Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reunion: Owyhee Hallowed Weenies

Monday October 29 2012

It's been 5 months (5!) since I got to ride Jose in an endurance ride. He was loaned out in July at the City of Rocks Pioneer Endurance ride, where he took good care of Anya. I was going to ride him in the 5-day Owyhee Canyonlands in September, when he came down with a bad case of allergies right before the ride.

This weekend everything worked out and I was back together with Jose for our 2-day Owyhee Hallowed Weenies ride. As usual, it was an awesome 2-days of 50-mile rides on a great trail with fun company in the Owyhee desert on a phenomenal horse.

I don't know what it is about this horse: his remarkable athletic ability, his huge heart, his utter intelligence, his delighting in going down the trail, his relishing the scenery… Jose is the BEST!

Photo by Amanda Washington, above the Snake River!

Top photo by Steve Bradley!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thinking of You

Wednesday October 24 2012

Stormy the Horse has the perfect card you need when you want to tell that certain SomeHorse (or Someone) that you're thinking of him or her.

He'll put the name/s of your choice on your cards.

And don't forget, you can get your own horse in place of Stormy!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music to My Eyes

Monday October 22 2012 

I have been waiting for this day for a loooong time. Many times during the long hot dry summer, the song of winter played in my head, and I dreamed at nights and imagined during the days: rain, cold, snow.

Today, I got them all at once!

The herd lined up butts to the weather as the cold wind pushed the clouds down from the Owyhee mountains and the cold rain started its glorious descent from the heavens.

Luna still does not know what to do with herself in the rain. She kind of likes it… but she kind of doesn't. (She's the same with water from the hose - when Jose comes up to get a bath, she watches and kind of wants to get sprayed a little bit… but then she doesn't.) She ran around in circles, tried to crawl under the hay feeder, backed up into horses and kicked at them, and pestered Tex for a while.
[slide show here]

Luna was later worn out from her pro/anti-rain demonstrations, and rested in view of the snow-kissed Owyhees, as another storm headed this way.

Jose and Tex celebrated the fine turn of weather events with a bit of Owyhee Gladiator wrestling.
[slide show here]

It was a great day in Owyhee, and the forecast for the week looks delicious!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Embodiment of Equine Perfection

photo from Wikipedia by Froggerlaura

Saturday October 20 2012

When all the superlatives are finally used up: Horse of the Year, Wonder Horse, Brilliant, Invincible, Champion, Equine Perfection, Horse of the Year, Horse of the World, Greatest Racehorse in the World, and when you get wicked goosebumps watching the Champion win, even when you've already watched the race a dozen times, you know you're watching a truly great horse.

With all the hysteria over Zenyatta (i.e. okay, *my* hysteria), you'd think, after I announced I was done with racing, I wouldn't get excited over any racehorses anymore.

But it's hard to ignore other greats like Australia's Black Caviar, and Europe's Frankel. As of today, at Royal Ascot, Frankel retired undefeated in 14 races over 3 seasons (at 2, 3, and 4)

Even more exciting concerning these extraordinary racehorses than the "undefeated" (and in Queen Z's 'undefeated except in one race by a head'), is the "retired sound" (or in Black Caviar's case, 'still sound', as she has not retired yet).

First of all, just to have a top class racehorse who can run for more than two seasons is nothing short of a miracle these days, and then to get a horse through 3 seasons (Frankel) or 4 seasons (Zenyatta and Black Caviar), running at the top of their game and taking on all challenges, is just phenomenal.

Kudos to the owners and trainers and riders and grooms who accomplish this successfully in a racing world desperate for heroes (I get so tired of hearing that phrase) and a racing world where most good horses win a couple of races over one season and either get injured or retire to the breeding shed for a bazillion dollars.

This was Frankel's final race today in the Royal Ascot Champion Stakes. (and search YouTube for more of his spine-tingling, goose-bumping performances!)

(and look for Black Caviar to return in early 2013 for a 'farewell tour' in possibly Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Stormy Halloween

Thursday October 18 2012

Stormy, and his friend The Raven, love the fall holidays. As you can see, Stormy's got a great imagination. He's created some new cards for Halloween and Thanksgiving this year. 

You can buy Stormy's fall holiday cards here (US and Canada only!):


And for those of you who'd like to see your own horse in place of Stormy (though Stormy can't believe you would not prefer him!) you can order custom cards too! Same page, bottom of the card list. For custom cards email me: TheEquestrianVagabond at gmail dot com, and we'll get it done.

Happy Stormy Halloween and Happy Stormy Thanksgiving - Say it With Stormy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Into The Light

Tuesday October 16 2012

For soooooooo many reasons, this is my favorite time of the year - it's COOL, Winter Is Coming, and you have that golden light that just makes you gasp when you have a horse to frame it with.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Dirt: It Does a Body Good

Saturday October 13 2012

All it takes is one

 - then the whole herd has to add their two cents worth.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Five Feet and Six Inches

The creek is dry and the pathway inviting.

The maw of the red canyon gapes: I enter. How can I not?

