Hoof Prints and Camp Smoke

Thistles, Twigs & Tails

August 28, 2014

Never can quite understand why folks CUT and SHORTEN a mane and a tail!  Mother Nature gave horses’ manes and tails that grow to keep flies and bugs off ‘em.  Other than us humans wanting the horse to “look neater” or “prettier” or “it’s fashion” or “Jane down the street does it”, I can think of no reason to cut a mane or a tail.  Other than if one owns a lot of stock in a company that sells fly spray!!


Bonnie Davis
Credit: Bonnie Davis
I can understand the frustration one has when it comes to getting a horse’s mane neat and tangle free.  The biggest problem I have with Nic’s mane is that he gets ‘witches knots’ in it.  Especially when he’s out in pasture and the wind is blowing.  Or during a full moon.  An ole wife’s tale is that horse’s get ‘witches knots’ in their manes after a witch’s midnight ride.  A witch will pick out a horse from a pasture, knot the horse’s mane for hand holds, put a spell on the horse and then ride the horse through the sky for a midnight journey. 


Bring Nic in the next morning and he’s got all these knots ‘woven’ in his mane that can take me an hour to pick out with my fingers.  Can’t brush ‘em out.  Just have to pick ‘em out.  And the worse thing one can do is cut ‘em out.  Once out and the mane is loose and free, you’ll have a mane with holes cut in it and not very neat looking! 

Have found that a quick fix is to put baby oil in the knot.  Rub it through and let it sit for an hour or so.  While I clean Nic up from his midnight, full moon witch’s ride, the baby oil soaks into the hair.  It will still take some picking to get the knot out but it’s a lot easier after some baby oil is in the mane plus it makes the hair feel soft.


Since I ride in a lot of dry country and Nic’s tail will just about drag on the ground (really keeps those flies off his back and hindquarters!!) the easy way to avoid thistles, twigs and other brush from getting tangled in his long tail is to braid the tail.  Usually I braid it at the trailer.  Just before leaving on a ride.  Do not braid it to tight and be careful to braid below the end of spine.  I don’t use rubber bands in it except at the end. 


In the picture, Nic had his tail braided only to the top of his hocks.  On this particular ride Nic and I were going through some swamp with a lot of little gnats that loved to pester him by landing on his hocks and lower legs.  So left about a foot of tail hair loose so it fanned out and helped to keep the gnats off better.  Returning to the trailer, I unsaddled and unbraided his tail.  Back at the barn I’ll wash his back off and brush his tail out.


I’m not to concerned about how it looks when braided.  He’s not going into a show ring for points.  But rather walk down a trail.  I want his tail to keep the bugs off but I also don’t wanta spend an hour picking ‘trash’ out of his long tail – so I braid!  If you haven’t tried it, give it a try.  If you want you can even add a bow and remember, if your horse kicks don’t forget to add that RED ribbon so everyone behind you knows to stay back out of kicking range. 


Have a safe ride.......


Bonnie & Nic


Keep Those Notes......and maps!

July 16, 2014

I’ve got this ‘thing’ about keeping stuff.  I know I should get rid of some things but I just can’t get rid of others.  The biggest can’t-get-rid-of are notes I’ve written down over the years and maps!  Especially maps!!  Plus maps and notes my folks had.


Currently, I’ve got three 4-drawer filing cabinets FULL of maps.  Maps that go back 50, 60 years.  A few back 80 and 90 years.  The really old maps I got from my folks.  Before I was born, my folks travelled the west with a Wild West Show.  90% of the roads then were dirt, some just ruts from pictures in the ole family album.  After I was born, they travelled the states with what would be called a ‘family show’. 


Back then before TV, radio, theaters, i-pods, telephones and in some places, newspapers......folks got their news whenever someone came through town.  Dad had an old hand crank motion picture project that worked off gas and they’d run all the old movies on – William S. Hart, Bronco Billy Anderson, Charlie Chaplin.  To make money they’d sell popcorn for 5 cents a bag.  Little bars of soap like you see in motels and hotels today for a penny and little writing tables with a pencil for 10 cents.  But before each movie, he’d do a ‘stand up’ and talk about what happened over the last couple weeks.  Or months.  In other towns where they had just showed. 


