Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Reggie this summer, Monica Bretherton photo
It's that time of year...weaning time. I'm actually a bit late this year, as Reggie was born in June and is now almost exactly 6 months old. But, there was no rush and while his mom is certainly ready, his Aunt Addie was not! Annie and Reggie have been out with Addie, who is very involved in Reggie's upbringing. Annie has enough experience that she lays down the rules and then doesn't worry too much. Addie though...well...if she was a human, no doubt she'd be considered a 'helicopter' mom. She herds Reggie around, watches over him while he sleeps (which is cute) and is very, very aware of his every move. This wouldn't be so bad, except that I usually put whatever youngster is closest in age in with the almost weanling (if there aren't two babies that year), so they can hang out together, play and keep each other company. It usually works very well. I tried that with Scooter this year, figuring that as he was Annie's 2010 baby, it would be a no-brainer. Nope. Annie was pretty much ok with the idea but Addie was SURE that Scooter did drugs and watched online porn. Poor kid. First time I turned him out with the other three, Reggie comes trotting up to him, all ready for a buddy. Addie noticed and came charging over, teeth bared, ears back. Scooter, being a reasonable young man, ran as fast as he could in the other direction. Addie cut Reggie away from Scooter's terrible influence and drove him back to his mother's side. Annie watched this entire performance, but didn't really move. She's ready to be done with the whole colt thing this year.
So, I left Scooter out there, hoping Addie would realize he was a good kid. He tried to talk to Reggie a few times, but was emphatically driven off. He stood as far from Addie as he could until I brought him in.
We tried the next day. Same drill.
And the next.
So, I decided to change the game and put Reggie out by himself, next to Annie and Addie. No problem. Addie even left the fenceline with Annie. I guess if Scooter isn't there, then it's ok.
I'll keep them separated but next to each other for a day or so, then start moving them farther and farther apart, until one day, Reggie and Scooter will be happily playing boy games, without female supervision. At that point, Reggie is a 'weaner' (weanling) and will start to learn all the things that a well brought up youngster needs to know.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Social Director

Now that fall is here, I have to start thinking about where to put everyone when it's raining. Now, here in the Seattle area, we don't just get a little rain every now and then during the winter. We get lots of rain for many, many, many days. That means that horses outside need some sort of shelter where they can get dry, especially on days it's wet and cold. Almost all my horses go out of their stalls for at least 8 hours a day. Two have runs off of their stalls and quite a few of mine live outdoors all the time. This means that they have shelters that get cleaned regularily, but we still have to deal with mud.

So, what is the problem? The problem is space - I have 7 1/2 acres, of which most is in paddocks with shelters. That is all well and good, but right now we have about the maximum amount of horses here (17). The plan (!) had been to sell several over the last year, but that hasn't happened yet, so now I'm playing social director. I have to figure out who gets along with who, who is ok next to someone else and make sure everyone gets their share of food, water and shelter. Sounds easy, right? Well....some get along with just about anyone, they're pretty easy. I have a few others that have demonstrated, shall we say, less than stellar friendliness, over the past years. They get a paddock all to themselves. Then, there is the mare and foal and the stallion and ...you get the picture. It's a big jigsaw puzzle of opinions and personalities. Kind of fun really.

Just one more thing about having horses!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Danny's First Show

Saturday, we loaded up Danny (Magdan) and Willie, Monica and Bill's TB and drove to Donida for a schooling show. We had no expectations of any glory, it was just a great chance to get the boys out to see a variety of interesting things at a busy barn. The weather was typically October - rainy, a little gusty and overcast. But, that was fine, as there was an indoor warm up arena and the show was run indoors.

There were plenty of things to look at, from mirrors in the indoor arenas, to costumed horses and riders to a very busy waiting area. Both boys did great. Danny was a little tense to begin with, but as Monica rode him around with all the other horses, he relaxed quite a bit and even enjoyed himself a bit. As usual, Dan the Man didn't put a hoof wrong. While no one would say he was 'perfect', as his bending was a little squiggly (bending away from those scary mirrors and door openings), and he wasn't totally relaxed, he got progressively better in each class, really figuring out what it was that he had to do; follow the other horses, listen to Monica and then line up and stand for a bit. All the other horses gave him confidence - there were very few blow ups I saw, even among the greenies. Mostly, it was people having fun and getting some mileage on their horses.

Bill rode Willie and they did a few slightly harder classes (they included cantering), which has been one of Willie the ex-racehorse's 'challenges'. Willie did great, Bill looked good and they ended with a hunter class (I think that was what it was called) that included 2 tiny crossrails. Willie showed everyone else how to do it and got a well-deserved ribbon.

All in all, it was a very nice day, especially for me, as I was the transportation and moral support. Horse shows are pretty fun if you don't have anything to stress about! I was proud of both boys and Monica and Bill seemed to have a good time.

The only thing I didn't do was bring a camera - that is definately on the Christmas wish list this year!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Home from Tevis!

Jas and Patrick and Steve Hallmark and Tug (in front) finishing Tevis. Monica Bretherton photo.

This year's Tevis was historic for several reasons; first, it was run in October instead of July because of record snowfall. Second, it had to be rerouted 24 hours before start time because of more snow making the high country too dangerous for riding. And third, one purebred Teke and one partbred Teke finished! Yes, Jas and Patrick came through with flying colors, excellent vet scores and a great attitude.

