Friday, February 26, 2010

10 Ways to Ward off the Winter Blehs!

I wrote this article a few years back- now I'll share it with you!

10 Ways to Ward off Winter Blehs!

Hurrah! Winter is here. It’s cold and gray outside. Don’t be inside lamenting the time you can’t spend with your horse on the trail. Instead get going- right out to the barn and beat those winter blues. Winter is the perfect time to catch up on all those things you meant to do last spring (but didn’t get around to because you were too busy riding!)

1. Revamp your saddle.
Winter is the perfect time to really take your saddle and bridle apart and clean them thoroughly. Unbuckle all the buckles, take off the Blevins, remove the bit and curb straps and get out the soap and water. I like to keep a notepad and pencil nearby too. Then as you clean each item you can jot down notes about what needs to be fixed on each piece as well. Sometimes a quick repair can be handled by a local shoe repair shop. Of course any major repair must be done by a saddler, so you may need to have a phone book nearby too. What better time to get the fleece redone, your saddles seat re-padded or the fenders lengthened (or shortened)?

2. Cinch Check
Whether you ride Western, English or Australian, you have to have a safe cinch. Cinches are relatively inexpensive and they are all that stands between you and what could be a very bad accident. Leather or Neoprene cinches can be cleaned with saddle soap, water and leather conditioner. A mohair or ‘string’ cinch can be washed in Woolite, then hung straight to dry. Check to make sure all the strings are tight and none are broken. Especially check the ends near the rings to detect wear before it becomes a problem. Although a string cinch can last from two to five years, I like to replace mine every OTHER year.

3. Bits and Pieces
Wash your bits in warm water. Sometimes a little bit of dried hay or grass will jam up a jointed bit, making it ineffective. Take time to run your fingers along all surfaces, checking for rust or rough spots. Check the leather where the bit is attached to the bridle. Those ‘loops’ are the first place that wears, so inspect for signs of dryness, cracking, or if damp, crumbling. Make sure to check any Chicago screws, conchos or strings to make sure they are tight and will hold your bit in place on the bridle. If there are strings instead of screws make sure they are not rotten and brittle. If so, replace with a new string. Most tack stores carry small bags of leather strings and they are easy to replace.

4. Saddle Pad Party
Don’t forget the all important Saddle pad. At the very least, take your pads and blankets outside and using a hard brush or metal curry comb, remove as much dirt and hair from them as possible. A better solution is to give them a good wash. If you use a fleece pad, take it outside or to the car wash and use the hose-MINUS SOAP- to remove built up mud and grime. If it is warm outside leave the pad face up in the sunshine to dry. If not, leave the pad in a warm dry place like the garage or tack room. Pads will take a long time to dry in the winter, so don’t do them all at once. If you use a wool saddle blanket, you can wash those in a tub of Woolite, rinse well and drape over a clothes line in a warm dry place.
TIP: To really get all the moisture out of pads and blankets, use an OLD rolling pin and work it from one side to the other, squeezing the water out with lots of downward force.
While you are cleaning the pad take note if it seem flattened in the places where the saddle sits the heaviest, such as over the withers or loin area. A pad that has gone flat is of no use at all. If it has broken down get rid of it right away and go buy a new one. A broken down pad can cause fistulas and sore places over your horses back and loin. A new saddle pad is a whole lot cheaper than a vet call!

Barn aisles are great places to teach yourself a few new skills.
5. Teach yourself to braid or band your horses’ mane and tail.
6. Practice your Halter and Showmanship skills.
7. Teach your horse a few simple tricks, like bowing or answering ‘questions’ on cue.


8. Wardrobe Check.
For those that show their horses, winter is a good time to update your show wardrobe. If you can’t go to the bigger shows to see how trends have changed, buy a copy of your breeds Journal and check out the winners via their show photos or ads. Fashions change quickly, so usually the bigger shows have the hottest looks for spring. Check your chaps to make sure they are clean and still fit. Have your hat professionally cleaned and blocked. Try on a few new shirts (guys too!) and give your show outfit a jolt with a new style or color. Make sure your boots still fit, are clean and have good soles.

