A Horse Of Course – Joshua’s Mooneuver

Many who know me are well aware of my passion for speed and games on horseback. I have loved to compete in everything from barrels and poles to monkey on a barrel. While it may be true that the majority of horses I have owned were for the fast and furious, there have been some that were born and bred for a more refined showing experience.

Josh was such a horse.  Born in 1984 as a registered Quarter Horse he stood about 15.1 hands and was the prettiest bay color. Josh was owned by a family who used him for halter and showmanship events. When it came to riding, they were more interested in POA’s; therefore, Josh was not well trained for mounted classes.

Unfortunately, one evening Josh rolled in his stall and knocked the gate off the front. The hardware was pointing downward so when he rolled back he caught his rump on the protruding bolts. This resulted in a very deep gash going from one side to the other over his hips.  After a long recovery period, it was plain that while his health and movement was not affected, his ability to show at halter was no longer possible.

It was at this time, in 1991 that I was over visiting his owners and found out that he was for sale. This opportunity provided me the perfect chance to train and show a horse for English and Western events.  Of course, because at he was 7 years old and never ridden there were a few rodeo moments, but not many. Soon enough, Josh was beginning to show signs of becoming a respectable show horse.

I remember his first show on May 3, 1992.  It was held at the fairgrounds in Baraboo and he was a brat.  He bucked in his bareback class and continued to rush everything until he began to

get tired. It was at this point that he started to show some promise. Of course, what I haven’t told you yet is that I was 5 months pregnant. I also look at the videos and can see where I had much to learn. My feet pointed out and I leaned forward way too much (a habit I still have to this day).

Overall, my time with Josh was always interesting. I loved him dearly. Besides for pleasure events, I enjoyed trail riding and parades with him and after that first few months, could always trust him with any rider.

Sadly, just as we were beginning to progress and learn together, our time together was cut short. In late fall 1995 Josh came down with Colic. The vet came out and we did what every horse owner does to bring them out of it. He responded well and showed signs of full recovery; however, overnight he took a turn and we lost him.   There have been other great horses since Josh as there always will be, but the good ones are neither forgotten

nor replaced. What is most sad is that he left us so soon and was never able to reach his full potential.

All the Cars I Loved Before…

Sitting in a vehicle in -15 temperatures got my mind to wandering. Actually, it is amazing that my frozen noggin could conjure up thoughts with as cold as it is, but there ya go.  Watching my husband turn the key in the ignition and hear the vehicle fire right up really made me remember the “good old days”?

I distinctly remember at least 3 vehicles when I was in my 20’s.  The oldest was a 62 ½ Willy’s Jeep pickup truck. I loved this truck because with a paperclip or piece of wire, you could fix about anything on it. Yea, it was a bit rough, but was strong enough to push a plow in the winter.

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It looked something like this – but with a plow

Another vehicle, a little less old was an early 70’s International Harvester. This aqua/white poor excuse for a crossover sounded like it was going to fall apart at any moment while driving it down the road. I really shouldn’t complain much because this is the 4 speed I learned to drive on.  How many young people these days can admit to learning how to drive on a stick shift?

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Lastly, was the pretty one of the bunch – a maroon and black 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Now this car was one hot ride. Of course, this two-door also came with power steering, automatic windows and “bucket seats”.  I loved riding in this car. Unfortunately, I hit a patch of black ice one day and ended up riding on two wheels – Dukes of Hazzard style- through the ditch as I sheared off yellow posts.  I miss that  car.

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You may think that I am simply reminiscing about “all the cars I loved before”; however, there is actually a reason for my musing. As I watched my husband easily turn a key to hear the engine roar in the bitter cold, I am reminded of how many times I sat in a freezing cold vehicle, pumping the gas in order to get it started.  Then after it did begin to come to life, having to use every ounce of finesse I could muster to flutter that same gas pedal until the engine smoothed out and stopped threatening to quit entirely.

Anyone else remember these days?

Wisconsin Game Cams – January 2013

Wisconsin is an amazing state full of lush forests and abundant wildlife. It is pretty amazing what you can catch on camera these days.  One of my favorite ways to catch the outdoor action is with game cameras placed in different spots on the property.

We use a couple of Moultree cameras purchased about 5 years ago at Gander Mountain. These cameras work quite well, but are not as sophisticated as what you will find on the shelf now.

Over lunch, I walked out to get the mail and grab the SD cards from the cameras. It is like Christmas each time I put one in my computer to see what is inside.  So far I have seen cats, dogs, coyotes, buzzards, deer (bucks, does and babies), raccoons, crows, squirrels and turkeys.  Today, I hit the jackpot with camera 2.  As you can see from the pictures that follow, many different animals stopped by to get their picture taken in this two-week period:

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The first image is of a very young buck that survived the fall hunt. He looks to be a spike, but there are shadows of tines. Next year he could have quite a pretty rack. When it comes to capturing images of deer, the time-frame is split pretty much 50/50. We see bucks, does and fawns both in the dead of night as well as midday equally.

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Next is a turkey. This is just one of several flocks of turkeys we have roaming around the place. I have seen pictures of over a dozen snapped by camera 1 near the front of our property. Who knows – maybe this fella was taking up the rear and moving quickly.  Over the years, it is not uncommon to take turkey pictures exclusively during the day as they roost in the trees come night fall.

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The third picture is of a raccoon.  So far I have only seen one in the pictures taken by our cameras this year, but who knows, we may get lucky enough to see babies at some point in the spring. These fellas only show up on camera at night, much like the coyotes.

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The last image is of one of the coyotes we have in the area. While I have seen both coyotes and wolves during the day while out riding, I have never seen them on camera except at night. Over the last few years, the population of coyotes and wolves alike has increased; however, from what I have seen, they are not increasing drastically in this area.

