Sun and adventures to come

Three awesome lads

Thanks to the later sunset, I was able to fit in a quick, two mile hike after I picked the kid up from school. My second best hope has been realized and Flash is loading now with zero fuss (he’s not yet self loading but maybe someday). I’m hoping he actually likes going hiking (or, as I’m sure he calls it, “sampling the wilderness”.)

Must eat every five strides

If it’s not cancelled due to coronavirus concerns, I’ve signed up for a Mountain Trail Schooling Course at Bolender Horse Park this weekend. I’ll be doing Novice, Level 1 and Level 2 in hand if Flash agrees with that. For all it’ll be our first event like this together, I’m hoping we’ll do okay…at least not embarress each other! The hardest move for Flash is a side pass; I just don’t have my signals down for nice, smooth ones so we’ll try to eek through that.

Kade is a great videographer in training!

Wish us luck and hope we don’t freeze up in the hills Saturday night! At least Flash will have a nice cozy stall on site.

After school fun

Close to home adventures

I’ve finally reached 20 weeks pregnant, wooot!!! Halfway there! We had the mid way ultrasound yesterday to check all the measurements and growth and baby is moving along normally, always good to hear that from doctors!

I love my new spare tire cover!

This also means that I’ve reached the point in which I’m voluntarily grounding myself from riding; the risk of a fall from Flash is fairly low but not zero, and as this isn’t my baby my comfort level is lower. So, we’re back to hiking and today the sun shone so out we went!

Happy dog, starving horse

An awesome local group is gathering and bringing some old trails back to life that just so happen to be a 10 minute haul from my barn! I was able to load Flash, unload, shove his boots on, make him carry my stuff (some adjustments still needed there), go for a two mile hike and make it home as the kid got off the bus.

Trail building: downhill edition

Flash was super well behaved except for the occasional reminder to not trip over me (personal spaaaaace!) and even when we saw other horses he didn’t scream for them. He did get a bit fast heading back to the trailer, so we took an out and back detour on a single track trail and he settled back down.

Awesome viewpoint

A beautiful hike and some exploring in a new place on a sunny day with a good dog and a starving blonde pony…it helps a great deal! Now to pack the truck for our camping shakedown trip to Battle Ground Lake tomorrow!

Pony chooses food over views naturally
Nom nom

Bluebird Day

I received hard news from my boss on Friday: a coworker, a senior manager I supported and was mentoring me a bit, was found dead in her home.

For this and various other reasons, I desperately needed a good day, a smooth day when I didn’t have to worry about a million things and everything just moved…easily.

Today delivered and I seriously lucked out in every way. Truck and trailer are both roadworthy, sealed, organized and basically as good as they get. Flash loaded more or less willingly (I’ve mostly accepted that he’ll load cause he’s a good guy and not because trailering is fun or neutral for him), and I got zero traffic up to Washington.

I had managed to snag a mid Monday lesson with a new trainer, Rebekah L., And boy both she and the facility she trains out of were definitely worth the drive! The sun was shining and it was warm enough for Kade and I to have a picnic lunch in the grass while we relaxed from the drive.

Rebekah is the first new trainer I’ve introduced myself to in years, and this time with my own horse! My main goal for the spring is to get Flash and I to a solid, well matched place, so we can pick up from there when I come back from pregnancy recovery in August. Might as well make the most of our arena time while we’re stuck there, and today’s outdoor arena was just… breathtaking. I don’t go for hyperbole much, but the sun was shining, the views of the hills were beautiful, and the footing was fantastic. I just wish it were a tad bit closer and we’d be there all the time!

Flash trailered well, relaxed while we waited and I tacked fuzzbutt up, and only called once to the horses all around him. He had a few opinions under saddle, but nothing to budge even my out of fitness butt. Rebekah gave me one main pointer that I was desperately needing-carry your hands! Huh, so that’s why I lurch forward at the posting trot, my hands were way too low!

Flash and I have tons of work to do, but there’s a well trained, happy partner under his blonde, cookie hogging exterior and I’m more excited than ever to bring it out. Good boy Flash, very good boy šŸ™‚

Mr. 2Spooky

(Setting the scene: sitting in my beloved Emerald Queen, still at work, waiting for the World’s Best future husband to come rescue me and my non independent woman self from a super flat tire, and a spare tire I can’t get out from under the vehicle cause I’ve never practiced on this truck yet).

