My Horse Stories
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The FUN horse
After an all day drive, I pulled my travel trailer into Republic and parked next to the Fairgrounds, where I was scheduled to meet dad. He didn't make it. Broke down on Snoqualmie Pass, and got towed home, overloaded trailer and all.
So I found a nearby neighbor to help plow the driveway, and pull me up the hill. I spent the next few days alone, where the temperatures were below freezing, and there was 8 inches of snow on the ground.
This led to funny stories in later years about "How much R-value does a travel trailer have?" and the correct answer is "Not enough!" But it was very quiet. The cold and snow, plus ice and steep hills, also tends to scare away the snowbirds and summer visitors. The skies here are so clear at night, the stars are much brighter.
When dad finally arrived, we started building cabins, and he even tried to dig a trench from the well head to the "landing pad." I'm sure the neighbors thought we were funny, and before long we also decided we would have to wait for the ground to thaw. Even the phone company did not get a new line buried until May.
On a spring day in May, a chestnut gelding came up our hill and parked out to graze. I walked over to greet him. I could see the east-side neighbor and her daughter down below, apparantly Gidget had gotten away from them. When I went to catch him, he reared up and struck me in the face. He gave little warning, so I did not realize until too late that he did not want to be caught, and was willing to act physically to keep it. So I had a bloody nose and didn't get anything else done that day. For over a decade I had suffered from unprovoked bloody noses. After this bit of surgery by Dr. Gidget, I never had a bloody nose again.
Good things sometimes come in the most unlikely of packages!
By August, the 4 cabin modules were finished, and I had met a local nutritionist, who by the way had an older horse, and I went riding with one time. One year later, 2003-Sep-07, as the house was nearing completion on the outside, I bought her and once again had a horse in my care.
Glamour was a bay Morgan mare, 25 years old. By getting an older horse, I was trying to recreate what I had with Roxy. Glamour did have a special quality in the way she talked, and displayed depth of intellegence that only comes with age and wisdom.
On the morning of Sep.17, when I brought a box of hay toward her feeder, she started dancing. She jumped up, hopped really, and with all four feet off the ground (for much of the circle), she spun around a full 360. Oh! where's a video camera when you want one? (This was before pocketsize digital cameras were everywhere.) And she only did it the one time! But that was a jaw dropper. I think she likes me!
On the morning of Dec.25, as I was about to dump a box of hay into her outdoor feeder, Glamour jumped quickly to her right, and back left, to the feeder. Then I saw the grain pan she kicked with her front feet, out now where I could see it in the dark of dawn. Clever girl! I see your bowl now.
She was just saying "Here it is. Don't forget to feed me."
As with most older horses, it soon became apparant that she also came with a lifetime of nutritional deficiencies, so I found myself with exactly what I needed to learn more about environmental health, causes for laminitis, lameness, and coincidently, clues that could be applied to my own situation. I also studied barefoot hoof trimming, learning the correct angles for a healthy hoof that pumps blood, stays flexible and stretchy, alive, and has no need for rigid metal shoes. I answered long standing questions about Roxy's rotation, and Roan's soreness.
Over the next two years, we rode in small amounts, when not working on construction at home. Across the creek and a tenth of a mile up the road, in a herd of three was one bay filly that followed us along the fenceline when we rode by. She had a quiet intensity about her that was different from other horses that just run around excited when other horses go by.
In 2005, the owner of that 3 year old filly decided to move, something about a vehicle accident with her newly disabled daughter, and her horses were for sale. I bought that filly in September. I was now learning the Parelli method of teaching horses (and people), and I would now train a partner from the beginning, a partnership that would last for a couple decades, that was my dream.
Glamour retired herself, by falling on the road, a couple times while I was riding, and at least once standing in the paddock. Both times she landed on my leg, but did not break it. My reflexes were still affected by the "incident" back in 1993, which is to say poor, so I ended up under her barrel still in the saddle both times. It was times like this my neurological disability showed itself, for I can be labeled as slow. I turned my attention to Cowgirl for all subsequent rides. Glamour thereafter became the mentor for Cowgirl, to teach wise horsey things.
Neigh for food,
Neigh when in trouble,
Come when called.
Stand inside when raining.
Stay calm when scary things happen.
Last summer (2004) when the deer flies came out and started biting, I tried putting a summer sheet on Glamour. The white mesh kind for keeping biting flies off. Fly proof. Yeah, right! Somebody tell the flies that. I found deer flies would crawl up her legs and get trapped under the sheet. Then they would sink their teeth in, and leave a red blotch on the white sheet when they got squished. Who markets these as fly-proof? Oh yeah, right... Sucker.
