Monday, December 7, 2009

Intro to Tarp



I have heard Clinton Anderson say that horses are afraid of objects, especially if they move and make noise. It's funny because it's true. If it doesn't live in the horse's stall or pasture it comes under suspicion, and horses don't usually wait around to find out if it will kill them. They need to trust their rider's judgement, so lots of desensitizing exercises help the horse to build it's trust and confidence in the rider. I don't think we can ever prepare our horses for every situation they may encounter, but each time we have a successful training session, and the horse isn't hurt, it helps them to trust
a little more and look to the handler for guidance. Here's Calico's first encounter with the tarp. She's not too worried; she was more indignant than afraid.
. video
In the second video, you can see the trainer has added the saddle. She uses the basic round penning cues; move forward, inside turn, change direction, come in to me, but has added the stress of something noisy dragging and flapping behind her. She did great.

video

Update on Training



From what I can tell, most people around here send their horse to a trainer for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or whatever, and get a trained horse back. I want to train my own horse. I don't want to just ride. I like the process. I just needed help ironing out problems, and I need feedback on my technique. I found the perfect trainer for us. Robin Bailey is a John Lyons certified trainer. She is teaching me to train my horse in a very methodical way. I love it. It makes sense to me and to my horse. She starts with a basic cues in the round pen, then adds a new challenge or twist. After her initial evaluation, she offered to pick us up in her trailer and use her round-pen a few blocks away. It's great to practice trailer loading each time. We've been working together regularly since the beginning of October. The most important lesson she gave me right off was about establishing respect. Calico is very dominant and pushy. Well, I knew that. What I didn't know was that her pushiness was sometimes very subtle. I thought as long as she wasn't running over the top of me, we were doing okay. She was 85% better than when I first got her. I was letting little stuff slide or just wasn't unaware of it. For Cali, it meant she was the leader of our tiny herd and she was making the decisions. There's no sometimes for a horse; either they are the leader or they're not. Big 'ah ha' moment for me.
We are both quick learners. Now that I understand this and can correct it immediately, she is much more respectful of my personal space. She is loading in the trailer easily, accepting new challenges and I look forward to each lesson. She's accepting a bit and responding to the pressure from the rein. Yesterday, we did a lot of work with a tarp. She took it all in stride.

Professional help


Okay, I know it's been ages since my last post. I felt Calico and I were making great progress. On September 1st I was riding her in the arena; and we were going through all our usual exercises. Another rider was in there with us but we were staying apart. As soon as we tried to ride together Calico spooked then bucked hard and I came off. I got right back on and we rode some more, but my hip and sacrum really hurt, and my confidence was shaken.

Although I think we've made great progress this year, I know there are gaps in my training. Training has to come before conditioning. I quickly made a decision to get some help from a professional trainer.

One of my problems was finding the right trainer. I've studied Parelli, Clinton Anderson, Chris Erwin, John Lyons, Michael Schaffer, Linda Tellington-Jones, Sally Swift, Kitty Lauman, and Dr. Deb. While their end goals are the same; a balanced, supple, responsive horse that enjoys his work, their approach or techniques are very different. The tools are different, the jargon is different. They all have their method that they are marketing and the novice has to cut through all the hype to get to the heart of training. Reading about a technique and implementing it are worlds apart. I watched countless videos, read dozens of blogs & articles, discussed this for hours with my friends and spent hundreds of dollars in the process. I know where I want to be, but when I walk into the round pen with my horse, all this information is rolling around in my head, and applying it in the moment takes trial and error. It also takes time and patience. I only had an arena to work in most of this year, no access to a round pen until September. So I felt very good that I had been able to ride my horse through the neighborhood and out in the desert with minimal problems. After falling for the third time, though, I was ready to make real progress, and have a very solid foundation before I conditioning for distance rides. In the meantime, I've become very interested in Cowboy Mounted Shooting, but that will have to wait for another post. What matters most, right now, is to have a safe and willing horse, so here we go.















































