“Did you folks hear about Sheriff Lewis over in Bodie (California)?  Someone stole his horse!  He left it tied out front of the Miners’ Hall.  The sheriff was inside the Miners’ Hall conducting business.  Fortunately, the horse was returned home.  The sheriff, he never made it home that night.  Accordingly, he was out looking for his horse and got lost on the way home.”


Or, “The new school over in Gabbs (Nevada) got robbed.  No books were taken but all the chalk and pencils and paper was.  Seems someone had a lot of writing to do ‘cause some of the paper has turned up in the out going mail a few days later........”


I’ve got a file cabinet full of my dad’s notes and handbills, posters, booking information and other ‘stuff’.  Including pictures of the ole towns.  So when I really wanta go camping off the beaten routes, I dig out some of my dad’s old notes and maps, load Nic in the trailer and head out.


One of my favorite maps is a 1926 Texaco road map.  The highway numbers don’t even match the numbers of today.  Most of the highways from then have ‘moved’ over the last 100 years so aren’t even in the spots where they used to be.  Some off as much as 20 or 30 miles.  Some gone completely.  And back then, the roads were dirt.  Dad writes about driving the “plank wood road across the Arizona sand dunes” in 1939.  I’m still looking for that ‘.....plank wooden road”!


Up in Nevada, was on a horsecamping search for any old town which wasn’t even on the current maps.  Or even listed as a ghost town.  It just wasn’t anywhere.  But according to my dad’s notes, “Walls had bout 150 people, 7 saloons, 2 churches, feed store, jail, stage stop, livery barn, one room school and tents most of the miners lived in.....3 days in town, we made $8.96 but had to pay 15 cents a gallon for truck fuel.....”. 


Armed with a copy of his road map, pictures of the town and dad’s notes set out to find Wells.  It was off Interstate 40 (which isn’t 40 anymore) about 75 miles on a “county road”.  Took 4 days to find Wells.  But found it!


Wells currently is nothing.  A few foundations.  A few open mines which one has to be careful of when riding around.  And a graveyard.  Found about 50 graves.  Some had headstones but most were wooden markers.  One person had “gone to hell at Carla’s saloon”.  Another “kicked in the head”.  A third, “drew slow”, and one with no name on a granite slab which took some time to carve read “a soul to young to stay on this earth so gone home with momma”.  I assumed a baby who’s mom died in childbirth.


But what I really like about all my old maps is using them as reference.  When an agency talks about a trail “never being there because it’s NOT shown on the internet”, I break out one of my maps and announce, “there WAS a trail there.  There was even a road with a stage stop which was turned into a trail when the stage stop closed.  The trail was maintained until about 1950.  I’ve got a map plus some pictures if anyone is interested in seeing them!”. 


So don’t toss those old maps and notes out.  Save ‘em.  And if you need a couple more file cabinets, get the 4-drawer metal style ones.  They last longer.  Keep the dust out better than plastic and for some reason, a plastic file cabinet doesn’t seem to do the ‘honors’ to an old map or notes that a metal cabinet does. 


Stay safe......


Bonnie & Nic



IT’S TIME......

May 30, 2014

.......for the Western States Horse Expo!!  Horse Expo, June 13 – 15, at CalExpo fairgrounds in Sacramento, California,  is among the top world known expos and is growing each year!!  Along with the standing events – top world known Clinicians, Horse Sale, Equine Dream Art Show & Sale, Breeds (just about every horse in the world!), Young Rider Park, Book Corral, Horse Expo University (where one can earn credits towards a degree while going to school AND attending Horse Expo), Barns, Stalls, Fencing, Trucks & Trailers galore there’s all the presentations, events, clinics, greetings and meetings!  Plus huge vendor show offering everything one may need (or not need but would like to own) in the equine industry plus lots of new ‘items’ that fall under the category of wish-I-would-have-thought-of-that – and done it!


