Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SadApple (by Finneas)

Wednesday November 28 2007

I'm not a CrabApple anymore.

My friends didn't come back all night, and I so I hung around the house and the hay bales and the Fat Pen with Dudley and Princess. If you don't count them, I was all alone.

I squealed at Dudley a few times this morning, then I went to eat some hay, then, still not knowing what to do without my friends, I went across the creek. Well. The mares next door were right across the fence, and, well you know me, always the Boss and wanting everybody to know it, I went up to the fence and was talking with the ladies, and I kicked at one of them, and next thing I know, the fence attacked me. It grabbed my hind leg and it wouldn't let go, and I panicked and I thrashed, and the dogs were running out and barking and the ladies next door were running around, and I ripped a hundred feet of wire off the fence and drug it running about 40 feet before it finally let me go.

Well, that was all scary, and then I was embarrassed because the ladies were still looking and snorting, and my leg hurt a bit, so I just walked on away from there, left that scary place behind me. I went to the hay bales and started eating a while, then all of a sudden, I wanted to lay down. My friends were still gone, I was feeling really sad and my leg was hurting now. I was just tired. So I went to lay down and bake in the sun, and maybe just die because nobody cared about me anymore.

Eventually I thought maybe I should get up and do something about my leg, so I sat up, but laying down felt better, so I laid back down. I was feeling really really sad and abandoned, when I looked up, and here came M! She was coming out to save me! Wait - she was coming out to take my picture like she often does. Well, I wasn't going to whine or whimper or anything, so I just kept sitting there having my picture taken. Then she got close to sit down beside me and pet me - and saw my leg.

She gasped "Finneas!!" and then I heard this pounding going on, like drums, but it wasn't drums, it was her heart pounding in her throat. She stroked my nose and said don't move, she'd be right back, and she left, ran to the car, jumped in it and drove away. She came back a little while later with Linda. I was still sitting there waiting like she said, and she and Linda came and looked at my leg.

They thought it looked pretty bad, and it sure hurt pretty bad by now. I got up to show them my leg wasn't going to fall off and I could still walk, but I had to walk really slow behind M to the pen. I felt so bad and sad I couldn't even hold my head up as I walked along.

I waited in the little pen for a few hours, holding my owie leg up. I had plenty of hay to eat, but I felt so sad I just hung out beside Fat Dudley and Princess with my head hanging. I sure didn't feel like any Big Kahuna anymore.

Finally a vet came and looked at my leg, and poked me in the neck with a sharp stick, which hurt, and then I got reeeeaaaaaaalllllll sleepy, and I don't remember what happened, but I heard in the distance M and the vet talking and I felt in the distance M stroking my neck. When I came to again, my back leg was all bandaged up and the vet was gone. My leg was all patriotic, red (from blood), white and blue from the bandages.

M left me tied up while she went back and forth fetching straw from the pasture to make me a nice soft bed. When I woke all the way up, M gave me some icky medicine which I didn't want and I didn't like, but she followed it with a carrot dipped in molasses, so I guess that was okay.

So now I'm stuck in this little pen by Fat Dudley for a month, and my two women are out running with the other two geldings, and I can't boss anybody around, but I don't really care because my leg hurts and I am sad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Crabapple (by Finneas)

Tuesday November 27 2007

Well, now, SOMEbody's a Mr Cranky Pants.

That would be ME.

First of all, let's get something straight. I am the BOSS. The Kingpin, the Big Cheese, the Big Kahuna. Everybody knows it. Well, actually... when Rhett is not around, I'm the Boss. When he is around, sometimes I pretend I'm still the Boss, but he'll put me in my place if I flaunt it too much around him. That embarrasses me and then makes me crabby. But, Rhett is not around right now, is he? So guess who is THE Boss.

I make a lot of noise, as the Big Duke. When one of the other geldings gets too close to one of my mares, I squeal really loud like a stuck pig, with a high pitched voice. Sometimes I just squeal at anybody for no reason, just because I like to hear myself shriek in my piercing girlyman voice.