It is fall, cool and dry in the Owyhee high desert. I am alert for cougars and snakes… but the beauty of the canyon distracts me. Stuns me to muteness. I've hiked the upper part; I've walked along the rim; years ago I discovered eagles nests on one of the canyon's cliff walls. But I've never hiked through this lower part, with the dragon walls and monster monoliths and cathedral towers.

My sense of wonder is so overwhelmed that my other senses suffer, and when a willow bush explodes beside me, I explode too, in adrenaline. Five feet was all that separated me from a great horned owl, and I hadn't seen it. Good thing it was only an owl! But I am disappointed I didn't get a close-up shot of it.

I vow more alertness, checking ledges and overhanging walls, where cougars might lie observing, or where more owls might be perching, as I creep up the gorge.

The canyon in places squeezes together, twists in mazes, and widens into a massive garden oasis. Pretty autumn-colored poison oak decorates the passages. 
The walls become a funnel in places when water runs swiftly in the spring, carving chutes and caves and leaving miniature sand beaches where detritus washes up.

In a hole in the wall 12 feet above the creek bed, 
I spy feathers. It's an old owl nest! 
But as I approach closer, and climb up to peer in it, I see it's pieces of a whole owl - this is the dining room of an owl-eater. Perhaps one of the golden eagles who rules this territory has ripped this great horned owl apart in this dining cave-with-a-view.

Ahead through the canyon walls, I hear and see an angry swooping and diving prairie falcon. I can't see what she's after but I'll bet it's the great horned owl that I disturbed. I try to tread quietly in the creek bed, (which is impossible for a human), try to creep around the corner to see the owl, when it's suddenly had enough of the falcon, and enough of the approaching crashing thrashing human, and it flies over my head back down the canyon, with the prairie falcon in pursuit. As I turn my gaze back up-canyon, a chimney cleft in the opposite wall catches my eye - and I see another great horned owl, staring down at me. He is perfectly camouflaged - I'm not sure how I even noticed him.

I continue on up the canyon, where it becomes very brushy. I could crawl through a tunnel of brush in the creek bed, but I think better of it. I don't sense the presence of cougars, but - what do I know? An owl almost had me for lunch. I opt to crawl up and around where I'm out in the open. 

I see the eagle nest cliff ahead, and there comes a point where I have to either climb or cross the brushy creek bed - and I'm no climber. I pick my way carefully through the 6-foot-high sagebrush and willows, eyes and ears scanning everywhere. There is a sea of poison oak beneath the cliff, but if I pick my way carefully through, I should emerge the other side of the eagle cliff, and continue up the rest of the canyon that I've traversed before.

Still scanning cliff walls and brush, I study my path, carefully taking one step at a time through the tall and pretty red-leafed poison oak. Nearing the edge I say The Heck With It, and I sort of leap and run the last few steps to get it over with.

My mistake.

My last footfall lands in the golden sea of cheatgrass, six inches from one unsuspecting and suddenly very pissed off six-inch rattlesnake. She is golden, barely visible in the matching golden grass, and soundless, because she is too young to have even one rattle. 
can you see it retreating?? me neither!

 (I read later: "Rattler babies have venom, short fangs and are dangerous from birth. In fact, they are more pugnacious than the adults. Although unable to make a rattling sound, the youngsters throw themselves into a defensive pose and strike repeatedly when disturbed."*)

It is only - what? - fate? luck? - that this newborn rattler has not struck me. Again and again. We both leap back, the rattler rising tall and coiling and writhing and rattling a rattle-less tail, me recoiling and cursing, adrenaline raging, stepping back but not too far back without looking, because where there is one rattlesnake baby there could be more babies ("The female rattler may carry from four to 25 eggs, from which an average of nine or ten young are born live"*), not to mention the big rattlesnakes that created them.

The little rattlesnake slowly retreats - while still coiled and ready to strike - into taller grass, and I realize that with its perfect golden camouflage, I'll likely not see the next one, either.

I find my that nerve to continue up this canyon has suddenly vanished. I choose to retreat - back through the poison oak and golden grass (very carefully!) through the tall brush (cautiously!) and to climb up out of the canyon, and leave the rest of the canyon for another day. 

Like a cold day in winter when rattlesnakes should be hibernating.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

O Noble Beast

Thursday October 4 2012

I think that I shall never see

a beast as noble as is he.

He soars like an eagle with me on his back,

sometimes he's chased by his friend Rushcreek Mac.

He skips up the ridges and glides down the hills

sharing with me a thousand miles of thrills.

He stops on the peaks to take in the view - 

what goes through his brain, I wish that I knew.

He reasons and thinks with a mind so smart -

it's that intelligence of his that sets him apart.

He listens and nickers, he nudges and stares,

it's unique what we have - this communication so rare.

He rears in the air with pals in his pack

and snorts when he's bitten and rolls on his back.

He runs with the herd and teaches them play;

he naps in the sun and sleeps through the day.

He paws up the dust and loves to play tag.

If he had a tail like a dog it surely would wag.

He plays in the rain and dances in snow,

he leaps in the sand; Jose's got Mojo!

I comb his mane and I brush his tail;

at the end of the day I never fail

to hug his head and stroke his face

as I know this beast is full of grace.

He's noble and true

and downright smart too,

What else can I say?

I love this Jose

(very noble, yes? kiss the nose, yes?)