Thursday, April 26, 2012

Story Time: Little Rain & How to Royally Screw Up Being a Hero

Story time, cuddle up, get some tea! 

Once upon a time I worked at a ranch in Nanton, AB... a very small town, right on the highway, with a plethora of antique shops. It wasn't exactly the best experience, but, from the craziness that was Nanton came a lot of stories, a lot of madcap escapades, and a lot of laughs.

In the 3 months I lived there, I ended up living with a revolving door of characters, some of which I'm still in contact with, and will hopefully remain friends for a long time... others, well, no contact has been had. The cast of characters included 2 engaged norwegians, 2 post-undergrad brits (who, strangely enough, had both just received their B.A.'s in Anthropology... I'm currently in Anthropology.. 3 anthropologists living under one roof... in a ranch... in the middle of nowhere), 2 at times separated/at times together lovers, 1 random australian man who appeared for a short period of time, 1 barrel racer from Ontario, 1 strange little girl who rode about 3 times in the 2 weeks she was there... I think that's it? There was also my dog Moose, 2 cats Jewel and Leo, and a revolving door of dogs as well... I think 5. (The lovers were also dog "trainers"), AND 2 sheep! Add all of that up, add a dash of crazy boss, and we got a situation on our hands.

Anyways, you get the idea, it was a strange house, "the bunkhouse", and strange things happened there indeed.

One of my favorite stories, but also possibly guiltiest is the day I took home a baby deer...

Yes friends, that is me, cuddling a baby deer. (Awful photo of me, but, it proves a point) However, if you look really closely in that photo you can really see my roots showing... ie. my city girl roots.
But, we'll get to those roots in a moment, and start at the beginning.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

It was another rainy, crappy day at the ranch and 3 of us were asked to go ride a quarter section a couple miles down the road, check fence, fix fence, report back. So out we went, bundled up, off to fix some fence. The ride was uneventful until about halfway through when the only boy on our wild west adventure, Tommy (norwegian #1), stopped us and pointed toward a baby deer, half hidden in grass. Jess (the barrel racer, and my comrade in the above photo) and I jumped off to look at the little deer. Here begins a very stereotypical boy-girl conversation when it comes to wild baby animals.

Tommy: "It looks as if it's mother has deserted it, it might be best for us to kill it."
(present day - I can't remember what utensil Tommy had on him to kill this poor creature, but, he was going to make murder happen. Actually, realistically, I highly doubt Tommy would have killed poor defenseless baby, but I'm sure he enjoyed playing the part of macho cowboy on the range.)

Louisa & Jess: NO! Absolutely Not!


Louisa (your hero!): Well, we could always bring it with us, and then call a wildlife sanctuary and perhaps they would take it.

& so began the adventure.
I proceeded to tuck the baby deer in my oilskin, mount my horse, and ride off in the sunset.
What was I thinking?

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

Poor baby deer, who we named Little Rain due to the soft rain that was falling all around us. His long, spindly legs kept falling out of the bottom of my jacket, and I worried he was going to fall right out. So, Little Rain was moved to Jess' jacket. For the first part of the ride the fence line had been pristine, and then, as luck would have it, we find and capture a baby deer, and the fence line went to absolute shit.

3 hours later (maybe 4? maybe 16? My mind is playing wild tricks with my storytelling) we arrived back at the ranch, deer-in-coat-in-hand.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

Thinking we were quite the heroes, we appeared at the bunkhouse with Little Rain. Kristine, Tommy's Fiance (Norwegian #2), was quite unimpressed and declared that we had probably done something very stupid. She was right. I called a wildlife sanctuary, or bylaw, or some such thing, and got a nasty little wake up call about my heroics. Here is where my city girl roots are showing... badly...

Do any of you wonderful readers know what mother deer do with their baby deer while they forage? They leave them, they hide them in long grass and forage without them. Usually they stay in eyesight... so we were deer kidnappers, who traumatized a mother deer by deernapping her newborn baby.

Do you know why they can do this? Because baby deer scent is undetectable, they are born scentless, and so predators rarely find them.
... except for big, stupid, blundering humans.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

Wildlife lady also informed my that Little Rain was probably absolutely petrified as, (in her words), a "massive predator has just been clutching him to their chest for half of a day". Well wildlife lady, when you put it like that...

