is.  I've got a good system down and have figured out which products work best for different situations.

Yesterday it seemed like I was running crazy and as the sun was sinking low, I stood in the doorway of the shop trying to figure out which saddle I should start on.  Then I heard a noise behind me and the geldings were over in their pasture tearing things up.  They do this often at the end of the day, when they are impatient to come in and have their supper. I took the two spotted walker and put them away, and then grabbed Killian.

I put a rope halter with an extra long lead on him, tied it into a rein, and led him up to a car trailer so I could climb up on him.  We took a little walk around the block and it was nice to just enjoy the ride, without having to "work" on anything.

Killian is the only horse I would try that on, as he is the only one I know beyond of a shadow of doubt isn't going to spook or try to make a run for home.  These are the times when he redeems himself.  I just wish I had someone to ride with me more often so that he didn't sit for so long between rides.  But how can you not love a horse who can sit for as long as you need him too and still be as safe as if he was being ridden every day.

I feel a little melancholy these days, perhaps it is because for the first time in years, I'm ignoring the holiday.  Simon is leaving for WY, TC and I don't really do the gift thing to each other, and all my other kids are off doing their own thing with their in-laws.   Maybe Christmas day I will get TC to go for a ride with me.

For now I want to wish all my blogger friends a safe and Merry Christmas.  May you get to spend your time with family and friends .

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Whirlwind of Activity!

I just realized that it has been over a month since I have done a post.  Where does the time go?  I find it amazing that I have less time now that I am unemployed, than I ever did when I was working.  I wish I could say it was all horse time, but sadly it hasn't.

Trax is back home again and looking fabulous.  I made the mistake of rearranging the herd and put him in with Killian his first night back.  It was a huge mistake, and Trax got beat up pretty bad.  So now we are in the process of dividing all the pens in half, and everyone will have their own.

I have 2 pastures now, so its geldings in one and mares in the other...Trax gets to hang out with the girls.  I just can't sit and babysit to make sure Killian isn't going to pull any of his crap.  I will tell you that Killian got his ass beat for beating up on Trax.  I looked out the window and saw it happening so I was able to go out and discipline at the appropriate time.  It scared him pretty bad, didn't really hurt him much but it got the message across.

I have ridden Trax twice since he came home.  I'm worried about undoing his training so for now we work mostly on what I have been worked with by my trainer, which is mostly proper riding position and proper cues.  It is amazing how differently my horse responds to me when I ride him correctly!  Who Knew????  Okay so I guess a lot of people did, but I didn't realize just how much I was hindering my horses by lack of skill.  It was less evident in Trax because he did not have the training anyway, but it was clearly evident when riding Melody.  I will be taking a lesson a week, on Trax so that I can catch up to his training.  We will be going to a Ranch Versatility clinic in Jan, and I hope to at least know how to ride my horse by then.

Speaking of Melody, my equine therapist took a look at that muscle in the back.  She did a couple of little things right then (she was only there to drop off Trax and did not have her tools with her for a treatment) which made a difference right off the bat.  So once she gets some treatments we should see some real progress.

Sassy has taken a turn for the worse again, the deep cracks and thrush were back so I had her shoes pulled and have been treating her vigorously.  She is back in the boots temporarily, but eventually will go back to shoes.  I could have treated the thrush with the shoes on, but the cracks just kept getting deeper and deeper so when he pulled the shoes and trimmed her, I had him open up the cracks so I could really get in there.   So while she took a turn for the worse, she is doing better now, and is on the upswing again.  I think my farrier thought I was unhappy with his work, and I tried to explain that I am not.  I just needed to get to her feet is all.

The new year will be bringing a lot of changes for Sassy anyway, but I won't be sharing about that just yet.

Killian came down with some sort of fungus. I guess it would be girth itch.  But it got pretty ugly for a bit and required some shaving of his sides and chest.  A visit to the vet, and some internal and topical meds seem to have taken care of it.  He will find himself back under a saddle sooner than he likes I am sure!

The saddle shop has been keeping me super busy!  I have teamed up with another gal who also does tack and then expanded into western clothing and bling.  I don't even want to deal with those items, but when we joined forces and combined our resources for the mobile booth...HOLY MOLY!!!  You couldn't miss us.   With my 20' trailer, 12 saddles out front, and all her shiney pretty things, plus all the small pieces of tack, then more saddles inside...yes we got quite a bit of attention.

We set up close to home for the AZJRA last month, and did very well.  While we were set up, some folks on the committee for the Globe rodeo asked if we would come set up at their event in 2015.  Then I sent a picture of our booth to the NBHA and asked about their final race of the year which is in Apache Junction.  The gal couldn't get us the vendor form fast enough.  Then she asked if we would please come and set up at the first race of 2015 which is a four day event in Buckeye.   From what I understand this is a huge event, and we are excited for the opportunity.  With that in mind I have been scrambling to get inventory that is more barrel racer friendly.

It was quite helpful that I had a run on saddles lately, and have sold quite a few of them in the last few weeks.  It gave me just enough funds to buy more of what I need.  I sold some of my really good saddles, and even managed to get rid of some of the junkier ones that I was sick of dragging around.   Even sold one all the way up in Vegas...which worked out well since I just happened to be going to Las Vegas.

TC and I were very fortunate to have been invited to go to the NFR with BEC and her hubby.  It was a total blast!  I can't recall the last time I had that much fun watching a rodeo. BEC had told me it was like watching a live action movie and she did not lie.  There is no down time, in fact you hardly have a chance to catch your breath from one event to the next and if you need to go potty, you'd better figure out which even you can live with missing. There is no intermission to speak of.

When we weren't at the rodeo, we spent some time walking around the different vendor booths.  Clearly I have saddles on the brain all the time, because I could not go past a saddle booth and not fondle the merchandise.  I did a good amount of research, which will be helpful down the road as I am moving towards buying more saddles on line from out of state, and less local sales.  I find that bringing in fresh inventory that has not made its way around the valley yet, boosts sales immensely. Having sat in, and physically seen so many different saddles makes it easier to make those online decision now.