Friday, August 21, 2009

A New Rider for Cali


Well, I've been reluctant to post anything, because although my camera came back from Europe safe and sound, along with the newlyweds, the charger for the battery remained in Ireland. Amy's family is sending it back, but I haven't been able to take any new photos. A blog is boring without photos! I don't want folks to think we aren't continuing to have new lessons and challenges, so I decided to write.
Today I rode Calico in the arena for awhile; we are working on maintaining a nice steady trot. Dave, my almost 16 year old son and Philip the 2 year old came along. Philip led little Artie around the arena. The owners were so impress with the way the two had bonded, they said they would order a mini saddle right away. That means I need to get Philip a proper helmet. Anyway, after I rode I had Dave get up on Calico. This is only the second time anyone besides me has ridden her, except with me leading from the ground. Oh my sister, Jenny, was on her once, but today, Dave rode her all around doing circles and serpentines. They did great together. Now Dave hasn't really been on a horse since he was about 11 years old. He went over to a friend's house and rode their large pony. The bridle broke and the horse trotted under a
makeshift fence and Dave was knocked off. His foot got stuck in the stirrup and he was dragged over rocks until the pony finally stepped on him and he came off. Thank God he was wearing a helmet. Poor Dave was skinned up pretty bad. He wasn't too keen on horses after that and still talks about the incident with bitterness to this day. Today he was able to have a very good experience with Cali, and it was good for her to have to be expose to a different rider. I want to be able to have a horse that anyone in the family can ride, and Calico is doing great. Good job Dave.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cali's Hooves



Here's Cali's hooves three weeks post trim. She just needs a little filing today. She's scheduled for another trim in two weeks. These are just the fronts. While I was posting this, her new breast-collar arrived. I can't wait to go try it out on her. It's really lovely.

The Tevis Cup

For those of you who don't know, this weekend, August 1st, was the 54th Tevis Cup Ride. 100 miles in One Day, from Truckee to Auburn California. Most people I know have never heard of it, but for a growing group of riders this is the greatest test of horse and horsemanship to ever exisit. In preparation for this year's event I read Marnye Langer's book, "The Tevis Cup-To Finish is To Win". I cried all the way through the book, as I reflected on those familiar checkpoints and all the emotions that riders and crew experience as they face this ultimate challenge. I was unable to attend this year because my niece was getting married that day. I had those horses and riders, vets and volunteers in my thoughts all day. As we went home from an evening of dancing and celebrating, I couldn't help but look up at the moon and try to imagine the riders who had been on the trail since 5 am. Now, just after midnight, they were on the last 25 mile leg of their journey under the same moonlight. I tuned in to the webcast and checked out the riders progress and photos throughout the weekend. I saw the familiar face of my old friend Erasmo Sauceda. It was his wife, Carol, that got me riding again as an adult and introduced me to the world of endurance and the Tevis in particular. I'm hooked. I have a great deal of admiration for anyone who would take the time to condition and prepare for that ride. It's not something to take lightly. I have heard of people entering the ride on a whim; they are usually pulled in the first 25 miles. My only personal experience with the Tevis, so far, is camping overnight to watch the start, and crewing one year for my friend Carol. She was pulled that year just before Foresthill, around 68 miles into the ride. I lived in that area for thirteen years, and rode my horses in similar terrain, but only for twenty-five miles at the most. I hope to volunteer for future rides and even ride parts of the trail with Calico someday. Once the Tevis is in your blood, it's hard to shake it.

Philip and Artie







The barn owners bought a miniature black stallion named Arthur or Artie. The moment Philip saw him, he said,"dat's my hoss". They are already becoming good friends. Artie is just one year old, but his hooves are horribly over-grown and he has the most ridiculous underbite, but he's as cute as a button. In case I didn't mention it before, the name Philip is Greek for,"one who loves horses".

