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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Random Musings: K9 Life, and the Weekend Warrior Horse Owner.

Just some random thoughts to put on a page...

I don't know if anyone else has lived with a Police K9 in their home. I do, and it's very different than having a pet dog.  Not in the stereotypical ways one would expect, like OMG they're VICIOUS, do NOT let them around kids, don't get too close to their handler because you'll be bitten!  Um, no.  Bear is basically a giant puppy that just happens to be solid muscle, have never ending energy and really likes to smell for drugs and track down bad guys.

But what kills me, is he thinks EVERYTHING that even MIGHT look like a ball, is probably his toy.  I just got a pear out of the kitchen to offset my waffles that I drowned in butter and honey for breakfast.  Cue Bear heeling, with eye contact, from the kitchen to the living room, tail wagging, just positive that pear is actually his ball and he's going to be rewarded.  Definitely not, buddy, sorry.

Although his focus on me is higher today because his handler is at a class from 8-4, so Beardog is stuck with me until I go to work at 2.

Sticking with the Beardog theme.....If you're going to transport illicit drugs, putting 28 grams of meth in the pocket on the drivers side door, yeah Bear hit on that like a ton of bricks.  Now you go to jail for that, plus the 10 more grams we found in the car, with Felony-2 charges, and made Bear feel like a rockstar in the process.

Also, second shift life sucks.  I don't get to ride nearly as much as I would like. I'm heading out this morning to buy feed and drop it off and if I'm lucky, groom him before I have to head home, shower, change, go to work.  Thankfully it is my Friday.  That means two days of riding ahead.  I've never been the weekend warrior horse person.  And I loathe becoming one.

Any second shift-ers with horses?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Getting Back to Normal

Finally, Dewey is home! He's spent the last five weeks at training.  I was able to ride him three times in those five weeks, and his gait has gotten smoother.  Now he just needs miles and muscle to learn how to hold it.

I picked him up on Wednesday, and since we had to pass the trail head to get home, I decided to stop and have a quick ride.  It was hot, and muggy at almost 90 degrees.  We parked at the boat ramp at the state park, and I unloaded, then realized I didn't bring a grooming kit.  Thankfully, Only his haunches were really filthy with stable stains, and I brushed a few loose shavings off his back and we saddled up and went.

I can't explain how happy I was to finally have my view framed by those bay ears again.  Dewey was happy and we went along at a nice gait for about half an hour, and a fifteen minute walk at the end.





Poor guy was pretty sweaty when we got back to the trailer, and thankfully we were only a five minute haul from home.  Rinsed him off and got him settled into his stall with a full hay net and water buckets.  Then I went home to nap, midnight's life sucks, y'all.

So yesterday morning I made it to the barn to ride.  The driveway is long, bordered by a cornfield and more visually interesting than the sand ring.

We made it twenty minutes before the skies opened up.  Then we got drenched.  Since the horses were going to have to stay in because of storms, I put Dewey out for the couple hours while I was there.  He happily stood in the rain and ate grass, and I took the time to just sit in a chair and relax and watch.  Being with my horse is my quiet time.

I'm looking forward to much more of that in the coming months and years.  But for now, there's a big ball of fire in the sky that I'm not used to seeing, and I need to go hide from it.











Quiet Time

Finally, Dewey is home! He's spent the last five weeks at training.  I was able to ride him three times in those five weeks, and his gait has gotten smoother.  Now he just needs miles and muscle to learn how to hold it.

I picked him up on Wednesday, and since we had to pass the trail head to get home, I decided to stop and have a quick ride.  It was hot, and muggy at almost 90 degrees.  We parked at the boat ramp at the state park, and I unloaded, then realized I didn't bring a grooming kit.  Thankfully, Only his haunches were really filthy with stable stains, and I brushed a few loose shavings off his back and we saddled up and went.

I can't explain how happy I was to finally have my view framed by those bay ears again.  Dewey was happy and we went along at a nice gait for about half an hour, and a fifteen minute walk at the end.

