Wednesday, July 29, 2009

On the Edge of Surburbia

Today started out like a normal day-( except for the slight hangover from partying at the Jewel concert in San Francisco last night).

And I'm working away in the garden about 5 miles from home. There is a helicopter circling and circling overhead...

I see the other hired hand Jess and say, " Must be something going on."

" Yeah," he says, " A fire.On MacAlvey and Alhambra."

"Yikes" I yell ( or something to that effect involving a bad word.) I know my daughter is home alone.

I call home. No answer.

I run to my truck and hook up my trailer, race for home. The hills next to my house belong to my neighbor. On those acres she has about 30 goats, two horses, a shetland, three dogs, two cats and who knows what all else.

The road is blocked. I yell to the cops that I need to get home, that my house is likely to burn and I need to help evacuated my neighbors animals.

That asshole ( that's right -you heard me -ASSHOLE) turns and says. "You can't go up there. The animal control is there." Turns and walks away.

I lean on my horn! "Hey! I need to get up there!" He ignores me. Finally another cop comes over, says " Look lady. You can't go. Turn around and leave."


I make a U turn, go to the next street, still the same answer. Go to the next street and still get " NO! " Now they are on the radio talking to each other! I imagine they are saying " Crazy lady with a horse trailer- don't let her by!"

Hubby is calling " Where are you? Where is Amy?"

Finally I have to go to the MacDonalds and park. And wait to get up my street.

When I finally get home an hour later, my daughter tells me her story.

Her friend who lives on the first block from us called her and woke her up, telling her the hills were on fire. She runs outside and can't see the fire, but she can smell it and she can HEAR it crackling. The goats are crying. She pulls on her shoes and runs next door.

The goats are alone- the owners are away at work.

Our other neighbors are outside too, and together, Amy and about five others begin rounding up the thirty pygmy show goats and babies, taking them up to the top of the court and corralling them in a neighbors garage! The big bucks too!

Some one caught the shetland and tied him to the stop sign.

The two other horses were freaked and didn't want to be caught. A Cowboy neighbor ( and let me just say there are VERY few COWBOYS in this neck of California) heard the news, knew there were horses on the hill and came down to help. He was the only one with horse sense and he was able to catch the two frightened horses and tie them to telelphone poles across the street from the fire zone.

My neighbors Vik and Mike FLEW home through traffic once they heard the news, to find all was safe at home. Then she said she felt weak and shaky- like she wanted to throw up.

The firemen did a fantastic job of containing and controlling the fire. There has been some talk from them that it may be arson.

Kudos to my non-livestock owning neighbors that set to work with out being asked to to save Vik's animals. To my daughter for being a grown-up ( miracle!) and charging in to help too.

Thumbs down to the Martinez PD- those animals could have roasted for all the care or comfort they gave.

People talk about the rudeness of Surburbanites. How they ignore one another, cut each other off in traffic, talk on their cell phones and drive at the same time. And for the most part I guess it is true. But here on this little edge of Surburbia neighborliness prevailed and my neighbors showed what they were truely made of.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2009 Battle of the Barns is another success!

The Horsemen have been sponsoring Battle of the Barns for over 11 years- the actual count is thirteen (the first two years were just our Barn and another in friendly competition). We decided to sponsor Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center and make it our beneficiary. We couldn’t have chosen a better Center. The kids are great, and the directors are helpful and caring. Their founder Judy Lazarus told me the MHA has raised over $13,000 dollars for them!

We didn't have any one to carry the flags on horseback this year, but some of our members made do by carrying them in on foot! And no matter what, when you hear the strains of the Star Spangled Banner wafting over the arena, you know it doesen't matter how the flag got there. It's enough that we are blessed with having the flag flying in the breeze.

This year the Theme was Disney so we had a lot of Pirates, but also Peter Pan,Wendy, Nanny, Snow White, Harem girls, Mouseketeers, an Evil Sorcerer, Seven Dwarves, a crocodile, Skelton horses and of course Prince Charming! As a matter of fact we had the most amounts of youngsters showing in the whole history of the BOB.

Our youngest one was eight and rode an adorable pony. He had a definite advantage when it came to the race where you had to lower a plastic pail on a string into a bucket of water, and then carry the pail across the arena to a dry pail and pour the water in. Any Ping Pong balls you captured were considered as bonus points. This little guy just leaned over a little, scooped out the water and the balls and trotted over to the bucket and dumped them in, nary spilling a drop! Needless to say his team won that event!

We had vendors, authors, a great raffle with over 40 prizes to win and a wonderful Ball-tip sandwich plate for lunch.

And as always- I consider any event as successful if everyone has a good time, learns something and no one gets hurt. I think this was one of the most successful BOB’s ever.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's almost here!

The time for the biggest Horse event in Martinez is nearly upon us! The thirteenth annual Battle of the Barns! 

This is a Charity Event that the Martinez Horsemen's Association has been putting on to help Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center in Orinda California. 
It takes us all year to get the thing together, and now the day is nearly here. I still have so much to do! 