One of my favorite custom saddle makers is Hickman's Boot and Saddlery out of Idaho.  They used to be in Washington, but have since moved to Post Falls.  I have one of his older saddles for sale in my shop right now, and was just blown away by the quality of the work that Bob Hickman does.  I actually was able to speak to him on the phone about the saddle I have, and thought it was pretty cool that the minute he saw the saddle he was able to tell me everything about it, including the name of the person he made it for (which happens to be the person I am selling it for).

I had heard that he might be going to the NFR, so was kind of watching for his booth and sure enough, we walked right smack into him.  I introduced myself, and we chatted for a bit and then I asked if he had any body who distributed saddles for him.  He only has his shop and website.  I asked if he would consider doing that, and he said yes, and yes he would like to do that with me.  That means I would be the only person in the country with the ability to by his saddles at a wholesale price and redistribute!!!!!   We will be getting together via phone and email after the first of the year.  If you would like to see what I will be distributing you can click on the link here.

(Thank you once again BEC for suggesting that I ask about that) gotta give credit where it is due!

I could hardly contain my excitement about that for the rest of the trip and I am pretty sure that BEC is about sick of listening to me talk about saddles and saddle sales!

So anyway, the NFR....if you ever get the chance to go....jump on it!   Too Much Fun!

Now we are home and it is back to business as usual and trying to get ready for the weekend.  I've got saddles coming in left and right, some nice affordable ones, some middle of the road ones, and if everything goes according to plan, will have at least 1 or 2 high end saddles here in the next week or so too!  

With all that being said, I should probably get off the computer and back to work. I want to get some mandatory saddle time in today as well.  As in mandatory "butt in the saddle" time!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas!!!!

I will try to have pictures for my next post!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Too Tight

Yesterday I rode Melody for just a bit in the arena.  We didn't do much except lope circles and do some trotting.  She hardly worked up a sweat at all.  It was the first time I had ridden her since our long trek in the desert.

After the ride I was administering her daily massage and I noticed something.

Look closely at the musculature difference from left to right?  Do you see what I felt?

To pin point it more closely here is another picture with arrows.

In this picture she has her weight distributed evenly and is totally relaxed while eating.   The muscle on the right side is soooo tight and hard, where as on the left it is soft an relaxed.  The right side is the hip that she has trouble with.

So this leads me to a ton of questions?  Is she "tied up" ?  How long has she been this way?  Did I do this to her by taking her too far?  Was it from her and Killian kicking the crap out of each other?  Is this what has been causing her to walk funny all along OR is this a result of the compensation of the pain in her hip, or a pain in her hock.

Now she isn't walking any different than usual, so I'm hoping that would indicated that I didn't do this to her by pushing to hard.  I would feel terrible if that was the case.   But surely if she had been this way all along we would have caught it in her therapy sessions.  On the other hand, she has only had two sessions, and although we didn't catch this specifically we did catch that she was very sore in that area.

I guess I'm kind of at that "Which came first, the chicken or the egg" thing again.  

For now I am keeping her blanketed at night.  First horse I've ever had that loves a blanket.  And she has her Back on Track hock boots on, not that they actually hit the affected area, but at least they might be loosening the tendons down below.  I also took Sassy's knee boots and made a sort of impromptu stifle boot out of them.  Not sure if it is helping at all but it isn't hurting...well except for the part where she feels silly wearing it, but she will get over it.

My biggest questions is what next?  Light exercise combined with stretches and massage?  Or total stall rest combined with stretching and massage?

Has anyone else ever dealt with anything like this? I'd appreciate any input at all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I love Arizona

This past week, Casper WY was the coldest place on the planet....literally.

Okay not THE coldest place but like 3rd coldest right behind Antarctica, and some place in Russia.

My friend sent me picture of his rear view mirror temp reading in his truck as he was driving home from work.


That was the norm for a few days. and even now it is still below 0.

Meanwhile I find myself a little chilly in the morning, sometimes needing a light hoody or long sleeves, but by 10 or so, I'm ready for short sleeves, sometimes even shorts.

I have been riding and have a great time.  Melody and I went about 10 miles the other day in the desert.  For those of you that saw my facebook post, it was a tad misleading.  While I said we did the full 10 miles in a long trot, that was actually not the case.  While we did trot a good portion of the way, it was only true long trotting when the walking horse was racking out.   My problem on facebook is that I only log on through my phone and it is to hard to explain myself, so I just post the short version.

I never pushed her harder than she was willing to go, and she did get a nice long break in the middle of the ride.

She also got a nice massage when we got home, and has gotten one every day since.

She climbed a couple of really big hills.

Big is a relative term. To her, they were huge. To Cody the trail machine, they were nothing.   Think "Levee" sized.

She also went down the hills which I find is good for teaching her to use her feet to work her way down instead of jumping up and down everything.

She was sure she was going to fall in that big stock tank

Looking like a real trail horse!

I am pretty sure that she is actually enjoying the new scenery.  She does best when there is another horse with her.  Eventually she will have to learn to go alone, but since she is new to it, I can give her a couple of concessions.

Now it is time for me to finish cleaning my house.....I'd rather be riding!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guess Who I Saw Today?

I've really been missing my horse, and even trying to stay focused on the others wasn't really cutting it.  So finally I called DM and we set up a time for me to come and see how he is coming along.  

When I got there, she had just run inside to change shoes, so I went out to see Trax.   His living arrangements are much smaller than he is used too, but his stall opens up into a small round pen so he does have room to move around.   When I went to the gate he whinnied at me and came to see me.  Then when I opened the gate to go inside he turned away from me, and hid behind his own butt.  I said his name, and he turned for just a second and then looked away.  It is his pouting look.  I laughed pretty hard at him.  

DM came and got him and put him in cross ties.  


Who knew my horse would stand in cross ties?

She saddled him, and jumped right up on him.  No lunging, just got on and rode.  Of course he is getting ridden almost every day, so with that in mind I probably would have done the same.  But still it was odd to watch.  

It is odd to watch someone else ride my horse.

