“Adventure is just discomfort in retrospect.”
“Adventure is just discomfort in retrospect.”
Our first official day of riding started with a rainy two hour ride around the ranch. Rob managed pretty well for a non-rider. What I say in my journal about my non-horsey brother is that “He did very well on the introductory ride – managed to post at the trot and hold on during the canter.”
The next day we had another ride around the ranch, then came back for a late lunch. The lunch was exactly like a lunch you would be served in England; bread with canned meat, tuna and a pasta salad. This was served with sliced tomatoes and chopped lettuce. We also had the option of Vegemite. I went for the tuna.
I think Rob just had beer.
We departed the next morning in the pouring rain. The ride started by fording the river behind the house and setting out across extremely rough country. We forded two more rivers and crossed gullies and hills steeper than anywhere I’d ever ridden before.
Because it was rainy and cool the kangaroos were out in force. We probably saw a hundred of them that day, as well as wild goats (which looked exactly like domestic goats) by the dozen.
Our guide told us that the kangaroos were considered a pest, eating forage that could be better used for cattle or sheep. They are not protected, and are often shot for meat and hides. Occasionally the local stockmen hold kangaroo roundups, herding large groups of kangaroos into an enclosure where they are disposed of with rifle shots. They often poison them as well.
The terrain was treacherous in the rain and mud, but we forged ahead.
We finally arrived at the little town of Emmaville at about 4:30. We were drenched and tired by then, and plenty happy to see the little pub where we were to spend the night.
I wrote “The local pub was a welcome site, with warm fire and cold beer. We had a hearty dinner and retired to the bar to watch some dart players and visit with the locals.”
This is our group in front of the pub the next morning before leaving.
We set out at 9:00 and had an easier riding day, though we had some steep uphill climbs where we had to stand in our stirrups and hold the horses manes to keep our balance. We saw lots of sheep and baby lambs, and had several good long gallops. There were a couple more river crossings today, too.
We even got to jump over some logs. Rob didn’t jump though. He was too scared.
At the end of the day we stayed at another little pub, in the tiny town of Torrington, population 82. We spent a couple of hours playing pool and talking to a local stockman and his wife until dinner time. We had roast beef with potatoes for dinner, an excellent meal after our exertions of the day. The next day was our rest day.
On our rest day we hiked out to see the lookout site of Thunderbolt the Bush Ranger, a very famous thief on the order of Robin Hood. The views were spectacular from the top.
We went back for lunch, then hiked off to see the “Mystery Face,” which is a natural rock formation shaped exactly like a real face.
After a few more hours of beer drinking and pool, where Woodsy and I beat Rob and Woody for the World Championship, we turned in for the night.
And headed out on a beautiful sunny morning for our next leg.
It was a perfect day for riding. The ground was smooth and we had the opportunity to do lots of galloping and more jumping of logs.
At one point we were galloping along through a farmer’s paddock when suddenly a horse came out of nowhere and shot by me.
It was Shandy. And he had no rider.
Rob landed in fairly soft dirt, and wasn’t injured at all. This time. But I get ahead of myself.
We stopped in Deepwater for the night, where we had some unanticipated and vaguely disturbing entertainment. The Publican, which is the owner of a pub in Australia had a two year old stud cold. Our guide Woody made arrangements to have the stud colt service our hateful little packhorse Chartreuse, who was in season.
We joked about who was more excited about that, the stud colt or the Publican. We never could come to agreement.
At each pub we visited there was a schedule posted as to when the Pub Crawlers would be visiting. One pub had a huge board for us to sign. It had obviously been there for quite some time.
Rob stayed up late every single night, drinking beer and playing pool with the local drovers who came to visit. Much hilarity was always enjoyed by all.
The next morning we headed out for our final long cross country tour.
It was another great day for riding, and we made the most of it.
And this is where Rob took the coolest picture of our whole trip.
Isn’t that awesome?!
Rob didn’t participate in the race. He was chicken. But he took lots of pictures.
We swam through a reservoir, then forded another river before coming to an area called Ranger’s Valley. Ranger’s Valley is home to Australia’s largest feedlot, feeding 70,000 cattle. It is owned by the Japanese. Huh.
After Ranger’s Valley we went for a nice gallop over hard flat ground. Those Australians love their gallops. Rob was right in front of me when Shandy suddenly literally jumped right out from underneath him. He hit the ground very, very hard. Rob, not the horse.
He broke his wrist. But we didn’t know that until we made it back home. He was in terrible pain for the rest of the trip.
How he hated that spotted horse Shandy!
We eventually made it back to the ranch.
Join me next week when I show you the super cool event we got to do before we left the ranch.
And I’ll explain why trying to stop chewing tobacco while on a trip overseas with a broken wrist is not a good idea.
“Horses and children, I often think, have a lot of the good sense there is in the world.”
– Josephine Demott Robinson
It is amazing how the universe works.
