Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Owyhee Fandango Day 2: Fabulously Flexible Fabulosas

Saturday May 26 2012

It was a cough that became the monkey wrench in the Tres Fabulosas original team plan of me, Carol, and Connie riding the Owyhee Fandango 100 miler together.

I'd heard Jose cough a couple of times before the Fandango, including one of our training rides. He never had a temperature, never felt less than fabulous, under saddle and with the herd, but it made me start to fret: a worry worm stuck in my craw.

I had Robert the head vet check Jose out on Thursday (Day 1 25 and 50 milers were Friday, Day 2 25 and 50 milers were Saturday, and Day 3 30/60/80/100 were on Sunday), and he couldn't find any congestion, and of course Jose didn't cough for him. But my worry and doubt remained unchanged. Judging by the way Jose looked and felt, and having no temperature, even if he had some remnants of a cold, I knew he could do a 50. But… a 100? There's a world of difference between a 50 mile ride and a 100 mile ride. It's not just the mileage that adds up, but the time in the saddle and the cumulative stress on the body; and if you are starting with something already compromised, well… I would just die if anything happened to Jose.

Thursday night, when the weather forecast looked dismal (to some people : ) with rain, rain, and rain and cool temperatures predicted, a new plan hatched. Steph had planned to ride Batman on a 50 on Day 1 with Amanda and her new moose of a Shagya, Breve. But Steph hates cold wet weather as much as I love it. So… Jose and I would ride with Amanda and Breve on the Day 1 50, and Steph would become a Fabulosa and ride the 80 miler along with Carol and August, and Connie and Finneas on the 100 (and possibly elevate to the 100; both distances would start at 6 AM).

But when Friday morning dawned cool, and seriously raining - who likes to saddle up in the rain and go out on a 50 mile ride, much less handle a horse new to endurance riding in the mud? Plans changed to me and Amanda riding the Day 2 50, and Steph and Connie and Carol would still ride the 80/100.

Day 2 arrived with heavy gray skies and a light rain, that lasted all day, but Amanda and I saddled up anyway. I think I can safely say, among the total 37 starters in both distances for the day, I was the only one grinning from ear to ear all day long, not just from riding a Fabulous horse, but riding him on a Fabulous wet and cool day in the desert.

Jose and Breve went great together. Amanda was thrilled with Breve's first 50. Jose felt Fit and Fysically Fenomenal and Fabulous all day. He did cough, once at 5 miles, once at 10 miles, and once at 15 miles… and that was it. He probably could have done a 100 just fine (physically he felt like a monster), but if he'd have coughed at 5 miles on the 100, I would have been worried for the next 95 miles.

I did love the rain, but the mud was something else. On the north side of the highway for loop 1, the sand footing was good. On the south side of the highway for loop 2, it got slick and sticky. Gumbo Mud, Shirley calls it. I have christened the Brown's Creek hill as SlickSnot Hill. Amanda thought she'd do her horse a favor and get off and walk up it. Bad idea. She had to stop and rest halfway up as she'd carried half the hill up on the bottom of her shoes. The clay mud cakes on like glue. She couldn't even lift up her leg for a photo.

That's when Jose started having boot trouble. He lost one Easyboot glove, and after I put it back on, it stayed on another 5 strides before coming off again. It weighed an extra 5 pounds, and I couldn't scrape the clay off. We weren't far from a water stop, and there I rinsed and scraped 2 1/2 pounds of clay off to where I got the boot back on. It stayed in place for another 2 miles or so, but it was so deep and goopy that Amanda, riding behind me, never saw it come off. Maybe Steph will find it when she unmarks trail after the ride, or we might find it sprouting flowers out of the inside next spring.

Jose lost a second glove after climbing the Hart Creek knife ridge. Amanda didn't see that one come off either. We were only 5 miles or so from camp, so we just travelled carefully over rocky sections. Tami Rougeau, following a half hour behind us, found one clay glove and carried the 5 pounder back to base camp. The horses handled the going well, adjusting their strides to the different depths and slickness and consistencies of the mud/clay/puddles.

There wasn't a single pull all day, and by the end of the day, I think everybody was finally smiling. It was another great day to ride in the desert, another 50 miles for Jose and The Raven!

Video from day 2 here!

and many more videos and photos from the Owyhee Fandango here on!

Next: Owyhee Fandango Day 3 and Team Flexible Fabulosas!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Owyhee Fandango Day 2: 50 Miles for Jose!