9. Show Survival Kit
Everyone needs a Show Bag. It can be anything from a tool bag or a canvas tote bag, but it should have lots of pockets or places to sore things. Some items you might want to include are safety pins, spray adhesive, hair spray, an unbreakable mirror, clean cloths, hair nets, bobby pins, hair gel, hair nets, chap stick, extra curb straps, an ink pen and note pad, scotch tape, change purse with lots of change, thumb tacks, sunblock, handlotion, baby wipes, baby oil, and various sizes of zip type sandwich bags. You’ll soon find out what you need for your own showing style.

10. Trail Trials
For trail riders, winter days present a great opportunity to ‘trail proof’ your horse. Horses that are afraid of water, puddles, or shiny patches of ground can’t escape wet areas in winter. Don’t put any pressure on you or your horse; just go in and out of as many water obstacles as you can. Lots of praise and repetition may be just what he needed to get over his water ‘phobia.’

Remember your horse still needs to get out of his stall, even in winter. If you do not have a covered arena or a large paddock to turn him out in, put on your slicker, put on his halter and take him for a walk. Let him eat grass, rub on his head, let him know that he is your pal. A little bit of bonding in winter will go a long way in spring, summer and fall.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Its not just me! Thank God!

After going through my regularly scheduled Reading of the Blogs- I have come to see that it is not just ME with the lackadaisical attitude and no energy and just a general malaise about life! Its everyone else too!
Can it be that there is something in our atmosphere- a giant cosmic strata of 'do nothing juice'?
Or is it in our water?
Whatever it is- I can do without it thank you very much!
I guess we all need to go out and find things to get us out of our miserable selves- kinda like Mikey over at the Horse shoeing Housewife blog. It seems like she has an adventure everyday.
Does she 'have' them- meaning that they are random happenings? Or does she look for them? ( I know you don't actually look Mikey). What I mean is that you guys embrace your lives, you stop for overturned cars, lost horses, wild dogs (really!)You see the possibilities ( good and bad) in all situations and you ACT on them! Good for you. We should all do that!
So my challenge for all of you bloggers that are stuck in ruts up to your finely plucked brows- go out today or even this week- and find something different to get involved in.
Make something happen!
Don't go rob a bank or anything- but DO something different!
Hike on your mountain.
Feed a homeless guy at McDonalds.
Stand on a street corner with a sign that says something like- I believe.
Let's get out of our ruts and blog about it!



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Well, Shoot! I'm blushing!
Well the good people over at Horse and Wildlife gifts did a post about my blog site!
I'm kinda partial to sparkly things- and there is a belt buckle on that first page that has taken my fancy- but even if you don't want something too bling-bling, I'll bet you can find something over there you just can't live without!
Drop on over and check it out- and be sure to tell 'em Vaquero Girl sent ya!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We done it!

Well we done it! We pulled off a very sucessful Crab Feed! It was the first one we've ever done, and so we had a lot to learn, but my Awesome Eight just dug in and worked hard. We Pre-sold 120 tickets and then sold another 10 at the door! We had to scramble around to add tables and chairs!
The members of the club donated some of these great raffle prizes- we had expensive bottles of wine, tools, a massage, a diamond braclet, a dinner for 14 -Prime Rib of course-, a basket of stitchery (don't really know what was in there, Vaquerogirl don't sew!)There were about 15 raffle items in all and everyone got something they really wanted. Except for me- I really wanted the GPS system the Club bought to raffle off!
Here is BJ and KBG. Bills apron has the real convict number of Martha Stewart!

Lil Mama donned her best apron and served the food, along with Mimi and her friend Cait. These girls were like serving machines! No one had to wait too long for any food. The result was happy diners and bigger tips for them!
And in the bigger picture- we will be able to upgrade our Waterfront Equestrian Park, which in turn will benefit the Charities that we give to as well as all the other horse clubs in the area that rent our Equestrian Park from us through the year.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm Fine- really

Things have settled down at least for today. I'm not dying and I haven't killed anyone- yet. My six shooter is loaded though and I have been know to have a surly attitude at times!
In the meantime, my dear and darling friends have talked me back to sanity and I'm ready to work. And tonight is our first CRAB FEED for my Horsemen's Club.

Fresh dungeness crab right out of the cold Pacific water along the California Coast! YUMMM!!

Of course I'll be working the crowd, delivering food and encouragement to buy raffle tickets and wine! And who better but the Queen of the Horsemen herself! Vaquerogirl! I will leave my shootin' iron at home though ( ready for ..**Haaaaawk- ptooie- LAYWERS!)

