Sunday, October 26, 2008


I just returned from a 4-day Hospital Benefit ride and camping trip. I hesitated on going, as there were to be 100 riders, and Bart is not at his best on large rides. I decided to "Cowgirl Up" and give it a try, believing I could just load up and go home if he was too anxious.

I arrived on Thursday about noon, set up, and got ready to go out on the 2:00 ride. We went into Box Canyon, and saw beautiful rock formations and rode into the river. When we got back the open bar was set up and then we were treated to a BBQ brisket dinner and cobblers made in a Dutch oven. Was fun meeting new people and seeing all the various campers, RV's, and tents being set up. An early bedtime felt good!

Friday more rigs arrived and the ride went out at 9. Bart was fine until we joined the large group of horses waiting to go out, then got wound up and bouncy. I saw a cowboy standing by the hitching post, and asked him if he would hold Bart while I got off. I was not going to ride. He asked if I wanted him to take the edge off, and I was glad to hand him the reins. He stuck a spur and sent Bart flying across the open area, slid him to a sliding stop (5' slide marks!!!), rolled him sharply back and went wide open the opposite direction. He did a few more roll backs, then handed me the reins and said "He is a great horse, just needs a job to do. Keep him moving and working and he will be fine". I got back on and he finally settled down and gave me a good ride. This time we climbed and enjoyed long vistas over mountains and saguaros. I loved the layering of violets, purples and pinks of the mountains....always wish I could paint when I see views like that. I later learned that the cowboy was Tom Seacrest who has a string of horses that he takes to Wyoming in the summers and to Arizona in the winter. I have rented horses from him, as have my visiting friends, and he provides a really nice riding horse.

When we got back a great lunch was waiting, then a gymkhana. I didn't plan to participate, but again got the "Cowgirl Up" urging, so I went to the area where the events were set up. Bart again was fine until he got to the arena with all the gathered horses and commotions, but when he went through the trail class and flag race, he did great! Of course, the others were loping and galloping the events, and I jogged and loped them! I even got some applause after opening, going through, and closing the gate, but then, we do that every day at Simpsons...and he is good at gates! My friends arrived with their horses during the event, so I passed on the Egg and Spoon and went for a great afternoon ride back to Box Canyon with them. Bart could be good at egg and spoon since he is so smooth-gaited, but I figured with an arena full of horses, when they called gallop he would GO....and I didn't think that would be as fun as a relaxing ride in the cool canyon. Dinner was grilled steak and salmon with strawberry shortcake for dessert. So much for losing weight with all the riding. A singing cowboy dolled all up in big hat, chaps, jangly spurs and six-shooters strolled around as we ate to serenade us with old western songs. A fun auction of "Tacky Tack" followed, and brought lot of laughs with the auctioneers remarks on the odds and ends.

Saturday morning was another great breakfast of made-to -order omelets, biscuits and gravy, waffles, cinnamon rolls and all the extras. Bart was pretty wound up....his old girlfriend, Joe's dun mare Miss Kitty had arrived....and during the night broke loose from Cindy's trailer and spent the night with Bart! He whinnied whenever she was out of sight, so I took someones suggestion and had the vet give him a shot of ACE. WONDERFUL STUFF!!! Had an AWESOME ride! We had lunch waiting for us in a wooded area, and the horses enjoyed a nap as they stood tied to the branches. Dinner was a yummy Prime Rib dinner....then another auction, but this time it was beautiful artwork, rugs, wood work and things that went for $800-$1500. I didn't bid....and my silent auction bids didn't win anything either. BUT....a professional photographer brought her pictures from the weekend to sell. The ones she really liked had been enlarged and on display.....and the biggest one was of Bart!!!! It is the picture at the top of this page. Most people had 1-4 pictures to chose from....she had taken 18 of Bart! She told me later that he was her favorite horse...that she thought he was so photogenic (probably because he was usually so animated)! Of course, I wanted them all, but selected 5 and she gave me the 12x14. She had taken some of Wylee, me, and Bart, but she said she hadn't printed them, as they had come out too dark. That was disappointing.

A huge screen had been set up for "Movie Under the Stars"....and John Wayne's "Rio Bravo" was shown and popcorn served. I opted for a shower, clean jammies and bed! I learned later that I wasn't the only one who pooped out after a busy day in the sunny 85 degrees!

