If my dues hasn’t got there yet it won’t be long. We’ve been busy preparing for the XP 2011 endurance ride. I wanted to participate in the entire week VI of the Pony Express Ride but I’m grateful to have completed 2 days. Just a week ago today we hauled to Farson, WY. Charm did the 50 mile “Big Sandy to Ham’s Fork” last Sat. It was an effort for her . I think mostly because she’s such an easy keeper and always a bit heavy. It was sobering to consider the pioneers travelling this exact path so many years ago. they had no concrete markers, and no GPS but the same snow-capped Wind River range loomed to the north. We all watched Pilot Butte to the east for mile after mile. We all saw the Uintas rising larger and closer up ahead, the miles of rolling sagebrush, the Green River, the antelope watching then bounding away. They travelled without a water truck, camper or grocery store just ahead. There was no water for maybe 15 miles in the heat of the afternoon. When Charm quit snacking along the way and wouldn’t even eat a piece of licorice candy I started to worry. None of the horses were happy about the situation. Fortunately, we did find a little water hole and got a good long drink. The horses perked up again right away. A few miles later we came to our water truck and had another good drink. I was glad because Charm is usually finicky about eating or drinking on the trail but she did very well this time. It was great to cruise along in her go-forever trot. We pulled into Granger just in time for completion. She even got top 10 by finishing second-to-last. Charm’s always willing to lead, follow or go by herself.
Joe was less self-motivated. The “Ham’s Fork to Fort Bridger” leg was only 40 miles so they sent us 5 miles back (up Saturday’s trail) at the start. He was wonderful those 5 on the way out but when we turned around to go “home” to Granger he got kind of rambunctious. After a quick pit-stop at camp, he was verrrrry disappointed to find that he wasn’t done yet! The trail had to be detoured over the bridge instead of crossing at the historic Ham’s Fork ford because of high water. My riding partner for the day forgot in the confusion that we were stopping at camp so she hurried to catch up with us. Meanwhile, we watched up the trail until we knew she’d gone by before setting out again alone. I was apprehensive about following the trail using my GPS but didn’t get too lost. We caught sight of riders ahead a few times but couldn’t seem to catch up. Joe was trying to convince me to turn around and go back to camp while I attempted to explain that everyone had was now up ahead. (“Remember, Our trailer passed us on that gravel road. You heard Charm hollering to us as they drove away. There is no going back!”) Finally, the last rider caught up to us. the fact that she was on a mare -- in heat-- seemed to renew his enthusiasm for the project. We finally caught up with my ride partner just before lunch. The breeze kept us comfortable in the afternoon. there was enough water for the horses. the mud at the waterholes didn’t suck off Joe’s Easy Boots! with about 10 miles left , I said something like “Wow! this is fun! looks like we’ll make 100 miles without losing a boot.” Then we got to the bog. Only lost the left hind boot. Put it back on when we got to the gravel road. Not far down the road we went through a gate and back to the trail. we picked up a trot because by this time we were running low on time. Off pops the right hind boot! The wind was up. The horses were trotting away over the ridge. Joe was not about to stand quietly to put any boot back on. I tied the boot onto the back of the saddle and we picked up a lope to catch up. About 3 strides and off comes the left front boot. Quick, tied that one on too and now we’re waaay behind. But Joe likes a canter and can roll along for miles so pretty soon we caught up. Joe was huffing some but never broke a sweat. When I got a chance to put the boots back on, I found the hind boot had come untied and the front hoof had a chip the boot wouldn’t fit over. About a mile from the end, I saw the chip had worn off so he finished in 3 boots. (Now I have witnesses of how tough his feet are!) The high run-off had flooded our camp spot so we had to go an extra couple of miles through Ft. Bridger. He pranced to the finish line like he’d just been out for a stroll.
Thanks to Dave Nicholson for organizing it all, Brooke Schick for inviting me to be her guest, Marci and Terri for letting me ride along, all the riders for being so friendly and helpful and last but most my husband Aaron for being my crew and encouraging me to pursue my dream.