And the Trail Symposium!!  One of the founding reasons for the Western States Horse Expo.  Find out where the trails are.  Conditions.  What horsecamps are where.  Plus learn (and taste) camp cooking!  Caring for a horse on the trail.  Vet tips.  Latest trail equipment.  And “Horsecamping” – that’s me!


Since the first Horse Expo, I’ve had the fortune to be invited to present a clinic on “Horsecamping”.  And gotten to see first hand how the horse industry has shifted more and more into recreational trail riding!  Folks are buying bigger trailers for longer hauls in comfort for themselves and their horses.  Portable corrals are in fashion!  Light weight equipment has left the hiking and backpacking stores and walked into western wear and tack stores.  The newest light weight saddles, saddle bags, blankets to repel bugs and tons of other stuff for trail riding and camping can be found among the vendors at the trade show during Horse Expo.


“Horsecamping” will be out on the green, grass area (with shade)!  And this year, will be different from the past years.  Trying to cover a subject as huge as “Horsecamping” is impossible to cover in one-hour, one day.  So this year, each day will have a specific theme – but at the end of each clinic, I’ll go over a general review of camping and if there’s any questions, one can ask at the clinic or wander with me over to Two Horse Enterprises (www.twohorseenterprises.com) in Building D, booths 4503 & 4629. 


Friday, June 13th, 4:30 – 5:30, we’ll talk about ‘Selecting Your Destination’ and ‘Has Your Horse Horsecamped Before?’.

Saturday, June 14th, 1 –2 will be ‘North or South – will your trailer fit?’, ‘How to Pack, Stack & Store It’ plus ‘Horsecamp Hauling”

Sunday, June 15th, 10 – 11 is the last day and the topic ‘Feeds, Feeding & Water’ will be discussed. 


At the conclusion of each clinic, there’s a FREE handout,  “Horsecamping – expanding your trail riding adventures”.  It’s about 7 pages long and includes places where one can trail ride, day camp and over night camp for up to 3 or more weeks.  Included is a Horse Camp Check List and a People Camp Check List.  You can grab one after the clinic and also at Two Horse Enterprises vendor booth (vendors are open from 9 – 7 daily).


If you can’t make Horse Expo or aren’t planning on attending but would still like a copy of “Horsecamping”, send me your address via e-mail, horsecamping@comcast.net, and I’ll drop a copy in the snail mail to you.  Depending on how fast the mail travels, you should have it in a few ‘days’.  And if you’ve got any questions or comments about Expo or horsecamping and trails, contact me!  Like to hear from all of you.......but if you don’t hear from me in a couple days, I’m out camping.  But (promise) I will get in touch with you when I get the horses back in the barn......


Travel Safe!


Bonnie & Nic



Camp Fires

April 02, 2014

There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire in the early morning hours, sipping a hot cup of coffee and watching the rays of a rising sun.  Or sitting in the dark, watching flames lick away the darkness while one listens to the gentle crunching of horses eating hay or just settling in for a quiet night.


Camp fires just go together with horsecamping.  But one to remember that wood can – even in the forest – be a challenge to find.  Downed timber or the wood on the ground cannot be collected for a camp fire.  Where the wood falls, the wood has to be left.  So the best method for being assured you’ll have a campfire is to bring your own supply of firewood.


I usually cut up wood I find around the place into lengths of about 12 – 18 inches.  Stack ‘em someplace out of the weather through the winter.  And come that first horsecamping trip, the wood is dry.  Pine burns fast.  Oak is good for an all night fire.  Bundling it makes it easier to care and haul. 


Sometimes when I’ve been lazy and haven’t cut any wood or run out, I pick up another bundle or two at a store somewhere in the area when I buy supplies.  Really dry wood burns fast but remember that the bigger and greener the wood, the longer it will burn in a firepit.  And fires SHOULD always be in a firepit!