Now on 2005-Jul-19 Glamour called me over to the little gate, stretched her neck back and lifted her hind leg, and made a little sound like a whimper. She looked at me, and did it again. Ah! I see a deer fly on her hind leg, just out of reach. I open the gate, grab the fly, (a gory ending that needs no description.) Clever girl! She knows how to ask for help.
Riding in 2006 was all at or near home. Our fourth ride was on Mar-04, and the entry in my log book for that day showed Cowgirl's path as a squiggley line, full of loops and zig zags. Can't walk straight. Very green. Did I say how green she was? Very, very green!
In April, since it was common to see Cowgirl dancing around, bucking, cantering, and burning energy at a youthful rate, I walked into their field and started videoing her. She would alternate between showing off and coming to me, sometimes at a gallop, slide and stop. I would point my finger, and suggest she could keep going, show me more. And she did, run around some more, then come back to me. Perfect example just like other Parelli people who play with their horses. One time she bucked like a rocking horse, front feet up, then hind feet kicking up, bouncing right down the hill past me, turned and stopped. She looked at me, "How'd I do?" This was a fun horse. Like Shadow, Cowgirl was handled a lot when a foal, and so was very friendly and people oriented. But unlike Shadow, Cowgirl had been taught by her mom Shazara how to be a good horse.
In May, I started training Glamour some approach and retreat, but I first tried it in their field. This did not work as expected, because Cowgirl followed me all around, got in the way, displayed jealousy, and even stuck her head into the halter I was carrying over my arm!! "What are you doing playing with her? You exist to play with Me!" Then when it was (supposed to be) Cowgirl's turn for the day, I practiced on getting Cowgirl to put her head in the halter, instead of tossing or eating it, as she had been doing all along up until now. So she only did what I wanted, when I didn't want her to do it. Typical childlike attitude. This is not a dumb horse.
This horse had a lot of thresholds on the trail. Therefore, confidence issues. She would kick, rear, buck, squeal when I slapped her. Lots of defiance. I was not yet alpha leader. She was a young, green horse. Did I emphasize how green she was? Wow! Now she took to biting my legs when riding. Just reach around and try to take a chunk out of my shins. This is who Cowgirl was, when we just got started. I started thinking I got a younger Shadow, but what was her problem? This question would vex me over the next several years.
Well I know she was known around the neighborhood as the horse that got out of her fenced field, and went exploring. She liked to Visit the neighbors. The instigator of escapes for her herd. One year before I bought her, she did get caught on the barbed wire, and terribly cut up, her hind right leg, and both front feet at the heels. Those scars were still healing, and her bulbs did have scars. Was this what was hurting? Back when I brushed her front legs the very first time, I noted she jerked her legs away. Were her front tendons overly sensitive? Yes, a clue.
But by 2007 I had pushed through those concerns, pushing as much as she would allow. We had ridden over 200 times, 62 hours in the saddle, but almost 200 hours of training. She was settling down and becoming less green. We were ready to go exploring, and go on longer rides!
On the morning of Apr-27 when I went out to feed breakfast, I took along a newer Canon camera with me, hoping to catch what I have been seeing now that it was once again Spring. This time I captured the moment. Glamour was standing at the fenceline, nickering about it being breakfast time. "Feed me." or perhaps "Food Please." Cowgirl was standing halfway down the field. As I walked along the fence, Glamour walked just ahead of me toward the shelter. I instead turned to the edge of the driveway to stand at the fenceline. Glamour turned around to see what the delay was about. Cowgirl saw an opportunity of her own, and took off, cantering toward us, chasing away Glamour to the left, who put her ears back and started cantering away from the oncoming Cowgirl, turned in the corner and trotted down the fenceline and around Cowgirl now near me. Cowgirl kicked up her heels as she slowed into a tight circle, chasing away Glamour, and kept cantering in a very small circle, proudly strutting her stuff in a Pirouette. She came around, looking my way, and stopped right in front of me and the camera, as if to say, "Look at me!" She was really jealous, and What a Showoff!
This was also the year we started encountering teenagers with fast cars, and drivers with definite drug connections. That first encounter was on Apr.25 in the afternoon, when I rode down to the mailbox to, of course, get the mail. Only four seconds warning, and Zoom. Cowgirl was angled in the middle of our lane, with her head facing toward the center of the road. A white Dodge Dakota sport pickup went by us within 3 ft. at 45 or 50 MPH. Didn't even try to slow down. In my ignorance, I called the cops to report it and file a complaint, and expected it was within their job description to do something. What did Cowgirl do? She stood there. She did the same thing she was wont to do during wind storms. It was like she asked slowly, only after the truck went by, "Was that a breeze?" I couldn't move her off the road very fast if I wanted to. Better than panicing, or jumping into the vehicle's path...