It is also very cool.  

Of course in his warm up stage he is less than responsive, but it really didn't take her long to get him on track.   She talked about how he has no clue where his feet are, or how to properly place his feet for anything that we are wanting him to do.   He doesn't know how to carry himself at all.  He does everything on his front end.

These are all things I have known for a while, and these are the things she is working on.  However I did take some time to explain to her this time about who he was when I got him.  I wanted her to to understand fully that while yes I do a lot of lateral work with him, and quite possibly even too much of it, there was a time when there was no lateral at all.  It was straight forward as fast as he could go and that was it.  If I had not spent the last 3 years just getting him to soften up mentally, she would have needed way more than 30 days to do anything with this horse.  But then that is what I need a trainer for.  My last training stopped at the lateral work and it is past time to move on to the next step. 

First she worked on his frame.  She would ask him to frame up by setting her hands and driving him with her legs. She never moved her hands but just kept bumping him with her legs.  The minute he lowered his head and picked himself up, she did not release her hands but released pressure with her legs.  Pretty soon he was carrying himself longer and longer, all on his own.  She asked and he held it until she asked for something different.

Then she worked on his turns.  His tendency has always been to turn on his front end.  I don't know if that is from team roping, or what, but it has always been what he has done. and I have been trying for a long time to teach him something different.  But I was doing it wrong.  

I watched as she moved him in a counter arched circle, and when he was smooth and easy crossing in front of himself in both the front and the back, then she was able to ask for a little more, and even I could see the beginning of a spin.  

As I watched her, what I saw was very much like what I remember Mark doing when I was working with him, only she was able to take it a step further.  

Then she loped and worked on teaching him to pick up his shoulder.  He has a tendency to want to lope with his shoulder dropped and one hip out, she asked him to lope in a straight line and pick up that shoulder. I could really see the difference.   Of course he still wants to throw his head up at the lope but she just set her hands and kept riding him into it, and eventually he carried it just like he is supposed too. 

Then she asked for the lead change and she got it the first try....on the front, but it took two full laps and a slap on the butt with the reins to get that hind end.  

Do any of you recall the last time I tried slapping Trax on the butt?

"YOU HIT ME!!!!!"  And then he took off at mach 9.

This was the repeat performance only her arena is not even half the size of mine so mach 9 was more like Mach 6. But clearly he was bothered by it and I said, "Yup you just lost him."  He was gone, his nose was straight up in the air.

She said, "Yes I did, but he'll be back" And she rode it out keeping her hands set and just kept asking for him to come back until he did, and then she released and he was fine.  

"The goal is to make that little tiny smack on the butt nothing more than a communication instead of a big deal."


She did some roll back work with him and I really can see the difference in him all ready. He is trying to use his hind end instead of doing everything on the front.  It is pretty awesome.  

So then she told me to get on him for just a minute.  She coached me on holding my hands steady and low, and using my legs and he melted right into my hands.  It was very cool.  We just trotted and walked around a little, and called it good.  He had already been working for an hour.  Mostly I just wanted to get a little feel for what he is becoming, and it feels nice.  

So after a week, she has done some really nice work with him.  She said that the one thing she likes about Trax is that once he "gets it" he gets it.  Where ever they left off at one day, is pretty much where they pick up the next day.   It is not a matter of going over it again and again and again.  

As we were hosing him down and putting him away, she says, "This is your one horse, isn't it?"  As in the one I am most connected too.  

I had to laugh....I guess I took it for granted that everyone who has ever met me already knew that.  

"Yes he is."

We all have the one horse who touches us someplace deep in our soul, and Trax is that horse for me.  He always has been, he always will be.  

Aww Shucks!

I have been trying to work with Melly more, and while I made progress the one day, it all fell away since then.  But I think I k now why.  First of all, that day was smooth like butter because she felt great.  She had just been worked on and all her parts were moving better.  

The very next day her and Killian got into a tiff in the pasture and I came out just in time to see them kicking the crap out of each other.  She now has two great big welts on each stifle.   I massage her every day, and try to keep her mobile as much as possible, but she is still a little stiff in the hind end again.  

Secondly the last time we did arena work I thought I was going to an ASHA clinic this Saturday (its been canceled) so I figured I'd better ramp up our obstacle work.  That was a bad idea.  She was so upset about the obstacles on the ground, she couldn't concentrate to do anything at all.  

So now I have a new approach.  

For now, at least, arena is reining and cow work.  But yesterday Simon and I took Killian and Melody to the desert.  It was her first time out there with me (perhaps even the first time ever).  She did pretty well, and I made a point of taking her through the dead trees and such to make sure she was stepping on lots of things.  She was bothered at first but then was more concerned about being left behind than being afraid.  

Her reaction to the first was was hilarious.  She said "no way"  I said, "Killian is leaving with out you."  She said, "Dammit"  and then jumped....not across but just down to the bottom.  Goofy horse.  But after that she watched her leader carefully and then followed in his foot steps. Pretty soon she was navigating them on her own and he was following her.  

All in all it was a great ride until I dropped my phone on my road and shattered it.  There went all my money for a new saddle pad! 

Here are a few pictures of the desert ride.  

She was not sure about all this cotton!

Killian of course was his usual awesome trail horse self.  He puts up with so much from Simon, and just handles it.  It is hard to see but he is actually getting in better shape.  He trotted the entire ride, without even trying to slow down.  That is progress for him.  

So my goal with Melly is to keep with the desert riding until it is boring for her and then I will set up poles and other obstacles out there, to where it is just part of what we do.  Then we will bring it back to the arena and see if it is easier for her.  It is really all I know to do at this point.  In the mean time, she will be my sorting horse, there is lots of that coming up and she is so darned good at it, and hopefully I will be better.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Keeping My Mind and Body Busy

Yesterday was a big day for all the equines at my house.

First were the therapy treatments.  We started with Melody, who has seemed stiff and awkward to me.  I wasn't sure if it was in my imagination or real.  It was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, very real.   As Dana started palpating and touching trigger points to see where the problem areas were, she found both shoulders sore, right hip was reactive but not as much as I expected.  However, when she touched the trigger point on the inside of her stifle, she almost lost a knee cap.  I have never seen Melly try to kick like that.  Clearly it was a problem area.