Diego thinks I'm a butthead. So what? I get all the women, I get the most and the best food, I hog the water trough even when I'm not drinking and when I'm not thirsty. I get carrots dipped in molasses. I lord my superiority over everybody, and that includes humans. I really scared my last owner. Well, actually... sometimes I'm put in my place if I flaunt my authority too much with humans here. I hate it when that happens. It makes me embarrassed which makes me crabby.

I hate it when I get asked by a human to do something I don't want to do. Or, worse, when I don't do something I'm asked, then I get TOLD to do something. Now, if it's my idea in the first place, well, it's okay I'm asked to do it, because I was going to do it anyway. If it wasn't my idea, and I have to do it, I get crabby and I swish my tail. Swish Swish SWISH!

Well. M fetched me the other day and I thought I was going to be given a bucket of oats, because I deserve one, but did I get a bucket of oats? No! I was put in the Fat Pen with Dudley as his BABYSITTER! THIS wasn't my idea, I'll tell you that much. Here I was, King of the Owyhee Castle, stuck in a pen with fat Dudley. What an insult! My 2 women and the 2 other geldings were out on the ranch, not only separated from me, but they walked away, completely ignoring me! They should have been hanging around with me and looking at me. I squealed and whinnied and hollered and bellowed, and I ran back and forth in the pen (while Dudley stood back watching me), trying to get their attention. They wouldn't even look my direction - it was like they totally forgot me, their King!

So I was stuck in this pen with Dudley for a couple of days. I was hungry, I wanted out, I wanted my women. I was crabby.

Finally, M comes to get me out of the Fat Pen. Now, do you think she'd go ahead and turn me out with my women to command the herd? No, she goes and puts a saddle on me, and takes me for a ride! If that wasn't enough to make me cranky, she took me out in a different direction than I was used to, totally away from the ranch, AND she wouldn't let me turn around, AND she wouldn't let me eat grass (I'd try to grab a bite then turn around back toward home), AND she made me stay on the trail! I tell you, I am going to have some sore tail muscles at the end of the day, for all the SWISHING I did non-stop for a whole two hours.

Well, actually... after half an hour, I kind of started to have a little fun. We got to this Blond Cow wash, and I wanted to go, so I cantered up it, and after a while M said I could slow down, but I was really into it, and I kept cantering, and cantering, all the way up it! When we finally did slow down, I stopped to eat some grass. It's really good and green out there, what the cows haven't found yet. I used to have this big problem where I couldn't stop and stand still out there, but now, sometimes when I'm going along, I'll stop and graze a while, or, I'll stop, turn my head back, and M gives me a carrot. M tells me I'm a GOOD BOY, and I like it when she says that. Sometimes I'm just a big marshmallow on the inside, but don't tell anybody that.

But wait - I digressed. We were talking about me being crabby. Right. So we get back to the ranch, and guess what - everybody was gone! (Except for Fat Dudley and Princess, MY woman who was now his new babysitter in the Fat Pen). Do you think that my herd would have waited for their commander to return? I had to do my sidestepping practice when I got back, and I was all cranky that my adulators were not there to watch me, and I got all flustered and started throwing my head up and swishing my tail, making a big production out of everything.

I got my post-exercise oats, like I deserved, and then I FINALLY got turned out - but now what was I going to do? Where was I going to go? I didn't know where everybody went. So I stood around and screamed and screamed, and waited, and ate at the hay pile, and screamed some more, and felt kind of sorry for myself.

When M came out later I was so lonely I followed her around, hoping she'd feel sorry for me and make my friends appear or give me another bucket of oats. What good is being the Big Bossman if nobody is around to be bossed? My friends didn't appear, but M gave me a hug and a carrot.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dear Jose (By Diego)

Wednesday November 21 2007

Dear Jose,

Please come home. It's dreadfully boring here without you.

