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Thursday, August 30, 2012


TALES FROM THE TRAIL TRIAL

Earning the Right to Bear a Full Flask

The Beggs herd participated in our second ever California State Horsemen’s Association Trail Trial (http://www.trailtrials.com/), August 25-26, graciously held at the R-Wild Horse Ranch (http://rwildhorseranch.net/) where we board our horses.  Is that easy or what?  No trailering on our part; the venue is fairly familiar, with a few zinger obstacles thrown in—and isn’t that the point? 

Sometimes what happens on the trail should stay on the trail. Bad ju ju pervades when one forgets the valor of discretion, just ask Russ.  Vent and ye shall receive.  But some things can and MUST be shared.

Although Desejo is only 7 years old, I entered us in the Novice over 50 category. For those who don’t know, the over 50 categories in Novice, Intermediate and Advanced are often the most competitive, and at the end of the day (Hey, this is my story) the lowest point categories—a tough field indeed.

Saturday, my magnificent horse, Desejo, the sensitive, skeptical and frequently sarcastic earned fourth place in the Novice, Over 50 category, with 19 points. Every point we received was for rider error--rushing, over- or miscuing.  I couldn’t be prouder of my horse. 

Sunday was the day I earned the right to bear a full flask. 

Of course, everyone should have a flask in their saddle bags for medicinal purposes, liquid courage, and therapy.   It is fair value as currency in the back country.  Like VISA it is welcome everywhere.  In fact, I believe we need cantle bags that look like the iconic barrels St. Bernard’s carried to fallen skiers.  How’s that for a competition trophy?  Everyone wins.

Obstacle 6.  We were required to drag a scary, noisy blue tarp between two green flags, and then pull said tarp, at a trot, back to the judge.  Easy-peasy.  I should have analyzed the flags better, giving Desejo more room to stay in the course.  I should have left more rope-the banded snake rope-much more rope, so the scary, noisy tarp wasn’t as close.  Ears erect and every muscle poised for immediate retreat, Desejo did manage to pull, then drag that horrible tarp, at a side passing trot/gait.  I couldn’t help but laugh WITH him.  Such a brave boy.  We will practice with a tarp until we can wear it, at a canter, like Superman’s cape! 

Waiting for Obstacle 7, I watched the next victim, I mean competitor.  I advised one of my co-riders to turn her horse around and the face the tarp team.  They were already doing the “When Hell Freezes Over Four Step” and it seemed prudent to watch head on, rather than have the tarp duo booger into her from behind.   Motherly advice dispensed, I got out my recycled plastic bottle to hydrate with my signature blend of Yogi Egyptian Licorice and Everyday De-Tox teas.  Just a kiss of licorice, wet and healthy, I guzzle some down. 

Hell didn’t freeze over, it broke loose.   Man, horse and the “Blue Duck” (as family lore will forever call the blue tarp) sped towards us.  Everyone is screaming “Drop the rope”, but I could see the rope was wrapped around the horse’s neck and was caught on the buckle of his breast collar.

Meanwhile, back in the saddle...those roll backs Desejo and I have been working on.  Nailed it!  Watch and weep, Shawn Flarida.  Those quarter horses have nothing on a motivated Marchador.  We spun, skittered and I don’t what all else as Desejo tried to escape that blue tarp-come-to-life, attacking the other horse.  Isn’t this a horses’ nightmare, afterall? 

I sit deep, crushing the pockets of my Gloria Vanderbilt old-lady jeans.  Heroically the rider guides his run-away horse from the crowd, over a steep berm into the wild frontier.  Holy friggin’ bejeezus.  I veer Desejo from the steep, rocky berm and we dance some more on the hard packed, gravel road. We spin another 360 degrees and I see horses and riders in every manner of incorrect seat and awkward position.

Desejo notices the “Blue Duck” is gone and settles.  Before I have time to get scared or worried, the run- aways are returning, following the benign blue tarp being dragged by the Obstacle Judge.   Mercifully, no one hit the ground. Can I hear an “Amen”?  My heart is pounding.  Desejo, in Boy Scout mode is prepared to do it all over again should that tarp resurrect. 

