Thursday, October 30, 2008

What to do on a Wednesday

Hubby and I got up at the CRASH of Dawn this morning and set out for Nevada. It is a three to four hour trip from our home in the Bay Area, but we made it in three.This picture is near the top of the summit of the Great Sierra Nevada Mountains. The line running diagonal across the face of the mountain is the actual Transcontinental Railroad concieved by Thad Judea way back in 1860. It is a covered railroad track. Covered so that the train can still navigate through the snow. It always amazes me that not only did the pioneers navigate OVER this rough terrain, moving rocks and trees so their wagons could get through, but then they decided to go through it so a train could get through.Amazing. Of course this picture was taken from a fast moving Cadillac- so it isn't of the best quality ( see the note about three hours above).
We had some biz-nezz in Reno, and then we went to Virginia City. Silver was discovered here in 1850 something- the biggest deposit of silver ore found in the US of A. People from all over flocked to Virginia City to make their fortunes and many of them did. San Francisco's Nob Hill is full of Mansions built from the money obtained here. You can see from the top photo that there isn't a lot of the town left. But what is there is absolutly charming ( if you can look past the t-shirts and what-not.) Mark Twain started his writing career here, Mr. Sutro built his first tunnel. This is the biggest Landmark town still in existence- the whole thing is preserved ( in a fashion). Its haunted too! I know this for a fact- I come here often and have had weird and spooky things happen around me! Clocks that run backwards, weird sounds, blue lights, healing hands of unseen figures. UUmm- I just felt a shiver!!
And they have the cutest Wild Horse Museum, it's housed inside a railroad car. The woman there told me they did a helicopter count this spring and counted over 14,000 head. I don't know how I feel about that...hmmm..... a blog for another day.
How was your Wednesday?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thanks Cheryl!

I've been given an AWARD! Yippee! Thank you to Cheryl at Now I am suppose to nominate three others! Wow- so many blogs- so little time!

So I nominate . She's a real cowgirl- and even more than that she's a HORSEMAN. And anyone who knows me, knows that as far as I am concerned that is the highest praise possible. What can I say about Mikey that any of you haven't already said? Except to double the praise! Mikey is her own women and like I say," Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity." Rock on Girl!

Lastly is a new blogger, For such a young women Ginny is incredibly grounded, she's a horseman, a cowgirl and my best friend. She's also my daughter! Stop by and tell her " Hi!"

And for the rest of you- You are all wonderful and special. I can't wait to read about each of you every day! And yes, I DO have another life ( if you must know!).Visit my website to see what it is!


BULLRIDER~ by Suzanne Morgan Williams is the kind of book you are going to want your kids to read. YOU are going to want to read it too.
In a small Nevada town the O'Mara Family men are known for their bullriding skills- all except Cam. He'd rather shred asphalt on a skateboard and that is just fine with him. His older brother Ben was Nevada State High School Rodeo Champion and that's a big shadow to walk from under. Ben walked away from a Professional career as a Rodeo Cowboy to join the War effort in Iraq with dire consequences. Twelve days from his release Ben is blown up by a mine. He lives but his life will forever be different. Not only his life- but everyone in the O'Mara family too. Cam struggles with the new image of his brother, as does Ben himself. On a dare, Cam tries to ride a bull, with little success, but it lights a fire in him to ride another, and then another. And when Ben is nearly hopeless Cam decides to ride the biggest baddest Bull in the Rodeo- UGLY, to show what a little fortitude can do. With a lot of love, a little faith and a smidge of family magic, Cam finally gets his chance.
BULLRIDER is not a soap opera, not a tear-jerker, not maudlin or self aggrandizing, but a realistic account of two young men struggling to understand the changes in their lives. It is a story told with enormous heart and the twist at the end will leave you breathless and smiling.
Bullrider is not on the bookstore shelves yet- you have been been given a very rare early review! If this story intrigues you, please go to your local bookstore and ASK for it by NAME, hopefully they will order copies for you all to buy. And since Suzanne Williams has a blog on this very site I'll give you dimes for donuts that she will autograph it for you if you e-mail her. For those of you in Nevada, you can look for her at a bookstore near you sometime in the spring. The book is due to be released sometime in March or April.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Remember WAYYY Backkkkk....

Well not that far back actually- it just felt like a long time- it was really only August. I just now found out how I did in that last show!

I didn't place that last day at all!


It was a tough judge...even my friend Karen , whose horse is broke to death- placed 9th- and she only tic'd one pole!

BUT the good news is.... Karen ( This is her and Shirley at left)place 2n'd overall for that class! She won a great Buckle! (Remember Karen has only been showing two years!) I'm super proud of her! In that same class I placed 15th ( out of 30 riders) Well I console myself knowing that I placed in the upper half.

In the Other class- the Novice -Karen tied for 2nd Place, and I placed 6th. My goal had been to place in the top 5- and I almost made it. (Missed it by THAT much!)

So now it is time to pull my big girl bloomers up, strap on my spurs and practice practice PRACTICE for next year.