Also there was an older man named Ron who lived on my lane, who always speeded up whenever he saw me. For some reason it seemed he did not like me, and resented my having a horse. I even heard him exclaim loudly as he drove past my home, that I did not need two horses! He hated me so much, he even crossed the center line of the county road to drive close to me fast, fully on the wrong side of the road, and generally thought he should play chicken when driving on one-lane dirt roads.
[Play video: 21 seconds MPEG4 640x480 6.5Mb]
After the seventh time Ron did this, in 2008, I started making complaints to the local sheriff's office about him as well. But I'm told the officers have to see it happen to do anything. It's unfortunate I have to include these negative events in my positive horse stories, but these beginnings play prominently in later years incidents.
Meanwhile back in 2007, in August my east-side neighbor Kevin put up a hotwire across the access road to fence his upper field. One thin gauge metal wire, strung across the dirt road from two tall wood posts, only 7 feet off the ground, it was right at neck level when horseback! I stopped in time, and turned down the Lane instead. When I approached Kevin's place, a goat on a rope was on the road. No, not On the road, but jumping around on the road. Jumbo the goat did not move away as we approached. Then Jumbo stopped to touch noses with Cowgirl, I try to get Cowgirl to back away, as the goat starts to chase, but then turned to walk away, the goat rope gets on wrong side of Cowgirl's leg, Jumbo moved away pulling the rope, as goats do when they get held back by ropes, they pull harder. Cowgirl panicked and reared, I fell off. Cowgirl ran off, but the rope looped around her front leg became tight. She flipped head over heels.
Kevin comes out, not to see if we are hurt, but to yell at us. "Get off my lawn." He said he saw the whole thing, doesn't care if the wire is a death trap, or that the goat was blocking the road. "Get off my lawn." Must be a million dollar lawn. I can't believe this is the same man who 5 years before said we were the best neighbors he could have. Never-the-less, I ask his wife's permission to bury the hot wire in the two places it crosses the two roads, with our own pipe and insulated wire. That's my best solution and effort to mend fences and defuse any problems.
What in the world did I do to get on his bad side? ... Oh yeah, I have aspergers, and autistic people don't fit into society, now I know. Really? Is that enough of a reason? Well I wish you could work with horses more and follow your passion more too! It isn't my fault this happened to me, when the rules of safety were ignored and I was physically harmed. I did not plan to have my career ended abruptly! What else am I supposed to do to heal the incurable wounds that altered me forever. Sometimes I just have to lay out how I feel, because this has affected me.
A few days later, the rope burn opened into a gash, or large cut. But we lucked out, no serious damage.
Glamour was now 29 years old, and was having old age problems. A couple days later, I dug a hole, buried her, and planted a couple trees over her. She was my 23rd horse ridden, we logged 215 rides, for 124 hours, across a span of 1333 days.
A couple weeks later, I bought Roany, a 7 year old ranch trained gelding. Cowgirl ran in circles around him, "Yippie Yippie, play with me!" On day two, he came to me faster, and nickered upon entering the barn. Later when I was sitting quietly in the shelter, he volunteered to touch me. Progress! This is what was important to me.
After 21 training sessions, on our 3rd ride, I discovered he did not like to ride alone. He had confidence issues. It also became apparant that he had also done rodeo work, as he was pre-dispossed to stand like he was roping calves, bracing like when there was a rope around the saddle horn. But the chiropractor said he was good, only one small part of his back was out. On the other hand, Cowgirl seemed to suffer from the same bad back syndrome as I did.
On Oct.19, I was riding back from the mailbox on Roany, when a fireworks rocket flew through the air toward me, and exploded close by. Roany bucked, I yell something so the shooter would know I was there. 15 seconds later (or so I thought, more likely a minute later,) the west-side neighbor's teenage kid drove down the lane with his girlfriend. I yelled "Who's shooting?" but they denied it "Really?" "Don't know." ... But my dad working the upper field did see where the rocket came from. Kids... Don't they know lying only breeds mis-trust?
The next day, the postal carrier gives me a big box to take home. I told Cowgirl, "Here's your big chance." We've been working on Level two for over a year now, and this was our 269th ride. She was no longer green, and this day she passed the test. We rode home, both my hands holding the box, she walked home without any touching the reins.
In fact I had been teaching her this so I could clear branches with both hands, and maneuver around under, or next to a tree without needing reins. My right hand holding the tree saw, the left hand holding the tree branch, and only my legs telling her left, right, forward, backward, fore over, haunches in. She was becoming a real trooper.
In early December, I was in the barn when the west-side neighbor's kid shot off more fireworks. Roany bolted out of the shelter, narrowly missing trampling me. When he came back in, he was lame. By that evening the front right fetlock had swelled up like a balloon. I took pictures, and doctored the foot.
