Horses in the OPA 4th of July Parade 2014

Thank you to Lois Powers, Patti Ault Gretzler and various other photographers for providing these wonderful photos of horses in the OPA 4th of July Parade 2014.

Horses in the OPA 4th of July Parade 2014

Ava and Connie representing the Hot Trotters section of the Orange Park Acres Women’s League

Horses in the OPA 4th of July Parade 2014

Debbie, stunning as always!

Horses in the OPA 4th of July Parade 2014

Mary Rose and her Rowdy Cowgirls

Enjoy the slideshow!
Click the play button (>) below to hear the Star Spangled Banner by Madison Rising while you watch.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hives in Horses

Nancy texted me this morning at 6 am and said, “Wake up, Girl. Let’s go to Fiesta Island!” A few minutes later she texted that she had gone out to feed and Frankie is no better. On Thursday morning he was covered in hives. Nancy gave him benadryl and the day off. Friday was the 4th and she had been planning for some time to ride in the Lido parade so she went ahead and did that. She continued with the benadryl, but this morning he was no better, so no Fiesta Island for us.

Symptoms of Hives in Horses

hives in horsesSo, just what are hives? According to the Merck Manual, “Hives (urticaria) are groups of itchy eruptions of localized swelling in the dermis. They often develop and disappear suddenly. The most common causes of hives in horses are insect bites or stings, medications, and exposure to allergens.”  Urticaria is a result of immune stimulation to a “trigger” that causes a cell called a mast cell to release its contents, which are irritating to surrounding vessels in the skin causing them to leak fluid into the dermis (middle layer of the skin), causing the lump.

Although the Merck Manual says they are itchy, quite often they are not. Hives are seldom harmful to the horse. If touched, the raised portions will not be warm, painful, and in most cases not itchy. The horse may not seem adversely affected by the hives at all, other than the unsightly appearance of the lumps. More serious cases are rare but can include respiratory distress.

Treatment of Hives in Horses

Common treatment is antihistamines but these are quite often ineffective, as in Frankie’s case, at least so far. Acute or prolonged hives may be treated with a corticosteroid called dexamethasone. Chronic (longstanding) urticaria may be treated with a long term oral corticosteroid called prednisolone.

Hives can occur at any time but are especially prevalent during the summer months. There are so many possible causes that, most of the time, hives come and go without the cause ever being determined. It is very difficult to narrow down any specific changes in routine. If the cause is something in the environment, like pollen or a particular plant, the hives may reoccur. Finding the culprit can be difficult and frustrating. Intradermal skin testing may be recommended by your vet. This is done very similar to allergy testing in humans as is the desensitizing.

Is Your Horse Parade Ready?

Is your horse parade ready?

OPA Parade 2012

So, your local community is having a parade and you are thinking of entering you and your horse. But have you asked yourself, “Is my horse parade ready?” You may think you have a bombproof horse, but parades have lots of elements that are hard to duplicate when desensitizing your horse. The noise and confusion may be too much for your steady trail horse.

Some things that might cause your unflappable horse to flip:

  • Loud and sudden noises like sirens, horns, cheerleaders and marching bands
  • Balloons, streamers and other waving, glittery things
  • Cheering crowds that might try to crowd your horse
  • Constant stopping and startingdecorations on a parade ready horse
  • Moving at a slow pace with other horses or animals in close proximity
  • Strollers and running children
  • The decorations you put on your horse

Help Your Horse be Parade Ready

If you have a sound trail horse that you work on desensitizing on a regular basis, you should be in pretty good shape. Here are some things to consider to help decide if your horse is parade ready:

  • First and foremost, be sure your horse knows his leg cues and you can control him in all directions.
  • Get your horse used to riding on pavement and in traffic.
  • Be sure your horse doesn’t shy from painted lines on the street and will cross train tracks.
  • Loud noises is probably the hardest thing to prepare for, but be creative and do what you can there.
  • Always be working on your partnership with your horse and building trust.

A Fourth of July parade is probably one of the worst parades to start with as it is usually very loud with lots of shouting, even unruly, people. A calmer parade, like at Christmas or Thanksgiving or other local festival, is a better first choice.

And remember, it is not all about the horse. Are you ready for this amount of excitement? Can you be calm and cool if your horse does get nervous? The better your partnership with your horse, the more fun you both will have in a parade.

N&A copyThis 4th, Nancy will be riding Frankie in the Lido parade and I’ll be riding Dancer in the OPA (Orange Park Acres) parade. Even though this is a Fourth of July parade, it is much smaller than the Cherry Festival Parade we did a few weeks ago and Dancer has done it many times. Hopefully, she will be more comfortable than last month!


O’Neill Regional Park — Equestrian Camping

O’Neill Regional Park 031061914
30892 Trabuco Canyon Road 
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92678 
(949)923-2260 or (949)923-2256

Park Brochure
Park Map
Campground Map

030061914O’Neill Regional Park‘s 4,000 acres are situated in beautiful Trabuco and Live Oak Canyons. The park is heavily wooded with coast live oak and sycamore trees. The hillsides surrounding the park are filled with cactus, wild buckwheat, sagebrush and chaparral of scrub oak, buckthorn and mountain mahogany. Trabuco and Hickey Creeks also meander through the park, flowing in winter and early spring, dry in summer and fall.