After looting the local 4H tack sale with two far fetched friends on Saturday, I put the new to me tack to use on Sunday.

My proudest score of Saturday was a almost brand new Equipedic pad for $100, which is totally worth boasting about and bonus, Ray had no issues with it!

A still relatively new to me riding partner and I headed out for a long slow ride, as we’re aiming to turtle Grizzly together. I have always ridden with others much more experienced than I, both with endurance and the local trails. Yesterday I got to be the ‘senior’ riding partner, and we never once got lost! She mentioned several suggestions I had that I’ve picked up from others (hopping off every 10 miles or so to pee and stretch and adjust tack, letting horses graze for a few minutes every so often, and walking the last bit I to camp/the barn) were super helpful, so thanks to all those who’ve instilled good habits in me!

While it was a good 12 mile ride (no rain!) I was reminded once again that Ray is a different horse than super laid back, goofy Jokker.

Mr. I’m actually a teenager spent a good chunk of the ride just super casually glancing around, going full giraffe at random moments, and not quite fully jumping sideways at Every. Single. Culvert. I rode every moment of the ride, working to not let my emotions rule because Mr. I’m not actually trying to dump you tried to pretend he was a super spooky four year old.

I kept the image of mile 18, trotting easily down trail halfway back to camp and a well earned completion award and roaring bonfire in mind as I again reminded Mr. I go so fast than no, you can’t bolt all the way home, and please don’t tailgate the peeing mare.

Rather than being terrified, I enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself to match the horse, and not get sucked into his attempts to weasel out of work. He did eventually accept the notion and we settled down and enjoyed ourselves (minus the redhead eating culverts).

Lessons learned: definitely going to try a Kimberwick or at least a running martingale next time; he has a habit of sticking his nose straight up when he disagrees with the riders chosen speed. “Neener neener, can’t tell me what to do now!” Shortening my stirrups was both good and bad; my seat was much better, but it tired my right ankle our faster and forced me to constantly reset my bad balance (something I’m hoping Celena can help me with at her clinic in two more weeks!)

My proudest moment was also the scariest; we were cantering back home and I could feel myself tipping forward over his neck, reins not short enough to do any good, and if he’s stumbled or shied I would have been dumped, just like I fell off Reno at Grizzly last year. Fortunately this year I heard some old trainer’s loud ass voice shout ‘Sit on your ASS!’ so I did and we came back to a more controlled canter that I cowgirl whooped my way through cause yeah, super badass enough to correct that mistake this time!

The only thing I really need to work with Mr. Fastest Possible Speed is rating, which I know will be worse the first five miles out of ride camp. My twin goals are dialing in his bit/martingale combo and working on my core strength so I can keep with him for those long miles.

We can do this and we can enjoy doing so, even more when the sun decides to shine! Hows everyone else’s conditioning coming?

Easy like Sunday morning

Say what you will about Facebook and their questionable business practices, today I’m thankful for the ability to connect with a wide range of people.

This weekend has been full of spending money and giggling like a little girl, but it’s not Jokker’s fault this time. In response to my last post, a friend suggested I contact a boxer breeder she knew of who had an older dog looking for a new home (a million thanks Ann!)

Based on the cat’s still roundly pissy yowling whenever Cyrus gets too close (he isn’t scared, just mad he’s not an only furry animal in the house now) it may be too early to declare total victory on the dog acquisition front, but in only a day we’ve made adorable headway.

Cyrus is the same age as Kade, coming six years old, already a distinguished gentleman with impeccable manners and a tendency for carrying stuffies around in his mouth. He’s a super cuddler with a soft mouth and needing a soft place to land (he prefers the couch to the super highly rated dog bed I found on Amazon). Kade is already smitten, Tom is being won over by Cyrus doing his best to ignore said pissy cat, and strangers stop and they comment on his handsomeness on our walks.

I know there are a lot of heavy, terrible things racketing around the world these past few weeks, and I’ve given what blood and help I can. In our little corner of the world, our hearts are quietly full, and I’ve made at least one little boy tremendously happy. Coupled with a heavy headed snoring dog, tasty coffee, Tom home from South Korea and a new job to start at tomorrow, life is pretty excellent!