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NO Dumping

Okay, I know I keep coming back to this, but apparently, construction workers and homeowners are not the only ones who can't read this sign, "NO DUMPING". Calico can't read it either. That's right, it happened. I got dumped in Cactus Town. You can view this place in an earlier post. We were having a lovely ride, trying out Cali's new boots, Easy Care gloves. I actually got a used pair and they seem to be fine. Anyway, we had gone about three miles, I dismounted, gave her some carrots, adjusted my tack and led her back over a busy street to a large desert lot, mounted and headed toward home. As we moved down into a wash, I noticed a pile of Spanish roof tiles on one side and a garden hose on the other. I wondered if stepping over the hose would concern her, but we moved up out of the wash with no problem, and then, a moment later, she was rushing sideways. I said, "whoa, whoa, whoa" and tried a one-rein stop, and looked back over my shoulder just long enough to see the problem. She had a long piece of wire caught on her foot, and it was dragging along behind us, about a ten-foot length. The end was a big tangle of wire with a platic bag caught in it! I may as well have tied a long string of tin cans to her tail. Good Grief! Now, in the time it took for me to assess the problem and attempt a one-rein stop, Calico was already taking evasive actions of her own. One big buck was all it took to get rid of the wire monster. Wait, slow-motion replay...rush to the side one, two, three steps, glance back and buck. 4.5 seconds. I cussed the ground as it rushed inches past my face. It's hard to know exactly how I landed, but I'm pretty sure I sommersaulted out of the saddle. I remember my feet coming over my head. My guardian angel protected me from serious harm. Even though I landed hard on the rocks (not catcus or broken glass, thanks be to God) I only sustained a bruise on my lower leg. I jumped up to see if Calico had taken off for home, but she was right there waiting for me. I ran over and attacked the wire (I rolled it up and tossed it into a shrub) and cussed those motherf***ers who dump garbage in my desert. When I picked up the wire, I startled my horse and she went trotting off. I thought, Oh great, my cell phone is in the saddle bag. She turned around about 75 yards out and came back when I called her. I checked her all over and she was unscathed. When I got back on her she nipped my leg. She was clearly bothered. Later I couldn't figure out how I had a bruise on the back AND the front of my leg, then I remembered, Oh yeah, she bit me. We rode all the way home, but she was looking at every shrub now with suspicion. We did encounter another rider, and Calico was very well-mannered as we visited for a few minutes. She didn't have any trouble leaving the other horse, since he's not part of our herd and she knew her breakfast was waiting for her at home. She did get very excited as we got a few blocks from the ranch, so I dismounted and led her home. She settled down, and we finished our outing at a leisurely pace. I really wish I could get to some nice trails without having to cross this junk. Well, this was my big fear as we started out to the desert, now I've faced it and survived. I just hope I haven't undermined Cali's confidence in me too much. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What happened to July?


Man, this month is half over and I haven't posted a thing. It's not because I haven't been doing anything; it's because I've been trying to do everything. My oldest son got married on the Fourth; that kept us quite busy for a while. I've had a young German midwifery student living with me for three weeks, sort of a job shadow thing, only she shadowed every aspect of my life. She was a delight. If you've never taken a complete stranger into your home, I would recommend you try it. It was a very enriching experience. I've spent an inordinate amount of time on Craigslist looking at horse trailers and trucks. I promised my husband I would wait and not do anything crazy. It's weird how reading classified ads is addictive. My husband and I have had two lovely dates at the Mt.Charleston Hotel which included a good three mile hike in the morning. Once we hiked to Mary Jane Falls and the next time to the top of Cathedral Rock. In all of this, I have seen my horse everyday, except when we were out of town for the wedding.

Calico is doing great. She had her annual vaccines last week, and I was surprised to see she recognized the vet immediately. She hadn't seen him in three years, since she lived out-of-state for a while. She also had her hooves trimmed and and will be fitted for hoof-boots tomorrow. This week I'm finally getting her Brand Inspection papers updated. I want everything to be ready for when I enter our first ride. We've been doing a lot of arena work and walks around the neighbor hood, but I haven't taken her on the really rocky stuff again since she was tentative about going out last time I tried. I want to wait until she gets her boots. We trotted on some trails yesterday. She seemed very willing and we had a great time. I had planned to enter a novice 30 mile ride in Fallon in October. Now I have two women due around that time, so I'll have to see if there is another ride that we could do before the end of the year that is not too far. IF I feel our conditioning is on track, and IF I can find or borrow a horse trailer, and IF no one needs me to attend a birth, we might make it to a ride. The main thing cutting into my conditioning schedule is heat. It's hot here by 7:30 am. I mean hot. Last night we had a big thunderstorm, and it cooled things off a little, but I don't know how long that will last. I sent my camera to Rome with my son and his bride. They'll be back at the end of the month and I'll be able to post photos again. Ride on, folks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Desert Or Dump, you decide.


I've mentioned in an earlier post about the way some people seem to think our desert landscape is nothing more than a dump. I guess they never heard that Nevada is not a wasteland.