It wasn't until 2008-April that he was moving around normally. But he still limped when I rode him. I decided to send him to the auction. He was horse #25, totaling only 16 rides for 6 hours, across 261 days. Not an impressive scorecard. I showed the pictures to the kid's father. He refused to take responsibility for what happened. He even dared me to sue him. He could afford better lawyers. Yeah. You have a good day too...
After a couple months, I tried again.
In August, I drove around the region, checking out several ads for horses that were for sale. In Riverside, I found Abby, an 11 year old chestnut mare. Her hair color was really orange. She passed my quick tests and short ride. Strong back, good feet, lots of energy, but was a rescue horse from a couple years prior. I liked giving rescue horses a better home, and did not think it would be a problem.
The first lesson that evening, was to not walk away from me when I wanted to catch her. Soon she was walking toward me to seek relief, and actually after 90 minutes, we were both tired of walking. It was time well spent, because she didn't try to leave me again for three years.
Cowgirl and Abby got along very well. They would run around and play together, so much so that I was able to video them several times that autumn, and winter. One September morning after throwing out flakes of hay, I showed Cowgirl the camera, and she seemed to brighten up, and started running around. Abby of course followed, Cowgirl ran back and forth, kicking up her heels, until Abby clearly "Put her foot down." She said "That's enough, I'm eating breakfast!" Cowgirl kept running around, taunting her by running by closely, kicking out at the air between them. Abby stayed put at her hay pile ignoring the youngster. It must've been five minutes later, before Cowgirl ran out of steam, and went to her hay pile. The exact moment when Abby put her foot down, was a treasured moment I caught on video.
As 2009 rolled around, that winter brought a big snow event, dumping 8.75 inches in one day. Looking out my window that morning, I watched and videoed as Cowgirl and Abby ran around having a grand time.
With Glamour and Cowgirl, I was somewhat limited in distance and endurance. Abby changed that. She liked to GO. She was sound, and so GO we did. In 2010, the distances from home we were able to travel, opened up miles and miles of trails and forest roads. The maps I kept of where I have traveled, exploded with growth.
Video animation: 10 years in 39 seconds, MPEG4 1024x768 5.0Mb AVI
Disasters and Loss
Incomplete. Needs pictures and more positive events
This chapter is almost non-existant because writing it After the accident became too much for me to deal with.
Over the next few years, that GO resulted in more and more run-ins with the local ... what should I call them? Gang? Rif-raff, Rednecks? Druggies, certainly some of them, but all of them that acted reckless and dangerous without regard for safety or the lives of others. Abby became more and more fearful of the fast traffic and close calls, and seemed to lose confidence in my leadership. I was not providing a safe environment for her, and she started letting me know she was not happy.
Also another factor, was that she did not get along well with Rowan.
Who is Rowan and what happened to Cowgirl? Well, each spring Cowgirl became very lame. Spring laminitis. Caused by eating fresh grass with high sugar content. She was insulin resistant. Why was Cowgirl so sensitive to sugars? She was carrying a toxic burden, she had an environmental illness. Despite being the best horse I have ever trained and worked with, she had a fundamental problem that limited what we could do together, when the yard stick was in miles. I pulled her through several boughts of sicknesses, and did not give up trying. She became an expensive horse to my wallet, but she was worth it.
In 2011, on Mar.11, Fukishima happened. Less than two weeks later the plume reached the west coast. On Mar.24, mom got sick with symptoms of stomach flu, (or for those well informed, the same symptoms as radiation sickness.) The same day, Cowgirl got sick. Ten cities around the region recording water quality, measured levels of radiation up to 41 times the safe limit. The EPA's response was to raise the safe limit so it would not cause panic. (I'll get off my soap box and back to my story.) On Mar.27 mom died from a heart attack. Cowgirl stopped eating for a day or two, then improved in April. But she was lame, and got tired from any activity. Her stumbling increased, and recovery was slow. By mid May her condition started going downhill again. Her health was compromised, as was mom's. Those who are compromised fall victim first to health issues. The timing at the end of March was just too much to be a coincidence. Especially when the increased death rates for this time period are revealed.
Cowgirl started showing a bunch of serious symptoms I have documented on another page, but will gloss over here.
On May.30 I finally accepted the inevitable, and laid her to rest.
By the numbers, we logged and traveled 841 rides totaling 862 hours across a span of 1889 days. Total training time was 1105 hours. Never before had I taken a single horse this far. Together Cowgirl and I had traveled 64.1 of the 75 unique flat miles, trails and roads that we have explored (at that point in time), measured, traveled, and logged here. She had the best personality I have ever met, very smart, interested, talkative, and interactive for a horse. She exceeded Glamour's impression on me, although being only a third her age. She represented the very best possible, being extensively handled as a foal, and trained naturally to Parelli Level 3. She was a true partner and best friend. She will be impossible to replace. I cry every time I re-read this paragraph. She made a lasting impression on me. She set the bar higher for any horses to follow.