So.. back into the car we went, on wildlife lady's instructions, and Little Rain was hiked back to his homeland, and placed back into his grass. Thankfully deer are not one of those animals that will desert a baby if it has human scent on it, so she said the chance of the mother returning and taking him back was very likely.

We went back the next day, and he was gone.

Photo by Kristine Kjaerstad

I have since told this story to people, most of my friends commiserate with my foolishness, however, an old rancher once laughed out loud in the middle of the story and said, "You do know that they leave their babies in the grass right?"
No sir, No I did not.
Lesson learned.

I like to think now that Little Rain is a papa deer (... i have absolutely no idea about deer reproduction, so maybe he's just a teenager now? giving his mom sass? Skipping school and smoking cigarettes?) and that he is telling his children the harrowing tale of the day he spent with humans.

Little Rain, the Human Whisperer.
Natural Humanmanship.

& that my friends, is the story of Little Rain 
& how to royally screw up being a hero.

A Glimpse: 3

Barn Life:

Jäger does not like having his bridle-path trimmed...

but he does like his mama

especially when she gives him stud muffins AND lickits. 
Best horse-cookie day, EVER.

Blog - meet Caron & Jäger! Caron is also the owner of Quiz, and lurks this blog enough that I placed her photos up without permission, because I'm a spectacular friend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Riding Diary: 13

It has been forever and a day since I wrote my last "Riding Diary", so without further ado...

Horse: Quiz! (aka princessbabymarefacecutie)

Time: 1 Hr

Ride: So, this was the first time i've ever ridden in our outdoor arena, in 25 c weather, at 630 at night - NO LESS. How awesome! Aside from the thumb sized mosquitos that are already plaguing us, and our horses, what a wonderful day to be riding! I was in a t-shirt, I could feel sun on my face.. life was good. 

My ride predominately went really well, I've pretty much been "off" of riding this month, other than a couple little rides here and there, and a pretty disastrous lesson at the beginning of the month, so I was a little worried. Compound that with Quiz's (thought-to-be) mini abscess last week, and the fact my muscles, especially tummy, are all jiggly balls of goo, I expected it to be a bit of a train-wreck.

Maybe the Sun-gods were on my side.. who knows. Warm up went well, they were excavating a pond in the back pasture by the arena, so there were bob-cats, quads and tractors, and although Quiz's ears were a little like "uhm, what is that?" she sailed on through. Plus, I've noticed I'm becoming more and more natural in my posting trot. I think I'm becoming more aware of the big picture of rider + horse.

We started at a jog, and moved into the lope. My trainer commented that Quiz was settling down and not trying to break/push as much as she used it. It all kind of clicked yesterday, like the ride just felt really, really good. I had her on a loose rein for the majority of the ride - we even jogged on at the loosest possible rein - one handed, and for the most part she kept up a nice, slow, jog. Perfect!

My trainer had me working on rollbacks in a circle, so she would get me to lope, stop me wherever, get me to rollback, etc. etc. My rollbacks are a little iffy at times, Quiz was walking out on them quite a bit at the beginning, I just need to focus on really guiding with my rein hand and physically looking where I want her to turn. By the end we got a couple good rollbacks in there.

Then we moved on to loping around two barrels, she had me circling a barrel, coming out of it at a wide circle and then moving into the second barrel, circling it, and then again coming out wide. For this exercise I need to focus on keeping my hand closest to the barrel wide and open, but not dropping my hand. I also need to keep my back straight and really sit in those turns, only cueing Quiz with my leg when she begins to break down.

All and all I had a really good ride, and walked away with some concrete stuff to work on. Good lesson all around.

Next Time: Rollbacks - guide more with my body and don't expect her just to plant her back feet because I think she will. Think of a rollback as more of a fluid motion.

Barrel Exercise - Keep my hand closest to the barrel wide, open and up, don't drop the hand, thus allowing her to drop her shoulder. Only cue with my leg when she needs it, otherwise she'll just speed through the turn. Watch my shoulders - keep my body upright and slightly back through turns and while cueing for speed.

