The Oregon Trail – May 2016

Looking back over last month, our last horse show and trip to Oregon it’s easy to see how long and far we have come. And more importantly how fun the journey has been! And how much remains the same.

The announcer announced me as an old Pony Clubber on steroids… not exactly. No steroids ever that’s for sure. He was an old rodeo announcer and looked for something colorful to say about me, made something up. And although I am proud of my pony club heritage I am not feeling very old. In fact I am pretty sure I am not acting my age appropriately… as I still want to float down the rivers I see touring around Oregon in an inner-tube are veer off the intended path and find some undiscovered (probably nonexistent) hot spring with my wife…and when I show our horses I still want to go again immediately after I go the first time (and second time in the ring).

This trip to Oregon was really fun from the start – I headed off to Bend remembering it having been super hot the last time we showed up there. So I had packed appropriately (at least if it was going to be hot that is – like August hot). We got about to Shasta when it started snowing – yes snowing and hailing and I was in shorts and a t-shirt and wondering at that point how I couldn’t have remembered I was going to the high desert… where it could be cold too… driving in the “snow zone” past the chain up here signs I wondered if I had remembered to pick up the horses blankets and actually put them in the trailer – any blankets – winter or summer – had I packed a blanket at all? How about a rain coat? Long pants? Eeesh I really began to think I had packed all wrong…

Arriving At Peter and Gwen’s just before dark a day or two early for the show with snow capped glaciers punctuating the horizon in the distance we settled into grassy filled portable stalls without blankets…IMG_2305.jpg

We had a room lined up at the Shilo Inn. And I don’t know about you but the Shilo sounded like a cool place – Shilo sort of conjured up the wild west for me so I had certain expectations available to dash… The first room they assigned me was as it turns out not ready for guests at all… it had a ladder set up and was half way painted – the paint was there I coulda finished if I had wanted to carry on. The second room they had me try you couldn’t get out the back door and there were no dials (controls) for the heater/air conditioner neither of which did I know I’d need or not. The third was a charmer though – there were controls on the heater and the doors worked also. We stayed there a few nights without much ta-doo.

The showgrounds transformed before our very eyes from a hay field to a legit showgrounds for 250 or so horses that came in from Vancouver BC, Idaho, Washington, all over Oregon and myself from CA. It was about the same drive for us as it would be to Showpark so… a long way in the other direction and super nice for a change.

IMG_2330.jpgPeter and Gwen put their heart and soul into their showgrounds property there in Tumulo – he has his best stalls all set up and has worked so hard on the footing we rode on we were all envious. And, they erected a cool new two story VIP tower for a wonderful party space. A fun food court and bbq supported with delicious food vans and a bar on site with local brewery sponsorship great catering.

It was hard not to have a great time riding there  especially seeing as we won our classes – that always makes it more fun. (But a bit harder to write about). Both mares seemed to be quite up the early days before the show and then settled nicely the first day and were both clean and good to ride. The second day was the speed derby I brought Zan Chin for and she rose to the occasion.

We were first to go in a small field of 14 or so. But I had no idea what I was up against so seeing as I brought her to win this class I decided to go all out first in… she was awesome and she smoked it… turned out to hold up the whole class and be fastest by seconds.

So, by this point it was feeling a whole lot like familiar. Sort of a weird time warp.. Steve Newell was setting for us in the warmup ring, my mom was there to watch – she had made it over the mountain to enjoy the show for a few days.

We gave up the Shilo and settled into some real nice digs at the Newells just down the road from the horses and feeling right at home …even “my veterinarian” John Carr (another CA defector) was just down the road a bit too… so I knew things were good around here. Feeling quite comfortable the next day we won the $10,000 Derby also – this time on Elle.

Sharing this win with my mom was special – after all I have her to blame for this addiction

IMG_2347 (1).jpg

All going just great.. couldn’t get much better… The Oregon Trail treating us CA pioneers very very well. So I decided to capitalize on the momentum and let John confirm the mares are indeed pregnant… it was time – that’s right why not use the guy who taught me the ropes 20 yrs ago… seeing as we are doing it again. And low and behold as the way things were going both mares confirmed pregnant!IMG_2342.jpg

And so just to review that a bit for good measure – and too keep this interesting – and because this is just awesome – Elle is bred to Jestar Du Lozon (Selle Francais – by Papillon Rouge) – due the end of March

Jestar : Highland Elegance.jpg

Zan Chin is in foal to Valentino Z… (Darko) – due the end of April

Valentino Z : Zan Chin.jpg

With all that good news on we, mom and I and the dog went bound for The Two Dollar Window. That’s what my mom calls her farm in beautiful Turner. It’s gorgeous piece of ground – horse heaven. Literally in many cases – this is where our old great horses live out their days. By the creek under a tree belly high in grass… not a bad way for a horse to go that’s for sure.