Everybody is drooping. Even Finneas, who's the total boss now. He's not even a butthead anymore to me. I tried getting the gang running around one day, but it just doesn't work without you Jose. I don't have the spark that fires everybody else off, and nobody else even tries. Nobody wants to play Tag You're It, or I'm Taller, or Jump the Sagebrush, or Superhorse, or Last One There Is A Rotten Bucket of Beet Pulp. I don't want to play either. You were our Bolt of Sunshine, and now it's just cloudy here. Water doesn't taste very good and hay just tastes like straw.

Everything is all out of whack. Quickie, Finny's girlfriend, ran off with Mac the other day, and when I say 'ran off,' I mean they just bumbled off, because there isn't anybody running around here. Finny didn't even care. He saw them wandering off, and he just kept eating like me at the hay bales, and then it was just me and Finny, and we didn't really care, we just kept eating, for lack of anything more fun to do.

Quickie and Mac were gone all night and most all the next day, and then they came wandering back. Finny didn't even walk up to Quickie, he walked up to Mac, and I thought he was going to beat Mac up for running (walking) off with his woman, but, what did he do but start grooming Mac! They groomed each other for 15 minutes while Quickie stood off by herself. Since I was depressed I didn't feel like going up and hanging out with Quickie to keep her company, or joining in the grooming session. Then we all just stood around and moped.

Things are just all mixed up!

Jose you weren't here to watch me wear the Big Boy saddle for the first time and lunge around the round pen with it. The other horses weren't even watching, they were just moping.

But M said it's Thanksgiving and I should think of what I'm thankful for. So, I'm thankful um... that I am slim and cute and not buffalo fat like Dudley.

Come home soon Jose.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Where's My Buddy (by Diego)

Saturday November 17 2007

There were 6 of us running the canyon, (not counting 2 in the Pen), and now there are 4 (not counting 2 in the pen). Rhett and Jose got on a horse trailer yesterday and left, but I thought they'd be back by now.

Jose goes for lots of trailer rides and he always comes back later in the day and tells me all about his riding adventures. Except this time he got in the Big Trailer, like I rode in on a looong trip from Arizona up here to a new place in Owyhee, and he still hasn't come back yet. I wonder if Jose went on a loooong trip to a new place.

I keep looking everywhere for Jose, because he was so much fun. He was always the one to get everybody running from way up the canyon in the mornings, he'd get a bug up his butt and just take off running for the house and the hay bales a mile away, and we'd take off after him, snorting and bucking and farting on the way, blowing smoke out our noses.

I spent the afternoon walking around everywhere, checking to make sure Jose's not in the big front pen, or up on the hill in the corner, or hiding in the creek, or stuffed away in the small Pen with big fat Dudley.

And speaking of big fat Dudley - He thinks he's so important, being hand-fed in a special Pen and all, like he's the King of Malaysia with a Queen or something, but he's in there because he's fat and on a diet. Good thing, otherwise he'd eat all our hay and there wouldn't be anything left for the rest of us. He was bragging about getting to stay in the special Pen with a woman - which is nothing to brag about, because it's his mother and she's just babysitting him! And he's six! I told him he was in The Pen, as in Penitentsary, like Jail, like he better be Penitenting for his eating sins, because he is FAT.

He didn't like that. We were nose to nose squealing over the fence, and he called me a Little Fart, and I asked him where he got his Big Buffalo Jeans from (M heard from Carol that Dudley had Buffalo Genes) and we squealed at each other like we were going to tear each other apart. Good thing the fence was between us. I mean, Dudley could squash me if he just sat on me, but he'd have to catch me first.

That's why I was kind of hanging around Dudley, to tease him for lack of anybody else to pester, but he's no substitute for Jose. I wonder when Jose will get back. Nobody else will watch me play my games with M, which today included wearing my bonnet and saddle, (which M tried to put on my butt, before she figured out it fits best on my back), wearing my necklace, and watching ropes swing by my head, and spinning on my front end and hind end.

And nobody else is interested in running and play fighting with me like Jose. It's boring. I hope he comes back soon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thunder Found!

