Now on to the reason most of you are probably here for, the proof of adventure, the regularly scheduled programing, the ‘Between The Ears’ shots where you can follow along on the trail!
I am going to let this be mostly a ‘Wordless Wednesday,’ or at least as wordless as I can be. Join us in our own little world.
I am glad for the special times I shared with my people and the late nights laughing until we cried. I am also glad for the time I got with my boy.
Lito walks with a purpose and moves out. He does best when he is out front, and well, so do I. One of the lead horses was very slow and they were happy to let us lead the way to encourage my friend’s horse to walk out a little more.
I am not sure he will ever not look like a baby to me. He seemed happy enough in his pen…even if he dumped his hay out of his bucket and spread it around. You can see a little white salt block there on the ground. I did not mention this in my previous traveling post, but for long trips away, especially when he is in a small pen or stall, I also bring a little salt block. I do this for his salt replenishment if he needs it, but I also do it for his entertainment and distraction. I do not like to hang it on my panels (I do have a hanger) because I do not want them to rust.
He was happy to be back home with his herd and his mamma. The haul home was long and arduous. For both of us. It was the day of the eclipse and there was A LOT of traffic…not to mention crazy people just on the side of the road wanting to watch it. If I could have left earlier, I would have. I also think there was some extra…energy in the air and atmosphere from the eclipse and Lito seemed to be reacting to it. He did not do anything bad per se, but he was just moving around quite a bit in the trailer and seemed restless and unhappy. All was right with the world when we got back to the farm.
Unpacking and cleaning is always nicer when it is so pretty out and my horses watch with their cute faces. We got even more rain while we were gone and the pastures are really showing it.
R and I are hoping to squeeze in one more horsey adventure before we head to New Mexico to reunite with friends.
There is a lot of work to do between now and then and before we know it, it is Thanksgiving and Christmas! Time for baking and cooking and movies galore!
I actually get asked about traveling with a horse somewhat frequently. It is not really surprising as horses are as captivating subject matter now as they were hundreds of years ago and well, I get asked about all kinds of horse stuff all the time from non horse people.
I was asked specifically the other day by a dear friend, “So what does traveling for him FEEL like???” Literally, what does it feel like for the Lito Man to be in the trailer and travel. What does it feel like for him? No wonder I love this person!
Anyway, I thought some of you might also like to hear and see what it is actually like since it is a big part of the travel experience. You know, sharing the whole picture like I like to do and I have yet to really do that with this kind of travel. This is how we get there and back and then, yes, I will share about my hill country ride! In order to know how it feels for him, one has to also know what it looks like. Visualization is key to a lot of things with horses.
Just like everything else in life, there are many ways to ‘skin a cat,’ as they say. This is just how I do it these days based on my horses and experience. Horse travel can vary from discipline to discipline, from state to state, and from country to country. It can also vary different times of year or even with different distances.
There are some things that always apply. Trailers are generally always hotter than the ambient temperature and air movement is key. It is also generally not very fun or comfortable to ride in a trailer. There are things one can do to make it better, outside of being able to have the best and biggest trailer, and I generally try to do what I can.
What I am about to show you is what we do when we are going to be gone for over a week. If I am just hauling 45 minutes down the road with little to no traffic to ride with friends for half a day, we just grab a hay net, my med and grooming totes, treats of course, my horse’s tack, load up and go. It is different when you’re going to be hauling long distances and staying away for a while.
The one thing that is universal no matter when or where, is that horses require a lot of stuff!
I tend to approach packing in stages. First I have a list started. Then I pull the majority of stuff and put it all into piles. The piles themselves generally depend on where they are going to be packed and when they are going to be needed throughout the time away. I try to pull most of what I need a weekend or two in advance and I try to pack and load it all except the last things a weekend in advance. This keeps me from getting stressed and running out of time. That is another universal horse thing, everything takes more time than you think and that is without hiccups. I am better at packing for my horse than I am for myself, but hey, we are all works in progress.
How do you like my tack room packing job? It is always fun to me to get it all in there in an orderly manner. Adult Tetris, you know.
I forgot about taking any pictures of half way through packing the tack room so you could see everything, but you will just have to imagine it yourself from the fully packed version. Whenever I pack for a long ride with this much stuff in the tack room it makes me think of the movie Eerin Go Bragh: The Little Horse That Couldthat came with the Breyer model horse. Anyone know about him? Apparently he has his own Wiki page! Anyway, I digress.
The trailer itself never goes anywhere without a few things no matter if it is just a day trip or if we are going to be gone for a week.
The mounting block for starters. I need it to mount the tack room itself in addition to my horse! You think I am kidding, but I am not! Stepping up in there gets old and tiring after a while, especially with a western saddle. This mounting block, which is over 20 years old by the way, is the exact perfect height for this trailer by happy accident. You can open and close the door without moving the block. Lito is also 16.3 hh, so a mounting block is nice for the both of us.
A copy of every horse’s Coggins and other health papers hangs in the trailer in sheet protectors (I also have a full set of copies in my truck at all times). I just update them every year when we get our updated copies. Two bag chairs never leave the trailer as you never know when you are going to need or want to have a sit down! Our travel panels also live in in the tack room there, bungeed to the wall. They fit perfectly there without taking up too much room and I generally only use them when we travel.