Pictures and update tomorrow. Wish me luck! We need to make some money to upgrade our Waterfront Equestrian Park!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Things are about to blow

I can't say anymore than that- but things are about to go south in a big way around here.

Thank you all for your good advice about writing. I know I shouldn't be surprised about how many of you are actual writers- I mean, what better way for a writer to get published than a blog. It is hand made for us isn't it? Thanks for pointing that out to me! Duh!

I appreciate all the encouragement. I hope it helps me in the long run. But I know that will be up to me and my computer and my imagination. But right now all I can think about is Eagles Nest Ranch-more on that later.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

About that...

I know I said that blogging didn't count here as writing. And Yes, I know that ANY writing is writing, good or bad, grocery list or magnificent insight into the human condition. (Actually blogging is a little bit of both. )
The reason I said it didn't count here, is because- though it is written ( or typed) it is actually more like a conversation. A conversation usually with and about and to- myself ( go figgure!) And a conversation with you all. So the communication form isn't verbal and oral- it is written- so I don't count it as writing.
Writing, in the sense that I mean it here, is to create a story. A beginning a middle and an end. To connect cosmic dots in a way that other will 'get it' the same way I do.
I am struggling to tell a story- many stories actually- to enlighten, to entertain- to make someone stop and go- "OHHH!" And to entertain myself. I want to write a story that I want to read.
And though my story is nearly done- sometimes when I read the middle (those awful middles!) I go- " Eh- So what? Who will want to go on reading from here?"

I know how to 'do it'. I know how to fix it. I just can't seem to muster the creative energy right now to attempt it!
Could it be the weather? Menopause? Over work? Apathy? Maybe all of it.
Have I felt this before?
Ask my friends in my writing groups ( or former groups ). I guess I do this every year about this time, so maybe it is seasonal. Whatever it is, it feels permanent this time. And it frightens me that I may not get it back, or even want to.
So like any good woman, (cough.. ahemm..**) I try to talk it out, by blogging to you all. To rev my creative blood, to hear your feedback, your encouragement and your stellar ideas.
I am hoping it comes back.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I am a writer

I am a writer. I am a writer right now in the broadest sense of the word. By that I mean that I know how to write, to make a sentence and form paragraphs. Barely.

There are steps to being a writer-

A- Write. To write you must put pen to paper or charcoal to shovel or pencil to paper bag. You must actually complete the act. Random paragraphs, love letters, beginning pages and happy endings get you close to being a real writer. Blogs and grocery lists, though technically written, don't count here.

2. You can't just think about writing, as in " Oh, I think I will write the Great All American Novel and make a Million Dollars". Too many stories, articles and Great All American Novels have been written inside heads. The trick is actually getting them to the outside world. See step A.

C. Not everyone can do it. Although most of us can write- our first grade teachers saw to that-
the Writer has to see what the rest of the population does not see. A writer needs a eye for detail. But no matter what the Writer sees, unless he writes it down- he is just an observer. See step A.
The reason I am writing this blog is that I have forgotten how to be a Writer.

I have not been a writer- I have been ( (shudder)) an observer.

I have been a thinker.

I have forgotten about step A.

And I am afraid that I won't ever be a writer again.

And I am not sure about what to do about it.

See Step A

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Just another day in Paradise

So I finally took a few pictures of my work space.

It's a cozy little room, beyond that sliding door is the " Necessary" room- and it's all mine!
I picked up the rug at Goodwill, it makes the room a little warmer. You can see over my comfy old brown chair the lower paddocks and the hills.

That million dollar high rise view of the Oakland Harbor I told you about that day I interviewed for this job- well- it's got nuthin on this view! I love my corner office!

But even that great view is nothing compared to the other view I get every morning.

Forgive the blurry picture- this was taken with my camera phone from the seat of a moving Ford Tractor!

Pretty cool eh?

Only one thing could make it better- that would be Desi enjoying the grass!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

You ain't gonna believe this- but then...maybe you might!

So because my girlfriend is shopping for a show horse, I gave myself permission to look on you know- just to help a sista' out.
And I'm perusing the SEARCH page, you know, the window where you pick what kind of a horse or pony you are looking for.
Then up pops RIDING STEER.


Not really!


And you know there must be more than one- because it is in the drop down window!

