Friday, February 24, 2012

the back-end product of horse ownership

You'll pardon the really bad pun up there.  Been entrenched in all kinds of marketing language for the past few weeks and I couldn't help myself once I read this article:

Norco's Can-Do Proposal: Turning Horse Manure Into Energy

Now that's a "green" movement I can get behind.  (Sorry.  More bad puns.  It's been a good morning and my brain is feeling just a little bit mischievous.)

I hope it's something that ends up working out, both logistically and financially, because that would be good for areas all around the country that have a decent-sized horse population.  Imagine...your hobby (for most of us out there), providing part of your power.  Which means, in a way, the horses are sort of paying for themselves/earning their keep.  Sort of makes the prospect of shoveling that back-end product a little more appealing.

Post Recommendation

Mel at Boots and Saddles had a fascinating post about tendons this week.

The Tendon Post
The "What Now" Follow-Up
Companion Post on Bone

Great posts, Mel!  We're all benefiting from your being in vet school.  Want to come practice in AZ after you graduate?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hiking Cave Creek Regional Park

I completely forgot to blog about this...a couple weekends ago (actually, SuperBowl Sunday...none of us are really sports fans), Dad and I went hiking up in Cave Creek Regional Park.  The photos made it onto Facebook, but somehow didn't quite get to the "being written about" stage.

Cave Creek (hereafter abbreviated as "CC") is at the north-northeast part of the Valley, a little less than an hour from my house, easy freeway driving the whole way.  CC is a very horsey community, with both CC Regional Park and Spur Cross Recreation Area offering riding trails, as well as being surrounded by hundreds of miles of trails, off-road tracks, and Forest Service roads on State Trust Land and the Tonto National Forest.

Our goal, having never ridden in the area, was to do some scouting for future riding endeavors.  Great hiking trails.  Great trail training long as you can guarantee no other trail traffic, since if you met a bike on parts of this trail, your options are pretty much a vertical up or a vertical down, topped by a whole bunch of layers of loose, sharp shale and slate.

Fun times.

But I have pictures.

Sadly, I don't have pictures of some of the more interesting, technical stuff.  I was too busy trying to stay upright on my own two feet.

Layers upon layers of shale, slate, and granite.
Very pretty.  Very rocky.

Horse-spooking bench.  My unflappable trail pony
thinks these are highly suspicious whenever we
encounter them.

Smooth section of trail.  It didn't last.

More really pretty, funky rocks.  See why slate is popular
as both flooring and accent in homes around here?

Deeeeep crevice.  Very deep.  Don't fall in.

My father is All Business with his Serious Hiking Pole.
He also didn't know I was taking his picture.  Heehee.

More overview.  A bit of the trail visible on the left.

Looking into the town of Cave Creek.

Went "off-roading" to do some exploring.  Really, this is a trail.

Very cool solid rock wall next to the trail.

My desert grows cactus out of rocks.
Can your desert do that?

Looking north towards Spur Cross.

The Maricopa Trail is an in-progress trail being built around
the entire Valley.  It'll eventually connect most of the regional
parks, using existing park trails, as well as community bridle paths
and the CAP/SRP canal system trails.  It'll be about 250+ miles
once it's all completed.  A segment of it actually uses the canal
that runs right behind my house.  I just discovered this the other morning.

Intrepid hiker.
I'm not actually rolling my eyes... I'm squinting into the sun.  

Quite a few blind curves + mountain bikers made for a few times
when I was actually glad not to be on horseback.

So CC is a really pretty park, just different enough from my usual stomping grounds that I enjoyed the change of scenery.  The verdict as a riding destination?  Not very likely, unless the Tonto and Trust Land have some better trail offerings.  CC is just too crowded, with too much traffic and not enough options for avoiding said traffic or getting out of the way.

But there're still other trails we didn't explore that might offer better options.  It takes a lot for me to write off a place as riding potential, so I haven't given up on this park yet.  And I know I'll definitely be back to hike it again!

We ended up doing about an 8.5-mile hike...lots of up and down, lots of rocks.  New empathy for the horses and how difficult balancing over rocks is and how it can tire them out so quickly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Music to Ride By

Music is one of those prerequisite things in a lot of the barns out here.  During my formative, growing-up-with-horses years, I spent quite a bit of time in barns that played a lot of music.  Add to that the fact this is Arizona...the southwest.  Wild, wild West sometimes.  Can you see where this is going?

Yeah...I still know/remember pretty much every country song that was popular between the years of 1993 and 2002.