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Poor guy was pretty sweaty when we got back to the trailer, and thankfully we were only a five minute haul from home.  Rinsed him off and got him settled into his stall with a full hay net and water buckets.  Then I went home to nap, midnight's life sucks, y'all.

So yesterday morning I made it to the barn to ride.  The driveway is long, bordered by a cornfield and more visually interesting than the sand ring.

We made it twenty minutes before the skies opened up.  Then we got drenched.  Since the horses were going to have to stay in because of storms, I put Dewey out for the couple hours while I was there.  He happily stood in the rain and ate grass, and I took the time to just sit in a chair and relax and watch.  Being with my horse is my quiet time.

I'm looking forward to much more of that in the coming months and years.  But for now, there's a big ball of fire in the sky that I'm not used to seeing, and I need to go hide from it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Prayers, Please.

If anyone is a prayerful person, or if you could just spare some good thoughts our way, my brother officer could use them tonight.  He was care-flighted with a head injury, and in is currently in ICU, with a cautiously optimistic prognosis.



I can't wait to see my friend back on the road and  being his usual goofy, hard working, self.  It was a fluke event with devastating results.  Prayers, and good thoughts appreciated.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Drugs are Bad. Ponies are Good.

Drugs are bad, folks.

RIP cruiser #505.  
 My partner and I were responding to a call Friday night, and while enroute, traveling southbound, I stopped at a red light.  When the light turned green I proceeded into the intersection.  I saw a pair of headlights traveling towards us, and as I realized that those lights belonged to a vehicle driving at a high rate of speed, I engaged my brakes.  The other vehicle that was traveling eastbound stuck our cruiser and then we hit a second vehicle that had been to our left.

The airbags deployed, and when our vehicle came to rest, I vaguely heard my partner advising on the radio that we'd been involved in an accident and saw him exit the car.  I tried my door.  It didn't open.  I tried it again, and kicked it with my foot.  It finally opened with just enough room for me to wedge my body out between our car and the truck we were pushed into.

I asked the driver of the truck if she was okay, and she said she was fine and only shaken up.  I joined my partner at the vehicle that had struck us.  We pried the driver's door open and found the driver to be limp over the steering wheel.  Medics responded, and the driver appeared to be under the influence of drugs.  We later found that the driver at fault had admitted to the Trooper investigating the accident that he had done heroin, and had actually been fleeing the call we were responding to.

Pretty Dewey boy.
DOther than the cruiser being totaled, we're fine.  Sarge completed his investigation, and agreed I wasn't at fault, meaning no disciplinary action will be taken against me, which is good, because if I had been at fault, there's a possibility I could have lost my job due to still being in my probationary year.

What a mess.

After work, all I wanted to do was hug my pony.  Unfortunately, he's at the trainer.  So I hugged my pup.  I had to work Saturday night, and was finally able to go see Dewey on Sunday afternoon.  He was turned out in the round pen, and seemed happy to see me as I brought him inside and brushed him.  He still doesn't love me reaching my hands towards his head, but he was very receptive to me being near and talking to him.

The trainer showed up, said he really liked Dewey, that he's smart and learns pretty quickly.  I watched him tack up, and Dewey didn't fight being bridled, stood stock still to be saddled and girthed.  I took a short lesson, and his rack is really coming along.  We are thinking about maybe leaving him there an extra two weeks past his original thirty day stint.  I can't wait for him to come home though!

He's smooth, and really starting to relax into the rack.

I have an addiction, and it's my animals.  My dog and my horse.  Drugs are bad, folks.  Although horses may be just as financially draining.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Weekend Adventures

I had a rough week at work.  My weekly evaluation had several areas marked 'needs improvement', and I was feeling like I couldn't do anything right.  I was so mad at myself when I got home on Saturday morning that I just broke down and cried.  Then I leashed Jax up and we walked.  A half hour later I was in a better frame of mind, able to make myself some breakfast and go to sleep.

