Hoof Prints and Camp Smoke

AAEP Membership Directory

March 15, 2016

Back in the September/October 2015 issue of “Trail Rider” there was an excellent article by Jessica Jahiel, PhD, titled “On-the-Road Veterinary Care”.  In it, was mentioned the American Association of Equine Practitioners Directory.  Have had some folks contact me about it and I’d like to endorse what Jessica says – it’s a tremendous resource for on the road travelling AND in the home barn!


I’ve been getting a copy from AAEP for a number of years.  Buy one about every 5 years because vets don’t seem to change professions very often!  My current one is a 2015.  I’ve found the quickest and easiest method to locate a vet (anywhere) is to have my OWN vet directory! 


The American Association of Equine Practitioners, the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to equine veterinary medicines, publishes the Membership Directory.  Within it’s 400 pages are valuable references not only for vets but for Medication, Equine Welfare and more.  In the 262 pages of ‘Members Listed Alphabetically’, each vet has name, address, phone number, fax, e-mail.  Also a list of ‘Colleges of Veterinary Medicine’ so one will know where the vet received his degree. 


Following the ‘Members Listed Alphabetically’, is a section ‘Members by State’.  You can find a vet anywhere in the Nation by state first, then name.  Turn back to the alphabetical listing for complete information.  Even if travelling to Canada or Mexico, there is a section on ‘Members by Country’ – want go further?  Brazil, Greece, Ireland, Australia maybe......!


To store, I keep my copy in a large, zip lock plastic bag INSIDE the trailer on one of the top shelves.  With it is a small notebook where I keep notes.  Fortunately, I’ve never had to look up a vet for my horses but on occasions I’ve loaned it to someone to use when they need a vet.  With the notebook inside, they can tear out a piece of paper, write the information on it and take the piece of paper with them!  Always in the trailer it’s easy to find and it always goes where my horses are going! 


For information on obtaining a copy I always contact the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), Attn:  Nick Altwies, Directory of Membership, www.aaep.org, 4033 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Kentucky 40511, (859) 233-0147; (859) 233-1968 fax.


February 16, 2016

Although I enjoy riding with other folks, I’ll have to admit that the majority of my trail riding and horsecamping has been by myself – just me and my horse!  Some folks may frown on riding alone.  Or camping.  But often finding a riding/camping partner can be difficult.  And with busy time schedules, trying to get 2, 3 or more riders together can be a scheduling challenge.


Before I was married, I rode everywhere – alone.  After marriage and for 48 year I still enjoyed the solitude of riding solo once in awhile but basically enjoyed the companionship of a hubby to unload the trailer, tie the highline ropes higher without me climbing on a step stool, making coffee in the morning (I’m NOT a morning person without a cup of coffee) and checking equipment to make sure it was in road condition for hauls throughout the nation.  Since his passing, I’ve gone back to riding/camping solo and still have had the good fortune to travel, camp, ride and come back to the barn without incident and in one piece!


I’m one of those that doesn’t gallop.  Walk – more like plod – is Nic’s normal gait.  Rode Sig for 28 years and if he galloped a mile in all those years, it was a long way.  We just walked.  In fact Sig got to the point he was so used to stopping to take pictures, that the moment he heard the camera case snap open – he’d stop and wait!  Nic is to that point too.


Walking is the trail gait as far as I’m concerned.  Doesn’t take much energy for the horse to move along.  And I really believe that horses love trails too.  They get outta the barn.  Into new territory and for horses that are used in arenas for performance, it gives them a chance to relax and unwind from arena stress. 


If one rides to fast, you never see anything.  And I like to ‘see’ things.  Like the owl ‘pellets’ lying on top of rocks or fence posts.  A new fawn ‘hidden’ in the grass just off the trail while momma stands down the trail in full view for me to see – baiting me away from her baby.  And all the flowers in meadows, covering mountain sides and laid out like brilliant carpets!  After some rides I’ve asked folks what “they saw?”.  Some will look at me with a questioning expression.  Others, reply “Nothing.”.  While many will just think if they saw any thing at all.  Minds seem to be just void!  Nothing in there.


So the next time you go out on a trail, ‘see’ where you’re going.  Look around.  TURN OFF your cell phone!!  But remember to always leave a note on the windshield of your vehicle back at the barn letting folks know where you’re going and the time you expect to be back.  I like to let folks know my ‘general’ area to be ridden but most know that if I say “back by 4 pm”, they always add a couple hours to it.  Usually I’m back in the barnyard by dark not because I’m concerned of the dark but as it gets darker, Nic walks faster.  HE’S thinking about the hay in the manger and grain he’ll get when back at the barn.  And we all know horses walk faster back to the barn than away!


Stay Safe.....


Bonnie & Nic



January 28, 2016

Here in California we’ve had 4, 5 years of drought, no rain.  Creeks dried up.  Dams had no water to release.  Lakes evaporated with thousands of dead fish laying in the sun.   


The last couple months we’ve had rain.  But luckily, the rain has fallen on an almost schedule, 2 days of rain with a couple days of no rain, then another 2 days of rain and so on.  It’s allowed water to soak into the ground.  Streams are beginning to flow again.  And all the pasture horses have discovered that the sandy, pebbly stream bed is for more than a great roll in the sand and sunning in the sun.