To build a firepit, one can do it two ways.  First, find a firepit in your camp.  There’s usually one around.  If it’s a group camp area, there may be one BIG firepit where everyone gathers at night to swap tales and see who can tell the biggest ‘lie’.  Or you can build your own by first digging a hole and then lining it with rocks.  Remember, some agencies don’t want rocks to line a firepit.  And there are store bought firepits that one just sets up, opens the fire proof screens and builds a fire.  But to be on the safe side, ALWAYS be sure to check the regulations for even having a camp firepit and fire.  In some places, no fires and firepits are allowed.


When building the fire, build it to the firepit size and never put to much wood in it at one time.  Can remember watching some folks build a fire that roared flames 6 feet up into the air with sparks flying everywhere.  No one seemed concerned about the flames but it sure caused some other campers (me included) to fill a couple buckets with water just in case........


Campfires should NEVER be left unattended!!  Even if it means someone has to ‘fire sit’ all night keeping an eye on the burn just to make sure!  A sudden gush of wind can carry a spark or two into the surrounding brush and start a fire.  Remember when feeding the fire or starting a fire, wood used in the campfire should be cut to the LENGTH of the firepit.  Not one end sticking out over the rocks lining the first ring.  In this picture, once the log burns into two pieces, the heavy unburned end with fall down flipping sparks into the air from the lite end! 


Fires should be inspected and completely out before left alone.  Water can help to put a fire out but makes a watery mess of the firepit which makes it harder to build another fire.  So the best method I’ve found for putting a fire out is either to let it burn completely out with just hot coals left or if a fire has to be put out, buried with dirt is a good way to to it.  Regardless of the method one uses ALWAYS MAKE SURE THE FIRE IS OUT.  NO SPARKS.  NO HOT SPOTS.   Always out!

A New Overnight Layover

February 18, 2014
Years ago just west of Reno, Nevada on I80 at Boomtown Hotel & Casino, the truck stop had layover corrals for horsemen. One could unload, put horses in corrals and spend the night in hotel possibly gambling and trying to win one's fortune. I used to stay there everytime I was going from California east on Interstate 80 because one of the big attractions, it was free!

About ten years ago the corrals and the truck stop were 'reduced'. The truck stop and corrals were torn out and a Cabelas Sporting Goods Store was built with another restaurant and smaller parking lot for truckers.

Cabelas is a neat store and if you haven't stopped there, one should plan a stop. Even with horses in trailers and a dog in the backseat because Cabelas saw a need and filled it -- they built better pipe corrals along one side of the store, put in a dump station for the bigger self-contained LQ trailers, expanded the parking lot by the corrals for easier turning around and even put in a few dog runs so one could put a dog in there for a few hours or overnight.

The corrals are metal with a gravel base. One has to bring their own water bucket and hay net but they're a good six feet high. There's a water faucet just a few feet from the corrals. Located on the west side of the store they have afternoon sun but don't worry about it, because they also planted trees and shrubs around corrals and dog kennel to help keep the animals cool during summer heat. And those trees and shrubs help to stop those cold winter wind blasts through there too.

Unfortunately, the corrals at Cabelas are one of the best kept secrets when it comes to looking for a layover. Maybe it's because no one thinks of corrals being at Cabelas. Or maybe it's because the place is really located in Verdi, Nevada so if looking it up on the internet or calling information an address will not be found in Reno which is where most people think Boomtown is located. But regardless of the reason they aren't used, the corrals and dog runs will be removed if we hauling horseowners don't start to use them!!

So if hauling on Interstate 80 east or west, when you see the Garson exit and the sign for Boomtown Hotel and Casino, turn in for at least a look see -- with or without horses and a dog or two. To spend the night, just go into Cabelas and let 'em know you're there -- corrals and kennels are on a first come, first serve basis. The three or four times I've put Nic in the corrals last summer, we had the place to ourselves.

But to be on the safe side, give 'em a call from your cell. Phone number is (775) 829-4100. Their website is www.cabelas.com. If you're planning a trip and have some time, be sure to read their list of 'amenities' because Cabelas is located across this nation and others have corrals too. Not a bad way to plan nightly layovers by staying at Cabelas as one hauls across the country. And when there be sure to go inside the store and look around -- just leave credit cards and cash behind in the horse trailer!!

Bonnie & Nic

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