Music also tended to play a part in horse shows...when the "Serious Business" ring work was over and it was gymkhana time, someone would typically kick on the radio.  Music seemed to make the ponies (at least mine) run a little bit faster.

It also meant the long-suffering show parents (and ponies) were forced to listen to the musical, karaoke-esque stylings of a bunch of kids as we'd sing along in between whoops and hollers of excitement.  Sorry, Mom and Dad.

Some of the larger shows would actually play music during the classes, even the ring work.  It's very popular at large shows, such as the Scottsdale Arabian Show that's going on right now.  It definitely adds some extra excitement and energy to performance classes.  And one of my favorite classes to watch at Scottsdale is the Liberty class, in which the horse is set loose to run around the arena and show off their athleticism and movement...all set to music.  Great fun, and a class I'd love to participate in some day.  (I've got a great playlist of song possibilities.)

One of the few things I was disappointed about never getting the chance to do while I was still showing in POA was Freestyle Reining.  It's a class only offered at the International Show, which I attended once but wasn't at the riding level (myself or Mimi) at the time to handle that particular class...helps to know how to do a flying lead change...or actually stop.  :)  But it's a fun class: You come up with your own reining pattern that displays a certain amount of skills: flying changes, sliding stops, spins.  Standard stuff you'd expect from any skilled reining horse.  The catch?  It's all set to music.  And the POA version, at least, also included a (very often used) relevant costume option.

Despite never competing in the class, I spent a lot of time practicing what I would do for it.

Long story short: Mimi and I have spent a lot of time riding to music. 

Oh, yeah...I also sing when I'm bored and/or nervous on a ride.  Anyone else grow up on the kid's TV show "Lambchop"?  I did!  Long-suffering parents might recognize it as the show that spawned the song, "This is the song that never ends...yes it goes on and on my friends...some people started singing it not knowing what it was, and they'll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends..." Repeat ad nauseum.  I...adapted it during the McDowell ride I took Beamer to, when his antics had me off and hand-walking through two miles of sandwash.

Endurance version?  "This is the wash that never ends...yes it goes on and on my friends...some people started riding it not knowing what it was, and they'll continue riding it forever just because this is the wash that never ends..."  Bad?  Yes.  Effective?  Yes.  Singing it kept my spirits up and the horse quite happily trolling along behind me.

(I don't claim to be a good singer, especially a capella.  I ride tone deaf tolerant horses.)

My other trick has been co-opting the line from Finding Nemo's Dorry, the absent-minded angelfish: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."  When you replace "swimming" with "trotting," the rhythm exactly matches the pony's 7mph, loose-rein, troll-down-the-trail trot.

And I've got a selection of stuff I'll sing quietly or hum when I'm on a section of trail that's making me a bit nervous or's really hard to sing and hold your breath at the same time.  Plus, singing distracts me and lets the pony get on with her job without her rider messing her up.

So...all of that to say that today, I remembered to bring my little music set-up: iPod and little portable plug-in speakers, to the barn to ride today.  Arena work is getting a little stale again, so wanted to do something to spice it up. 

I'll be doing my riding to music from now on, thanks.

Mimi was so happy and cheerful and forward today.  She kept offering to do more and more work, instead of schlepping around or trying to sneak to the gate.  (Well, we had a couple of sneak-to-the-gate moments, but all it earned her was the right to canter in small circles around the gate until she figured out the gate might just be a sucky place to hang out around.  Ponies.  Always testing.)

And Mimi has her own playlist on my iPod.  It's actually called "Pony Playlist."  Because she has music she likes.  It has to be energetic and preferably loud.  So her playlist is a lot of rock, some pop, and some country.  Want to know what Ashley Mimi likes to listen to?  (And of course the fact that I have definite music tastes, preferences and favorite songs doesn't influence my pony at all...Because all of these aren't on my Favorites playlist or anything...)

The House Rules
Whiskey in Mind
Let Me Go
American Made
Seven Days
(All of the above are off of Christian Kane's "The House Rules" album.  My favorite musician [and songwriter].  A great country-rock blend.)
This Town - O.A.R.
Back in Back - AC/DC
Bitch - Mereditch Brooks
Bad Romance - Lady GaGa (Yeah, really.  Only song of hers I's catchy.)
Independence Day - Martina McBride
New Divide - Linkin Park
All In - Lifehouse
Bless the Broken Road - Rascal Flatts
Danger Zone - Kenny Loggins

Those were the ones we got through today.  There's still another dozen or so that didn't get played.  Eclectic much, right?  That's sort of representative of my music collection...I tend to listen to a little bit of just about everything.