The park is open for day use year round from 7 am to sunset. Barbecues and picnic tables are available throughout the park.

Camping is also year round with a check-in time of 2 pm and check out at noon. Seventy nine campsites of varying sizes accommodate parties up to eight in RVs and tents. Eight large campsites are available for parties of 17 or more.

Dogs are welcome at O’Neill but must be on a leash at all times and directly under the control of a human. The only trail they are allowed on is Mesa Trail. In case you are wondering why they aren’t allowed everywhere, the park brochure says “when marking their territory, dogs signal the native animals that there’s a predator in the area, which affects feeding and even breeding patterns.”

Harmon Equestrian Camping

equestrian camping at O'Neill Regional ParkThe Harmon Equestrian Camping area has five campsites with corrals, water, tables, fire pits and barbecues.  You can bring your own firewood or buy wood onsite. Collecting firewood is not allowed.

Equestrian site #1 is the largest. It has seven corrals and can accommodate several vehicles. This past weekend, there were three rigs with trailers and a couple of RVs in this site. The restroom with showers – and HOT water! – is right next to this site but it’s not far from any of the equestrian sites. The restrooms are solar powered and there is no electricity for your hairdryer. Sorry, Nancy!

Site #2 has the least amount of shade of all the sites. With the heat of summer coming on, I was especially focused on the amount of shade each site has. If you are looking for a shady site, choose #3. It is almost completely in the shade of large trees. Otherwise, an easy up or two is highly recommended for hot days in the other sites.equestrian site #4 O'Neill Regional Park

Sites 3, 4 and 5 are the closest together. Site #4 is my personal favorite and the site we stayed in this past weekend. Sadly, the tree in the middle of this site that shades the table and stalls during part of the day is loaded with mistletoe and is dying. We were lucky to have perfect mid 70° weather so the lack of shade was not an issue.

equestrian site #4 O'Neill Regional Park

There are two clean porta-potties directly across the road from sites 3 and 4. And, as mentioned, the restroom and showers are just a short walk away.

If your horse needs some turnout time before a trail ride, there are two round pens just across the road from site #5. There’s also a public arena if you want to do some arena work. Check out our previous post on O’Neill Regional Park to see some photos of these amenities.

There are more than 23 miles of multi-use trails in O’Neill. One of our favorite rides is up Live Oak Trail to the Vista Point. We have never done it, but if you continue down Live Oak Trail past the vista point, it will take you to Limestone Canyon and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.

the vista point


We campers usually make our lists and check them at least twice, but there’s still the chance of forgetting something or just thinking of something you wish you had. One of the great things about O’Neill is that it is just 10 minutes away from some major shopping in Rancho Santa Margarita.

We love O’Neill Regional Park and highly recommend it.

Cherry Festival Parade

N&A copyFor more than 90 years, the Cherry Festival has been the largest community event in Beaumont with virtually the entire community participating in the four-day celebration. With lots of live entertainment, a car show, vendors, a carnival and a parade, there is something for everyone.

Nancy’s friend, Shannon, is part of a large group that always rides in the parade and she invited Nancy to participate. We were very excited and really got into decorating for it. Nancy had a great idea for our hats and we had fun shopping for all our supplies and being crafty.


Nancy's hat for the Cherry Festival Parade

Our plan was to camp in Bogart Park for the weekend with the group and ride in the Cherry Festival Parade on Saturday. We had to roll with the punches when our camping trip was interrupted by a fire in the park. With just a few hours sleep in a motel Friday night, we got up early Saturday, picked up our horses and went to the staging area to decorate.

The judging was to start at 8:30 am but the judges kindly gave us until 10:00 to be judged due to the fire and being relocated the night before.

Once everyone was ready, we took group photos and stood for the judges. Then we rode to the staging area to wait for our turn in line. We had about an hour wait for our turn. While we waited, bands, cheerleaders, cars, sirens and more all made a great deal of noise.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s been a while since Dancer was around so much commotion and I felt really bad for her. She was terrified. She trembled almost the whole time and did not want to leave Frankie’s side. As scared as she was, she was still a good girl.

Last year, our group (we were not in it) won first place in the equestrian groups. This year, they (we) took second place. The Buring Ranch and Spencer Quarter Horses entered this year “to give our group some competition” and they took first place.

2nd place trophy in the cherry festival parade

Our group’s trophy

Bogart Fire, Bogart Park

What a long, strange trip it has been. Well, actually it was a pretty short trip — much shorter than planned.

Yesterday morning, Nancy and I loaded up and headed out for our first camping trip of the season. We were to meet some friends in Bogart Park in Cherry Valley (near Beaumont) to camp for the weekend. It is the weekend of the Cherry Festival and we had spent a great deal of time making preparations to ride with their group in the festival parade on Saturday (today).

We were the first to arrive at the campground in the early afternoon. We checked out all the sites and chose the one with the largest level spot for our tent. Most of the other sites are a little to a lot sloped but would be fine for smaller tents.


