Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Romantic Getaway for Five

I have been trying to get Al and I away towards the end of the summer for a little pre-anniversary interlude before school starts.Last year we did a long weekend to south-west Washington state for a couple of nights, with a concert at a winery amphitheater in between.This year we needed to conserve--both time and money, so I opted to stay closer to home. We headed to Easton, WA, one of the last little towns on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass, before one drops down in to the Seattle metro area. I had taken Kate to a poker ride at Silver Ridge Ranch last year, and the trails were pleasantly flat, for the most part, and surrounded by trees. Silver Ridge has a RV/tent campground, but also has a small lodge, operated as a bed and breakfast. There is one room designated for canine companions.And all of the sites, including the lodge, have the optional use of corrals!
So Sunday afternoon we were off: Maddie and Kate, Sandy, and Al and I!
We let the girls settle a bit in their corrals while we got checked in and found our room, then I saddled up for a quick afternoon ride.
Maddie was very compliant about "ponying" Sandy. She was much more worried about RV's and bicycles and tents and such in the campground. Once were were moving along, Sandy just sort of settled in beside her. (We only got on opposite sides of a tree once!)Here we are skirting the edge of the Easton "airport" to get to state forest land.Wait!
The photographer has Kate's ears in the photo! Could it be?
Yes, Al said he was game to go for a ride...
This would be the first time he's ridden since we left the Spokane area, eleven years ago. (What with ride-able mares having babies with them, and Corky's seizures, I just didn't have anything I could trust with him.)
It was a short ride, maybe 2 or 3 miles. Maddie was striding out well, with only a few balky moments in the deep, dark, threatening woods.
But Al was way out of practice, and Kate took a little advantage of that, squirreling around, lagging back, then trotting to catch up (a tactic grandson Mike had encouraged). Plus, in the disorganized effort to get both of us mounted and dog in position, I had forgotten to double check Al's stirrups, which it turned out were several holes different, so he was off balance and awkward.The real issue for Al, however, was that he was (rightfully) worried about Sandy: the footing was soft once we got off the airport 's gravel fringes, but she isn't very fit, having been confined largely to the yard after all the problems with the neighbor dogs. After the ride, she didn't seem any the worse for wear, though she slept really well that night.
One very pleasant surprise was that, away from her own turf, Sandy did not show hardly any of the dog-aggressiveness of home! She greeted several campground dogs pleasantly enough, and wanted to play, though I was really hesitant to take any chances with her off-leash. The only snarling she did was when this little Jack Russel tried to snitch some of her breakfast. Otherwise they played well.

Monday morning the girls ate their breakfast while I mucked. That's the lodge (and the morning scenery) in the background.
At first, Al was ready to head home first thing. I had forgotten how close the freeway is, and the constant drone of traffic sort of spoiled the location for both of us. But I told him I wanted to get Kate out for a bit, to remind her a little about proper trail manners. After a hearty breakfast, Al decided he was game to go out again.This ride, we opted to leave Sandy behind, so I could focus more on helping Al and Kate have a pleasant time. (We opted to leave her in the trailer rather than either the truck, which she knows, or the lodge, which she didn't--the trailer would be cooler and with less visual stimulus.) She stayed quiet as we left and was happy to see us when we returned.
With Al's stirrups evenly adjusted (though still a bit long for my liking), he was much more comfortable. He declared that he wasn't going to use his reins as much, and therefore Kate was happier and better behaved as well.
She was happy to tag along behind, and Maddie was very forward, and much braver about the woods.
Al did push Kate up to lead for awhile...
...but she kept looking back to make sure her buddy Maddie was still coming.It was a much more pleasant ride all the way around, as I didn't have to worry near as much about two green horses, a green rider and an out-of shape puppy-dog.

We got back to the lodge, packed up and headed for home. The girls were glad to be back in their pasture, Sandy was glad to be back in her yard, and we were happy to sleep in our own bed again.
It was a brief, but welcome get-away.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another Week of Mayhem

Grandson #2 stayed for a week's visit after his mom and sister and he and I got back from a trip to great-grandma's home in Northern California last week (Post coming--I took over 350 photos, and have to sort through them all!)