If a horse goes in the trailer, so goes the medical kit. I was once going to do a post on my med kit (I upgraded and revamped it in 2020) because it is an important subject that many horse owners do not even realize, but I never did get around to it. I might do it if there is some interest, but the point is, in my opinion, wherever a horse is, there needs to be a medical kit. I have all kinds of stuff in there: electrolytes, Bute, Banamine, wound and other ointments/sprays/medications, gloves, gauze, vet wrap, duct tape, scissors and clamps, twitch, thermometer, needles and syringes, hoof pick, flash light, etc. You just never know what can happen and when, especially with horses, so it is just better to be prepared.
Of course, horse or not, you need to have all tools to change a tire in addition to other road safety supplies, including whatever you need to unhook and park the trailer. I travel with an impact wrench (man, I will tell you, you will never want to change a tire any any other way than with an impact wrench!), both a Trailer Helper (metal) and Trailer Aid (plastic) ramp jacks, wheel chocks, tire pressure gauge, air compressor and battery charger, and trailer hitch lock. I also have a milk crate basket full of other road safety like flares and lamps etc. Don’t forget a fire extinguisher! I also have a fire blanket in there.
Treats are also very important. Just ask any horse! If a horse goes in the trailer, treats are coming along, even if we are not riding. Some people do not agree here, but again, this is just what I do. He gets one when he gets in the trailer. I ride with treats in my pocket and he gets some too when we get back. I keep a mixed variety of treats in a tub right by the door under the travel panels for easy access.
Feed and hay are a large part of the packing with horse travel, no matter how or what you feed. Horses eat a lot! Now, you can see a bag of alfalfa cubes and a bag of feed there right up front. Normally, I have it packed on the far wall of the tack room, but because we had a layover at a different place the weekend before the ride, I wanted Lito’s feed at easy access without having to unpack anything. Many people pre pack each day’s feeding in bags. I have done that before and I do like the ease of it. However, I prefer to be able to alter feedings as needed given my experience with Lito.
In addition to the alfalfa cubes and feed, he gets coastal hay. This is where it starts to get a little complicated. I always over pack on hay and feed because, again, you just never know. (Are you catching on to a theme yet?) I had three bales in the back of my truck under the bed cover and two bales in bale bags in the tack room. I also had shavings both in the back of my truck and in the tack room. I knew when we got to the ride, I was going to need some shavings when I got Lito set up in his pen and that I could leave the two bales in bags by his pen for easy feeding until they were gone, so those things would be out of the tack room for the week along with the muck rake and wheel barrow. A muck rake always lives in the trailer, but I also brought along a wheelbarrow so I could muck out Lito’s pen. This way I would have enough room in there to move around and just grab hay and shavings out of the back of the truck, where they could still be covered, as needed. I also had all my water and feed buckets in the back of the truck. Additionally, I pre loaded hay nets to have in the back of the trailer ready to go. He got one to have while we were in transit and the rest were ready for the weekend layover and his short trailer ride over to the ride camp so I would not have to break open a bale over the weekend before we were stationary.
Horses are meant to graze 17 out of 24 hours a day and it is really important for them to have access to forage as much as possible. Hay in the trailer is a non negotiable for me, no matter how short the ride. They is is good for their digestive tracts, but it is also a de-stressor while they are in the trailer. I also usually hang a hay net while I groom before I ride and Lito really seems to appreciate his grooming hay net.
For longer trips away from home, I feed electrolytes and probiotics beginning a few days before travel and for a couple days after we arrive somewhere just to be sure he is staying hydrated and everything is working. Again, this is just what I do. Part of it is me and my worries, but it is also Lito and how he handles the hauling. I have just learned by trying that this is what works for him.
Obviously, we are going there to ride, so we need Lito’s tack. I generally pack two of everything. I have a few reasons for this. One, the good old standard of just in case. Are you catching on? You never know if something might break or be in disrepair. Things also change when you are riding long distances and over terrain. If you need to change something up because of fit or wear, you can. You also never know if your bestie, R, (or yourself) is going to forget something and between the two of you, you will have it all covered. I only brought one saddle this time (I have brought more than one before), but I have three saddle pads, two saddle blankets, two cinches, two flank cinches, two pulling collars (breast collar), two full bridles, two rope halters and leads. I do not lunge Lito all that often anymore, but I always bring a line and whip with me, especially when we will be gone for more than just a day trip to a place we have not been to a bunch. I keep extra straps and tack repair equipment in my trunk of ‘extras.’
The trunk of extras also has a bunch of miscellaneous stuff in it that I do not need all the time, but you bring because you just never know. Leg wraps and boots, pillows and standing wraps, tarps, fly or regular sheet, hose (which, I actually have the hose hanging there on the hooks on the long wall). Lito’s regular sheet I actually have there on the top saddle rack. Why do you ask? We had our first fall front arrive our first night away. Go figure! At home I would not have sheeted him, but I generally will sheet him if it gets into the mid fifties (F) or below if we are away from the farm. Again, just to keep him that little bit more comfortable and warm to make sure everything is happy and working.
I also bring along a saddle stand when it is not just a day trip so I can let things dry and air out in the open air or in the back of the trailer or if I just want more room in the tack/dressing room) as this trailer does not have a back tack. We had the permanent back tack taken out when we purchased this trailer to be able to take the dividers out to have the ability to use it as a cattle trailer when we need it.