If you have been following this blog or our Facebook page, you know we have been working on ways to glamp up our tent and campsite. It took us about three hours to set up. It looked fabulous! I’m glad I took quite a few pictures as we were setting up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had just sat down to have a drink around 5:30 when one of our friends came barreling into the equestrian area. They jumped out of their truck and yelled that there was a fire in the park. Nancy and I did not grasp the urgency at first and decided we should go take a look. Holy smokes. The fire, later dubbed the Bogart Fire, had only been burning for a few minutes and it was already spreading rapidly up the hill less than a block’s distance from our campsite. Fortunately, the wind was blowing away from the campsite and the fire was burning up the hill away from us. We called 911 immediately and apparently a few others had called also.

Bogart Fire

Although I thought it was safe to stay until the fire department got there and told us if we needed to leave, Nancy insisted we load the horses and leave immediately. I knew she was probably right and better to be safe than sorry, so we did just that. We left our beautiful campsite and all our new treasures.

We waited at the entrance to the park for quite a while and watched fire truck after fire truck arrive. Then the air support started. The response was pretty impressive.

By the time the 14th or 15th fire truck arrived, we were pretty sure we were not getting back in last night so we decided to stay in a hotel/motel. A friend in our group offered to let us drop the horses at her place for the night. She also told us about Buring Ranch and that we might like leaving our horses there better.

Buring Ranch and Spencer Quarter Horses is a fire evacuation site for horses. Billy Buring was very warm and hospitable. He offered us pasture or box stalls and we opted for the box stalls. We had left our hay at the campground but he said not to worry, that they would take care of them. We felt they were in excellent hands so left to get a bite to eat and find a motel.

The last part was not as easy as it seemed it should be. First, there aren’t that many motels in the area. Second, the Cherry Festival was going on as well as a softball tournament. Several hotels we called were full. Finally, we found a room at a Rodeway Inn. It was a very small, old motel but clean and we were tired. Nancy wanted a shower. When we left the campsite, Nancy grabbed her clothes and toiletries. Mine were still in the car. At least we had that and weren’t totally without.

It was an early morning today but we had to get our horses and get to the staging area to decorate them for the parade. Of all things, when we left the campground, we grabbed the hats we had made for the parade. All of our decorations for the horses were in the horse trailer so we were good to go there. We just had to stop to buy scissors, oh, and red lipstick.


After the parade, we went back to the campground and packed everything up. There were still about 10 firetrucks on site. As of this evening, the Bogart Fire was considered 100% contained.

Cal Fire Stats

The group was talking about going somewhere else to camp for the night but Nancy and I were kind of over it for this trip. We really didn’t want to set everything back up again so we headed home. It was a long, stressful 24 hours!


Our Take on Glamping

Glamping, the term used for upscale, or glamorous, camping is one of the fastest growing trends in the eco-luxe hospitality industry. It brings the comforts of a hotel to camping out under the stars. There are places all over the world to go glamping but you can bring glamour to your own campsite with just a few extra touches.

Usually when Nancy and I camp, she sleeps in her Suburban and I sleep in the horse Bed in horse trailertrailer. Now, that doesn’t mean that we just throw a sleeping bag in and crawl into it. No siree. We have plenty of creature comforts like a porta potty so no treks to the restroom or outhouse in the middle of the night, comfortable beds, candle light, and sometimes even Netflix on the iPad.

We have a camping trip coming up where we will need to use the horse trailer to haul horses during our stay. Setting up a sleeping area in it was going to be inconvenient so, a couple of weeks ago while shopping at Costco, we decided to buy a tent. This is not just any little tent. It is a 10-man tent (so they claim) with a screened porch. We set it up in Nancy’s backyard to make sure we knew how to do it and that the two of us could do it alone.


Almost there

I told Nancy about a post I saw about “glamping” and we knew we had an adventure ahead of us! We usually do a pretty good job of glamping any time we camp but saw our tent as an excuse to search for all kinds of new treasures. So, after scouring garages and pantries, off we went to Shinoda, Michael’s, Goodwill, etc. to see what else we could find. We found fun things everywhere we went.

just the beginning of our take on tent glamping

Nancy loves pink and her boas so had to have some of each.

Were we having too much fun?

Were we having too much fun?

Our new motto is:

too much fun

We are really excited to head out on our camping trip – first trip of the season – and get our site set up. The tent is all packed up and ready to go!

tent packed

Mutt Lynch’s, Our Horses Are Always Welcome

Yesterday, we rode in Newport Beach again, spreading the word about Rope ‘em In, our Mutt Lynch'smarketing and advertising company. The businesses we visit are always so receptive and welcoming to the horses. One of our favorite places is Mutt Lynch’s, “Orange County’s #1 dive bar since 1976.” It’s almost always our first stop when we ride in Newport.

We usually tie up at the bike racks across the parking lot. We always find a seat where we can keep a close eye on them as weekends are crazy at the pier and they never fail to draw a crowd. People photograph them and walk up to pet them. Kids are always especially fascinated but grown ups love it too. Friends were waiting inside for us yesterday and said when we arrived, the bar emptied out as people came out to look.

horses tied at bike racks, Newport Beach pier

Chris, one of the doormen and security guys, noticed us watching them and told us we could tie to his truck, which was right outside the door, if we wanted to be able to keep a closer eye on them. Wow, Chris! Thanks.

our redneck hitching post

Nancy called this our redneck hitching post

The security guys love having the horses there and I think keep an even better eye on them than we do. They asked if they could give them water and carrots appeared from somewhere.