Saturday May 26 2012

Jose and I had another awesome 50 mile ride on Day 2 of the Owyhee Fandango. It was gray and wet and dreary and chilly - just the kind of weather I love. So sue me! The second loop was getting pretty mucky and slippery though, I didn't love the mud. But the horses did great.

I'm pointing out our Bates Creek eagle nest.

Amanda's shooting this from Breve's back.

In Hart Creek.

Amanda thought she'd be nice to her horse and walk on foot up this slick-snot muddy-clay-y hill... and she about couldn't walk for the 6 inches of mud/clay stuck to the bottom of her boots. I told her to lift her foot up so I could get a good picture, but she couldn't lift it up any higher than this!

More stories and photos, much more coming, and follow the ride on twitter - EnduranceNet, or at

Change of Plans

Saturday May 26 2012

Change of plans and change and change...

I'm riding Jose today, Day 2, on a 50! Details later, stories, videos, etc.

Here's a video from Thursday, day before the ride started:

Follow the Fandango on Twitter, EnduranceNet or on the ride page:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Owyhee Fandango Cookie Monsters

Tuesday May 22 2012

I don't often bake cookies for myself, but Jose? You bet. 

They're not just any kind of cookies - they are electrolyte horse cookies for the 100 miler on Sunday. Normally we don't give a lot of electrolytes - only a scoop in every feeding, and none on the trail in between. It is supposed to be pleasantly not-hot on Sunday - different weather websites say between 64 and 77 degrees (Jose and I are rooting for 64!), so electrolytes shouldn't be quite as crucial as on a hot day.

But after reading Susan Garlinghouse's excellent articles on keeping your endurance horse hydrated, I don't want to ignore electrolyting during the ride; and I've decided to try the electrolyte cookie route, instead of the messy electrolyte-in-applesauce-doses-by-syringe on the trail. Horses never enjoy that anyway - but they do love eating treats!

So, why not bake my own electrolyte cookies, to carry in our saddlebags, to give to the horses after they drink on trail? The salt doses will be less concentrated than in syringe doses, and can be doled out steadily throughout the day.

The big test was if the horses would like them.

Boy, did they ever!

Jose loved them.

My horse Stormy loved them, and his buddy Tex loved them.

And they all chased me down for more!

I'd  have to call this recipe a success, taste-wise anyway. (Connie thought they tasted good also!) We'll see how they work for the ride.

I used the "Electrolyte Cookie" recipe on this page:

You can follow tweets on the Fandango by EnduranceNet on Twitter, or on Facebook under Steph Teeter! Day 1 a 25 and 50 miler starts tomorrow, Friday! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Meet the Fab Team 100-Mile Fandango Horses

Steve Bradley photo!

It's less than 5 days (!!) till the Owyhee Fandango 100. Time to meet the Fab Team's Fleet Four-legged Fancy Frolicking Steeds.

Jose: The Deep Thinker

Most of you already know my thoughts and feelings about Jose, The Best Horse Ever. Jose is a highly intelligent being. He notices things. I am positive he appreciates the scenery around him. He looks at things, studies them, ruminates about them. Around the house, up the canyon, out on the trail, he discerns things before I do, and he communicates with me. He'll tell me to come open a gate. He'll tell me right where a tick is biting him (like underneath, in the fold of skin by his sheath, or in an armpit). He'll spy a speck of a coyote far in the distance. I swear that when he stops on top of hills on a ride and studies his surroundings, his GPS synapses are firing in his brain, connecting the dots on a complex mental map. 

I talk to him a lot, explain things, because he just might understand everything I say.

Jose's much more competitive than I am on a ride, but he's very controllable. Last year Jose and I did 720 miles together, and that earned my first AERC vest, ever, for 2nd place in the Northwest featherweight division in mileage. 

Last year Jose did his first 5-day ride in a row at the Owyhee Canyonlands. This will be his first 100 miler. If he finishes, he'll hit 2000 miles.

Jose's owned by Steph, but he's my Heart Horse. I didn't plan it that way… it just happened. : )


Steve Bradley photo!

August: The Turbinator

Point him down the trail, and he's gone, like he's got turbo rockets in those feet! Carol owned this horse once previously, then she sold him. It was a heartbreaker for her, not to mention we almost beat her senseless because she loved that horse. That's her business, buying and selling horses, so she was just doing her job. But, by a twist of fate last year, she came to own him again. They took about a year to really get to know each other again, and now Carol really loves him. August has become a monster on the trail on the five 50-mile rides they've done together over the last year.