Just like there is a LAW on the BOOKS in some backward state on the EAST coast-(prolly Maryland or Virginia) that states- and I do NOT quote- that you must NOT Paint over any dead animals on the side of the road. Which leads you to think that there is someone or something out there painting over the dead animals! Visions of possum and skunk and deer, lying dead across the shoulders with white or yellow paint running across matted fur! UGH!
And you KNOW it is happening a lot because there is a friggin' LAW on the books that says you shan't do it anymore!
But I digress...

So I have to see what a riding steer looks like- although Lil Mama and I did see one in downtown Oakdale one morning as we sat having breakfast waiting for a sheep auction, but that is another story entirely.

And here he is~

Meet Clyde!

He is a Riding Steer, residing in North Carolina. ( Do I have to refer to the above paragraph?)
He has a temperament of 2 on the scale which is CALM. Well, he better be with that pair of horns. If he got pissed off he could just pluck you right off his back, fling you into the middle of next week and never break stride!
They have been saddle breaking Clyde for two years and claim he is good for parties and parades.
Who am I to argue!

But I'm guessing that if they can't find a new home that wants to ride Clyde they could have other ways of cashing in on his uniqueness~

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Grandma's kitchen table

Most people remember where they were when they heard the news about JFK; I do too. It was at my grandmothers kitchen table.
But as I think back, almost all of my social education happened at my grandmothers kitchen table.

I can remember my Grandmothers kitchen table as far back as I have memory. The first one was actually a 'banquette', built into the wall, like a cafe. It was painted black, and her linoleum had black and red flecks.
The next one was more 'modern' -maybe kind of like the one in the picture.

She graduated to a super swanky wooden set by the time I was in high school. It came with a china hutch. I still have the hutch.

I learned how to pray at my grandmothers kitchen table. To bow my head, lace my fingers and recite a rhyming thanks. My brother got his ears boxed at Grandma's kitchen for changing the usual "Thank you God for the World so sweet," rhyme to his Boy Scout Prayer- " Rub a dub dub, Thanks for the Grub."

There were no swear words at my Grandmothers kitchen table, no racial remarks, no off color jokes. But there was love and laughter and hope there just the same.

Turkey dinners or frank and beans were shown the same respect there.

I learned that the world was changing fast at that table, and when my Granny broke into a Sly and the Family Stone song at dinner, I was so surprised I nearly fell off my chair. Bob Dylan, Quantum Physics,men landing on the moon, Woodstock, Riots, Kent State, baseball scores, prom dresses, bad breakups, pregnancy, death, old times, politics and everything in between was discussed.

Her table was round, so we could all hear one another.

We would read the paper at that table and she would clip the obituaries, paste them on black paper and put them into a book. Everything she needed was kept on or near that table top-scissors and string and salt and pepper. In the hutch drawer she kept glue and napkins. I do the same thing today.

The times I put my arms and head down on that table to weep I couldn't even count. There was always tea and a cookie near my elbow when I looked up.

Someone else has that table now, I don't know who. But I hope that the memory of Granny and me still linger around it somehow.

And maybe someday Lil Cowboy will remember my kitchen table as fondly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Sometimes when you have a bad day, and you just want to sit down and pout, it's good to have a friend you can call up and say " Open up that bottle of red."
I have several such friends, and I love them all.
I have one friend that will talk about the way of the world, the state of our marriages, the turn of a phrase and so much more. We never run out of things to say to one another. Mostly because her active little mind comes up with all kinds of questions and nuances. All I have to do is agree or disagree.
You are probably saying " Well if you spent more than a few hours together you'd probably be sick of her."
We've spend Days and Days together- we've travelled together, we've been alone in cars together! We still always have something to talk about. Thats why one reason why I love her.

I have a friend that is a 'muse'. He brings up all kinds of esoteric conversation topics, he regularly blows my mind with his insight. He was missing for awhile, but he turned back up the other day, reminding me of how much I like his company.

I have friends that I can sit across a table from and talk ' horse'. Really talk horse- leads and vets and bloodlines and method and vaquero training and what if's and what coulda' beens. I can spend hours doing that.

And one friend that gleans knowledge like an African in a diamond mine. No matter the subject, she wants to know it all, every thing, each nuance and answer is absorbed and digested and then - lo and behold- a rarity- used!

And a friend that not only knows where the bodies are buried, she knows how they got there!

And of course, I have all of you!

" Open up that bottle of RED!"