& now, because I never remember to take photos, or have anyone to take photo of video of me, I took a little video of Quiz post-workout. I was told by her owner that the second she got in the arena she would roll, well two videos later she had yet to roll. Hence my over eagerness when she actually did..

Quiz is so cute, my dorky self is not. I hate listening to myself over video. haha

Monday, April 23, 2012

The "Need" List: ... who am I kidding?

As many of you now know, I am planning on officially buying "my" horse come summer. As many of you ALSO know... I have a bit of a shopping problem. (So much so that I have about 4 "oo look what I bought you guys!" posts lined up but refuse to post them one after another due to how insane it makes me look.) So what does it mean when you buy a new horse, your first horse no less - shopping, duh.

No more using other people's stuff - I gotta get my own!
I'm a big girl now!

.... with a very "in the red" bank account.

So, what's on my "Need" list:

I love Cowboy Magic, but i've been hearing that detanglers that have silicon in them (so CM, or Vetrolin) can be actually very damaging because they dry out the hair. So either, use them sparingly (ie. when your horse decides to play hide and go seek in a burr bush) or use other products... like MTG. I've heard LOTS about MTG, (that it's awesome for post-wound areas, that it smells like bacon...) but i've never used it. Thoughts?! MTG vs. Cowboy Magic - GO!

My debate here is plain rope, or rope with rawhide/braided nose band? Knowing me, I will most likely end up with both... it's a sickness.

Honestly, one of the most exciting things about buying my own horse will be all the grooming possibilities! I am a sucker for braiding, bathing, clipping, you name it, I'll try it.
Poor boy.. the other night I was watching a youtube video on how to do hunter braids... he'll end up working the ranch looking like he's reading to go jump.

Okay.. so maybe this isn't a "need", but Chick's is having a wicked sale on these, and for under $30 I think that's a pretty good deal.

I'm a big fan of Professional's Choice, I've heard good things about some other boots lately, but around here, Professional's Choice is definitely #1, and I'd worry about spending the money on another company, and then not be happy with their product.

8. Various Grooming Supplies

The list of small grooming supplies goes on & on & on... curry combs, hard brushes, soft brushes, face brushes, hoof picks, shedding blades... normal stuff. Then my mind begins to wander, do I need a braiding kit (... I do not braid), do I need a bot knife (never have I used such a thing), perhaps I need a tack trunk...

9. Cooler

I'm planning on buying my blankets come September for the boy, I want to have his exact measurements before I drop that much money. However, in the summer the ranch I work at is prone to massive thunderstorms/hailstorms/even snow in August... and a lot of time we ride in all of that, so a cooler would really do the trick to keep him warm during the lunch break/after those really bad, wet storms.

You know your a horse girl when... you get excited about the idea of buying certain styles and types of buckets...

That's it for now, I am sure the list will continue to grow.. for example, I need a horsie first aid kit!
That's another post all together.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


On Monday I rode Quiz, and after I got off I noticed she was limping. She didn't feel off during the ride, so, your guess is as good as mine what happened. Sore muscle, mis-step, small abscess... who knows, who knows. Anyways, poor princess baby face is off, which means no riding for me this week. Hopefully she's better by Monday so I can get some real-life horse-time in, otherwise, it's more talk of imaginary horses, and blogging about random things for all of you to read!

What can you do when your favorite sport relies on another physical being to participate in? Sometimes I question why I love horses so much, oh right, because of their soft fuzzy noses, their big doe eyes, their aura... the list goes on. I'll stop complaining for now and go back to my virtual horse world.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Horse Boy

So after all my horse/even non-horse friends telling me to watch this documentary I finally did a couple nights ago. (Yay for finals procrastination and netflix!) If you haven't seen it/read the book the story is about a family, whose only child, Rowan, is autistic. Along with being non-verbal, he suffers inconsolable tantrums, incontinence and doesn't show interest in making friends. However, Rowan has a keen sense and relationship for animals, horses in particular. His father, a journalist, grew up riding, and is also very interested in shamanism in relation to healing - these two loves give birth to the idea for the documentary. Basically, the family embarks on an epic adventure to Mongolia where they proceed to visit shamans and sacred areas on horseback. 