They guys at Mutt Lynch's take good care of our horses


Don’t want to miss any of those yummy carrots!

When we were leaving, Chris saw me looking for a place to mount (I’m having some nerve issues in my left leg and can’t mount from the ground) and he offered a leg up! You guys rock. Always above and beyond. Thanks for a great time.

A Day of Discovery Includes Sea View Park

How much research do you do before you trailer out for a ride? I usually do quite a bit. I like to know as much as I can ahead of time so things go smoothly. This past weekend, Nancy and I didn’t choose a particular location in advance. We had our maps from OC Parks and decided to just “go someplace new and decide on Sunday morning.”

Ready to ride!

Ready to ride!

Sea View Park

22801 Talavera, Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

I love the ocean so when I read the description of Sea View Park, I thought it sounded likeregulation sign at trail head in Sea View Park a place we should try. I did do a little research but could find very little about it. It is located in the City of Laguna Niguel and is owned and operated by OC Parks. There were just a few sentences about it on the Laguna Niguel website and I couldn’t even find it on the OC Parks website. The best info I found was from a blog, Nature Play Trips.

So, armed with just our little OC Parks map, we headed out. Using the GPS on my phone, it was very easy to find. Finding the address to put into the GPS, however, was not that easy. Parking is on the street and the trail head is at the end of the grassy area.

(Click on a photo for the slideshow)

Our ride started out splendidly. The horses were excited to be someplace new. There was a breeze and already the views were amazing. About a half a mile down the trail you are at the highest point with ocean views all around you. I can imagine that on a really clear day, this would be absolutely breathtaking.

Once we got to the end of the trail at the top of the viewpoint, it became a very narrow single track and dropped off steeply down towards the beach. It wouldn’t have been too bad except that it was very rocky and had a deep groove from water run off. When I saw hikers with two large dogs coming up, it made my decision to turn around. Frankie has been having some lameness issues off and on and he just didn’t need that. And I forgot to put Dancer’s boots on.

We decided to head back to the trailer and look for the next adventure. We had more new trails to discover.

Sea View Trail MapToday, looking at the map, it seems there should have been a switch back to another trail where the trail dropped off to the ocean. We sure didn’t see one, but Sea View Park was so beautiful, it might be worth another look to see if we can find it.

The next trail we decided to try was the Irvine Coast/Shady Canyon Trail. Since neither of006052614 us is familiar with this area of Irvine, I misinterpreted the tiny little map and thought that since Mason Regional Park was labeled prominently on the map, that is where the trail was. We circled the park and came back to the entrance when we couldn’t find the designated trail head. Inside the park, Park Ranger Candy Hubert was very helpful. She wasn’t familiar with the exact location of the trail head either but it definitely isn’t in Mason Regional Park. She gave us some other great maps which will be helpful on other outings.

We found a place to pull in the shade to have some lunch before moving on — pesto chicken salad sandwiches and pasta salad. Thank you, Nancy!


By now, the afternoon was wearing on so we decided to just go to Irvine Regional Park near home and ride rather than continue to search for the unknown. What on earth were we thinking? It was Sunday of Memorial weekend. As we approached the park down Jamboree, we could see cars parked (illegally) forever down Santiago Canyon and the park entrance was closed. The large flashing sign said “Parking Full.”

So, when all else fails, go home, water the horse015052614s and ride to Wise Guys for a drink! Fortunately, we didn’t have any goal for the day other than discovery, and that we accomplished. We had a great time!

a toast to a day of discovery at Wise Guys Pizza

A toast to a day of discovery, at Wise Guys Pizza

Does Your Mare Act Mareish?

I have had several mares over the years and, frankly, I prefer them to geldings. I think they “think” more and are less reactive than geldings. Perhaps throughout time, stallions have had to think quickly and react to dangerous situations and mares have had to think about their foals and the consequences of their actions. At least, that is what I like to think.

Behavior of Mares in Heat

Behavior of mares in heat

She loves Frankie

People have said to me on more than one occasion, “A mare, how do you deal with it?” I’ve always been able to say, “I never even notice when my mares comes into heat.” Boy, did that stop with Dancer. She displays all the horrible behaviors of mares in heat. She leans against anything and everything and bounces against it. She squirts incessantly. She stomps and squeals when a horse gets near her. She swishes her tail and “complains” while she is being groomed and tacked up. She tries to back into her gelding friend, Frankie, every chance she gets, teasing him horribly. We have to be very aware of how we tie them during this time. But the worst part is that she is a total airhead while I’m riding. She ignores leg aids and constantly rubber necks.

Behavior of mares in heat

Turned out at the arena alone, she would run around then run back to the fence looking for Frankie

I have dealt with this for several years, but now that we are out and about so much more in public, I have decided it is time to do something about it. Last year, a friend told me about raspberry leaves, the only ingredient in Mare Magic. The downside of this is that it needs to be fed daily for a period of time which just wasn’t practical for me. Also, it doesn’t stop the heat cycle but supposedly helps calm the mare down.