Monday, October 20, 2008


This just goes to show you that if a horse can into trouble with something- it will! This poor horse was able to be rescued with a chain saw and was relatively unhurt. Whew! Do you think it will keep this horse from sticking his fool head into another tree- 'prolly' not! For such a nobel and regal animal- they ain't too bright sometimes!

I've been around horsess for most of my life- and I have learned over MANY years to 'listen to the voice'. You know the VOICE! The one that whispers into your ears as you turn your horse out into the pasture knowing that there is a loose panel or an undone staple or a unfastened bucket " Don't do it- he'll get hung up,cut,mangled..."

Yeah- THAT voice.

The last time I ignored that voice it turned out REAL BAD! I was about 16 (ages ago) my horse was kept in a 50 acre pasture that was located between a major Highway and a train track.

( STOP reading NOW if you are getting a real bad feeling).

We didn't own the pasture, but I used to ride the fence line occasionally because sometimes horses got out on the Highway and were struck by cars. (Another crazy story there- I gar-run-tee!) And there was a real bad spot on the fence next to the train track. I rewired it together the best I could, thinking it was in a small swale where the horses NEVER went, and I would get the landlord to fix it soon as I saw him. Well- that didn't happen, because I went to school the next morning only to be called out of class by my DAD. My horse had gotten out and gotten hit by the TRAIN! OMG! It was the worse feeling I've ever had! There is no fix for being hit by a train- she was dead, they had to bury her next to the tracks. And to make matters worse the Train Co was going to sue ME for letting my horse out on the track! Well, that didn't happen, they actually ended paying me more than what the horse was worth monetarily- but the TRAUMA .. need I say more?

So the moral of this story is if you hear The Voice- LISTEN!

Friday, October 17, 2008

"A Run to Remember"

Yesterday I recieved a small note in my e-mail box. Just about twenty little words it sure made my day. It said " Are you the Barbara Glenn that wrote " A Run to Remember"? One of my students is going to read it as his essay in prose for a school project."

WELL! I am that person, and I wrote that piece originally in the early 1990's for GMAC Quest magazine. I really liked that piece and so I sent in in to "Chicken Soup for the Pre Teen Aged Soul (2001). CSFTPTAS was a best selling book that year, so I felt kinda good about my small piece being in there. I've also read that piece myself in a few Author readings as it is very personal to me.
And then suddenly here is the story again- making me smile, helping a few more displaced and awkward kids to be winners. It makes me feel all goose-pimply again! And that, Dear Friends is why I continue writing against all odds. The fact that the power of a story does not diminish with time but goes on long after you have written it down. The knowledge that I have touched at least one child, somewhere. That they have felt " I know what that is like, she got through her trouble and so will I" .
Today I feel on top of the world!
If you have the book or go to the library you can find "A Run to Remember" on page 32( or so) Let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Old Photos

I love old photos- especially ones with Children and ponies, or bucking horses, or corseted 'ladies'. I'm a fiend for them, searching flea markets and antique fairs and malls. There is something that is mysterious and compelling about them, lives lived but now long gone. I tell myself stories about some of the characters in these pictures- like the ones at left. Brother and sister, taken in to the photographer to get a likeness made.
He got to choose what the picture background would be, see he gets to hold the tiny silver gun ( you can see that it is unloaded) Her skirt is crisp and freshly washed and ironed. Perhaps they were the first customers of the day. Her gloves are too big, but she wears them anyway, her hat sits way back on her head, his is 'jaunty'. The fringe down the length of his leg matches the fringe on her skirt- just like Annie Oakley-an American heroine in these childrens time.
If you look very closely you can see the stands behind them, but not the clamps that went on their necks to keep them still for the three or so minutes it took to make the picture. Neither have boots on.
Pretend cowboys and cowgirls, captured forever on silver paper, an image of light.
This is one of my favorites but I have lots more and I am always in the market for them. Have any to sell or trade?

Monday, October 6, 2008


There has been a lot of discussion about saddles on the posts lately. We all need one in some form or another ( even you sometimes Mikey!) I am not an expert by any means- but I do recognize quality when I see it, and I have been around enough to know what makes for a good saddle! I don't ride English- but I imagine you all need a whole lot of the same things as in a Western saddle.
1. a good tree.

2. good leather.

3. quality hardware.

4. fit

5. function

6. style.

These first two saddles were made by my friend Dana Alden from R6 Leathers in Roque River Oregon. Can you see how the leather is cut and stitched around the swell? See how the horn post comes through the swell and is actually a separate piece? All the decoration is hand stamped with one tool. If you look closely you can also see the rigging is set under the seat, under the jockey, supporting the entire seat. No way for it to come undone. The wool is just that- real wool fleece. This seat happens to be made from Ostrich, but you can see that it is sewn down.
This saddle is a Bob's reiner. Not fancy at all- no silver. But it is a good quality leather, the hardware is not cheap, the Front D ring is riveted and sewn into the under skirt. The bottom skirt has been cut away under the fender, giving the rider much more freedom to use their legs to position the horse. You can just see the wool peeking from under the skirt, and it comes with a leather latigo. Usually no back cinch is necessary in reining, but the D ring is there anyway. This saddle could be used for training or trail or reining.