This sparked a memory in me of when the farrier was out the week before and put new shoes on her.  Usually Melly is relaxed and practically falls asleep during her "pedicure"  This time she struggled with holding up her hind legs, and the farrier was very careful to keep them as low as possible.

Dana worked on her for a long time. She also had two very tight muscle spots right over her hip point.  It is so cool to see the horses reactions when things feel better. Melly shakes her head, yawns, licks and chews and some times does a whole body shake.   The biggest reaction was after she worked on that right stifle area.  I swear if she could have said "OMG that feels good!" she would have.

The difference was amazing!  I walked her around some afterwards and she wasn't even dragging that back toe any more.  Melly is now on a once a month schedule just like Sassy.

Sassy was next, and we have made some major progress with her.  The scar tissue is no longer attached to the muscle.  I go out every day and massage that area and try to keep it loose.  She did have some pain there still, according to the machine.

It is interesting to watch the Magna wave machine do its thing.  If it is a problem area, the tissue will react, bouncing violently with each pulse.  If the area is already relaxed and there is no pain, there will be very little reaction at all with the pulse.

She had no reaction in the knee that I thought was bothering her.  Some reaction in the shoulder, some reaction in the foot.  Her chest area is always sore, I assume from compensating for the foot soreness.

What was really odd about this treatment was that we moved her before and we moved her after, and this time she was not better afterwards.  However the problem area was clearly located at the left front foot, so there is something else going....again.

I have been keeping on with her thrush treatment, and I am also going to treat her as if she is laminitic, just because I am out of options.  

(side note:  her pain in her foot doesn't seem to be too big of a problem for her. She had no issue with bum rushing her gate this morning and making a mad dash for the grass which she isn't allow to have!)

Then it was time to load up Trax and send him on his way.

The day before I decided to get one more ride on my boy before he left.  I swear he can read my mind.  I have not said to him, "Trax you are going away for a month." yet he sure acted like he knew.  He did everything he could to convince me that he doesn't need a trainer.  His stops were gorgeous.  I mean like "right now" gorgeous.  We loped big and small beautiful circles at he adjusted his speed according to my seat, and never once argued about anything.  We even played around with the barrels and gosh did we have fun!   He has a beautiful turn on the third barrel!

Even with that, I had made my decision and so yesterday he went. It was so hard to see him go.  I talked her ear off about him, making sure she knew all his little quirks, the things he likes, and doesn't like.  She finally laughed at me, and said, "I promise to take good care of him, and be nice to him."   Then he was gone.

In order to keep myself from missing him I decided to do some riding.  I rode Melody first and we worked on my lead change cues.  I must be getting it right because we did four smooth changes.  So smooth that I wasn't even sure she did them until I looked down and saw which leg she was leading with.  It was pretty awesome.   We also went over poles several times.  She is really coming along nicely.  I'm pretty excited.   (actually that should read "My riding skills are finally coming along nicely" since she already knows this stuff!")

Then I rode Killian. Rather than fight with him over arena work, I opted to just take him out and trot around the neighborhood.  As I get to know more and more people, this seems to be a challenge as I end up stopping and talking to folks as I ride.   Last night was no different!  I also met a new neighbor who was out scooping poop. He was an older cowboy, and we chatted for a bit.  I commented on his pretty paint horse, and he said, "Yeah he's pretty nice for an old guy."

I asked how old he was.



So there I am sitting on my 20 year old horse who does not look bad for his age, even though he is a little over weight.

This horse was built like a brick $h!t house, not an ounce of fat on him and his forearms....as big and solid as any horse I have ever seen.    If you put him and Killian next to each other, it would be like comparing John Cena to Chris Farley.  Okay well maybe not quite like that, but you get the picture.

Next time I ride by there I will have to take his picture.  He truly is gorgeous!  My horse is going on an exercise program!

Anyway, so then I rode on home and as I was coming up my street I ran into another neighbor on her horse with her 3 dogs.  Killian doesn't care about dogs, he has been working side by side with them his whole life.  Even if they bark and run in and out of his feet, he does not care.  If they get stepped on...he also does not care. LOL

However, my kitty, Oscar, does care about those dogs very much and one of them chased him up to the top of a power pole, which is where he was perched when I cam a long.  The gal apologized, and I told her not to worry, he would come down when he was ready.

I put Killian away, and then walked back out front to check on Oscar.  I walked out just in time to see a huge owl take a swipe at my cat who was trying desperately to get the heck down off that pole before he became dinner.  I ran out and yelled at the owl who lighted on the high line and watched my kitty.  I started throwing rocks at the owl and yelling at him to leave. Oscar made it down and was hiding in the bushes in the neighbors pasture, but I couldn't get to him.  Finally the owl flew away, but I still could not get Oscar to come out of his hiding place.

Finally an hour later Oscar came in the house, no worse for wear, but he did stay in for the rest of the night.  I guess that was a little more excitement than he cared for in one night.

So my time now will be spent trying to keep myself busy with my other horses, so I am not missing my paint horse.  There is plenty to do, as always, so that shouldn't be so hard.

My trainer just called me and told me about her first ride. She said that I had really done all the hard work and that she feels she can do a lot to help Trax to take him to the next level.  Next week I will head down to her place and we will do a one on one, but she was very happy with the progress made in his first ride. Her first goal will be in how he carries himself.  He will carry himself correctly if asked too, but she wants him to do it on his own.  She feels that once he has that in place, the rest will come pretty easily.

I am excited to see the progress and hope that once he gets there, I can step up my riding skill to keep from letting him fall back into bad habits.

Now it is time to get to work.   Hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What I have been up to

It seems like forever since I have done a post.  It probably has been forever.  As much as I hate facebook, it seems like I spend most of my time there simply because I do a lot of selling on the horse pages there.  It is interesting where this new endeavor of mine is taking me. The friendships I am making are pretty awesome and I am finally starting to get my name out there as someone who has quality items at a fair price.  