The farm is aptly named as it is done on a shoestring for sure – but it’s the potential that trumps all – mecca if only we could afford to decorate… I’m being harsh there. Grateful we are for everything there is and there is so much. Water! and grass and trees! Woosh… water and grass and trees everywhere in Oregon  it’s gorgeous! And that’s enough if there wasn’t everything else too but there is everything else too. Oregon is lovely all the way around.

But it was time to get home and celebrate with Shelia and the little prize money I had left over.

The best laid plans are forever changing and so they were forced to on our way home – all was great in Oregon but as soon as we hit CA I mean as soon as we hit the ag inspection station it all stopped… at least for a bit. Stopped literally as in died and won’t start in the middle lane of the ag inspection station on I 5 southbound… traffic stacking up behind me… the patient lady on duty kindly hands me a slip of paper with the specific address I’ll need when I reach AAA… see knew I’d be there a while – she says “at least you’re in the shade” – “don’t worry it’ll all be ok” she says… as I start to feel like I might know the culprit for the failure… my attempt to go super green back a couple hundred miles when I put in pure unadulterated biodiesel (like I always do when I can) but this time I had a funny suspicion that was the cause of our halt in momentum.

We wait as patiently as possible as I McGiver the fuel filter off while sitting there in the shade of the official cover hoping AAA shows up and at least tows us to the shade on the shoulder of the I5….! Being under the scrutiny of all the passing motorists on both sides of us was getting to be a bit much… Finally AAA did show up but with a tow truck suitable for a Ferrari not a truck and goose neck… but I made him drag us to the shoulder out of the lime light and into the unofficial shade as it startes to threaten darkness upon us. AAA says they can’t help us unless we take out the horses. Take out the horses! NO Way Jose. I’ll figure this out after all it is my birthday and everything will work out I keep telling myself…

At this point I am on the side of the road waiting for the guy from the Ford dealer to bring me a fuel filter out of the goodness of his heart (and the subliminal promise of $100 bucks). Turns out he shows up driving the exact same 19 yr old truck… exactly less the color – his was blue and he thought he knew what he was doing under the hood – after all he was the service manager that dealership 17 miles south who said he would come help me (and didn’t expect $100 buck or anything he simply was an incredible guy – Steve – service manager at the Ford dealer in Yreka) – saint Steve to me this day as he had taken it upon himself to try to find a place for my horses overnight before he knew I needed it… I guess he knew I’d need it – he had two options available already for me when he got to me. Incredible luck. So he has it all figured out if he can’t get the truck started… which it turns out we can’t and “McGiver” hadn’t even messed it up – it just needed a part.

That’s what my mom always said when something broke – she’d simply come in and say “needs a new part”.

The option we decided we’d use because the other one at the fairgrounds didn’t actually materialize when we needed it too… so the second option turned out to be the only option and best option. The one that was meant to be.

That option was just up at the next exit – Ditch Creek Road – the R Ranch a dude ranch Steve kept referring to in talking about our ranch and I thought this whole time he was talkin about “our” ranch (as in his ranch) but it was R Ranch and wasn’t his at all!

Some guy name Jay shows up and it’s “his” ranch and yes he has a coral for my horses for the night… he’ll just hitch em up and take them away…? At this point I just felt like it was all supposed to be for some strange reason – waylaid in Hornbrook? OK whatever – make lemonade out of lemons right?

So to shorten this up a bit a catch up to the horses – truck is off to the dealership for repair – I had grabbed a sleeping bag out of the truck but not much else except for my dog! We slept on the ground a few feet from the corrals the mare slept in and in the morning I discovered I had been stranded someplace I guess I was meant to know about…

R Ranch is in California and so that ends my tail The Oregon Trail – May 2016…

I’ll just summarize the rest of this story now  – the conclusion – I bought us a new horse named Lucky At Midnight on my birthday…

Our new horse then, and now simply called Scarlet – she’s due to arrive at McFarm sometime late tomorrow. A bay mare with a stripe and one white foot.

We’ll see… what else happens in June this year… it’s looking ood

This story never ends. Woo hoo!

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