Monday, December 29, 2008

Before and After

I found a riding program about five years ago in Ridgefield, Washington. It was a very inexpensive way to get back into horses after taking a LONG hiatus. Helen, the woman in charge, had five horses available to ride according to your experience. I rode this wonderful sorrel mare, Honey. Honey was amazing...loved her to pieces..still have pictures of us all over my fridge. She also had a old retired roping horse named "Blue," that you could put anyone on. He always took care of his rider. He was a little arthritic, but he still was eager out on the trails. There was also a horse named "Tucker" that was Helen's first horse. He loved to run, even though he was in his 20s...he had a lot of get up and go. Helen met a guy and decided to get married and move to Idaho. She placed Tucker and Blue with a rescue facility somewhere in Oregon. This summer she went to visit them and was horrified by their condition and weight. She hatched a plan to get them back to Idaho, worried that Blue wouldn't survive trip. It has been about three months since she got them home and today she sent me photos of the "before" and "after." It is so nice to see them again and see that they are fat and furry. They are such good boys and played such a huge role in renewing and rekindling my love for horses. I think by looking at theses photos, it is a good reminder that you never can be too sure of the people you sell or give your horses too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Making the news..

It took me a week longer than planned to get back to Portland, Oregon due to the weather. Flight cancellations and then the back log of travellers prevented me from getting back. I arrived today and heard that our barn made the news. They were snowbound and battled power outages and lack of hands to help with the battered fences and frozen buckets. I appreciate my boarding place more than ever. They turned the horses out every day to play in the arena and worked round the clock to keep them fed and happy. Thanks Templetons! Story Link.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Right Place, Right Time

I decided to drive a different way home today, not really sure why. As traffic slowed in front of me, I really began to wonder why I chose this route. Then, a whirl of brown flashed by my window...and then another. Three little ponies and two horses had escaped their confines and were running alongside the ditch, dangerously close to the highway. I pulled over and so did another lady. We both ran and waved them back to the ditch, anything to keep them from the road. It was cold, but as we stood there guarding the "herd" more people stopped to help. A couple of the women starting asking, "Do you have horses?" We all nodded, each knowing that was the reason we all reacted the way we did. The love of the animal and the hope that if these were our horses, anyone else would gladly do the same. We had about eight people now and the horses had settled and were grazing contently when we saw a truck and trailer coming our way. It was the owner. He was pretty upset and we all helped him get the grain buckets and everyone grabbed halters and lead lines. Regardless of what we had on our feet, we began trudging through the snow in hopes the horses would relax and come to us. The ponies were easy. They heard that grain and came running. We had them loaded in a few minutes. The horses, took off and two guys drove down a side street to block them and eventually the horses succumbed to their stomachs and went for the grain. We all gave each other high fives and headed to our cars. Smiling and feeling like super heroes that just saved the day. Each knowing in our hearts, we would always perform super human feats to save the animals we love.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sad news...Parkland Stable Fire

I was working tonight at my ABC station in Portland and saw this come down from Seattle.

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. -- Fifteen horses have died in a fire that broke out at a stable near Parkland on Thursday night.

Officials said a 2-alarm fire broke out at Eckstein Stables, LLC in the 13100 block of Bingham Avenue East just before 7 p.m., causing a part of the structure to collapse.

No one was injured aside from the killed horses which were being boarded there.

The owner of the stable said as soon as a heat detector sounded the alarm at 6:56 p.m., fire crews rushed to the scene. The nearest station was just a mile down the road, but by the time they arrived all 15 horses had died.

"This is really hard. This is really hard and I've got a lot of people I've got to explain this to," stable owner Tom Eckstein said.

"Horrible, it's horrible. I can't believe it. It's got to be a horrible way to go," said Jessica Seal.

One by one, owners of the horses rushed over to the barn where they had boarded their horses.

Missy Ashbrook lost her horse, Uno.

"He was such a big part of our lives. I just can't process right now that he's gone," she said.

Kristal Derochey lost two of her beloved animals.

"My horses just died. The whole barn went up in flames and nobody made it out," she said.

The stable was packed to the rafters with hay. Even the tiniest spark could have set the whole building ablaze.

Firefighters said they may never know the exact case of the fire, and the news is unsettling for the grief-stricken horse owners. For them, losing their horse is not unlike losing a family member.

"We built our whole life around our horse," Ashbrook said.

Here is a link to the story. If you want to watch a video story, here is a link. It was hard to watch that one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday Jerri!

