Hoof Prints and Camp Smoke

Trail Riders Comment Cards & Pomona

February 07, 2012
When offering some FREE "Trail Riders' Comment Cards" I figured I'd get 15 - 20 replies. But I'm happy to say you guys are REALLY interested in saving your trails!! Had 500 printed and requests for those to horsecamping@comcast.net took 'em all in less than a week. Printed another 500 and have only 18 left. I'm really happy to send them to you folks and will print another 500 in a week or so!!

If any of you are in the Pomona area, please drop by Horse Events at Fairplex and say 'HI'. Dates are February 2 - 4th. Daily at 1 pm I'll be giving a clinic on "Horsecamping -- where to go, what to take & how to get there". We'll talk about trailers and trailering, finding campsites and selecting a campsite, getting one's horse ready to camp, feeds and feeding (including certified weed free feeds), how to keep a horse in camp (highline, picket 'cause not all camps have corrals or pens), keeping a horse safe in camp, bears, mountain lions, etc. And I get to share some of my experiences and adventures with all of you.

Two Horse Enterprises will be in Building 7, vendor booth numbers 7006 and 7008. If you want some more, will have some "Trail Riders' Comment Cards" available for you to pick up. Plus after each clinic a 12-page handout of places to go camping, checklists and other items you'll want to remember when camping.

So drop by when at Fairplex and say 'hi'.............

Bonnie
horsecamping@comcast.net

The New Year

January 11, 2012
Another Christmas and New Year have come and gone. Seems like the year is getting shorter or the stores are putting out sale items quicker -- saw some Valentine's stuff yesterday so Easter isn't far behind!

Hope all of you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year's Eve. Me, I had a nice Christmas. But the holidays are still 'rough'. There's always 'something' to remind me of the holidays with my husband, Den. We used to put up a BIG tree, decorate it, then trek to San Francisco to see the lights. Since he passed away, put up a SMALL tree, decorate it, allow myself one good cry but don't go to SF. I know he wouldn't want me sitting around feeling sorry for myself so on Christmas Day, saddled Nic and we headed up into the hills. New horsecamp going in on one side of the hills (private) so wanted to see what was happening. It's know as 'being nosey'.

We sure need rain!! Hills are dry. Hardly any grass left. Most ranchers are feeding hay from the back of their trucks. My daughter, Becky, is helping her 'partner', John. She's always been a morning person (does not get that from her mother!!!) so she's up at 5 am and by 6 heading out the door to go feed cows! Went with her a couple times. I get to drive the truck!! She sits in the back and tosses out hay. Soon as we get through the gate and start tootin' the horn, cows come to the top of the hills, see us and then come down the trails. Pretty soon we've got a line of cows following the truck.

Cows are funny. The momma cows come racing in to eat. The calves wander behind and the old bulls come saundering like what's the big hurry? There's hay for everyone. Then they wander from pile to pile pushing and shoving to get the best 'pile'. The calves feed around the edges and the bulls just stand there chewing and watching the cows.

Horses are a little different. The ones in pasture that are being fed come racing over the hills. While the cows keep a respectful distance, a couple of the horses will shove their heads in the cab as if they wanta drive! They'll even reach over the side of the truck and try to pull hay out of the bed. So usually Becky tosses the hay out and THEN I toot the horn.

Checked up in the Sierra and there is NO snow. Last year where the snow/water ratio was taken, there was 8 feet of snow on January 1st. This year, what snow could be found was 1/8 inch deep. So far California is say "no problem with water" but I can hear the agencies saying "to dry", close the camps. Seems with agencies it's either to dry, to wet, to much snow or we don't have the manpower to keep trails and camps open. Which is why it's IMPORTANT that when you camp or trail ride, you notify the agency who manages the site that YOU WERE THERE!!

I'll even make it easy for you to notify an agency. Send me your name and physical mailing address and will send you 6 "Trail Rider's Comment Cards". Free. I'll even pay the postage for the 6.

Comment Cards are basically 3x5. On one side you put in name, address, trail/camp you rode or camped in, date, what it was like and any comments. Then you turn the card over, address, stamp and mail. I keep a couple dozen in the glove compartment of my truck so when I'm done riding, I can fill one out while sitting around the campfire that night or before I load the horses into the trailer from a trail ride. Then either drop the completed card in an 'iron ranger', comment box or mail. If you wanta see a picture, go to Two Horse Enterprises (www.twohorseenterprises.com). One the hompage, click on Items. Scroll down the page and there's a picture and description.

I'm a firm believer that if we don't tell an agency we were there -- camping and riding -- no one else will. So for the New Year, make it a resolution to start telling folks where you rode and camped. What have you got to lose? The "Trail Rider's Comment Cards" are free........

Be safe!