Confidence building
When I got home from work Sunday, I stayed up a while, watched some TV, and was planning on picking my parent's dog up for the day.  Dad was scheduled to work for twelve hours and Mom was out of town in PA.  Dad called at eleven and said not to worry about it, he was on his way home.

Tony and I grabbed lunch, then I slept a while, and we went to his parent's house for a bit, then took my dad out to dinner for Father's Day.  The rest of our evening we just watched TV, and hung out.

Hammock chillin'
Yesterday I took Jax back to the Metro Park and we hiked.  I didn't really have a plan in place when we set out, but as we got going, he seemed a little tired.  I was experimenting with the belt lead that Tony normally uses, its longer than the one I use.  Unfortunately, it's almost too long, Jax often stepped over it if he was walking near me and not in front. It


had rained the day before, and the footing was really slick in spots, and I was glad I had brought my trekking poles, they really make a difference!  We did three miles, with a couple steep climbs, and when we got back to the parking lot we rested in the shade for about fifteen minutes.

Looking at the map, I realized there was a trail that started across the road that I had never been on, and the back country campsites were there.  So we moseyed about a half mile until we came across the campsite.  There's a group food prep area, a pit toilet, and three small campsites.  They're flat circles, with a few trees and lots of brush surrounding them.  Only one of them was usable for my hammock though.  I set it up and Jax and I just hung out for a while.  Listened to the birds, felt the cool air, and I decided a short backpacking trip may be in our future, if not this year, then next.

Early morning views from the bike path.
This morning, I took my bike out of the garage and threw it in the back of the truck.  It's only a few minute drive to the bike trail, and honestly, I could ride to it.  I feel like I need to be in much better shape to do that though, because coming home, its all uphill for a mile.  I got there just as I would consider it light enough to not be breaking the 'no park after dark' rule, and off I went.  Early morning's are so nice, it is cooler, quieter, and I was mostly alone.  I saw two rabbits, four deer, a hawk, and several blue herons.  Ten miles was plenty of a workout, and I felt better after I was done.  It got me breathing harder, my heart rate up, and my blood moving.   I don't love biking like my parents do, but its a nice break, and isn't hard on my knees.  It's now technically my Sunday night, and I have to be at work at 2200hrs, but we have massages scheduled for noon.  So I think I'm going to research some hikes around here and try to plan for next weekend.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Well, We Can't Read a Map

My "Friday" is actually Saturday night into Sunday Morning.  Overall, I really don't mind the overnight shifts.  My boyfriend, Tony, has had the past week off for vacation time, and we've actually gotten to see each other, which has become a somewhat rare event, since he works 3-11's.

I was three quarters asleep on Saturday, when he kissed me goodbye, and said he was going shopping with our friend, Jay, then coming home and hiking with his dog.  My sleepy self assumed he was just taking Bear to the local arboretum and doing a mile or two.

I was awakened about four hours later by a very enthusiastic, 80 pound bundle of fur, leaping onto the bed, and a human asking me if I was getting dressed to hike or not.

Apparently, Tony had not intended on going to the arboretum, he had assumed I was also going hiking, with him, Jay and the three dogs.  I was cranky, and groggy, but I pulled on a pair of pants, a shirt and shoes, and grabbed my day pack which Tony had already prepped, and made it out the door.
Jax, my seven year old German Shepherd, Bear, Tony's police K9, and Rowdy, Tony's six year old pet lab, were all in the back of the truck, and Jay, Tony and I piled into the un-air conditioned cab.

We drove to the Metro Park, and harnessed Bear and Rowdy, coupling them together.  Bear technically belongs to the city, plus is attack trained and if a person scared of dogs ran from him there is a microscopic chance he could think we were playing the 'bitework' game; and Rowdy has a propensity to flush game and chase it and his recall is not exactly reliable.

Jax was just on his normal chain training collar with a waist lead that I attach to my hiking pack.

We glanced at the map in the parking area, deciding to do the yellow trail since it was listed as 2.5 miles.