I still only have two boarders, which to me is perfect.  It pays for my own horses food and my farrier bill too.  However, one of my boarders is back east right now, picking up a second horse, which will suit me just fine.  She wants her two horses to cohabitate in the big paddock that her other horse already lives in, so once we get them introduced and acclimated, that is where he will live. That negates me having to do any more fence building.  Plus, will bring in enough money to cover the special services that my ponies get (chiro and the such).

I had a big 2 day tack sale at my house this past weekend.  Sold quite a bit and handed out a ton of cards.  Now even more folks know I am here, and that is a good thing.  I think the most exciting sale for me was the Colorado Saddlery saddle I have. 

It was exciting not in the sense of, "Thank god this thing is finally leaving." But exciting because someone besides me, saw it and thought, "Wow, that is a gorgeously made saddle, even if it is old."  the folks that bought it are just getting back into horses.  It fit the lady perfectly, and they were happy to be able to put it on a layaway plan.  Her horse is a little narrower too so it should fit just fine.  She looked at others, but they kept coming back to this one, saying it was the one.  I am so happy about that.  Silly, I know.  

In horsey news...well there hasn't been much.  I've done a little riding in the arena, here and there, but need to get back to doing more.  However I have another sale to go to this weekend, and still have to get my mobile trailer put together, so yet another week will have to go by without much riding.  

However, My new trainer worked with me and Melody on our lead changes, and I do believe we are finally getting the hang of it...well I am, she has always had the hang of it.  One of the biggest problems was me not collecting her up for the change.  Once I understood that, thing got much better. 

Sassy, threw me for a loop last week.  I had tried an experiment with some low wedges, and quickly realized that they weren't working so well.  I had the farrier pull them, now she is back to just shoes on the front.  But then I noticed that she was hobbling on that left front. I do go out and massage that shoulder when ever I am around her, but she hasn't gotten much exercise since the night she went to the sorting and got to hang out with all the grown up horses like a big girl.  

I was completely at a loss for what I needed to do for her, but then a light came on.  I looked at her heels.  Sure enough, she was developing another deep crack on that left front medial heel.  I got out my ACV and started treating. Today I let her out to meander around the property and trim the grasses around the trees, and she is doing much better already.  She had been standing in some mud for a about a week (because someone keeps leaving the water on by accident- that would be me) and the mud and the moisture where getting up underneath that wedge.  The wedge is gone now and I can still treat her with the shoes on.  

Killian...he's just Killian.  My big easy going guy.  

Trax is leaving tomorrow.  He is going with my trainer for 30 days.  Once again I have reached a brick wall in our training, and I need help.  I trust her, and I think he will do just fine there and hopefully come home with a few new buttons.  The three things I will ask her to focus on is collection, stops and lead changes.  I would love it if she could get him started on spins too.  But I don't think we have the foundation for those yet.  So if she can get the foundations going for me, then together when he comes home we will build from there. Once he gets home, and even while he is there, the lessons will continue for me, both on him and on Melody.  

So here is the thing.  A great fancy reiner, he will never be.  Well I don't think anyway...he may surprise us all, but I won't hold my breath.  But since I am getting into sorting more, all the things I am hoping she can teach him are things that are helpful in sorting.  I do still want to do the ASHA and NRVA as well. So that is what I am hoping for, better foundation so we can move forward in those things.  If she works with him for a month and just can't get anywhere with him, then I will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his job in life is to carry me up the side of a mountain.  That will be that, and it will be enough.   But I don't think its going to happen like that.  I think she will bring him along nicely.  I think she will because I  saw the huge changes in him with just the little bit of work that Mark Keil did on him.  She is as good a trainer as Mark, actually I think she might be better.  I know she has been doing it longer and has done a larger variety of riding disciplines.  All of which will be helpful.  

While he is there, I will still be here working with Melody, learning to keep my HANDS STILL, and use my legs, and butt in the saddle instead of bouncing all over the place.  Killian will take Trax's place as my trail horse for the month, which will be excellent for him.  I'm sure he will disagree, but he will feel better when it is all said and done.  Also I will keep working with Sassy.  \

I sure will miss my paint horse though.  

Tomorrow is treatment day for the mares, and then sometime soon we will be holding a Therapy clinic here, introducing folks to the magna-wave therapy that I have been using on Sassy.  

So there it is, that is what has been happening with me.  Now time to go catch up on everyone's blogs to find out what you have all been up too! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Young Girls Dream

When I was a youngster, still a child, probably a teenager, but just barely so, I would go to the state fair every year.  Usually for my birthday, which always fell on one of the days of the fair.

I would ride a few rides, loved the carnival games, had to go to the livestock shows, and occasionally attend a concert.

I didn't have a horse of my own then.

The one ride I always rode, even though I was "much too old" for such silliness, was the Carousel.

My mother would always ask, "Really? You want to ride that?  Seems kind of boring for a girl your age."

But I always did.

I would wait in line, watching as the little kids went round and round.  I would look at all the horses, and choose which one would be mine.  Then when it was my turn I would race to my chosen mount, hoping to get there before some snot nosed little urchin beat me to it.

Then the music would start and round and round we would go.  For the first time around, sometimes even two times, I would see my parents, or grandparents, waving to me.  I would sheepishly wave back, not wanting to be rude.

Then I would close my eyes, and the world would fall away.  The sounds of the fair and the carousel music would fade off in the distance.  I was no longer in the city at a fair, on a silly ride.  I was a cowgirl, racing my pony across the open plain.  My heart matched his hoof beats; his mane and my hair whipped in the wind as one.  I would spread my arms wide as if I was flying (like Alec in the black stallion) and then I'd become a girl ship wrecked on an island, racing the only friend I had across the beach.  My vision would change again, and I was the girl in Tam the Untamed, riding my silver horse through the Australian bush, with a herd of Brumbies on our heels....and bad men just a little further behind.