I, of course, have my groom tote (I am not a one brush kind of gal, OK, there are many and it is a process). There are three important items that I keep in my grooming tote other than my actual grooming tools. Mouth butter, essential oils, and Rescue Remedy flower essence. Lito’s overall demeanor and attitude really benefits from having his lips and bit well greased in addition to pre ride calming oils and some drops of Rescue Remedy. Where the Lito goes, so go these things.
I also bring along my bathing kit. I do not really do full shampoo baths that often anymore, but you just never know when you are going to need or want to! He might have wallowed in mud after some rain. I also bring along a pair of saddle bags, usually horn bags, but I rarely use them on this group ride. We have many stops and support, so they are not really needed.
The most important thing about traveling with a horse next to making sure your vehicle and trailer are safe and road ready, is to not be in a rush or stressed. I can not stress this enough. Being rushed or stressed, or both, is a surefire way to make sure things do not go right with your horse, especially when a trailer is involved.
Some non-horse people might wonder just why this is fun at this point, and I might have had a fleeting thought while packing that your wonders might be right…especially seeing it all written down! EXCEPT. Look at that farm sunrise!
Enjoy the pretty sunrise! It really is not as bad as it sounds and it gets easier the more you do it.
Pack early, have everything on your list, have a plan and routine in place (the routine here works wonders for the horses and for you too. I can not stress this enough either…or the med kit), and give yourself plenty of time.
I was able to enjoy my coffee and sunrise after packing a few final things in the truck before I had to get Lito ready and loaded.
Just wait until you see the between the ears shots from the ride and you will know one of the main reasons why we do this!
Ahhh, so pretty, right!?
You want to know what is also pretty? Or handsome, rather? My Lito man!
Just look at my by in all his glory! No, I am not actually speaking to his get up or his lovely package he just left on the ground (poop is always good with horses!). I am talking about his fall coat! His fall dun dapples just smack me! And this is them without anything but a quick brush with only ONE dirty barn brush and a spritz of fly spray (obviously his mane and tail got a good spray and brush out).
Anyway, as you can see, getting him ready for a long drive is a little bit of a process for us. There are some that just load their horse up straight out of the pasture and have no worries or troubles. That is just not for us. Hauling concerns Lito some and I like to do whatever I can to keep him comfortable and safe.
First, he wears a Hidez compression hood mask under a fly mask. The Hidez mask helps to activate certain pressure points to aid in relaxation and reducing anxiety (he actually ripped a hole in it somehow and I am trying to decide if I should get another one or try something new). I actually used to ride him in it some when he was younger and he really responded well to it. He really does seem to like it and puts his face in it himself. The fly mask is to protect his eyes from flying road debris and hay from inside the trailer. He wears a padded sheepskin leather halter for head protection mainly because he is so tall and I do not have a warmblood sized trailer. I used to make him wear a helmet cap and actually, the helmet also lives in the trailer…just in case. I do not like to use leg boots or wraps while hauling (or overly much in general) as they generally cause too much heat to build up in the legs and that is not good for the tissues. I do however like to put bell boots on all around in case he steps on himself or feels the need to paw etc. while in transit. I do wrap his tail with a padded wrap to protect the hairs from rubbing and to keep it clean. This last bit is not generally as important right now because I do not have the dividers in the trailer.
He really is too big to shut him into the trailer stall with the dividers. He would really rub his tail and rump coat out otherwise. When I did have the dividers in, he would ‘be’ in the middle stall and I would secure the divider open so he was not a sardine. Without the dividers though, he has the room to stand how he likes (straight on the left side) and balance as he needs to. I like to tie him loose enough so he can carry his head the way he wants, but at the same time, tight enough so he does not move too much and throw us all around. He is a big boy, bigger than photos make him look.
Many people also do not realize how much physical work it is for a horse standing in trailer while moving. This is what is actually FEELS like for the horse. It can be hard and exhausting! A workout itself. It is not just standing there. It is work to balance the entire time. If you have ever ridden in the back of a long vehicle or even in a trailer, I am sure you noticed how much it moves you around back there. Conscientious, steady, and smooth driving (accelerating and decelerating) and turning is key to making it as pleasant as possible for the horse, but there is still a lot of moving going on requiring constant balancing. I think that some horses with loading issues actually have issues with how they are being driven.
I know some people probably make fun of me for putting all of this on him, but you know what? I do not care. This is what works for us and what I feel he needs and what I need. And we are the only two in this equation. He is not just my horse. He is my best friend, my buddy, my baby. I want him not only looking good, but feeling good.
The total drive to our weekend layover was about four hours and I planned a nice stop at our half way point at a large tack store. He got to rest and I got to shop! I have stopped there with R several times in years past on our way to this annual ride and I think the horses do appreciate the rest. If the drive was any longer than this, I would likely offer water while I was inside. This is one the reasons I give electrolytes for a few days before long travels, so I know he is well hydrated through the trip and when we arrive. Some horses will not drink when offered water on the road.
We arrived at our layover, a friend’s ranch, a little delayed due to road construction, but Lito seemed happy enough. He was glad to be there and stretch his legs a bit and to have a pee (sorry to be vulgar again!). We only had to wait about 45 minutes for our other friend and her horse to arrive. Lito was not bothered to be alone, but he really fell in love quick with my friend’s mare! He has met her several times before and has been stalled next to her in previous years, but he decided he was a Spanish stallion trying to impress her and get her attention. She was however, not impressed and did not pay him any mind.
