Friday, December 21, 2018

New Saddle #2

I've wanted a Cashel trail saddle since they came out. They're made by Martin, on their Axis tree, which has a great reputation, but for some reason they don't cost an arm and a leg and a spleen and 6 eye-teeth. When they originally came out they were pretty reasonably priced, but when the word got out about them, the price went up. Still, not as bad as most Martin saddles.

I like the simplicity of them, the weight, and the comfort. Halla likes it too. We had a very relaxed, enjoyable ride around home yesterday. I felt like we were more connected and she was less protective of herself. Not all necessarily because of the saddle, of course. It was just nice time together.

Judging by the wear and the style, this might be one of the original ones they came out with, which I like better than the later models. The woman I bought it from on eBay called me and talked to me about it. She had ridden many great miles in this saddle and it brought a tear to her eye when she sold it. She has a new horse though. You know how that goes. 

I'm trying to decide if I want to ride today or not. Between my shoulder and my cold, I probably shouldn't. But YOLO.  Hahahahaha, I hate that term. Also, I need to clean my house. :/ But the sun won't shine every day. Hey, speaking of which, HAPPY SOLSTICE! Heck, I might as well ride.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Books, farrier, etc

I am so bored! Sitting at home alone for days and days... Gah! My cold is getting better, but slowly... I've finished two books in the last couple days. A sci-fi called Retrograde (good) and an autobiography of Richard Feynman, which I was surprised to find I really enjoyed. I don't normally read non-fiction but his was fast paced and interesting.

The farrier came today. Everyone was well behaved as usual, except Scout, who was a tad bit wiggly, as usual. That horse needs a more challenging, active lifestyle.

I like my farrier and I want to make sure he knows I appreciate him, so I wanted to give him something nice for Christmas. I was thinking cookies or something he could share with his family but I have the cooties, so I made him a halter with a nice rope clip and a hand spliced lead rope. I had already made the lead rope. I figured if he already had too many he could re-gift it. He loved it. :) He's a guy who likes quality workmanship, so that made me feel good.

Gotta go - funeral planning. Wish me luck going out in the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

New Saddle #1

Ever since I tried out an Ez Fit treeless saddle years ago and sent it back, I've kinda wished I'd kept it. I've kept an eye out for a cheap used one, but never found one cheap enough or at the right time.

Anyway, long story short, I had some saddle money burning a hole in my pocket and I bought a brand new saddle! 
Theses saddles are secure enough to mount from the ground, the pommel high enough for a high wither but flexible enough for wide or narrow. Seat size, stirrup position, and cinch position are moveable. Moveable panels under the saddle for wider or narrower spinal relief, and apparently the panels adjust for a wider or narrower horse, although I don't quite understand that. I left everything as it was, but lengthened the stirrups. You can also get a higher cantle piece that switches out easily.

Since it's not trying to look like an English or western saddle, I don't think it's that weird looking. But then I've been looking at them for years, so maybe I'm used to them.

I rode yesterday for an hour or more. They say they take about 8 hours to break in. The structure is foam and pig hair stuffed panels, I believe. Anyway, it was comfortable, but toward the end my low back was aching. I'm going to shorten my stirrups a notch next time. They felt a tad long. I felt a little unsteady when she'd jump a bit (my tissue fell out of my pocket & scared her-I'm producing snot like you wouldn't believe) but no problem going up and down hills. Kinda weird dismounting without a horn. 

I love how lightweight it is. Wish I could ride again but it's pouring down rain today. Gross.

So... The same day I bought this saddle, another saddle that I've wanted for years came up on eBay for a screaming deal. I shouldn't have... But I did. I'll just sell the Circle Y I've been having trouble hoisting onto her back. :) Yeah, I have a saddle problem. I'll write about that one once I get a chance to ride in it more. John stole it, he likes it.

Monday, December 17, 2018

What day is it?

I've lost track of the date. I know I should be working tomorrow but I'm sick. The stress finally got me, I guess. I know it's Monday. I know it will be the 22nd on Saturday, because that's when my sister's services will be held. I know that on Wednesday it was my niece's birthday, and thank goodness her mom didn't die until the wee hours of the morning on Thursday. Still, her birthdays have always been tainted by mastectomy, cancer tests, chemo... Poor woman-child, nursing her mom to her death in the darkness while everyone caught a few moments sleep, with only the sound of the rhythmic death rattle and the oxygen condenser.

Dying is such an active thing. So difficult.  Amy decided on Wednesday to go on hospice. She was done fighting. And the following Wednesday was the last time she spoke. "Shit!" was the last thing I heard her say that morning, tired of being told what to do. By the afternoon I was pretty sure she wouldn't last the night. The early hours of the morning are a natural time for death. An ebb tide of life, perhaps? A thinning of the veil... Thank goodness her last breaths did not drag out for hours. One long pause, two more breaths, no more.  Her face was so peaceful. No sign of struggle or pain.