Today was a bit of a disappointment. When Cindy and Joe left with Chex and Miss Kitty, Bart was devastated. He whinnied and carried on terribly. I had him saddled, but decided not to ride him as he was SOOOOOO mad about losing his sweetie. So I packed up, drove home down that long 10 mile rough road, brought Bart home and gave him a bath, fresh shavings and some hay, and left him dozing under his tree. Then it was the truck's turn to get washed....then home to wash the dusty clothes....give Wylee a bath,and now I have my bathing suit on and will leave some red desert dust in the Jacuzzi and pool! I think I will be ready for bed right after "Desperate Housewives"!

It was a great weekend and I met some really nice people. Most of the riders were between about 50-75, and one great lady from Montana was 94 and rides every day on her sorrel, Gordie. Gives one hope! Heard great stories from the vet who had gone on a riding trip in Africa, a man who had worked in Hollywood and told stories of the many stars he had worked with, and met a 75 year old woman who driven over alone from California for the ride. I'm glad I went, although I was way out of my comfort zone without my usual camping friends, and desert camping instead of in a nice Minnesota park. Luckily, I didn't see any snakes....although one woman found a taranchula and enjoyed letting it crawl around her face and neck...YIKES! Feels good to be home and my bed will feel great! Bet Bart is twice as happy to be home!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Bart, Wylee and I have all settled back in to Arizona living. I have been very fortunate to have met some great new riding buddies. Bets is an incredible 80+ year old woman who gives me hope for more years of riding. She has a great knowledge of the trails, and of the vegetation. She points out landmarks and various plants and flowers as we ride, and she has led me out on some trails that are sometimes challenging, and usually breathtaking in beauty.
I have also met Joe, who has an RV and rides all over the country, Cindy, who lives in Washington but winters in a park model at the ranch, Diane, who lives on an acreage with her husband and horses here in town, and hope to get more rides in with Cindy, who I rode with last year. So with all these new riding friends, I am getting out on 2-3 hour rides every few days, and Bart is really getting fit with all the hills to scramble up and slide down! I feel so fortunate to live in such a wonderful area and to have had all these fun new people to share my riding experiences. When one is out on a horse in spectacular scenery, with a bright blue sky, warm sunshine, and interesting conversation it seems that all the problems with illnesses, economy and war fade for awhile and life is full of peace and beauty......and I am grateful.

Friday, October 3, 2008


The summer is over and I am back at my little home in Arizona. The last weeks were busy with good-byes, a wedding,and then a week riding in the Black Hills of South Dakota before driving through Colorado and Utah to haul Bart back for some desert riding this winter. The top picture is Bart and me at the top of an overlook....straight down a loooooog way behind us. The second picture is my last night in Minnesota, where my son, daughter-in-law and grandson met me at the ranch for a picnic, bonfire, and for CJ's last ride on Bart. It was a fun evening, but I will miss them. The bottom picture is with two of my riding buddies all gussied up for another riding friend's daughter's wedding. Hardly recognize each other when we get all dolled up and replace our Wranglers, boots and hats with our girly outfits! The trip down went well....beautiful country in Colorado with the snow capped mountains and golden aspens, and the arches in Utah, and the impressive rocks in Monument Valley, where so many of the John Wayne/John Ford movies were made. I drove 13 hours from the Black Hills to Grand Junction, CO the first day, and stayed at a beautiful show barn. Turns out the owner graduated with my college roommate's husband in Minnesota! The next day was a 10 hour drive to Flagstaff. The steep grades and sharp drops in Colorado were challenging.....I was driving 35 mph in low gear with the semis getting over those gorgeous mountains. The ranch at Flagstaff was beautiful and cool in the pines. A herd of elk walked through right behind Bart's pen, and it was a nice relaxing rest before the two hour drive home. Bart trailered well, and Wylee slept in his crate for most of the days. I came home to a welcoming house where Mom had fixed lunch and brought over my mail. So the week has been one of unloading the camper and cleaning it, doing lots of laundry, going through many emails and snail mail, putting everything away again, and getting Bart settled in again at the ranch. I rode him for the first time yesterday, and he seemed to remember his routine from last spring, and all went well. This morning I took Wylee for a long walk, swam and did aeronautics in the pool with Mom, and will head to the ranch this afternoon for a ride. And it is now like I had never left. It is good to be back among my 'tings and with Mom, but will miss my Minnesota friends and family. Hope they come for a visit this winter!