I discussed all the options with my vet and she recommended monthly progesterone injections which will keep her from coming into heat. This was the most convenient and least expensive option. Progesterone is a natural progestogen prepared from the oil of seeds from sesame, cotton or sunflower plants. It is also prepared from polyethylene glycol, to allow for a slow or prolonged release following intramuscular injection.

Dancer received her first injection on Tuesday and I will administer the next one in 30 days. If the injections do what they are supposed to do, I will continue monthly injections through the fall.

How have you dealt with this situation?

We have to be very aware of how we tie them

OC Parks Ranger Reserves Learn About Horse Etiquette

A few weeks ago, Nancy’s friend Vicky Malton, Senior Park Ranger with OC Parks, asked Nancy if she would do a presentation on trail etiquette for her ranger reserve training class. Since Nancy knew I taught this sort of thing for years, she asked me to do the presentation.


Waiting for the presentation to begin


OC Parks and the County of Orange Board of Supervisors established the OC Parks Ranger Reserve program on May 5, 1987. The volunteer Ranger Reserves work along side Park Rangers providing support for the park operations staff during holidays, weekends, events, public programs and they facilitate development and leading new programs. The OC Parks Ranger Reserve Program is the only reserve program of its kind in Southern California. Currently, there are about 40 volunteers.

Vicky Malton, Sr Park Ranger

Vicky Malton, Sr. Park Ranger, with Nancy’s dog Atlas

Vicky has been a full time ranger for 14 years and currently works at operations support. She does incident command and provides field assistance when needed. As the Reserve Ranger coordinator, she supervises and provides training for the volunteers.

The training class we attended was held at Santiago Oaks Regional Park so we were able to ride over rather than trailer to the headquarters in Tustin, which was the original plan. It’s an easy 20-30 minute ride for us.

I haven’t done any teaching in about eight months so I wasn’t sure what I would talk about for an hour, but when you’ve been talking about horses and how to behave around them for years, it’s kind of like riding a bike. It all came back quite easily. And it helped that the group asked so many great questions.

After the classroom presentation, we went out and mounted up. Everyone had an opportunity to practice approaching the horses and ask any final questions.

OC Parks Ranger Reserves had a chance to practice approaching the horses

Everyone had a chance to practice approaching the horses

OC Parks Ranger Reserves got to see the difference between English and Western

They got to see the difference between English and Western


And of course, we had to get a group photo.

OC Parks Ranger Reserves training class

If you are interested in joining the Ranger Reserves, contact them at (949) 923-3746 or The current class started on March 12th and will run for two months.

Moonlight Ride to Orange Hill Restaurant

The knowledge of a full moon always tempts us with a moonlight ride. Timing doesn’t always work in our favor but last night it did. The full moon was actually on Thursday but one more night was better in a couple of ways. It worked better with our schedule and it was almost 110 degrees during the day on Thursday so not all that cool yet by late evening. It was still 83 degrees at 7 pm last night when we headed out but cooler than at the same time on Thursday. With the sun down, it was a beautiful, perfect evening for a ride.

We had a spectacular sunset during our ride. We took a “selfie” trying to capture it in the background but the phone camera had a different idea.

selfie during our moonlight ride

This is what we were trying to capture.

sunset during our moonlight ride to Orange Hill Restaurant

We rode to Orange Hill Restaurant, our favorite place to ride to for cocktails. Well, maybe it is our favorite because it is the only place in Orange Park Acres to ride to with cocktails! At any rate, the bartenders are friendly and skilled and it has a spectacular view.

001coctails at orangehill

We decided we needed a little something to nosh on while we enjoyed our libations. We looked over the appetizer menu and the cheese plate was no longer on it. We asked one of the bartenders about it and she said she would check with the chef to see if he could put something together for us. And boy did he!


Orange Hill has a tie rail for horses just outside the parking lot on the trail. Our horses tie well and will wait patiently for us for hours. (This photo is from a different ride.) They were half asleep when we came out to mount up and head home.

001027 The moon was just starting to come up. What a beautiful evening!

002 copy

Ticks – What You Need to Know

I’ve always dreaded the thought of ticks but now that it has been pointed out to me that spiderthey are arachnids and not insects, I really detest them. I won’t say I’m terrified of spiders but maybe you’ve seen that comic graphic of the horse jumping in the air exclaiming, “Spider.” I’m almost that bad. At least ticks are slow moving and can’t fly or jump.

Tick activity typically begins after Thanksgiving (in California) but peak season is May through June. Ticks thrive in grassy, humid areas, such as the northern coast, and locally when vegetation isticks climb up fresh vegetation fresh in late spring and summer. They climb up low-growing vegetation and wait for a host to come by then use their clawed front legs to latch on.

Ticks crawl around on victims sometimes for several hours, seeking the perfect spot to embed. Once embedded, they begin their blood feast and stay until they are fully engorged, which can take days. A glue-like substance from its salivary glands firmly secures its connection to the skin.  The saliva acts as both an anticoagulant and as a local anesthetic, ensuring the blood keeps flowing and the host feels no pain or irritation. Depending on the species, a tick can Caution Ticksincrease its body weight by as much as several hundred times.