When we were all settled, we fed the horses and enjoyed the sunset after dinner.
Like I mentioned, it got a bit chilly that first night, so I put Lito’s sheet on him right before we went to bed.
I as per usual, woke early way before anyone else. Lito patiently waited for his breakfast while I enjoyed my coffee with him. I slept poorly and actually checked the horses a few times in the night. I saw a cool fox though, so that was nice.
I did not want to feed him and have my friend’s mare get upset, but I also did not want to feed her mare without having discussed it with her the night before.
At some point in the morning, Lito complained nicely about the morning service being late and not what he ordered.
I just enjoyed another cup of coffee and stood with my boy, soaking up our time. I think I had about 3 cups that morning!
I think by this point he had demoted me to just ‘Food Lady’ and I decided to just go and get him his breakfast. She was just going to have to wait, but she was OK with it though. Do not worry, her mom woke up shortly and she got her breakfast.
No matter where you are, there is just something about a sunrise and how it unfolds. It is just so different in the hill country. The layers of it. The first shine on the hillside.
The hill country is truly a magical place. So much beauty everywhere you look.
I made sure to ask my friend if I could feed Jazzy for her the next morning so Lito would not have to wait so long and she agreed. We had one more night here before we loaded up for the hour plus drive into camp for the week. We humans made the most of our special time together and the horses seemed to really enjoy their large pens.
My apologies for the delay in posting. I wanted to write to you long before this, but I have been having many difficulties with WordPress and images getting along. Hopefully all is sorted now!
Walk in love, dear readers!
Check back tomorrow to SEE the reason behind why us crazy horse people do this!
At first I typed ‘Drowning.’ Just…Drowning. So dramatic!
Have no fear, I am not DROWNING. Other than in sweat.
I have been drowning in sweat.
Happy 3rd August, Texas!
Do you remember that time I made a comment about it being ‘real’ hot when you have sweat in your eyelids? No? Well I do and I am here to tell you we somehow skipped that phase and went into full on deluge. This is very reminiscent of the awful summer of 2011.
Yes, I know the heat is old news (I am so tired of getting heat advisory warnings every day!), but I needed to set the scene for what I had got to do on Monday.
This is the end result and I am thankfully not sore:
Thankfully for all of us, there are no progress photos! Ain’t nobody wants to see that! The amount of sweat was surprising to me. I have never sweated that much in my life. It felt like a spigot had been turned on. I started a little after 6 AM and finished before 10. All still morning and in shade. I was not in any hurry other than to finish before my shade ran out. I took many hydration breaks.
84 bales of hay unloaded and crammed stacked into the feed room for winter feels like winning. Anybody who cares for livestock in the winter knows how great this feels. Even if you were completely soaked through with sweat when you were only half way finished. Exhausting work, but it is the most satisfying work at the same time. It is a joyful chore for such a blessing. An even bigger blessing given the drought situation. Hopefully I will not have to use any of this hay before December.
Actual footage of me when I turned around after the last bale was loaded in:
You know it really is dry and HOT when the weeds and trees even look hot.
Anyway, I feel like a kid on the last day before summer or winter break and it is not just because I finally got this important chore off the list.
Why, you ask? Oh, I dunno, because I get to do something exciting soon. Go somewhere exciting soon.
I find myself often these days overtaken by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
For so many things. Both big and small. So much so that nothing seems small except my very person in this world. Similar to how storms and mountains make me feel. It is almost as if I am a tiny bug observing this big old world. Not in a scary, I’m going to get stepped on way, but in an awestruck way. Everything seems bigger, not just in size, but in feeling and color.
Heck, I am even grateful for feeling grateful. I don’t care if it sounds ridiculous!
Is it just spring? I don’t think so.
I do not think I can even pin point when this newer shape of gratitude and gratefulness really took hold. I try to always be in that space, but this, this is different.
When I wake up in the middle of the night, or really any time before my alarm goes off, I smile and am grateful to have the opportunity for a little more sleep. This particular gratitude goes even further to being grateful for opening my eyes and drawing breath. Or, rather, the other way around? Anyway, you catch my drift, grateful to be alive, but not in a morbid way.
In the ample time I spend driving (always with the driving thoughts), I am often shaken to realize how grateful I am for my life. For what I get to do. Who I get to spend my time with. For my freedom and independence. That I am no longer in school. Ha! No matter how hard being an adult can be, every life stage has its struggles and some more than others, but I would not trade where I am at for anything.
I am as grateful for the rain we are having right now as I am for the blue sky days.
I rode the other day in the rain, twice, and it was glorious. The first time was somewhat on accident. I was attempting to beat the rain.
We started early in the heavy morning fog, as it only can be in the river bottom. Lito was a bit full of himself, so we set to work in the meadow pasture to bring his attention back to center by doing many transitions within and between gaits while doing circles and serpentines around cow pies, trees, and weeds.
I am not sure when it started to rain really. It started so gradually with just the heavy wetness of the fog that morphed into a mist and then to a drizzle. I think I noticed it in the drizzle phase. I figured we were already getting wet and in the middle of things, why not keep going? So we did and so did the rain. It was wonderful really. When it seemed we were on the same page, we were loping down the fence with the rain coming at our faces. Not in a pelting way, but rather just an increasingly wet and beautiful way. It was still falling softly, but it was accumulating in my eyelashes and I was having a hard time seeing! I laughed out loud and wiped my eyes with the fleeting thought that windshield wipers would be nice before giving my boy a pat and coming back down to a walk.