On Jun.04, I wasted no time to replace her. I bought Rowan, a 15 year old red roan Appaloosa. She was a 4H parade veteran, very quiet and trustworthy. Kid-safe. Another left-brain introvert like Cowgirl.
But, she and Abby did not get along. They got in a few kicking matches before determining pecking order. Abby continued to put holes in the walls of their shelter when Rowan didn't move fast enough out of her space.
As I pieced together Rowan's symptoms, I realized she had an arthritic hip. I treated her for it, and as she improved, Rowan joined the team as being capable of lots of GO. More-so mentally than physically, in actuality. She was really interested in exploring and traveling. Lots of curiosity. We started stacking up the hours and miles.
Late in 2011, on Oct.31, I was riding Abby up a road in the development that I seldom went on. Although the maps showed it as being the shortest route to the National Forest, it crossed property of an unfriendly man who blocked the gates. It should've been the right way to avoid the traffic on the county road... but... He drove up behind us, I pulled over to let him by, waved with a smile, and continued on my way. One minute later I heard what sounded like a jet in the sky. Looking up I failed to turn on my helmet camera, so was surprised to see him coming down the one lane wide blind corner at 35 MPH. He slammed on the brakes as if he forgot I was there, slid 100 feet up to, and stopping under Abby's nose. Abby FREAKED OUT. I had my hands full maintaining control. The man jumped out and started yelling at us. I remained calm and tried to reason with him for five minutes, to no avail.
After I rode home, two sheriff's deputies came to my place to tell me not to go up that road. If I did so again, they would arrest me!
I contacted an attorney, who confirmed I had the right to be there, and he did not have the right to assault me. But the damage was done. Abby acted traumatized. She was fearful and hyper-alert for months.
As spring came to 2012, we took to the roads and trails again. But Abby relapsed when the fast traffic threatened us. So in June, I found her a good home locally and sold her. With a right-brain extrovert personality, she just was not suited for riding in this neighborhood. We logged 355 rides totaling 391 hours spanning 1394 days. Because we pushed out for distance records, Abby and I had mapped and explored many more miles of roads, in the end totaling 76.7 unique flat miles for her alone, pushing the total I have logged at that time to 97 unique flat miles. Yeah I'm still a bean counter and a nerd, I like to measure our accomplishments with numbers.
Starting on Nov.06, Rowan and I started having serious dog problems. As I have already written about it on another page here, I am leaving this link in until I can find a way to retell the story with a more positive spin. If that's possible...
The end result, was a serious dog attack in March when I rode past Ron's place, and then the tragic loss of Rowan, 2013.Aug.28. Yes, THAT Ron who hates me. Seems his attitude rubbed off on his attack dog.
Also in early 2013, dad had a stroke, then a second stroke a couple months after the second dog attack.
2013 was a dark year.
Hope re-kindled, hope lost
I couldn't be more downhearted, discouraged, and depressed. Losing Rowan affected me in a way that nothing else ever has. The injustice of being attacked and taken to court, out of spite that I videoed the the dog attack, weighed heavily on me.
I explored moving out of Lambert Creek. I tried out or considered 3 horses from around the area. Nothing was working out. The Backcountry Horsemen could not help me. Their charter only promotes trails, and what happened to me was on roadways. The sheriff's responsibilities covers upholding the laws on roadways, but they too seemed unwilling or unable to help. I resigned to camping out and hiking for many months.
Finally late in 2014, on Oct.03, I found reasons to be upbeat. I couldn't give up, I had to try again.
On the same day I decided to get another horse, I looked online for horses for sale in my area. Number two on the list looked promising. I called the number, and upon callback, I found a 13 year old red mustang-percheron gelding, only 3 miles down the road from me, just outside the Lambert Creek valley. I checked him out the next morning, and found no reason to say no.
"Big Red" is Parelli trained, and described as "a good trail horse, will do anything once bonded." Hope was re-kindled.
His name is a reference to how he looks similar to a famous horse of the same nick-name from 1973. He has 3 white socks, and while the 4th looks white, in actuality it is almost white.
The area of Utah he was captured from, does have a Percheron herd in the area, so his conformation, build, and feathers, does show he has a mixed bloodline. Still 100% mustang.
At the first introduction to my barn, oh dear... "What's that tall cave?" Scary. "I feel safer outside." Well, I can't really expect to find a perfect horse that easy, there is always Something.... So this was the first issue to work on.