It was a pretty emotional story. Rowan initially refuses to get on the horses, and instead focuses on the van as his area of safety. This is especially problematic as the last leg of the trip, to visit the historic reindeer herders, is only passable on horseback. His shamanic experiences seem traumatizing, coupled with them making him drink vodka, his mother washing herself "down there" with vodka (on camera...), and then his parents being whipped repeatedly. The whole thing seems absurd and unbelievable... how is this suppose to help Rowan's autism? 

His father begins to ask the same question, and my heart completely broke for him. I've heard that the rate of parents of autistic children who end up divorcing is exceptionally high, due to the massive amounts of stress caused by the illness for all involved. There are quite a few scenes of him just completely breaking down over the whole situation, and questioning who he is as a father. It's very compelling, and beyond the absurdity of where they are, and what they are doing, there is a very real story and a face to families who have autistic children.

Eventually, Rowan begins to ride and seems happy, they make it to the reindeer herders who agree to perform a shamanistic ritual to rid him completely of the evil spirit of his maniac depressive great-grandmother they believe to be harbouring him. In the end, the experience seems like a good one for Rowan - he builds and develops a bond and friendship with the interpreters son, and after the ritual he begins to get over his incontinence, as well as playing with other children, and being more verbal.

The horse side of the story is pretty insane. When they first arrive they are told the horses have been ridden for 3 days to prepare them for "western riders" aka... they were broke 3 days previous. There's a scene where one of their film crew gets bucked off by a bucksin, who then proceeds to run into the Mongolia sunset... seriously. haha The father touts Rowan around on the front of what appears to be a wintec synthetic western saddle, while at first his mother can't stand more than 30 minutes on horseback. The poor woman... she is definitely the skeptic of the couple, and not a horsewoman, and also ends up getting kicked pretty badly by one of the horses. Just not her trip I guess. The Mongolian horses are of ancient, ancient descent, and they sort of look like wild mangy ponies, of all colours.

Overall, I really enjoyed "The Horse Boy", I thought it was a really interesting look into a parent's struggle and triumphs, and love, for a child who has autism. Rowan's bond with horses is fascinating, time and time again horses are used as tools for therapy, communication, bonding, etc. They really are amazing animals. Everyday I work at my camp I feel blessed to experience children around horses, there is something just different about how children interact with horses, to me, it is completely sacred.

I tried to look into how Rowan is doing now, it appears the family has started a treatment program working with horses and children with autism, and there is a blog of Rowan updates. However, I couldn't find any information on whether of not they believe the shamanistic rituals actually helped Rowan in the end.

If you haven't seen it - definitely check it out!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My non-horsie mother..

Today, I was bugging my mother about how she never listens to me, she has just arrive home from a little vacay in Arizona. When I showed her a picture of Jingle (the paint in the header), I asked her...

Well Mom, what's his name? ... uhmm.... JINGLE!
(Point 1 for Mom.. seeing as i've been talking about this horse for two years.)
His registered name? ... oh god, I don't know..
Okay, well what kind of horse is he? .... palomino?
No mom, that is a colour of horse .... okay, thoroughbred!
What about the horse I take lessons on, what's her name? ... oh ya, the horse that you ride that, that girl owns...
yes mom, that one. ... uhm, I have no idea.

I love her, she honestly is very supportive of this dream of mine, and always has been. However, in her own words, "oh what... i'm not good with names!" ... or apparently breeds and colours of horses. Yes, my tobiano bay APHA gelding is a palomino thoroughbred.... what can ya do?!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Internet Oddity: 1

... Pimp my ride turns into Pimp my horse?
Found this on a friends facebook page... very, very weird.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Ode to Wranglers

Confession time: I love jeans.

More Confession time: I love Wranglers & I love riding in them. 

I don't know if it's the "cowboy aura" of them, the history behind them, or how those big W's make my bum look - but i'm hooked. In fact, I'm becoming a total Wrangler hoarder. I have about 7 pairs, ranging from your everyday, on the farm, type Wranglers to blingy, white-stitched, going-out and two-steppin' Wranglers.