Sometimes these ticks carry germs like bacteria or viruses that can be transmitted while the tick is attached and feeding. The sooner ticks are removed the better, so riders should do frequent checks on themselves and their horses.

The proper way to remove a tick is to use tweezers or a special tick removal instrument. Grasp the tick by the head right where it is attached. Do not grab the body. Squeezing the body can force harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. Pull straight out without twisting. Place it in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Don’t try any of the old wives tales like matches or alcohol. They don’t work and may cause the tick to deposit disease carrying saliva into the wound.

remove ticks with a tweezer

How to avoid ticks on humans

  • Wear light colored clothing – ticks are easier to see
  • Wear long pants and long sleeves
  • Tuck your pants in your socks or tape them at the ankles
  • Stay on trails and avoid brushy areas
  • Apply an insect repellent with DEET to your skin
  • Apply a permethrin formulation to at least your shoes, socks and pants
More info:
Ticks commonly found in California
California Department of Public Health
CDC Geographic Distribution
How to Safely Remove a Tick

Dancer is a Palomino!

Oh my gosh. I am so excited. Dancer will be turning 10 this year and she is finally the Patch and Dancerpalomino I always hoped she would be. If you’ve been following the blog or our Facebook page, you know how light she was. When she was born, people would ask me if I was sure she wasn’t a cremello. Since her sire, Kenos Riverdance, is a cremello, I guess that was a reasonable question. However, since her mom, Patch (Aprils Dispatch), was a sorrel, I knew that was genetically not possible.

I bred Patch because she was an amazing horse and I was hoping to pass on her wonderful genes to her offspring. She had a sweet, agreeable personality and was incredible to ride. I bred her a second time because I really wanted a filly — a filly that would eventually replace her.

the day Liberty was bornI did a lot of research when looking for a stallion to breed Patch to for the second time. Buckskin is my favorite color so the first time I bred Patch I chose a buckskin. Even though I had a better chance of having a buckskin or bay, I ended up with a wonderful little sorrel colt. I knew I did not want another sorrel so I chose a cremello stallion for the second time to be guaranteed a palomino.

So every year for nine years, Dancer has grown her light winter coat and every spring when she started to shed I would curry, brush, use the shedding blade and pumice stones every chance I got. Lots of hair would come out but never all of it. She would tease me with darker patches of what could be, but overall, she remained a very pale yellow palomino.

Nine years of being a pale yellow paolomino

These photos from 2011, taken by photographer and friend Amanda Sannes, show some teasing hints of what could be


And then, last month it happened. Her winter coat started coming out in handfuls with no help from me as I was recovering from major surgery and couldn’t do any grooming. The first time I was able to see her after surgery, I couldn’t help exclaiming out loud, “Oh my gosh, she’s finally a palomino!”

a much darker palomino today

Here she is today.

Bath time

Bath time


2014 Kentucky Derby

Tomorrow is the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. The race is held annually on the Kentucky Derby logofirst Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. This one and a quarter mile Grade 1 Stake Race for three-year-old thoroughbreds caps the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration, and is also called “The Run for the Roses” for the blanket of roses draped over the winner. The record is still held by Secretariat set in 1973 at 1:59:40. He went on to win the Triple Crown, finishing 31 lengths ahead in the Belmont Stakes.

Another exciting, come-from-behind winner was Mine That Bird in 2009. The announcer doesn’t even notice him coming from dead last to finish several lengths in front. This was the second biggest upset in Derby history.

imageI have mixed emotions about horse racing but that’s a subject for another post. For us, the Kentucky Derby is an opportunity to get together and enjoy food, friends and horses. Although mint juleps are the traditional drink, we are wine and martini girls, so in several years of Derby parties, we have not tried mint juleps. Sometimes we dress up and don our big, floppy hats. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

You can check out this year’s contenders here.

Mountain Lion Update

Mountain lion sightings seem to be on the upswing. It may just be a cluster of coincidences but it is a reminder to be aware on the trail.

Recent Sightings in South Orange County

California Department of Fish and Wildlife says there has not been an increase in the number of reported sightings in the area but there have been several in the past year.

Last week, a mountain lion was removed from a Mission Viejo neighborhood. It had been roaming the slopes behind homes in a retirement community near the 241 toll road. An animal control officer confirmed that it was indeed a mountain lion and called California Department of Fish and Wildlife for help. A tranquilizer dart was used to sedate the 2 to 3-year old female and she was transported to the Cleveland National Forest for release.

On Sunday, officers shot and killed an aggressive mountain lion in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. A family was walking on Borrego Trail when a young lion came within about six feet of them. Another hiker scared it off by yelling and throwing rocks. Later, Orange County sheriff’s deputies and a California Department of Fish and Wildlife game warden found the mountain lion in a grove of bushes a few feet away from the Borrego Trail. They attempted to scare it off but it acted aggressively towards them and the game warden shot and killed it. California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said they don’t relocate problem animals.

In May, a Dove Canyon woman’s greyhound was attacked by what’s believed to have been a mountain lion that hopped her 5-foot fence. The dog survived after three hours of surgery to repair a large bite wound to his neck.