In two weeks, Red was willing to walk into the shelter for food. In one month, he was comfortable staying in the shelter for up to 10 seconds. After two months, we're approaching a whole minute. He was born on the open range of Utah. But you would think that after a decade of handling, he would learn the benefits of a shelter, but ?? guess not. So he has a flaw after all, but with all his good points, this should be minor.
After a half-year, he is now very willing to walk into the barn, so this issue becomes a historical curiosity.
But under saddle, he is healthy, forward, obedient, and eager to explore.
Good! I have a hundred (unique flat) miles to show you. We're going to have Fun.
As I started riding Red around my area, showing him the trails I have spent a decade enjoying, my broken heart started healing. The dark pain and depression that started in 2013 was finally lifted. After going over a year without riding, I rediscovered how much riding meant to me, how important it is to my life, to have a friend again.
Also after one month, he started talking to me, and demonstrating he was bonding. His trust in me is growing, and after two months, we ride together better and better each week, looking more and more like a team.
Except when there are other horses around. Then he becomes defiant and emotional. I also introduced him to ... cows. When I was riding east, a neighbor stopped on the dreaded road to ask me for help in finding his steer that got out. Of course I would try. When I found him, I discovered they (the cows he was with) were to Red about as scary as goats and llamas. So there are holes in his obedience after all.
"Oh! another training opportunity!"
We worked on it, and there is progress, but this will take time to get where I want him to be. I read him as lacking respect to follow my directions, so he needs more ground work training to build up our relationship.
There is also another story here when 4 loose horses on the range came running down to meet Red, scattering all the cows I had carefully rounded up that same morning... Oh! <facepalm> I told them "You guys..." I look around more carefully taking a tally, correcting my assessment, "GIRLS... are Not helping!" The youngest filly stops running with the herd doing circles around us, and comes over to make pretty faces at us. Then after things settled down and I turned off the camera, the roan mare comes over to kick Red in the chest... "Hey!"
Red's previous owner wanted to show him, but decided he was not going to be appropriate for her. I see now a bit of why; He does not like barns, and gets excited around other horses. (Not in the studly way.) Perhaps a bit herd bound, and needing a strong leader to be part of my human herd.
Also I can't find fault with her evaluation that he is of average temperament. 5 on the scale. Under saddle on the trail, I would find him to be a 2 or 3, very steady and stable. Until around other horses and cows, then he shows he can be a handful, a 7 or 8. At this point in time, these negatives do not seem to be an issue. I can handle this.
New videos riding Big Red:
Play 0:51 right after the 4 horses scattered all the cows by running down the hill behind them
Play 0:45 riding South Trail past beaver dam #7 and across Lambert Creek
Play 0:25 riding at trot and canter on Lane. A smooth canter! Finally a faster gait my back does not object to.
Play 0:22 riding down Lambert Mountain Rd Nov.27, after an early-winter snowfall, excellent view of the Kettle Crest mountains including Copper Butte on the left. Sorry about the loud wind, but it was over 40 degrees and responsible for melting the snow.
I can hardly believe we rode That FAR, in the snow this late in the year, many miles from home. Red is capable, and next spring and summer promises to be exciting. It looks like I found a perfect horse.
On the road, Red seems fine with traffic. So my only concern is the need for a workable and effective plan to deal with these ... hazards ...
Play 0:28 local trouble still driving over 50 MPH.
Play 0:09 druggie trouble still driving over 40 MPH and yelling at me as she goes by, yuck hold your breath too... cough cough
I need a plan... Avoidance is great to a point, but eventually there will be conflicts. To get anywhere around here requires riding on the road to get to the National Forest. The only alternative is to only take my horse out in a horse trailer. Why don't I do that? Seriously? Let's imagine me driving out with a horse trailer every day, I would be viewed as some spoiled rich kid, and would be burning fossil fuels I shouldn't need to. Don't need to. I want to get away from harmful technologies. Horseback there are no magnetic fields, no computers, no microwaves (except coming from the neighbors Wi-Fi and distant towers). My destination is not where the tourists ride, along ridge tops where cellular signal is very strong. Where else am I going to park, without the local thieves getting bold. The road is a washboard 90% of the year. It would be expensive.
Of course there is one other direction to go without stepping hoof on the county road, but it is also the same shared with Ron. Wonder how is Ron driving this year?
Play 0:27 Hurry get out of the way, he's not stopping.
His mindset is to play chicken.
Reminds me of those videos on YouTube of vehicles harassing and hitting bicycles, which has led to new laws like CVC-21202, and new signs to remind drivers that bicycles MAY use the FULL lane, replacing the SHARE THE ROAD signs.
I've got my SHARE THE ROAD signs posted. Don't forget the Curlew Rim Ranches Development has easement for RIDING TRAILS. I should not have to worry about Ron or the other drivers.