Then the ride would begin to slow and I was snapped back to reality.  My dream for the day was over, but not really.  In my mind the dream was right there, just a sigh away.

Just a girl and her horse.

It is truly all I ever wanted to be.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Goldfield Ghost Town Trail

I wish Goldfield really was still just a ghost town, but it isn't.  It is a relatively cool tourist trap located at the foot of the superstitions.

Today CW and I trailered out to the desert behind the tourist trap, which is all state land, and saddled up for some more trail riding.

I have be testing out other saddles on Trax, trying to find something that isn't quite as tight on his shoulders, so today I used Killian's big 7-D Rope saddle.  It actually fit really nice, and I think now I know more of what I am looking for for Trax.  I don't mind this particular saddle, but it is a hard seat, and built more for a man than a woman.  However, we rode for 2 full hours up and down some pretty serious terrain, and I was never uncomfortable.  But if I could find something that wide, with a padded seat, and a little bit higher cantle that what my Circle Y is, I think it would be perfect.

Anyway, the down side to this saddle is the extra wide saddle horn which my horn bags will not fit over.  I grabbed a rear pack to tie on the back, and attached it.  As I saddled up my might steed, when ever I flopped the pack around a little to make adjustment, he jumped around.  I opted not to try out a new saddle, and a rear pack, on a new trail which is loaded with Cholla cactus and really big rocks.   I removed one side of the bag, it flopped down on Trax's flank and he proceeded to have a nice little bucking fit right there next to the trailer.

Now I have to give my horse credit.  He looked more like one of those little rocking horse toys because he kept his entire body in a ten by ten area, never running off, just bucking in place about 20 times.

I thought, "Great, is this what the ride is going to be like?"

Once I removed the vicious fanny pack, I lunged him in a quick circle and he was fine, so I bridled him up and got on.   Perhaps it was the whole Fanny Pack thing that bothered him.  As in "Only dorks wear fanny packs lady!"

In AZ much of the desert riding is surrounded by barbed wire and has special gates which allow horses and people in but not motorized vehicles.  I had no clue how Trax would react to one, and I have not had to deal with one yet, so I was "excited" when I saw one for us to go through.  Now there was a wide open gate right next to the horse gate, but far be it from me to pass up a golden training opportunity.  CW went through with Cody first, I thought about getting off and leading him through but decided to save that for if he gave me a really hard time.

My horse is awesome.

Just saying.

He watched Cody,  then walked up, stepped through, with out ever even a hesitation.

Like I said....awesome!

And away we went.   One of the things I enjoy about riding with CW is her ability to push my just outside my comfort zone with out pushing so far that it ruins my confidence.  Cody is a trail eating machine.  I don't care how steep, how narrow, how rocky, how overgrown, how anything is on a trail.  He barrels through like it is nothing.  He is the most sure footed, confident horse I have ever seen.

Now Trax is a really good trail horse as well. He rarely ever gives me any trouble, and seems to be quite good at these big rocky hills I have been taking him on.  He climbs right up, sometimes at a walk, sometimes at a trot, sometimes even at a lope.  I let him chose his pace, after all he is the one doing all the work.  When we go down he chooses his path carefully, and takes his time.  I also think this level of difficulty is teaching him to pick up his feet.

So we started climbing, the first really big hill was a choice of less steep to one side, but the trail went over solid rock which angled down to the side at about a 15% grade, or straight up that same grade.  We chose the straight up. It just looked safer.

There was a lot of this and a couple of times I felt that small knot in the pit of my stomach, wondering if we could do it.  Trax said, "Of course we can."

Here is one of the medium difficulty hills we climbed.  This is from the bottom (obviously)

Same hill from the top.

I hate that the pics don't accurately show how steep it is.  Or maybe it just feels steeper when you are going up it.

Not steep at all here, just loving how green it is.

Superstitions back behind us

Just thought this looked cool

So as we are riding along, there were some times when I thought that Trax was showing signs of fatigue.  His head was down and he was plodding along.  No sooner would I say, "I think he's getting tired,"  and he would pull his head up, put it into overdrive, and proceed to show me that he was no where near being done.  

Here is a very short video of one of those times.  This looks like it is on flat ground but it was really about a 3 or 4 percent grade. 

It isn't exciting unless you are me and totally in love with your paint horse. 

This was taken on the road that the tourist trap uses for their jeep tours.  Some of our trail was two track like that, but much of it was single file, drop off on one side, and 10% grade on the other.  Those were a little hairy too, especially when there was cactus growing into the trail.  Today we learned that side passing away from the cactus is a good thing.   I ended up having to use pliers to remove about 20 cactus thorns from his heel bulb at the end of the ride. 

As we were making our loop back around and on one of the sections of single trail we hit a patch that was very steep which we had to go down.  Trax and I were in front and I was just letting him pick his path, but at this point he moved to the side of the trail, stopped and turned back to look at Cody.  His message was clear, " You go first friend, and I will follow you."  As soon as Cody went, Trax followed him right down.   It was kind of cool actually.  

It was a pretty hairy path, less gravel than slick rock, and Cody chose his path wisely and Trax pretty much followed his exact foot steps.   Once we got to the bottom the trail widened again and they raced side by side up the hill.  Goofy boys.    Then Trax fell back in front and all was good.  

Just another pic. 

I know that some people say that you shouldn't let your horse run up the hills.  I'm sure there is a good reason behind it.  I just feel like if my horse feels like he needs the extra umph to be able to cart my butt up that grade, he is welcome to go as fast as he needs too as long as he slows back down when we get to the top.  Trax always does, so I have no complaints.

So it was a pretty uneventful ride, although a lot of fun, and great conditioning for both horses.  However I am going to have to put bell boots on him from now on, because he got a pretty good cut on one foot right next to where I had to pull all the cactus out.

No ride would be complete with out the gratuitous sweaty pony shot.

As I look at this pic I do recognize that the breast collar is slung a little low on him.  Remember this is Killian's tack and there for just a tad large on Trax.   However even low slung like that it did its job and kept the saddle from sliding back at all.