We made our way back up to the barn where Lito seemed content to stand tacked in his stall and have a little nap. Not ready to commit to being finished for the day, I gave him some treats and left him there while I went inside to have some breakfast. My mom was getting ready to give a walk down the road a chance with a rain jacket and being already wet, we decided to accompany her. We then proceeded to get even more wet when it decided to off and on rain for real! It was still wonderful though. None of us seemed to mind. Lito was having as much fun as I was! It made me appreciate my good hat that I was wearing.
I could not stop smiling the rest of the day and I was so very glad that we rode in the rain.
I was hauling Lito to our favorite place to ride with friends a couple weeks ago and I found myself smiling while driving. I had the windows down and could feel the last remnants of nip in the air. The fog was singing and the sun was painting around some deer in the distance. It made me think of one of my favorite songs and how beauty has a sound.
I was reminded of many years ago one of the first times I did this. I was borrowing my Pops‘ truck, hauling to go meet my friends to ride. I even remember I was listening to a Texas song. I can almost remember the exact one. I had to stop and call my parents to thank them. Thank them for everything. That I am able to do all things I do. I thought then as I thought on this day, that I was living the dream.
I am still living that dream. Back to that day a couple weeks ago, I arrived early as I always do. I dearly hate to be rushed, especially when I am with my horses. I took my time and I groomed Lito, much to his chagrin, for over forty minutes. We rode all over that ranch with our friends surrounded by the big, blue Texas sky, green spring grass, and wildflowers. All while being serenaded by the birds, the wind, and sounds of our horses and laughter.
I am finding myself even at times, grateful for my grief. I do not even know how I got here. The dichotomy of those feelings is so strange and foreign. But alas, that I think is a story for another day.
Anyway, I think y’all have had enough of my rambling for today. My AHAmoment for today is to be grateful for every today you have. Again, not in a morbid way, but in a joyous and comforting way. There is more than one way to make a life. There is always enough time for what is important. It if is a broken record that I sound like, it is a pretty dang good record I think.
Walk in love, dear readers. Look up and see the sky, smell and feel the air!
Happy Friday, dear readers! As I promised, we are back to our regular scheduled programming. Are not you happy?!
Yes, yes, I know you are!
If you are new around here, our regular programming includes adventuring musings starring one or two lineback dun horses and a certain rambling, mongrel bird dog!
Many of our adventures are set in the hill country of Texas. It can be quite difficult to express the true feeling of being there if you have never experienced it for yourself. It has such feeling and the pictures very rarely ever do it justice. The sights. The smells. The feeling. Many here in the state call it God’s Country. Really, I feel that way about the whole state. But, we sure do like riding the hill country as long time readers can attest to. We travel there at least once a year and I really enjoy sharing our rides there with you, even if to just share a change in scenery through my horses’ ears.
Lito’s first time to travel there was to a ranch in the heart of the hill country that my family and I used to spend quite some time on when I was younger. We went with our best friends and my Darcy girl. We actually went there a couple of months ago, just me, my Lito, and Merley, for a weekend with family. I shared some photos of that trip the last time I wrote to you. I did not take very many pictures on that trip, but the three of us had a lovely time. The feeling was…I just do not know…as if we three had been traveling the world and riding trails alone our whole lives. Lito and Merle really have each other figured out, use each other out on the trail, and seem to gain confidence from each other. Lito felt very grown up.
Then of course there are our bigger group rides once a year that take place in a more southern area of the hill country. The first year I went, I took Ike. I took Lito the last three years and each time it was an even better ride. Unfortunately, the 2020 ride was canceled (which is how we ended up going to Lake Sam Rayburn to ride), go figure that! We have been sending up all the prayers for a 2021 ride!
For our most recent adventure a couple of weeks ago, Lito, Merle, and I went to a new to us part of the hill country. We went with some of our good riding friends to Parrie Haynes Ranch Equestrian Center outside of Killeen, Texas. This group has been here several times and it is open to the public! This place has cabins, electrical hook ups, water, and nice horse pens. There are many trails that are pretty well marked and there are some challenging places! I think we did some of the more difficult riding I have ever done there.
Man, we just had a great time!
Merle came along just to hang out, as there are not many horses that are used to his antics and energy, but he seemed to have just as much fun as everyone else. Both Lito and Merle settled right into camp on Thursday evening.
We rode. We ate (very well). We drank. We laughed (a lot). We shared. We watched the rain. Felt the sun and the wind. I could have stayed! I can not wait to go back and ride the places we could not because of the rain.
I took pictures when I could. The hill country has the best blue skies.
For a lot of it I wish I had a GoPro! Climbing hills and rocks does not allow for taking pictures while riding.
We had one afternoon of rain, but other than that, the weather was stunning. Especially on Sunday.
Lito and I led the way most of the time, which is funny since we had never been before. Lito has taken to prefer the front with his big walk.
There is this one open field dotted with beautiful oak trees and tall, golden, waving grass speckled with bluebonnets. It was pure magic. I am telling you the pictures do not do it justice!
All of this adventuring really makes me want to travel even more to different places!