2015 brought an early spring. Red and I headed out in February, two weeks early. The promise of a fun year, hit the first bump with a new dog attack. (Video evidence links for this day are on a separate page, analyzing what happened, see below) Nipped Red's heels. He did not like that but remained stable and in control. I reported it to head off any future attacks, since this reminded me of another dog from 2011 and 2013, and we know how badly that turned out for Rowan. (Got that on video also)
Then on Mar.07 everything went wrong, and the events of that day became a turning point. This was ride number 48, and we had already rode together 51.1 hours without any incidents or crashes. Red always kept me secure in the saddle, until this day, the Worst Day Ever!
A car came around the corner between 55 and 61 MPH. Nearly Sideways as can be seen in this photo from the helmet cam. Red got scared, and I got concerned. Vehicles going fast out of control usually crash. I squeezed and kicked Red to get him out of the way. He was reluctant to jump onto the shoulder, due to the deep snow and ice. On the outside I remained calm or at least under control, as I yelled out the license number. But for all my preparations and courage to keep training horses and facing the traffic over nine years, I found out there is a limit to how brave I can be... my shaking legs betrayed me.
Red was also wound up with adrenelene. A few minutes later Red spooked at a small rock rolling down a thawing hillside, bolted in a 180 back the way we had come, and I found myself out in open air with nothing under me, swinging around by centrifugal force on the end of the reins with only one foot in one stirrup. I had time to think I was now Wile-E-Coyote in real life. Then the gravel roadway finally came to me. I hit the ground for the first time with Red, hard. I rolled three revolutions down the steep hill, rolling out of the sudden 25 MPH vector as Red zoomed away without me in a full gallop. I looked up, yelled Whoa! and he stopped, a hundred yards away, turned and looked at me. I got up, and was surprised I survived, because that was quite a tumble. I walked down to Red, and took him back up to the rockslide. We spent half an hour calming down, throwing rocks up the slope to show him he should not be afraid of them. Waiting for him to relax. Waiting for my scrapes and road rash leg wound to scab over. Meanwhile, zero traffic.
Then we started walking homeward. Finally a pickup (from the same family) came toward us downhill, unfortunately it was backfiring, and fortunately I was already walking. Red tried to get away from the monster, and circled around to hide behind me.
One hundred yards later, once past the cattle guard, I tried the saddle and found it tolerable.
Only two corners later, one quarter mile after getting back in the saddle, on the way home, a loud Dodge pickup zoomed past us at 40 MPH. Too close. Too fast. Didn't even try to slow down! Red spooked and pulled a maneuver I could not stay with, and was de-horsed for the second time in one hour, landing on the uneven rocky shoulder. I winced as my shoulder and back hurt, but as I got up I decided no bones were broken. This driver actually stopped! and backed up to talk to me. I asked him about the speed limit, and tried to explain why he should slow down, and he went on his way.
This time Red was nowhere to be seen. I started walking homeward.
A good neighbor stopped and gave me a ride until we found Red, who had stopped at a place with other horses.
At the hospital I was diagnosed with a sprained shoulder. The mid-back pain was shrugged off to be a bruised kidney. Later tests by a better doctor showed I had a spinal injury, but not too serious. Just because no bones were broken does not mean all was well and fine.
Two weeks later I healed enough to venture back out in the saddle. I was quickly horrified. Red was now very scared of cars. Even going slow. The same blue car that started this trajedy did go past us twice, very very slow. This is where in my video I said "You know who it is. It's just a car." trying to give Red some positive voice support. I am happy to see one driver learned a good lesson sufficiently to change his behavior. For the other vehicles, Red jumped into the ditch at least 3 times. I resorted to dismounting most of the time a car came toward us.
From the video that day, I put together a video compilation (Click to play 3:27) to compare how Red was, Before March.07, and After the accident(s). This video includes the above mentioned vehicle incidents.
Individual videos and more story details are on the Lambert evidence page 3.
The next month included a lot of de-spooking training. Red was okay or tolerant of all the usual tarps, bags and bangs, but cars... that was proving it would be not so easy to undo.
One possible reason commonly given for Red's new level of fear, is that he might want to go home, and that I'm pushing him too hard to ride out in new territory. But this is not the case. Whenever I turn him to head back the way we came, he becomes less willing to go where I direct him. He does not travel faster toward home, but instead slower. He basically says "I want to keep going." I turn him around again, and he steps out, eager to explore. Let's go! This is exactly what I bought him for. Primarily a Left Brain Introvert. Mostly hard to move his feet. Even after when he spooks, he is not saying he is really scared and wants to go home. No, whatever he spooked at is "Oh, it was nothing," and he is eager to keep going. The posture of his head, eyes and ears say he is actually feeling Right Brain at these times, and I'm going to venture to say still of the Introvert type. Maybe a "Shrinking Violet," as Parelli named it. The most dangerous kind of horse. Oh great!