In October, a parent spotted a mountain lion strolling up the ramp to Wagon Wheel Elementary School early in the morning before classes started. Students were kept inside during breaks that day, and parents had to pick up non-bused students, but the lion wasn’t spotted again.

A sighting at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in February prompted rangers there to post signs and issue an alert. The park is the site of the last deadly mountain lion attack in California.

What to do if you see a mountain lion

  • Make yourself appear as large as possible.
  • Make noise.
  • Act like a predator yourself. Never lose eye contact. Wave your arms. Throw things.
  • Never crouch down, turn away or run away.
  • Slowly make distance – back away, never turn your back.
  • If attacked, fight back. Protect your neck and throat.

For more details, see our story, Mountain Lions on the Trail.

Trail Obstacle Challenge 2014 BCHC Rendezvous – Part 2

By guest writer Sheila Whistler

As an annual event for a group who rides back country where there are no comforts of BCHC Rendezvous Trail Obstacle Challengehome and no vets, hospitals or urgent care centers right around the corner, we had an idea that this trail obstacle challenge might be a little more “challenging” than the local trials we’ve been going to. The more remote places are beautiful, but there is also more responsibility to be safe and very confident that your horse will listen to you when the terrain gets challenging or wildlife gets scary. With that in mind, Connie and I went to the BCHC Rendezvous Trail Obstacle Challenge with the idea that it would be a learning experience and just go have fun and see where the holes are in training.

When I first walked up to the course and saw the giant teeter-totter, my thoughts went immediately to “Uh-oh! That’s going to be interesting!” I’ve wanted to build one of those to play on for the longest time, but never have, so this is something my horse and I got to try for the first time. The rest of the course didn’t look too challenging at first glance, until I noticed how small and tight everything was. They were going for precision. Cool! Still, my main concerns were how my horse would do in a new environment with a carnival atmosphere, applause, etc. and whether he would fit in some of the obstacles as he’s about 16.3hh and long! Other than that I thought we were ready and would do fine.

BCHC Rendezvous Trail Obstacle ChallengeWhat actually happened is that we went into the arena calmly, started toward the gate for the first obstacle and I couldn’t get him within 3′ of it! Lots of spinning and Oh Heck No! from my horse! I was so shocked, everyone heard me say, “Really??? Are you kidding me???” LOL! He was staring at the cow hides hanging over the rails next to the gate and the BLM adoption pens just outside the arena and acted like he was going to be sent to slaughter if he got close to those things! Turns out he wouldn’t go near anything with a hide on it, which was about half the obstacles!!! He likes cows, but apparently not dead ones. So we missed the gate, the mud bog and noodle gate (which he does great USUALLY), the narrow bridge, the tunnel of leaves (which was just like a big easy up with a couple shiny dangly strings… not even a hard cowboy curtain, or so I thought!), and then stepped on the teeter totter, went half way and when it started to move, he jumped off. That didn’t surprise me and I was happy he at least tried.

We did the maze (a precision maze of several lanes to go forward over things, stop, The mazesideways, backwards (& avoiding things) in the next lane, sideways, stop, forward to the end, turn on haunches to sidepass over the last logs/last lane.)

We trotted from there to the big American flag that flanked the first gate, stopped, side-passed to pick up the flag (which he did since his face wasn’t close to the hide) and cantered a circle with the flag, stopped and returned it to its holder.

BCHC Rendezvous Trail Obstacle Challenge

We did the precision bridges with varying things (fake flowers sticking up from the beginning and end, different paint patterns, brightly colored objects with shiny movement…) They were set in a pattern, so you went over one turned left, over the next, turn left, on top of the third and stop, then while still on it, turn left and ride onto a pedestal (all 4 feet), do a 360 turn, then off.

We did the campsite. Ring the bell, go thru a rope gate and close it, ride to a fake mule and remove the pack and hand to a person, then navigate thru the downed logs.

We did the rope pulley where we picked up our goody bag, unclipped it and rode off with it.

BCHC Rendezvous Trail Obstacle Challenge

What a learning experience! The narrow bridge was a long, narrow plank maybe 12-15” wide and about 6″ off the ground, with water, quacking ducks, and spinning pinwheels along side and at the end of the plank. We didn’t see any horse actually do this one! The big win for both Connie and me was the fact that we were the only two who actually CANTERED with the flag as we were instructed to. Most others walked and some trotted. Didn’t even see the gaited horses gaiting with the flag. Yay for small wins! We will do better next time… always riding for tomorrow, right? :-)

BCHC Rendezvous Trail Obstacle Challenge

See part one of this story here: Trail Obstacle Challenge 2014 BCHC Rendezvous

Trail Obstacle Challenge 2014 BCHC Rendezvous

Rendezvous is an annual event put on by Back Country Horsemen of California. It is a coming together of the local units throughout the state. This year and last, it was held at Rendezvous 2014 logoGeorge Ingalls Equestrian Event Center in Norco, CA. This 3-day event features equine training clinicians, scores of vendors, horse and mule packing seminars, Gentle Use/Leave No Trace classes, Western Art Show, Awards and Accolades, Dutch Oven Cook-off, Trail Trials, Beer and Wine tasting, Cowboy Church, Youth Classes, Raffles and Auction.