The ride started at 6:30 am on October 8th, in a huge, milling rush. From our vantage point (that of crew), it appeared quite civilized and orderly. We later heard that was a bit deceiving. Horses were very amped up, some riders made unplanned dismounts, and several people ended up riding a much different race than they had planned. After the start, Monica, Alice and I walked back up to the Auburn fairgrounds (and up and up and up) where we were camped. We then broke camp and headed to Forest Hill where the 2 out vet checks were located. We were in convoy with the crew of Linda Fisher's Kenlyn group, who had brought Jas and Patrick with them from Colorado. This was great for us too, as they were a lovely group that most importantly, knew what they were doing. We just helped out as we could and watched and learned.
We watched the front runners come into the ForestHill vet check (Dennis Summers, Rachel Shackelford and Jeremy Reynolds, but don't quote me on that) and watched what their crews did. We had a bit of a wait until our first riders came in. The group of 7 horses and riders had split into two, which made it a bit easier for us to take care of them. The horses all looked good and the riders were very happy (mostly, a few 'bobbles' in there). After they vetted through they had an hour hold. Then, it was onto the 20 mile loop that we later heard was down and up (or vice versa) a canyon. This loop took a toll on quite a few horses and riders. Inde and Monica Bennett were pulled at Forest Hill, although I don't remember if she did the loop or not. Inde wasn't recovering as he should, so they made the correct decision and pulled. He looked great later, so maybe next year!
Our horses and riders came back in, once again in two groups. This time we had it down - tack was pulled at the water troughs before the in-timer, any sponging necessary was done there and then they walked up the hill to the in-timers, pulsers and vet checks. Once again, all our horses vetted through. Another hour hold and horses and riders rested and ate. They left for the ride home in two groups, and Steve Hallmark, on his big arab Tug went out about a minute after the group Jas was with. Once they were gone, we broke camp and drove back to the fairgrounds. We missed the first finishers, but once we were set back up, we watched some happy riders come in. Then, we took a few hours to rest and were back at the finish for our riders to come in. The first group came in somewhere around 2:15 am (not sure exactly) and Jas and Steve came in right around 3 am. The last two came in a little bit later. All the horses vetted through and were fine at their hour check (they did a post-ride check at about an hour after the completion vetting to catch any problems). We then poulticed legs, wrapped those that needed it, made sure everyone had full hay bags and tubs of beet pulp and went to bed. When we got up a few hours later, the riders were tired but looked great and the horses were the same. Amazing after 100 miles!
We went to the awards banquet, watched each rider get their completion awards and heard a bit more about the amazing reroute that had to be done to make this year's Tevis happen. The organizers should be immensely proud that they could reroute a 100 mile ride and get all the vet checks and volunteers organized in such a short time. I heard that their were 4 volunteers for each rider; at 170 riders, that is 680 people to re-organize within 24 hours. That everything worked smoothly was a real testament to organization and hard work. Sunday afternoon, we all packed up and left the fairgrounds, Jas and her group towards Colorado, Monica, Alice and I to Steve Hallmark's driveway for the night. We arrived back in Seattle Tuesday and now have to catch up a weeks' worth of work.
This was a wonderful trip and really made me appreciate the time, dedication and hard work that goes into making a hundred mile horse. I won't say I'll never ride a hundred (never say never), but both Monica and I agreed that we'd like to ride the Tevis trail in much smaller chunks, preferably in good weather, at a leisurely pace. But, who knows what the future will bring?
We also need to thank everyone that donated money and items to Jas to make this trip possible. Without the support of the Teke community and her friends and family, she wouldn't have been able to go and be the first purebred Akhal-Teke to finish Tevis! Thank yous will go out soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Trails at last!

It's been quite the summer, but health issues are now taken care of, so of course, it's time to trail ride! This was my first ride outside the arena since before I had my surgery, August 1st. We went to Lord's Hill between Monroe and Snohomish. You can always get a decent workout there even if you only walk. We took Danny with Monica riding and Susan came along with Capri.

We did a nice hour and a half ride, not too fast, as our horses aren't in great shape anymore (or me, either). Capri had some issues with bare feet and rocks, so we were careful about footing. But, the weather was great, the park was quiet and the grins were wide.

I know how out of shape Galen is as I had to reshim his saddle before riding him - he's lost a bunch of his topline muscle. I did notice that his gut is the same size though. I think I lost some of my 'topline' too. No problem, we'll go slow and both Danny and Galen will be ready for rides next year.

We took some photos - none are great, but that's ok. The grins are wide.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Yes, you read that correctly. I am going to Tevis! Excitement, oohs and aahhss...and then, you remember that I've been out of the saddle all summer. How can I do Tevis? How can my horse be fit? Very simply. I'm not riding it.

My good friend Jas Shearer-McMahon, of Livermore CO, has just recently thrown her hat into the ring to ride Tevis. She hadn't thought it would work, but a combination of lucky events (for her), including the date change of the ride to October, made it possible. She still wasn't sure, but I pushed her into it (ok, just a little bit of hyperbole there), telling her I'd work on fundraising and come down and personally cheer her and Patrick on.

Oh, and just to make this a bit more personal, the horse she is riding, Patrickhan, is a son of my dear boy, Astrachan. She bred Patrick when she had Khano on lease quite a few years back and Patrick has proven to be a wonderful mount. He's been brought along slowly and this year the pair has several top tens and at least one BC in the very tough mountain rides they do in the Colorado area. Now, together they've never done a 100, but Jas has and she says it's a go. I believe her. I just hope that I can be that brave in a few years.