Mountain Maple Morgans
News from Jenny Blanchett-Morse in WY
Charm on the pony express ride
It’s the third of July and we just got back from Intermountain Equifest in Blackfoot, Idaho. Ace (Randallane Oasis) helped give a carriage driving demonstration with the club. (see photos) There were 4 carts. Each turnout was described for the audience then we ran a small cones course. Ace sported our beautiful “new” spotted harness that a friend practically gave us after it had spent maybe 25 years in her tack trunk. ( I hesitated to mess with it but decided the day before to pull a few spots so I could punch holes to make it small enough for Ace.) One side of our arena was the chest-high wall with vendor booths on the other side. At one point in the course we came face to face with two children hanging over the barrier into our planned route! Ace took it all in stride including all the strollers, wheel chairs and loudspeakers. He was quite the gentleman and impressed everyone. We made a full weekend of the trip by including a dressage clinic at Jackson Hole with Sandy Howard sponsored by the Teton Eventing Chapter on Fri. Then Sunday morning we went on a pleasure drive around Grace, Idaho. The week was extra busy with Charm’s filly born on Tues. She is the sweetest foal I’ve ever had but no surprise that she takes after her mom. Looks like the sire’s owner will take her home when she’s weaned. Also put Ace in with my other mare Lily so we should get a half Lippitt baby next year. Ace bred a very pretty and nice tempered mare Okan Nancy Allen this spring for a client in Utah. We have been told she settled so that will be a full Lippitt foal! We also showed at a little local show in June where we got second of 2 in all three classes: Halter, barrels and poles. We came away with reserve champion stallion for what it was worth. Don’t think it qualifies for many point in the Open Competition program but We’ll send results and see. Reaching 2000 hours in the Pathways program is our biggest achievement in a long time! It took since October of 2007 to log the last 1000 hours. Now we have to figure out which horses/classes to enter for the approaching county fair season. Wish us Luck! Hope everyone’s summer goes well.
Mountain Maple Morgans
June 23 was intro to hunter courses at the Teton Eventing
> Chapter’s jump for fun. He got to work on his social skills while
> experiencing a new arena with all sorts of signs, flags, flowers etc. Of
> special interest was the mechanical bull ride being loaded into a truck
> just outside the fence for about half an hour during warm up. We did
> cross-rails and 2'. He progressed well and will jump the lower courses at the Teton County Fair - God willing!. We've been schooling up to 2'3" at home. Ace seems pretty
> enthusiastic about this running and jumping stuff.
> Mountain Maple filly (Half Lippitt, 98.8% High Foundation, Randallane
> Oasis X Mtn Maple Holiday Lily) arrived a few days early on June 26. She
> is sweet and
> petite. Leaning toward Mtn Maple Lace or Lacey for her name. First day
> photo with neighbor girl (9 years old, same as Lily). Day 2 shows mom &
> baby in full bloom. Third day she’s already playing dress-up! She is for
> sale. I have been riding Lily while a young neighbor rides Charm in our
> corral but since Lily is otherwise occupied, I had one rider on Charm
> while I led the other on Ace for our session this week. The girls were
> pretty excited to ride a stallion!
> has been out and about a bit. Intro to endurance was the Buckskin
> Challenge at Pocatello, ID. We managed to squeeze almost 30 miles out of
> a 25 mile ride. It was definitely a challenge with lots of up and down.
> Many and significant navigator errors somehow resulted in almost double
> mileage on the first loop. We left the vet hold with 20 minutes to
> complete the last (10 mile-ish) loop. We stayed on course following the
> yellow ribbons. We stopped for grazing at many lush spots. Since Ace has
> a special talent for wrapping wads of grass around his bit, I got brave,
> took it out and we finished most of the afternoon with reins on the halter
> rings. That's quite an achievement for us! And we never lost an Easy
Our branding this spring was mostly successful. Ace and Lily both have recognizable brands now. I never dreamed freeze-branding would be such a challenge. I know it doesn’t help that my brand is too complicated but they wouldn’t give me any of the simple ones I requested. Ace’s Mountain Maple babies (MTN Maple Lace (raf) bay filly spots L.H. coronet 6-26-‘13 and MTN Maple Chace (raf) chestnut colt combined star, strip, snip 7-29-‘13) are doing great and for sale. They didn’t make it to the county fair but I think Lacy would have been ready to show. Teton County Fair in Jackson Hole was the end of July. Ace did a bronco imitation in his first class which was pretty embarrassing. I think it was because of the odd sound of spectators moving around in the metal bleachers. He soon settled down and by the end of the afternoon, we conquered Hunter and jumper courses of 2’ and 2’3”. Ace did English, trail, barrels and poles at our Lincoln county Fair in early Aug. Did not do as well as hoped at the shows but over all gave a respectable performance. Our trip to the I Know You Rider endurance ride went great. [Long version see below. Maybe you could post it on line but it’s too long for farm news.] Ace completed 30s on the first and last days plus the fun ride on the middle day. I was pleased that he went well behind, in the lead or solo. The riders of “his harem” appreciated his good manners and everyone thought he was cute. Sept. 22nd was probably our last competition this year. We headed back to the fair grounds at Jackson Hole for a combined test. I played it safe and entered cross rails (2011 USDF intro level test B) and Elementary (2’ jumps, eventing test Beginner-Novice test A). Cross rails division ( we were the only entry) was a great warm up. In Elementary division, Ace did well in dressage (score 36 converted from regular dressage score 64). He got too strong on the second outside line and put a rail down which was still good enough to stay on top of the division. The icing on the cake was having my name pulled in the raffle so there was another prize. Tomorrow (Sept.27th) and the next day we expect to be up in the hills helping round up cattle.