Carol hasn't come close to finding his bottom yet. The Fandango will be his first 100 miler. Carol will hit 6000 miles herself if they complete.

And this time we will totally for sure beat her senseless if she ever tries to sell this horse again.


Finneas: The Opinionator

Finneas, grandson of the Black Stallion, is not short on self-confidence or ego. He has opinions about EVERYTHING, how fast to go, which way to go, who should be in front on trail (him), where the other horses should go (behind him), when to eat (all the time, unless he's trying to get ahead of somebody on trail). When I told Finneas he'd better shape up because he's doing a 100, said, "I'm going to win! I'm the Grandson of the Black Stallion!! What's a 100?" 

He's an easy keeper, so, much to his chagrin, he's had to go on a diet before the Fandango - locked up and fed small rations of hay so he'll lose some weight. He hates diets. He screams like a girl when he sees me coming in the morning with his breakfast hay.

It will be Finneas' first 100 miler, and Connie's first 100 miler.

Stay tuned for the Crick Girls' 100-mile adventure in the Owyhee Fandango 100 on Sunday May 27!

Click the link for a video of Jose's next-to-last training ride for the 100.

and follow updates of our ride! at:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Close Encounters of the Jackass Kind

Saturday May 19 2012

I touched the horny jackass!

He's a semi-wild brash donkey who hooked up with two wild horses out in the Brown's Creek drainage.

A few horseback riders have had unfortunate encounters with him (see the above link). The virile donkey appears to prefer geldings to mares in his amorous advances. Rushcreek Mac and John were disconcerted by him enough during our September Owyhee Canyonlands ride that they missed a turn on the trail for trying to outdistance the 4-legged Lothario.

Last year I encountered him on foot while hanging ribbons for an endurance ride, but he didn't want anything to do with me.

Today I was out on foot again, marking the trail past the rock corral in Buckaroo crick and up onto the flats, when I spied the two wild horses. 

"Hey guys!" I yelled. Their heads snapped up over the sagebrush and they stared at me. Shortly another shorter head appeared - the horny jackass. I kept talking to them, and the jackass started moving toward me, rather nonchalantly - almost friendly-like, as if he were happy to finally see a human after a long winter of 4-legged companionship.

Last year when I saw him, he gave me a wide berth in the trail; I couldn't have gotten closer than 50 yards if I'd tried. As for the mustangs, they were now 50 yards away which is closer than I've ever gotten to them, but they started - rather animatedly - following the donkey toward me. 

I kept talking to the donkey, and he kept coming closer, unafraid, and he stopped two feet away from me. 

I lifted up my hand and stuck my finger out. He stretched out his neck… further… and I touched the jackass!

He then took two steps toward me, into my space, and I suddenly remembered he is a horny jackass, towards some horses anyway, and, while he was the size of a pony, he still had 4 feet that could kick, some teeth that could bite, a big honking head he could swing like a club, and the body strength of a mule. Just in case, I swung my backpack off my shoulder onto my arm… and he took a step back. In this country I always carry a plastic garbage bag - something I can open up to flap around and make a lot of scary noise - and I put it in my hand… just in case.

The two wild horses were on high alert and were now within 30 yards of me. Fine looking pair they are.

The donkey just stood and looked at me, and I stuck out my finger again, and he sniffed it and touched it, then I stepped back, and turned and headed on my way.

They watched me, and the donkey followed a ways behind, almost as if he didn't want me to go. It must have been a boring winter out there, no other horses to harass, and no humans to listen to.

Some local cowboys have talked of going out there and catching him and those horses, but I kind of like seeing them out there. It's as if I know a special secret - a couple of special friends out in those canyons and washes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Snake River Screech Owls

Saturday May 19 2012

I've been lucky enough over the years to have helped with spotted owl research and banding. And I was lucky enough to participate in helping to band screech owls with the Boise district BLM! They take out a handful of people on raptor banding trips throughout the year. I signed up for this one about 6 months ago.

Retired biologist John Doremus started working with raptors for the BLM in 1972, and he was the raptor biologist for the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in Owyhee County along the Snake River since it was first designated a Natural protected area in 1993. He started hanging nest boxes and building nesting platforms for raptors, and banding and monitoring the birds; and as the BLM manages this NCA, they continue this raptor banding and monitoring today.