So, me and my friends Monica and Wendy (both Teke fans), are going to drive the truck and camper down to Auburn, CA in about a month and do whatever needs doing. We've had a generous offer of a place to park the camper (thank you Steve!) and I've started fundraising for Jas. If you'd like more info on THAT project, you can go to The Breeder's Co-op website, at: http://akhaltekebreeders.com/default.aspx or you can look us up on Facebook at either The Akhal-Teke Breeder's Co-op page or on the Cascade Gold Akhal-Teke page. All monies go to Jas (we're paying our own way) to help defray costs, and anything left over the target amount will be put into a competition/scholarship fund for future high-level Teke endeavors.

I do have one photo that I will post with this - a really great photo of Jas and Patrick at the Happy Jack ride this year. The photo is by Pascal Karl and I think it says it all.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Stall Rest

Hard to believe it's been over a month since my last post. Of course, we're not sitting still here. I have 300+ bales of local hay in my barn - we picked it up out of the field, which is NOT my kid's favorite task. Even bribed with ice cream, they don't seem to really enjoy it. Go figure. I have about 38 tons of nice, Eastern WA hay in the barn, so it is pretty full. There is really no better feeling to a horse farm owner, than a barn full of hay. Except maybe a barn full of paid for hay! I have great hay suppliers, who allow me to pay over time. This is a life-saver, as I rarely have that kind of money sitting around. This year, I was hoping I'd sell a few of my lovely youngsters and it had looked promising - quite a few inquiries, several visits and rides, but sadly, no one bought any. I can't blame the horses, as they are lovely, well-mannered, nicely started youngsters. I think it's just the economic times - people aren't sure what is going to happen, so aren't adding to their herds. I suppose in a way, this is a good thing, as it's better to make sure all is well before making such a big committement, but a few less mouths to feed and clean up after would be great. Summer isn't so bad, but trying to keep everyone dry in the winter gets a bit challenging. And, every single one wants attention! I walk outside and have 14 pairs of eyes looking at me, hoping that today, it's their turn to play. Happily, Monica is doing lots of the work with the 'kids', as I've been put on stall rest.

That is another thing that has happened this summer: a routine mammogram found a lump, so I've been on a 'medical adventure' the past month or so. I found out that I would need a lumpectomy and at least radiation, right after the Renegade ride. The worst part of it all (from my view) is that it interrupted my ride season. Whine. But, my friends, family and boarders have been great and I've made myself do less. I had my surgery this past Monday and while I feel pretty good, I can tell when I overdo it. So, less horse stuff and more dog and cat on lap stuff. Happily, my case is pretty ho-hum, and I think that after some radiation theraphy, I'll be considered cured. But, it does suggest that a yearly mammogram after 40 is certainly a good idea! I am hoping that I can at least go to the Elbe ride at the end of this month and maybe (!) depending on my recovery, ride a 25 or at least the trail ride with Monica and Danny. We'll see. If I can't ride, I plan to go and cheer the other ladies on. I think that the people at the hospital think I'm totally nuts - I don't want hand holding, I don't want to come in for 'face to face' visits if I don't absolutely have to and I just want to get this over with and get back to riding. I suppose if my problems were more serious, I might be a teensy bit more into all that.

I do have a great photo that Monica took the day before my surgery up on the top of this blog. Galen and I went for a really good (read, pretty fast) ride on Sunday with Wendy and Allie at the Redmond Watershed. We had a lovely time zooming up and down trails. When I first arrived at the parking lot there, there were several aid cars, a hook and ladder truck and two policemen who took off on their 4-wheelers, out onto the trails. Wendy and I met them as we were about a mile out, coming back with someone in a backboard. I noticed the injured person was wearing cowboy boots, so we assumed a horse accident. Hope whoever it was was ok. Later in our ride, Wendy and Allie were in front, we had just gone over a bridge and were going around a very sharp turn with a cliff (as much as you get in the Watershed) with drop off on the other side, when something started to slide down the hill above Galen and I. I didn't have time to see what it was, as Galen thought it was VERY bad news and he bugged out. I didn't know he could dance sideways like that, as I tried to keep him on the trail and not barge past Allie. I could hear some sort of slithering, sliding noise, but we were now around that sharp turn and I just had no desire to head back and see what it was. And, I suspect Galen wouldn't have agreed to go. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a deer, as they are much lighter of foot and whatever it was sounded BIG. We headed back to the trailer at quite a good clip, with Galen watching behind us. Wendy later wondered if perhaps the person we saw being evaced out had come off a spooked horse from whatever the big slither was. I suppose we'll never know, but it sure got my heart pumping! Nothing like a good, fast ride in good company with a good story thrown in. The only thing missing was a beer when we were done! That had to wait until evening.

So, it was a great way to head to surgery - a few minor sorenesses to remind me of that wonderful ride and what I will be doing again very soon. I'm also waiting to see if Astra is pregnant (preg check next week), although her dopey, smiley attitude sure makes me think that she is. I will be back in the saddle soon, although probably no fast rides for a bit. Can't wait!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's been busy!

Yes it has. Here it is, already July 2nd and I haven't posted since Reggie was born. Reggie is doing well, growing like a weed. We'll get some new photos of him soon. I think I have a 'real' name for him, haven't totally decided. I'm thinking Sazanda, which means 'musician' in Turkmen. Good name for a competition horse!

Me, Wendy, Monica and Julie went to the Renegade Rendezvous endurance ride last weekend.

We had several Tekes at the Renegade Rendevous over the weekend. This ride is known here in the Pacific NW as the ‘Little Tevis’ and I had never done it before. Now that I have, I understand the nickname! The ride itself is absolutely gorgeous, in the foothills (or higher) fairly near the WA-OR border. It was almost all up and down, through gorgeous stands of trees, through some pretty fast rivers, on logging roads and with some vistas that were made for photo ops. I rode Galen in the 25, along with our friend Julie, who borrowed a mustang mare from Shannon Mayfield, Wendy rode Allie (NP mare) in the 50 and we took Danny (Magdan) for the experience and Shannon brought Tommy (Asil Tumay) along for the same.