I Know You Rider pioneer endurance ride, Aug. 16-18 2013, Evanston, WY
Ace and I were pre-entered (There is a discount!) in the I Know You Rider endurance ride Aug. . (Unfortunately, that was the same weekend as the Flat tops trip and at least 2 other events I had hoped to participate in.) It was moved to just north of Evanston, WY this year which is practically our back yard. It also upgraded to a “Pioneer” ride this year. That means it was at least 3 days and has a division with 155 miles. Any horse/rider team completing all days earns a Pioneer award. We rode the limited distances for each day so no AERC award but the ride management recognized all 3-day completers so we got the neat refrigerator magnet. We got to base camp Thurs. afternoon. I asked for a secluded site to try to avoid any stallion issues. The self-proclaimed “parking Nazi” guided us to a nice spot about a quarter mile away. there was plenty of time to check in and vet in before the ride meeting. We took a sunset stroll under a sun that was deep orange from wildfire smoke. The 30 milers started at 8:00 on the 16th. we got to keep company with Janet and her mustang (who has 3400 some miles of completed rides) and Carla (spelling?) on her (over 1000 miles) Quarter Horse. I always feel safer riding with the experienced people! I don’t get lost and pick up lots of info about pacing, ride strategy and general horsemanship. Not to mention some amazing stories. The views were wide and the footing was mostly nice dirt trails. It did get a bit dusty at times in the back. Ace behaved well and seemed to keep up fine. I was a little concerned about some forging or interfering going on with his Easy boots. We ended up tied for the “middle of pack” award . . . better than our usual “turtle” for last place!
That evening, when I was pretty sure that most of the Saturday entries had arrived, I moved into “main” camp and parked right by a water trough. On Saturday we did the fun ride. There was a photographer so I had to wear my new Kerritts ensemble. I planned to go out 1 hour, turn around and come back. There was no water along the trail. After the hour was up, I thought maybe I could see troughs way around the valley so we kept on a little farther and Ace had a good drink before we turned back. Ace went barefoot in front and was fine for the 15ish miles. When we vetted in that evening for Sunday’s 30 the vet showed me where Ace had a cramp in his hip. I would never have found it. He said to blanket him for the night and start the ride with a rump rug. Turns out the old blanket I’ve always kept in the trailer is a tad big for Ace. During supper/ride meeting/rain storm it slipped way out of place. He got to wear a heavy wool blanket just draped over him for the night. Good thing the moon was bright! I checked every time I woke up but he only lost it once.