Wow.  I still have my bottle of tea in my hand, and I hardly spilled a drop.  If it were a beer, I’d be a Red Neck Centerfold.  I can’t believe we did that one handed.  Of course my butt cheeks had a death grip in that treeless saddle.  And, no, Desejo’s back was not bruised!  No calls to ASPCA necessary.

Post apocalypse analysis: I believe I am worthy to bear a fully loaded flask.  And I was in powerful need of some liquid nerves, because Obstacle 7 was a stroll into Valley of the Shadow of Death…

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Vacation "R's"


My three “R’s” were fulfilled in stunning form over an 8 day holiday at the R-Wild Horse Ranch, in Platina, California http://rwildhorseranch.net/  My three “R’s”?  Well those would be reading, ‘riting, and riding.

Reading:  I had the honor of finishing a page turning manuscript, Night Rituals, by Sharon Robb-Chism.  A serial killer is stalking Riverton, Oregon and sending pictures and warning letters to a mild mannered reporter at the local paper.  A homicide detective is aided by a specialist, Marla. Marla is aided by Lucca Borgia, half-brother to Cesare Borgia—a five hundred year old vampire.  Sparks fly as both detective and Borgia vie for the eternal attention of Marla, while the body count continues.  I don’t read a lot of vampire books, but I do love a good suspense/thriller.  Night Rituals actually cut into my barn time, I couldn’t put it down!  GREAT characters.  I look forward to more.

And…A Tale of Two Cities will deserve a blog of its own.  The face-off between Madame De Farge and Miss Pross made me think of Voldemort and Lilly Potter (altho Lilly dies).  Really, it was more like Bellatrix LeStrange and Mrs. Weasley!  Love conquers all. Guess that is why I always loved Dickens, despite his weak women characters, I’m so sentimental.

‘Riting:  Requests for travel and mounted archery articles kept me busy.  R-Ranch fun from Thanksgivings to gymkhanas had my mind spinning with potential articles.  It really is the best vacation destination for hooves and wheels.  Why is it such a secret? 

Riding:  My time with Desejo was golden; every day was a shared gift between us.  Desejo seemed to choose to be with me.  Practicing our aides and cues, we danced on the trails. I think he preferred the engagement to just moving along.  After seeing “The Magical World of Dancing Horses” in Red Bluff we “expanded our repertoire” and again he tried, I tried and we partnered.  I can’t articulate one magic moment, one definitive thing, but the shift, the feeling, a union was there. 

And back in Connacht, Ireland in 1224 AD, what would Eloise of Dahlquin make of this?  Well, I’m already choreographing a sword dance for her, from horseback, of course.   And arrows…hmmm…how dramatic to have an arena full of mounted archers shooting up to the center of the arena in unison…well, darn it gravity will wreak havoc with those arrows, and someone is bound to get hurt. 

Happy Tuesday,

Ride on,
Write on,
Read on.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Minds, Bodies and Spirits in Harmony


Happy Bloggers Tuesday.  Mounted archery has a spirituality that few ever get to experience.  Most of us know a horse has a soul. But did you know a bow has a soul?  Consider the possibilities when combined with your own.  Minds, bodies and spirits in harmony.  Zen from horseback.

Last week, Darley Newman of Equitrekking.com featured my article, http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/mounted_archery/ Serendipity, Author to Archer following my journey from mild mannered, middle aged woman to Amazon Archer. Distilling this journey only illuminated more paths I need to explore, and people I needed to thank. 

Next up for Equitrekking: Mounted archery as martial art, the three souls, and the global aspect of this colorful and profound activity. 

Then I must write about the horses and the trust and bond forged with mounted archery; places and people and events, with open invitations for you to come and play; Bow Camp; and the international competitions coming up in 2012 and 2013.    