We all went out for a nice ride Friday evening, probably about 6 miles up and down and the two young er boys, Danny and Tommy, handled it just right. The rest of our horses had no problems and had vetted in fine.

We woke up Sat. morning to frost and Wendy headed out on her 50. Julie and I left at the very back of the pack around 8:15, as there was a pretty hairy water crossing right at the beginning and we waited until the crush was gone. Our first 11.5 miles was (it seemed) straight up. Both horses did it, but I know that was way more hills than they are used to. We came into the vet check with only 2 people behind us (as planned), vetted through fine and headed out. There were quite a few pulls at the vet check – they had a trailer running up and down the mountain with lame and tired horses. Happily, it was mostly downhill from then on. There were miles of hard packed road that neither horse liked, so we walked quite a bit. Both Julie and I got off and walked too and enjoyed the scenery. Our two followers passed us and the trails were ours. We did run into a whole bunch of people shooting guns (sounded like a whole army), but they did stop…for about 5 minutes as we went past them. Galen wasn’t so sure about that, but Julie’s mare, Nettie, couldn’t have cared less. We were glad to be out of there, as we were still on those hard roads and that bunch was a bit alarming. Even with the guns, the horses didn’t want to go faster. We figured by this time that we were going to be overtime, but that was ok. The horses were doing well, the trail was gorgeous, and my goal was both horses passing the final vet check. We came into camp and the final vet check around 3:15 and yes, we were overtime, but our horses got better vet scores than at the first check (after that 11.5 mile climb!), so it was all good. They both were pulsed down as we came i n, they trotted through sound and then we took them back to the camper and fussed over them. They both looked perky, although a bit tired. Wendy came in from her 50 not too long after us and Allie looked great. Tommy and Danny greeted them all with their in-camp tales and we humans settled down with well deserved beers. Monica was our fabulous camp and young horse sitter, as well as photographer, so I’m sure we’ll have some gorgeous shots soon.

All in all, a very satisfying weekend, an excellent first exposure for our youngsters and tons of fun. Our next ride isn’t until August, and if the weather cooperates, we’ll be able to get some real conditioning in. If we do Renegade next year, we’ll probably have to pad under shoes and I was even thinking about pads in our Easyboots. Those roads were murder!

Today, Monica and I are heading out for some more trail experience. Danny now has Easyboots all the way around, so we're going to Mann Road fairly early, before the heat of the day and before anyone is out with fireworks. She took some more photos of Mahri and Scooter in the last few days, so I'll post some on the sale horse blog. I will post some photos with this blog post that Monica took at Renegade. We should have some more coming from Julie after she gets everything unpacked (she's moving this weekend).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another busy week

Yes, it was. Annie foaled on Tuesday evening and then there was a day of recovery (for me) and on Thursday morning, Monica and I took Khan and Scooter to Pilchuck Vet Hospital. Khan had his teeth done, which for him is very necessary. Poor guy, at 21 he has the teeth of a 31 year old! I think the early malnutrition he and his dam suffered really did a number on his teeth. He had two teeth pulled (and that didn't take very much) and I was told that from now on, hay is recreational. So, he's now on a few gallons of soaked beet pulp and senior morning and night and daily turnout on pasture. He also gets a small flake of alfalfa for something to chew, although he only eats the soft stuff and leaves the rest.

Scooter is now a gelding. We got to watch the castration, which I always enjoy much to the disgust of most people (men). It was an easy surgery and he's back out with his buddies again. He's ready to find his forever person, so if you're interested, contact me.

Over the weekend, Wendy and I made it to Lord Hill and got in a bit over 2 hours of trotting hills. We timed it just right, as when we were heading back to the trailer, the trails were getting crowded. Both Galen and Allie (Wendy's mare) were happy and Galen would have been easily persuaded to head out again.

Today, I'm doing some catch-up in the barn and house. Maybe tomorrow I'll be back in the saddle.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Annie's foal is finally here.

Top Photo by Julie Villeneuve, bottom by Larry Brader

Annie foaled last night around 9:30 pm. She had been in labor since around 6 pm the previous evening, so I'm sure she was very happy to be done. I know I was, as I was on foal watch the entire time. I did get some sleep, just woke up every 2 hours to check on her the first night. She was in the arena, which has lights and is in easy view of my bedroom window, so I just look out at night and can see what is happening. Salam had to come up to the big barn too - he usually hangs out in the lower barn, with a nice big paddock and a pasture out front, but he and Annie couldn't stand to be apart, so he has been hanging out, anxiously watching her. Funny thing is, as soon as she foaled, she had zero interest in him anymore, as another handsome black stud has captured her fancy. I hope he understands.

Monica had been here all night Tuesday and back and forth on Wednesday, but had to head out before the big event. Julie was here part of the night on Tuesday and came back Wednesday and got to see the foaling. Kay (one of the boarders) came by Wednesday night and got to see her first foaling.

Annie of course, was a total pro. She's done this 9 times before, so was very businesslike. She had the foal up within 15 minutes, manuevered him into nursing position and expelled the placenta with no fuss. The little guy was running around within an hour and appears healthy and friendly. I think he might be black, but now that he's dry he almost looks like a mousey black, sort of grayish black. We'll have to wait and see what he turns out to be, I guess. He has a bit of chrome - 2 hind socks and a front stocking, along with a tiny star and snip. Very dashing. No name yet, although I think his barn name might end up as 'Reggie'. We'll see if it sticks.