I really need to get something like Nuzzling Muzzles, helmet cam, or Mugwumps bra cam, so that I can take video going up the stuff that scares the crap out of me.  Ok, well that is a slight exaggeration, because if it scared the crap out of me then I probably wouldn't do it, but you get my drift.

So that is what I did this morning, now I am going to saddle up Big K, and ride him down to watch the roping boys on my street.  I'm sure there is some sort of work I need to be doing right now, but I'm dressed for riding...no sense wasting that!

Monday, October 13, 2014


Easter 2007, I decided that I was no longer doing Easter baskets for my boys. They were old enough to not want or need them, and truly all that chocolate was kind of crazy....well made them kind of crazy.  Plus they were terrible about leaving little foil wrappers laying everywhere.

At the time we had been in WY for about a year.  I had to give up my cat Pringles when we made the move from Arizona, and I was feeling pretty lonesome with out any animals.  Since we were not allowed to have a cat where we were renting, I decided we would go adopt a dog.

So we made the trip to the two animal control locations in Casper.  I knew I wanted a lab, so that is what I was looking for.  Color was not important, temperament was vital.

At the first location there was a big chocolate male.  He was full of energy, about a year old, decent breeding, a little out of control.  He had spent his entire life in a back yard with very little human contact.  I knew he was trainable but I also knew it would be a lot of work.  I also knew that my husband (now ex) would probably make me take him back if he did too much damage.  Also being that the house was rental....I wouldn't have a leg to stand on.  Still I did not rule the big boy out.

At the second location there were a few labs.  Most were the skinny, hyper, field bred types.  Super high energy dogs.  But then there was another one, another chocolate.  I wasn't looking for a chocolate to take the place of Easter chocolate, but I thought it was funny that I kept coming back to those.

This one was a girl.  I could tell just by looking at her that she had decent breeding behind her. She was an owner surrender, due to moving and couldn't keep her.  She was excited to get to come out of her kennel and jumped all over me, but when I said, "Sit"  Her butt hit the ground.  She was 3 years old, past the puppy destructive age, and obedience trained.  I knew she was the one.

We signed the papers, put a leash on her and took her to my Jeep Cherokee.  I opened the back and she jumped right in, and proceeded to bounce off of every window like a maniac all the way home.

"OMG! What have I done?"  I wondered. (Just for the record, She never lost that habit)

When we got to the house the first thing she did was jump up on the couch and make herself at home.  Mike had specific rules about dogs on furniture.  However, she was a smart girl and only had to be told a couple of times not to get up there.

Her name was already Dakota, and since I didn't hate it, we didn't change it.

From then on Dakota became and integral part of our family. She was house broken, never got into trouble while we were gone, and loved loved loved to go hiking.

The next door neighbor bought a little Golden Retriever puppy.  Dakota loved that puppy and would dig holes under the fence just big enough for him to come over and play.  They had a great time tearing up every single dog bed we bought for her, which was always a lovely mess to come home too.

She was famous for her "butt scoot" run, which made her feel super fast.

Dakota's biggest thrill was going camping.  We had a big school bus that we converted into a motorhome of sorts.  When she would see the buss in the drive way (we stored it elsewhere) she would just go crazy!  She would run in and out of the bus, "helping" us load it up, and then would refuse to get out for fear of being left behind. She should not have worried though, she would never have been left behind.

At the campsite I never had to worry about her wandering off.  She never went far and always came when called.  She spent most of her time in the water.  She was a typical lab who could care less what the water temp was.  If there was water she was going in, ice cold, or luke warm.

This was taken right around New Years, it was a balmy -16 that day.  The water was warmer because we were close to the power plant but the air was almost unbearable. Dakota did not care about temps. She just wanted to swim and look for ducks.

When we took her hiking in the mountains she would run ahead about 50 yards and then come back to where we were, then run ahead, and then run back.  She hiked at least 20 times the distance we did. She loved snow too.  She would tunnel through it and roll and just have the best time.

Eventually we brought home Mason, and she was happy to have a friend.  He was younger and she took great care of him.  They were best buds.

Two years later, Mike and I split up.  We had moved to a house in the country by then, and I had Danny, the horse. So when I moved out I only moved one street over, where I rented a little trailer on five acres.  I could only have one dog, so I had to choose.  Dakota and Mike were hiking buddies, I don't care for climbing mountains and neither did Mason, so I took Mason and he kept Dakota.  However I did baby sit her for him often.

Even after TC and I got together Dakota often came to stay with us for a few days.

When TC and I made the decision to move to AZ, Mike approached us and asked if we would take Dakota with us.  She was starting to struggle with the cold of WY, and showing some signs of arthritis.  Plus, he wanted to start traveling and didn't want to be held down by the responsibility of a dog.

So we agreed to take her.  She has been with us here for a little over a year, and I while I think she actually misses the snow, she has a good life with us, and gets to spend as much time as she wants in the house.  She has never broken a rule, never gotten in trouble.  Not once...not ever.   She sleeps at the foot of our bed at night, and never makes a peep.

last fall

Well she did anyways...she doesn't now.

About two months ago she start stumbling when she walked.  It was random, no way of predicting it, and I assumed it was just her arthritis.   Then she started limping on her front foot.  I gave her half of a Rhimodyl, and then had to leave for the weekend to sell tack.  TC called me later and said, she was having trouble walking. We assumed she was having a reaction to the low dose of Rhimodyl, and so of course she didn't get anymore.  She was still eating and drinking,and TC was able to get her out side as long as he helped her by giving support on her sides.  By time I got home Sunday, I had to actually lift underneath her and support her weight, and her feet would often fold up underneath her.

I was convinced that she had Valley Fever.  It can attack your joints and so I took her to the vet Monday morning and had her tested.  For some stupid reason, because I was so sure I knew what her problem was I guess, I didn't have them run a full blood panel.  I took her back home waiting for the results, and within 24 hours she quit eating or drinking. So I rushed her back and we did the panel.

She is diabetic.    We also had the Valley Fever results back.  She also has that but the titers were very low. So low that the vet said at the current levels he would have been taking her off the VF meds if she had been on them.  On top of that there is some deterioration of her spine.