Have you been on any fun adventures? With or without horses? Or read of any good ones recently? Tell me!
Where do I even begin. I truly am not even sure. The Monday blues were real and hardcore on the struggle bus yesterday.
Years 1, 2, and 3 were all so different and this year was, well, no different! It was indeed the best year in my estimation and I believe in several others’ as well.
I suppose starting at the beginning is the natural way of things. It just seems so long ago!
I was able to skip town pretty early on Friday. I already had my things packed and Merle with me at the office. All I had to do was drop him off (more on that later) and I was off scot-free! Well, as scot-free as one can be in Friday traffic, but hey, I was on my way!
There were only a few stops I needed to make on the way for necessary long road trip things. Shavings for Ronan and Lito in the trailer and breakfast kolaches (both sausage and fruit) to go and nacks (that is ‘snacks’ for all you people without a cute niece) for R and me.
R and Ro made it to the farm Friday evening with just enough time to get Ro settled and for us to get into town for a Mexican food dinner. We were both starving and decided loading all of my stuff could wait till the morning.
Morning came quick enough, as it does, and there was plenty left to do before we could leave, but we got it all done in not much time or having to rush too badly. After loading Ro and Lito and before pulling out, R warmed up the sausage kolaches while I turned the rest of the horses out.
Our farm cat, clearly a bit miffed that he was going to be missing out on the fun and the kolaches, decided he would take matters into his own paws by snagging and eating our fruit kolaches off of the truck dash. He clearly enjoyed them! After having a good laugh, the first of many, we were on the road by around 10 AM.
The drive was going smoothly enough.
Long time horse people never actually think that thought though because it is just a matter of when something will happen, not a matter of if.
Is that not so subtle foreshadowing you read?
Spoiler alert, there were incidents.
This was the first incident. Blown tire.
Doesn’t that just look like a party?
There are several great things about this incident. Both the horses and us were just fine. We had all the things we needed to change the tire. AND, go figure this, a friend just up the road to help. We were on the road in very little time at all. By all accounts, this part really could not have gone any better.
That was the first part.
Once we got to the next town about 45 minutes down the road, we spent the next hour trying to find someone to check the rest of the tires and replace the blown one. After trying three places, we finally got the others checked and decided to get on down the road. We started the drive with two spare tires and knew we would have better luck replacing the one in a bigger town or come Monday morning.
Feeling pretty alright about our good fortune, but still someone shaken, we drove on.
I will spare you some of the details of what happens next, but we almost got in a bad wreck…Like slam on the breaks and horn and basically come to a stop on a major freeway bad. And feel the horses get smacked around in the trailer behind us bad. All because someone was not paying attention and was entering the freeway incorrectly! (Let us all make a pact to help educate people on driving the road with horse trailers, OK? Thanks). It could have been much, much worse. I do not want to focus on that.
The point is, we were and are still OK.
I can tell you one thing, we were praising the Lord during and after this drive.
Us humans were pretty shaken by the day’s events and we have never been so happy to unload horses in our lives. Oh, and bless these two boys of ours. They unloaded calmly and seemed to comfort us and not the other way around! I think at that point we would have been happy to never leave that hilltop ranch. At the end of the day, the drive took about twice as long as it should have.
We put the horses in their pens to settle and went to settle ourselves. That later on included an evening stroll with the horses before dinner with some of the other early arrivals.
The Sunday sunrise the following morning was stunning as per usual. R and I climbed on top of the trailer with our coffee for a better view. This basically set up the rest of the day.
I stayed in my pajamas until 11 AM. This will likely not be a shock for you to learn, but I never do that. Ever. It was glorious. I probably had four cups of coffee too.
Later on, in real clothes, we went for a much needed ride.
We then watched the sunset before heading down the hill for dinner in town with friends.
At dinner, our great friend and hostess read that day’s devotional aloud.
Boy howdy, if that did not speak right to me, I do not know what does.
It was a great evening and we all awoke on Monday morning rested and ready to make it to our final destination for the main event! …Sans incidents!
However, R and I first needed to replace our blown tire which took some time. This was actually kind of nice because we got to have a nice breakfast in town while we waited. Once that chore was finished, we went back to the ranch, loaded up (again, I praise these boys that loaded very well despite how their last trip went!), and headed out!
I am happy to report that we made it without any problems and got our ponies all settled for the week of fun!
And fun we did have in a big way.
Fun. Fellowship. Sisterhood. All with our horses. I can not share too terribly much because it is all, you know, secret and stuff, but here is a little taste of what went on.
Just look at my cute boy. He looks happy, yes? He had this face on pretty much the whole week.
We enjoyed a movie out on the lawn after dinner the first night, complete with popcorn and candy…under the full moon! It took me right back to childhood and camp. We watched The Man From Snowy River. Great movie if you have never seen it!
I had late night and early morning hangouts with my guy.
Lito striking a pose while looking for the strange animal that made a scary noise.
We rode the hills together.
Those are my friends R and H. And Lito’s friends Ronan and Chica.
We crossed a lot of water and we loved it.
We rode through the shady, idyllic groves.
We hung out in the river and watched the fish.
Lito took many naps. I did not. I did not sleep much all week!
We saw, experienced, and felt God’s creation from the back of God’s gift to us. It could not have been any better.
We caught the sunrise each morning and the sunset each evening.