Enough nattering on - I can tell I'm still tired, but I really should get some work done instead of sitting in front of my computer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

This and That

As usual, it's been a busy week or so since my last post. Danny has gotten out on his second trail ride and is now trying to load himself in the trailer every time he goes past it. As expected, he was a champ and Monica detailed that ride in her blog at http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/ Danny wasn't the only one that got to go out, as we took Khan (also in Monica's blog posts) and our new friend Julie. Khan was a champ, which isn't a surprise as he has many, many endurance miles under his girth. We've been slowly conditioning him, as he's been a pasture puff for the last 6 years. It has been fairly recently that I decided he needed a little more work than just standing around and supervising (when I lunged him and his entire body jiggled like jello, I decided he needed someone else to dictate his workouts). So, it's been very slow and careful, as his left hind suspensory is suspect from an injury when he wasn't even weaned. He's done very well over the years in spite of that, but when he was retired from competition in 2005, after a pretty successful year, that leg was iffy. So, a few years of breeding, until his fertility went down to zero - probably from a virus picked up during his competition days, the vets said- then not much until this year. He's so non-enthusiastic about arena work that we thought maybe a little time on the trail would be the ticket. So far, it sure seems to be. Julie reported that he 'was a different horse' out on the trail.

Memorial Day, I took my husband out for a trail ride with him on Khan. They both had a great time and Larry said he now realizes why I make him do those boring seat exercises, as there was a lot of mud and he had to really work to stay in the middle of Khan, as he lunged through it. We cut the ride a little shorter than I had planned, as the footing was much worse than expected and I didn't want to competely poop out either Khan or Larry. I think they both had a great time and they both slept well that night. Galen was wonderful, as usual, stopping and waiting when Khan started to slow down. I always get a kick out of how well Galen watches out for less conditioned and green horses on the trail...until it's time for an endurance race. Then, he's all about beating the socks off them. It makes me smile just to think about it.

Our broodmare, Anastasia, is getting close to her due date. I'm very excited about this foal, as we've had to keep her on regumate most of the pregnancy to keep her pregnant. I don't know how this bodes for any further foals (this baby is #10 for her), as she is 20 this year. So, I'm really hoping for a spectacular FILLY, as it will quite possibly be her last. Maybe if I say it enough, it will come true. We're weaning her off the regumate now, so I think it could come anytime after this weekend. I so love the foaling and those foals. It makes all the work worthwhile.

One of these days, I'll figure out how to download photos from our camera (one of the kids lost the cable and we have never replaced it), and then we'll have a bunch of Danny on the trail, so proud of himself.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Danny's first trail ride

Yesterday, Monica and I took Danny, with Galen as the 'mentor' out on his first trail ride. He had to trailer, tie to the trailer, walk through some pretty deep muddy water and then go on the actual trail ride. We picked Mann Road, as it has some nice, single track trails (not many distractions) and varying lengths of trail. Also, it was a weekday morning, so we were all alone. No bikes, strollers, dogs, etc.

I'm happy to report that he was a total champ. Calm, interested, happy to be out and mostly on a loose rein. He followed Galen, our seasoned trail horse, and pretty much just copied what Galen did. We went through some pretty muddy spots (lots of them), over some rocks, roots and branches and around a lot of trees. We went up a few hills and down a few others and Danny took it all in stride. In fact, his walk promises to be amazing on the trail - that huge overstride will really eat up the miles. We only did around 20 minutes, all walking, and then headed back to the trailer, where both horses got to mow the side of the road for a bit. Then, back home to a well deserved lunch. Next ride will be a little bit longer and we'll introduce a few more things...streams, anyone?

I did take some photos, but need some kids to help me download them. I think most have Danny (and Monica) with a big grin and grass hanging out of Danny's mouth.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rain, rain, go away.

It's another gray, blah day, with just enough rain coming down to keep everything damp. I know it's the Pacific Northwest and this is what keeps us green (and brown, from the mud), but now in May, it's getting more than a little tiresome. I'm so ready for some lovely weather for longer than a day here and there! The horses are too. Every sun break we have, the horses are lining themselves up to get maximum Vit. D.

We're planning on heading to Klickitat Trek at the end of the month, but it will be a very slow 25 for Galen and I. While I'm sure he could easily go mid-pack, I'm not so sure about myself. Also, my friend Shannon is bringing Tommy (Asil Tumay) for his first real limited distance ride, and we've promised to ride with them and provide moral support. No doubt Tommy will do great, as Shannon does a fabulous job, but as a proud 'grandma', I can't wait to help out.

Monica and I are planning for Danny's first trail ride. He's more than ready, we just need a little bit of time and some halfway decent weather. He's coming along so well. The younger horses are doing well too, with Scooter and Goshen growing like weeds, the two fillies, Slari and Mahri, maturing and learning new things. Andre is kind of getting the short end of the stick, as he's so easy. Maybe today he'll get a little bit of love.

Salam has his first collection for the year set for next week, which will make him VERY happy. He's looking great and I can hardly wait to see what Annie foals in June, as that is his only foal this year. Next year should be a little more exciting in the foal department.