Our rump rug was improvised from my carriage lap-robe (polar fleece throw blanket) tied onto the back cinch billets by baling twine and 2 peppermint candies (which he ate at vet check). Sunday we got started a few minutes late because I decided at the last minute to rasp his front toes back a little. It cured the interfering problem almost completely so it was worth the few minutes lost. We gradually caught up with a husband and wife from Alaska riding their Icelandics. They were at the first water troughs when we actually caught them which was not so good. Ace was too excited to drink so we continued on with them . Before long we had caught the next 2 riders and Ace got to accompany this harem of 4 mares all the way to the vet hold. The trail followed a river along a beautiful deep-green valley. It was a welcome contrast to the dry sagebrush all around. At one area the trail was a few feet up-slope from a nice grassy lawn. I think we had stopped for a drink and as we lined out back onto the trail, Ace slipped on the damp bank. He went down on his knees, scrambled up but went right back down on his side. I thought about stepping off for a split second but then he was up on his feet again. We were a bit shaken but couldn’t find anything wrong except 1 hind ankle boot twisted around to the outside. We were careful to face straight up-slope instead of angling the few steps up to the trail. (I found out later that a rider ahead of us also slipped near there but was not so lucky. The horse was “off” so they did not finish.) Not far was a little hill where we climbed past the photographer and dropped down to the vet hold. Vet check was very busy so we got left behind by the harem and had to head out solo. Ace took a few minutes to pulse down the last little bit. Rubs from ankle boots were starting to show so I took off both them and the keeper straps for the hind easy boots. I got my trusty triple antibiotic ointment out of my little first aid kit for the sore spots. I switched from the heavy western saddle pad to a cooler ventilated one. Ace enjoyed the peppermints from the rump rug and I had a little lunch too. All that put us maybe 10 minutes past our required hold. The next section of trail was the “Golf course” along the shore of the reservoir where we caught up with the Icelandics again. Then we wound through a ranch: close all gates! Just across from the ranch house we went through the horse paddock. I was very glad the horses stayed shaded up in the shed instead of checking us out! One last section of sagebrush and before viola! there was camp. Besides Ace’s first AERC completions and first pioneer for both of us, we set a new record: 75 miles including muddy crossings w/out losing an Easy boot!
When the question “what will you do with your Morgans?” went out this spring, I had so many things on my wish list I didn’t dare name them all in public. We still didn’t make it to the Flat Tops “rendezvous” or into the hills much at all but did manage a very satisfying variety of activities. Charm (Mtn Maple Charm: Red star of Texas x Master’s Bleu Belle) was open this year so she had priority for showing. She Was not a fan of the 8 hour trip across Idaho but did well in her first solo go in a recognized carriage driving trials. She also tried reining at a couple of local shows in July and August. It seems to take me 11 years to get to the point we can complete all the maneuvers for a pattern. I was happy with 4th place. She also did Trail and Barrels classes.
I only had Sundays off so Ace (Randallane Oasis: Randallane Genesis x Madrona April Twilight) did our lone endurance ride. He completed nearly all 30 miles barefoot in front. We had not thrown a boot all summer until then. In the first mile or two both his front easy boots came off and one was lost. (Some kind soul saw it and turned it in to the lost-and-found though!) Since the footing was mostly dirt and we walked in the rocky spots, his feet showed very little wear at the end. The yearlings have shot up out to pasture and both Mtn Maple Chace (Randallane Oasis x Mtn Maple Charm) and Mtn Maple Lace (Randallane Oasis x Mtn Maple Holiday Lily) Are lunging reasonably well. They both know walk, trot, canter and especially Whoa!
Sept. has included a respectable showing at a schooling Dressage show. Ace and Charm both competed in Intro Test C, Training tests #1 and #3. The first day was pretty disappointing. We were all way too tense and distracted. I was pleased when the second day went much better. Wouldn’t it be nice to do as well at the show as at home? One great experience there was the huge mirrors in 2 corners of the warm up arena. Both horses were extremely interested interested in those “corner horses” but Ace took about 20 minutes to re-focus on me. He really wanted to answer the challenge of that other stallion. I was happy to learn that our leg-yields had plenty of lateral cross-stepping. It doesn’t feel like they are reaching over so far.
On Sept. 20 Charm and I met fellow Cornerstone member Ann Moyer (buckskin Morgan at far left in photo), her mom Ruth Kero (who rode Diamond, from Devine Morgans, in a rope halter, center front of photo) Grace Mahoney, Becky Hilditch , Bonny Hershberger on a young Morgan for a competitive trail ride by Victor, Idaho. It was a fund raiser for HAPI Trails horse rescue. We were an all female team both horses and humans. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. The colors were probably at their peak. There were about 6 miles of trail and 6 obstacles. Charm did well at most but found the Champagne glass table with the billowy cloth and the PVC pipe “curtain” the most challenging. We had a great time though I never heard that we placed in the competition. We had a great visit and Ann took me home too meet all her equines.
Winter activities include sled rides with our new cargo sled. It’s much easier since I don’t have to switch the shafts from the feed sled to the red passenger sleigh. Also, we can be out in the field instead of having to stay on the road. While the snow was good around Christmas, we did a lot of sleighing, often until after dark. One night it was –30 when I got back in the house. Charm wasn’t sweaty but sure did steam under the barn light!
carriage photos of Mtn Maple Charm by Jay Hook
Dressage photos of Ace and Charm by Staci OConnell
Sled photo by Stephanie Henderson
20 below photo by Jenny Blanchett-Morse