What has increased; however, is the turkey population. As a girl, I remember enormous herds of deer in the farmer’s fields, but very few turkeys. Thirty years later, it is the turkey that predominates and the deer that are less abundant.

What type of wildlife do you see when you are out walking or driving near your home?

A Horse Of Course – Duke

While it is true that I have owned many horses and each share a special place in my heart, there are those that stand out for one reason or another. Duke is such a horse.  He stands out not because he was a pure-bred, fast or exceptional in any commonly measurable way, but because he was a gentleman.

Duke – 1981

In 1977 as the first pre-trained horse I ever rode, Duke was a true learning experience. His stature was only about 15 hands tall and stout. I had never ridden a horse that neck-reined – WOW!  The first time I touched the rein to his neck, I had to hang on. Lucky for me he had a long, thick mane.

To look at the pictures here, you would think that he was not all that remarkable. What you do not see in these pictures (well maybe except for the last one), is how he overcame his common background to be extraordinary in many ways. Duke was my first barrel horse, and while he was not the caliber of horse seen at the big rodeos, he was consistent and steady and won many awards for being more like the tortoise than the hare.

One of my first big speed events was the Little “I” International. This was an indoor competition held at the Colosseum in Madison Wisconsin. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s the footing was not as good as it could have been and there were some mishaps. It is curious that during this first event I was wearing a helmet. This is a habit I quickly lost.  Luckily, the one time I needed one, It was there. The picture that follows shows just what happens when you do a face-plant in rich dirt and slide into the wall. My helmet was cracked, my teeth were gritty but I had a smile on my face!  Any tumble that you and your horse walk away from without too much pain is considered a success.

Duke was a horse of many talents. Not only was he my first mount for horse shows and speed events, he also was a solid partner for coon hunting. Back in those days, we hunted for coon on horseback exclusively. There is nothing like a ride in the dark of night with nothing more than the moon or a head lamp to light the way.  Duke was unflinching as he walked ahead in the blackness and never budged when the gunshot rang out.  I really do miss those days.

Finally, I had so much fun with Duke as a parade horse. Pictured here in the Adams-Friendship 4th of July Parade in the late 70’s, Duke was sure to please the crowd. He performed many tricks such as loping in place, rearing and prancing side to side.  Then, with as much ease, he would relax for kids to approach and pet him.

Duke lived well into his 20’s. In the life of a horse, this is considered acceptable; however, there is never a good time to lose a great friend. It has been over 20 years since his passing, but I still remember all the barrel runs, parades and moonlit hunts that we shared together.

Do you have a remarkable old friend that has shared so many adventures?

A Horse of Course – Trinket

We had moved to Wisconsin from Chicago when I was about 7 years old. Living in a one-room cabin with a small attachment and no inside toilet was certainly a change from living in the city, but I really didn’t care. Dad had promised me a horse and sure as shooting, by spring the first true love of my life arrived.

Her name was Trinket. She was about a year and a half old, black with striped hooves and dots on her muzzle. She was not very big at all, what folks would call a POA – a small Appaloosa. At the time, I really didn’t care what she was as long as she had four hooves and whinnied when I came to the barn. I was in little girl heaven. Of course I had never ridden a horse before, or cared for one or even spent more than a few minutes around them. This left me deliriously clueless. Lucky for me, my new best friend didn’t care how dumb I was – it was love at first sight.

I really wish I had a picture of her to share with you, but try as I may; I am unable to locate one. The picture in my mind’s eye is probably more majestic, beautiful and amazing than reality but that is ok with me too.

Being the impatient child that I was, listening to my parents when they told me to be careful was out of the question. I was small, agile and light even for this small horse so she didn’t mind when I sat on her back while she ate in her tie stall.  Each day I grew braver and more confident around her until just before Trinket turned 2 years old, I decided it was time we went for a solo stroll around the pasture.  There was one problem – I had no tack (the stuff you put on a horse like bridle and saddle so you can control them and ride).  As with all other like challenges, I rose to this one and produced a length of binder twine.

I was to find that through my equine career, binder twine would become my 2nd best friend.

After leading my trusty steed from the barn to stand next to the water tank, I looped the rope on each side of her halter to create make-shift reins then hopped on.  I remained seated for about 2 strides after she lunged forward with surprise only to slide ignominiously off and then bounce upon the grass for an equal number before coming to rest.  I looked down the pasture to see Trinket standing about 20 feet away eating grass.

Most normal people would have decided this was not the way to learn to ride a horse – good thing I have never been close to normal. I walked up to my girl, took the “reins” and lead her back to the tank. This time I lasted 4 strides before bouncing down the pasture, a sure sign of progress.

Overall, it took many tries before both Trinket and I realized what was needed to work as a team. She never bucked; I was just totally uncoordinated at first. Once I got the hang of the rhythm of her movements things evened out and my first attempt at being a cowgirl could be deemed successful. Of course, I was bruised from head to toe, but I didn’t care. All you “horse girls” out there know just what I mean!

Over the next few years, Trinket and I were inseparable. I rode her all the way from our home to Woodside Ranch to watch the Gymkhana’s whenever I could. I even rode along with the livery riders from time to time. I was not very shy and readily offered to help bring up the rear.  Bythen my dad had bought me a saddle and bridle so I was much more respectable (although, I loved riding bareback the best).  By the time I was 12, we had moved to a new place a few miles away (one that did have indoor plumbing) and we obtained another horse, a 2 year old Appaloosa named Notsuam Siw (Mauston Wis spelled backwards).

I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending – that my first true equine love lived a long and happy life; but I can’t. Shortly after this, my dad got a new job and we had to move. I was told the horses could not go with. I am pretty sure I know what happened, but to this day would rather believe that some young girl wound up with my Trinket and gave her a happy home for a very long time.

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