The saddle to the left is Bob's Show saddle. It is very fancy- from the sterling silver on the corners to the fancy cut of the Jockey. It has an in -skirt rigging, which is the flattest rig you can get, it stays under your leg and you don't feel it. A back D ring is present, but since you don't use a back cinch in a WP show, it is also engraved. All the major stress points are sewn,and also screwed into the tree with silver conchos. All of the edges of the leather have been hand finished,and sewn. All of the stitches are even and tight, especially across the cantle. The horn is a separate piece, though the swell leather has been formed, not sewn and shrunk. This saddle runs about $3000.
Well made saddles are not cheap- but just like in the 'old days' when a saddle usually cost more than the horses a cowboy rode, a well made saddle will hold its' value for a long long time. They are certainly worth the investment.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rodeo Rocky Book Review

As a writer I am also an avid reader, often reading three books a week. Frequently I read Children's and Young Adult books, because that is what I write. I usually throw in a non-fiction and an adult book a week too. I've decided to try and do a book review here as a regular thing. My first one was WILD HORSES, and I did that one as a favor. The second one is RODEO ROCKY, also as a favor.
Written by Jenny Oldfield, the book is written for middle grade readers 7-13 years. It is the continuation of the character Kirstie Scott and her life in Colorado. This time Kirstie is rescuing a wild stallion 'rodeo' horse, and trying to rehabilitate him for their Colorado Western Adventure Ranch.
While I don't have any problems with the actual writing style, I have a few problems with the subject. Reading any story is subjective, but Ms. Oldfield -from the UK- portrays Rodeo and all of its characters as cruel,heartless and abusive. Her depiction of the first owners of Rocky are cliche( from an old 60's movie) and not in any way correct to the way Rodeo is run today. That being said I know Ms. Oldfield needed a 'bad guy' for her story to work.
The second problem I have with the story line is twofold. First that the horse is a stallion. Did Ms. Oldfield not want to explain about gelding? I've been around Rodeo my whole life and I don't remember ever seeing too many stallions in the bucking horse string. And then Kirstie is allowed to purchase the stallion and begin to retrain him. I think that handling stallions is a touchy and often misunderstood activity. Contrary to some myth, handling most stallions is not an occupation for most thirteen year-olds.(no matter what they say on Craig's list posts!). A better story line might have been the activity of actually gelding the horse to make him a better member of horsey society. What better way to promote good horsemanship and breeding practices in the youngsters that will be growing up to take our places in the future horse world?
The last few things wrong with this story might be minor- but Kirstie turns this wild stallion out in a pasture of other horses, and one gets hurt. Instead of using that as a lesson, she just blythly goes about her business with an 'oh well". Then Kirstie tacks up and rides this former wild stallion out in the hills, no explanation about corrective training or ground work. She just hops aboard and rides.
Now y'all might be saying ' Now look Vaquero Girl, don't be so harsh on Ol' Ms. Oldfield!"
you might be right- I am being a little harsh, but as a writer and a horse owner and a former riding instructor, I take these little things very much to heart. A million girls ( and boys) read these words. Most kids take as gospel what they read- they haven't learned any better. I am sure Ms. Oldfield didn't mean to give wrong impressions- but in fact she has. As a writer one needs to be a bit more responsible about the facts.
So despite the engaging character, and the lovely setting, I would NOT recommend this book.
Next review- a really GREAT story for middle grade readers. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Non horsey Friday

Usually I ride on Fridays but today I went for a walk . A winter storm is blowing down from the North, gray and full of rain. I anticipate it's coming. I love the odour of wet grass, bay trees and the smell of the sea. Living on the Straits of Carquinez we are at the midpoint in the waterway- the place where the saltwater turns to fresh, where the mighty Sacramento spills into the San Pablo basin and finds its way to the Pacific. It is less than a mile across to the other side- our county is even called Contra Costa- the other coast.

The Canadas are flying in, the Pelicans have already gone. I heard they go to Nevada and the Pyramid Lake. I saw this snowy egret and he saw me. I love to come to this place anytime during the year. Seals bark from the shipping buoy, you can see both bridges and the cute town of Benicia across the bay.

This is the place where the Ferry Boat ran when there wern't bridges, where the Miwork and Carquins crossed in their tule boats. This is all that is left of those days. I remember when there was a Ferry berthed here.

This is the mouth of Alhambra Creek, it goes for miles through the heart of the town, into the Alhambra Valley. It was low tide- but when the tide is high it sometimes floods the town.

I've lived here my whole life, and I can't imagine ever leaving. Though I covet the flatlands of middle America, the forested property of Oregon and the wildness ofNevada and the wonderful heat of the Southwest, I'll remain here, tucked away in the Valley of Hunger- Alhambra Valley.

I guess it it was good enough for John Muir, it is good enough for me.