This company "gets me" ad-wise

&, although I hate to admit it, i'm starting more and more to really love my blinged out Wranglers.

BUT, I have a seriously problem - when the HECK did Wranglers become so expensive? I recently had an old rancher tell me "Just buy mens, they are only like $30 bucks."

... But then I wont have decorated pockets, or pretty white stitching, or fading...

Now, I don't know the exact price of men's jeans, I believe somewhere between $30-$70, but all of the Wranglers I like are seemingly $100 and up! Girl, that is insane!

I am buying these jeans to predominantly ride in, aka I will be shoveling POO in $100 dollar jeans, I will be getting whacked my tree limbs desperate to rip up my knees in these jeans... and you are telling me that my poo covered, ripped up jeans are worth $100 dollars?! Woah Jeez.

Case in point, I recently found these beautiful Wranglers, which are part of the new "Booty Up" line.

Ladies, these looked really, really good on my bum, let me tell you something! Apparently they have "patent-pending" technology, darts, that lift and define the bum area... I don't know if that's true, but I dig this line of jeans. I have one pair that make me look phenomenal. I was so ready to buy them, plus about 20 other pairs, when I saw the price tag $110 !! WHAT?! No way jose.

I did some research on the Wrangler website and it seems the three lines I love the most, being...
1) Booty Up 2) Sadie 3) Mae 
...are all "Wrangler Premium", which i'm reading in-between the lines of as "super hella expensive." I haven't even LOOKED into the Wrangler Rock 47 line ever since last summer when a pair caught my eye and they turned out to be $140... heartattack central.

Then, there's what Wrangler touts as the "ultimate riding jean" - the Q-Baby, a lot of my friends, young and old, have had great success with this style of jean. I, on the other hand, have not. They fit me awkwardly, they make my bum look like a big saggy mess, and they just generally are not that flattering. (Refer to the model in the above ad.. those jeans aren't doing much for her, that horse is making her look way better, drool) Not a fan.. and yet I have two pairs, sigh.. as is life. If I remember correctly the Q-Baby's are slightly less expensive at around $80-$90.

Finally, Wrangler has "cowboy cut", "blues", "as real as Wrangler" and "Aura"... I have tried the Aura's (again.. gave me a serious case of the mom butt, and the other 3 I have yet to try.) I'm sure they are all slightly cheaper than the blingier, trendier fare I seem to gravitate towards, and that's because they are a little more plain, and that's all fine and dandy by me... if they made me look good.

But, like, let us compare...


.... the Booty Up's win again.

Thus, Dear Wrangler, please lower your prices. I've looked at other brands, and nothing is the same as your big W's across my bum... but your hurting my bank account, and thus.. my heart. Sincerely, Louisa.

What are your guys favourite styles of jeans for riding? Anything that's a little trendier but more on the cheap side?

Also - 10 followers!! You are all wonderful and I love reading all of your blogs. Thanks for joining the ride! Hope you don't look I'm too insane with all this clothing related rambling !! <3

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Riding Diary: 12

Horse: Quiz

Time: 1 Hr

Ride: Well... I didn't exactly have another great ride, which is probably why I'm hanging my head like an old sheep dog and not writing about my lesson until now. I haven't had any time to ride other than in my weekly lesson lately, and that's really frustrating, and I think my frustration is really showing in my riding. Anyone who says this sport isn't hard doesn't factor in all the freakin' emotion that goes with it. Like... some days I can just feel Quiz working off my emotions alone... ugh.

Anyways, I can barely remember the ride (except for the end) but I'll try my best. We worked on trying to achieve that nice slow lope again, and she was doing better (as was I, I think). Things I need to remember is to keep my body upright when doing circles, I tend to lean into my circles, as well as not cranking my neck around... I'm throwing both of us off. My trainer also keeps reminding me to really drop my wrists at the stop, so another thing to put into the mental "to-do-while-riding" list. Finally, gotta focus on those releases, somewhere along the line I've mentally stored "releases" with completely dropping my reins and losing contact, which I obviously can't do when my horse gives for 2 seconds and then goes back to running around the rail like a crazy-noodle-horse, so I have to focus on smaller, but more frequent releases.

