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 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.