My good friend Jerri over at Learning Horses had a birthday on Friday. We celebrated with a barn dance down at her place in Junction City. She is the lovely lady in the middle. I give Jerri all the credit (and blame:-) for getting me back into the horse world. I stepped away after college, throwing myself into work and moving around the country. About 6 years ago, I realized there was something missing...horses! Knowing I couldn't afford one, I looked for opportunities on Craigslist to ride and I found Jerri. She introduced me to her Paso Finos and re-ignited my passion for riding. She has been a great resource and friend for me. She is considering a move to London. Of course I will be sad to have her leave, but excited for her next adventure. Cheers will always have a special place in my heart for taking me in and offering me the opportunity to ride your beautiful horses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Branding at the Rockin Maddy Ranch

Maddy has a freeze brand on her left front shoulder. It is a small, white heart. I think it is cute and gives her character. It reminds me of where she came from and when I see the "Hart" brand, I know the horses are members of Maddy's family. Today, Laura, the woman I bought her from, sent me some photos of the freeze brand process. They usually use liquid nitrogen, but this time they used dry ice and had lots of success. A freeze brand kills the pigment in the cells and the hair grows back white. I guess all you do is shave the area, spray with alcohol, and hold the brand on there for 40 seconds. They did 27 horses on this day. I don't know what kind of sensation this has on the horse's skin. I would imagine it burns a little bit.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A compliment

The coolest thing has been happening when I go to get Maddy out of the pasture. I go down to where ever she is and I stop a few feet from her. She walks up to me, I give her a scratch and turn and start walking up to the gate and she follows. Today she walked next to me and then trotted up to the gate and waited for me to catch up. It was really one of the best compliments your horse could give you. "It is about time you showed up, I want to go ride."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Parelli Clinic

I audited a Level 2 Advanced Parelli clinic this weekend up at Kozy Manor in Ridgefield, Washington. I would like to get back on track with my Parelli work. As some of you know, the day I received my Level One certificate, I first noticed Maddy "hop" on the lunge line. X-rays revealed that she had fractured her coffin bone and things and life got put on hold for awhile. The Parellis are changing their teaching format from levels to patterns in on-line, finesse, liberty and freestyle. By going to the clinic this weekend, I was hoping to get re-inspired and I am. While I was there I met this woman, Wendy, who owns Curly Horses. She was doing all sorts of cool stuff with her horse, Dan. I have read about Curlys, but have never seen one. They are compact, with spiral twists going thru the mane and tail. Their bodies have whirl patterns of fur and the fur on their fetlocks is so thick, it looks like they are wearing hand knitted socks. Wendy chose this breed because her husband has allergies. The Curlys don't have the dander that other horses have. Another cool thing from the clinic....three men. I have never done a Parelli clinic with a man much less three. Nice to see guys out there. Although Ann Kiser pointed out, they are much less chatty than the women:-) The photos posted are of Wendy and Dan doing their thing at the clinic. It was a perfect weekend. It was hard to sit there knowing I could be out on the trails, but I got a lot out of it and ready to work towards passing Level 2.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Boarders

The rain has begun, the mud is here, the blankets are on and still we are squeezing the last bit of summer out of every day. If there is even a chance of decent weather, Maddy and I are hitting the trails. I know I need to be working on some drills in the arena, but the allure of the changing leaves and the crisp air is too much to resist. We have some new boarders, Karen and Sonja. I hooked up with them this weekend, to show them a few trail options. Sonja is 15 and should be very proud of herself. Not knowing a lot about horses, she bought a yearling and turned to Steve Rother to help her get through the training. Her horse is now five and you should see this paint side pass over and open and close the gates. Sonja has done a fantastic job. She is a natural. Karen is living her dream...always wanting to have horses and now in her 50s she is enjoying them at last. They really are a nice family and I look forward to having a teenager out at the barn.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pasture Burns

Maddy was raised in Southern California at the Hart Ranch. I got a message today along with some photos of the 2000 acres that burned down there and the rescue efforts to round up the the Hart horses. Here is the email Laura sent me....