Well, I've finished my coffee, so I should get my butt out to the barn and start working.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Yesterday was a day of firsts. First day this year that was absolutely gorgeous- 60ish degrees, sunshine and a light breeze. I even put on sunscreen. First day for Andre to be lunged with a rider on his back, both directions and turning. He was perfect. And, Danny did canter circles under saddle in BOTH directions, with almost zero prompting and absolutely floated both ways. Monica (who was riding him), said it wasn't just a rocking chair canter, it was a 'glider rocker' canter. Danny was so very proud of himself, so we then took him to the big field across the road and he walked around a bit, like he's done it a million times with a rider and then finished with some nice grazing. What a couple of champs! I did get some photos of Andre under saddle, but can't quite figure out how to get them up here (yet). I'll have to inlist a kid. It was a lovely day and if I would have gotten to ride (had to do stalls and run kids around all day), it would have been perfect. But, it sure is great to see your youngsters doing so well. I can see Danny with the tri-color ribbon at a big dressage show in the future and Andre eating up the trail miles. Monica says we don't need to try to sell Danny anytime soon...she's really, really enjoying riding him. Our next goal will be to get Danny off the property and doing this well and to keep working with Andre. Andre is so easygoing that he won't need a whole heck of a lot of prepping before he's ready for the trails, but I like my 'kids' to be very well prepared, so everyone has a great time and there are no surprises. Looking out the window, today doesn't look quite as nice, but it's not raining, so I'll take it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

America's Favorite Trail Horse

I wrote about going and watching a ACTHA trail course 2 weekends ago in my last blog post. I do admit that I'm rather intrigued - I haven't had much time to condition for endurance rides this year and this might be a nice, intermediate thing to do while I wait for my schedule to free up a bit. And then, today, Jas Shearer-McMahon tells me that she's auditioning for 'America's Favorite Trail Horse', a new reality show that will show nationally on RFD-TV. Excitement! Brainwave! Maybe I need to try out too. Of course, I've never done one of these trail courses, so that might be a little too ambitious. Of course, a little too ambitious has never stopped me before. Monica is busy building a bridge for us to practice on (maybe her TB Willie will go too!) and most of the other obstacles can be cobbled together from what is lying around, so we'll see. If nothing else, it looks like good, clean fun and we can show off our Tekes to another audience, while sneaking in a little conditioning here and there. There are auditions coming up in April in Redmond, OR and possibly in Spokane, WA, either of which I could go to. No promises yet! But, you can follow Jas' journey and audition on her blog at Magicvalleyakhaltekes.blogspot.com and make sure to let your friends and neighbors know too - let's send her to the finals in Texas and get more people talking about our great horses!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trail competition

I went down to Maple Valley today and helped on a trail competition. I did have ulterior motives, as I'm thinking this might be a fun way to branch out in my competing, especially as I'm not getting the conditioning in I need to do well at 50 mile endurance rides. This was an ACTHA ride at the Danville-Georgetown trail system and although I went to watch, I ended up helping Monica Bretherton at one of the obstacles (and keeping her company between riders - VERY important). As I had no idea what to expect, it was a lot of fun. Our obstacle was a lope between two road cones- maybe a total of 100 feet total. The 'pleasure' horse and riders had to lope this on the right lead canter, and the 'open' teams were supposed to start loping on the left lead, do a simple change (or a flying change if they were up to it) and then switch to right lead canter. There was a wide variety of riding competence - from 'Thank goodness he didn't fall off' to "That was pretty nice" and everything in between.

We didn't get to see any of the other obstacles, but I heard of a gate that needed to be opened and shut, a log to sidepass over and a hat to pick up off the ground. Everyone seemed to be pretty happy when they got to us, so I assume those other obstacles were do-able.

Tomorrow, Monica, her husband and I are heading out for a nice trail ride ourselves, although I doubt we'll find any real obstacles out there, unless bicycles and strollers count. Of course, you never know, which is half the fun of a trail ride.

Maybe Galen and I will have to try one of these trail competitions, although I heard there are no extra points for doing it quickly. We'll see!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is here...at least today.

The sun is shining, the frogs are croaking, the mud is drying up and the horses are shedding. Could it be spring? At least today it is. Tomorrow, who knows? I can look out the window and see the trees starting to bud and blossom, we have some crocuses coming up and best of all, the mud is starting to dry up.

I am SO ready for spring, after a wet, cold winter. Usually, Western Washington winters are reasonably mild, allowing us to ride the trails most of the winter. This year, not so much. When it hasn't been cold, it's been wet. When it hasn't been wet, it's been frozen. Thank goodness for covered arenas! The first endurance ride of the season is coming up soon, either this weekend or next, but I'm afraid I'm not heading out for it; one conditioning ride just doesn't cut it, even if you ride conservatively. Just to be perfectly clear - it's not Galen I'd be worried about...every year it takes a little more conditioning for me to get in shape for endurance rides and I'm not there yet.

On the other hand, this nasty weather has promoted working with the youngsters - Danny is doing very well under saddle and Andre has had two 'sit-upons' now. We'll do another one tomorrow and see if we can get a few drunken circles in for him. It's always amusing to see the youngster's expression when they realize having someone on their back isn't as easy as it looks. Happily, they figure it out fairly quickly and it's on to less basic instruction.

Enough being inside! Lunch is finished and I'm heading out to enjoy shedding horses and sun.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Whirlwind Inspection!

My husband and I picked Dr. Tatyana Ryabova and Tito Pontecorvo up from the SeaTac airport Thursday night. Tatyana had flown into Texas a day or so before and spent that time with Tito and his wife Natasha at their Texas farm, AkhalTexas. We already had one outside horse in for inspection, who arrived Thursday, Kuwwat, owned by Erin Heatherstone of Oregon.

