Thursday, September 10, 2009


I first met Kim and Terry of TailSpin bracelets at the Huntington Beach Extreme Cowboy Race.
They were selling their jewelry and I was helping my friend, Crystal, sell her Silpada jewelry.

I always love finding entrepeneurs at ground level because of their passion for their craft. The excitement of following their dreams, doing something that matters and the infectious nature of sharing it with friends. They are two glowing residents of Orange Park Acres who found a way to immortalize their trusted mounts, and I encourage you to support them by doing the same yourself!


It has been several weeks since I've sold Louie, my quarter horse with PSSM. Thankfully, the weight of his health care is no longer on my shoulders.

He has gone to a home who is fully aware of his condition and has assured me that she has high hopes of being able to stabilize his condition.

There are a few things I have learned in my many months of dealing with his condition. I will try to recap as succinctly as possible. If you have a horse with PSSM, I highly suggest you sign up for the yahoo discussion group for more information and support.

First and foremost, I suggest going to a vet that has some knowledge on PSSM. Sympathy is one of the best comforts. It's like having an immune disorder and everyone thinks your crazy until it has been diagnosed and treated. Elusive as it may be, it is manageable.

Dr. Hoge, a veterinarian from Murrieta has been that saviour for me, in many instances.

He contacted the premier University for studying horses with PSSM, the University of Minnesota Equine Center. Although previous tests done on Louie led Dr.Hoge to diagnose Louie with PSSM, we couldn't be sure untill we did the muscle biopsy. Again, symptoms can be quite elusive and migrating in form.

The results came back with a positive test for type I PSSM. This was (relatively) good news in that is wasn't the more severe form of PSSM and we were hopeful in that it would be manageable.

Manageable is a relative thing. To keep a PSSM horse in good health, they need to have regular turnout, regular and steady exercise with long periods of warm up. A steady diet of free feeding a low starch grass hay and high fat feed. (a challenge can be in giving large turnouts with no access to high starch grass, which is of the deep green variety) This alone has made it almost impossible for my lifestyle and what I was capable of tolerating as a horse owner.

Another supplement I discovered along my search was something called ALCAR. Acetyl L-Carnetine aids in synthesizing the sugars in the muscles and helps keep sugars from being stored, causing the "tying up". (You can read up on it using the link above.)

OK, so not only is it good for the horse with PSSM, but it's great for ME! Many of the horse owners on the yahoo discussion group were attesting to using this stuff themselves and getting great results. I have to agree! Not only am I burning fat faster, but I feel energetic and alert. Check it out on and make sure you do your own research on it first to ensure you won't have problems with it.

Louie is a magnificent, kind, beautiful and very well trained horse. I wish him the best in his future as well as his kind owner who has devoted her time and energy to getting him healthy and giving him a good life.
If you have information regarding PSSM and wish to share, please comment below.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Western Prints

Photographer Leonard Ortiz, also shooting for the OC Stable Girls Calendar, has some amazing closeup detail prints for sale.

Mounted with a rustic frame, these one of a kind prints can accent your living spaces in a unique way.

Beautiful, aye? If you'd like an individual, high quality print, please email for price and size requests.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009


July 2009 (another long drawn out vacation recap)