Once again, I felt like Quiz was being noodle horse supremo. I need to work on even contact, and just picking up a rein, not actually pulling more onto the rein... me and my noodle horse, woopeee.

Towards the end of the lesson my trainer set up three poles in a semi circle. The exercise was all about breaking down from the three gaits slower, and more complete. So I was to walk from Pole 1 to Pole 2, slow jog from Pole 2 to Pole 3 and then finish off the semi circle in a lope from Pole 3 to Pole 1. I just couldn't get it, Quiz wasn't breaking down like I wanted her too, then I was getting all flustered, legs were going everywhere, wrong leads were being picked up... it wasn't pretty. So, obviously I have a lot of things to really work on when it comes to transitions. Next time I get some trainer-me time I think i'm going to ask her to physically go over every step for me, because I ended up just confused during the entire exercise. I'm more of a physical learner than I realize, I like to be able to physically map out each step in an exercise.

However.. I'm in the middle of a hurricane of term papers that I've left to the last moment because I am a big idiot, so next Monday I wont be able to make my lesson, and then the Monday after that, my trainer is gone. However, this might be a good thing.. a little bit of a break so that I don't show up to my lessons mentally and physically totally unprepared. 

After all my exams/finals/projects/assignments are done (APRIL 13!) I plan to try to get out to the barn to practice way more, and hopefully by the time she's back I can be a little bit more in the zone.

For Next Time: ... wah, so far off :( Focus on my body more, drop those wrists & most importantly, work on the transitions and releases!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Big News!

Bar J Jingos Doc & I, on one of those perfect summer days.

My sunday Trail Ride had a few purposes. Namely, I needed to experience that forest stillness I mentioned, as well as just "get back to my roots" so to speak. You have no idea how comfortable my body was settling back into the rhythm of just heading in one direction, off into the sunset (cheesy, but true). I forgot how perfect the saddle I ride in out there conforms to my body. Old trails, and memories made were coming back to me. It was all very therapeutic for my soul.

However, I also wanted to discuss "my boy" aka that big adorable crazy-eyed paint in my header.. aka Jingle. You see, with the sale of the ranch, depending on the new owners, comes the realization that a lot of the horses may go to auction... and, as horse-lovers, we all know what that means. Especially here in Alberta, there's the reality that a lot of auction horses get put on stock trucks headed to slaughter. Obviously that's the extreme to what could happen to my baby, but there's lots of other less worse, but in my mind, still awful things, that could happen to him when the ranch changes hands. Honestly, even if someone I knew bought the ranch, I'm so emotionally invested in that horse that I just don't think I could walk away form him another summer. Especially with the lingering thought of another winter of him in some faraway pasture, without routine maintenance or check-ups. Nope. Not this winter folks.

So against all better judgement on my behalf I decided that Jingle would be heading home with me after this summer. This is huge - massive really - decision... I'm not the best at saving money, and now all of a sudden I'm going to have a 1200 lb kid, that will end up taking most of the money out of my bank account month by month. Screw it, I can't wait.

So... here I am rambling once again... I went down to ask if I could buy him, and offer up a deal. They took the deal! He's going to be mine! Plus, the saddle I used all summer was negotiated in the deal. (I'm praying to the higher power that he hasn't changed/the saddle is actually a good fit for him.. I know more about saddle fit than I did last summer, that's for sure.) ...I remember it being good though, pray with me please.

I also got to see his papers, and an itty bitty baby photo :) :) .. his registered name Bar J Jingos Doc :) I already know his papa, Gringo, who is a stud at the ranch, and his mama is a broodmare who i'm not familiar with. I also nailed down his official age... coming 8 in less than a month (April 28th is his birthday I believe) AND I also weaseled my way into asking if he could come home earlier than June. Apparently a lot of them will be coming home from winter pasture by the end of the month so I'm hoping my baby is on one of those trailers. Then I can bring him a horsey birthday cake, and groom the living hell out of him.

SO... this is all very scary, and suddenly super real, but also very exciting and makes my heart hurt with happiness because I get to see my baby so soon.