Friday morning dawned and people started arriving. We did our regular barn chores at doubletime and put all of my horses outside to make room. Happily, the weather decided to cooperate and it was a nice day. Good thing, as we've had blustery, rainy, sleety, all around March weather the rest of the week! Horses began to arrive around 9:30 - we had Wendy Connell's Nez Perce mare, Alpowa and her Teke/QH gelding Sunny's Tazzy Teke. Sofie Wollhaib brought her Teke mare Meshhurlyk, and a bunch of supplies for our lunch and dinner. Catrina Mettam drove up from the Washington-Oregon border with her colt Suygi and mare Mazaly a bit later in the morning. Some of my boarders came and helped out (thank you again, Alice and Monica!) which made the whole day go much smoother. Shannon Mayfield and her husband Craig drove up from Oregon to watch and participate in the educational aspect.

As this was organized, shall we say, quickly, it was rather seat of the pants. The horses were mostly still in full winter coats, often sporting mud extras (we had LOTS of rain here recently and it is very muddy). In a way, it wasn't totally fair, as very few of the horses were in show condition, but Tatyana is used to seeing horses straight out of the field, so we made do. We all grabbed brushes and displaced as much mud as possible and then we began.

The educational part was that each horse came in and we all would give it 3 scores from 1 to 10, 10 being perfection, on Type, Conformation (Exterior) and Movement. Many of the youngsters did not show well for the movement, as they had no idea what we were asking - trot beside you? What? But, we did our best. Later, we would all sit down and compare our scores for each horse, with Tatyana then giving her scores and her reasoning. If we were really off on our score, she would ask us why we thought that and then explain her thinking. These were not the 'official' scores, as she has to take her scores and measurements, and then apply different formula to them for the official scores. We will get those later on.

So, we began with Erin and Kuwwat. Kuwwat is a young (5?) stallion, that Erin is using for Endurance and also for breeding with Arab and Mustang mares for future endurance horses. He showed very well, being wonderfully behaved. We wrote our scores down and then Tatyana measured him. She measured his height at the withers, from point of shoulder to point of hip, around the girth and the cannon bone right below the knee. These measurements all go into the Main Studbook, along with being used for general breed data. Ideally, each horse would be inspected as a foal and then yearly or bi-yearly afterwards. Unfortunately, as Tatyana is the only inspector in the world at this time, that usually does not happen, at least in the US. Several of my horses have been inspected 3 times now, but for this inspection, it was the first time for many that were ten years and older.

Next we did my 3 and 4 year old fillies, Asalari and Mahri. Both are smaller horses and that is not what Tatyana is looking for. Neither showed well for movement, as they've never been taught to trot in hand. But, they behaved and got their measurements done.

Then, Sofie brought Meshhurlyk out. Diva (her barn name) showed very well and both Tatyana and Tito liked her, as she is a tall mare. Sofie was encouraged to breed her again (Diva has had two colts for me- we were trying for a filly!), but we will see.

Next was Goshen, a year and a half old colt. Goshen was shown by Monica, who has high hopes for him. He belongs to Cascade Gold, but Monica is leasing him. Goshen showed very well and Tatyana recommended that we keep him intact to see how he matures. This has been our plan, as he is extremely personable, amiable and athletic. Good looking too. He was one of their two favorites at our inspection.

We went through the rest of the barn, and Catrina's two, with appropriate comments, measuring each horse and discussing certain aspects. She would ask what the older horses did: for example, what my gelding Galen has done competitively, for this will also be noted in Russian records. Everyone did a fabulous job, Tatyana and Tito worked without a break (not my idea!) and we finished around 4 pm.

After we had finished the barn chores and gotten every horse settled for the night, we adjourned to the house and the dining room table. We got out our notes and then she started the comparing. She would ask those of us who had given scores (some were too busy handling to do much in that way) our scores for each horse and then we would discuss why we thought that and what she thought. It was very interesting, for example: if the horse had pretty good conformation, but one or two flaws (and what horse doesn't?), how do you score that? Her answer was that you have to weigh how bad each flaw is. If a otherwise very functional, nicely conformed horse had very thin bone, you had to weigh that. Or, one crooked leg, or...so we discussed what was very important vs nice. Also, she mentioned that as the population has grown, we can be a bit more picky what we cull from our breeding programs now. Those horses that might have been considered ok 20 years ago, when the population was much smaller, can now be culled from breeding. This is a good trend, all in all, as we hope, as breeders, to make each successive generation better than the last.

We also discussed type, although not in great detail. This is something that is very subjective and is often hard for someone who has seen a limited number of Tekes. And, to make it even harder, different lines have slightly different acceptable types!

Movement was very difficult, as many of the horses did not have the preparation necessary to really show off their movement. But, with a week plus notice, we did the best we could. Tatyana recognized this, especially with the younger horses.

We had a lovely spread of food, which my family will be eating for the next week, including some home grown ham that Catrina brought from her mother's farm. Delicious!

Those that were leaving, left after dinner and then the rest of us talked for a bit and retired for the night, quite early. It had been a busy, busy day!

I took Tatyana and Tito up to the Anacortes ferry yesterday, and they are now at Amrita Ibold's Sweet Water Farm, where they are inspecting all 19 of Amrita's horses and enjoying the beautiful scenery of San Juan! I'm sure Amrita and Jenny will write about their inspection after it is over.

It was lovely to see Tatyana and Tito and all in all, even for a whirlwind inspection, it went very well. I have to thank my family, who really pulled together, my boarders, Alice and Monica, who came and helped so very much, the friends who hauled their horses quite a ways on short notice (thank you Catrina, Erin, Sofie and Wendy!) and of course, Tatyana and Tito for being so gracious, hardworking and amenable.

Today, I'm going riding.