Good Morning..... I just got back from Southern California where I helped my folks gather some horses..... we had a 2000 acre pasture leased at Camp Pendelton and it burned to a crisp..... it takes time to ride and find all the horses, as they split into their own little groups when out in a large place...I am happy to report that NONE of our horses were injured, just frightened as I am sure you can imagine....there were very few patches that were not black, and the horses were mostly hanging in these areas thoughout the hills.....there was still some areas that were smoldering, and it was "erie" tobe riding thru it all..... we have brought in 70 of the 107 that are out there, and they are returning today to pick up the rest.... I was riding one of THEIR horses to gather, and when a herd of about 60 came at me at a dead run, it was just like the scene in "City Slickers"with the stampede!!! My horse thought he should go with the herd!!!! I am only laughing now because I survived without falling off (barely)and after they passed my mom says "oh, I guess we haven't used him to gather before!!!" Very funny!!! I just thought these were some fun pics to look at..... hope you all have a great day.... laura

It is an amazing herd...I can see why Maddy was so bitter about being put to work when she arrived up here. She ran wild with these horses until she was four years old. So happy to hear there were no injuries or casualties from the fire.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Kacy over at All Horse Stuff tagged me with a good game.

*First you grab the book closest to you
*Turn to page 56 and go to the fifth sentence on that page.
*Share the next couple lines with us.
I just finished "A long way gone" by Ishmael Beah. It is memoirs of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. It is a pretty good read.

Here are the lines from page 56.

"Everyone ran when they heard of the "seven boys" on there way here. I couldn't run at all. So they left me behind. No one was willing to carry me and I didn't want to be a burden," he said.

So now I get to tag three people and they happen to be three bloggers new to the blogroll.

Equine Bodyworks Adventures
Discovering Epona
Jacksons Grrl

Half Trace

Maddy just finished her half trace clip in this picture and realized there was a bag of apples just around the corner. Being a pig trapped in a horse's body, she couldn't resist sneaking around to try to nab them while I was trying to take a picture of her pretty new hairdo. I decided to do just half a trace and see how she does with that before taking so much hair off. Just this past week, the rains have started and the temperature is dipping down at night. The bag of apples was their Halloween treat. I wanted to have them "bob for apples." I cut them in halves and dropped a bunch into their water trough. I have a little video clip of Maddy and Classy trying to figure out why suddenly the water tastes so "applely." Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trace Clip

Off to do a trace clip tomorrow on Maddy. She has a pretty good winter coat coming in...the problem, it is still warm out and she is working 4 days a week. She has been getting pretty sweaty, so it is time to get out the clippers. Most of the horses at the barn already have them...I am a bit behind. Maddy is great with the clippers...just hope I have a steady hand.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

HyTyme Equine Rescue

I decided to spend my 36th birthday volunteering out at HyTyme Equine Rescue in Eagle Creek, Oregon. Unfortunately, the facility is dealing with an outbreak of Pigeon Fever, so some of the horses were in quarantine. The owner of the place, Jim Elliott, invited me out anyway to get a tour and meet his beloved Drum Horses on the other side of the facility. The Drum Horse looks similar to the Gypsy Vanner, lots of mane and lots of feathers. They were used in England to carry the big kettle drums of the Queen's Cavalry. They had to be strong enough to carry the rider and kettle drum, usually about 300 pounds. Jim fell in love with the breed and bought two stallions from a farm in Pennsylvania. They found some draft PMU mares in Idaho and they had their first crop of Drum foals this year. The stallion, Apollo is quite a character. He is pictured at left and has the most gorgeous mane, it just flows everywhere. When Jim called his name, Apollo strolled over and just leaned into all the scratches and attention. The herd of mares with their little (not so little:-) foals had to come check out what was going on. The Drums seem to be a friendly, curious breed. Some of the foals had the most amazing eyelashes, a wonderful mix of white and black. One of the foals lost it's mother this summer to colic and is being raised by a donkey. I fell in love with that little filly...she was so sweet. I am hoping to help out around the place once or twice a month. I have to wait until the Pigeon Fever is gone before starting. I can't risk transferring it out to our barn. I wore things that I won't wear at my barn and I washed my car just to be safe. I am hoping to help by taking photos and video of the rescue horses to aid in getting them adopted. Also, I wouldn't mind brushing horses or cleaning a few stalls. When it is safe to go out, I have to get together with their barn manager and see where I can help. I am really looking forward to helping in any way I can. You can read more about their Drum Horses at this website.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Thirty six years ago today, I came into the world. My dad loves to tell everyone that when he went to the nursery to see me for the first time, I stuck my tongue out. That set the tone for my childhood. My mom told me that I had to face outward when I was being held because I had to see what was going on. I sat on horses before I could walk. I have old 8mm film of me in a pink snowsuit, sitting on "Kippy." What would Fugly say?:-) I bought my first pony for $ from my piggy bank. Her name was "Topper Star" and the first time they let me ride her, she took off at a full gallop, ran down the field and turned around and came back. My parents said I laughed the whole time and came back with a huge grin on my face. I was hooked, I was horse crazy. Summers were spent at the racetracks or local horse shows. I collected Breyer horses, pouring over those catalogs trying to decide which ones I wanted for Christmas, which ones I wanted for my birthday. As time went on, I acquired four ponies, Topper, Brandy, Dyna, and Lightning. To this day, I think of them and get a huge lump in my throat and then the tears...I miss them. They were everything to me. This photo is me and Topper and my aunt Kathy. We are dressed up for a local parade and I think for whatever reason, I was "pouting" when this picture was taken. My mom made my jockey costume. I wore it after the parade, just because I thought it was so cool. We didn't have a lot of money, and what money we did have went to the horses. My first horse, Tink, I claimed for $500 off a bush track in South Dakota. He was 12 at the time and still running the socks off the two years old at the track. He became my barrel horse and my best friend. There is an old saying "I've spent most of my life in the saddle, the rest of the time I have just wasted." I believe that to be true. Today was my birthday, and I am reflecting on the passing of time and the horses, the friends, and the family that have made it an amazing 36 years. This last photo is my 7th birthday. My mom got creative with our birthday cakes as well. We loved her "bear" cakes. This is my dad, Asher, and my little brother, Will. I am sure those wrapped boxes are Breyer horses, that is why you see that big, toothless grin.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Workin Hard