A group of us went to a number of these nest boxes occupied by screech owls along the Snake River. 4 of the 5 boxes were occupied; 3 nests had owlets too young to band (1 week old and 2 weeks old); we banded one nest with 5 young (3 weeks old).

Here's how you catch a screech owl: Greg Kaltenecker from the Idaho Bird Observatory was the Master Raptor bander. He climbed a ladder to the nest box, opened the top, and reached in and removed the adult (presumably) female screech owl and handed her off to one of us;

then one by one he reached in and removed the 5 owlets.

When owls are upset or feel threatened, they snap their beaks. All around us were the Snap! Crackle! Pop! of agitated owls. After a while though, as long as you don't make loud noises or make sudden movements, they relax in your hands.

Greg attached a silver federal band, each with a unique number, to the right leg of each owl, then weighed each of them, while Jill recorded the info.

The owlets were sublimely, ridiculously cute, and of course we all posed with our fluffy little treasures before Greg tucked them all snugly back in their nest box, putting mama screech in lastly on top of them.

One day, maybe each of these babies will be sitting on nests of their own along the Snake River.

[slide show here]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Final Pre-Fandango Shindig

Monday May 15 2012

It's 13 days before the 100-mile Owyhee Fandango, and we gave the boys their final longest and hardest ride of 22 miles. I rode Jose, Carol rode August, and since Connie is still out of town, Judy sub-jockeyed on Finneas. (We all decided Connie needs to bake Judy one of her famous cakes as thanks.)(Which we all get to sample.)

We lit out across country to Regina's place, 11 miles at a smart clip (from 8 to 12 mph), sustained trotting most all the way, minimal climbing and descending, mostly trails and two-track. Jose and I thought it was a bit warm, but I purposely didn't didn't braid his mane, and I purposely did not wear my cool vest yet. 

At Regina's house we sponged the boys off and let them rest and graze, while we ate our lunch and grabbed some cool water from the house (thanks Regina!). Not that we're wimps or anything, but we were grateful for the high cloud cover that snuck over during our lunch break, or else it would have been a lot hotter on the ride home.

After a half hour break, we mounted up and rode the 11 miles back home. 

And that's it. The boys are ready. Between now and the 100-mile ride, we'll take them on two more easy rides of 5-7 miles. We are fortunate to have 200 acres for the horses to move about on, and they do that, up and down the canyon at least once a day. (Well, Finneas is still working on his diet right now; losing weight is the most important thing for him.)

I discovered a few things on this longer ride I need to adjust.

I need to attach a third water bottle holder on my saddle. I DEFINITELY need to freeze my water bottles the night before the 100. Drinking warm water is disgusting and does not quench my thirst. I'll drink much more and stay better hydrated if my water is cold or at least cool.

I definitely need a haircut. Jose will have his mane braided. I definitely need to find cooler tights, and I will be wearing my cool vest. Our horses (and me!) will be wearing a turquoise bead in their manes so we don't get struck by lightning (old Navajo saying; I don't know if it applies to white people and their horses, but I'm doing it just in case!).

I need to get in better shape! I was whooped after our ride and I felt like I'd just done a 50 mile ride. I would have had 78 more to go! If I were a bigger and better man, I'd have gone out in the evening and done a 5-6 mile hike.

But, I'm not and I didn't. I had a nice smoothie and a bowl of popcorn and watched my soap on Hulu, and went to bed early. 

Jose is ready! I'll work on conditioning myself more another day.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Re-Monster Post

Monday May 14 2012

some of you subscribers didn't get the horse baby video I embedded in my last post, so here's the link!

Monster's First Day

Monday May 14 2012

It's hard work being a baby horse on the first day of life, coming from a dark and quiet womb into all the sights and colors and sounds and smells of a new world, figuring out the food source, and the long legs that wobble and won't fold right.

Steph's new little monster on the crick - could one day be her new endurance horse! - got a new name which is debuted in this video I made of her on her first day on earth!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Meet the Owyhee Fandango 100-Mile Team

Saturday May 12 2012

3 girls, 3 horses.

Carol gathered a few quick pictures to give you an idea of who we are:

Connie & Finneas

Carol & August

Me & Jose

I'll flesh out the characters in another blog entry.