I felt transported to a different place at times. Which was much needed.
I do believe my Lito had as good of a time as I did.
My horse. My Lito man. He was amazing and seemed to be very happy (even if he did get bored and frustrated when we were going too slow or stopping too much). He wanted to be friends with everyone. I could not be more proud of him. He is not the horse for everyone, but he is for me. We have our own thing.
I lost count of how many times I laughed until I cried with my fellowship and horsemanship sisters. My stomach and my eyes hurt! Y’all have no idea how much I needed that. How much we all needed and still need that.
We rode together. We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together. That is what it is and was all about. That is what IT is all about. AHAmoment. They call the Hill Country God’s Country and it sure did feel that way!
Now I can not share any more about that! BUT. I do have one more thing for y’all.
Did you wonder about my Merle while we were away? Well, wonder no more. He was in excellent care. I had to board him because all of my people were busy or out of town. He did not seem to mind and clearly had fun! Does he look like he is practicing his face for Halloween, missing baby teeth and all?!
By the time we got back to the farm and unloaded, I wished R a good safe rest of her drive, took a much needed bath, and then took a two hour nap (another thing I do not do).
I still have not caught up on sleep! We are all happy to be safely home even though we were not quite sure we wanted the trip to be over. This week is major catch up and now I just want to go back!
Today is going to be a good day! I just know it. For me and for you.
We had a cold front blow in last night. All the way down here in the southern half of the great state of Texas. In late July.
It must be a sign.
I know, but indeed stranger things have happened. Too bad I am not at the farm right now to ride. Although, all my horses are probably farting horse kites this morning.
I have been dog sitting at my Aunt M’s house since I have been back from Montana. I awoke long before 6 AM and decided to just get the day rolling. That is how many a good day have started long before time (or at least long before this little space of the internet). This fine day (and yesterday too in truth) already had a different feeling in the air as I strolled down the stairs to let the dogs out. I opened the door and to my surprise felt a dry, cool breeze sneak past my face. I looked up in question and peered out into the darkness (or as dark as any backyard can be in the middle of a neighborhood, in the middle of a big city, with a pool lit up like a Christmas tree) as if I could see what I was feeling. I stepped outside and smiled as that cool air enveloped my entire being. I felt a giddiness rise inside of me.
Naturally, I had a little dance with a sideways glance from the dogs, turned on some Merle Haggard, opened all the doors, and got the coffee going. Now, I sit here writing to you. A great start to a great day, or any day for that matter.
This day however just so happens to be my Friday. Why do you ask? Well, as I promised, the adventure continues!
I am off early tomorrow morning to fly to Colorado for a long weekend with my parents! Where every morning will be cool and dry and invigorating and filled with the sounds of the Aspen leaves! And, and, and!
If you have been following along on the AHAmoments Facebook page, you have known about this trip for a couple of days and have been reliving the last time we were there. If you have not been, well, you can do that here too! I am just so nice that way!
There is just something about the mountains that brings you closer to God. In more ways than one. But alas, more on that later. The morning is going quick like and I need to get going with it. The house is now cold (how is that a true statement???) and it is time to get ready for work.
It is going to be a great day and we are going to make it such together! It is our choice. AHAmoment.
One more work day, a packing session, and a sleep…AHAmoments is off to Colorado!
There is nothing like a cold morning at the farm feeding horses to wake you up in the right mindset, I tell you. Even if I was running a little late and got stuck in traffic. Even if I am not all together, full on ready for winter. I probably said that last year. I probably say that every year. I am nothing if not consistent, yes?
This morning was the first real cold of the season.
So very cold, but so beautiful.
We have officially reached southish Texas winter which means blanketing the old horse and feeding everybody extra on the cold nights. And scooping lots of muck, but I will leave that part out to not spoil this idyllic image.
Last night’s sunset on the way to throw the cows a bale of hay.
This morning’s sunrise leaving the barn, before I poured myself a travel mug full of coffee for my commute into town.
I am headed back out there after work for another cold night and beautiful morning full of velvety muzzles and smokey breath. And manes and tails completely full of burrs. Let us not forget about those.
Life has been busy over here for me and I am just focusing on staying present and enjoying it all. Hence the mild silence. Fear not, for I am still here. You know, living life.
Best laid plans, right? Long time no talk. Apologies for what is likely to be an interestingly written post.
Here is the thing. I have been sick. For DAYS. Since Monday. And not Monday as in a few days ago this week. I mean Monday as in LAST MONDAY.
You read that correctly. I was a deep voiced balloon head with mucus everywhere. That is probably too much information, but that has been my reality.
I guess I should just start at the beginning. This is probably a spoiler alert, but let me just say that we had been watching the weather and knew that we were going to get some rain coming into our ride. Now if you have seen any of the news, you might know some of what I am about to say.
But first, back to the beginning of the story. Let us not get ahead of ourselves. This was the sunset Friday night that officially kicked us off on our ride vacation. When R and Ronan arrived, we got him settled and decided to just enjoy ourselves and have dinner with my parents instead of loading all of my stuff. We put that off until Saturday morning.
The following morning of loading took longer than normal as my stuff was less organized than I have had it in the past. However, we were in no real hurry and had plenty of time.
We loaded the horses, pulled out of the farm, grabbed kolaches for breakfast from town, and hit the road to make the almost four hour first leg of the trip.