So not only did I have a great ride today, in gorgeous weather (75*, sunny, breezy...I actually got a bit pink from the sun...and they call this "winter" here, y'know...), I got to listen to music that I love.  Now that's a good day!

Comment Moderation

Taking a leaf out of Funder's post about the new Blogger word verification on comments (I have 20/20 vision and I can't read the darn things) and turned it off.  However, since I'm not all that fond of Russian spammers, I have turned on comment moderation.  I'm typically have computer access all day/every day, so comments should be approved and posted pretty quickly.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blog Challenges

Anyone else see or do one of those 30-day blog challenges that were flying around the 'net for a time?  I'm giving some serious thought to trying one...inconsistent blogging is one of my "could use improvement" habits.

But I'm not a major fan of the challenges that I've found out there.  Most of them are aimed at the show world, which I am so far removed from these days.  Or they're not at all horsey-related...and let's face it, this is a (mostly) horsey blog.

So I think I'm going to come up with my own, trying to keep it mostly horse-related with a more specific adaptation to endurance.  Need a day or so to come up with 30 days worth of topics/questions.  So if anyone's got any suggestions or ideas, I'd love some input!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Only Temporary

Just a little something fun I did tonight:

Only temporary.  :)

I've toyed with the idea of getting a more permanent tattoo off and on for the past few years, but haven't been brave enough to make that final step.  One, I have a dislike of needles.  I don't even like getting shots.  Heck, I don't even like watching my pony get her shots.  Two, I don't have world's greatest pain tolerance.  Not sure that makes me the ideal candidate.

But I do like the idea of getting one with very personal meaning and symbolism...meaning something to do with my beloved heart-pony.

I've seen some very cool designs along the way...might see what I can manage to create in Photoshop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Few Blog Changes

Just playing around with the design header, for one.  The font's called "Bleeding Cowboy" from

The other change I've made is to the format of comments: I'm now able to reply directly to specific comments.  Those that have commented in the past week have probably noticed this.  I'm making a concerted effort to be better at replies these days, and it's made all the easier by being able to reply to each comment separately. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's That Time of Year (Again)

After flirting with temperatures that more closely resembled spring and seriously called into question that so-called Groundhog's Day proclaimation of "six more weeks of winter," today Arizona remembered that it's still technically winter.

We went from sunny and 70s to chilly, windy, cloudy, 50s, off-and-on rain today.

I feel sort of bad, because Mimi has all but shed out the majority of her winter coat.  She's a pony...she can grow it in again overnight, right?  (If I feel too guilty, there's always one of her ancient blankets that lives down at the barn that can be pushed back into service if absolutely necessary.)

But I don't think it's so much a delayed reaction to the groundhog as it is the weather obeying tradition.

This coming Thursday is the start of the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show.

Every year, it rains around the Scottsdale Show.  Typically not the entire time...but the weather patterns seem to take great delight in dumping at least a couple days of cold, unpleasant weather on determined show-goers.

Not that it really seems to stop people...especially anyone that's there for the shopping, since the majority of the vendors are under covered tents.  Besides, it's a good excuse to buy (another) raincoat.

It's always a fun time...a great place for impulse buying, eating some truly yummy food (and you're walking the whole show grounds...a perfect excuse to munch all day long), and watching some spectacular Arabians (the people-watching can be kind of interesting, too...).

It always makes me a bit nostalgic for my show days, despite the fact I didn't show Arabs.  Part of me misses the glitter and sparkle, fuss and frenzy.  And then I remember wearing suede chaps or velvet hard hats in 90*+ weather and I don't miss it so much.

But I always thought it would have been fun to show an Arab at Scottsdale.

The show technically doesn't start until Thursday, so I think today is just the weather warming up (cooling down?) for the big event.  Tomorrow is supposed to be bright and sunny again, but Thursday?

Yeah, that's right.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Old Habits

Funny how some habits end up deeply ingrained.  Mimi and I have one of those, a carry-over from our show days.

When I was showing, I always wore spurs, for both English and Western.  Not because she was lazy, or because she needed "punishment," but because it was one of those little things that differentiated "work time" from "play time."  When the spurs were on, that meant "Buckle down and work."  Rail work, schooling, things that required her to be "on" and performing.  No spurs meant we could both relax and enjoy: trail riding, gymkhana, casual play days.