Connie, Sheila, Nancy and I had been planning for some time to participate in the arena Trail Obstacle Challenge but sometimes life just gets in the way of adventure. Connie and Sheila sent in their registration forms and were all set. Nancy and I kept putting off sending ours in. A good thing I guess as Nancy ended up having to work and my horse, Dancer, was still sore from our Anaheim Hills ride the weekend before.

Although we weren’t able to attend, Nancy and I were there in spirit. Thanks to technology, we followed our friend Lori Barnett on Facebook and Sheila texted me updates on her end. I asked each of these friends to tell us about their experiences at the event. Sheila did such a great job of covering the obstacles, her story will come another day. We were excited for Lori who took third place in the open division with her mule Katie.

Lori and Katie at Rendezvous and the Trail Obstacle Challenge

“Katie” came to California from Montana with my man, Craig, in November of 2013. Craig Lori & Katie at 2014 Trail Obstacle Challengewanted to ride his packing/hunting mule down here, and escape the long snowy winter in the Bitteroot Valley of Montana. The mule was a little out of shape for daily riding and moving at a pace faster than a walk and occasional jog. She was used to treading through the mountains and going hunting with Craig and his friends.

Quickly we began giving her a “job” riding through the hills of Rolling Hills and she was able to learn some new skills. Katie was more than eager to take on the challenge. This mule took on every challenge given to her. Trying to get her to Lori and Katie at 2014 Trail Obstacle Challengeunderstand that she could lope AND that she had two leads was a complete breakthrough. She had grown enough hair to help her through the below 0 temperatures she was used to in Montana and southern California temperatures were in the 80′s, so we body clipped her and she took on a new awakening. I started working her on trail obstacles and in the arena to gain her confidence. Katie was so eager to do what I asked her, I decided to show her.

Katie and I had been to two open horse shows. Riding in the Norco Backcountry Horsemen Rendezvous Trail Challenge was something I have NEVER done, but we thought it would be a great challenge for both of us.

Lori and Katie at 2014 Trail Obstacle ChallengeThe venue was fantastic. The trail challenge was just that. The obstacles were very well put together and showed the animals’ strengths. There were plastic donkeys, croaking frogs, mud pits, and dinner bells to ring. Everyone had a great time whether you were riding a mule, draft horse, mustang, or your daughter’s ex-show horse.

The rest of the venue had something for everyone… from Dutch oven cooking to packing demonstrations for people to 3rd place winnings in the open division at the 2014 Trail Obstacle Challengelearn new skills. Dave Stamey sang to us all Friday night with a backdrop of the hills and moon in the background that was unforgettable.

Craig and I, and “Katie the mule,” can’t wait for next year!!! Come see us at Bishop Mule Days in May!

Come Ride With US
Rockin’ Ears Ranch
Lori Barnett and Craig Glass

Sheila Texted: “It was HARD and we need hides!”

See her perspective of the Trail Obstacle Challenge next time.

Orange Park Acres to Anaheim Hills

Beginning of our ride from Orange Park Acres to Anaheim HillsOur pre-St. Patty’s ride from Orange Park Acres to Anaheim Hills on Sunday started out like many of our rides – down Windes Drive into Santiago Oaks Regional Park. Although this was an OPA Women’s League Hot Trotter ride, the participants were only our usual suspects. We have yet to get more of the Hot Trotters motivated to join us. A couple of new members, Vanessa and Melinda, did join us in the park and rode a short distance with us.

Connie, our fearless leader for this ride, Sheila, Coral, Nancy and I all met up a little after 9 am and headed down the trail. We had already dropped our food off to Chris who would meet us at Anaheim Hills Saddle Club for our picnic lunch.

This ride is about two hours over and two hours back. Nancy and I only wanted to do the first half of the ride so we dropped her trailer off at the Saddle Club earlier. Adrianna, at the Saddle Club, graciously gave us permission to do this.

The Trail from Orange Park Acres to Anaheim Hills

There are some fairly steep hills and a lot of rocks to contend with on this ride. Two of our putting boots back onhorses wear boots rather than shoes and we had to make a few stops to replace them after they came off either loping uphill or scrambling on rocks. The elevation at the beginning of the ride in Orange Park Acres was 482 feet, the highest point was 1079 ending up at 548 feet in Anaheim Hills. This first half of the ride was 5.6 miles and took us a little over two hours.

There is a tunnel to go through to get on the other side of Serrano Ave. We made a wrong turn and had to back track a little to get back on the correct course to the tunnel. You can easily see this in the EveryTrail map below.

OPA to Anaheim Hills Saddle Club

Use your mouse to move the map to the right so you can see the trail.

First order of business when we arrived at the Saddle Club was to water our horses. Nancy and I untacked since we weren’t riding back.

Lunch is Served

We arrived at the Saddle Club a little before 11:30 where Chris joined us with the food and set upDSC_0191 a great tailgate feast in the shade. We had smoked salmon with cream cheese, pesto tortellini salad, potato salad, jello and fruit salad, deviled eggs, cowboy bark and more!

After a leisurely lunch, Connie, Sheila and Coral headed back down the trail. Connie reports that they went back a shorter and easier way. We’ll have to do this trip again!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.