Escape the smoke

After the topsy turvey summer we’ve had, neither of us could face a crazy holiday weekend of travel, even for horse training. So I skipped a farm visit, and today my little family of three (minus His Royal Fuzzy Whiteness Wilson) mosied over them that hills to the beach.

This lazy day of wandering was exactly what we all needed, quiet time together and an escape from the awful heat and wildfire smoke filling the Willamette valley again today.

We hit Lincoln City, which was reliably packed, enjoyed a nice lunch at McMenamin’s, and found perfect high winds and few people (although still enough kids for Kade to play with) at Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City.

Tom had a blast flying his high tech kites in the wind, busting a steady 15-23mph, and being that special kind of puzzled only engineers get when he couldn’t figure out why I kept crashing the kite. (Hint: you work the kite lines the exact opposite way from reins, which I’ve spent the better part of my life learning and teaching!)

The large pack of kids digging energetically in the sand taught Kade how to find shrimp; we took turns burying each other in the sand; hit pause for a snuggle break to warm up my zero body fat kid; wrote a little of the stress into my journal; and relaxed, watching Kade play, Tom fly kites, on a beautiful sunny windy smoke free beach. I managed (barely) not to cry, out of gratefulness that we live where we can safely steal a day like this, peaceful and together and happy, far from the stresses and strains and sadness of the world for awhile.

Sappy things do happen

I figured it was time & past time to turn my pen to writing a sappy yet eloquent shout out to the bearded man person in our lives, seeing as how Iā€™m yet again abandoning him tomorrow night to drive up a mountain to camp with my still sans beard man person (read: leaving Tom to peace & quiet & tranquility, just him, some nice video games & a cat spazzing out due to the full moon). 


Almost two years ago, a single mother lived in a cute red house, with a little blonde love of her life & a succession of the world’s goofiest dogs (boxers, for those who need a dog to keep them laughing!). Said mother reached out & dipped a toe into…cue ominous music…online dating. But wait! This story pays off (so far!).


This foray into dating didn’t end with any of the Criminal Minds level horror stories, or even drink wine & bitch level. The single mom got all gussied up (for her level, anyway), & took a pretty stroll on a hot day through her nice neighborhood to a hippie ice cream place to meet a hardworking, goofy guy for a real, actual date. This goofy guy immediately proceeded to purchase her a cold, fancy milkshake & open doors & talk & listen to her….for the rest of the afternoon. Not that her people instincts are always the best, but she ended up strolling home with said goofy guy & introducing him to the world’s goofiest dog, who loved him completely. And most dogs, as we all know, are excellent judges of character. Feeling good about things, this single mom eventually sent said goofy guy home, later at night than would later be admitted, perhaps.


Fast forward to two years later, & said no longer single mom panicked about some lost paperwork (just my new, beloved vehicle title, nothing major or anything) & snaps at this goofy guy over early morning text…only to discover said paperwork where she’d left it, against advice, in the glove box (where, in her opinion, such paperwork should live.). Said woman now has to eat crow & apologize, & maybe just realize she should investigate the whole “think before blurting things out” thing.


Beyond that, these two weird, goofy, stubborn people are now in the (hopefully long) process of building a life together, including massive piles of laundry, keeping a kid alive, possibly house buying & disagreeing about such things as what to have for dinner, the merits of seafood, & how fast to drive in traffic.

 

That hardworking guy gets up before the sun & puts in his time building really expensive things only certain people understand beyond the basics, cooks dinner nearly every night, & makes sure the woman doesn’t bring home random animals. He checks the fluids in her car, keeps the kid alive so she can go to a writer’s group or disappear riding for hours & hours, & talks her off the occasional panic ledge. He’s never camped in his life & doesn’t plan to start now, although fishing is nice. He buys flowers & chocolate when he knows he’s really messed up, & asks the woman to not shut him out for four days while she processes her own mad.

 In short, this dude is awesome. His name is Tom, & back off ladies, he’s busy playing video games on his giant new wraparound monitor & hates being poked, prodded, tickled, kissed, or in general bothered when he’s trying to finish a dang mission. He’ll be to bed eventually & garbage can wait another day, right?

 

I’m writing this now as we’ve had a few rocky bits, & goddess only knows what’s still to discover to disagree or panic about, but we’re contemplating buying a house (side bar: Why the hell is a mortgage cheaper than rent these days???) & by all accounts, such a thing is more serious a step than marriage. But if you could see how good he is with not only keep Kade alive, but convincing him bedtime isn’t the end of the world & no, he doesn’t need to eat his peas, but you do have to pick up all your toys & ahhh! Here comes the tickler to beat all ticklers!