Just a shot of Maddy as we rode on the trails this past week. We had perfect Fall weather, so it was a great opportunity to get out there and enjoy it while it lasts. A story about this photo...when I was at the beach a couple weeks ago and Maddy rolled...well she rolled right on this camera. I sent it in too be repaired but it came back to me with the LCD screen not working. I wasn't sure if it was taking pictures, but snapped a few just to test it. I put the memory card in the computer and I was pleasantly surprised to find this shot. I thought it looked cool and shows Maddy sweating it out up there on the BLM trails.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back to Lessons

I took some time out from dressage lessons this Spring to work on Maddy's foundation training. I was spending lots of money on lessons, only to struggle during the allotted time slot just to keep her straight or on the rail. I worked all summer on Clinton Anderson exercises in the arena and they really have worked wonders on my mare. I decided she was ready and I was ready to start getting some instruction again. Last Wednesday we had our first lesson and we went to work on a big circle. I have never had my mare go "on the bit" because I have been riding on a loose rein and have been waiting for some coaching from my dressage teacher before doing so. It was awesome! She went so round and kept her feet on the circle. It was the best feeling I have ever had on a horse to date. It could be because I know all the hard work that went into to being able to ride this simple circle...or it could be because I am so proud of her willingness to could be that " really was that awesome!" Either way...I will take it. I am really excited to go forward with her into the dressage realm. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Trucks and Trailers

For the first time in my life, I am almost completely debt free. The temptation to run out and buy a truck and trailer (or another horse:-) is a constant I am battling with. I see amazing deals on trucks, and a few nice trailers here and there. I have told myself, "If I save half of the purchase price, I may buy my truck." I am not looking for something fancy, just reliable. My credit union has a repo list a mile long and I have been keeping an eye out for any 3/4 ton pickups. I really want to travel with Maddy A LOT next summer. I want to go back to California to ride Mt. Shasta with her last owner. I may want to introduce her to the race track and see if she could "pony". I would love to trailer up to Vancouver, WA and try some team penning or sorting. I want to ride out in Whipple Creek, the place that brought me back to riding and ignited my passion for horses. With that truck and trailer comes FREEDOM, but I will bide my time and wait for that perfect deal. Patience is hard for me, so is not spending:-). I came across the truck and trailer pictured above...isn't that cool! So retro...not very practical, but it reminds me of my childhood and similar to the setup we had back in the day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beach Pics!

So this is the gang that hit the Tillamook beach last weekend. From left to right we have Carol on Max, Nora on Pantz, Kacy on Wa, Me and Maddy, and a pregnant Jeannette and Dainn.
This was a first for me and Maddy. I was a little nervous about her reaction to the waves, but she was fantastic. She did roll, but that was my fault. I just kept thinking it was deep sand, and I realized too late she was going down!. We had lots and long canters along the beach and then we took the scenic route, following the bay all the way around. It has been a goal of mine to be able to do this, so I felt just estatic to be offered to opportunity to tag along. I had a fantastic time and by day two...Maddy was a beach bum. She loved it too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New/Old Tattoo!

