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!
You can take the horse girl out of Texas, but you can not take the Texas out of her, even with a time change.
Between the general excitement of the trip, excitement over meeting my horse for the week, and being the Texan that I am (i.e. early riser to beat the heat and a morning person to boot with a deep seated need to be early on time), I was almost twiddling my thumbs waiting for breakfast, fully dressed and hopped up coffee. Breakfast was any of what you wanted of coffee, tea, orange juice, yogurt, cereal and granola, fruit, and a traditional Irish breakfast of fresh brown soda bread, bacon (ham), eggs, tomato, and mushroom. A few days we also had a choice of sausage, black pudding, and beans.
Breakfast was served at 8:30 and meeting/departure time was 9:30 I think every morning. It seems so long ago now that I am back home and recovered from major trip hangover. The trip hangover was great indeed.
The good news is, pretty much the whole group was ready to go and chomping at the bit before 9:30, so at least I was not alone! We apparently became known as that American group that is always early. I will take that. We were all waiting at the meeting point for the van to take us out to the field to meet the horses.
Most of us went out to help catch up the ones needed for the week. This cute bay was super sweet and really wanted to be called on. She followed us all the way up to the gate. I secretly wanted to ride her!
BUT, I was assigned to Bulmers! This handsome Gypsy Vanner gelding here. He was named after the Irish cider. Long story short, he was THE BEST. Just amazing. In my humble opinion, he was the best of all the horses that week. I think a couple of my friends would say that about the horses that they got to ride too.
Bulmers was kind, gentle, smart, and a nice mover. It was not work to ride him from walking to galloping. The carrying sort (not to be confused with a packer). He politely carried me along all week and I will say I was sad to say goodbye to him. Don’t tell my horses that! He was just a really good boy that knew he was loved and cared for and knew his job well. All the horses there did. It was really lovely to see. And they all get to live out like horses should. I really enjoyed speaking with Nicola, one of the owners (she was also one of our guides for part of the time) about the agriculture industry in Ireland and in particular horse keeping.
Bulmers greeted me every day with pricked ears and happy for a little loving. Not too much though! He did not fancy much cuddles! He humored me though and allowed me to pamper him as much as I could. And after I dismounted for the day, he was the same way.
As you can see, this first morning was a bit of a rainy one. After grooming them as best we could we had to scrape the water from their coats before saddling up and heading out. I really wanted to give Bulmers a good scrub and use all my grooming tools and products, but a curry comb and one brush would have to do.
Our first ‘between the ears’ shot of the week! Bulbers has very nice ears. He was having a little snack while we waited for everyone to mount up. Get ready for many BTE shots!
This first ride was just a half day ride to get to know the horses and for the guides to get to know us. On this half day ride, we were going to be riding from the field to the farm where the horses and ourselves would stay the night.
Our guide was named Luna and she was riding a Connemara/Appaloosa cross mare. Our group rode primarily Gypsys, but there was one Connemara and one Irish Draft cross as well.
This country/island is so verdant. It makes me wonder what it would look like if it was wild and without civilization. The places my brain goes to?! If you look up the road there at what Bulmers is looking at, you will see an escaped cow going for a stroll. She gave us all wide eyes like we were out of place when we passed her.
As wet as it is, and I think we were told that this is a particularly dry year, it is a bit of a wonder to me how agriculture works here. It just seems so different than how we do things. Every environment has its challenges though. I am sure they would wonder about us and the heat in Texas alone! It is amazing to me how we adapt to so many different climates and environments.
The visibility on this day was clearly very low, but the eye can see much more and better than any picture could.
There were a couple loose horses in this large field that wanted to play while we made our way up to the dolmen to have a closer look.
Just a mystified dolmen. No big deal.
The first of many peat bogs we rode past. Unfortunately, we did not see any of the actual cutting of the peat which would have been cool. Everywhere we rode smelled of either haylage/silage and peat.