The first third of a mile, we passed about fifteen people heading back to the parking lot.  About three quarters of a mile in, I cut Jax loose of his lead.  Jax has an extremely good hiking vocabulary that includes:

Wait- Stop and don't go any farther
Down- drop and don't move until I tell you
Come- Move towards me
HEEL- normally coupled with a prefix of "NO" before "HEEL", if he blows off 'Come' which is exceedingly rare, and only was used once in the past year.
Okay/Free/Go Play- All mean he's free to do as he pleases while still minding his manners, generally staying on trail, no running up to people, no jumping etc.

This particular Metro Park is a familiar one to us, and visibility is good on nearly all of the trail so you can see someone coming from a fair distance off.  As soon as we see another person, Jax is always called to me, or placed in a down until I get to him and leashed until we are clear of others.

We hiked a while, finally coming upon signs for the yellow trail after a mile.  Note: It seemed odd to me that we hadn't seen any signs for it from the start, but apparently I was too groggy to put it together.  It was 90 degrees out, and I hadn't eaten, and about a mile and a half in, I was woozy, and my legs were getting jelly-like.   I tried to keep drinking from my hydration bladder in my pack, but couldn't keep water down.   By the time we reached Dogwood pond, I was ready to be done.

We stopped, I sat in the shade, ate a box of yogurt covered raisins, ran some cold water over my wrists, and rested for about ten minutes.  I did feel marginally better, and we continued, on the assumption that we only had about a mile left.

Mid-hike selfies.
A little over a mile later, we came upon a familiar clearing leading to a parking lot.  Except it wasn't our parking lot.  In our haste to get a hike done and still give me time to shower and eat before work, we hadn't noticed that the yellow trail started from the northernmost parking lot, and we had parked in the second southernmost.  This meant we now had to do the same mileage to get back.  It now made sense why we hadn't encountered yellow trail signs until we had hiked a while.

We rested again at the shelter house, gave the dogs a drink and I ate a handful of almonds.

The trek back was slower, we were all pretty worn out because of the heat, and we aren't really in hiking shape.  At one point, all three dogs were moving pretty slowly and we were watching closely for signs of heat exhaustion.  (Isn't it funny how we watch over our animals better than ourselves?)  Jax suddenly perked up, and took a few steps down a side trail, then stopped, looked back at us hopefully, and wagged his tail, seemingly excited by what lay ahead on that offshoot.
A turtle we passed on the
 side of the trail.

We followed him and found that it was the spot where we let him swim in the summer. All three dogs got to take a quick dip to cool off.  Jax and Rowdy swam for a few minutes, and Bear got wet, but was very unsure of this whole swimming deal.  From there, all the dogs seemed to have a pep in their step the rest of the way back.

We got done with 5.25 miles, in about 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Not a long hike by any means, but one I was mentally unprepared for, as well as physically, apparently.  We made it home with about ninety minutes to spare before I had to get ready for work, which was just enough time to get dinner, shower and sit down for a power nap before shining boots and butting brass on my uniform.

We conquered the first real hike of the year, and lived to tell about it.  Here's to the next one.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Welcome

Welcome to the blog.  It is named because that's what I'm trying to do, to take life as it comes, and in my stride.

I intend this blog to be a catalog of the adventures I have with Dewey, my nine year old Standardbred gelding, in our quest to take a deep breath, relax. and enjoy the outdoors through trail rides and camping, and possibly even a foray into the endurance world, although that isn't set in stone.

I also enjoy taking to the trails on foot and hike, often accompanied by my seven year old German Shepherd, Jax. I would like to explore the idea of backpacking a bit as well as traditional car camping.

I have had this blog set up for about four years.  I blogged intermittently throughout a previous job that was just not a good fit; a previous horse, that may make occasional appearances here, because I now board at the farm owned by the people who bought him; and the various facets of my life.

However, the job just recently changed, and I landed my 'dream job' working for my hometown police department full time; I revamped my equine life, from a decade and a half in the show ring, to really just wanting to trail ride; and I felt it was time to give this blog a fresh start, too.

Welcome to my life, as I try to take it all in stride.