Going with Gunner

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This weekend’s trail ride was at  Sunol Regional Wilderness in Sunol, CA.  It was only about 45 minutes from the house making it my most convenient trail riding location yet.  The trail ride program is run by Western Trail Riding Services, a concessionaire of East Bay Regional Park District since 2004.

I went on the 2 hour Flagg Hill trail ride and was accompanied by a really nice couple. I was given Gunner as my Steed of the day.  He is a beautiful Quarter Horse, seemed to have good breeding back ground and a beautiful head.  When I was assigned gunner I was told by the owner (Gary I think) that he usually rides him.  But I was given him because I had the longest legs (me with the longest legs?).  The stirrups were still a little long so he turned them side ways.  (Yup learned something new, never thought of that but it is a great idea.)


The Trail Guide or Wrangler as he was called was Chris. He did a great job.  Definitely the best one yet.  He took the time to tell us a little bit of the history and the Native American tribe, called the Ohlone, who originally inhabited the land.  More recently it became ranch land and their abandoned buildings and windmill still exist today.

The ride itself was much more engaging than the run of the mill trial rides.  Chris asked us to keep 1 horse length between the horses.  Which is a great idea for ensuring the horses know who is boss and not letting them get all bunched up.  We crossed a stream, trotted on flat areas and let the horses drink at a watering trough, still used by the cows grazing on the park land. Gunner is a true western pleasure horse he has such a smooth jog.

Then it came time to canter. Chris told us to put 2 horse lengths between each other so that we had enough space.  As you can see I was last so I held Gunner back.  Instead of cantering off he started bucking!  Three big bucks that seemed to last an eternity.  Luckily I held on and rode through it.  Only loosing my stirrup and giving him a little piece of my mind by yelling at him.  Just didn’t want him to think he could get away with that.  After we collected ourselves we cantered off with no problems.

We made it to the top of the hill to witness the beautiful view in the cool breeze.

We got back to the Equestrian rental area I told Gary about Gunner bucking.  He first question was What did you do? So I answered I held on and stayed on.  But he meant what did I do to provoke his bucking and I explained how I held him back as requested before cantering.  He said that he was used to being up front so probably got annoyed by being held back and didn’t want to be left behind.  He also said that he had never done that before.  #Onlyme.  #NeverADullMoment.

An Afternoon with Indy

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This past Saturday I had the opportunity to ride a beautiful flea bitten grey anglo arab named Indy.


Drinkers of the Wind

He gathered his people to show them the magnificent and magical being. “It drinks the wind,” he announced, and they called it for a long time Drinker of the Wind; only later was it called a horse. Every tribe wanted horses of their own, and from that first swirl of strength and beauty came thousands of others.

From Drinkers of the Wind by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson

I went for a trial ride at Point Reyes Arabian Adventures.  Susan who was a gracious host, called me earlier that day to tell me unfortunately my scheduled 2 1/2 hour ride was shortened to 1 hour because her truck was in an accident.  We rode around the property and up the hill to experience the breath taking views of Tomales Bay.

The trail was lead by Susan’s assistant and we were accompanied by a nice couple from San Francisco. One of them had been riding trails there for so many year she sad she had ridden every horse in the herd of about 15 except 2.

Since one of the riders was inexperienced I was allowed to  canter ahead of the group.  Indy was great, once I remember to gather him up and hold him in an actively engaged canter.  Funny as I was in the trail riding frame of mind to just let the horse canter but when I tried to do that he was all over the place.  Once I remembered to keep contact with him he felt much more collected.

It felt good to be trusted and allowed to experience the trail as an advanced rider.

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Before the trail started I rode around a smaller pasture waiting for the other riders.  The wild life there was amazing. A massive bird flew overhead when I was at the look out point. I think it was a vulture. This is a couple of pictures I snapped of a deer in a back yard.



Trail Ride at Five Brooks

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On Sunday, I went on  three hour trial ride that started at noon. I was worried it was going to be hot but in fact it was the exact opposite.  The ride was perfectly shaded by the tall trees and a cool breeze blew from the ocean.

Having been in California for 2 weeks, I decided it was time to get back where I belong… on top of a horse riding across the land.  I started my online research by looking at all the places that offer trail rides with in a 2 hour radius. My plan is to take a trail ride at all of them, find out the best ones around and blog about them there.

Five Brooks Stables  is located at the Five Brooks Trailhead that has many well maintained trails for horses and hikers.

IMG_2249.JPGThe parking lot was full of big trucks and horse trailers of locals who are taking the day to ride around Point Reyes National Seashore


The Five Brooks Ranch seems to be a nice place.  They were friendly and knowledgeable.  The horses are in good shape and all of them had shoes on.  I was told at most each horse is used at most 5 hours a day on 2 trails.


My ride was great!  It was awesome to be back in the saddle. I was accompanied by 2 lovely ladies, it is always more fun to ride in a group.  The horses were well used to the trails, just give them their head and they will find the best route.  Some of the trials were steep but they were very sure footed.

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My horse’s name was scout, originally they had me on a bigger horse but they could not get the stirrups short enough so I ended up on Scout.  He was a good boy, for me, but I didn’t let him get away with anything.  Which in his case was trying to munch on the green grass along the trail.  There was a crop attached to his saddle which I didn’t need to use. The trail guide (Stewart was his name I think) sounded impressed that I didn’t use it and said usually he needs it to keep him going.  I told him I used to teach riding lessons where none of my lesson kids used crop.