Bonnie (and Nic)
horsecamping@comcast.net

Christmas Blog

December 22, 2011
A number of years back someone sent me this inside a Christmas card. From then I've sent it on to hundreds of people and some of you may have already read it. For those who haven't, feel free to forward on and to ALL of you MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Bonnie (and Nic)

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THE HORSE'S PRAYER

Author Unknown

To Thee, My Master, I offer my prayer. Feed me, water and care for me. And when the day's work is done, provide me with shelter, a clean dry bed and a stall wide enough for me to lie down in comfort.

Always be kind. Talk to me. Your voice often means as much to me as the reins. Pet me sometimes that I may serve you the more gladly and learn to love you. Do not jerk the reins and do not whip me when going uphill. Never strike, beat or kick me when I do not understand what you want but give me a chance to understand you. Watch me and if I fail to do your bidding see if something in not wrong with my harness or my feet.

Do not check me so that I cannot have the free use of my head. Let me see where I'm going and behind me. Remember my mane and tail are my only defense against blood biting insects and flies when you start to cut it.

Do not overload me. And please do not hitch me where water will drip on me or where I'm forced to stand in ankle deep mud and a soiled stall. Keep me well shod and trimmed. Examine my teeth when I do not eat. I may have an ulcerated tooth and that, you know, is very painful.

I cannot tell you when I am thirsty so give me clean cool water often. I cannot tell you in words when I am sick so watch me that by signs you may know my condition. Give me shelter from the hot blazing sun, driving rains, freezing winds and snow.

I try to carry you and your burdens without a murmur and wait patiently for you long hours of the day and night. Sometimes my path is dangerous and the footing unsafe but I go because that's where you direct me. I am willing to lose my life in your service.

And finally, O My Master, when my useful strength is gone do not turn me out to starve in a distant pasture. Or place me in an out of sight stall to freeze. Or sell me to some owner to be slowly tortured and starved to death because my useful days have been given to you. But do, My Master, take my life in the kindest way possible and your God will reward you here and hereafter. You will not consider me irreverent if I ask this in the Name of Him who was born in a stable........Amen.

Winter Blankets

December 01, 2011
Where I live in California, it never snows. Gets cold. And windy. But never snows. Nights can go down to freezing but days tend to warm up so I don't blanket Nic. He's got a winter coat about 3 to 4 inches long and I will admit, it's difficult to ride him on a winter day and then get him dry before dark. If I ride him for an hour in the morning around 10 am, can have him 'dry' by 4:30 when it tends to get dark.

Many people blanket their horses for winter. In pasture. In a barn. Any and everywhere, horses are blanketed. As I've said, got nothing against blanketing but I do tend to think people over do the blanketing!! If horses have shelter -- trees, a shed, something to break the wind and rain -- they can do quite nicely in winter months. The secret to keeping a horse healthy throughout the winter is 'care'!!

'Care' means a good supply of water. Hooves checked. Increased feed to help the horse have more calories to burn so he stays warm. At least two or three checks per week to make sure he's OK. And something to stand behind to break the winter winds because wind can chill a horse faster than anything!

If you watch horses in a pasture or a bunch of horses in a corral, they'll band together. Sort of huddle up. They're keeping warm. Standing together keeps horses warm and they form a 'block' that keeps the wind off them. I've even seen familiar horses allow older horses into the center of a bunch so the center horses stay warmer. And I've seen horses force another out because he was a summer trouble maker.

Blankets on older horses, hard keepers, clipped horses are fine. But regardless of why a blanket is on a horse. That horse has to unblanketed at least once a week. Just slapping a blanket on a horse doesn't keep 'em warm. Or healthy. Especially if the blanket is not water proofed or has been on the horse for so long, it's water proof qualities are gone. Nothing is worse that putting a blanket on a horse and it get rain soaked so the horse stands a day or two with a wet blanket strapped to his back. Or the owner never removes the blanket to check the body condition of the horse!

Once in another barn I was next to, a gal put a blanket on her horse the first day of winter. She worked a lot and in the winter time, I'll admit trudging to the barn can be a chore sometimes! Getting puddle boots on, warm clothes and then driving out in wind and rain takes a really 'dedicated' horseowner. So she didn't come out to the barn as often as she should have.

She had folks "look in on Frank" but no one bothered to physically check Frank. In the day time when it was warmer, Frank would rub his neck on the open top half stall door. Then he'd rub his butt on the wall. He's lay down. Get horse manure and shavings under blanket and when one looked at him, Frank looked good. But no one bothered to physically remove the blanket and check Frank.

Christmas came, she bought a new blanket for Frank. She came happily into the barn, opened the stall door and took Frank out. Tied him up to a post and began unwrapping Frank from under his blanket. After the blanket was off, he stood there with about 40% of his hair gone!! Frank had rubbed his butt and back so much he'd worn the hair off. In a couple spots, raw open sores festered because the skin became raw and began to bleed. Her comment "I never knew a horse had to have a blanket taken off. None of the horse blanket ads say to remove a blanket.".