Seeing her whole family rallied around her all night, holding her hand, stroking her forehead, bathing away her fever, stretching out next to her in her bed - paintings and sculptures should be made of such moments.

I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

I'm doing Ok, most of the time, until I'm not. It's unpredictable.  It's everyone else I'm worried about. We'll just have to take it day by day. We're in uncharted seas. Luckily, they have an excellent pastor/friend to help them through it, and other resources as well. We may not have done this before, but it isn't the first time anyone has lost a loved one. We'll be alright. Together.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Update & Stuff

My shoulder is much improved. Not better, but pretty good if I'm careful. I still couldn't saddle a horse. :( I still haven't seen my doctor. They decided to let me hang until their next available appointment, which was over 2 weeks away at the time.  10 days from now. It'll probably be usable by then but I still have a lot of questions. I love my doctor but do does everyone else, and it takes forever to get to see him.

I haven't even been feeding the horses so life is weird. The ground is muddy. The ducks are still laying. I'm hoping to buy a lightweight treeless saddle now that I sold my Orthoflex saddle. I might be able to saddle up one handed. I've got almost all of my Christmas shopping done, which is unusual for me. We might have to have an early Christmas. I've spent a lot of good time with my sister. She's going on hospice this week. The chemo wasn't really working, and she wasn't healthy enough to keep trying it anyway. But wow, she has been doing much better than we expected. Now the transition is starting, and she's starting to see people who are already gone. But she's still very much with us. We went shopping yesterday for a while & went out to eat. She just had to get out. Cabin fever.

Not much else to report... Just the last dregs of 2018. All swirling with stale coffee grounds and maybe someone flicked their cigarette ashes in there, but we gotta finish it out. Damn. I think I need a sunny day!

Saturday, November 24, 2018


I have been totally housebound and pretty helpless (thanks to my husband the animals are getting fed), and I still don't know what's wrong with me. Apparently shoulders aren't that interesting to doctors, even when the pain is excruciating and not responsive to pain meds. BUT! Dr. Google gave me a solution that has helped tremendously, so if you ever injure your shoulder and the doctor hands you a simple sling, ask for this instead:

The sling supports your elbow and leaves your shoulder all wibbly-wobbly, while this wrap holds the shoulder in place and reduces pain almost immediately.

I plan to bother my doctor some more on Monday. Of course this happened on a holiday week.

I also figured out how to halter a horse one-handed. Luckily I have tons of extra rope around, because a halter wouldn't do. I took a roughly 20-22ft rope, made a loop in one end, and used a "come along hitch." I don't know if Steve Edwards invented it - probably not - but he uses it a lot in his donkey and mule training.  It's easy to do one-handed as long as your critter is sweet and wonderful like mine;) This video shows it pretty well:

Unlike my photo of fluffy Juniper, which doesn't show it at all:

I took a stroll around the pasture and even ventured out with Halla and took her to visit Sawyer. Much better today! Previously I could barely walk across my tiny house.

I already have some ideas on bridling and saddling one-handed, but since I can hardly stand to ride in the car, I don't think I'll be riding a horse just yet.

I'm off to my super exciting life. Nap #1 for today. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Alrighty Then

I'm going to get my complaining over with first. What am I, 80 years old? Seriously, I want to be done being injured or in pain, please. My shoulder is in so much pain it's almost made me puke or pass out a couple times. I couldn't sleep due to the throbbing, awful pain. I didn't even do anything to it! I did do a lot of mowing on the riding mower one day. But it didnt hurt at all until it started getting progressively worse the next day. Went to the doctor yesterday, they gave me a powerful anti-inflammatory shot which I didn't think worked until it wore off. Yowza. Today I'm going to insist on imaging. After I go to work, because of course we're short staffed this week.

I mowed a path around part of the property so I can walk in the evening without getting run over. Plus, it's prettier than walking on the road.

Miss Juniper is, as always, difficult to photograph. I have to walk away quickly and hope I can get far enough away to click a pic while she follows. You'll have to take my word for it. She's the prettiest donkey ever.

We went for a nice ride on Sunday. Happily, John likes to clear trail and I had a saw. I've been riding around these branches and this downed tree for years.