P.S. Here are links to several other blogs about the grading here at Cascade Gold. Both Shannon and Monica did very nice posts with some good photos.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 Grading in Washington State

Yes, you read that right! Dr. Tatyana Ryabova, the head inspector from Russia, is coming to Washington in a few weeks. Tatyana hasn't been here since 2002 (can you believe it?), so I have several horses that need grading and after my place, she is heading up to the lovely San Juan Islands to grade all 19 (19!!) of Amrita's horses at Sweet Water Farm in Friday Harbor.

I consider these gradings as a tool - one of the foremost experts on Akhal-Tekes looks at horses and does measurements and gives her subjective opinion on type. There are a whole bunch of calculations that she does after the grading, using her measurements, pedigrees and I think a few more things that give the final grades. While these grades might not make everyone happy, they are a tool that a person can use to judge a horse.

I was with Tatyana on the 1999 grading tour, on the road for 21 (I think) days, seeing around 155 horses at that time. It was an eye-opening experience and I am in awe of Tatyana's knowledge and tact. That was 12 years ago, so I would think that she is even more knowledgeable now. One of my favorite things she did was to look at a horse, one she had no idea who it was, and ask if it was this line or that line. She was almost always right and could often say "He looks like his grandsire, so and so". There is an article about that grading on this website, under articles, entitled "Walmart across America". Also, all the grades for horses in the 99 and 02 gradings are in the articles section too. Check out http://www.cgakhaltekes.com/index_Page2575.htm

Of course, a grading is not perfect and we all have slightly different ideas of what makes up the 'perfect' horse, but the informed opinion from someone with over 30 years (maybe 40 now) of worldwide experience? Priceless.

The grading will be March 4th, here at Cascade Gold and if anyone wants to come and watch, they are welcome. It will be my horses and some other horses from the Pacific Northwest - mainly stallions, it looks like. It should be a wonderful learning experience and a lot of fun!

Here's the latest: Tatyana will be arriving late this Thursday evening, March 3rd, with Tito Pontecorvo. She'll be here at Cascade Gold on the 4th and will do a Master Class sometime during the day. We will have a few outside horses coming in, although the short notice has made it difficult for everyone to participate. Just not enough time for travel, etc. Maybe the next time she comes, we can get more people involved. Then, on Saturday, March 4th, Tatyana and Tito will travel to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island and spend 2 days up there grading Sweet Water Farms horses. They leave for Texas again on Wednesday, March 9th, so this really is a flying trip. If you want to come and watch, there is no specific time on Friday and we'll be working around the people bringing their horses in, but we will have a buffet potluck dinner, so come and visit! I'll post more information when it is available.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sunshine and Ice!

It is an absolutely gorgeous day out, so I hooked up the trailer and Galen and I went for a trail ride. We went to Lord Hill, a regional park that has lovely trails and lots of hills. I figured, as we haven't been on a trail ride since last JULY, we'd do very little, just get our feet wet, so to say.

Good plan, as the trails were almost all either icy or muddy/slippery. Galen had hoof boots on in front and bare behind, but he still slipped a few times. Galen was very happy, as he's been agitating for a trail ride since, well, last July. We will need to get a lot more conditioning in before our first endurance ride, whenever that happens to be.

I did see some really strange fungus/mushrooms on a bunch of dead sticks. It almost looked like snow, until I got a little closer and could see that it was a bunch of tendrils, or skinny stalks. I've never seen anything like that before, so perhaps I'll go look up mushrooms later on.

But, we had the park to ourselves (a few trailers showed up just as we were leaving for home), the sun was shining, the weather was reasonably mild (about 40 degrees, I'd say). Ahhhh....

I did think about bringing my camera, but didn't actually do it and my cell phone doesn't take very good photos, so you'll just have to take my word that it was lovely.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fotata Awards

The results of the 2010 Fotata Awards (Friends of the Akhal-Teke), have recently been posted on the Fotata site, which is run by Shannon Mayfield. The address is www.//fotata.webs.com/ The idea of this award is as follows: An Annual Worldwide Award that encompasses a number of riding disciplines for people that love the breed. It was started by Shannon and Lyn Busacca.

1st- Jenny Rice
2nd- Kerri-Jo Stewart
3rd- Amrita Ibold
4th- Cathy Leddy
5th-Jas Shearer-McMahon
6th- Monica Bretherton
7th- Wendy Connell
8th- Shelby Ness and Jeannine Duenas
9th- Anne-Marie Rasch and Cindy Sither

I think it's great that people are getting recognized for getting their Tekes out there, as none of the organizations have any awards programs. It probably won't encourage someone to go to one more clinic, or ride or show, but it does recognize the effort involved.

I hope Shannon does this award again, as getting that goody box in the mail is a lot of fun! Thanks!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thinking Spring

Although it's kind of cold and dreary outside, I'm thinking spring thoughts. I just calculated Annie's foaling date, which will be June 20th. I'm really hoping for a filly, as always. I just ran the color calculator, and as Salam's colors haven't been done yet, if he's smokey black, we have a good chance of a buckskin (Annie is bay). If he's black, we have chances of bay, black and chestnut. So, a buckskin filly is possible! Of course, this is a large part of the fun of breeding- every foal is exactly what you want, right up until delivery. One of these days, I will have his colors run, but until then...buckskin filly!

I've also been trying to figure out my competition schedule this year. I have much less time for conditioning on the trails, so probably no 50s until at least late summer, but Galen and I have been taking jumping lessons! I used to jump, many, many years ago, but it's sure not like riding a bicycle so far. But, that is one of the great things about horses - there is ALWAYS something new (or sort of new) to learn. I won't say we'll be burning up the jumper rings, but perhaps we'll be able to negotiate a course by the end of the summer. We'll see.