Mother/daughter time



Theresa came out with me today. She just graduated from high school and now she has some time to hang out with dear old mom. I don't think she's been on a horse in ten years. When my children were little, I always had green broke horses, arabs. I rarely let them ride, because I didn't trust the horses enough, and my horses have always been the one thing I did for me, as a retreat from mothering. My mother-in-law put it nicely when she'd say, 'You need this time to re-create yourself'. It was so nice to share this time with Theresa, today. I gave her a pony-ride in the desert, and I think she really enjoyed herself. She took this photo of me and a short video of us trotting up the power-line trail. The video didn't turn out too good. Cali is still acting 'ouchy' on the rocks even though her hooves feel like concrete. Once we are on the asphalt she walks out just fine. I'll just keep taking it slowly until she travels on the rocks without being tentative. We found a big blue tarp in the desert, and she walked across it after checking it over for a moment. Theresa led the way on foot as I rode Calico. She was so cute, the way she followed Theresa through the landscape, with her chin nearly resting on Theresa's shoulder. I'm so glad she came, we needed this time together.

video

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back Home


After a rejuvenating time with my horse, I have to come back to my other life. This is a couple of blocks from my house. I'm a down-towner.

Tack adaptations

Calicorice
Check out the new saddle bags! I know, it's the same one every endurance rider has, but I'm stoked. I'm not sure two water bottles is enough, though.

One of the things I've noticed as I'm riding, is that I feel separated from my horse. I've always ridden in an english saddle, but I bought the saddle I have now for the price. It's basically a western saddle without the horn. It's heavier than I'd like, but it's comfortable and it fits Cali, and the price was right. I've mentioned in an earlier post, that I changed to endurance stirrups. Yesterday, I removed the fenders from the saddle and replaced them with english leathers. This is much better. I can feel Cali with my legs now. I was having to rely on my reins to steer her before, now I can use my leg cues more effectively. The only problem is the leathers are one inch wide and the top of the stirrup is closer to three inches. I'll have to make a little modification there, but I'm still thinking about it. It's working for now. I'll have to get a respectable saddlepad at some point, but that's not the next item in my spending plan. She looks a little muleish in this picture; I think it's that long lovely face and those exotic eyes. I hope to have a mule someday. I'd call it Juniper. Her braids make me think of black licorice. Yum.

Steady Progress

Power-line Road

It's been one month since I first started keeping a conditioning log. Although our progress is slow, I'm happy to say that Calico and I have covered over 50 miles. I've been riding some nearly every day. On days I can't ride, I still spend time grooming her and handling her feet and doing TTeam touches and stretches. Some days we just do arena work, but I've really tried to get her out on the trail as much as possible.

On June 15th, we met our intermediate goal of a 6 mile ride with some trotting. I found a power-line trail, a gravel road and we just took off. This trail goes all the way out to Kyle Canyon Rd, once you cross the 215 beltway. It was so fun and Cali did great. Then we trotted cross-country on the 'cactus town' terrain, then we went over a few large dirt mounds left by construction sites. (hillwork, right?) We went into a little wash or 'arroyo', in Spanish, and she had to jump up about two feet to get out. We even crossed the Grand Canyon! Grand Canyon Parkway that is, a fairly busy street, and I rode her all the way back home to the gate. I was thrilled and honored to be carried by such a splendid creature.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cactus Town



Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas.
Ouch!
Watch out for these.
Do you see the little cactus in the foreground pretending to be a rock?
Here it is.
Barrel Cactus about two feet tall.
Calico investigates the yucca.
Pencil cactus. Looks like Medusa's hair
Rocks
Don't dump me here, please.

We had a couple of days off because my fourth child graduated from High School and we had a big party for her. The next day Stephan pushed Philip in the stroller and followed me through the desert. We went a couple of miles that day. Since she hadn't been out for two days, she was more pushy than usual and even spooked at a couple of things. The next day I rode Calico in the arena, working on trotting more. We're doing better. Yesterday, she got her feet trimmed then we walked for 2 hours, about 5 miles. I rode her about a third of the time. I'm posting photos of the type of terrain we're covering so you can get an idea of why I'm taking things slowly. We have to pick our way very carefully through a rocky cactus minefield. There's one little cactus trying to disguise itself as a rock. As we move closer to the houses, the rocks and cactus are interspersed with broken bottles. Yikes. We have to cross this stuff before we can get to the nice trails. She was very quiet and didn't spook at all. She was too busy concentrating on where to place her feet. We scared up a jack rabbit and saw a red-tail hawk circling above us. I love these walks, but you can't believe the junk people dump out here. We've found a hide-a-bed, cans full of paint, window sills, pallets, a bag of clothes. Is it really that much harder to dump your couch at the thrift store down the street? Come on, people. Or hey, I have an idea, how about dumping your trash at the dump? Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New stirrups