For the most part the trails were single lane, which made it interesting when we came upon horses or people.  Everyone was very friendly and moved to the side to let us pass. Sometimes I heard the trial guide call out if he could not see the approaching group to find out if they were on horseback, so they could plan the pull off and pass options.  We walked past one group of riders that had a riderless horse in the middle of their group (of 5 or so). That was the coolest thing I had seen in a while, what a great way to get a yearling used to the trails and in shape.

We crossed over a bridge, I just love that sound.

I found this hikers website that describes pretty much the whole loop we did: Five Brooks Trailhead leads to rain forest-like landscape


  • Bring a water bottle
  • Ask for a saddle bag
  • Bring a light sweatshirt
  • If your on Scout, be prepared his saddle has no padding for your bum. Ask if they have any saddle seat pads.



Visiting Casey

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Casey the Wonder Pony

Last month I received a message through Golden Spike Farm’s Facebook page from a girl who used to ride Casey apparently they called him the wonder pony.  She was glad to have found out where he ended up and how good he is doing.  Social media is a crazy world where it is so much easier to make we can make connections.

As part of my getting ready to leave PA I decided to take Casey’s new owners up and visit him and them.  Casey is doing so good and is spoiled rotten by his new family.  It was good to see him, go for a ride around the ring and say good bye to the old guy.


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The other purpose of the visit was to deliver to them my dining room table.  I helped them bring their old Kitchen table and chairs out to the curb for free pick up.  Then we decided to sit at the table and proceeded to pretend to eat, drink and wave at cars.


What’s Happening

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So it has been a while since my last post.  I am so crazy busy with trying to go from a 10 acre farm full of stuff to a 2 bedroom condo.  That is a lot of stuff to find a new home for.

I grateful for my Saturday morning rides.  At least I am getting on once or twice a week to clear my head.  I seem to be taking more pictures lately.  I think I am trying to capture memories as my next life will be quite different.

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Recently I proclaimed my personal hash tag to be #neveradullmoment.  The Farm never lets me down on that one.  So I go out to the barn to feed after work to fine George and Heather in the wrong pasture by the main barn.  IMG_1205The gate was busted open into George and heather’s pasture.

Warlock was in Heather’s stall. Strange scenario. IMG_1207Not sure how or why one of the three main barn horses broke the gate latch and opened the gate between them.IMG_1206

My Parents are in town for Easter and to help with the packing and sorting.  This past Saturday was another beautiful day for horsie selfies and my mom came out to say hi.

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Other good news… Otis found a great home!  He is going to be a spoiled rotten fur baby for a wonderful couple.


We were telling them about Piper and how she is doing great but has basically lost her vision and hearing from old age. I had made the hard decision that it would not be fair to take her across country.  I was thinking she maybe too old to find a new home for and there are not many people willing to take on an old lady. Otis’ new family asked to meet her and said they would be willing to take her if I can’t find a local home for her.  I feel such a sense of relief.  Of all the good I have done fostering dogs this past year has come back to me 10 fold.  Karma!

Going Bitless?

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I have all these bits from when I was riding as a teen. Two examples are:

  • Slow twisted snaffle
  • Double copper twisted snaffle

I decided this week that I wasn’t going to use these.  They are too harsh and don’t need them.


Riding Bitless – I found this article that makes a lot of sense http://www.thinklikeahorse.org/index-7.html  I still use bits but try to use the least harsh ones.  So it has me thinking I wonder how Apple would do with a bitless bridle.  He is the one that like to go fast.

Maybe I will try out that bosal I am selling on him.

Snowy lesson in February

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Now that the winter is over I can post this plog knowing it will be a while before we see snow again.  The girls and I had a great lesson in the snow with lots of fun picture taking.

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Another great article

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See this is why I have my lesson students go get the horses, groom and tack them…


There is only now. And you may as well do it now.

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It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, NOW is as good a time as any.— Hugh Laurie

Wait till your ready

Winter is in full swing here at the farm but I am still doing lessons with my “troopers”.  A select few that stick with me through the winter.  We get bundled up in our 7 layers to go out there and have some fun.  Stay frosty my friends!

How Horses Help Humans

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I started reading this article in the Huffington post online had had to share.

8 Reasons You Should Learn To Love These Under-Appreciated Animals

There are some great quotes in it:

  • “As a sophisticated herd animal, horses immediately begin building relationships with people as members of their herd.” ~Dede Beasley, M.Ed., LPC, an equine therapist
  • “One of the many psychological benefits of spending time with horses is the tranquil nature they encourage within us.”
  • “A pioneering 2013 study from the University of Kentucky discovered that spending time with horses can help people develop a sense of empathy as well as enhance their social and leadership skills.”
  • “A study commissioned by the British Horse Society in 2011 confirmed that regular horse riding and horse riding-related activities like mucking out stalls counts as moderately intense exercise and can help keep a person healthy. Additional research associates equine therapy with lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
  • “The horse is the perfect mirror, they are very emotional beings; we’re only starting to realise how intelligent they are,” Gabrielle Gardner, a therapy counselor of Shine For Life,

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