Connie's gone till next weekend, so right now I'm keeping two horses fit - Jose and Finneas. We also put Finneas on a diet!!!! He needs to lose about 20 pounds before the ride. As Steph pointed out, it's the heat that will affect him most - he doesn't pulse down fast anyway (probably that appy blood in him, plus he's a black horse), and the more fat he carries, the harder it will be to dissipate that heat in his body. Finneas is not fond of dieting. He can scream like a girl horse when he's starving, which, when he's on a diet, is every time he sees me walk by. I tell him it's for his own good, but he does not believe me!

Connie is having some trouble with counting, as, for the last week, she's been thinking we have 20 days to go till the ride, when it's really only 15 days left!

Steph is considering having a teams competition for the ride, and regardless, we three girls on the crick need a team name. For some reason, the "F" team seems to have come up, from some of the emails Flying between us:

Ferociously FABULOUSLY Far-freaking-out FAMOUSLY FIT 'n FABULOUS FEMME FATALES on Flying horses…

and right now Fiiineas is Fabulously Fit and Fabulously Fat (and Fabulously opinionated)

And don't any of you add "funky" and "flatulent"!

Maybe readers will have some better suggestions than "Team F" … how about it? 

Suggestion anybody?

P.S. I wish I could say I did the artwork, but Carol found them online! They fit us each so well, don't you think?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Owl Tree

Thursday May 10 2012

He's been driving me mad. 

A male screech owl, uncommonly hooting during the day, for the last couple of days. He's very close, but I've been unable find the little hooter.

One daytime hoot - the sound of a pingpong ball bouncing - sends me flying outside to try to pinpoint his location… but he does not make another sound… until hours later when I'm back inside. I jump back outside with camera and binoculars, and begin to scan the trees. He must be somewhere within 40 yards, in one of the trees along the creek.

The leaves are starting to grow thick on the cottonwood trees, but I peer through them, raking every trunk, every branch with my binoculars, walking slowly up the creek and back, but I see nothing except for leaves and bark. The owl doesn't give a clue - doesn't move a feather, doesn't blink an eye, doesn't utter another sound. I cross the creek and study the trees from the other side, but I can see nothing but leaves and bark from a different angle, a jigsaw puzzle with a million green leaves, white bark of cottonwoods and brown bark of locusts, and an invisible bird. I know he is watching me. Half an hour I spend, methodically searching the trees - but I come up empty. 

The screech owl hoots again during the next day, and I resume my search. As I'm scanning with my binoculars a particularly tall and gnarly locust tree, one in which I would be roosting if I were an owl, I realize my lenses have focused right on an owl! He is so well camouflaged, I almost miss him. It's not the screech owl; it's a larger great horned owl, perching like a knot on the tree branch, his eyes sleepy slits, as he barely acknowledges this owl-hungry human wandering below his Owl Tree. 

But there is no sign of the screech owl, who I am sure is still watching me.

The screech owl hoots once again on the third day, but the only owl I find is the silent great horned owl, perched in a fork of the Owl Tree.

The screech owl hoots once again on the fourth day, and I leap outside, armed with camera and binos, and I swear I will not go back inside again until I find this mysterious owl. Today he gives me one more clue as I'm outside: a single sound - a high pitched 'Wop!' - which narrows my focus to an area twenty yards wide, ten deep, a tree on either side of the creek, maybe 30 feet up.

Again I comb the trees with my bare eyes and the binoculars, up the creek then back down the creek, one side, then the other side of the creek, analyzing every branch. Time passes, water tumbles down the creek, wind sighs in the trees - but the owl holds his silence. 

I am drawn back to the Owl Tree. There is something about this tree. I scan it with my bare eyes, and again with my binoculars - and suddenly I find I am staring right at him - the screech owl, looking in every way - shape and size, streaked markings the color and direction of the bark - like the Owl Tree itself. 

His eyes are sleepy slits, and like his bigger great horned cousin, he knows I'm there, but barely acknowledges this human who can't hardly tell an owl from a tree.

Now I have a friend. Even when he doesn't hoot during the day, talking in his owl sleep of his good owl dreams, I check the Owl Tree, and I can pick him out with my bare eyes. Now he is obvious to me, because I know his secret now. I can see.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monster on the Crick!

Tuesday May 8 2012

There she was, gangly legs, wobbly knees and all, by the time we got up this morning.

She's light brown, but will likely turn gray like her mama.

She nursed, she pooped, and was soon looking for a way to fold those long legs to lay down and take a nap. It would take a structural engineer to figure that one out - which she hadn't figured out yet, while I was watching.

A nice morning surprise, a new little monster on the crick!