As Vickie Kayuk graciously welcomed me to her LinkedIn herd, I welcome you to join not only my herd, but the global herd of horse lovers and horseback archers.  Security, strength and soul…minds, bodies and spirits in harmony.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Serendipity is the title of an article I was asked to write about my personal journey from middle aged  author to mounted archer.  Writing evokes the trials and demons as well as the zeniths.  The greatest accomplishment with publication will be the opportunity to raise interest in this profound martial art and honor the passionate friends who took the time to pull me through.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mom's Care, w/Rudeness Advisory

Mom’s Care

My mother is the bestest, most dedicated and loving Mom and Grandmother. She is up there with the GOATs, (Greatest of All Time). Her reign always extended beyond our immediate family, including whole neighborhoods. To quote cousin Marty, her home was “an Oasis.” Everyone always welcome for a quick bite, coffee, news update and a family calendar not unlike Mrs. Weasley’s clock from the Harry Potter series, telling us where everyone was from preschool to United Arab Emirates. But this would be a whole other blog.

How is it a Mother so grand ended up with Ken and me as her issue? We followed in the exuberant wake of her sister and two brothers. Our Dad was a perfect match for this humor.

Because Mom is now immobile, Ken, myself, my two kids, June and Steven and their friends have all stepped up to provide round the clock care for her. As far as the kids—all college age— their youth, energy, and love of Pokémon is unrivaled in the world of care-givers. We have hired one of them, and Lea is the bestest, most dedicated and loving aide from Monday through Friday. She’s such a dear friend she’s often there on weekends hanging out. But…

The young people are one by one taking more classes or getting real jobs and we need coverage on nights and especially weekends. So it’s back to Ken and me, my husband, Russ, June and Steven.

Ken is complaining about the bills. Why the heck is PG&E so high? How much energy does Mom use? We laugh about Mom cruising the internet looking for naked orderlies to shower with. Uh, that’s Porn, Graphix and Erotica, not Pacific, Gas and Electric. Mom smiles wistfully remembering fondly the handsome young man that helped care for her during one of her hospital stays. Maybe we should look there for a weekend aide. Is there a Nurses-R-Us site? June suggests the ones in pasties and thongs. And old fashioned paper hats. I say forget the nurse, hire a pole dancer. Ken immediately volunteers for weekends. Problem solved. Unless Mom wants a Chippendale.

Now we are seeing a grander scheme for senior care. Maybe senior centers should be on the same site with adult book shops and erotica. Some oldsters would be vastly entertained, and I bet they’d get more family visiting. Better employees and more volunteers, too. There’s an Eagle Scout badge just waiting. Grey Bear enrollment doubles. Ken would have a place to try out his music. With a gift shop on the premises, every day is Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. I brought you a latex covered, pop-up birthday card, Mom. You always loved me best.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Whine and Lamesauce

You have heard the old cliché, aging is not for sissies. Aging is a foul joke on the body, and menopause is an acid edged comic without a heart. Maybe not all women suffer such a soul ripping change of life, I pray they don’t. Mother Nature is exceedingly cruel to this daughter. Raspberries.

Imagine being a gym rat for over twenty years, fit, buff, able to schlep your own bag up the stairs of any airport, through endless terminals, with small children, Bunny Dolly and Draggody. Work all day, dance all night.

Then you wake one day and your tummy is hanging out as if gravity has increased tenfold. The only think sinking faster is your skin, resembling the Devil’s slide on precipitous Highway 1, where erosion could only be remedied with a tunnel.

You don’t apply make up, you need a construction crew. Gawking at your trustworthy, capable hands you see something Lord Carnarvon might have excavated in the Valley of the Kings. And that is with the contact lens now required for your tired, blurred sight. You start wearing support hose and jeans to dance or your flapping butt cheeks make so much noise you can’t hear the music. Who would have thought hormones had so much to do with elasticity. It happened so fast, a week, when menopause finished cleaning house. Pooh-pooh head.

Does anyone else have an expiration date on them? I had no idea. Things were in working order when I departed. The contents certainly shifted during flight, with everything falling out upon opening. Time change indeed.