I got a pair of endurance stirrups off Craigslist for $10. I loved the stirrups that came with my saddle because they were pretty. You can kinda see them in the post from May 25th, "Plan your work". They had fancy tooling (stamped) on the sides. After riding just 2 miles in them the other day my feet started going numb. I was just thinking I should invest in some EZ ride stirrups, but decided it was a luxury I couldn't afford right now. (I did order a pommel bag however, hehe.) Those stirrups at least $65 plus shipping. I went home and surprisingly, found the pair on craigslist. They're great. I'm sure they're the $20 type from Horse.com or Country Supply, but I don't care. I feel blessed.

Overcoming Fear

Yesterday, June 1st, I took Cali out to the desert again. I led her for about a mile and a half through the neighborhood. When we got out to big desert before the beltway, I mounted. She had been dragging her behind all the way out there, but as soon as I got on, her head went up. Something out there was bothering her, we took several steps, but she stopped, staring hard and I knew what was coming. She spun around and went to bolt, but I was ready and pulled her around and jumped off. I gave her a firm talking to, " You better NOT dump me out here!" I led her forward a little, and she settled down. I got back on. I rode her for about a mile, then got off and led her again. We did that a couple of times. I mostly led her though. I think we went about four miles altogether. We walked down the shoulder of a pretty busy street, Ann Road. I had her go through some puddles left by a very brief rain, which she tried to avoid at all costs. Eventually went through. She seems perfectly content to walk beside me; she's still not too sure about having me on her back. She's not sure I can still be a good leader from up there. The only way I can prove it to her is to get up there and do it. We both have fears to overcome, but I have to be the brave one. Every day that she doesn't dump me is a good day. It would be nice to go riding with someone who had a seasoned trail horse to help her build her confidence and mine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

2 Mile Ride


This is a big day for us. After a 15 minute warm-up, walking and trotting in the arena, Calico and I hit the trails. I rode her almost the entire time for about two miles. Dogs barked, cars passed, rabbits ran out from the brush, but nothing bothered her. We went through the rocky desert lots and on the streets around the neighborhood. She was perfect. It is so exciting to see the progress we've made in a few months. Next step is to add more distance and trotting.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

At liberty

I had Philip in the backpack today, so I decided not to do the cross-country walk. We worked in the arena instead. I saddled Cali and put her through her paces. She did well most of the time, but every once in a while she'd try to break-away or change gaits. After a quick correction from me, she'd move on again. After about 25 minutes, I took her lead rope off and just let her run. I'm sure she needed to let off some excess energy. After watching this, I see she just wants to go finish her breakfast. She's looking for the way through the gate or through the barn.
video

Hoof photos







Here's Calico's hooves. She's scheduled for a trim in a few days, so I thought I'd get some before pictures. You can see the edges chipping away on their own with all the rocky terrain we've been covering. You should see my feet. (Just kidding).

The very first photo is her near hind, then near front, then both hinds, both fronts near side, both fronts off side. Cali has a bad habit of peeing on her back pasterns. I don't know if it's just sheer laziness or she really can't spread her feet out enough. I don't remember having a horse do this before now. I do love the ink spot markings on her coronet bands.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Plan your work



My Dad is a distance runner. He always says, 'plan your work, work your plan'. I've mapped out the long term goals; Tevis 2013, and short term goals; riding around the block. I've measured out some mileage with my car, and this week I set daily goals of walking Cali in-hand up to four miles. Each day I want to add distance and increase the amount of time I ride her. Two days ago I rode her out in the neighborhood longer than I ever had before. She did great, no problems. Today when I went to mount her she spooked and bucked a little. I still had one foot on the ground, so she just spun around me. Somehow I managed to get a rope burn on my elbow. I should have just tried again after a little bit, but I was too worried. We just walked. It was fun, but I was disappointed in myself. Once we got back to the arena, I rode her a little. Just because I have a plan doesn't mean it will always work out. I just have to keep going.

I was thinking there aren't any endurance riders in Las Vegas, then I received my AERC members directory and was pleasantly surprised to find about a dozen people listed in my area. Who knew?

Here's a look at the Las Vegas skyline from our walk the other day. You can just see the Stratosphere on the left, that's right by my house. I hope to take some photos I Cali's hooves tomorrow. She's never had shoes and we travel over some seriously rocky ground. She's due for a trim on June 3rd. I just like to get some before and after shots. She has great feet.