The banners needs to be hung at the main intersection of town, the Team Signs need to be written, the food purchased, the volunteers sorted into groups,the flags pressed, etc....
I am afraid that this year the donations will be smaller than last year, but I am encouraged to say that we still do have local merchants that have donated some really great prizes; Dinners for two, spa days, gas cards, headstalls, books, t-shirts,plants,candy, Well- you get the idea! 
Did I mention that everyone rides in costumes? This years Theme is Disney!

I wish every one of you could come and be a part of this special day! I know you will all be right next to me in spirit- and of course I will take photos and post them for you all! 

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Slip Slidin' Away

The annual Slip and Slide Party was just super this year. Our Wonderful Host and Hostess- Deniserita and the Stud Spud -kept it small and intimate.
We slid down the adult sized slip and slide ( It went the whole length of the pasture! ) and we ate a lot of great food. We saddled up the horses at dusk and rode them in circles for awhile, and then we went for a swim! How much more fun can a girl have in the summer?

Monday, July 6, 2009


BTW- The two horses in the previous post are NOT the super expensive horses I saw online. The cute grey is owned by my friend Mary Cortney, and she didn't spend an arm and a leg for him. The other is my own beloved Lil Mama on her AQHA gelding Bar Hopping Bob- which she did not pay excessive bucks for!  Both are home trained and winning.


Much like a lot of you all, I often shop for horses on line. I'm actually looking for a couple of good horses for friends, so it's not a lookee loo situation. Plus you never know what kind of good horses you are going to find out there- the thrill of the hunt and all of that. So here I am, cruisin' websites with a specific kind of horse in mind, and one link leads to another and pretty soon, I am looking at a few good horses, show type horses, and I look for the price tag. 
Blink blink! GADDS! 
The prices on some of these horses were in excess of $30,000! 
Now these were nice AQHA horses, but they were all two and under- with NO show record. Their Mama's were nice horses- but...NO SHOW RECORD! Their Daddy was a nice horse too- a 'Chocolate Chip' horse in fact... but no show record there either. So I start looking around in other places...other websites, only to find that people have their horses priced so high. 
I also found a few nice horses with show records that were in excess of $50,000- SAY WHAT! 

And it got me thinking... this is where I get myself in trouble- thinking- How can folks in this economy justify spending that much money on a horse just to win a competition? Oh I know that there is some money tied up in the show world, especially ( obviously by the prices being asked) for stud fees. But in the shows I go to- AQHA shows- the exhibitor list is down- not up. There are very few young riders, most are older middle aged women with some disposable income. And there are still the same trainers with clientele- but for a mid level showman- such as myself and probably most of you- a $50,000 hobby is excessive to say the least. 

And if the mid-level showman can't afford the horse( or all the trappings) what is going to happen to the shows? And if the shows fail, the Breed Organizations will fail and the whole industry is likely to crumble. Leaving us all with excessively priced horses that no one can afford to purchase. 

It seems like a Catch-22 situation doesn't it?

But what is the answer? Should Breeders cut the prices of their horses? Should they breed less horses? If they breed less horses, their own bottom line will suffer- they still have mortgages and car payments too. But if they dropped the price, more people could afford a really nice horse. They might even be able to show that horse, adding money to the economy and our industry in particular. 
I know a few of you are thinking, " Well Vaquerogirl, just don't buy those high priced horses." or, perhaps " There are other things to do with a horse other than show it!" True- but then again who is going to pay $50,000 for a pet or a backyard trail horse? 
I don't usually spend a lot of money on a horse. I can't !  I buy a well bred youngster and train it myself. But I'm not setting the AQHA world on fire either!  Would I buy a nicer horse if it weren't so expensive- you bet. The horse I have now is the most expensive one I've ever owned, and he is no way the best horse I've ever had. That honor goes to a $350. 00 horse I bought and trained myself when I was just a kid. 

So what is the most money you've ever spent buying a horse?
A. Free ( no such thing- you PAY in soooo many ways)
B.$500- $1000
E-Way more! 


Friday, July 3, 2009

100 and other magic numbers

This is the 100th post on this blog! Whooee! It just kinda crept up on me, sort of like when you are sitting around at dark with all your friends and just jawin' away- and pretty soon you look up and light is beginning to fill the sky... kinda like that. I've been having so much fun learning so much about you all, well I guess it's just too much fun to stop.

And Happy Independence Day to you too! July 4th is always my favorite holiday. I love the red,white and blue of it, the parades, the families getting together,the heat ,the songs and especially the fireworks. Our little town has quite a nice display over the Carquinez Straits. There is never any fog here at that time of night and so it is brilliant and beautiful. I can't help but remember the words- "..and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our Flag was still there..."

Gives me goosebumps. ( Are you all surprised that I get a little sentimental about our Country?)

Plus it is my 26th wedding anniversary. Yep- and they said it couldn't be done. HA! Who else could have put up with either of us I always say. He's not a Stud Spud, but he's damn close and I love him- better than that- he loves me back!

And to top it all off- it's my Birthday! I won't tell you how old I really am, but suffice to say that I am not as old as dirt, but I'm older than the internet and I feel like a kid of twenty (sometimes). I believe you are only as old as you think and as young as you feel!

I guess I'll just keep going on all the above fronts for a little while longer and I hope you'll ride along. It's a pleasure and a priveledge having you guys as my saddle pards!