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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.