Thursday November 15 2007

Regina and 3 others went out today... and found him! Her note:

"Hi Guys, I, Maggi, Raymond (from Holland), and Rocky just got back from Wilson creek and have a extra horse. Thunder is found. Mr Good (the BLM guy who spotted him Monday) called me back this morning to retell me where he saw the horse. We loaded up and rode out to where he saw the horse last week and there he was. Mr Good also drove back out there today to see if he could see him again and I visited with him, so he is really a nice guy and was also worried about the horse. By the way if you stand on the cattle guard at the head of Stewart Gulch and look up the gulch heading South East he was up Stewart gulch, not on the west side of hard-trigger. So yea the horse is found, he has some deep cinch rubs from the saddle, but that is all and was he ever glad to see another horse. I put some gall salve on the rubs to soften them up."

So happily ends the saga of Thunder, the missing horse (for 6 days). A lot of people chipped in to help search for him: on horseback, on ATVs, on foot, by truck, and a pilot was lined up for a flyover in good weather. It was the natural thing to do - look for a lost horse whose injured owner (she's home, doing okay by the way) couldn't do so. We could all picture our own horse lost out there!

There's a lot of relieved Idaho and Oregon endurance riders breathing a big sigh of relief tonight! (and a few from other states, and countries, who were sending good Search vibes :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

So Close To Thunder

Monday November 12 2007

So Close to Thunder

The cold wind was blowin' a gale under dark skies as we pulled into the Wilson Creek Trail parking lot to start Monday's search for Thunder. In fact, Karen S and Pat (who came again from almost 2 hours away) and I debated the wisdom of riding out on spooky Arabs on a day like today. (I had really hoped Karen S would call early this morning and say, "There's dozens of people out searching today, we won't be needed" - no such luck.)

When Al (Karen B's ex-husband) pulled in with his 2 horses (one to ride, one to pony) and started unloading them right away, there was no question he was going out. So we unloaded too. I did wish I'd left on that second layer over my tights, but I zipped up all my layers, put a bandana over my head and ears under my helmet, and put my heavy gloves on.

We were really back to square one in the Thunder search: where to look? Again, we could go off one direction, and he could be in the opposite. Today, with the weather, the kind that made our horses all want to keep their butts pointed to the wind, we knew we wouldn't find Thunder up high, or on an exposed plateau. So, we decided to start out doing the same loop we did on Saturday, around through canyons, a bit sheltered from the wind, to the water trough, an area Thunder knew.

We all went in the same general direction, with Al and his 2 horses weaving off around little side hills. There were some old tracks visible on some of the trails, but they were all shod hooves (Thunder is barefoot). Nothing at the water trough, either. Now where? It's just kinda demoralizing - he could be anywhere. We still had a vague feeling (a guess really) Thunder had headed south by his internal compass toward home, or westward, downhill as Josette had suggested, into that vast area Carol and I had discovered where the open gates were. We started heading that general direction, out of the hills.

We split up again, paralleling down two canyons, and as we girls came to a stop at a road waiting for Al, we saw him stopped on a hill, talking on his phone. We wondered why he'd be calling us, when he could see us, and then Karen realized she had a message, and I checked my phone - I had a message! Had to be from Carol - couldn't be a coincidence!!

We fought to hear our messages over the wind and bad reception - what I got was Carol - now the Command Center - saying the sheriff called: some hunter FOUND THE HORSE, in Hardtrigger Canyon and Stewart Gulch, resaddled him, and turned him loose, and he went trotting down the road - what!? The wind was howling, it was cold, and reception was bad, I couldn't clearly hear the whole message, and we were obviously missing some information, but we all had the same message, and we had a lead! And it had happened recently - what, an hour ago? Carol would try to reach the hunter by phone and get back to us.

Karen knew exactly where the spot was, so we took off in that direction on a road, at a good endurance horse clip, suddenly not so cold and hopeless. We got to the top of a cold windy saddle, and Karen said there were two ways to get to this canyon intersection. Al headed one way, and we 3 girls went the other, planning to meet down-canyon at the spot.

We trotted along, keeping eyes peeled, yelling and whistling for Thunder. Cell reception was sketchy. We came to the Hardtrigger Canyon and Stewart Gulch junction, and sure enough - barefoot hoof prints! Lots of them. It looked like Thunder had spent a good deal of time in this intersection of canyons - and we had had no plans to go looking this far in this direction.