Her responsiveness coupled with using spurs also meant I barely had to move my legs to ask for a gait change...always a plus when it came to equitation classes.

To this day, she still does her best arena work when I slip on a pair of spurs.  We can both work without them, but why make things that much more difficult?  Especially when it comes to arena work, something neither of us particularly love anymore.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do-It-Yourself Photo Shoot

Can a girl ever have too many pairs of shoes boots?


Especially when they're the right pair.

This is just from the last few years, and doesn't include the couple pairs currently in use down at the barn.   Some of my earlier pairs have since been salvaged for parts and pieces.  The above pairs range from "barely worn with less than 100 miles on them" to "use only as a last resport because the toes are looking well-ventilated."

All boots are matched up (with a couple of random sparesies, like the errant green one) and they fit really neatly in one of these Rubbermaid boxes:

As the post title would suggest, I had a bit of fun with a Do-It-Yourself photo shoot.  I needed some shots of the boots, and didn't really have any that hadn't been taken for purposes of "this is how they should fit."  You know, the kind of photo that involves hooves, horse legs, and barn floor.  Even if they are cute pony hooves. 

But I've got a great backyard for photo-taking, even if I can't exactly fit a horse in it. 

Somehow, that didn't slow me down much.

As seen on Facebook.
Where are your boots taking you this weekend?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Procrastinators R Us

It's February, and I just got around to taking down the Christmas lights.  I mean, just, as in, ten minutes ago.

I tend to procrastinate.  A bit.

It sometimes carries over to my hoof trimming duties.  In a perfect world, I trim Mimi every 2-3 weeks.  That way, I don't have to ever take off too much at one time.

But sometimes, it gets pushed out to four weeks.

And then I have to deal with this:

Ack...toes.  And Pony Heels.  Front hoof.

On the surface, they're not too bad.  Underneath?  Ew.  Winter Feet.

Hind hooves.  More heels.  Not seen is the side flare.

Ever seen the movie, "The Neverending Story"Great movie if you like fairy tales.  Which I do.  But I digress.  The point of that is that keeping up on Mimi's heels is my own personal Neverending Story.  Just when I get it under control, it starts all over again...

And she still has a weird growth line on the right side, just in front of her heel area, where she blew out that abscess.  Y'know, a year and half ago.

Deep frog clefts, made all the worse because it's really difficult to get in there and trim down her bars, even with my handy little bonsai trimmers.  Part of me has become compulsive about wanting to get all that crap outta there, since I don't want a repeat of the abscess incident, which I suspect was caused by something getting up under those bars.

White line.  We have separation.  Part of that is coming from the fact that she lives in a stall for part of the day and enjoys walking through her pee spots.

Bit I think a lot of what I'm seeing is the post-vaccine detritus that comes out in their hooves.  Shots given in late October...about three months later...yup, that's probably the worst of the post-vaccine natural reaction finally growing out.  But that's worthy of an entirely separate blog post and why I reluctantly given only the very necessary vaccines these days.

But after I got off my procrastinating duff, we got this:

Fronts.  Toes seriously dubbed back.  Heels lowered.  A bit too
low, since she was a little ouchy.  Impatience + procrastination
don't make good trimming buddies.

Right front.  White line tighter.  Little less stuff crammed in there.
Ignore the weird chunks out of her frog.  My bonsai nippers are
like mini half-rounds and nip out little half-moon chunks.

Hinds.  Not as dramatic, unless you look from the front, where
it is Flare-B-Gone.
Only negative was, as I said, she did get a bit ouchy in the following days.  Which makes me feel bad, even if I know she's a bit of a pain-wimp.  It is my first time making her ouchy in the two and half years I've been trimming her, so I guess that's something.  And with our concrete-hard winter pasture right now, it's understandable why she might be feeling all the little rocks and pebbles.

"The Princess and the Pea", anyone???

Monday, February 6, 2012

Renegades on Facebook

One of the things I'm going to be doing for Renegade is running some of the social media correspondence, including an official Facebook page.

Renegade Hoof Boots on Facebook

This'll likely be the place that official news directly from the company will be posted, as well as photos and news from events.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just when I've got things figured out...

You would think, after 15 years together, I'd have my pony figured out.

Except not.

I've written in the past about just how dead-set she is against bits.  Have yet to find one she really likes, blah-blah-blah, she goes best in her s-hack, so on and so forth.

Of course she had to prove me wrong yesterday.  I've made mention of my bit collection and how it is almost physically impossible for me to get rid of any bits I own, and so always have plenty of bits floating around for various experimental purposes and kicks.