Monica, the queen of the Ultimate Vacation seekers, outdid herself once again. She has the uncanny ability to find the best vacations possible. We seem to share a penchant for immersing ourselves in unspoiled nature, hence the theme for our most recent horsy adventure. This time we set our sights on the Weminuche Wilderness in spectacular south west Colorado.
Not content to just ride in the wilderness, up over 12,500 foot mountain passes, wild river canyons and high mountain meadows; we did it with one of the nation’s top horsemen so that we could learn about horse packing in the wilderness on our own horses, ourselves!
I don’t know about you, but the prospect of towing horses cross country with the goal of riding the countries highest places for a week was pretty scary for me. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) Monica’s horse was not up to the task, so we left him at home. My horse, Dixie, was going alone (a scary prospect for any horse, being a herd animal that finds security in numbers). Wanting to do this right we arrive several days early to get Dixie acclimated to the high altitude and change of diet; and to get some weight on her before the extreme toil that lies ahead. We leave California for Flagstaff, AZ, our first layover point. We arrive in the middle of the night and somehow find our way to the stables at the county fairgrounds. She handled it pretty well after 9 hours in the trailer and resting a couple of times along the way. Up at the crack of dawn, we fuel up and begin the final push of 6 hours to Durango, CO. Poor trusting ‘ole Dixie, I wonder what she was thinking, crossing all that desert for hours on end, not knowing what the future would bring and then finally arriving at the Ranch from Heaven – The Palmer Quarter Horse Ranch A thousand acres of lush green grass, flowing streams, nice weather with sun and rain, and big beautiful studs (what more could a sexy mare want?). The Palmers were very generous to let us park our camper on the ranch until the departing day. The ranch is set in a lush pastoral valley surrounded by huge mountains. Thunder storms came and went every day and I spent my first day riding solo in the mountains and forests just exploring the ranch and seeing how Dixie would do. Well, she did great. We crossed rivers, went up steep mountains, through canyons and slogged through bogs and bushes. We found the herd of horses that the Palmer’s let out to pasture in the mountains to graze. Dixie was on high alert, looking out for wildlife around every corner. But being very level headed she got us in and out safely. I am thankful that I have a good horse! That night, we leave Dixie at the ranch and go into town to stay at the Strater hotel . This is a historic hotel built in the 1800’s in a very western Victorian style. We head into the Diamond Belle Saloon for a beer amongst the local cowboys and other tourists. We ate dinner at the Steamworks brewery (yes a brewery, where else would you eat in a western town like Durango?). They brew something called CONDUCTOR IMPERIAL IPA powerhouse brew packs 9.24% alcohol and is the best tasting beer I’ve ever had the pleasure of guzzling. Let me tell you - guzzling is not the best thing for a newcomer to a 7000 foot elevation town to be doing. They had a great menu of I don’t remember what, but I’m sure it was good. The next day, Monica met Pedro; a short but very stout Indian horse that was very level headed and sure footed. Together, we went on a short trail ride with a Palmer ranch hand named Robin; a fiery 20 year old, very cute, redheaded cowgirl from Germany that constantly had an entourage of cowboy’s vying for her attention. Monica and Robin instantly hit it off and I think we now have a new daughter. Anyway, she takes us on a delightful ride to the top of a ridge that overlooks just about everything in the area. As beautiful as that was, it pales in comparison to what awaits us in the high country. That night we meet another one of the guests who will be on our back country trip, Earl of Malvern, Arkansas. A 70 going on 40 year old horsemen with a very spirited 9 year old Rocky Mountain horse that he handles very well. Earl is a real cowboy, a real nice guy and he rides hard. He’s an inspiration for when I get older. The next day several other of our posse arrive. First was Randy from Phoenix, who brought his Albino Mule named Mint, the sweetest animal of the trip (except for Dixie of course). Randy does his own packing in Arizona with his Mules. Zack and Jill came up the hill from Houston, TX. Two of the nicest lawyers you’ll ever meet. They rode some of the Palmer horses. Finally arriving is our teacher for the trip, a national champion in a bunch of cowboy stuff and a top notch horsemen and trainer, Craig Cameron Craig is a lively Texan with a real passion and a special gift for horses. He’s an excellent communicator and showed a lot of patience with us. Craig brings two apprentices, Tennessee and Luke; two young tough cowboys who handle horses very well. Craig will put on several horsemanship clinics during the pack trip for us to improve our riding skills. We all received nuggets of valuable feedback throughout the trip. Terry and Randy Palmer are the father and son owner/operators of the ranch. They know this land like only those who have spent their whole lives here could. Terry has been here raising horses since the 1950’s and Randy is the only cowboy I know with a PhD. Both are extremely knowledgeable, generous and soft spoken. Along with the help of Terry’s wife, Dixie