Horsecrazy and I were at a horse show last fall. She was riding her sweet little pony Reno, helping me move cattle behind the chutes for the cutting portion of a reined cow horse futurity. Reno is the perfect little pony in many ways. He is beautiful, kind and quiet and takes very good care of his rider in any trail-riding situation.
He is not so fond of the arena.
On that particular day we were riding in an outside arena at the Idaho Horse Park. Reno and Annabelle were loping on one side of the arena, I was loping my beloved mare Spice on the other side. Suddenly the pony veered across the arena. He ran under my mare’s neck before I could even register what was happening.
Then he bucked my baby girl off. Right under the feet of my mare.
I looked down to see the hard, black, shod hoof of my horse land on MY LITTLE GIRL’S PIGTAIL. She had a brand new pink riding helmet that she had been wearing all morning. (That is a whole other story). But she was hot and sweaty. She had taken the helmet off for just a few minutes. It was hanging on the fence post in the arena.
She was fine. I was fine, but shaken up. She got right back on and rode the rest of the day. But I was haunted.
When we went home that night I told Desperate Hubby that we needed a new arena horse for Horsecrazy. Sooner than later.
We didn’t have the money for a new horse right then.
The next day we went back to the horse show. We ran into HT (horse trainer) from the old days, who laughed at Annabelle trying to get her pony to move as he stood in the middle of the arena bucking and bucking. She was wearing her helmet that day. Then HT told us that his old client and our old friend Dave wanted to give away his show horse to a kid. Hurry he said. The horse won’t last long.
This was not just any show horse. Grumpy is an elite show horse. He was bred, trained and shown by the pre-eminent breeder of quarter horses in the United States. His breeding is the definition of royalty in the reining and reined cow horse world. Our friend Dave had owned him and shown him for the past many years. He wasn’t riding Grumpy anymore, and wanted him to go a good home with a kid to ride him.
I was on the phone before HT finished explaining. We picked up Grumpy that afternoon.
In a gesture so purely generous that it takes my breath away, Dave not only gave Annabelle her dream horse that day. He took her in the tack room and gifted her with an almost brand-new saddle his daughter had outgrown. Then he let her pick out her choice of wool show saddle pads, any one of them well over $150 to buy.
Two days later we got an envelope in the mail with Grumpy’s registration papers, transferring full ownership of this fancy, fancy horse into Annabelle’s name. Her very own horse, at age five, a local legend in the show horse world.
What an amazing guy Dave is.
Grumpy and Horsecrazy have been inseparable since. She rides him pretty much every day.
In all sorts of situations.
Here at a reining clinic in the cold, cold days of January. She was the only rider under about twenty years of age.
To the top of the foothills north of Eagle, Idaho.
And around our small arena at home about a million times.
They love each other. And if you noticed, he loves having his picture taken as much as my baby girl endures it. He puts his ears forward every time he sees a camera. This is true. He is a photo hound.
I wrote this poem about Grumpy when Desperate Hubby and I were reflecting on how lucky we were to get such a great horse given to us. I hope it shows how much we love having him in our lives.
His name is Old Grumpy
A free horse – that’s great!
He’s well trained and gorgeous
And at no cost – but wait…
The cold weather’s coming
A blanket’s required
He needs a big trailer,
So the truck needs rewired
A neon pink halter
A new set of reins
Some lessons are needed
Know someone who trains?
His shoes are expensive
And teeth need a float
The money he’s cost us
Could have bought daddy’s boat!
Our old hay’s too dusty
It’s grass hay he needs
As well as the horse treats
Like candy she feeds
The costs just keep mounting
But we don’t mind at all
Our little girl’s happiness
We’d never forestall
So a thousand or more later
Give or take some small change
Old Grumpy is settled
Like the king of our range
A gift that’s so generous
Is hard to imagine
Such kindness and giving
Is just hard to fathom
For Grumpy’s no throwaway
Or horse that’s unwanted
A show horse deluxe
By no cow he’s daunted
So the cost we’ve absorbed
From this gift of such niceness
Is happily borne…..
For Old Grumpy is Priceless!
Thank you for your generosity, Dave.
We love Grumpy.
“Horses lend us the wings we lack.”
This past weekend we got the opportunity to take my sister, who the kids call Aunt Susie, out for a trail ride.
This would not be notable but for two reasons: 1) Aunt Susie has never ridden with us before, and 2) In fact, Aunt Susie hasn’t been on a horse at all for several years.
Despite the somewhat diabolical look on Annabelle’s face in this picture, she had been looking forward to this day for a whole week. If I haven’t mentioned it before, she loves to show off her horsemanship skills.
And she didn’t mind sharing Grumpy with Aunt Susie.
We did get a cute picture of her and Reno before we took off.