I got a "tramp stamp" about ten years ago when I lived in Spokane, Washington. Being my first tattoo, I didn't really research artists or really plan out what I was getting. I got a basic black flower with some squiggly stuff around it. I always felt it was kind of one dimensional looking and boring. I finally got the courage to go through the pain again and I had a friend of mine design something that works with what I got to make it more "pretty." So my friend Amanda at Infinity Tattoo did it on Thursday last week. Man did it hurt! It burned and throbbed, but I still made my beach riding trip this past weekend. Not much could stop me from doing that....a goal of mine since I bought Maddy. It was a wonderful girls weekend, despite the "roll" in the sand Maddy took when we first hit the beach. I thought "Man...this sand is deep!! Whoa....she is going down!" And then she rolled...right on my awesome new Panasonic camera. Dead Panasonic. Live and learn:-) I loved my time there and couldn't ask for better friends to share it with. Kacy, Nora, Jeannette, Linda, and guys rock. Thanks for having me. Does anyone know how to airbrush that love handle out of there?:-)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Neighbor's Horse Shot

This is a photo of Yukon, the 3 year old gelding that was shot to death this afternoon while he was grazing out in his pasture. The owner noticed him lying there and thought he was asleep, they went out to check on him and discovered the stunning crime. It is so tragic, but scary at the same time because it happened very close to our barn. It just makes me sick to think there are such losers out there that would do something like this. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is offering a reward and there is a tip line (503-723-4949)if anyone knows anything about what happened to beautiful Yukon. Here is a link to the news story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Isolde!

I am so excited for Esther from Ishtar News! Arwen had her baby. Little Isolde arrived this week and look at these great photos of the new arrival. For those that don't know Esther (Ishtar), she is an amazing Swedish woman doing humanitarian work in Niger. I love reading her blog. She has an amazing world view and shares so much about the places and the things that she loves. Arwen is a race horse and it looks like Isolde, got her mom's LONG legs and her lovely coloring. Congrats Esther and Arwen....very exciting news.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Stuffed" Maddy

I am heading home to visit my nephew, Weston, in Minnesota. He is almost three months old already. I made him a "stuffed" Maddy as a little gift. It turned out really cute. Of course I asked a friend who stopped over what he thought and his response was "Is that a llama?" Ugh. Have a great week everyone. I am off to enjoy a little vacation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Edwards' Mistress

I have always been a big John Edwards fan, so when news of his affair surfaced, I was saddened and stunned. I was hoping he would be Attorney General someday and eventually President. So I was reading about his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and found out she used to be teenage equestrienne Lisa Druck of Ocala, Florida. Her father was James Druck, a lawyer who was implicated in the "Horse Mafia Scam." He and Tommy "the Sandman" Burns electrocuted horses for their owners to collect the insurance money. One of their first victims was the horse Lisa rode, Henry the Hawk. Druck showed Burns how to electrocute Lisa's horse using a stripped extension cord and a wall socket. It is some pretty sick stuff. I think I read somewhere they killed 50 horses and 36 people were implicated in the scam. Some connected to the case are also believed to have murdered candy heiress, Helen Brach. Her body was never found. Like I said...some really bad people. I first heard of the "Horse Mafia" back in 2007 and I did a post on it. So to escape her past....Lisa became Rielle, but seems she still found her way back into a sordid life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Theresa Demarest

I met this amazing woman about a year ago, Theresa Demarest. She is a singer song writer who dabbled a bit in making movies. She did a wonderful movie called "A Herd of Two," about becoming a horse owner for the first time and turning to natural horsemanship to train her young mare. I emailed her and talked about her movie and next thing you know, I am helping her with her Keiko's Dream...Keiko's Legacy movie. We are both learning from each other as we go along in this journey of film making. She took a little break from the film today and brought me out to meet Tehya, her baby. Theresa is so dedicated and driven with her music and films and she is that way with her mare, Tehya. Theresa worked through all the ups and downs of training a young, hot, saddlebred-arabian cross. There is a beautiful scene in "A Herd of Two" where Theresa sings as she walks to the pasture and Tehya comes bounding over the hill and runs to be with her. It truly is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Unfortunately Tehya injured her stifle and it is questionable if Theresa will ever be able to ride her. Despite the frustration, she embraces the simple things they can do together...short walks hunting for apple trees and just simply spending time grooming and pampering her. I just love seeing people that are dedicated to there animals. I enjoyed strolling along with them and seeing the caring and compassion. Today the little herd expanded and we became a herd of three.