Palmer, we were made to feel at home, extremely well cared for and well fed! Later this day, Randy Palmer, took us all on a more arduous ride over some ridges and steep mountain sides, giving us a taste for what was to come. My horse, Dixie does great, but at the end of this ride my neophyte-ness rears its ugly head. I tie her up to the trailer to take off the saddle but forget to untie the reins from the saddle horn and the saddle slips underneath the horse. Well let me tell you how to make a horse come completely unglued… It was ugly, she bucks and rears, smashing me in the face, slamming down on my foot and proceeds to smash Chad’s (another ranch hand) truck to the tune $2,200.00. I’m trying my best to hold her bridle to settle her down, but I can’t get to the halter rope. She trusts me enough to stand still but trembling with the saddle still underneath her and ready to go ballistic at any moment. Craig rushes up and cuts the rope for me so I could get her out of there. She comes away with a nice gash on her leg that is bleeding all over the place. Craig quickly moves into action – on the phone with the vet and bandaging it up simultaneously. We give her some bute (horsy aspirin) and walk her around a bit. I’m heartbroken that I could let my horse get hurt like that and worried that she won’t be able to go into the mountains after all this preparation. Terry comes over and observes the leg and assures me that the gash won’t stop this horse. Another amazing thing is that when Dixie came down on my foot she immediately lightened up as if she knew she would hurt me otherwise. My foot wasn’t hurt in the slightest. Another day full of thanks ends safely. In the afternoon, Monica, Randy and I take a long walk through the pastures and mingle among the mares, studs and babies. The studs are extremely protective and intimidating. The babies rear and buck and play around. They get curious and come to us cautiously. My favorite memory is this one baby who steps up and touches my hand with her nose. Then gets more comfortable and lets me pet her neck and body and nuzzles my face. Then whips around and prances off with the other babies. Off in the distance in another pasture a stud is going berserk with the horses in yet another pasture that are getting too close to his herd. I am glad I’m not in the middle of that one; horses can dish out tremendous violence. Well D-Day finally arrives. Everybody is excited to get up into the high country. We help to pack the mules and saddle the horses. Everything is weighed and placed into equal piles of no more than a couple pounds variance to balance on the mules precisely. I take one last look at Dixie’s leg. It’s ugly but she’s better off going because walking will help keep the swelling down. Once at the trail head, it’s 15 miles of serious elevation gain. Terry gives us one last instruction: “Up ahead we’ll be going across a rock ledge on the side of a cliff, don’t let your horse stop”. Terry is an understated kind of guy of few words. “Okaaayyy”, I say a bit nervously, and off we go. As if that wasn’t worrisome enough, on the way up the hill another mule team is on the way down. Uh oh, there’s no room between the cliff and the rock wall. The other guy’s mules spook and nearly stick him to a tree. Another mule get’s his neck stuck on a rope. Our horses are unsettled and want to turn around. We keep them straight while ropes are untied and mules rearranged. We squeeze by and continue our journey up a steep rock shoot. The sound of steel horse shoe’s clanging and scuffling for traction and footing. Suddenly, the crack of thunder overhead, it begins to rain. I don’t fancy being barbequed on the back of a horse. I silently wonder if steel horse shoes will ground me should lightening strike. We keep moving as we all put our rain coats on. The rain gets harder and then it begins to hail. More thunder and lightening. Horses keep going, slogging up the mountain through patches of mud and slippery rock. Then as quickly as it came, it disappears and the sun starts to shine again. The temperature rises quickly so I take my coat off and place it across my saddle horn. About 5 minutes later I get distracted as I’m turned around talking to someone. My coat slips off the saddle and catches my horse by surprise. She probably remembers the saddle incident and spooks, lurching forward through a rock garden. I’m launched into the air. I manage to hit the ground with a thud in the only place where there are no rocks. My horse is standing 15 feet away looking sideways at me like ‘what the heck was that?’ People are asking if I’m alright but I can’t answer because the wind got knocked out of me. Just climb back up and off we go again. I’m turning into a one man rodeo and am definitely pushing my luck. Mile after mile we ride and the scenery just keeps getting more spectacular. Coming over a small saddle and into yet another beautiful valley, I spot several elk. In my excitement, I yell out to everybody as I’m counting the elk. Then I realize my faux pas and turn to Randy and say “you think I scared ‘em away?” He just smiles and says “probably so”. It doesn’t matter though, because at one point or another others in the group will do the same thing. This group is obviously not hunters. Six hours later, after lots of varied and incredibly beautiful terrain we reach camp at 10,500 feet. We came through a couple 11,000+ foot passes and alpine tundra type terrain to get through the mountains and then finally off a steep forested mountain side into a lush valley surrounded