Halla showed me something interesting again. She decided she wanted to go home and was really pulling back for the trailer, but I kept her on course with some effort. When I didn't give in she started looking for an excuse to spook. Interesting. She did do a little spook, I didn't get buffaloed by it, we continued for a bit and then looped back as planned, not too much later. I think that was a good ride. We rode past her bad behavior but not too far past her tired point (this was a pretty short ride and she didn't sweat much at all). She's a good girl but she doesn't have much work ethic. :)

This one though. He is bad. He has an interesting bracelet. I knew better than to leave that type of feed pan in there with him, but had a mental lapse.

And then there's Winston, who will cuddle any way he can. We were playing cards (a Western shoot-em-up game called Bang!, super fun) and he just wedged himself in there for a stand-up seat-back cuddle.

I'm off to work. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Old Times

I'm going through the old photos on my computer. Whoa, what a job. I take a LOT of pictures. Originally I was going to delete all the ones that aren't worth keeping but I found myself just looking for the best ones. Here are a few fun ones that were probably on the old, pre-Tonka blog, which has been deleted. I'm pretty sure nobody has even been around long enough to remember that blog. Horse Tales. Or Horse Tails. See, I don't even remember what it was called.

Here's my sister on Levi, her girls on Dyno and Sox, and Katia on Coda. I was probably riding Soxy, our good old appy mare.

Our boys. :)

My oldest niece on Sox again.

My younger niece winning a blue ribbon on Coda. He was so proud in the show ring!

He'd been a show horse his entire life and was dumped at the auction when he got old and skinny. Luckily a kind woman who couldn't really afford him picked him up and I bought him from her. He finished his life with our kids.

My brother in law in front with my nephew and his nephew, my nieces, a friend of the family, and my sister. What fun!

This (below) was a big trail challenge that covered miles on a big ranch. My horse had a narcoleptic episode and knocked down the electric fence in the middle of the night and let a bunch of horses loose. Lovely to wake up to galloping hooves in the darkness and try to quickly get your feet into cold, stiff boots. They didn't get far though. Then it rained all day the next day. It was fun, though!

A ladies ride. We were going to do them regularly. I don't think that happened. Or if it did, I didn't go.

Boy, I sure miss all of those horses. Soxy, Danni, Coda, Levi, Sox. They were family, and they were good to us. All gone now. I guess they made room for more horses in our hearts. I'm glad to have the memories.

And check out what Duncan is up to!

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Random Photos

Callie cuteness

Sawyer looking good

See the duck? She's got hiding skillz.

Thinking about one of these...

Love this!

And this

Thought my daughter would love this, but she has her eye on a different one. I love music stores, even though I don't aspire to play anymore.

Yucky weather is setting in. We did ride Monday to try to help someone find a lost horse after a wind storm. Horse was eventually found, we hauled her back to her home. Didn't actually end up needing the horses as it turned out, but it was good to get in the saddle in weather we normally wouldn't ride in. It should have felt good to help out, but I'll just say some people just aren't my type. I'm glad the horse was OK.

On a related note, I'd love to join the sherriff's posse and do some search and rescue. They have their meetings late on weeknights way out in the boonies. It's a little weird. I'll have to wait until I have more free time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


I hauled Halla and Scout to the vet/chiropractor yesterday. Halla was so good. No worries going into the strange building with the horse skeleton and the stocks, or seeing all the traffic going by, the tractor with the big sprayer booms moving on the hill, the mower at the school, and all the other business of a small town afternoon.

Her atlas and her C3 in her neck are out. The tiny bumps in her spine on her back aren't a huge concern becquse they don't hurt, there's no heat, and there is mobility there, but she did adjust that area.

She worked on her neck but it wasn't moving enough. Halla was pretty resistant to the work. Not bad, just not moving in the right way. We'll go back in a couple weeks. Until then we have some homework - stretches and icing some areas.

Scout is just fine. His adjustments have held, and he misbehaved just as much as he usually does there. He's like a big pushy, mouthy baby, even stomping and mildly kicking. I don't get it. He doesn't do that anywhere else. It's all nerves, poor guy, but it's still really frustrating.

I have no new horsey pictures, so I'll leave you with some puppy pics. We got to babysit over the weekend. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dental Day

Our trip to the dentist went very well. Juniper checked the place out, then she had to stand tied while Halla had her teeth worked on.

Halla did have the slight problem I thought I had seen. Her lower molars toward the front were longer than her uppers - she had a bit of a ramp there, keeping her jaw from sliding freely front to back. Farther back there were some more extreme than usual ridges that would have eventually forced gaps in between her teeth, and we're causing a bit of a catch in her side to side motion. Nothing serious for now, but would have been pretty awful if never corrected.
She was so good. Loaded right up and stood nicely with one mild dose of sedation.

Afterward Juniper loaded into the dental trailer without much fuss. She was a bit worried about the ramp at first but it didn't take long at all. Backing out was a little scary, at first she didn't want to, then she shot out really fast! Next time we'll try actually working on her teeth.