"B" and I have ridden every day so far (though not for very long).
His confidence was really good back on Memorial Day when they all came over. But the first day here this week, Kate got a little flustered when I mounted up on Misty to pony her, and then little B also got a little shook. So our first day we just walked around in the arena. The second day, after warming up in the arena, we ventured out in to the flat north pasture. Today, Pop-Pop Al was available to take some photos, and B was game to go on an adventure...

You be good, Kate, okay?
Check the cinch.
Push, grandma, PUSH!
Warming up in the arena.Over the "log."
High centered!
Movin' again.
Down the hill, and...
...out of the arena...
...to the BIG pasture!
Misty and Kate groused at each other at first.
Neither one is used to this ponying business.
But they settled down going up the hill.
Out in the WIDE world!
One proud cowboy!
It's a long way down, Grandma...
Ridin' is hard work! I need a rest.
Time for lunch!
Kate's going to have a rude awakening next week when I go back to riding her, in the mountains, no less. But she has earned her keep these last couple of visits from the grandkids!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Into the Mountains

A few updates:
Here's a photo from last week on the Parke Creek ride, that Pat had taken on our way up. It's nice to have one with both Mike and Kate, and Maddie and I in it. Thanks, Pat!
After that ride, Mike wasn't sure he wanted to go on any more "adventures" with Pat, but I convinced him to give it another try. His caveat: no going up or down any "big" hills.

So last weekend we joined the KVTR for a trip around Joe Watt Canyon (site of Kate's very first poker ride, two years ago). It promised to be a fairly short ride, because of the heat, and I told him none of the hills were too bad... I didn't know, however, exactly where the trail boss would take us.
Well, right out of the trailhead, Walt decided to go "backwards" from previous rides, and we crossed the creek first thing! Being later in the season, it was lower than I remember it, but still flowing more than the previous two pond-ish crossings Maddie had done. But she went right across! I think we might have this water thing conquered.
Then we climbed a fairly pleasant hill. Mike got himself oriented, and right at the end when there was one short, steep, rocky section, he and Kate just scrambled right on up. He did make Walt promised that we wouldn't be coming back down that way.

We wound through the woods for awhile, and slowly started our descent. Well, everyone else was moving nice and slow. Maddie had started up her jigging again, though not as hard or as constant as at Green Canyon, but still irritating.

We came down one rather steep incline, and when one other rider opted to get off and walk her horse down, so did Mike, though Pat ponied Kate down so he didn't risk getting stepped on. Then we took a little break in this meadow.

We have been seeing these little "mariposa lilies" in the hills a lot lately, but I hadn't had a chance to catch a photo until this stop (when I was firmly planted on the ground).
Then, continuing back down to the valley below.
Out of the trees, with one last ridge to climb.
Maddie had settled pretty well by now (two hours into the ride), but got really strong descending the last hill, as there was no set trail, and some folks went straight down, and others side-hilled and did switchbacks to ease the incline. Maddie wanted to go straight down, but I wanted to let Mike and Kate take the easier route, and so Maddie and I had a little bug-tussle where she wasn't paying attention to either me or where she was going. But we all made it down in one piece and across the creek again to the trailers.
Lunch under the "big tree."
Mike taking responsibility for his mount:
I particularly like this shot of him offering her water.******
On another front,
Jackson and Frodo had a totally uneventful hour and a half trailer ride to their forever home with D on Thursday. I totally forgot to take a camera, but they have a nice little sloped acre of grass, a dry lot with run-in shed, and D's dad had helped her level a spot for her new round pen. Frodo was upset that they couldn't go directly to eating all that grass, and started bossing poor Jackson around, who just wanted to buddy up with him. Otherwise they had settled in fine by Friday. There was no calling or carrying on by Jackson (though a neighbor horse got all excited) and he seemed to recognize and respect the property boundaries.
After two weeks of hard work building fences and hard fun riding in the mountains, Al and I ran Mike back home to Spokane yesterday afternoon.
It seems just a little emptier (but considerably quieter) around here today.