And why or why does my mind still think we are thirty or forty something? Personally I enjoyed my body more in my thirties and forties, so I’m not lamenting the twenties. My adolescence was early and long, extending into my twenties. Libido and fertility were well worth the price of admission, I’m just sorry the ride is over so soon. I bought an all-day pass, the sun is still shining, why do the amusements have to close early? Frig.

Would you wish for dementia? Would you want your brain to deteriorate like your exterior does in mid life? Very tragic when that happens.

Maybe it’s because I live in California where everyone is half naked most of the year (I live in the surf getto). Now I’m out of that camp. Makes me kind of wish we were fur clad. I could handle the silver, I love gray horses. Maybe the Furs are on to something? But you have to take the costume off eventually, and you’re stuck with the Shar Pei. How rude is that? Whine.

Enough. It is what it is. You readers have all been spared the emotional, brain lapse I endured. There is absolutely, nothing remotely funny about those dark ages of my spirit. The good news is it passed and ‘someone is home again’, the lights are on and the kaleidoscope of creativity has returned. The bad news as you already know is the house appears haunted and needs repair. You may wish this blog ended with a happily ever after, humorous insight that I am reconciled. I’m not, that is the point. Only a vacuum cleaner should suck this much. Double frig.

But alas, Cathy my trusted editor was right, reconciliation is waxing. Circumstances, in other words the inspiration of family and friends influences me to get over my shallow, lamesauce self. A visit to Smile Trail, or St. Jude’s…what a whiner. Wal-mart for God’s sake. Man, I’m doing cartwheels. And no, those aren’t spinnakers you see flapping. Raspberries with my whine and lamesauce.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Engern or Westlish

Engern or Westlish

This is what happens when a 54 year old woman embarks on a belated childhood fantasy to become the equestrian of her dreams.

My love of horses must go back to the womb; only Lord knows why. I guess the horse gene skipped a few generations, from the old racing legacy (I must find that photo!). My parents insist my first spoken was, Worsey, for horsey, familiarized to Wishy, the generic word for all horses… My cousin, Debbie and I have the horse loving gene. A generation later, my cousins Ellie and Lauren also have that driving devotion to anything equine. What's not to love?

At 50, that banner year in life when we mark the passing of half a century, my husband and got horses. Our own living, breathing, highly opinionated Morgan gelding and Arab mare. I have digressed yet again from the topic.

I'm taking English riding lesson at an English barn. It is another language, a far cry from anything I've been doing on the trials the past 2 years at least. My legs are too far forward (from encouraging gait); my hands to far forward, the reins loose. Trying to coordinate my wrists and ankles in the same pass—not only does that sound kinky—but is LOL. Thank goodness my patient instructor doesn't tell me to keep breathing. Hands never cross the neck line. Squeeze to stop not go. Can I get cycling cleats to keep the ball of my foot on the iron? Canteen anyone?

My uncouthness doesn't start in the arena, but the barn. I lead my own horses single handed on a long lead. I tie them with the lead. I used to ride a horse with the lead line tied to the halter. I've been riding an English saddle for years, but never remove the girth, just undo one side and let flip it over the saddle. Eliza Doolittle in breeches. I wear those, but usually with a long sleeved men’s cotton shirt for sun protection. Goodwill will not use me as a fashion plate.

Don't let the horse see the crop. Don't crackle the plastic water bottle. Ground tie? I'm a Worker's Comp claim waiting to happen.

Bouts of confusion stifle my progress. Hands and legs go their separate ways. I'm riding neither English nor Western. It's Westlish at its worst. Engern with a gaited twist. If this isn't enough, my new horse, currently at the trainer, rides “Mongolian”. He has been a mounted archery clinic horse for Mongolian and medieval reenacting. Hmmm, Engernolian. We'll be trilingual; or in counseling.

Foreign language is fitness for the brain. Riding conditions the body and soul. With all the laughing going on at Willow Pond Ranch, there are endorphins to spare. Natural horseman to Engernolian, it is never too late to try something new, even if it means inventing it as we go.