When it was time to go she was very worried and tried to load up before it was her turn.
I couldn't be happier with how they both behaved. Love my girls.

My niece and nephew-in-law got an adorable puppy. Isn't she wonderful? I could cuddle her all day.

Monday, October 22, 2018


Everyone thinks they have the best dog in the world. Everyone is right. Especially me. Winston is the best nurse. I had to have some biopsies of my esophagus the other day. No big deal, it was so quick and easy, but the anesthesia and a migraine put me in bed for the day. He took his job very seriously. Professional cuddler and lumbar support.

Liam marched with the high school band in the U of I homecoming parade as the Logger mascot on Saturday. It was hilarious. Check out his "bone saw" (trombone/chainsaw).

I don't go out in crowds very often anymore, so I'm sure I'm more sensitive than I was when I lived in big cities and went to concerts all the time. Mostly it was small town people like myself and college students at the parade. But 3 young men moving fast, looking around too much, hands in the pockets of their hoodies, looking paranoid - that set me on edge a bit. The chances of something happening in my small town are small, but we have had two crazy shooter incidents here in recent history. Maybe I'm paranoid, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to worry about. They were probably just high. Nothing did happen.

One of my ducks, Sibbell, laid this egg right in front of us the other day. No fanfair, no fuss. Just plopped it out and went about her business. Zorro showed more interest in possibly mothering it than she did.

I was super dizzy and home alone the other evening but I wanted to try some adjustments to the new saddle, so Sawyer and I took a spin around the property.
As we came back into the yard a truck came down the driveway. Probably a neighbor, I thought. Nobody ever comes down our bumpy driveway, though. We are pretty secluded, nobody can see our house in the trees. Mild worry. Should I get off my horse, stay on? Which gives me the upper hand?  I wasn't worried enough to think about my bear spray (in the wrong saddle bag) or where my phone was. I stayed on, rode over to greet them. Phsycologically, if I look confident and taller... Who is this handsome young man and why does he have a box of cheez-its? :) Turns out it was my son getting a ride home. I thought he was coming home closer to midnight. Maybe I am paranoid. Just a little.

The above photo reminded me I forgot to share this picture I liked of Halla.

Going to catch my horse, I get a lot of "help"from a donkey.

I sure do love my Juniper but she can be a pest.

Yesterday we had a nice ride at McCroskey State Park. No hunting allowed in State Parks.

Beautiful views.

We wore our orange anyway, just in case.

I love scout's face below. If you look close you'll see his extra large shoo-fly hanging from his cinch. Since his tail is paralysed he can't swat flies. Hopefully this will help. I ordered it from Knot-a-Tail, who sells on Etsy and eBay. Nice stuff!
Halla does not pose for pictures! I just can't get a side shot, she wants to face and follow.
Couple funny... I guess we'll call them funny... stories from the ride. We were bushwhacking up and down this really steep game trail, no problem. I spotted the road below us and headed for it.  The route was easy, but there was one spot Halla refused to cross. I insisted (there wasn't really another way) and she went but she got all jumpy. I had rehearsed in my mind what I'd do if she spooked and spun again. Grab MANE - not saddle - with one hand, and one rein stop with the other. I did need to use that. And she didn't stop spinning for several revolutions. We'll need to work on that. But I stayed on and all was well. Her nerves were pretty frayed so I got off a little bit later and hiked for a while. I'm guessing there was predator scent there. Most likely black bear but could be cougar or wolf up there.

Later, two motorcycles came up on us FAST. I turned my horse to face them and waved my arm, heart racing, hoping they'd see us. They did, and very nicely shut off their engines and offered to take their helmets off as they rolled past. Halla was completely cool through the whole encounter even though my heart was going a mile a minute.

Funny the things that do and don't bother a horse. Especially a formerly wild horse. Usually it's people stuff that bothers mustangs, and woodsy stuff that doesn't. She has it backwards. She had a lot of exposure to people stuff though.

We ran into a wild bunch on atv's as we met back up with the main road. They were doing donuts and running up the bank doing wheelies, it was crazy. We just waited them out until they moved on, they never even knew we were there on the trail 100 feet from them. Other than that, all we encountered was a nice, slow car full of Mennonites on the road back. No worries. Halla doesn't seem to mind cars one bit.

Oh, and turns out those crazy atv drivers - at least one of them was drinking enough to stink of it. Safe, eh? They were at the trailhead when we got back. Great example for their kids. Makes me sad and angry.

I must go! Halla is getting her teeth did and Juniper is going along for the ride to see how she does with the dentistry trailer and the strange people.