No sign of Al anywhere, but we turned our attention to finding Thunder. We were able to follow his fresh tracks a little ways (the guy had said the horse was trotting "toward Clark Road" - which wasn't an absolute direction from where we were), and then we lost them. In fact we saw several of his tracks from today or last night, and older tracks, going back and forth at places, so we weren't sure which were the freshest ones. We continued along one road headed vaguely toward Clark Road, but saw no more tracks in this direction.

Now what? Now where? Carol's calls would drop out, but we heard that Jeanne and Susan had gone to Clark Road, down below near the highway, and were coming up in this direction. But we still weren't sure Thunder had come this way. I thought that since Thunder had obviously spent some time in Hardtrigger Canyon, and he'd been seen there last, we should go back that way. And what about Al? Now we had to consider we might have to search for Al, too, because he didn't know this area.

We turned around, still looking and calling for Thunder. No sign of Al at Hardtrigger. It was now 2 PM, the clouds heavier, the wind stronger, and looking like rain or snow or ice coming soon. We decided to head up Hardtrigger Canyon, the way Al should have come out, and make our way back to the trailers - away from Thunder. Neither Thunder nor Al and his 2 horses had come up this way, so who knew where Al ended up. At least we'd seen definite signs of Thunder (and he had been seen, and touched), but now we had to hope we wouldn't be searching for Al too. (His cell would have worked on a high spot, but if you don't know where you are, you don't know how to say where you are...)

We took a high road to get reception to call Carol to check in (no new news from her end, and we reported what we'd seen), where the weather had taken a turn for the worse - unless you're a polar bear. The butt cold wind was a good 15 mph, and the clouds were spitting stinging ice balls. The wind made your nose drip and squeezed tears out of your eyes. I had stayed fairly warm all day but for my hands and my face. When my face gets cold I can't talk, so I just hunkered down in my zipped up collars and kept my mouth shut and we kept moving along. The horses didn't care for the ice balls stinging them in the face any more than we did, but they all did admirably well. Five minutes before we got back to the trailers, (Al was there, hooray!), it had started raining/sleeting steadily, and with a strong wind still blowing, I was starting to get pretty cold. I awkwardly peeled off Mac's bridle because my fingers didn't work right. We helped everybody load their horses, then hopped in our warm trucks and headed out.

So the good news is, Thunder was seen, and he must be okay. His saddle was still on (and now it's readjusted and tightened!), and he might still have had on a halter, though he lost his bosel. We think the hunter had no way to tie him up and that's why Thunder trotted off. There's plenty of grass up there for him, and after Saturday night's rain, he probably had puddles to sip from. He is approachable, and I bet he would be happy to see a human with a grain bucket. Since he's been in that sheltered canyon area a bit (and encountered a human) he will probably be there again.

On our way home, we got another message that the hunter had seen Thunder AGAIN, up on a ridge, same area. He flagged the intersection for us. Josette then drove out there and headed out that way on a horse. Josette's husband planned to go out there tomorrow morning, driving in to the Hardtrigger Canyon spot, and hiking around with halter and lead rope. Carol's trying to get a few people to ride in that way tomorrow also.

He's so close. Keep those fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

So What's the Big Deal

So what's the Big Deal

(Another of Diego's letters home from Camp)

Sunday November 11 2007

So you know how I like to go to the Hair Spa, right? Well, I figured out how I can go there every day! Every night I go and get into the saltbush or the tumbleweeds. Saltbush is made of spiny branches, and grows well in our sandy rocky desert here. The deer and antelope and rabbits like to eat saltbush, and I tried it too. It doesn't taste bad, if you can eat it without poking your mouth with the thorns. Humans can eat the seeds and the leaves, if they want to go to that much trouble. The tumbleweeds are pretty thorny too. Sometimes it kinda hurts, rubbing my neck in the stuff, trying to break off those branches in my mane, but the pain is worth the pleasure because then I get to go to the Hair Spa. M has to spend some time getting the thorny branches out and combing out the tangles from my mane and spray foofy stuff on it, making it silky smooth and good smelling again.