As it started to clear a bit, you can really see the heather start to shine and the water of the Lough Derg/Shannon in the distance.
I was very fascinated with the timber here and the industry. We rode through so many big and beautiful trees. The size of them is a wonder to me given the top soil, winds, and how easily they fall.
It really turned out to be a beautiful day!
We arrived back at the farm around lunch time. We fed the horses their well deserved grain after untacking and Bulmers made sure I knew what was going on before we were even told just by the look on his face.
He was very grateful.
We all went inside and enjoyed a fireside lunch of fresh bread (fresh bread and butter was at every meal), cheese, salad, soup, and pound cake while the sun was shining and glittering outside. Everything seems to stay so wet that it glitters.
Naturally, after we ate, some of us had some more hanging and walking around the farm. It was made extra special by some of the horses, Bulmers included, being turned out right next to the house. The rest were in the arena by the barns.
He was a friendly dude!
My afternoon drink to try something new!
Cujo showing us this very big and old well.
It goes pretty far down there! I neglected to get a picture of the opposite fourth, far outside (where there is no rail), but under the growth is solid rock wall. I love ferns even more than I did before.
The start of what we named the fairy trail.
Of course we had to walk through! You tell me there are not fairies in there!
Are not those uprooted trees pretty spectacular!?
Dinner was another lovely three course meal, again by candlelight. We began with a smoked salmon puff (that I actually ate most of. I do not care for smoked salmon generally). I will be honest, I do not remember what was for the main. I know there were roasted potato wedges and veggies. This is not to say it was not good or forgettable. It absolutely was not, all the food was good. For dessert we had a fabulous blueberry cheesecake. I always laugh when people describe cheesecake of any kind as light. It is decidedly not light, but I suppose that is just my opinion. However, this particular cheesecake was light! It had a lovely crust that was the perfect thickness and texture and the filling was velvety smooth and felt very light! I think this was due to the use of yogurt to cut the cream cheese. It made me feel like a kid again eating blueberry yogurt (a large part of my kid diet), but in a grown up way. Hard to describe, but the point is, the cheesecake was amazing. I ate mine and part of somebody else’s. You only live once and you do not eat cheesecake in Ireland every day, OK?! We also had Irish coffee to finish everything off. This became a theme for the week. These were literally the best Irish coffees I have ever had. I think this was because of the coffee. I might have to order some online, but a quick amazon search is not looking overly promising.
They had this cool paining of the general ride route beginning in the Whitegate area by the Lough Derg of the river Shannon through the large and dense forests, stone wall lined fields, stunning Burren, and ending in Lisdoonvarna by the Cliffs of Moher and the Atlantic.
The adventure would really start the next morning and we were all ready. Five more whole days of riding!
Stay tuned for the next two installments of this epic riding adventure through western Ireland!
I am going to brag here in a bit. You might just want to skip to the photos at the bottom from the ride!
The bestest boy not only earned, but he deserves some carrots and apples after last week.
They really are not even enough. All the treats in the world would not be enough!
I am not even kidding. About 20 times a day I would tell Lito how good, brave, and handsome he is.
It was more than him just taking care of me and safely carrying me around all week. It was more than him just being a good boy. Both of these things are blessings to be sure. Horses give us humans so much for our own gain that does not have much to do with the horse.
I know I get all hippie-dippie, but we were in sync. We had the same feelings there in the hills with over one hundred other horses and riders that we have had for the last few months no matter where we are. I know you horse people know how great it is to have the same horse away from home that you have at home. It is the same with dogs and kids. It does not happen all the time for a myriad of reasons.
Have we been riding more away from home than in the past? Yes, we have done that. Have we been riding more away from home with more horses than we have in the past? Yes, we have also done that. Have we spent more weekends away in company than we have in the past? Yup, that too. He has been better and better every year, which is generally to be expected too. But it is more. More of a feeling. That we are on the same wavelength. That we are both right there, in a secret, private place. Almost like a cocoon with nobody else even though we are surrounded by others. It feels as though we are the same. Communicating is not even the right word. Sure, there is that and it is more open and two way than ever, but it is the feel or feeling rather than communicating. The feeling of presence. The flow of energy that has no beginning and no end. If that makes sense. It is some pretty good woo stuff.