Philip's Birthday


Philip got a new pinto for his birthday. Now he can really go! He's two years old.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Breakthrough

I've been reading Karen Chaton's blog with great interest. Many of her ride descriptions and photos are the rides I hope to do in the future. My baby Philip is picking up some style pointers too from Dave Rabe. Now, I'm not saying that Dave rides pants-less, but those cut-offs are pretty short.

I've had a mental block about riding Calico outside the arena. It may have something to do with the fact that if I fall, I'll land on rocks, pavement or cactus. If I want to attempt the High Desert Classic in October, I need to get over it and get out there. Today was the day. We warmed up in the arena first, then it was out into the wide world. I waited until we got to a dirt road, then mounted. Cali was cautious about going forward. We took it nice and slow. We rode through a dirt bike trail in a large desert lot. I decided, of the three choices, rocks seemed the most giving. She did great. Each day, for the next week or two, we'll go farther and farther. Depending on how things are going, our real conditioning will start in June. Long Slow Distance with and an emphasis on Slow.

Me and Majur Storm 2002


This was just before the Washoe Valley (LD)Ride 2002; me and Stormy conditioning in Loyalton, CA. I wish I could still train there.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What a difference


Yesterday, I took Calico out in the neighborhood again. This time I went just after she had finished breakfast. She didn't whinny and cry for Beau once. I guess she was just hungry the other day, not buddy sour. I'm so grateful. She was relaxed and content to move down the road. I brought some hay pellets and gave her some when we were mid-point on the walk. I want her to look forward to going out, to know there's food "out there" somewhere, not just at the barn. I want her to feel like she can count on me to lead her to rest and food and water, and keep her safe from danger no matter which way we go or how far we travel.

I made up a new conditioning log for detailed notes, but I'll continue to use this for reflections. I'm still planning to enter the High Desert Classic III in Lahontan (Fallon) in October. It's a 30 mile Limited Distance. I think that's a good place to start. I discovered that most of the rides in my vicinity are XP rides. That's fine with me. When I enter these rides, I'll start with one day, 50 miles. Later we'll work up to multi-days. I'm not in any way competitive. I just want to complete the ride and enjoy my horse and my beautiful desert home.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Calico Pondering What Lies Ahead


Today I got to the ranch at 7am. I got Calico saddled and we went for a walk through the neighborhood. She was pretty upset about leaving Beau and cried and screamed for him for the first twenty minutes or so. I told her to forget about him, she's got me now. That race-track loser's goin' nowhere, I told her. We have lots of great adventures ahead. Why, there's the High Desert Classic in October, the Death Valley Encounter in December, the Land of the Sun in January. We haven't even started planning next year, but I'd like to get back to Washoe Valley. Anyway, she finally started to relax and enjoy our walk together; we even jogged a little. I've got a fever and the only prescription is more Calico.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shiloh





I just had the pleasure of taking my niece out to Shiloh Horse Rescue. She had a great time and got to ride my sister's horse. I took the toddlers Philip and cousin Grace for a walk around the ranch. We found a new pony there named Trigger who is Calico's mini-me. I fell in love with him of course, but he's not available for adoption. I would take him in a heartbeat.

Helldorado






Well it's that time of year again. In Las Vegas we're celebrating Helldorado Days. This is one of those events that always brings to mind fond memories of my childhood. It's also one of those events that makes this still seem like a small town. There's a carnival, parade, poker tournament, and now back for the first time in 10 years the rodeo. The parade goes right down 4th street near my house to Fremont St. I just love that people ride horses in downtown Las Vegas, and I have a secret ambition, okay it's not really secret, of riding Calico in the parade next year. My grandma used to tell a sweet story of how she rode her little pinto in the 4th of July parade in Springer, NM. It was a sorrel pinto, so she would put blue in it's mane to make it red, white and blue. She could make it dance a jig, and rear up and she would hold on with her one good arm. My grandma was severely burned at the age of three in an accident, and so her dad got her a pony when she recovered. He was the foreman of the CS Ranch, and she would follow him all around. He later became the sherrif of Colfax County.

I finally got a cinch to go with my new saddle, so I rode Cali a little today. I'd just been lunging her for the past few weeks. I can't quite get over how sweet she is. I have to start going out very early because it's too hot by 10 am.