Then it's time for more games: The other day M put my halter on and we started walking toward... this LUMP on the ground that wasn't there before! EEEK! It was scary and I didn't want to walk toward it, and when M started walking toward it, I hid behind her and crept forward with very tiny steps. All the other horses also saw this big LUMP, and they all crowded up to look - standing behind ME, mind you, they all wanted ME to be the brave one to get closer. Why me?! I'm just the baby! It was just toooooo scary to go any closer, but then there went Jose nosing up to check it out, and there went Mac, poking it around, and well if they could do it, so could I, and I did, and it was nothing! Just my bonnet, which M picked up and pounded me with and put over my ears, and then a saddle, so M threw that on me. She tightened the designer belt so I was wearing the saddle all by myself for the first time, and M was so proud of me she started giving me Smoochies. It's just a saddle like everybody else wears, I don't know what the big deal is, but I graciously accepted the Smoochies nonetheless, and I stood there and looked cute. (I'm really good at that.)

Then I REALLY looked cute today when M put a necklace on me. It was made of 2 milk jugs and an orange juice jug (which smelled really good). She said it was the first horse necklace she's ever made, and she made it specially for me! Now I know what I want to be for Halloween next year. The Milkman! I can pretend like I'm delivering milk and orange juice to people's houses while I'm really going to collect bags of carrots and apples (and, of course, I can carry my own bag!). The necklace makes cool noises when the jugs bang together in the wind, or when I move my head or walk, and when M bounces them off my butt. Rhett and Finneas were looking at me with big wide eyes, like they were jealous of my necklace, or like they were scared of it. I don't know what the big deal was, but I know I looked cute!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Saturday November 10 2007


Last night we got the posse-ball rolling to begin searching for K's missing horse at Wilson Creek. Karen and Carol rounded up riders to meet us. I found some ATV groups online and emailed a plea for help, a lookout if they were in the area this holiday weekend.

Carol and I met Karen and Pat in the parking lot at Wilson Creek at 10 AM, heavy clouds covering the sky, chance of rain today, chance of snow tomorrow. So - time to plan a strategy, Plan B, since Plan A (Thunder standing in the parking lot, waiting for us to pick him up, no such luck) didn't happen.

If you were a runaway horse, where would you go? He was headed toward home (some 15+ miles as the Raven flies) last we saw him, and he was running. Would you stop, turn around and come back to a place you know? Would you come back to the adjacent feedyard, where there's companion animals to hang with - cattle and horses? Would you go up high, where some lost horses have been found, grazing in a meadow (there aren't any in this area)? Would you go to a familiar water trough for a drink in this desert?

Pat said often a horse is found within 2 miles - even though it may be a week later - of where you last saw him. Thunder knew this area, would know where the parking lot was, would know the trails he'd been on, would know a nearby water trough.

I scaled the hill I'd looked from yesterday with the sweeping 270* view, this time looking with binoculars - nothing. Much of the land was flat, though you can't really make out hidden washes. Some of the rocky hills were too steep - no reason a horse would go up there. We first checked all around the feedyard (and Carol had talked with them, and left phone numbers with them), and didn't see him, or any hoofprints around the perimeter.

Now where? We'd try some closer loops first. We split into pairs, Karen and Pat circling some hills one way, and Carol and I the other, to meet up at the water trough. As Carol and I made our way out onto a trail, it really hit me that we were looking for the virtual needle in one Big Mother Haystack, "a moving needle," said Carol. There's little canyons and hills and mountains and dips and washes - in every direction. The horse could have been anywhere - we might choose the wrong trail that might have gotten us close to him. And, as Pat said, we might choose the right trail, but he could be moving on the opposite side of a circle from us and we'd never see him. Some sandy areas had hoofprints - from other horses. Thunder was unshod, so that would help if he left us a good print in the sand, but it's hard to get lucky and find a hoofprint on this mostly rocky and hard soil. We doubted the horse would stick to the few roads anyway, he'd be moving across country, or maybe follow an occasional trail. But who really knew?

