Friday, October 29, 2010

It Takes a Village

Friday October 29 2010

It takes a village to get to an endurance ride: approximately 8 people, about 9 horses and a day or two of packing the entire farm into three horse trailers - all this to drive to basecamp only 10 miles down the road.

It's time for the second annual Owyhee Hallowed Weenies endurance ride.

The weather during Friday's vet-in was perfect - cool and clear, just perfect for a hundred miles of riding at the end of the season in the Pacific Northwest.

More photos, and stories coming on at:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hula Hula!

Thursday October 28 2010

Dudley stood for his fitting for his Halloween Costume: he wants to be a Horse Hula Dancer! (If he does the 50-mile Halloween ride on Sunday... it's not completely confirmed yet.)

The skirt framework was measured, the first ribbons tied, Dudley helping pick out the next colors.

He actually looks a bit bored here.

We tried it out on the trail in the wind today, and Dudley thought it needed more ribbons.

We'll work on it tonight. (I might even be persuaded to go as a Hula Dancer, if only to wear a hula skirt to match Dudley's - forget the bikini top or coconuts.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Puppy Love

Wednesday October 27 2010

The neighbors just brought home a new 8 week old Schipperke puppy. "Named Briquet," says Carol, "French for 'small, black and square!'"

Jose loved her. Couldn't get enough of that baby puppy smell in his nostrils (which the puppy about fit inside).

Briquet seemed to like Uncle Jose and his warm horse breath.

(Jose loves baby goats too.)

When Briquet went back in the house, Jose followed to the door and waited for her to come back out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Tuesday October 26 2010

It's not just in the movies. It's happening here, now.

The range corner of "ION" - where Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada come together, is the "cattle rustling hotspot" of the US. Last summer over 1200 cattle, worth around $1 million disappeared from this area. Over 500 were reported missing in Owyhee County alone last year.

Some of the missing cattle could be due to Mother Nature, seeing as most cattle are run during the summer on BLM and Forest Service land and not seen for months at a time. But there's no question there's rustling going on, when a cow can bring $800-1500 a head at auction. Losses for ranchers can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It can break the small rancher. And cowboys and ranches who take their cattle up into the high country in the spring often don't know how many they've lost until they round them up in the fall.

Conviction for livestock theft can result in prison time... but convictions are rare and catching the thieves is even more infrequent.

Think about it: it might be easy (though cows are not 'easy' to deal with, period) to snatch a cow or two, but a herd? It would take a bit of planning, and it would take people who know the land, people who know horses and how to handle cows. People who live the life of outdoors, horses and cows.

It would take a truck and trailer for the horses, truck and trailer(s) for the cattle. It would take planning on the routes to take, the fences to follow, the gates to go through, the roads to avoid, the ranches to skirt, the holding pens to hold the cattle and places to load up. That's on a quick one-day drive. Sometimes the cattle are driven across several states before they are loaded up. That would take more sophisticated planning: human food (stashes along the way?), places to sleep, much more land to know, many more fences and gates to know, more people and ranches and roads to avoid.

Branding helps, but feedlots and slaughter houses and auctions often don't check brands. When cattle change hands by selling, often the new brand is added. A cow may have multiple brands. Which is the latest? Sometimes the brands are difficult to see under long hair. Sometimes the brands might have been altered.

Twelve states in the West employ brand inspectors, but the country is vast and the human resources limited. If you get out in this country, ride up one of the myriad drainages, and you realize how difficult it would be to find a small herd of cows or a couple of rustlers. We lost a horse in this country on a ride one winter, and it took 6 days to find him, and we even had a rough idea of where he was. And if you did meet some rustlers, how would you know they weren't just cowboys employed to round up the cows?

It's not the old Wild West anymore where convicted cattle thieves are lynched... but it is still the old Wild West where cattle are still rustled by cowboys.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not a Good Day to Ride

Monday October 25 2010

...Unless you have velcro on your saddle.

The fall storm moved into Owyhee, and the horses mimicked the howling winds, gusting and blustering, whirling and whipping, leaping and bucking, sprinting and spinning, rolling and shaking, rearing and sparring, feeling alive as the freshening rain that swept over the desert.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Last Dust Bath

Sunday October 24 2010

The last Owyhee dust bath is shaken;

the last trail of Owyhee dust rises

before the approach of the autumn storm.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Saturday October 23 2010

It's that time in Owyhee: the leaves are transforming to gold, the autumn sun lavishes its golden beams on the horses.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Nanny

Friday October 22 2010

Wait a minute here, I thought since Connie was gone I was on vacation!

That was clearly the thought going through Finneas' head, as Judy booted and saddled him up for a ride.

Connie is gone for a week, so she asked Judy to ride Finny once or twice, to keep him tuned up for the Hallowed Weenies endurance ride in 10 days.

Finneas tried his usual stunts - walking off when being mounted, tossing his head around and trying to take off down the trail, throwing a minor showy tantrum while being asked to open the gate... but none of them worked.

Dang, she has my number! Dang, I'm not in control!

Indeed, Judy is a tough cookie and doesn't put up with any nonsense, and Finny was moving down the trail behaving himself before he knew which way was southwest toward the Owyhees.

Suz and Dudley went along too, a good workout on the Three Cheese Wash trail - 1 1/2 miles up a sand wash, 2 miles down a sand wash, 1 mile up a sand wash. It's not for the faint of heart nor the unconditioned.

Finneas and Judy got on just fine, and were both having fun as they blazed along in front through the sand, with Suz and Dudley keeping up (and Dudley didn't try to buck!) behind.

Finneas was pretty proud of himself at the end of the ride, since he'd led the whole way and since he opened and closed the gates, and since his Nanny turned out to be a good substitute for Connie (although the Nanny didn't let Finny smooch her on the lips after the ride).