by pine trees with a river running through it. Our tents were thankfully set up before we arrive and the chef was already busy preparing dinner. First thing, I unpack the beer, oops, I mean; we take care of the horses and mules and then settle in with a beverage of choice and begin to appreciate God’s handy work. Everybody sits in awe. Monica and I have a tent set up on a small knoll with pine trees behind us overlooking the river from two angles and another creek coming off the mountain behind us. The sound of so much cascading water is mesmerizing and sobering at the same time. I realize now why I consider Nature as my church. Others may like the House of God, but I prefer the Garden of God. I am in awe of my horse. Dixie is an amazing animal; she pulled my carcass up those mountains and then did a Craig Cameron clinic later that day, all for a pale of grain and some green grass. This is an awful lot of riding! The next couple of days, I routinely awake at 6 or 7 am. Only a couple of souls are up having coffee and enjoying the scenery. After breakfast we prepare for a day ride. Shoot, a day ride is right! We ride up the river and straight back up into even higher country. Each day brings a new riding direction, challenging terrain and increasingly fabulous scenery. When we come back in the afternoon, Craig puts on a horsemanship clinic for us. No rest for the beasts, but they all seem incredibly happy. Dixie is a new horse ever since she got to Colorado. She has been energetic, brave, willing and very well behaved. For the most part I was able to keep her on a loose reign with just leg cues being enough to guide her – just the way it should be. Craig helped me a lot. Since the spooking issues, he spent time desensitizing her. Then he trained her to hobble, so she could go out and graze at camp with the other horses without me worrying that she would take off and get lost in the wilderness. He helped us all with our horsemanship skills. Mine definitely got a little better. There is so much wilderness here that each day we cover miles and miles and ride over entire mountain ranges, through valleys and rivers; each with it’s unique beauty and character. Some of the riding is extremely steep and scary. We pass elk, deer, marmots and bald eagles and see bear tracks. The whole time we were in the back country we saw only one other soul; a diehard fisherman. Backpackers rarely make it in this far. Here is where horses reign supreme! The highlight of the riding was going to view mountains called the Needles. This was where the horses pushed really hard at the highest elevations. We could see forever, we must have reached almost 13,000 feet. We were on top of the world! The scariest part of the trip was traversing a rock shoot over a raging river. Big slab rocks jutted angular with just inches of footing in crevices for the horses. At one point I was following Randy from Arizona, when his mule tried to gain traction on the side of a rock slab. He slipped and rocked backwards, hoofs in the air sliding on her butt toward the raging torrent far below. Randy sat right in the middle of the saddle as the mule pulled it out at the last minute on another crevice, stood up and walked off like nothing happened. I had to go next and Monica last…Yikes… Night time was not boring either. We told scary stories to Tennessee and Luke who had to ride across the river and up a mountain in pitch black darkness to the other camp each night. We had a blast playing horse shoes and heckling and throwing debris at one another during opponent’s turns. Night time also brought out another favorite pastime. I brought along a special bottle of Johnny Walker Green Label. Other’s brought Wild Turkey, Southern Comfort, and a bunch of other stuff too. ‘Alcoholic consumption within reason’ is what the pamphlet read. Well I guess people have different reasons… The discussion was lively as we probed the depths of spirituality, solved the crises of the world and admitted things that I couldn’t possibly repeat anywhere. At one point poor Jill stood up to utter yet another startling revelation, when she tripped on a log and fell head first into the fire and just laid there. Craig and Randy jumped to the rescue and pulled her out with thankfully only minor damage, save for perhaps her ego and some burnt locks. Anyway, I’m sure it was God’s way of not letting the pearls of wisdom fall into the ears of the rest of us unripened souls. She earned her Indian name Face First in Fire. Needless to say there were some late risers the next morning. All this may seem to distract from the main story, but the point is that the journey, the scenery, and the adventure is only part of the fun. The company that you are in really makes or breaks a trip. We were so lucky to have the group of people that we did. Everyone just fell in and there were nothing but good vibes and camaraderie. No loudmouths, no immaturity, no complainers; just good people having the adventure of a lifetime together. I will remember that equal to the majestic setting. When the last day finally arrived I was loathe to depart. I wanted to stay in those mountains all summer long. But the horse was losing weight and needed rest and responsibilities couldn’t wait forever. So with a tear in the eye we made our way back through the mountains, back to where man reigns supreme. Slowly, the world started turning again, and clocks began to tick. Reprieve is a double edged sword; it gives rest to the soul, but for the heart it gives yet more longing. With Love, Scott and Monica