From the top of one hill, we saw a group of 6 riders far below us, headed out the direction Thunder had taken off yesterday. We hoped they'd seen our signs posted, or they might just come across a horse somewhere and know what to do about it. We hoped Thunder might see or hear our horses and they'd whinny back and forth, and he'd be looking for company.

We finished our loop back at the trailers, then went to Plan C. Everything I felt told me the horse took off towards home according to his Equine Internal Compass. Carol and I headed off that way. Karen and Pat went opposite, on trails Thunder had ridden quite a bit over. Carol and I thought we'd have a fence to follow, limiting Thunder's direction - and came across 3 open gates. Hoof activity around some, possibly unshod feet - but unable to tell for sure. He could have taken any of them, and that opened up thousands more acres of possibility for him to disappear on. Or he could have taken none of them and gone in a totally different direction from where we were searching. He could be in Nevada by now. We're all little specks on the landscape when you think about it. Rather discouraging.

We all returned to the trailers again later - nothing. The 6 other riders we'd seen were heading our way - we were hoping they'd say they found a horse and ask if it was ours - and it turned out to be 2 endurance riders (and 4 of their friends) that Karen had called to come help. They'd headed out a slightly different way and saw nothing. Josette actually knew Thunder, and said she thought he'd be heading downhill, staying off the rocks - which might have taken him through one of the 3 open gates Carol and I passed.

We called off our search about 2 PM - dark clouds massing and cold breeze picking up. K's boyfriend was maybe coming out tomorrow to look; we planned on coming back out on Monday. We'd try contacting some other riding groups. We checked in with the sheriff - no found horse reported. We checked on K's progress - broken ribs, collapsed lung, but now other problems surfacing; she was still in the hospital.

Dispiriting day. Hard not to think of the horse out there - if he had no tack on, we wouldn't worry so much - and very hard not to think of how hard K must be taking it in the hospital.

Keep those fingers crossed.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Here Today Gone Today

Friday November 9 2007

Once you get a Good Horse Knocking-Around, a really serious injury, I think you sometimes have a wee different perspective from those who haven't. I never get on a horse and go out for a ride, any ride, long or short, without the miniscule thought in the back of my mind that I might not come back. It's not a fear, just a tiny awareness, and I accept that. And when I come back in one piece, there's always the diminutive little follow-up thought in the back of my head, Thanks for the Safe Ride.

Today Carol and I hauled out to Wilson Creek to meet K to ride. Another lovely day, lovely place (new for me), lovely horses.

We rode out of the parking lot, Carol on trusty August, me on trusty Jose, K on her young gorgeous bald-faced chestnut Thunder. He was a little green but had been out in this area plenty of times, and what do you do with green horses, but get miles of experience under saddle on them.

We weren't 100 yards out on the trail when K's horse, out in front with August, did a mighty spook - at what, we never figured out. Such a big spook that August and Jose spooked too. K managed to not come off, and as she was clambering back on into the saddle, her horse bolted.

"Uh oh," we said, as we calmed down our own horses. Usually when a horse bolts, you can get a hold of him after a few (or many) strides (well, the couple of bolters I've been on, anyway). K looked like she had a hold of him, but he kept going - and going. We couldn't believe he kept going. In fact, they disappeared out of sight around a hill.

It's easy as an armchair reader, or rider, to say, She should have hauled on one rein, or, She should have pointed him up a hill. That was obvious to us sitting on our horses; that's what we were yelling: "Pull on one rein!" "Point him up the hill!" Maybe K did and it didn't work, and either way, things are happening so fast when shit happens on a horse, you don't have time to sit back in your armchair and say, wow, you are right, I should be doing this. Everything shifts to instinct as things are flashing by - instinct for the horse to bolt in panic, and instinct for the person to react however they are going to react - and it does all flash by, giving you no leisurely time to reason things out. People who haven't been through the GHKA sometimes don't get this. (I got all kinds of helpful coaching after my accident, thanks).