Thank you for all the laughs and more to come, bearded man person šŸ™‚

Time to enjoy

  
While I was standing at my desk this morning, back within the blue fabric walls of my home sweet cube, I was trying to decide what the best part of my weekend was, & mostly failing to choose between two awesome things. 

To describe it shortly isn’t easy for me but I can try: 

On Friday I lit out from work early, scooping up my child & hot footing it east wards again, like any good Portlander desperate for an uncomplicated dose of sun & clear skies. After a short stop at Fred Meyer’s to load up on s’more ingredients & an excellent burger at Big Jim’s in The Dalles, less than three hours later found us (read: Mom) setting up camp on the shores of the Deschutes River. The park there is a green, shady oasis in the scrub hills of the Eastern Columbia River Gorge, & it was perfect despite being packed to the gills.

I’d nabbed a primitive site farthest from the highway & only feet from the river, & Kade was off like a shot & barely seen until past dark, waving his light stick around & playing with all the other kids he could find. This left me to set up the air mattress in the back of the Queen & make a fire with the help of the friendly fishermen from Bend next door, as I’d neglected to find kindling. But I quickly had a roaring fire going to ward off the night’s chill, so I was able to settle down to the serious task of stuffing myself & my randomly appearing child with that gooey campfire staple, read a magazine & let every bit of stress leak out with the blood the few mosquitos managed to score. 
  
I kept adding logs & poking coals to keep the fire bright & toasty, glancing up every so often to assure myself that somewhere I still had a happy, safe, utterly free child, finding myself utterly unable to keep a stupid grin off my face. Even with all the stress of our lives & decisions to be made this year regarding relationships, money, jobs & housing (it’s never just one thing!) for this golden night full of fire & nature & wild child, it was all good. I can handle myself so much better with these regular doses of natured filled routine breaking. 

It only got better after we managed to drag ourselves out of the warm car & into rapidly warming daylight, cozying up to heaping bowls of oatmeal. Camp packed up quickly & we headed down the trail along the river, spying lizards, deer beds, & a hungry hawk swooping in for her morning fish. The views you have to see for yourself, & Kade commandeered the perfect lunch spot on a bluff above the river, the only man made thing in sight the railroad tracks on the other side. We devoured Goldfish & sandwiches while watching seagulls fight over a girl, only three miles from camp but just us beneath that huge blue sky, the likes of which you just can’t get in the forest. 

  
That was the start of the weekend. To finish it I headed north across the Columbia, alone as both boys were huddled in the dark at home with various ailments (Kade too much sun, Tom too many blooming trees). Courtesy of a new friend in the making, I was able to ride two amazing horses, & to break The Emerald Queen’s hauling cherry by hooking up a nice (tiny) two horse trailer & moseying our way over to Whipple Creek with a beautiful Palomino named Jake munching in the back. I managed to piss off countless drivers by maintaining at least 5mph under the speed limit the entire way, but I didn’t clip a single corner so it’s all good. 

  

The first part I was able to ride King, wherein we got lost & talked a teenager off the ledge of whatever cliff she stared down. He’s an angel of a big sorrel gelding, with a “let me eat the world” attitude & the best gaits west of the Mississippi. The trails at Whipple are perhaps Endurance-lite, but they are full of loops with good footing & if you go around & around enough you’ll make yourself dizzy & put a nice wet saddle blanket on your mount.

For the second half of the ride I (mostly gracefully) hopped on the other blondie, Flash, & we became reacquainted to the idea of transitions & doing whatever the silly human asks. It was fun (his slow trot is show level smooth & easy to ride), which was fortunate as I was squeezed into the teenager’s saddle, which felt like being shoved in a jousting saddle for the amount of movement I had (sorry Flash, you are a wonderful & patient golden boy!)

  
So today I’m that lovely kind of sore that reminds me how excellent it feels to move out beneath the sun with friends, put on some road music & let the Emerald Queen take us away for awhile. I got home Sunday night in time to kiss my sweetly sleeping child, hear Tom’s tale of dealing with kid squabbles, enjoy a blissful shower & drop like a stone into sleep!