I got emotional a few times while we were riding. It was just the whole of it all. This horse came to be from a thought, a dream. It was something I always wanted and only became possible with my Cheetah. All the planning and waiting and trials in addition to trails, and here we are. I bred and trained this horse that carried me so proudly this week.
Please enjoy some shots from the ride. Other people and secret shenanigans omitted, as per usual.
R and I had an uneventful and even pleasant caravan drive to our home for the week. We even stopped at the big tack store on the way which we have not been able to do in a while. I snagged a new pair of reins and a curb chain. I told myself I could not get any more. I am just glad they did not have a sale going on like that one year!
We arrived in camp at about 11:30 AM. It took us no time at tall to get our horses set up and let the party begin.
Did I say buffalo?! Why, yes, yes I did. Follow Lito’s left ear and you can see a big ‘ol buffalo bull.
Pray for rain. It is pretty sad. We have been blessed with some rain at the farm, but dang. It was so so dry there. Basically no grass. Dirt and dust in and on all of our stuff. My jeans by the end of the week were standing up with dirt as if they had been starched! But look at that hill country sky!
Not that I necessarily pray for a flood, but this drought might be worse than 2011.
Before we headed back this day, we went up the big hill for the best view.
My not so little Lito just trucked up and down without a trouble or extra breath it seemed. He gave everyone their space and kept pace with little input by me.
My photos are a little blurry and I apologize for that. They are all taken with my phone and I tried to clean the lens before every shot, but sometimes it did not seem to help at all.
The tract across the highway has a little more grass, which Lito was delighted with, but still way less than past years.
If you have not guessed or did not know, this area and this river in particular are quite special and iconic in Texas. We are blessed to be able to ride here!
This place has some of the grandest cypress trees of all. It is very difficult to get a pic with Lito in it AND the tops of the trees! They are so big around, we would need four of us to hug the trunks!
We had cloudy mornings and clear, blue afternoons every day! We did not have any rain, but I think would have all welcomed a little sprinkle or two at night to settle the dust.
The Frio river itself has actually had a good amount of input and was flowing in places. It offers a good long drink and a nice cold soak to cool the horse’s hooves and legs before lunch.
We got a bit of a later start on the drive back home because somebody’s horse would not load, but eventually it did. Lito loaded well and hauled pretty well back home to the farm. I got him settled and fed and then the same to myself before dark. Then it was a hot bath and champagne before bed.
We rode. We swam. We shared stories. We remembered. We laughed. We cried. We enjoyed each other and our horses. Mostly though, I loved on and appreciated my horse.
Each year, while we ride in the same place, is different. However, one thing remains the same. This place and these days and these horses and these people, are all those the Lord has made. Tomorrow is never promised. Learn that lesson now. Enjoy now.
Remember, focus on the positive, not the negative! Most all things wash out in the rain, just another reason to pray for it!
Ha! I shall leave you to be the judge of that. There are at least some good pictures!
Once upon a time, it rained and rained and created all kinds of mud all over the state of Texas. And everywhere else across the land. A gal named Avery was kinda busy and losing her mind for lack of riding time.
What is that? You have heard this one? No, no, no. The ending is good. Just stick with it. OK. Where was I? Oh ya…
Then it got cold while it continued to rain. That gal named Avery became even more busy (in a good way) and wondered if she would ever be able to really ride her horses again or write to her dear readers. Please forgive that gal named Avery for falling off the face of the earth and going MIA. Time kept passing her by.
This is where it gets good.