We turned August and Jose back toward the parked trailers, thinking we'd see K pulled up in the parking lot when it came into view. As we got closer, we did see the horse trotting - but no K. Shit. We started trotting toward the lot, and Thunder saw us, came to a stop, hesitated, then whirled around and took off again in the opposite direction over a hill.

We got to the lot, and no sign of K anywhere. We should have seen her by now. Not good. We tied our horses up, and ran off in different directions looking for her. As I ran up this hill in the last place we saw her on Thunder, I was starting to have all kinds of nasty flashbacks in my head. At least I wasn't on the receiving end of things again, but K might be, oh shit oh shit. I looked back toward Carol - no K. I was panting by the time I reached the top of my hill, and I was just on the verge of panic because there was NO K. I turned to look way back toward Carol, and finally saw two figures standing. Whew! If she's standing, that was a good sign.

I met them in the parking lot, K walking gingerly, holding her arm to her side. "I think my rib's broken," and her face was skinned up, and she was a bit foggy (yes, she was wearing a helmet). At first she didn't remember exactly what happened, how far we had gone. I reminded her, and she remembered, and she remembered Thunder running all over the place, and jumping a ditch, which was her undoing. "I just can't believe it! He's never done anything like that! I don't know what it was! I just don't understand it!"

Carol had her sit down and got water and a towel for her face, and I headed up to the opposite hill where we'd last seen Thunder. I climbed to the top of that, which gave me a sweeping view 270* of the plateau below, stretching to the foothills of the mountains - and no Thunder. NOTHING. I searched and searched - if he was anywhere close, a chestnut horse, especially moving, could be seen. I needed the Elf eyes of Legolas (or binoculars), because there was nothing to be seen with the human eye. He was long gone - disappeared.

Now what? I just happened to have my cell phone with me, and it just happened to work. K didn't feel bad enough to get hauled off to a hospital immediately, but we were keeping an eye on her. We decided I'd take our two horses back home, K's boyfriend would come pick her up and take her to the hospital, and Carol would wait at the parking lot with K's trailer, hoping the horse would come back. He knew the area, and the parking lot, so maybe he'd return at some point.

I waited at home all day for news. Carol had talked to people at the nearby feedyard, asked them to keep an eye out for the horse. She flagged down a few groups of ATVers coming in to play, and enlisted their help in the search. The sheriff was notified also. By 4 PM, K was still in the hospital emergency room (so far just looked like broken ribs), and the last of the 4-wheelers were coming in - no sign of the horse. Carol was getting picked up at 5 PM, as was K's horse trailer.

We've organized a posse for tomorrow to go out and search for the horse.

Somewhere out there in the night a lone horse with saddle and hackamore roams the hills and mountains. He could be in Nevada by now if he didn't stop running, or he could be in the parking lot, or hanging near the feedyards tomorrow morning.

You just never know. It's good to acknowledge and appreciate every good thing you've got, because you may go out for a ride and not come back one day. Or your horse may not come back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Diego Games

Tuesday November 6 2007


Diego: "Hey Jose come watch me play games today."

Jose: "OK, sure."

Diego: "See here Jose, this is called a Bonnet and you wear it on your head."

Jose: "You think so huh."

Diego: "Yes for real! M said I may have to wear it on my head if it gets really cold here in Owyhee. My ears will stay warm. If it doesn't get that cold I can wear it on my back. M also uses it to swat flies off me."

Jose: "Uh huh."

Diego: "See Jose it goes like this."

Diego: "And see I can hold my own leash? M can tie my Bonnet on my head and then I can hold it on if it gets really windy. Don't I look good in my Bonnet?"

Diego: "And this is an Equine Designer Belt. All the big famous horses wear them. I can wear it because I will be big and famous later, and because now I am cute and slim. Dudley can't wear this because he is too fat."

Diego: "If it's not real cold this winter I can use my Equine Designer Belt to hold my Bonnet on my back. And see sometimes I hold a plastic bag instead of my leash."

Jose: "I can see your name in lights, kid!"