And it's true. How many horse blankets have YOU seen warning tags on? A tag that reads something like: "Caution: Remove blanket weekly to keep horse healthy. And brush!!".

If using a blanket for winter, take it off a couple times a week. Run your hand over the horse and apply a little pressure to see how his skin and body feels. The horse may look 'fat' but is it fat? Or just heavy winter hair? Nic goes into winter with about 75 - 100 pounds of extra body weight on him -- fat -- that he tends to burn off over the next few months because of the cold weather.

When the blanket is off, turn it inside out and let it 'breath'. I hang a blanket on a fence or at least over the stall door. Brush it to get any dirt, matted hair, loose shavings, dried horse manure out of it. If the straps around the hindlegs and under the trail are 'icky', let 'em dry and then rub 'em together to get the 'icky' off. Or better yet, take some water and rub it off. Those straps can get pretty stiff and that stiff strap can rub a horse's leg raw.

Blankets have a purpose. To keep a horse warm. If you've got a blanket on your horse, take it off -- once a week at least. Brush and massage your horse's back. Clean the blanket or better yet, own TWO blankets so one can be washed and cleaned while the horse has another to put on. And if you find a blanket with a 'warning' tag on it, let me know!! I'd like to see one!

Stay warm and dry!

Bonnie (and Nic)

Fading Light of Summer

November 15, 2011
Time change means moving clocks back one hour. Days are shorter. And we're moving into colder, wetter weather. Hopefully we'll have mild winters all over and come spring, grass will be greener and taller than this last spring.

I've found with these darker-days-earlier, it's a good time to not only clean out the trailer and tack room but the box where I keep all my trail, road maps and comments from folks who have told me about trails to ride and how to get there. This year, the one usual box has grown to be three boxes!! And what each of them has in common are comments like "Trails sure are in bad condition......", "......if you ride it, Bonnie, be aware that there has been little work on this trail in 10 years......", "......the trailhead has been closed......" to "Trails are sure being ignored by agency people.........".

Trail cut backs are nothing new. Had one ranger tell me this past October that "nationwide, trails are being closed on the average of 25 miles a day.......". Doesn't sound like much but multiply that 25 by 365 days and it totals up!! Which brings me to the thought "WHY?".

Of all the 'things' that the federal agencies have, trails are the most popular and cost the less to maintain. At least the ones I've worked on are 'cheap' to build. But in some areas, trails get more expensive instead of cheaper simply because rangers have to be up-to-date on the latest technology for trails.

I can't really blame the agencies. I tend to blame us trail users!! We seem to be wanting more and more when it comes to trail uses. Where I used to ride Nic across water, now there's a bridge because some riders felt it was "dangerous to ride in the water". At another trailhead, they had to either redevelop the parking area or close the lot. Why? We're buying bigger trailers so we can take more from home with us when we camp and trail ride. Consequently, a bigger parking lot is needed to hold the same number of trailers as the old parking lot did. Wanta guess which the agency did????

Maybe it's because I'm getting old. But it seems the days of 'camping' have become non-camping because we wanta take everything from home (that we're trying to away from) out camping with us. TVs. Radios. Computers. Laptops. Cell phones. Stero music systems. Microwave ovens. Washer and dryer in some of the newer bigger living quarter trailers. Personally, when my living quarters area is bigger than my horse's compartment and tack room area -- I feel I've gone to far!! Camping isn't camping. I'm just moving parts of my 'house' with me in the pretends of camping!

Was in one camp a couple weeks ago over in New Mexico. There were four rigs. And the only time I saw or talked to the other riders was when they were feeding horses in the morning, going on a ride, coming back from a ride, cleaning paddocks and night feeding the horses. They never came out of their rigs except to go from one to the other. One night I built (what I thought) a nice campfire and just sat there with smoke blowing in my face once in awhile and roasting some marshmellows.

One of the folks came over and asked "Want to come sit in our trailer?".

I replied, "No. But you folks are welcomed to come over, enjoy the fire and watch the stars.".

For a few seconds the gal just stood there looking at me. Probably wondering why anyone would wanta sit outside with smoke blowing in their face. She thanked me and wandered back into the trailer. Me, I ate the bag of marshmellows by myself, listened to some distance coyotes yapping at the full moon and saw more than a few falling stars.

Yup, I must be getting old!! And maybe lost a couple bricks along the way too. Now that I think about it, why WOULD anyone wanta sit outside with smoke blowing in their face when you could be in a down home, living quarters trailer, sipping wine and listening to a stero system or watching the latest "CSI" or world news on TV?????

Stay warm in the coming months........

Bonnie (and Nic)


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