Play 0:36 March 21. Dogs! round 3. The dog that was served dangerous dog papers, is Loose, and Attacks 2nd time.
Ran straight toward us, without provocation, and came within mere inches of actually biting horse.
RCW 16.08.070(2) That meets the definition of a Dangerous dog. but nope, didn't draw blood, so no action taken.
See and note that Red did not panic. This proves he has never been bitten by a dog.
Play 0:19 We went on our longest ride Apr.18.
13.8 flat miles, 22.3 calorie miles. A five hour ride. Finally saw Red get tired. He did very good. (Tired me out too. I actually sprained my ankle from the rising trot because my muscles there weakened.)
Took some video looking south toward Belcher Mine from Division 2.
Play 0:21 24 minutes later, riding down NF-2156 road above the trailhead, looking east along Midnight Ridge toward Copper Butte and the Kettle Crest.
Play 0:26 We went on another long ride May.03, this time up and over to St. Peters Creek. 12 flat miles, 19.8 calorie miles. Came home with some more neat video of the view of the Kettle Crest, and another accident for me when Red spooked again, miles from home in the woods... what did he sense? bear? I don't think so, as we months later walked near a bear making noise in the canyon, and he did not rise above a reasonable level of alertness. If it was a bear, it didn't stick around and I never saw it. So now he jumps at shadows?? Red didn't go far, and I hopped back on to keep going. I added neck whiplash and a sprained ankle to my ongoing injuries when I was body slammed to the ground flat on my back.
Also in March and April, when I was brushing Red in the breezeway (of the barn), when the west-side neighbor's car appeared suddenly behind Red without warning, he spooked, bolting forward into me, sending me flying (both times) into the barn gate right next to him ramming the center of the gate. The gate bent and broke open, and I went sprawling on the ground. Red retreated to the opposite end of the barn, crouched down, cowering, clearly scared himself.
It is incredibly frustrating to find such a good horse with so many well trained qualities, and then have the situation become so utterly reversed, and be unable to fix this problem. Now that the prosecutor is refusing to take action even with my videos, that only hits me harder. I feel like I have been punched in the gut by both the reckless neighbors and the prosecutor too. (now deceased, she committed suicide Jul.23 for unknown reasons.)
Even a sheriff's officer told me clearly "Lambert Creek is a lawless area," and now it has been emphasized to me that it really is Every man for himself. You are on your own. There is no hope here. My willingness to keep working on re-training Red, is not there anymore, after the events I've described, and with my trust in him broken. My determination to keep going has been tested and re-tested so many times over the last decade. I have never been a quitter or lazy. But what can I do in this situation?
I am being forced to conceed Red is not appropriate for this neighborhood. Not suitable for roads, now. He was okay, but certainly not now. The events of March.07 have set off some kind of bomb in Red's behavior and attitude.
When I bought Red, he came with a couple of fresh and serious scrapes, that were described as from a trailer accident. Perhaps the sound of the car fishtailing and it's excessive speed, brought back that bad memory, and adrenelene rush with the fear. Now that fear was cemented into a new dangerous pattern that would be very very hard to undo.
Play 3:21 When it became clear I intended to sell Red, I started taking some video of him. This video starts after he was running around in the early morning (sorry for the up-sun angle) after being let out in spring pasture to eat. Red gallops up to me, then plays with me, having to choose between eating and training to follow me. Then coming when called, leading. This is how I would rather remember Red, not for the bolting and crashing.
My own injuries are not healing. My bad back is only made worse with the new accidents. It is again not healing. Just like the hyper-extended elbow injury back in 2011 when Abby was scared by speeding quads, has never healed properly. These have held me back over the years, but not like it is now. I don't want to give up again like when I lost Rowan, but with this steep a slope to get out of, perhaps I am better off finding Red a better home, one more appropriate for him.
Now that hope I felt last autumn, is snuffed out.
Red's final totals are, 67 rides totaling 82.7 hours in the saddle, spanning 250 days, traveling 48.5 unique flat miles, and pushing the total mapped unique flat miles up to 112.8.
Unless a miracle occurs, I will not ride again. The muscle disease I've been fighting since 1999 is worsening. The scoliosis that I perhaps got 2 decades ago from exposure to high intensity magnetic fields prevents my back from healing. The curvature in my spine is too much.
After four months of trying to sell Red, my barn is once again empty, like my heart. So it appears this story, my horse stories, have come to
Most people turn to alcohol or drugs... or commit suicide in the face of such opposition and pain.|
I want to make it clear, I have never gone there.
The only thing that has kept me going through the years, has been my faith. It provides the only hope left... That's where I stand despite the depression...