We started her on insulin, and she immediately started doing better. Was eating and drinking, and more alert.  She has an appt on Wed for a recheck.

She won't be making that appoint, I don't think.

Dakota can no longer walk at all. She cannot even sit up to pee or poop.  She cannot even help us help her out to the door.  She weighs 85lbs.  I can no longer carry her in and out to go to the bathroom.  Even then she just lays there and lets everything just dribble out.

She is so miserable, I can tell.

As I type this I am waiting for the vets office to open so I can call and ask to bring her in this morning.  I have made the decision that unless the vet is super confident that he can get her to walk again, she won't be coming home with me.   The one thing I like about my vet is that he is honest with me.  If he thinks he can help her we will say so, but he will not waste my money or my dogs life, if he thinks he cannot.

Its funny, well not funny, but ironic.  We have Butch who is at least 13 years old, has lupus, and is on prednisone.  We always thought he would be the first one to go, not Dakota.  Not our happy healthy girl.

It is time to call now.  I guess I will finish this when I get home from the vet.

The last picture ever taken of my girl.  The prognosis was not good.  The vet said we could try a neurologist, but but since we cannot isolate what exactly is keeping her from walking, we could get thousands of dollars into it and not be any further than where we are.

I made the call and stayed with her till the end.

I am sad but feel a certain amount of relief as well. It was so hard to see her lying there like that, wanting to go for her walk, but not having the ability to do so.  She was depressed I could tell.  

As always it was the right decision, but it sure doesn't make it any easier.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Picket Post Trail

If you head up US 60 from Apache Junction towards Globe, just past Florence Junction is a sign for the Picket Post Trail Head.  I have driven past many times and always thought it would be cool to go check it out.

Now I have a riding buddy....who boards her horse with me.  Which isn't to say that I don't have other riding buddies, but this riding buddy is a cross country trail fanatic and I mean that in the most awesome way.

We had planned on heading up to Payson but I have a show to get ready for (to sell at, not compete in) and my time is really limited right now so I decided I could not really go for all day trek.  We opted for the Picket Post which only took about 20 min to drive to and was, in a word, AWESOME!

It was every bit as awesome as I had hoped it would be and we really only explored the tip of the iceberg.

I took my "trusty" steed Trax, and she rode her Walker, Cody.  I gained a lot of respect for her horse on this trip.  He is as sure footed as any mule, and seems to have endless energy.

I will let the pics do most of the talking here in just a minute, but I want to tell a little bit about the trail.  This is a very rocky ride.  I would not recommend taking a barefoot horse up there without boots.  Luckily Trax has shoes on now, and I was happy for it.  I think he was too.  It starts out with lots of little ups and downs, the trail is a two track and their are cows foraging around you as you ride.  As you go the ups gradually become steeper, and there are less downs than ups.  I cannot even begin to guess what the grade of the climb was and I was a little unsure of how my horse would handle it.

Once again I under estimated the magnificence of my pony.  He rocked those rocks and climbed those hills pretty easily.  I let him pick his pace going up the hills.  If he wanted to trot or lope to get up them, who was I to argue, as long as once he got to the top he slowed down before vaulting over a cliff.

Those two were taken before the climbing started.  The next 3 were taken at about the half way mark of the "up".

If you follow that ridge down to the point and then imagine what lies below that...that is where we started out

We could have ridden over closer to that mountain but thought we chose a less steep hill.  We were wrong. 

Ear Shots! 
This is a pic of my riding buddy.CW

We pushed onward and the next climb was huge and very steep but the horses seemed ready to go for it, so up we went.  About half way up poor Trax started puffing pretty hard, and then it seems as though he was limping.  I thought maybe he had a rock so when we reached what we thought was the top we stopped and I checked his feet.  No rocks, but perhaps a bruise.

Then we turned around and there was yet another very steep hill behind us.  We opted not to go any further this time, simply because both our horses are out of shape.  No sense killing them the first time around.

So we turned around and headed back down.   God performed a miracle that day because suddenly Trax's limp was healed!  This is at the bottom of the last hill we climbed.  The pic doesn't accurately show how steep it was, or even that it goes on around the bend and then up another fifty feet or so.

 Heading down we had a hard time keeping up with old 4WD Cody.

Coming down we found a second trail and followed it, but all it did was loop back around to the original trail that we had followed.  But we passed this which in real life looks like someone left a giant pile of stone marbles laying.

At the trail head again we weren't quite ready to quit so we wandered over to the "Arizona Trail" which is more for hikers but horses are allowed.  It is narrower though.  We saw a cave which turned out to be a tree (LOL) and then we just kind of meandered and followed that little one lane trail.

It took us out to the US60 and we could have crossed under it through a large culvert, but opted not to.  Instead we followed a wash for a bit then bushwhacked it up a hill and then we saw the coolest little "place" for lack of a better term.  I assume it is there for the cows, but it had stone walls, a cistern, windmill, and a long water trough for livestock.

We had to get pics under the trees.

And then we saw Don Quixote tipping his hat to the windmill.  (and I have had that song in my head ever since)  I cannot explain to you why I thought of that except that when I think of Don Quixote I always imagine a drawing I saw of him which depicts him as being tall and scraggly and he is facing the windmill here.  

After that we either had to go back the way we came or blaze another trail. We chose to blaze and Trax lead the way up a sheer rock face and never once took a misstep!  I was pretty dang proud of my horse.  He was a perfect gentleman the entire ride, he handled some pretty tough terrain and never once did I feel unsafe, or like he was going to go out of control.  I do however think it is time to start looking for a different saddle for him. As much as I have loved my Circle Y, I noticed today that it is starting to put a lot of pressure on his left shoulder.  Not sure why, but of course horses bodies change through out their lives, and saddles do get worn out. So maybe it is just time.  

Of course every ride ends with the sweaty pony pic.  

If you are ever in the area and looking for a good ride, I would recommend this trail, however it is not for the faint of heart.  I cannot wait to go back and take one of the other trails!