Archives for January 2014

Friday, Jan. 31. 2014 – Ride Day at McKinney Roughs, Plus Hay

After having tested several different types of hay on the horses, we decided on some decent $8 bales out in Cedar Creek, partly because we can combine the trip with a ride at nearby McKinney Roughs. After fitting a new trailer hitch so the pickup could haul the horse trailer (it required a significant drop, which Hubby had acquired yesterday from Tractor Supply), we loaded up the horses and headed to Kathy and Roy's, where we picked up a full 24 bale load. We then headed out to McKinney Roughs, going to their office first and picking up a map, then learning where the 71 trailhead was (two lefts east on 71 from the office), paid the required $24 ($12 pp for equestrians), then headed out on the trail by about 1:00. At first the trail was a bit ordinary, with quite a bit of gravel on it. Eventually that turned a bit more to dirt and sand, but it followed along the road for quite a while, making it quite noisy, as 71 is a busy 4-lane divided highway. We gradually turned east, paralleling a quieter road, which was much nicer, and then we finally turned down to the Colorado River, where it was much quieter and much lovelier. We took Riverside trail, which did just that, and then climbed back up to the top of the ridge. It was a GREAT ride, one of the best since we've been here, actually, though a bit more expensive than usual, but we figured it balances out for not paying anything at Pace Bend : -). Really nice. We did even more trotting and cantering than usual, and the temps got up to the upper 70's, so the horses were sweating more than they usually do, with Apollo actually working up to a lather on his shoulders. He behaved brilliantly today, no outbursts or rodeo-ing, but just a steady pace all the way. Fabulous! We only did about half the trails even though it was a three hour, 7+ mile ride, so we'll definitely be back to do the rest! Great day! Stopped at Trudy's Tex-Mex on the way back for happy hour and a snack, topping off a fantastic day!

Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 – Second Fabulous Ride at Pace Bend Park

Gorgeous weather compelled us to pack up and ride today, so we decided to head to Pace Bend again, arriving around noon. This time the booth was manned, but upon discovering Hubby was 80 (well, almost : -), he let us pass through without paying. He gave us a map and suggested a parking area that is popular with equestrians, which is essentially anywhere in the day use area at the north end of the park. We complied, parking in the open area there, and got the horses saddles up in short order. There was a pretty stiff breeze, but it didn't seem to bother anyone. We rode around the beach are for a few minutes before crossing the road and heading up the hill that is the backbone of the park. My GPS batteries died, and I couldn't find my spares, so I had to fill in the blanks after getting back. We had a lovely ride, doing as many of the interior trails as we could, as we missed them last time around, and there were some excellent views of the lake from there, the highest point in the park. They were quite a bit rockier than the perimeter trail, but still not so bad that it bothered the horses, though they had their boots on. There were a lot more people in the park, but no other equestrians and just a few bike riders on the trails, whom we mostly were able to avoid, though they didn't bother the horses at all anyway. It was a beautiful day, and a fabulous ride, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. When we got back to the van, however, there was a "ticket" on the windshield telling me to pay on the way out. Of course, when I presented to the guy at the booth on the way out, he just smiled and said he's take care of it, which he did! Thank you! Really enjoyed the day!

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 – Ride Day at Pace Bend Park

Got out a bit earlier today, and headed out to Pace Bend Park, slightly farther but still only 45 minutes away. The weather was perfect, even better than yesterday, with temps in the mid-60's and only about 10 mph winds, through the forecast was calling for higher. From the south, though, so at least it was somewhat temperate. Arrived to an empty entry booth, and we couldn't find an iron ranger to leave money, so we drove in and started exploring. We quickly learned that signage was at a minimum, and going by the map I downloaded from the internet didn't help much. We passed the south trailhead parking, eventually find the much more obvious east trailhead parking area. It didn't take long to saddle up and head out, though the trail signage was also a bit sparse. That trailhead also had bike/hiking trails, which quickly became obviously because the limbs of the scrub pines were too low for horses. Eventually we settled on a trail heading south, following somewhat the road we came in, though eventually it curved back more to the center of the park. We passed a conveniently located watering trough which the horses took advantage of, and we continued around the park on a mostly dirt and some rock trail that actually had a few more grades than we've seen in a while. Nothing dramatic, but it made the ride the most interesting one we've taken lately. Some of the trail went along the utility line, and there were several opportunities for cantering and trotting, which both we and the horses enjoyed. They were on their best behavior, even Apollo was perfect today, obviously glad to be out of the corral and on the trail, and making sure I knew it!. We definitely needed boots on the horses because of a few rocky spots, but there was a lot less than we expected. Occasionally we were afforded a nice view of Lake Travis, on which the water level is down many, many feet due to several years of severe drought (though up a bit from some rain this year), and some of the houses above the lake were quite palatial. We took a brief stop at the north end of the trail for a snack, then were back at the trailer in no time after that. All in all, the ride was almost 5 ½ miles long, a little over 2 hours with the stop. A very nice day, particularly after the very negative experience at Pedernales yesterday! Seems the less contact with humans we have, the less frustration, and the more enjoyable the ride!

Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 – False Start to Pedernales and BB game

After a slow start to the day, we finally got the horses loaded up and heading out the Pedernales Park, where we had estimated the 8 mile ride would take just under 3 hours, so we carefully timed it out so that we would be finished by 4, so that we would have time to get to my niece’s basketball game. The best laid plans, however… We arrived to discover that the parking area next to the trailhead where the planned ride would begin didn’t allow horse trailers to park there (go figure). We were only allowed to park in the same north parking lot that we parked in last time. The only problem with that was that it added a couple of miles (and thus almost another hour) to the ride, which meant we wouldn’t be done in time. After much discussion, logic and pleading (not to mention the park was practically empty anyway), we lost the argument to a bureaucrat worrying about liability. I thought Texas was better than this, but alas, the liability avoidance routine has spread even here. We got a refund and headed home, spend the rest of the afternoon in mundane routine stuff, then headed to the b-ball game, which her team won (the first win we’ve seen since we’ve been here!) I trust we’ll have better luck riding tomorrow, but it won’t be back at Pedernales!

Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 – Ride Day at Pedernales State Park and B-ball Game

Finally getting some really nice weather, just what we've been looking for, and even though the day started out cloudy with a 40% change of rain, we decided we'd take the chance anyway, and boy, am I glad we did! By the time we reached Pedernales it was about 11:30, and we were tacked up and ready to go fairly quickly, heading out to do the North Loop. While starting out as a nice single track combo of dirt and rock, it soon became a two track of mostly dirt, with just a few stoney patches. Before long, we were on the perimeter fence, which had scrub trees on one side and a barbed wire fence on the other. The horses smelled pig and were panicky for a few minutes, but we got them settled down, long enough to do one or two canters along the fence, though I was worried they might suddenly shy right and run us into the fence, but things went well, fortunately. Halfway down the park, we cut across on what my GPS plan said was a trail, but there were no signs there, the first intersection that was poorly marked. Fortunately, there were some blue and white plastic flags tied intermittently along the trail, so we followed those and that stayed right on track with my GPS. Right after getting away the perimeter trail, it became very rocky, but not really loose stone, so it didn't bother the horses very much. (They had their Cavallo boots on, anyway, so they were fine.) The last section of trail was the nicest, weaving through trees and providing nice views in the distance. We did about 5.24 miles in about 2 hours, which was just what Hubby wanted to do. There was a wash rack at the parking area, so we rinsed the horses down before loading them up, and headed back to town. My niece had a basketball game at her high school at 5:00, so we grabbed a quick cup of coffee at the Whataburger before heading over to the game. Very frustrating, as the refs were poor and the scorekeeping kept screwing up, and one time she completely missed a basket, and in the end we lost by ONE POINT! Had we been credited the score we were supposed to, we would have won. Hard to watch! Headed home for a quiet evening, after a very enjoyable day!

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 – Truck Repair Day

Dropped our little canine Silly Billy off at the vet for some dental work, picked up the van at L&L Automotive, then came home for a while, before deciding to run down to Walmart for a couple of tires. When they worked on the van, they put the best tires on front, but unfortunately, that meant the drive wheels wouldn’t have much traction, and considering the kind of places we sometimes drive, we need all the traction we can get! After doing a little research, we realized the oldest tires were from Feber 2006, so it was time to change them out anyway, even though they had a little tread left on them. We traded them for a couple of Goodyear Wranger Authorities (a Walmart exclusive) so they would match what we already had, and would now have good traction all around. Also had the oil changed while we were at it, then we headed back and picked up Billy at the vet at 4:00. I have to say, the van drives like new! It’s pulled to the right for so long because of a bad alignment when we got the last tires, we didn’t think it would ever be right, but these guys as L&L fixed it perfectly! Rolls along so well, I’m sure we’ll get better gas mileage, too. The vet cleaned Billy’s teeth nice and white, but also had to remove some of the smaller ones because they were loose or the root was exposed, and they did a nice trim on his toes as well. Still a bit woozy from the anesthetic, but we got him home and he slept the rest of the night. An expensive but necessary day.

Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 – Dinner at Brother Karl’s

Did some running around, down to Tractor Supply for propane and Home Depot for some piping, learned the van wouldn’t be ready until late in the afternoon so we told them we’d get it tomorrow, and had a very delicious chili dinner at my brother’s house over by Lake Travis.

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 – Runaround Day

Took the van in to the shop to check the alignment, and by the time they were done inspecting it, it had a bunch of things that needed doing! New rotors, new brake pads, new water pump, new tie rod, and on and on. Not really happy about it, but after 10 years and almost 150K miles on it, it’s time to get a little work done on it, and there’s no time like the present! Even considered looking at new vans, but decided we’ll be slowing down a bit once we accomplish State #48 this spring, and this one ought to be good for another 100K miles. Engine’s good, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed it’s worth the investment. Ran around getting feed, went to Tractor Supply to get our propane tank filled (one went dry in the middle of the night, leaving us to freeze by morning : -), but they were completely out of it. Solved some other problems and did some work on the computer, so it was a pretty full day! The horses spent the day hanging out in the paddock, and since we don’t have the van to connect the horse trailer to, they’ll have to spend the night out there as well. Fortunately, it’s only supposed to get down into the mid 30s tonight, as opposed to the teens last night (their water had an inch of ice on it again this morning), so hopefully they’ll be comfortable enough with their winter blankets on.

Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 – Shopping Day

Woke up with a flat airbed this morning, my side had a slow leak the last couple of night, which evidently became a big leak overnight! Had to pump it up a few times through the night, unfortunately. Thick ice on the horses’ water this morning that Hubby had to take a hammer to. They’ve been enjoying being in the corral, which is nice to watch, but of course they’ve had their winter blankets on the whole time. Did some running around today, with more to do tomorrow. Weather forecast says warmer temps coming over the next few days, though with an increase in the chances of rain. Still hoping to get a few more rides in this week!

Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 – Put Up New Electric Corral

Strong, cold winds came in overnight, again, waking up to freezing weather after our beautiful 60’s yesterday, darn it! Wind rattled around so much it kept us awake during the night for a while. Even the sun didn’t seem to warm it up much, with bitterly cold winds from the north. I can’t even imagine how bad it must be in the northern plains right now! Regardless of the chilly weather, Hubby and I were determined to put up our new electric corral, a kit we bought from Valley Vet and had had delivered last week. We bought the largest portable corral we could, as most of them only seemed to provide about a 30′ by 30′ space, which would be a bit crowded for our two guys. The most time-consuming thing about it was wrapping the polytape onto the spindle provided! We put up the 12 plastic posts in no time, counting about 5 yards between them as recommended, and wound two strands of the poly tape, with PLENTY leftover for even a bigger corral, or extra strands as needed. Despite the wind blowing at about 25 mph, the posts and strands held easily, and it only took moments to stick in the ground post and hook up the charger, which claims to achieve 6000 V with just two D batteries! Not wanting to draw anything off the batteries, we didn’t actually test it by touching it, because the only thing it needs to do is deter the horses, and the strands themselves will do that, hopefully, even without the charger. The whole process only took about 10-15 minutes or so, and that was trying to figure it all out as we went. Now we could easily do it in a fraction of that time. We retrieved the horses from their anchors and put them inside, Clio first, and Apollo got so excited he kicked and leaped and jumped around like a kid, glad to be off this anchor. They spent the rest of the day grazing around the space, which we figure is easily about 60′ by 60′. No one tried to escape, and they seemed quite happy at the whole idea. Now we can easily move the corral around my brother’s big yard every few days, so that it won’t get too worn down, and the “fertilizer” will be more easily spread around : -). Glad to get it finished and get back in to the warmth indoors! Enjoyed some football and dinner with my brother before retiring back to the RV, bracing for 20 degree weather. Brrrr!