Photos; my apologies, but for some reason, I've hit a glitch on eblogger that is giving me grief with loading photos between text, so I've separated them out with lame-o captions instead. SORRY!!

Scott, post Dixie spook with his bent glasses.

Beautiful Aspen groves at the beginning of the ride. Unfortunately, there is some worm that is eating the leaves off the trees! Could be a disasterous epidemic. I hope they figure this out. . this could be tragic!

Gorgeous river crossing. . one of a thousand that we crossed during this excursion

Descent through the hills. Randy on his albino mule, Mint.

One of the final descents into the valley of our camp.

Scott's Cooler! He found the perfect eddie in the stream to hold his beer. . just a short stumble from camp.

Scott's self portrait, no doubt during one of our downpours.

The Hitchin' post next to camp. Our tent was the little yellow one up on the knoll. Tee Pee in the foreground housed our saddles and gear.

Hangin' outside post ride. . tellin' stories and gettin' to know each other in between throwing sticks to keep the dogs busy. Like they needed it after running circles around our horses on our 15 to 20 mile days! Amazing mutts!

One of my favorite shots of Terry and Randy Palmer, our hosting outfitters and backcountry mountain men extraordinaire. Women, if you ever want to know what a real man is. . . here ya go! Kind, strong, gentle, capable. . oh. . and brilliant! Randy there is a PHd in physics! Gotta love it!

One of our lunch stops. Dreamy scenery.

That's me in the rain. I love my gear! Warm and dry. OH, and I love my horse, Duzy, one of the fabulous Palmer Quarter horses.

Another approaching storm. But thankfully, we never ran into anything other than a pleasant cooling rain.

Our pack string led by Terry Palmer. I always had a calm sense of security with Terry leading the group. His demeanor was so steady that I never worried. And believe me. . there were PLENTY of occasions with the terraine to have a bit of concern. It's the nature of the wilderness.

More beautiful scenery

Descending into another valley. Here is the classic sillouette of Randy and Mint

I believe this was the stream by camp. Next time I'm bringing my fishin' pole. There were PLENTY of descent sized trout!

Yep, this is me schlepping all my stuff into our palace for a week. Surrounded by creaks, beautiful scenery, fresh air, ground flowers and friends.

This was one of our day rides wherein the horses hoiked our carcasses up over 13,000 ft. elevation! Amazing critters. And why do they do this? Because we ask them to. Thank God they're not reasoning creatures.

After several days of amazing day rides, we took the ride home, never seeing the same scenery twice. . it was a trip of a lifetime. I left the Palmer Ranch and Craig Camerons presence, along with all the new friends we had met, with a sense of spiritual enrichment. It has been a long time since a place has affected me so deeply. Thank you to all for the opportunity to experience such a gift. The gift or your presence, your teachings, your laughter and hearts. Scott and I both thank you for a trip we will never forget and can't wait to repeat!
Happy trails!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Who doesn't love sylish western wear? It's so classic. . .and if you live in California, it's part of the old-west tradition. Although, as a disclaimer, these links are from out of state!
Here is some unique western wear for men, this stuff makes me laugh.

During our trip to Durango, we came upon this store that had amazing, unique and well crafted western wear, unfortunately. . they need help with their website!

If you're in for vintage western wear, check this out;
There's another one that is fabulous and sexy, but I have it in my phone and my phone died and I have to go to work!! Dang work, gets in the way of life!
More later,
Smiles and Miles my friends!


I often have friends who don't have horses, but would love one ask "how much does it cost to have a horse". Well, as most of you horse owners know. . . this question can have you standing there like a deer in the headlights.
And EVERYONE has the initial response. . . ."the horse is the cheap part". . . .
I didn't believe it at first, but now. . .I'm a believer.
I still don't really have an accurate assessment of the costs, but I did run across this beautifully succinct page of all the variables that could hit you.
So here you go. . a bit of a reality check; go to this link