Then one fine day, spring appeared. The rains let up. The mud dried. The horses started to lose their winter coats. The pecan trees started to bud. All of a sudden, the stars aligned and the time was right. That gal named Avery loaded up that dog named Darcy and booked it out of town. She rode by herself. She rode with important people in her life. They rode. And that is what they did. And it was glorious.
The horses lost more hair.
Darcy took some naps when she was not running or getting dirty.
They rode by the river.
They rode under the clouds and across green pastures.
They rode down to the river on the beach.
The sun came out and sunsets were watched and it was magical in more ways than one.
They rode under the trees, over logs, and among favorite blue flowers down in the river bottom listening to the breeze and the light rain in the leaves.
They watched a little rain storm roll by and felt the drops cool their skin with the threat of the last cold snap.
Then more rain and wind and cold came. But that did not stop them. Still they rode.
It got even colder, but fun was still had by all.
Manes and pony tails went everywhere.
And that is what they did.
Then all was right in the world again.
They could not be more thankful or blessed.
Best story you have ever heard, right?!
I knew it.
How is it already April?! APRIL!!!
I am back, y’all, I promise.
Walk in love, dear readers, and I will talk to you soon.
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!
Well mostly, that is. Always have to have that caveat to cover your bases, you know what I mean? But let us not focus on that.
So, let’s make today a Celebration Tuesday. It is a thing, trust me. I made it up. Because we all have something to celebrate, no matter the day or time. And because I can. And because, well, it certainly sounds better than Boring Tuesday! It is what you make it. AHAmoment.
The deal and the paperwork on the new car has been completed and I should have it in my possession tomorrow or the next day. Fingers crossed. I took care of that yesterday.
Can anyone please tell my why that process takes so long?! I was amazed! Four hours just to sign papers…ridiculous. Anyway. Now I just have to give my old car a good wash before I deliver him to his new owner. The whole process was not as bad as I thought it would be. Also, surprisingly not as exciting as I thought either but I am guessing that is because I do not have it yet. But alas, still something to celebrate!
My Darcy girl is finally back to her normal, bubbly self. All systems are a go, if you will. This is more than enough reason to celebrate!
No more eating dirt just to get the pig drippings, you naughty dog!
Play time after bath time equals nap time in Darcy land. I am not sure who had a harder time last week, her or me. It is terrible to watch any animal in pain. Seriously, the worst.
We are about there at redemption with Lito and our trailer loading set back. He is pretty consistently self loading and seems much more comfortable with the whole deal. This weekend I will take him for a little drive up the road and back to see how he feels about it. I would prefer him to just follow me in, but I will take what I can get. If that is how he prefers it, I will just have to open my mind to it. So, ware celebrating this as well! Celebrating it for Lito and his accomplishments.
He has lost some confidence in these past few weeks and that really hurts my heart. It feels like it is my fault and I do not know where I went wrong. All I know is I have the faith, love, and time it takes to to get him back to his confident self. Going back to Kindergarten is fun right? You get nap time? And snack time? Hopefully we will pick the riding back up in a couple of weeks. We will get through this phase together and be better for it.
I took my Cheetah girl for a 2 hour road ride on Sunday. It was quiet and she power walked the whole time like we were really going somewhere. It made me wish we really were. We both needed that time alone, out together, just going, even if it wasn’t anywhere specific.
Just look at those happy ears.
What are you celebrating on this Tuesday?
It’s not a boring Tuesday anymore when you look at it like that, is it?
This past week has been a whirl wind, but a fun whirl wind.
In short, it was fun and Lito was amazing. By Friday he was more than ready to come home, but he did better than probably any other young horse that has never been exposed to anything close to this.
Saturday morning greeted us with a beautiful sunrise and ample time to do what we needed to do before we left. That included a quick water line repair. Again…let us not talk about that…and a shower glam session for the Lito man. Can’t be traveling when you aren’t looking your best. That’s what my mamma says.