Something old with suddenly become something new even though they’ve been through it or walked by it a thousand times!  A couple mares with foals by side walked into the water but the foals stood on the bank and fussed until they got up courage to go into the water.  Then they played in it.  First time I rode Nic down to the creek with the idea of crossing through the 10 or so inches of water one would have thought alligators were hiding under that water!  He snorted, backed up a couple feet, moved forward and when a wayward branch rushed by in the flow, he froze and stood there staring at it.  A water snake to eat him I think he thought.  Doesn’t matter he had crossed in that same spot – dry and wet -- a few thousand times before even when water was racing through it 3 feet deep.  


A couple of the horses in barn stalls just stood and watched the rain out of their stall doors.  Some stood in the paddocks with backs humped like I’m-soaking-wet-someone-put-a-blanket-on-me!  One horse was moved into an enclosed stall – no paddock – because she stood out in the pouring rain and pawed in the mud puddles she quickly made.  Once she had dug a couple good puddles and they filled with water – she laid down and rolled in them!  Others stood in nice, cozy, stalls all warm and dry while watching owners and management slosh in the rain and mud digging ditches or cleaning gutters to keep puddles and rain from flooding stalls!


But all this ‘discovery’ and ‘rediscovery’ didn’t just apply to animals.  It applied to humans too.  Some kids had never seen rain before.  It hasn’t rained that much in California since they were born.  One of the boarders brought his 6 year old grandson out to the barn.  The grandson had been out before but the weather was always dry.  Sometimes even hot.  Grandson got out of the truck with his new puddle boots, slicker on.  He stood and looked around at all the water flowing everywhere.  He held out his hand to let some of the rain drops pool in his palm and then announced excitedly, “Gosh, grandpa, it’s raining here like at home.  Can I fill my hat and give Dutch a drink from it like cowboys REALLY do!!”


October 23, 2015

Often when travelling down a Forest Service or a county road, one will see a sign “Narrow Bridge”.  Or “Two Ton Bridge”.  Or “Low Bridge”.  So tell me, what does your rig weight?  How high is it?  How wide?  Because it doesn’t matter how fast one drives trying to get across THAT bridge, you aren’t going to make it if the outfit weighs MORE than the bridge can carry.  Or the rig is 4 inches wider than the bridge.  Or if an air conditioner is higher than the top of the camper and will hit the spanners on top of the bridge!!  Doesn’t matter.  You’re still NOT going to get over that bridge.  SAFELY......

To be on the safe side when it comes to weight, the next time you go camping and have a full rig – all the horses, all the feed, all the groceries, all everything you normally take – drive by a set of public weigh scales and get weighed.  If you go by a highway patrol office with scales, in some states they’ll let you weigh a rig for free.  At least the ones I’ve used in California have.  Private scales run from $25 up.  But knowing what your rig weighs will make you feel safer when approaching a bridge.

Next, measure the width of your rig.  Stand in front and look down both sides.  What sticks out the furthers from the sides?  I’ve got a diesel dually.  My wheel wells on my truck might.  But it’s not the wheel wells or even the little clearance lights ON the wheel wells, the widest spots on my truck are the mirrors.  The mirrors stick out about 2 inches wider than the wheel well clearance lights.  Why?  So I get a better view of both sides of my rig when pulling.  Plus if my mirrors clear, what’s following will clear also – to a point.  If hauling panels on the side of a trailer, measure from the edge of them.  Once you’ve determined the width of your rig, add 2 more inches to that measure for the grand total width.  It’s better to have a couple inches of clearance than scrap paint!  Or tear a fender off.

After weight and width, measure height.  To the very tippy-top of the rig.  Even with your roof vent open (in case you leave it open one day when travelling).  With an LQ trailer, to the very top WITH the roof vent open also.  You’ll need a ladder to do this and for any measuring you’re going to have to have someone help you measure.

In Arizona, saw an LQ trailer come zipping into a fuel station.  He hardly slow down.  Just headed to the nearest pump.  The ceiling lights under the station roof were hanging down and as he pulled through, he managed to break 8 of them even though they were hung on chains and swung as he wiped them out!  So when pulling into a fueling station, LOOK overhead.  In fact, ALWAYS look overhead when pulling under anything.  If not sure you’ll clear a light (or a tree branch), have a partner get out and watch or get out yourself.  It’s better to be safe than pay a couple thousand dollars to fix a fuel stations overhead lights!

Once you’ve got all this information, print it neatly on a 3 x 5 card.  Go to an automotive store and buy one of those little visor envelopes.  They clip onto the sun visor.  Slide the card inside and clip it onto the driver’s side visor.  If you’re not sure how much you weigh or how high you are or how wide the next time pulling into a fueling spot or coming to a bridge, simply flip down the visor and read it!!  You can even add the weight of the motor oil used in the engine!  License plate numbers for trailer and towing rig.

Tip:  If approaching a bridge with a weight limit and even though you’re within the weight limit, the bridge might look a little on the ‘shaky’ side.  Few boards missing.  No railing on one said.  Unload the horses and walk them across the bridge.  Tie the horses to trees or have someone hold them.  THEN drive across the bridge.  With the horses out of the trailer, the outfit can be 2,000 pounds lighter – or more.  Just be sure to tie horses in FRONT of you.  If I tied my horses in front of me, they just watched me drive across the bridge.  But if I tied them behind the trailer and they watched me drive off OVER the bridge.  They’d whinny, move around and even begin to paw.  In their minds, they were being left behind as bear food since I was driving AWAY. 

Follow Us