Now... I suddenly feel like I know NOTHING about horses... there is so much to know.. thankfully I have a good team of people around and behind me to nag, and I honestly feel like sitting every horse-owner I know down and grilling them about EVERYTHING horse-owner related.

Hey guys, guess what? I can do that... OVER THIS BLOG. So, if you're reading this, and you feel in a rambly mood like your author here, tell me everything. 
What are your essential products/grooming tools/tack and training tools/etc (I'm a bit of a product whore... I foresee myself going overboard). 
What are some words of wisdom you wished someone had given you when you purchased/owned your first horse? 
Random Advice? 
WHAT DO YOU FEED YOUR HORSES? (This is a huge one for me... he will be at a boarding stable, but I really am lacking in equine nutritional knowledge)

Basically, if you're reading this... tell me everything. :)

Trail Journal: 1

So, I figured that my "Riding Diary" posts have largely become consumed with my lessons, so another type of recording was needed for something that is nearest and dearest to my heart; trail-riding. Honestly, I think I am totally at my happiest when I am plodding along in the middle of nowhere, picking my own path through the deadfall (and in this first installment's case - ice).

So, my "Trail Journal's" will talk about my ride, but will also be more picture-orientated. So here goes:

I got to go for a ride at my beloved ranch. The clouds in this particular photo look particularly ominous, but it was actually a beautiful day.

My equine-partner was Hobo, the owner's relatively green horse. At first I was a little worried about riding this big boy (especially hearing stories of his owner being bucked off in the fall...) but I really had nothing to worry about.

I love this picture because I had gotten off to walk Hobo in an ice-y spot, and his look is just so, "what are we doing up here?! Take me back to my paddock?". Poor boy was absolutely soaked by the time we got home. I discovered Hobo is frightened by puddles... like, I mean, he full out nervous-shook when I walked him through a particularly muddy one... silly, but sooo cute, boy.

In the beginning I had planned to trek to the far lookout, but these photos show that getting there would be a little more treacherous than I would have liked on a day all by myself, on an already soaked and decently nervous horse.

But, fear not! I made it to the close lookout in my travels and took this shot of the spectacular view. My fellow BBJers will know this view well - they will also know that it never gets old, does it? It was interesting to see where certain areas were still bogged down by snow and ice, and where the river was unfreezing.

This is resident ranch-dog Meg, who was so excited to see me, and followed me along the entire way. In the end I was super thankful for her because I had forgotten how still, and often eery, a forest can be. It's been awhile since i'd been on the trail by my lonesome and I started getting jittery feelings, and my mind began wandering to horrible cougars lurking in the trees. Meg eased some of those butterflies in my stomach. (Although, Meg is getting quite old and senile... so, I often wonder how much of a help she would be.)

I love this photo! Meg is waiting for me to throw her a stick and you get a view of the brand new chaps on the first outing! They were absolutely wonderful, I love them.. I don't think I'll take them off this spring/summer. They protected me from some gnarly trees aswell. Hobo thought it would a wonderful idea to bash my knees into quite a few trees, and I was wearing my favourite Wranglers... thankfully, they were saved.

Lookin' good.

I took a break to enjoy the view, and thought Hobo would like a break aswell. He basically stood on top of me the entire time, nervously awaiting my next move.

I love these photos... he took some time to enjoy the view as well. I'm taking these photos from the ground, with my camera above my head.

Absolutely awful photo of me but this horse is just the cutest. He kept putting his head on my shoulder and head while I was sitting down, kind of nagging me to get on and get going, but also in a really cute, cuddly way.

.... don't tell my horse that I was cheating on him please?

The Red Barn at the Ranch. I swear, no matter how many fancy barns I step foot in, the smell and aura of this barn calls me home.

Two new barn kittens on the scene - 6 & 7, named because of their toes... redneck living ya'll.

Hobo... tired, sweaty and not understanding who the heck this lady was that took a pound of winter hair off his body, then jumped on him, forced him up a mountain side, and then took photos of his state afterwards.

All in All I had an absolutely wonderful first ride of the season, and can't wait until the ice melts and I can start exploring all my favourite places again!