We headed on down the trail. We were riding at Eagle Island State Park, a location bordered by a river on both sides (oh, I guess that’s why they call it Eagle ISLAND, huh? I’m a genius!) and very prone to wet riding conditions.
We survived an attack by some huge rabid flying bats down on the south shore of the river. Okay, they were gnats, but they were really large. The horses freaked out and I almost got dumped. But we made it through and on to a water crossing.
Now, Annabelle loves nothing more than a good water crossing. She forces her mount to walk through any available water even if there is a good three feet stretch of dry ground beside the water to walk on instead. It’s the point of the matter with her.
This made her very happy.
Grumpy and Aunt Susie also managed with aplomb. In fact, Aunt Susie acted like she and Grumpy had been partners for years. Annabelle was impressed.
Once we were through the water crossing it was a snap from there.
Of course we had to stop in the tree tunnel, which is my favorite photo spot of all time, and take about a hundred pictures of each other before we could continue.
Annabelle gets really tired of me taking her picture so much. She is a good sport, but if it looks like she is smiling she is actually just saying “cheese, cheese, cheese, cheese” over and over again hoping I will give up and start riding again.
Then we were on the last leg. I love these “walking-behind” pictures.
When we got back Annabelle insisted on un-tacking her own horse. She is a hand, that girl.
We had lots of fun riding with Aunt Susie, and we are glad she is back in the saddle again.
“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
– Mother Teresa
Sunday was my nephew’s sixth birthday. Isn’t he the cutest little thing?
My brother and sister-in-law graciously brought him and his older sister over to celebrate at our house.
Handsome Hubby was literally beside himself with excitement. He had planned some special entertainment for the afternoon. He and Batman had been working on the entertainment all week long, in fact.
The entertainment was a rocket named “Big Bertha.” Handsome Hubby and Batman had painstakingly built and painted the rocket over the course of a few days. Little Nephew was accorded first honors of setting off the rocket.
I have to say I am pretty proud of this picture. This is the smoke from the rocket launch. Cool, huh?
The rocket went way, way up, then descended lazily over our lawn.
And into the neighbor’s cattle pasture.
The boys thought it was great fun to be lifted over the fence to race to the rocket landing site. They picked it up as a joint effort.
Then happily carried it back.
We had so much fun that Handsome Hubby had to reload the engine to shoot it off again. And again.
On the last launch, Handsome Hubby actually caught the rocket as it landed. I am not kidding. He caught it. This is an actual picture. Of the actual catch. Again, I’m not kidding. I am on a photo shooting roll here (hee hee).
He is awesome.
Then we went into the house and had these magnificent birthday cupcake-ice-cream cones. My very creative sister-in-law made these.
They are an actual cupcake baked in an actual ice cream cone.
My beautiful and artistic niece then decorated them.
When they were done, they looked like this.
They were delicious. I had two.
Happy Birthday Dear Nephew.
“Life is unchartered territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time.”
– Leo Buscaglia
Saturday was a big day for Horsecrazy Annabelle. We had a big trail ride planned with some friends. Annabelle had never been out on a long ride with a group before, and we were going to a totally new place to ride, so she was excited.
She loves to show off her skills. She was also hoping we would get to see a herd of wild horses, since we would be on the Hard Trigger Wild Horse Preserve during the ride.
We got up early and loaded the horses for the drive to the BLM Wilson Creek area south of Marsing. It was supposed to be a really nice spring day, but it was a little colder than we expected.
The horses were fresh.
The terrain was a little rougher than Annabelle had ridden before.
But she handled it just fine.
We stopped to take a few pictures.
About halfway in to the ride the girls wanted to trot their horses. We were up for the challenge, and off we went. Two of the horses got way in front of us, and we were left quite a ways behind with my friend T. T’s horse started to become very agitated because she wanted to lope and catch up with the other horses. T made her trot.
Suddenly the (expensive, professionally trained show horse) mare started bucking like a saddle bronc right in the middle of the trail. I mean really bucking. I scanned the rocky ground where they whirled and wished that I had medical supplies instead of beef jerky and licorice in my saddle pack. Or at least a flask of whiskey.
And I realized that T’s horse had not paid attention to her rider’s choice of attire that morning:
The shirt was so cute and fit T so perfectly that I had to take a picture of it. This is before the ride.
T eventually regained control of her beautiful, expensive, professionally trained show horse and we headed on down the trail. Horses can be so silly.
T was a good sport about it. She said “Who would have thought Annabelle could have handled speed better than I could?!”
The rest of the ride was accomplished peacefully. Annabelle and Grump forded three small streams without a hiccup. We climbed steep hills and slid down embankments a little muddied by the spring rains.
All the while Annabelle munched on beef jerky and red licorice. Guess I was a good thing I had them.
We had lots of fun and can’t wait to go back to Wilson Creek. Annabelle is sure we will see some wild horses next time.
As for me, the question I have long wondered has been answered.
Horses CAN’T read.