Just for some of those kicks, yesterday I pulled out the Myler Full Cheek snaffle I own.  I used this bit on her quite a few years ago, when we were first starting out in NATRC.  I don't remember if it was good or bad.  The couple of ride photos I have of her in it, she's not tugging and fussing and pulling faces.  Always a good sign.

Exhibit A: (It's hard to see, but trust me, it's the full-cheek snaffle.  It's a picture of a picture, since my computer ate my flash drive that had all of the images of my ride pics I had scanned and I wasn't going to tear apart my ride scrapbook to rescan 'em all.)

Descanso Desperados NATRC
October 2002
Photo by Cheryl Erpelding

Especially when this is the alternative:

Chino Hills NATRC
April 2003
Photo by Ray Brezina
Safe to say she doesn't like the loose-ring, French-link snaffle.  Especially since I have another several pics that look almost exactly like above.

So yesterday, out comes the Full Cheek again.  And she decided it was perfectly acceptable.

Of course.

She loves likes tolerates the one bit I don't like to use.  (Something about those full cheek pieces getting hooked on things like belts, belt loops, bridle cheekstraps, water troughs...get the picture?)

What I'd like to know is if it's the bit, or the mouthpiece.  It's the Myler Comfort Snaffle with Twist.  The slightly rigid aspect of the comfort snaffle means it's pretty solid in her mouth...not a lot of play or wiggle, so she fusses with it less. 


Apparently she likes to keep things interesting.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Orange Season

January and February in Arizona means citrus season.  Including oranges, like these delicious blood oranges from my backyard tree:

You just gotta get over the name and the ruby-red color inside
that gives them their name.
 But that wasn't the kind of orange I wanted to talk about today.

This one is:

Yes, my Renegade is sitting on my guitar case.
Blending two facets of my life.
Also known as "Hunter Orange", "Safety Orange", and "Blaze Orange" in various applications, I'm specifically talking about Renegade's signature color: Sport Orange.

It's distinctive.  It's hard to miss.  On the rare occasion the boot might come off, it's easy to spot.  It actually looks good on most color of horses.

(History Lesson: Ironically, I have only ever run with orange Renegades once...Mimi's very first pair, a set of Beamer's old boots, I co-opted as an experiment right before a ride to "see if they'd work."  25 miles later, I decided she needed her own set of shiny boots.  Quite a few pairs, and five years later, they're still working.  But because Mimi's registered name is Skip Me Gold, I usually ran her in Yellow Gold boots.  That may have to change...I'm getting pretty attached to these orange ones.)

But in the last couple of weeks, I've taken to subconsciously surrounding myself with the color orange.

It's in a couple of travel mugs:

White one is actually plastic.  Bought with ridecamp
and horse trailer-living survival in mind.  The other
one is just pretty.

And in my exercise mat. 

This was actually purchased a couple of years ago.

And of course, I'm proudly wearing my colors:

Jacket won at the McDowell Ride raffle in November.
A sign of things to come?
(Not pictured: the several Renegade t-shirts I possess.)

And then I got really excited when I found these boots from Ariat:

The same boots I already own and adore as fabulous barn work boots, but mine don't have orange on them.  Is it wrong for me to wish for my current boots to quickly wear out so I can get these?  (Good luck on that...Ariat boots wear like iron.  These are 5+ years old, and my Terrains are 7+.)

And then they have these:

More appropriate for when I'm not hanging out in the barnyard.  My own signature red cowboy boots may have some competition.

(Note: Not a spokesperson for Ariat.  Just been wearing their boots for the past 16 years.)

And then there's this shirt:

I actually got this shirt about ten years ago (and worn it maybe half a dozen times since?) on a whim at my very last show.  Wearing Western shirts (as opposed to the jackets and/or vests/slinkies that made up the Western Pleasure/Equitation outfits) for reining classes was very popular at the time.  Not that it helped me do better or worse in the classes, but I felt more important.  Or something.  I justified it on the basis that: I was competing in something like 5 or 6 Reining and Western Riding classes, and more importantly, I liked the colors.  (If the detail isn't showing up very well, it's orange, black, white, and lime green plaid.)

I kept the shirt as a fond memory of that last show, and have since discovered it's lightweight enough to make a good overshirt for riding.  As if my wild tights weren't enough, right?

My next task is to get a pair of wild orange tights.  I've already found a few fabrics online...

(Oh, yeah, forgot one of the more obvious...the blog color scheme. :))