He rode in a new to him trailer. One that he actually fits in. Even though he still likes to rub his head on the ceiling. He just has to work harder to do it. Lito got to ride with his bro for life, Ronan. I rode with my gal pal for life, R.
We drove to a friend’s place for the weekend before we made the shorter haul to where we were to stay and ride for the week on Monday. We were with 3 other ladies and their horses and we all had a grand and relaxing time.
He is the cutest.
A much needed cocktail. All the excitement got to me and I needed to level out.
But what I really needed was this. An evening ride on Sunday and stumbling upon this at sunset. Serendipitous. Something I really love about the hill country is that it really puts life in perspective. Gives you a true sense of scale and how small we are. Similarly to how the mountains make me feel. I swear there is a cross somewhere on EVERY hill out here. When you get to the top of one, you can see forever and yet not see much of anything else besides what you are felling. Hard to explain.
This song reminds me of the hill country. Describes what the hill country makes me feel. We listened to it on Saturday morning, on the top of that hill where we were staying, before we left.
We did not drive like h***.
When we got to our final destination Monday morning, Lito stayed in a box stall in a tent barn and acted like he was born in there.
A front blew through Monday evening/early Tuesday morning and was quite windy. They delayed the ride on Tuesday, but Lito did not seem to be bothered by the wind. We rode every day this week with around maybe 90 other horse and rider pairs. He got a little anxious when the ride went to slow or got too crowded, but he really handled himself well. I had faith in him and I really think he had faith in me. You could really tell he was trying his best and trying to figure it all out. Proud of my loyal boy. He nickered every time he saw or heard me coming to his stall. Made my heart melt. He is such a gift.
When it came time for everyone to pack up and leave on Saturday, for the mass exodus, Lito thought it was the perfect time for his mid morning nap. My horse is a freak and I love it. Poor kid took up every inch of that stall.
He sure was happy to be back home in his pasture and with his heard. I am happy to report he strutted his stuff in fine form for everyone.
To spend a week with a bunch of Texas horsewomen in the country, just enjoying Texas, tradition, horses, and fellowship is nothing short of amazing. It was great and I can not wait till next year. Fun times were had by all.
R and Ronan stayed at the farm with us Saturday night before heading home yesterday. I went straight to my parents house to have dinner with them and get my Darcy doolittle dog.
Happy to be back with my Darcy dog, but not ready for reality! But. Reality brought us a cold front this morning. The air is glorious. Straight up feels like fall! I am going to have a fall cooking and baking session with my cousin tonight!
I awoke a full hour before my alarm was to go off at 6:30 AM. An extra hour of sleep would be nice before a long road trip.
But. Here I lay. Fully energized and rearing to go. Excited to get where we are going. However, I am forcing myself to stay in bed because that was the plan. No sense in getting everything finished early just to sit and wait again. Silly, right?
Anyway, here I am, writing to you since clearly the prospect of sleep is leaving as quick like as the sun is about to rise. And because Darcy dog is not here to cuddle. Which, is not so fun, not having my dog with me.
I played on my phone a bit when I first realized there would be no more sleep. Then I put it down and tried again. No luck. Picked it up again. I was reminded of a song. You know how that happens.
Here I am, laying in bed. Having the luxury of lounging in bed for an hour before I need to do anything. About to gather everything my horse and I need for a week, load it up, and head out with R for a week of riding and fellowship.
How did I get here? How am I able to do these things that I love? Have these horses that I have? How blessed am I?
I get to do all these things because my parents worked their tails off and did everything they could for us. Because they taught us to work our tails off. To do the right thing. To not give up on our dreams and wishes. To do what makes our hearts happy. To have faith and give thanks to the Man upstairs for it all who makes it all possible.
Even when we didn’t realize or appreciate it.
I give thanks to the Lord. I give thanks to my parents and family. And I give thanks to my horse.
Corny as it may sound, it is all true.
Time to get up and get moving. R will soon be on her way!
Walk in love, dear readers! I will see you in a week!