I made Lito wear all the things and he still loves me for it. Although, he did not really need any of it other than the mask since this trailer is so big. Unlike ours.
Once we arrived, we unloaded and got the horses settled before going to find a late lunch for us in town. I swear every time I take Lito somewhere he not only grows, but he loses weight.
Always with the doe eyes.
Telling me how he really feels about me making him wear all the things. He said, “I am a real horse, I do not need to wear all of this.”
The rain had already started and stopped a few times at this point, but we were no worse for wear. We were staying put till Monday anyway. Even though there was a good chance for rain on Monday, we figured we could get up and out and get there before it really started.
Lito made a bunny friend. We think she had babies hidden somewhere near by. I also believe she was sick.
One of the pretty and clear moments of the weekend. Promising and hopeful.
A moment of being tired of the rain and being stuck in the stall. That is Scooter back there.
Lito being a grumpy gandpa telling the others to quit their shenanigans. Funny that he was the youngest horse. Ronan was very upset about something out in the trees.
This was Saturday night’s sunset. It was beautiful. That is kinda when it all started to go downhill.
This is what we woke up to on Sunday morning. Ominous looking out there, but oddly peaceful at the time on top of that hill.
This is a little summary video clip from the whole weekend. It was quite fun until Monday rolled around.
We were able to take the horses down the hill to a flat area on Sunday evening to get a longe session in. They all needed it. Between all the things we were doing and the rain, fitting in an actual ride just did not happen. So, for your mental math, the horses rode in the trailer for about four hours and then were basically stuck in a stall for the rest of the time till Monday.
I had the pleasure of also longing Scooter, the blaze face bay horse in one of those pics. He was basically a horse kite.
One day, Lito may grow into his hips. His shoulders are starting to finally fill out.
Lito acted like he was fine with the whole being stuck in a stall thing. He was straight up lazy on the longe and really just wanted to graze. Grazing goes a long way so I let him.
This is when everything kinda starts to run together. Literally and figuratively. At some point Sunday night or Monday morning…or maybe some other time, I am not quite sure…It started to really rain somewhere. Here. There. Everywhere. All the creeks, streams, and rivers started to fill. Monday morning rolled around and we were not sure we were going to be able to get to our final destination for the week an hour and a half down the road. Or that we would be able to get back to where we were if we tried.
I also woke up that morning with that tell tale feeling of getting sick.
A lot happened on Monday. None of that really matters. What matters is the AHAmoments…Wait. Do not be in a hurry. Wait for data and facts from reliable sources, non opinions. Keep your emotions low and do not worry about what you can not do anything about. Difficult in this kind of situation? You bet. That is life.
The long story short. We found a window that afternoon when it was not raining, the roads were clear, and we knew we could go. So we went and got there safely. Who cares that we were later than planed.
Then it rained some more.
Then Tuesday morning rolled around. And it rained more. Everything started flooding again. The barn became a flash flood at some point after this video and the below photo.
Water, mud, muck, and shavings everywhere is the gist. I would not quite use the word disaster, but…
I stopped taking pictures and started trying to move water and get as much as we could off the ground.
When the rain finally quit, we took the horses and tied them up at the trailers for the rest of the day to do what we could to remedy the situation. Dig more trenches. Shovel out shavings. Try and get the ground to dry.
Lito’s stall got bad, but not nearly as bad as many of the others.
By the end of Tuesday we were all wet, muddy, and tired.
By the time Wednesday rolled around…I felt like…um…bad. Really bad. And decongestants make me feel even worse. I was weak and tired. And the horses had been in stalls, dry if they were lucky, for two more days at this point.
We only got to ride for a couple of hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday each because of the conditions. And honestly, I do not think I should have ridden more even if we could because of the way I felt. It was still pretty though.
Lito had a couple of young horse moments. One because I was honestly too weak to even mount up on Wednesday and another on Thursday when we got buzzed by a plane. He really did not like that last part.
There was more rain coming at some point Friday evening into Saturday with more possible flooding. We decided it would be best to pack up and clean up early on Friday so people could leave that afternoon or first thing in the morning on Saturday given what the beginning of the week was like.
R and I left with the horses on Saturday morning as early as we could with the rain. And it rained on us most of the way home.
Needless to say, Lito and I were happy to be back at the farm, even if we had to unload most of my stuff in the rain and wind. I was going to stay at the farm Saturday night, but I was so tired, wet, and crummy feeling. I booked it to town to stay at my parents house with my dog since she was there.
Not quite the report I wanted to give, but such is life! We made the most of it and had a good time together (even if it does not quite read that way!). We are all stronger for it. Albeit a bit tired as well, but stronger and closer.
If the rain story ended here, that would be lovely with all sunshiny roses and rainbows.
The thing is, the whole of central Texas has continued to receive buckets upon buckets of rain. All up river from the farm. It also got pretty dang cold in there somewhere setting more records, but that is secondary to the rain.
All that water is coming our way and hopefully not flooding.
I went out to the farm yesterday after work for my midweek visit and went ahead and moved the cows up into the horse pasture so they can all get to high ground just in case.
I have spent every evening since getting back on the couch in sweats, wishing I had a fire place while hacking all the crud out of my chest.
Do not even ask me about my laundry. I have not even looked at the mountain.
Go walk in love, dear readers. This gal is happy to be high and dry at the moment!